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24-Feb-18 World View -- US embassy to Jerusalem will commemorate Israel's founding -- Palestinian 'Naqba Day'

Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US will move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem on May 14


US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)
US Consulate General in Jerusalem, to be used as interim embassy after May 14 (YNet)

The US State Dept. announced on Friday that the US will move its official embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on May 14, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel. The move had not been expected until the end of 2019, so this announcement caught many Israelis and Palestinians by surprise.

Plans for a new US embassy building in Jerusalem are still a long way off, so the May 14 move will be little more than symbolic. the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, along with a small staff, will move on May 14 into an office building in Jerusalem housing the current Consulate General in Jerusalem, making that building the new interim embassy. The current embassy building in Tel Aviv will be renamed the US Consulate, and will continue to house the bulk of the U.S. diplomatic staff in Israel.

At the same time, a search will begin for the site of a new US embassy building in Jerusalem. This search will be fraught with problems, according to the opinion of an Israeli analyst forwarded to me by a reader. The problems include the following:

YNet and Reuters and Newsweek

State Dept. considers accepting private donations to pay for the embassy

A big problem facing a new embassy building in Jerusalem is the cost, expected to be into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The State Department attorneys are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to help pay for the construction of the new embassy. The question is being discussed because Sheldon Adelson, a pro-Israeli billionaire who has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Republican Party, has offered to pay for some or all of the embassy costs.

Whether it's legal to allow one private individual to pay for the building costs of an official government building is currently being discussed, as it would be a significant departure from historical practice. In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical Christian and American Jewish communities, too.

Allowing Adelson to contribute would also raise national and international political issues in a situation where just the decision to move the embassy has already proved highly controversial. It could also raise new, unexpected issues. For example, would Adelson's name be on the building? AP and VOX

Already furious Palestinians condemn embassy move on 'Naqba Day' -- 'Catastrophe Day'

Donald Trump's December announcement that the embassy would move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, seeming to preclude having East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, has infuriated Palestinian leaders, who said that the announcement proves that the US under Donald Trump is not an honest mediator, but is clearly biased in Israel's favor.

Saeb Erekat, the former Palestinian chief peace negotiator said last month:

"Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the U.S. is outside the international consensus.

Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.

Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation."

With Friday's announcement moving up the date to May 14, an advisor to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said:

"We know the Americans are coordinating every step with (Israeli President Benjamin) Netanyahu, but they do not do the same with President Abbas. In the end this is not good for peace, and no good for themselves, their own standing.

What we want is a clear statement that will allow the Palestinians to have a state of their own, independent, within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital."

What is particularly infuriating to Palestinians is that May 14 is "Naqba Day" -- the "Day of Catastrophe" -- the day that the Palestinians commemorate every year for the founding of Israel.

Saeb Erekat said that the move is a violation of international law:

"The American administration's decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and choose the Palestinian people's Naqba as the date for this step is a blatant violation of international law. [The result will be] the destruction of the two-state option, as well as a blatant provocation to all Arabs and Muslims."

May 14, the Day of Catastrophe (Naqba) is an extremely bitter day among Palestinians, not only because it was the day of Israel's independence, but because the "catastrophe" refers to the Arabs' catastrophic loss to the Jews in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, a loss that many Arabs blame on themselves.

According to Palestinian narratives, between 1947-49, Israelis ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 Palestinian villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, leaving 750,000 Palestinians from a 1.9 million population without a home.

Israelis respond that the clashes were launched by Arab Liberation Army volunteers who attacked Jewish cities, settlements and armed forces, followed by an invasion by Arab armies from Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

However much Arabs are angry at Israelis for winning the war, many Arabs are even more angry at Arab leaders of the time for losing the war. Arab armies that attacked Israel expected an easy victory within a day or two over a tiny, fledgling country that was not perceived as a serious threat. They vastly underestimated the abilities of the Jewish militias in Palestine, who were well-prepared and well-organized and had many experienced fighters who had served in units of the British Army during World War II.

But the strongest Arab condemnations of all are that the Arab armies fought among themselves almost as much as they fought against the Jews. While Arab leaders claimed to be fighting for Palestine, they were actually fighting each other in a war of individual interests and conflicting goals. The rivalries between the Arab militias and armies contrasted with the much more unified Israeli militias and armies.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the most important factor to understand is that the 1948 war was a generational crisis war for the Jews, but was an Awakening era war for the Arabs. World War II was not a crisis war for the Arabs. In the Crisis era mood, the Jews were extremely unified and nationalistic.

But the Arabs' previous generational crisis war was World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Just as the United States fought the Vietnam War half-heartedly during its Awakening era in the 1960s, the Arabs fought the 1948 Arab-Israeli war half-heartedly in its Awakening era. This generational timeline difference in public mood appears to have been the major factor in the Israelis' victory over the Arabs. Haaretz (25-Jan) and USA Today and Al-Jazeera and AFP and Al-Jazeera (13-Jul-2009)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Feb-18 World View -- US embassy to Jerusalem will commemorate Israel's founding -- Palestinian 'Naqba Day' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Feb-18 World View -- Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta

North Korea insults South Korea with selection of Kim Yong-chol head of Olympics closing ceremony

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta


Eastern Ghouta buildings destroyed by airstrikes and shelling from Bashar al-Assad's armed forces (AP)
Eastern Ghouta buildings destroyed by airstrikes and shelling from Bashar al-Assad's armed forces (AP)

Western leaders are expressing horror at the siege of Eastern Ghouta in Syria, which is amounting to mass extermination of innocent civilians, potentially including tens of thousands of innocent women and children. The siege and the mass extermination are being led by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and backed by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei. All three of these people -- al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei -- are massively committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and all three should be condemned as the worst kinds of war criminals, the worst war criminals so far this century.

Hundreds of people have been killed just since Sunday from missiles, shell fire, and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas. The war criminals are particularly targeting bakeries, so people will starve, and hospitals, so the wounded can't be treated, as well as food and aid convoys. Bashar al-Assad, who considers the 400,000 residents of Eastern to be cockroaches to be exterminated, wants to make sure that the baby cockroaches, in his view, won't grow up to be adult cockroaches.

The siege is a repeat of the similar attack on East Aleppo at the end of 2016. There were 275,000 people in Aleppo, and it took al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei six months to destroy the city enough to "take control." By the end, the city was almost completely deserted, since thousands of people had been able to escape from the city and flee to the countryside.

In East Ghouta, there are 400,000 people and, unlike in Aleppo, there is no escape. All 400,000 people are trapped in Ghouta, waiting to be exterminated.

According to reports, Syrian army forces are massing, and could enter Ghouta for the final slaughter at any time.

The justification used by al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei is that among the 400,000 civilians there are some jihadists. An analogy in America would be if an American city contained some people from the Black Panthers or Black Lives Matter, then it would be OK with al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei for the army and air force to exterminate all the people in the black neighborhoods in that city. United Nations and AP and BBC and Middle East Eye

Russia rejects 30-day ceasefire in United Nations Security Council


Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,' three billboards circle the United Nations on Thursday for three hours to demand action on Syria from the Security Council (AFP)
Inspired by the Oscar-nominated film 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,' three billboards circle the United Nations on Thursday for three hours to demand action on Syria from the Security Council (AFP)

Sweden and Kuwait presented a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council for a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, during which food and humanitarian aid could be delivered to the residents.

This of course is completely laughable, since al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei are interesting in exterminating people, not a ceasefire. Ironically, Eastern Ghouta is already a ceasefire zone, having been designated by Russia as one of the four "de-confliction zones," based on the agreements signed with Turkey and Iran in Astana, Kazakhstan. Putin said that it would be a ceasefire zone, but as with everything that Putin says, it was a lie designed to cover up future extermination plans. This lying as a cover up has been used repeatedly by Putin in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea, Georgia, and elsewhere.

Needless to say, Russia has done everything possible to sabotage the draft resolution by offering numerous amendments to do things like exempt jihadists and terrorist. However, since al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei consider everyone in Ghouta, including innocent women and children, to be "terrorists," these amendments make the resolution meaningless. If there's ever a vote on a meaningful resolution, then Russia will veto it.

It never ceases to amaze me how the original principles of the United Nations have been turned on their head, and the UN is now used as a cover and a tool to support war crimes and genocide rather than prevent them.

As I wrote in 2011, Russia adopted a specific policy of using the UN Security Council as a tool to control the foreign policy of the United States, Europe and NATO, while leaving itself free to pursue any policy it wanted. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

The way it works is that Russia demands that all actions taken by Nato be approved by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has a veto, giving Russian an effective veto over all Nato operations. The Russians then can invade Ukraine, invade and annex Crimea, and commit war crimes in Syria with complete freedom and impunity, because of the double standard -- they never ask approval of the UNSC, while they insist that NATO do nothing without getting UNSC approval.

Russia has worked with China to carry this policy even further. Russia and China have been invaded and annexed other countries' regions, just as Hitler did. This is something that the United Nations was formed specifically to prevent. But all the UN can do now is whatever Russia and China force it to do, using vetoes and ignoring international law. Incredibly, China is building massive military bases in the South China Sea, and completely ignoring United Nations court decisions that declare them illegal. And yet they insist that the United States and all other countries be completely restricted by UN laws.

It's absolutely incredible how Russia and China have now only completely crippled the United Nations, but actually done worse -- they're using the United Nations as a tool to subvert and enable the crimes that the UN was formed to prevent. It's a truly remarkable historic event, and it shows again how the world is headed for World War III.

After World War II, historians analyzed the failure of the League of Nations, and in the end blamed it on the United States for not joining. So the US joined the League of Nations' successor, the United Nations, and even agreed to host it in New York. But now, 71 years later, the United Nations is failing for the same kinds of reasons that the League of Nations failed. In a generational Crisis era, there is no will to enforce the principles for which the organization was formed, and essentially the organization is taken over by criminals. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Middle East Eye and United Nations and BBC and Reuters and AFP

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North Korea insults South Korea with selection of Kim Yong-chol head of Olympics closing ceremony

North Korea is insulting and provoking the South Koreans by saying that it has selected Kim Yong-chol to head the North Korean high-level delegation to the closing ceremony of the Olympics games on Sunday.

Kim Yong-chol is the vice chairman of the Workers Party Central Committee, and is the mastermind of two major attacks on South Korean targets. In May 2010, North Korea torpedoed and sank the warship Cheonan, killing 46 of South Korean crew members, and in November 2010, North Korea killed South Korean civilians by shelling Yeonpyeong Island.

Incredibly, Kim Yong-chol is the man that the North will send to lead the festivities on Sunday, and South Korea's president Moon Jae-in is expected to roll out the red carpet for him. Kim Yong-chol has been blacklisted and sanctioned by both South Korea and the US, and he is currently in charge of North Korea's department in charge of the regime's agitation against South Korea.

The families of the victims of the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong attacks are furious at what's happening. It appears that North Korea's latest charm offensive is suddenly over. Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Feb-18 World View -- Syria, Russia, Iran conduct full-on mass extermination of civilians in Eastern Ghouta thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Feb-18 World View -- Cobalt for Apple iPhones means more money and weapons for DR Congo's corrupt leader Joseph Kabila

Thousands of children work as cobalt miners in DR Congo

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DR Congo's corrupt leader, Joseph Kabila, seeks to cash in on rise in cobalt prices


About 40,000 children, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in DR Congo (Sky News)
About 40,000 children, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in DR Congo (Sky News)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced last month that it would be increase the royalty on cobalt exports from to 10% from 2%. The new taxes would be paid by international mining firms operating in DRC, including African miner Randgold Resources, China Molybdenum Company Limited, Swiss firm Glencore plc, and MMG Ltd, an Australian-Chinese venture.

However, these four multinational firms will be challenging the royalty increases in court, based on a contractual relationship with DRC that locks in the 2% rate, and can only be changed with ten years notice.

DRC is the world's largest producer of cobalt, providing 58% of global production. Other countries produce far less, including, in decreasing order, Russia (5%), Australia, Canada, Cuba, Philippines (3.6%), Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Zambia and New Caledonia (2.5%).

Demand for cobalt has been surging, because it's an essential ingredient of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in iPhones and other devices. And a big additional surge is expected in the next three years, to provide for rechargeable batteries in electric cars. A typical smartphone uses about 8 grams of refined cobalt, while the battery for an electric car requires over 1,000 times more. The result is that cobalt prices more than doubled in 2017.

In order to protect its supply of cobalt, Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners, such as Glencore. Until now, Apple has left the business of buying cobalt to the companies that make the batteries. Apple is seeking contracts to secure several thousand metric tons of cobalt a year for five years or longer.

However, other companies are believed also to be trying to lock up cobalt supplies. Thus, Apple will be in competition with companies like BMW AG, Volkswagen AG and Samsung SDI Co. AFP and Investing News and Bloomberg

Tanganyika province in DR Congo faces a humanitarian disaster of 'extraordinary proportions'

It seems that there's no end to the list of horrific stories about Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; about the massive corruption of Joseph Kabila, skimming billions of dollars out of the treasury and providing it to his family and cronies; and of his repeated stunts of refusing to hold elections, so that he can't be replaced as president.

Now there's a new horrific story. In southeastern DRC in Tanganyika province, there's a growing "humanitarian disaster of extraordinary proportions," according to the UN. There have been bloody clashes between militias of two ethnic groups -- the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, and the Twa, a Pygmy ethnic group. The violence has been going on for four years, and surged in mid-2016, with killings, abductions and rapes. Since January of this year, most of the violence has been perpetrated Kabila's Congolese armed forces at road blocks.

Tanganyika province is three times the size of Switzerland with a population of about 3 million, of whom 630,000 have been displaced by the fighting, a number that has almost doubled in a year.

A report by the International Rescue Committee describes the situation in detail, and provides the following historical context:

"The conflict in Tanganyika is rooted in the long-standing marginalization of all the indigenous ethnic groups commonly referred to as Pygmies in central Africa, of which the Twa form one of the main groups. The Pygmies were the first inhabitants of the DRC, living as nomadic hunter-gatherers at the fringes of forest-savanna areas. However, Bantu tribes, primarily relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, started migrating into the Congo River Basin at the beginning of the first millennium, progressively displacing Pygmies toward ever more remote forest areas. Over time, the Bantu exerted their control over land and established hereditary, hierarchized and interrelated tribal power structures that excluded Pygmies.19 These tribal or customary power structures still underlie to this day the configuration of local governments in DRC, especially at the village and cluster levels, along with chiefdoms. This also explains in good part the absence of the Twa from positions of power in Tanganyika.

During colonial times and since independence, the cutting of forests for logging, agriculture, cattle herding, and mining, combined with the creation of national parks, gradually pushed the Pygmies out of forests. This resulted in an accelerating trend toward sedentary life for those populations. Sedentarization, accompanied by a significant reduction in access to forest resources, and limited access to land, has resulted in systematically higher poverty for Pygmy populations relative to the Bantu majority. Unsurprisingly, this led the author of a World Bank report to summarize their situation in this manner: “Pygmies in DRC can best be described as poor, vulnerable and marginalized.” This higher poverty and vulnerability also characterize the situation of the Twa in Tanganyika.

In Tanganyika, the majority of the Twa population is sedentary or semi-sedentary. They are typically settled near roads and Bantu villages, where they can work as agricultural day laborers and maintain some access to forest resources. While some Twas have fields and practice agriculture, land rights in DRC remain rooted in the customary practices of Bantu chiefs. As a result, the Twa have limited access to land that is contingent on Bantu customary village chiefs allocating land in exchange for a customary tax (typically a variable share of the annual crop). Bantu customary chiefs also collect similar taxes for hunting, fishing or artisanal mining activities."

The phrase "pushed out" can be assumed to be a euphemism for dozens of bloody generational crisis wars, that have been going on for almost 2,000 years, according to the report. Pygmy groups such as the Twa are at an enormous disadvantage in these wars because they're shorter than their Bantu enemies. It appears that a generational crisis war is going on at the current time, but that can't be confirmed without a great deal of additional historical research.

It seems likely that what's tying the situation in Tanganyika together with the story about cobalt is that Kabila is looking for new money with which to buy weapons to kill people, or to provide to his family and cronies. The United States has threatened to cut off aid to DRC if there are no presidential elections this year, and Kabila may be using the cobalt tax as a way of replacing the aid. Reuters and Al Jazeera and International Rescue Committee

Thousands of children work as cobalt miners in DR Congo

UNICEF estimates that about 40,000 boys and girls, some as young as five years old, work as cobalt miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Some dig holes and go down into the pits, while others work above ground, sifting through leftover rubble and rock, searching for bits of ore which they then sort and wash. Many children become extremely ill from inhaling the dust from mining.

Most of the mined cobalt is sent to China, where it is used in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries which are then sold to companies like Apple and Samsung. Sky News and Amnesty International (June 2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Feb-18 World View -- Cobalt for Apple iPhones means more money and weapons for DR Congo's corrupt leader Joseph Kabila thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Feb-18 World View -- US considers military options as North Korea continues nuclear weapons development during Olympics

American politicians debate a 'bloody nose attack' on North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

38North reports that North Korea continues nuclear weapons development


Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong speaks with South Korea's president Moon Jae-in during a Seoul theatre performance two weeks ago.  News reports now indicate that Kim Yo-jong was pregnant with her second child.  (Yonhap)
Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong speaks with South Korea's president Moon Jae-in during a Seoul theatre performance two weeks ago. News reports now indicate that Kim Yo-jong was pregnant with her second child. (Yonhap)

Based on analysis of commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University is reporting on its 38North web site that North Korea has continued development of nuclear weapons capabilities, including "steady progress" on its Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR). The ELWR development seems to be nearly complete and "nearing operational status."

It's widely believed that when North Korea launched its "charm offensive" and offered to participate in the Winter Olympics games being held in Seoul, South Korea, at the present time, the purpose was to gain time to continue development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. In particular, the North demanded that the US and South Korea postpone the planned joint military drills that were to begin in late January.

While the continued development of ELWR could hardly be a surprise to anyone, it does serve to contradict the Pollyannaish views of some politicians that the Olympics Games détente might mean an end to the North Korea crisis.

The US and South Korea have both confirmed that they will go ahead with the postponed joint military drills. The drills will be postponed until after the end of the Paralympics games, which run from March 8 to March 18. The start date of the drills will be announced between March 18 and April 1, according to South Korea's defense minister. 38 North and Korea Herald and Yonhap (Seoul) and AFP and Fox News and Newsweek

American politicians debate a 'bloody nose attack' on North Korea

North Korea's charm offensive and attendance at the Olympics games has postponed the crisis for a while, but the core logic driving North Korean policy has not changed:

This logic has led to discussion of a "bloody nose attack." This would be some kind of military attack that would partially destroy North Korea's nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development, without attacking the Kim Jong-un regime itself.

A number of politicians have said that a bloody nose attack is impossible, because it would invite massive retaliation against South Korea's capital city Seoul.

Republican Senator James Risch said that lawmakers had been told "by administration people, about as high up as it gets, that there is no such thing as a ‘bloody nose strategy.'"

Risch added that Trump has been very clear on denying North Korea from obtaining the ability to strike the US, and that "anyone who doubts the president’s commitment to see that doesn’t happen, does so really at their own peril."

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday Risch said:

"If this thing starts, it is going to be probably one of the worst catastrophic events in the history of our civilization, but it is going to be very, very brief. The end of it is going to see mass casualties, the likes of which the planet has never seen. It would be biblical proportion."

That's very dramatic, and it may well be true, but logic points in the opposite direction. The North would just have to accept a bloody nose attack, assuming that one is even possible, because retaliation would mean the death of Kim Jong-un and his entire government.

Still, Risch's comments appear to be fundamentally self-contradictory. Risch says that Trump will prevent North Korea from being able to strike the US, as many other American politicians have also said, but Risch also says that there will be no military strike. So what's left?

New reports from unnamed intelligence source indicate that the "bloody nose attack" will be a cyber attack. A cyber assault could cripple Pyongyang's online communications and ability to control its military, causing huge disruption but avoiding the loss of life.

According to the reports, the U.S. government for the past six months has covertly begun laying the groundwork for possible cyberattacks on North Korea in countries including South Korea and Japan. This process involves installing fiber cables as bridges into the region and setting up remote bases and listening posts, where hackers may attempt to gain access to a North Korean internet that’s largely walled off from external connections.

I don't know how much of this I believe, because the North Koreans could use redundant networks and firewalls to block such attacks. In my opinion, the most likely step in the next few months will be a US conventional military attack on the North's facilities, and there will be only minor retaliation from the North, if any. I could be wrong about either of those things, of course, but that's my opinion at this time. Telegraph (London) and Foreign Policy and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-18 World View -- US considers military options as North Korea continues nuclear weapons development during Olympics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Feb-18 World View -- Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria

Syria says it will send its 'popular forces' to support the YPG against Turkey in Afrin

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria


A Kurdish woman at an anti-Turkish rally near Afrin in norther Syria (AFP)
A Kurdish woman at an anti-Turkish rally near Afrin in norther Syria (AFP)

On January 20, Turkey began the ironically named military Operation Olive Branch to take control of Syria's northern city of Afrin from the Kurdish militias, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), though it's never entirely clear what "take control" means.

Turkey considers the YPG Kurds to be terrorists, because they're linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has perpetrated large terrorist attacks in Turkey in the last two years, and has conducted an on-and-off separatist insurgency against Turkey's government for thirty years. The Kurds have set as a goal the creation of an independent state of Rojava along Syria's northern border with Turkey. Turkey considers that objective to be an existential threat.

When Operation Olive Branch began on January 20, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised the Turkish people that the operation would be finished within a week, and that the military operation would move east to the city of Manbij. Now it's been a month, and it doesn't appear that the operation is close to completion.

Turkish troops are backed by an estimated 22,000 "moderate rebels" in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), while the YPG is estimated to have about 8,000 to 10,000 fighters in Afrin. Estimates are the 32 Turkish soldiers, 43 FSA militants and 1,551 YPG militants have been killed so far.

So there's no question but that the YPG forces are being battered. However, Afrin is a town of 400,000 to 500,000 people.

So in my mind, I'm making comparisons to some of the previous battles. East Aleppo had a population of 275,000, only about 1,000 of whom were in the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS). The army and air force of the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian warplanes and Hezbollah troops, used missiles, barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas, and other weapons to "take control" of Aleppo. But it took them about six months, and they practically destroyed the entire city to do it.

In Eastern Ghouta there are 400,000 people, and al-Assad's regime, backed by the Russians, is battering the city with missiles, Sarin gas and barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas. That battle has been going on for several months, and appears nowhere near ended. It will be a long time before al-Assad "takes control" of eastern Ghouta.

So now the Turks are attacking Afrin, with 400,000-500,000 people. Russia controls the airspace above Afrin, and so the power of Turkey's warplanes is being limited, according to reports. Furthermore, as far as is known, the Turks aren't using Sarin gas and chlorine gas as Bashar al-Assad does regularly.

So I'm not a military expert, but doing these comparisons says to me that Turkey is going to be bogged down in Afrin for a long time. VOA and Washington Post and Xinhua and Kurdistan 24

Syria says it will send its 'popular forces' to support the YPG against Turkey in Afrin


Map of Syria regions controlled by government, Kurds and rebels (France 24)
Map of Syria regions controlled by government, Kurds and rebels (France 24)

On Sunday, a senior YPG official said that the YPG had reached a deal for the Syrian army to enter Afrin and that it could be implemented within two days.

On Monday, Bashar al-Assad's Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) posted the following:

"Popular forces to arrive in Afrin within hours to support locals against Turkish aggression

SANA’s reporter in Aleppo said on Monday that popular forces are to arrive in Afrin area soon to support locals in facing the aggression launched by the Turkish regime on the area since January 20th.

The reporter said that the arrival of popular forces will strengthen the locals’ resilience and resistance against the Turkish aggression which targets infrastructure, public and private properties, and economic and services establishments."

This report has been widely referenced in the international media, usually with the interpretation that Syria's army will soon be fighting Turkey's army in Afrin.

However, what's going on is far from clear. Unlike the YPG statement, the SANA statement doesn't mention Syria's army. It mentions "popular forces" from Aleppo. This could mean Hezbollah forces or it could mean mercenary soldiers that Iran has been bringing in from Afghanistan.

According to Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu:

"It's important what the regime will do when it enters [Afrin]. If the regime plans to enter to fight PKK/YPG, then no problem. But if the regime enters to protect the YPG, then no one can stop Turkey or the Turkish forces."

There have been rumors for a few days that the al-Assad regime and the Kurds were reaching an agreement to jointly oppose the Turkish forces in Afrin. Ironically, Turkey and the al-Assad regime have a common interest -- neither of them wants the YPG to control Afrin. Turkey wants the FSA to control Afrin, and al-Assad wants his regime to control Afrin, but neither of them wants the Kurds to control Afrin.

So there's really no common interest between Syria and the YPG. The Kurds want to continue controlling Afrin, and just want Syria's help in expelling Turkey. The Syrian want to expel Turkey, but then take control of Afrin. According to one analyst:

"The Syrian regime wants complete political administration in Afrin, a comprehensive deal that includes security and politics. They want to return to Afrin. The Kurdish Rojava authorities want the Syrian army on the border [with Turkey] but they don’t accept [pro-government] forces into Afrin."

So even if a deal is reached between al-Assad and the YPG, and Syria's "popular forces" enter Afrin, then instead of the YPG and Syria fighting the Turks, it could end up with the YPG and the Turks fighting Syria. SANA (Damascus) and France 24 and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-18 World View -- Turkey gets bogged down with military 'Operation Olive Branch' in Afrin, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Feb-18 World View -- Special prosecutor Robert Mueller issues farcical indictment of Russian trolls

Comparing Russian trolls to Chinese hackers

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller issues farcical indictment of Russian trolls


Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Reuters)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Reuters)

On Friday, the Justice Department's Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, after a year of investigation, brought an indictment against a Russian "troll factory," the St. Petersburg based Internet Research Agency, along with various trolls and other officials connected to the agency.

It's hard to overestimate the farcical nature of the indictment. I wrote about the Internet Research Agency in 2014, and I've written about Russian trolls several times since then. Any journalist or analyst writes about a variety of political or international subjects is attacked by Russian trolls. I've been attacked by dozens, perhaps hundreds of Russian trolls since 2014.

Here are some excerpts from the indictment:

"2. Defendant INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY LLC ("ORGANIZATION") is a Russian organization engaged in operations to interfere with elections and political processes. Defendants MIKHAIL IVANOVICI1 BYSTROV, MIKHAIL LEONIDOVICH BURCHIK ... and VLADIMIR VENKOV worked in various capacities to carry out Defendant ORGANIZATION's interference operations targeting the United States. From in or around 2014 to the present, Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other ... to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.

3. Beginning as early as 2014, Defendant ORGANIZATION began operations to interfere with the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. ... Defendants CONCORD and PRIGOZHIN spent significant funds to further the ORGANIZATION's operations and to pay the remaining Defendants, along with other uncharged ORGANIZATION employees, salaries and bonuses for their work at the ORGANIZATION.

4. Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and creating false U.S. personas, operated social media pages and groups designed to attract U.S. audiences. These groups and pages, which addressed divisive U.S. political and social issues, falsely claimed to be controlled by U.S. activists when, in fact, they were controlled by Defendants. Defendants also used the stolen identities of real U.S. persons to post on ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Over time, these social media accounts became Defendants' means to reach significant numbers of Americans for purposes of interfering with the U.S. political system, including the presidential election of 2016."

I'm sorry, I can't stop laughing. The CIA and Special Prosecutor's office has spent hundreds of millions of dollars sleuthing out these criminals, and discovered that Russian trolls hired by Russia's "troll factory," the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg Russia, are on blogs and social media sites posting misleading comments. This was something that was well known to me and many other people.

Here's what I wrote in August 2014:

While Russia's president Vladimir Putin maintains an iron grip on the state-run media, the internet remains a big problem for Putin, as he's had little ability to control Twitter and other social media.

Putin has responded to this problem in a bizarre way. According to documents examined by an analyst firm, since April a Russian firm called the Internet Research Agency, with a 2014 budget of $10 million, has been hiring hundreds of "internet trolls" to challenge any online article critical of Russia.

Each troll is expected to post comments on blogs and news sites 50 times per day. The comments range from lies and disinformation to abuse and profanity. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts, posting three times a day in each. On Twitter, they're expected to manage 10 accounts and tweet 50 times a day. [Emphasis added]"

I get attacked by American trolls as well, but apparently the reason that Russian trolls were indicted is because they didn't register with the US government. US Department of Justice and Russia Today

How the Russian trolls do their jobs

Let's take some example of attacks by Russian trolls, so we can see what the Special Prosecutor might be talking about. I was never attacked by trolls over the election because I never wrote about the election. However, I am always attacked by Russian trolls whenever I write about any of the following subjects:

Let's take an example: Shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 passenger plane by the Russians in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. We actually knew within minutes that the Russians had shot it down with a missile, because Igor Strelkov, the commander of the Russian forces in east Ukraine, immediately tweeted the following:

"We shot down AN-26 [military transport] near the city Torez, Donetsk People's Republic ... We warned, don't fly in our sky."

Strelkov's militias had shot down at least two Ukrainian AN-26s in the previous week, and was bragging that he'd shot down a third. The tweet was taken down a few minutes later, when he learned that he'd shot down a passenger plane.

Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

Russian trolls will say that no evidence exists that Russians shot down MH17. Actually, 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. There was a major Dutch investigation that proved with no doubt that Russians shot down MH17 with a Russian-made Buk missile. But trolls will constantly say, "there's no evidence."

Russian trolls are Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

As another example, Russian trolls are always on the attack when you write about the use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas, by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Once again, they say that "there's no evidence." But once again, there are been several thorough investigations of al-Assad's 2013 Sarin gas attack, and there are thousands of pieces of evidence that al-Assad used Sarin gas on ordinary civilians, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

Trolls try to use highly emotional arguments to avoid facts. One troll named "Jan Fearing" told me a darling story about her trip to Damascus where she met a mother who thought al-Assad was wonderful. One troll argument I hear frequently is that al-Assad is popular, but once again that's irrelevant, since all the worst genocidal monsters are popular, including Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot. You can't succeed as a genocidal monster if your people don't support you, and that means you have to be popular with your own people to be a genocidal monster.

Comparing Russian trolls to Chinese hackers

I find the Russian trolls to be pretty much idiots. They're usually working from prepared scripts, and they usually don't know anything about the facts except what their trollmasters have told them.

I wasn't writing about election campaign issues, so I didn't encounter trolls bashing Hillary and boosting Bernie Sanders and Trump, but I assume that the trolls who did that were just as incompetent on those subjects as they were on the subjects that I write about. During the election campaign, there must have been millions of highly partisan messages posted by hundreds of partisan organizations. How would the average Facebook user ever be influenced by a Russian troll message when it's surrounded by hundreds of other messages competing for the user's attention? I don't see how it's even remotely possible that the Russian trolls had any effect at all on the election, or that they'll affect future elections.

In fact, when he announced the indictments, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein said:

"There is no allegation in the indictment that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election."

This doesn't surprise me in the least. I don't see even the remotest possibility that these trolls influenced the election, and despite the media hysteria, I don't any possibility that they will have any influence at all in the 2018 and 2020 elections. The current hysteria is fatuous.

I personally believe that the use of trolls has backfired for the Russians, not because of the Mueller's indictment, but because everyone knows about Russian trolls, so that anyone who genuinely wants to support Russia in one of these discussions is automatically assumed to be a troll.

That's why Mueller's indictments are so farcical. They target people in Russia who will never be extradited, and they reveal "crimes" that everyone has been aware of for years.

People in the mainstream media are hoping against hope that these indictments are just the first step in bringing charges against Donald Trump. We'll all be watching to see whether they get their wishes.

Finally, let's take one more quote from the indictment:

"57. After the election of Donald Trump in or around November 2016, Defendants and their coconspirators used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. For example, in or around November 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally in New York through one ORGANIZATION-controlled group designed to "show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump" held on or about November 12, 2016. At the same time, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through another ORGANIZATION-controlled group, organized a rally in New York called "Trump is NOT my President" held on or about November 12, 2016. Similarly, Defendants and their co-conspirators organized a rally entitled "Charlotte Against Trump" in Charlotte, North Carolina, held on or about November 19, 2016."

So the trolls were holding pro-Trump rallies and anti-Trump rallies in two different places in New York on the same day. These are truly the gang that couldn't shoot street. We can all feel safe now that they're no longer at large. Oh, wait. All these trolls are in St. Petersburg Russia, so they're still at large, and they'll never be caught.

As a Senior Software Engineer, I'm familiar with the entire range of online attacks, whether by trolls or for espionage, or for cyber warfare. I find this hysteria over the Russian troll "threat to democracy" to be a total joke.

By contrast, the threat from China's use of online espionage a million times greater. There are dozens of Chinese high tech companies whose only job is to spy and steal secrets from the United States. China has stolen hundreds or thousands of terabytes of data from defense and law enforcement systems, as well as from energy, transportation, government, technology, health care, finance, telecommunications, media, manufacturing and agriculture systems.

There are some real threats out there, not from Russian trolls but from Chinese hackers. We should be focusing on the real dangers to our society. US Dept. of Justice and The Conversation(5-Oct-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Feb-18 World View -- Special prosecutor Robert Mueller issues farcical indictment of Russian trolls thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Feb-18 World View -- Iran gives operational control of its Chabahar seaport to India

Comparing Iran's Chabahar seaport vs Pakistan's Gwadar seaport

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran gives operational control of its Chabahar seaport to India


Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports.  Purple lines show China's trade routes through Gwadar, while red lines show India's planned trade routes through Chabahar.  (Defence.pk)
Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports. Purple lines show China's trade routes through Gwadar, while red lines show India's planned trade routes through Chabahar. (Defence.pk)

During a visit by Iran's president Hassan Rouhani to India on Saturday, Rouhani and India's prime minister witnessed the signing of nine agreements to expand bilateral economic ties, with focus on the development and utilization of Iran's strategic Chabahar Port. Iran would grant operational control of a portion of the port to India for 18 months.

In return, India has agreed to invest an initial $87 million growing to a total of $2 billion in the Chabahar and in the Chabahar-Zahedan railroad linking the port to the Trans-Iranian railway and to other cities in Iran, connecting from there to Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

The use of the Chabahar is considered to be a major "game-changer" for India's economy and defense. Any land route from India to Afghanistan and Central Asia is blocked by Pakistan and China. The route from India's Kandla seaport to Chabahar and then overland to Afghanistan and Central Asia would not be as good as a pure land route, but it's better than anything that's been available up till now.

Chabahar is also a counter to China's development of the Gwadar port in Pakistan, shown by the large purple star in the map above. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), coupled with China's One Belt-One Road (OBOR), is seen by Indian defense analysts as a major security threat. The purple lines in the map above show China's traditional trade routes across the sea, using China's "String of Pearls" port facilities (purple stars), while the red lines show the trade routes being planned using Iran's Chabahar port. Mehr News (Iran) and Business Standard (India) and VOA and India Defense Review (20-Mar-2017)

Comparing Iran's Chabahar seaport vs Pakistan's Gwadar seaport

A number of analysts have been comparing the two seaports. Although the Chabahar port is considered to be of great strategic importance to India, the general consensus seems to be that Pakistan's Gwadar port will serve China's needs far better than Iran's Chabahar port will serve India's needs.

The two ports are about 90 km apart. However, unlike Chabahar, Gwadar is better strategically located in the Indian Ocean, so that India vessels would also be subject to the active monitoring by Pakistan's navy and probably China's navy.

Gwadar seaport is much larger, thanks to Gwardar's natural layout and depth. The maximum planned capacity of Chabahar is 10-12 million tons per year, while that of Gwadar will be 300-400 million tons.

Resource-rich Afghanistan is an important trading partner for both Iran and Pakistan. However, Pakistan is aligned with the Taliban, while Iran is aligned with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. This will raise security issues for Pakistan and Iran, and therefore for China and India.

Security is a major issue for both ports. Chabahar is located in one of Iran’s most volatile regions, frequently attacked by the Taliban-linked Jundullah terror group. Gwadar is located in Pakistan's Balochistan province which has also been targeted by Taliban-linked terrorists, as well as by a Baloch insurgency.

Iran has special issues related to the US and the Iran nuclear deal, which is opposed by the Donald Trump administration. The US has threatened additional sanctions on Iran, and those sanctions to conflict with India's investments in Chabahar. However, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, visiting New Delhi recently, assured India that even if America re-imposes sanctions on Iran in the coming days, it will exempt the Chabahar facility.

As regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. The Chabahar seaport deal moves these countries another step closer to that alignment. Asia Times and World News Report (India) and Bloomberg Quint and Diplomat and Indian Express (25-Nov-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Feb-18 World View -- Iran gives operational control of its Chabahar seaport to India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Feb-18 World View -- Ethiopia declares state of emergency after shock resignation of prime minister

Generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests and state of emergency

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethiopia declares state of emergency after shock resignation of prime minister


Massive protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region pushed prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign (Reuters)
Massive protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region pushed prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn to resign (Reuters)

Ethiopians on Thursday were shocked and surprised when the country's prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn submitted his letter of resignation, after being in office since 2012. In a televised address he said:

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many. I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

The unrest and political crisis he's referring to is anti-government protests by millions of people, especially among the marginalized Oromo ethnic group, which comprises 34% of Ethiopia's population, and among the Amhara ethnic group, which comprises another 27%.

Since 1991, the government has been largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrayans, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. Hailemariam Desalegn was a member of the tiny Wollayta ethnic group, party of the Tigrayan ruling coalition.

Hailemariam's resignation was apparently an attempt to calm the protests. But as it failed to do so, the Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency that "would be instrumental in thwarting ethnic-based conflicts in the country and safeguarding the constitutional order."

The details of the state of emergency were not revealed, except to say that it would be similar to the last state of emergency, which began in October 2016, and ended only a few months ago in August 2017. According to Human Rights Watch's description of the last state of emergency:

"The government’s emergency powers brought mass detentions, politically motivated criminal charges, and numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication. While the end is welcome news, thousands remain in detention without charge, none of the protesters’ underlying grievances have been addressed, and politically motivated trials of key opposition leaders, artists, journalists, and others continue."

There are concerns that the new state of emergency will only repeat the abuses of the last one. Ethiopian News Agency and Addis Standard (Addis Ababa) and Bloomberg and Reuters and Addis Standard and Reuters

Generational analysis of Ethiopia's protests and state of emergency

What we're seeing here is a variation of a pattern that I've described repeatedly in several countries. This pattern occurs in the aftermath of a generational crisis war when, rather than being an external war with another country, the war is a civil war within the country between tribes and ethnic groups. Such a war is generally between two tribes or ethnic groups who have been neighbors for decades, who intermarried, and whose children played together, but then suddenly they turn on each other and commit atrocities, rapes, murders, torture, mutilations and massacres on their former neighbors, including women and children.

That kind of war traumatizes the both the winners and the losers. The new country leader, usually from the winning tribe, is someone who had directed or approved these atrocities, rapes and massacres, and in his mind considers them to have been completely justified. The civil war always ends with some sort of agreement that all the warring ethnic groups will suddenly love one another live together in peace and harmony. But in practice, in the decades that follow, the losing tribe is marginalized, and in the following generational Awakening era, begins to protest. The country leader believes that a new civil war is beginning, and returns to the atrocities of the civil war in order to prevent a new war from occurring. Examples that I've reported on include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

Ethiopia's last generational crisis war occurred in 1991, when the Marxist Derg dictatorship was overthrown. A Tigrayan war leader, Meles Zenawi, was in power until his death in 2012. Although the Tigrayans comprise only 6% of the population, the Tigrayan governing coalition increasingly marginalized the two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo ethnic group (34% of Ethiopia's population), and among the Amhara ethnic group (27%).

In 2012, Hailemariam Dessalegn, from a small ethnic group (Wollayta) became prime minister. It was hoped that Hailemariam would institute reforms that would improve the lives of the Oromos and the Amharas, but Hailemariam was still part of the Tigrayan governing coaliation, and followed the same policies. The reforms that had been promised were not implemented, and the situation was made worse by a severe drought.

There were massive anti-government protests by the Oromos and the Amharas, resulting in a brutal state of emergency that ran from October 2016 to August 2017. With minor changes, this is exactly the pattern that I've repeatedly described in the other countries listed above.

After the state of emergency ended in August 2017, nothing had changed. Reforms that had been promised did not occur. Once again, there were massive protests by the Oromos and Amharas. In an attempt to quall the protests last month, the government announced the release of hundreds of political prisoners from the last state of emergency, and promised further reforms.

Those measures did not reduce the protests, and Hailemariam resigned on Thursday, saying, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy." Apparently Hailemariam was no longer willing to play the role of useful idiot and serve as cover for the same Tigrayan policies that had been in place since 1991.

Now Ethiopia is at a new tipping point. A new prime minister will have to be chosen. Surprisingly, some analysts are saying that the leading candidate for prime minister is articulate, charismatic and confident 47-year-old Lemma Megersa, from the Oromo ethnic group. Once again, hopes are rising that needed reforms could finally be implemented, if an Oromo became prime minister.

Such hopes are probably misplaced. Lemma may be an Oromo, but he's also been part of the official "establishment" for his entire political career since the 1990s, and even if he's chosen as PM, it's unlikely that he'll be able to effect any real changes. Whatever generational forces have brought about the current set of policies, those generational forces will not change because of one person becoming prime minister. Addis Standard (Addis Ababa) and Africa Report and Al Jazeera and Ethiopian Treasures

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Feb-18 World View -- Ethiopia declares state of emergency after shock resignation of prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Feb-18 World View -- Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government

Anne-Marie Brady's report, 'Magic Weapons', documents China's global influence strategy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government


Around 50,000 Chinese tourists will visit New Zealand in the next few days to celebrate their Chinese Lunar New Year (stuff.co.nz)
Around 50,000 Chinese tourists will visit New Zealand in the next few days to celebrate their Chinese Lunar New Year (stuff.co.nz)

Public concerns in New Zealand about the increasing covert infiltration of pro-Chinese planted officials in the governments of New Zealand, Australia, and other countries were raised on Thursday by revelations that she and her employer have been targets of harassment, break-ins, and burglaries.

In September of last year, professor Anne-Marie Brady of New Zealand's University of Canterbury published a detailed report on China's intelligence activity to guide, buy and coerce political influence on a global basis, with emphasis on New Zealand. Brady's work was extremely effective because she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, and she based her research on Chinese-language media both inside and outside of China.

On Thursday, Brady spoke to the Australian Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in Canberra, and said that she had a break-in and robbery at her house. Three laptops, including one on which she wrote the paper, two cellphones and an encrypted memory stick from her last trip to China were taken, but other valuables were not taken. This followed receipt of letters threatening violence against her, and an earlier break-in and robbery of her university office.

Brady says that she links the two-breaks to work she has conducted on China's global influence campaign. New Zealand Herald and Stuff (New Zealand)

New Zealand MP Jian Yang faces heavy scrutiny from covert links to China's military

On September 13 of last year, it emerged that China-born Yang Jian, a government official and MP in New Zealand's ruling National Party had been in China's military intelligence services and had joined the Chinese Communist Party, but had not revealed these affiliations when he applied for citizenship.

Yang moved from China to New Zealand in 1991, and became an MP 12 years later. At a press conference, Last week, Yang, an MP for New Zealand’s governing National Party, confirmed he had taught English to Chinese spies in the 1980s and 1990s, and that he had been a member of the Communist Party while in China, but that he had not declared the names of the military institutions he taught at when applying for citizenship. These Chinese institutions were the People's Liberation Army-Air Force Engineering College and the Luoyang language institute, the latter run by China's equivalent of America's National Security Agency.

At the press conference, Yang said:

"I am not a spy. I refute any allegations that question my loyalty to New Zealand ... Although I was not born here I am proud to call myself a New Zealander, obey our laws and contribute to this country. I challenge those who are propagating these defamatory statements to front up and prove it."

Nonetheless, Yang remains under scrutiny by the governments of not only New Zealand but also Australia, he briefly interned with a sensitive Australian parliamentary committee before moving to New Zealand.

One question that has not been satisfactorily answered is: Why did he leave China at all to come to New Zealand in 1991.

In 1991 The China expert and author Peter Mattis says that there are two plausible explanations. 1991 was shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre, so one scenario is that he left to escape his homeland and put his past behind him to create a new life. The other was to work covertly for military intelligence, most likely China's Second Department, dealing in human intelligence. Newsroom (New Zealand, 27-Dec-2017) and Australian Broadcasting (20-Oct-2017) and Guardian (13-Sep-2017) and South China Morning Post (13-Sep-2017)

Anne-Marie Brady's report, 'Magic Weapons', documents China's global influence strategy

China's president Xi Jinping once used the term "magic weapon" to refer to China's United Front Work Department. Officially it focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students abroad and foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

Thanks to Chinese emigration, there are now large communities of Chinese people in Australia and New Zealand. Chinese propaganda has been so thoroughly successful that Chinese media in Australia is now almost overwhelmingly pro-Beijing, and is promoting Chinese values ("socialism with Chinese characteristics"), rather than Western values of liberal democracy and freedom. United Front Work attempts to sway elections so that pro-Beijing policies are adopted.

Anne-Marie Brady's report, entitled "Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping," describes in detail how Chinese propaganda works in New Zealand:

"There are currently around 200,000 ethnic Chinese resident in New Zealand, out of a population of 4.5 million New Zealanders. The majority of Chinese in New Zealand live in Auckland, where they make up around 10 percent of the population. Chinese consular authorities keep a close eye on all Chinese community activities, but especially in Auckland. They have achieved this through close links with core pro-Beijing Chinese community groups, and by maintaining oversight over other Chinese community groups, ethnic Chinese political figures, and Chinese language media and schools in New Zealand. Moreover, during the Xi era, the PRC embassy has supported the setting up of new organizations that report back to united front bodies in China, and, according to two former Australian-based Chinese diplomats, by placing supporters and informers in New Zealand Chinese organizations that are more independent minded and pose a potential threat to China’s interests. This is classic CCP party-building and organization work; one of the three “magic weapons” of the CCP. The current level of supervision over the ethnic Chinese community in New Zealand is a remarkable achievement. All throughout the Cold War years, with only a few exceptions, Chinese New Zealanders were neither pro-CCP nor pro-PRC, even if they were not necessarily pro-Chinese Nationalist Party or pro-ROC,76 and New Zealand’s Chinese-language media, community groups, and language schools were proudly independent. ...

The organization most closely connected with the PRC authorities in New Zealand is the Peaceful Reunification of China Association of New Zealand (PRCANZ), founded in 2000. ... The name of the organization is a reference to the “Peaceful Reunification” of mainland China and Taiwan. However, the organization also engages in a range of activities which support Chinese foreign policy goals, including block-voting and fund-raising for ethnic Chinese political candidates who agree to support their organization’s agenda. When Chinese senior leaders visit New Zealand, it is united front-affiliated organizations such as PRCANZ who organize counter-protest groups to shout down pro-Falungong, pro-Tibet, or any other group critical of China who come to protest when China’s senior leaders visit New Zealand."

Brady's report also gives a detailed account of Yang Jian's activities in including New Zealand's government, as well as the activities of other China-born officials.

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern discount's Brady's report, and says that she's seen no evidence of spying by Yang Jian or other China-born officials:

"Certainly I haven't seen evidence of that from [Brady] directly. It sounds to me like it's an insinuation that's being made.

Of course, we do have close links as a country with China and as a party with China. It's another step again though to make that kind of link."

Diplomat and Washington Post and New Zealand Herald (20-Sep-2017) and South China Morning Post (23-Sep-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Feb-18 World View -- Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Feb-18 World View -- Netherlands expels Eritrean diplomat over coercive 'diaspora tax' collections

Eritrea's Patriarch Abune Antonios has not been seen in months

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Netherlands expels Eritrean diplomat over coercive 'diaspora tax' collections


Graphic artist depiction of torture in Eritrea, based on interviews with Eritrean torture survivors (UN-OHCHR)
Graphic artist depiction of torture in Eritrea, based on interviews with Eritrean torture survivors (UN-OHCHR)

The Netherlands has expelled Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy, Eritrea's top diplomat, and declared him persona non grata, because the Eritrean embassy uses coercive methods to collect a "diaspora tax" from Eritreans.

Eritrea is considered is one of the most repressive governments in the world according to Freedom House. Thousands of people are jailed without charge, where torture is common. People are required to work for years in enforced government service, where the average monthly salary is $12.

Even migrants who escape to Europe to earn money are not free of the long reach of the Eritrean government, as they are subject to the "diaspora tax" of 2% of everything they earn.

The diaspora tax has been the subject of controversy, because its application is arbitrary, and is used as a means of control over the diaspora. An Eritrean who goes to the embassy because he needs something from the state will be told that even a simple service -- sending a parcel or money home -- requires a charge of 2% of his entire income for all the years he's been in the country. In addition, Eritreans are required to sign a so-called "regret form" admitting to crimes that may or may not have been committed, and according to reports is not given a copy of the form he signed.

Refusal to pay the tax or to sign the "regret form" has resulted in refusal of all services. It has also resulted in refusing food vouchers for family members back home, limiting them from accessing remittances, besides social exclusion and vilification.

In December 2011, UN Security Council resolution 2023 called on Eritrea to "cease using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals or other individuals of Eritrean descent."

The same resolution accused Eritrea of using the tax to destabilize the Horn of Africa, saying some of the revenues were funding armed opposition groups in the region, including the Somalia's terrorist militant group al-Shabaab.

In June 2016, a UNHRC commission of inquiry report on human rights conditions in Eritrea found that the government continued to enforce indefinite military service and was responsible for arbitrary detention, torture, rape, murder, persecution, imprisonment in violation of international law, and enforced disappearances. The report said the systematic nature of these actions suggested that crimes against humanity had been committed.

A European Union organization, the Europe External Policy Advisors (EEPA), did extensive research in Eritrea's diaspora tax in seven European countries. The report, published in September of last year, said:

"The 2% Tax is collected as a critical part of a system of surveillance, with specific references to coercion in view of mental and social pressure, extortion, intimidation, fraud and/or blackmail. The specific organization and modalities relate specifically to the diaspora, but also involves family members by association."

Although these investigations have been going on for years, there was a precipitating event that finally caused the Netherlands to take some explicit action, on behalf of the 20,000 Eritrean nationals living in the Netherlands. A recording was made by Dutch radio program Argos, an asylum seeker is being told by the head of the Eritrean embassy that he has to sign a so-called ‘regret form’ in which he admits his guilt and that he has to pay 2% tax – over the past 4/5 years – before he can avail of consular service from the diplomatic mission.

This recording infuriated the Dutch parliament. Parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma said:

"Eritreans flee Eritrea solely due to the repression by the regime. Then they are being confronted with the fact that the Eritrean embassy in the Netherlands makes them pay diaspora tax, often under force and sometimes even through extortion. The parliament has raised its voice on this issue multiple times, but nothing changes about this situation, unfortunately."

Protesters in Amsterdam and Brussels were demanding that the Eritrean embassy be closed. This was rejected, but Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra expelled Eritrea's envoy, saying in a letter to parliament, "In light of the continuous intimidation and force used in the collection of diaspora tax and its resulting social and political unrest, the cabinet is forced to give the Eritrean government a powerful signal." Guardian (London, 9-Jun-2015) and Europe External Policy Advisors (EEPA) and In Depth News and Freedom House and United Nations - OHCHR and Tesfa News (Eritrea)

Eritrea's Patriarch Abune Antonios has not been seen in months

An article that I wrote last year ( "19-Jul-17 World View -- Eritrean government laughably uses Christian Patriarch as show prop") described how Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios, who had not been seen for ten years after being arrested in 2007 without charge and imprisoned in an unknown location, was trotted out to participate in a mass on July 16.

Worshippers were thrilled to see him, because he hadn't been seen in public for ten years, but the whole thing was a farce because the government forbade him from saying a word at the mass, and after the mass they bundled him back to prison at a new unknown location.

It had been hoped that after this appearance, Antonios would be permitted to walk free, but he hasn't been seen in public since then. On September 11, he should have delivered blessing on that day, which is marked by the Eritrean Orthodox Church as the start of the year according to the Julian calendar.

The patriarch is among over 10,000 prisoners of conscience in Eritrea, several hundred of whom are Christians. A surge in repression since May of last year, when Eritrean police were going from house to house, demanding to know the occupants' religious beliefs, and arresting them if they give the wrong answer. It's believed that hundreds of Orthodox Christians were arrested. Independent Catholic News (16-Sep-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Feb-18 World View -- Netherlands expels Eritrean diplomat over coercive 'diaspora tax' collections thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Feb-18 World View -- Colombia and Brazil close borders with Venezuela amid talk of possible military intervention

Parents send kids to orphanages as Venezuela's oil production collapse

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Parents send kids to orphanages as Venezuela's oil production collapse


Venezuelans loot a food warehouse in December
Venezuelans loot a food warehouse in December

Venezuela's oil output in January fell to its lowest level in nearly 30 years, with production falling 20% from a year ago. Although Venezuela is the wealthiest country in the world in terms of oil reserves, the oil company PDVSA has been nationalized, and the Socialist president Nicolás Maduro has turned it over to the dictator's Socialist cronies, who are so corrupt and incompetent they couldn't operate a bicycle, let alone an oil company. The result is that oil production in the Socialist country has been falling steadily.

Since oil is pretty much Venezuela's only export that it can use to earn foreign currency (dollars), Venezuela can no longer import food or medicines, which is why people are starving to death and babies are dying in hospitals.

The poverty and hunger rate in the Socialist country have become so disastrous that parents are unable to find food to feed their children. Store shelves are empty of food, medicine, diapers and baby formula.

The International Monetary Fund forecast that the hyperinflation in Venezuela will hit 13,000% in 2018, meaning that even if food were available, it would be unaffordable. Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have accused Venezuela's government of beating and torturing thousands of people protesting about the economy.

Incredibly, Venezuela's Socialist government even refuses to accept offers of food and medicine from its neighbors and aid agencies, including the Catholic Church, because to do so would requiring admitting that the Socialist economy was in crisis.

In desperation, some parents are placing their children in orphanages, just so that they can be fed. According to Angélica Pérez, a 32-year-old mother of three, "You don’t know what it’s like to see your children go hungry. You have no idea. I feel like I’m responsible, like I’ve failed them. But I’ve tried everything. There is no work, and they just keep getting thinner. Tell me! What am I supposed to do?"

Other parents are simply leaving their children in the streets in the hope that child protective services will find them and find a home for them. CNN and Miami Herald and Washington Post

Colombia and Brazil close borders to refugees from Venezuela

Colombia and Brazil on Tuesday announced a series of measures to control border crossings from Venezuela, as the Socialist economy continues to deteriorate.

With people unable to find jobs or food in Venezuela, waves of refugees have been pouring across the border into Colombia, and to a lesser extent into northwest Brazil.

Venezuela's Socialist economy began to crumble in 2013 with the collapse in global oil prices. Since then, an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans have fled across the border into Colombia. About 100,000 crossed the border in just the last two months of 2017. About 60,000 Venezuelans have crossed the border into Brazil.

Colombia's president Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday announced that strict immigration controls would be implemented, with 2,120 Colombian soldiers deployed to the 1,378 mile long border to enforce them. In a speech, Santos referred to the time when Venezuelans were kind to Colombians fleeing across the border into Venezuela during the civil war of the 1990s and early 2000s. Santos said:

"There will be more control and more security at borders.

Venezuela was very generous to Colombia when Colombians went in search of a better life [during the height of its civil war in the 1990s and early 2000s]. We should also be generous to Venezuela.

I want to repeat to President Maduro — this is the result of your policies, it is not the fault of Colombians and it’s the result of your refusal to receive humanitarian aid which has been offered in every way, not just from Colombia but from the international community."

Brazil’s defense minister, Raul Jungmann, said that Brazil would bolster security along the border and relocate the migrants. "This is a humanitarian drama. The Venezuelans are being expelled from their country by hunger and the lack of jobs and medicine. We are here to bring help and to strengthen the border." Costa Roca News and Petroleum World and Miami Herald and Brookings

Venezuela fears a military 'invasion' by Colombia and U.S.

Last weekend, American Admiral Kurt Tidd, head of U.S. Southern Command, visited with Colombia's vice president Oscar Naranjo in the coastal city of Tumaco, nominally to discuss the flow of drugs from Colombia's Pacific coast.

Tidd's visit to Colombia has triggered suspicions in Venezuela of a possible invasion by Colombia, backed by the United States. Venezuela's chief prosecutor said:

"In Colombia, they are planning to revive eras that had ended in human history, like military bombing, a military invasion or the occupation, through blood and gunfire, of a peaceful country like Venezuela. We will not allow it."

However, the commander of Colombia's armed forces replied, "We have so many problems in our own country, and that’s what we are solely dedicated to and focused on. We’re only interested in the problems of the Colombian people."

Nonetheless, with Venezuela's economy deteriorating rapidly and the flow of refugees surging, there is growing fear that Venezuela will destabilize the entire region, and that military action must be taken.

Vanessa Neumann of the Foreign Policy Research Institute was interviewed on Fox Business News, and said that Venezuela is presenting a major security threat to Colombia, because locals are getting into fights with the refugees, and there are terrorists mixing in with the refugees coming across the border.

Neumann gave the following assessment (my transcription, slightly edited):

"[Colombia's] military is sending armored personnel carriers with 50 caliber guns on top to stop the flow [of refugees from Venezuela]. It's gotten so bad that the locals are beating up the homeless Venezuelan refugees because there's just too many of them, even though they really consider themselves as brothers.

The other thing is Venezuelans have now joined some of the terrorist groups, because they've given them food, and the uniform and the job. They have launched 11 terrorist attacks in Colombia. The Colombians won't take this sitting down. They will go and cross the border into Venezuela, and then they'll have military assistance from the United States. ...

That's what I see happening, as well as more violence within Venezuela, because of the food. People are now just killing each other for food.

And in the border towns when they do escape I see them, selling gasoline, selling their own hair, selling their bodies, giving away their children. I saw it first-hand last week, and this week it's much worse. This won't last much longer.

And now some of the Venezuelans are saying, please -- they've never really advocated for American intervention before, but now 'We're so hungry, this is so bad, please come help us.'"

Maritime Herald and Miami Herald and Russia Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Feb-18 World View -- Colombia and Brazil close borders with Venezuela amid talk of possible military intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Feb-18 World View -- Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence

Massive 1998-2003 war between Hema and Lendu tribes has continued violence today

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence


Twenty year old Mary Maurita and her newborn baby in a Uganda refugee camp
Twenty year old Mary Maurita and her newborn baby in a Uganda refugee camp

Tens of thousands of refugees in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been fleeing tribal violence.

More than 14,000 refugees, the large majority women and children, have fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Uganda since December 18th 2017, because of increased tribal violence in eastern DRC. This is a big upsurge in refugees, reflecting a sharp increase in tribal and ethnic violence throughout eastern DRC.

Refugees have reported that the current situation in DRC includes armed groups burning down and pillaging villages, torching houses, shutting down schools, hospitals and churches, forcefully recruiting young men, abducting and kidnapping innocent citizens, raping women and girls. Some refugees were forced to pay armed groups to cross the border into Uganda to escape the violence.

Tribal conflicts are common in DRC. Since 1960, there have been more than 17 civil wars recorded, with four million deaths. For years, refugees from DRC have come to Uganda, particularly since August 2007, when government forces attacked civilians in North Kivu province in order to obtain mineral resources, including gold. At the end of 2017, there were 242,406 registered refugees in Uganda from DRC, and the number is increasing sharply because of increased tribal violence in DRC. In January alone, 13,550 additional refugees have arrived.

Because of the increased violence in DRC, Uganda is making plans to host hundreds of thousands more refugees. Uganda has a population of nearly 1,4 million refugees, of whom 1 million are from South Sudan and nearly 250,000 are from DRC. ReliefWeb and NTV (Uganda) and The Nation (Kenya)

Massive 1998-2003 war between Hema and Lendu tribes has continued violence today

After the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the violence spread to DR Congo as Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi intervened, and took sides in the tribal and government violence in eastern DRC, providing troops, training, arms, and general aid to the warring sides.

The Hema and the Lendu ethnic groups of the DR Congo are both pastoralist tribes, and they have historically had wars in competition for land for their cattle. After a new Hema-Lendu war started in 1998, Ugandan militias sided with the Hema against the Lendu. The result was a massive war in the Ituri district of northeastern Congo between August 1998 and July 2003, killing some 3.3 million people, and displacing hundreds of thousands more. The point of the war was mainly to gain control over mineral rights in the tribal land. Although the war was officially settled in 2003, the violence between Hema and Lendu, as well as between other tribal groups, continues to this day.

The European Union has announced that it will offer 100,000 euros in humanitarian aid for Congolese refugees in Uganda. According to an EU official:

"Renewed fighting and atrocities in DRC are driving thousands of Congolese from their homes. After the long journey, many of them arrive in the refugee settlement weakened and destitute. EU funding is being released to increase the safe water supply and improve sanitation, hygiene and health services. It is crucial that we provide dignified living conditions and prevent disease outbreaks."

According to one commenter: "This is good news for French speaking Europe: these refugees in Uganda won't try going to Europe, but will just flock more & more to Uganda where the money is!"

Northeastern Congo is cursed with vast riches in the form of mineral wealth, in a region with many tribes and ethnic groups. The level of violence increased sharply in mid-December, resulting in a massive new surge of refugees crossing the border, which Uganda is now faced with hosting in refugee camps. Kat Nickerson (June 2012) and Defence Web (South Africa) and ACT Alliance and Observer (Uganda)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Feb-18 World View -- Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?

Moon Jae-in faces some difficult decisions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean dictator's sister, charms the Olympics


Kim Yo-jong and Moon Jae-in share an intimate moment as they watch a performance by North Korea’s Samjiyon art troupe at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Kim Yo-jong and Moon Jae-in share an intimate moment as they watch a performance by North Korea’s Samjiyon art troupe at the National Theater of Korea in central Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)

History has been made this weekend, as the visit by North Korean officials to the Winter Olympics in Seoul has produced a softening of tensions between North and South Korea, and is succeeding in driving a wedge between South Korea and its allies, the United States and Japan. North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is truly a brilliant at marketing.

And best of all was Kim Yo-jong, the dictator's sister. She not only charmed president Moon Jae-in, she also charmed all of South Korea and in fact the whole world.

That's what you would believe if you read the mainstream media coverage of the Seoul Olympics.

US Vice President Mike Pence was described as "the loneliest figure" in the audience. He is described as having "snubbed" Kim Yo-jong, who was seated just a few feet away from him. Pence was truly the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Pence posted a tweet:

The US will not allow the propaganda charade by the North Korean regime to go unchallenged on the world state. the world can NOT turn a blind eye to the oppression & threats of the Kim regime."

Kim Jong-un was reported as saying that Pence's behavior was "shameful" and "snobbish."

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe apparently tried to bring things back down to earth by saying, "Now is not the time to postpone U.S.-South Korea military exercises. It is important to move forward with the drills as planned." Abe was referring to the joint military exercises that had been postponed because of North Korea's attendance at the Olympics. The South Korean government told him in essence that it was none of his business. Korea Herald and Reuters

Kim Yo-jong returns to Pyongyang with fond memories and an invitation for Moon

Before leaving Seoul on Sunday, Kim Yo-jong invited South Korea's president Moon Jae-in to visit her in Pyongyang, and also said that she'd like to visit Seoul again:

"Honestly, I never thought I would visit (the South) so suddenly and believed much would be strange and different but I saw many things that were similar or the same. Here's to hoping that we could see the pleasant people (of the South) again in Pyeongchang and bring closer the future where we are one again."

I thought that this was a very interesting statement, because it reminded me of the surprising outcome of a visit by Russia's Boris Yeltsin to the United States in 1989.


Boris Yeltsin visits Randall's Supermarket in Texas on September 16, 1989 (Houston Chronicle)
Boris Yeltsin visits Randall's Supermarket in Texas on September 16, 1989 (Houston Chronicle)

Yeltsin was visiting the Johnson Space Center in Houston on September 16, 1989, when suddenly he asked to go shopping at a grocery store to be chosen more or less at random. He ended up at Randall's Supermarket in Clear Lake, and was astounded at the bewildering variety of products available to American shoppers. He had been led to believe that the grocery stores in America were even worse than the ones in Soviet Russia, and he was shocked to learn the truth.

According to Yeltsin's autobiography, this visit changed his life, and shattered his view of communism. Two years later he left the Communist Party, and started making economic reforms. He wrote in his autobiography:

When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people. That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it."

So, when Kim Yo-jong says that she "saw many things that were similar or the same," what was she thinking? Was she reflecting on the many things that were dissimilar, and how much better off the South Korean people are than the North Korean people?

It's an interesting speculation, but Kim Jong-un is no Yeltsen. Nothing short of war is going to stop North Korea from developing its arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

Still, there are many questions: What is Kim Yo-jong thinking? Will she try to convince her brother to end his nuclear weapons program? And if she does try, will he have her killed, the way he's had other family members killed? Inquiring minds want to know.

At any rate, Kim Yo-jong passed on to Moon an invitation from the dictator to visit North Korea “at his earliest convenience." AP and Houston Chronicle (7-Apr-2014)

Moon Jae-in faces some difficult decisions

Kim Yo-jong is pretty, and Moon Jae-in is charming, and they make a very attractive couple, and the media have been fawning over them, but the core issues haven't changed.

Kim Jong-un has already said that he can reach the United States with a nuclear weapon, and that he's safe from attack, though that's believed to be an exaggeration. It's believed that the purpose of his Olympics charm offensive was to buy at least two months' time to continue development. And now by inviting Moon to visit him, he hopes to buy some more time.

Now it's up to Moon to make the next move, and there are a number of questions to be answered:

The politics behind the "bloody nose" attack are very interesting. I've heard one analyst after another say that such an attack is "clearly and obviously impossible," because the North would immediately retaliate with a massive artillery attack on Seoul.

But actually that doesn't make sense, as the logic points in the opposite direction. Assuming that a way can be found to destroy North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development facilities, the North would just have to accept it. If the North retaliated and attacked Seoul, then the next American attack would completely destroy Kim Jong-un's government, and Kim himself would be killed.

American government officials have been extremely clear that they will not permit North Korea to "have a deliverable atomic weapon that can reach the United States reliably. It just cannot be," in the words of John Kelly, echoing statements by Donald Trump, H.R. McMaster, Steve Bannon, Lindsey Graham, and others.

These are all considerations that Moon will have to take into account, as he decides what his next steps will be.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, of Moon's left-wing Democratic party, welcomed the North's proposal for a summit meeting:

"If an inter-Korean summit is realized, it will be recorded as the biggest achievement of the PyeongChang Olympics. We have to work with greater responsibility as we make preparations and respond carefully to the invitation.

Although there may be disagreements and concerns at home and abroad, what's clear is that peace stems from dialogue and it's impossible to oppose dialogue if we want peace."

However, Rep. Chang Je-won, right-wing opposition Liberty Korea Party criticized Moon for not raising the denuclearization issue with Kim Yo-jong during her visit:

"We once again warn that a visit by the president to North Korea, unless it is premised on denuclearization, would be nothing more than a congratulatory delegation celebrating (the North's) nuclear development and would amount to an enemy-benefiting act."

Korea Herald and Reuters and Yonhap News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Feb-18 World View -- Syrian war escalates sharply, after Israel, Iran, Turkey and Russia all lose aircraft

With defeat of ISIS, war escalates, and Syria becomes more fragmented and chaotic

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's F-16 warplane shot down in aftermath of downing Iranian drone


Russian warplane shot down in Idlib province last week by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. (AFP)
Russian warplane shot down in Idlib province last week by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. (AFP)

It was just a week ago, on February 3, that a Russian warplane was shot down in Idlib province by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. The pilot ejected, and was killed on the ground.

An Israeli F-16 warplane was shot down on Saturday by massive anti-aircraft fire fired by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both pilots ejected and were rescued on Israeli soil. One pilot was severely injured.

The series of incidents began when Israel detected what it assessed was an Iranian drone crossing into Israel from Syria. The Iranian drone was successfully intercepted by an Apache combat helicopter. the drone was downed by the Apache and recovered intact.

The drone had been launched from an Iranian launch pad near Palmyra in central Syria. Israel retaliated with an air strikes against the launch pad, as well as against a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets.

Israel's warplanes were met with heavy anti-aircraft fire from both Syria and Lebanon, suggesting that the drone attack might have been a planned ambush, with retaliation by the Syrian regime and Hezbollah. One Israeli F-16 warplane was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft weapon, most likely an SA-5 supplied by Iran.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said that Iran was only in Syria in an "advisory" role:

"The claim about the flight of an Iranian drone and Iran’s involvement in the downing of a Zionist fighter jet is so ridiculous that it does not merit a comment.

This is because the Islamic Republic of Iran has advisory presence in Syria at the request of the country’s legitimate and lawful government."

Iran's Brigadier General Hossein Salami was even more belligerent, saying that Iran would create a "hell" for the Zionists, and that all American military bases in the region are within range of Iranian missile strikes.

Many analysts had hoped that the Iran nuclear deal would moderate Iran's behavior. Instead, it appears that the infusion of huge amounts of money by lifting sanctions has made Iran much more aggressive in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Iran continues to militarize its "Shia Crescent," and threaten Israel.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:

"I've been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran's military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to us a Syrian territory to attack Israel, for its professed goal of destroying Israel. ...

Our policy is absolutely clear: Israel will defend itself against any attack and any attempt to harm our sovereignty. Iran made such an attempt today. It violated our sovereignty, it infiltrated Israeli territory with an [unmanned] aircraft from Syrian territory.

This is both our right and our duty and we will continue to do so as much as necessary. Let no one make a mistake about this."

Reuven Ben Shalom, a former Israeli fighter pilot, was even more belligerent, saying that Israel's aggressive actions send a clear message to Iran and Syria:

"This demonstrates our capabilities, demonstrates our resolve not to allow the breach of Israeli sovereignty. That means we can do whatever we want to do, we can take out any component we want, wherever we want. And I think it’s good that our enemies learn and understand these capabilities."

Debka (Israel) and Jerusalem Post and Tasnim News (Tehran) and Tasnim News and VOA

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Turkish helicopter shot down in Afrin, days after Russian warplane downed in Idlib

On January 20, Turkey began its invasion of northern Syria, ironically named "Operation Olive Branch," to defeat the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). The plan was a quick victory in the northern city of Afrin, followed by an advance eastward toward Manbij, where it was feared that they would clash with US forces.

Achieving victory in Afrin has been going slower than promised, and on Saturday, YPG militias shot down a Turkish helicopter, resulting in the deaths of up to 11 Turkish soldiers.

Estimates are that since Operation Olive Branch began, the YPG has killed over 20 Turkish soldiers, and the Turks have killed over 150 Kurdish fight.

On Saturday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech, saying:

"A little while ago, one of our helicopters was downed. Of course all these things will happen - we are in a war. We will have losses, but we will also cause losses. Yesterday we destroyed and annihilated a very large rocket depot. Of course the YPG got mad about that. But of course we will make them pay heavily for that. Maybe one of our helicopters is gone, but they will pay for this. Not in kind, but so much more, because we are determined, and we believe we are superior. We will succeed in this as well."

It was just a week ago, on February 3, that a Russian warplane was shot down in Idlib province by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), using a portable surface-to-air missile. The pilot ejected, and was killed on the ground.

Russia and Syria have both been taking revenge this past week by massive bombing of civilian neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, including continued use of chlorine gas. Estimates are that 230 civilians have been killed by Russia and Syria in the last week. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Reuters and Globe and Mail (Canada)

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With defeat of ISIS, war escalates, and Syria becomes more fragmented and chaotic

The war in Syria has sharply escalated this week. Four countries have lost a military aircraft in Syria in the last week. On Saturday, three countries lost military aircraft on a single day, just days after the same happened to a fourth country. So Iran lost a drone, Israel lost a warplane, Turkey lost a helicopter, and Russia lost a warplane.

There are at least 14 armies and militias operating in Syria now: Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), People’s Protection Units (YPG), Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, United States, al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Sometimes the alliances are clear. For example, Turkey and the FSA are allied against the SDF and the YPG. Syria, Iran and Hezbollah are allied against Israel. Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are allied against Sunni civilians. In other cases, the alliances are fuzzy, such as the relationship between Turkey and the FSA.

As we've been saying for months, all of these forces (except ISIS) have been united only in that they were all nominally fighting against ISIS, albeit with a variety of hidden and conflicting objectives. Now that ISIS has been defeated, all of these conflicting objectives have been exposed, and all of these different armies and militias have no one to shoot at but each other.

Each of these 14 armies and militias has a different objective. Some of them want a piece of Syria. Other just want to keep someone else from getting a piece of Syria. In the middle of everything, you have the psychopathic war criminal Bashar al-Assad. These conflicting objectives mean that there will be no peace in Syria for a long, long time. The Drive

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Feb-18 World View -- Syrian war escalates sharply, after Israel, Iran, Turkey and Russia all lose aircraft thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Feb-18 World View -- Egypt's army announces major counter-terrorism operation in Sinai - with Israel's help

Multiple reports indicate that Egypt and Israel are cooperating in Sinai

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's army launches 'Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018' to purge country of terrorism


From November 2017: Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)
From November 2017: Rescue personnel at the site of the bomb blast at Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai. (Gulf News)

Egypt's army announced the launch of a major military operation in the Sinai Peninsula. The operation will be targeting several jihadist terror militias, but it's expected that the major target will be the Bedouin-based Sinai terrorist group 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 in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

In November, at least 235 people were killed when ABM terrorists stormed the Al-Rawda mosque in Bir al-Abed in Egypt's Northern Sinai with explosives and gunfire with heavy weapons.

At that time, Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi promised revenge for these "vile and treacherous" attacks:

"The army and police will avenge our martyrs and return security and stability with force in the coming short period."

Egypt declared a nationwide state of emergency last April when twin suicide bombings on Palm Sunday at two Coptic churches in two cities north of Cairo killed at least 47 people.

In 2014, al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in northern Sinai following a suicide bombing that killed 33 soldiers. He said at the time that "the war in Sinai will last for a long time, as there are a lot of terrorists hiding in the peninsula, but this new level of attacks has put us in a new level of planning too in order to combat the terrorism there."

The operation announced on Friday is called "Comprehensive Operation Sinai 2018." The operation is said to be unprecedented in its scope, coordination and size, involving thousands of troops. According to the army's announcement:

"[This] morning the law enforcement forces began to implement the Comprehensive confrontation plan of terrorist and criminal elements and organizations in North and Central Sinai and other areas of the Delta of Egypt and the Western Desert linebacker. [The objectives are] clearing areas where there are terrorist hotbeds, and to fortify Egyptian society from the evils of terrorism and extremism in parallel with other crimes affecting security and internal stability. ...

As part of ongoing law enforcement efforts, elements of the Air Force have targeted some of the hotspots, dens, weapons and ammunition depots used by terrorist elements as a base for targeting law enforcement forces and civilian targets in Northern and Central Sinai."

The timing of the operation is probably related to Egypt's 2018 presidential election, in which el-Sisi is running for reelection. The election will be held on March 26-28. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Egypt Today

Multiple reports indicate that Egypt and Israel are cooperating in Sinai

For several years, there have been reports that Egypt and Israel have been cooperating in Egypt's Sinai region. These reports were not confirmed, and some readers criticized me for mentioning them at all. Nonetheless, I always believed that they were true, because they made sense. Terrorists in Northern Sinai were killing Egyptians, and they were also shooting missiles across the border into Israeli towns. It seemed logical that the two countries would cooperate military to destroy their common enemy.

Now, in the last two weeks, there have been a flurry of new reports about this. Once again, the reports have not been officially confirmed, but they're now widely believed.

Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979. The treaty included the provisions that neither Israel nor Egypt can mass military forces or take military actions in Northern Sinai.

Several years ago, Israel and Egypt announced that Israel was waiving the restriction on Egypt's military in Sinai, so that Egypt's army could fight the jihadist militias. However, the possibility of Israeli airstrikes into Sinai is clearly forbidden by the treaty, and if permitted by Egypt would be a very controversial issue in the Arab world, and could expose Egypt to criticism from its Arab allies.

Last week, the NY Times reported the following:

"For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi."

The report has been dubbed "fake news" by some Arab media, but there seems to be little doubt that it's true. BBC and Middle East Eye and VOA and Jerusalem Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Feb-18 World View -- Egypt's army announces major counter-terrorism operation in Sinai - with Israel's help thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces

International Crisis Groups asks Russia to prevent Israel-Iran war in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces


CNN goes on patrol with US soldiers in Syria
CNN goes on patrol with US soldiers in Syria

The war in Syria may have gotten even more chaotic on Thursday when US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), backed by US warplanes, clashed with pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies. The pro-regime forces launched a massive, coordinated attack on the SDF, and were driven back with the aid of US warplanes.

The US had been observing the buildup of the pro-regime forces for several days, as they prepared for this assault on the SDF. During that period, the US forces contacted the Russians over an established "de-confliction" hotline that was set up to prevent such clashes. However, the pro-regime forces attacked anyway, and the SDF forces counter-attacked in self-defense.

According to Pentagon spokesman Dana White:

"Syrian pro-regime forces moved in a battalion-sized unit formation supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars

Syrian Democratic Forces acted in self-defense with support from the coalition to defeat an unprovoked attack by Syrian pro-regime forces in eastern Syria. Pro-regime forces initiated what appeared to be a coordinated attack on Syrian Democratic Forces east of the Euphrates River deconfliction line.

After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters, the Syrian democratic forces , supported by the coalition, targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes,

Coalition advisors were with the SDF, and this action was taken in self-defense. Pro-regime vehicles and personnel that were turned around and headed back west were not targeted."

The Syrian regime attack on the SDF took place to the east of the Euphrates River, where US-backed forces have been continuing to fight forces from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) that had been expelled by the SDF from their self-described caliphate in Raqqa.

According to the Pentagon, an estimated 100 regime fighters were killed, out of a total of regime fighters, who were backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars in the assault.

The Syrian regime said that the US-backed forces had committed a "barbaric aggression" representing a "war crime":

"This new aggression, which represents a war crime and a crime against humanity and a direct support to terrorism, affirms the nature of the low US intentions against the sovereignty of Syria, the unity of its land and people and the US exploitation of the pretext of fighting terrorism to establish illegal bases on the Syrian territory."

With the Syrian regime dropping barrel bombs containing metal laced with chlorine gas on women and children in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, it's really laughable for the regime to accuse anyone of anything. According to one doctor, "Ghouta is drowning in blood," where on the same day, Thursday, 100 people were wounded and at least 14 killed, including a rescue worker and several children. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is still the worst genocidal monster so far in the 21st century. RFE/RL and Dept. of Defense and Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and Guardian (London)

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International Crisis Groups asks Russia to prevent Israel-Iran war in Syria

Regular readers will recall that for the last two years it's been apparent that Syria, Turkey, Iran, Hezbollah, and the SDF were all fighting ISIS, but that as soon as ISIS was defeated, they would start fighting each other.

So you have the Syrian civil war between the regime plus al-Assad plus the Russians plus Iran plus Hezbollah versus the "anti-Assad rebel" resistance force. You also have the Turks fighting against the Kurds, where the fight in Afrin continues to drag on. And you have occasional flare-ups of violence between the SDF and the regime, as happened on Thursday. And the Israelis are conducting a counter-terrorism campaign against Hezbollah in the south of Syria.

It's this last war within a war that the International Crisis Group (ICG) described in a report on Thursday as the most dangerous and likely to grow through miscalculation into a larger war.

According to the report:

"The Syrian war has entered a new stage with the regime of Bashar al-Assad gaining the upper hand. Israel, no longer content to remain a bystander as Damascus’s position improves, is now jockeying to reverse the deterioration of its strategic posture. In this endeavor it has formidable obstacles to overcome: the regime is more dependent than ever on Iran, which Israel regards as its most implacable state foe; other enemies, particularly Hezbollah and Iran-backed Shiite militias, are entrenched in Syria with Russia’s blessing; and the U.S., notwithstanding the Trump administration’s strident rhetoric, has done little to reverse Iran’s gains. Yet Israel’s hand is not so weak. Russia has given it room to act against Iran-linked military interests and appears to be more interested in balancing contending fighting coalitions than returning every last piece of territory to the Assad regime’s control. But if Russia wishes to eventually withdraw or draw down its forces, it will need to broker rules of the game. Russia has indicated scant interest in doing so, but if it does not, hostilities between Israel and Iran may threaten its accomplishments, particularly regime stability."

The report says that this is going to result in a larger war through miscalculation, unless Russia takes on the responsibility of mediating a solution. The report says:

"Russia should broker understandings that bolster the de-escalation agreement distancing Iran-backed forces from Syria’s armistice line with Israel; halt Iran’s construction of precision missile facilities and its military infrastructure in Syria; and convince Israel to acquiesce in foreign forces remaining in the rest of Syria pending a deal on the country’s future."

One can only think that this is a joke. None of these actors -- Iran, Syria, Hezbollah or Israel -- is going to agree to anything like this.

In fact, the thought of Russia negotiating some sort of peace agreement is itself a joke. Russia has already negotiating "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones" in its Astana (Kazakhstan) peace process, but now Russia itself is the biggest violator of its own agreement, but massive bombing of deconfliction zones in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

Russia can't negotiate a peace agreement because Russia wants to exterminate the same Sunni Muslims that al-Assad wants to exterminate. For Russia, a "peace agreement" is total destruction of the enemy who, in this case, are millions of mostly innocent civilians.

The United Nations can't broker a peace because the United Nations is itself a joke.

There's only one entity that could possibly play the role of forcing a negotiated peace, and that's the United States, Policeman of the World. But the US, even with the help of a US-led coalition, has neither the desire nor the ability to succeed at that role, and still has its hands full fighting ISIS.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. International Crisis Group and Middle East Eye and Arab News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Feb-18 World View -- Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border

Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border


Cameroon Francophone security forces (AFP)
Cameroon Francophone security forces (AFP)

Some 30,000-40,000 refugees from the Anglophone (English-speaking) Southern Cameroons region of Cameroon have been flooding across the border into Nigeria, to escape violence and atrocities by the security forces of the Francophone (French-speaking) government of Cameroon's president Paul Biya.

The violence started in 2016, but at the start is one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

Violence by Francophone security forces grew during 2017, and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when pro-Anglophone activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march, and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them, resulting in the mass flight of refugees into Nigeria.

The October 1 marches were led by separatist activist Sisiku Ayuk Tabe.

On January 5, Nigeria captured Tabe while at a meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. Tabe was arrested with 46 of his supporters. After much political debate and calculation within the Nigerian government, a decision was made to extradite Tabe and his supporters back to Cameroon for trial. The extradition faced international criticism, because it was feared that the Biya government would torture them and give them an unfair trial.

It's possible that Nigeria gave in to the extradition hoping somehow that it would calm the situation on the border, or whatever. With tens of thousands of Anglophone civilians fleeing across the border into Nigeria, the Nigerians may have been desperate enough to try anything.

But now there's a major new complication. As Anglophone Cameroonians have been fleeing into Nigerian, Francophone Cameroonian soldiers have been crossing the border in violation of international law, following the fleeing refugees, arresting some of them, and taking them back to Cameroon.

Even worse, some of the people that the Cameroon soldiers arrested were actually Nigerian citizens, infuriating Nigeria's government.

Nigeria's Senator Enoh alleged that over 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the Danare-Daddi/Danre-Bodom axis and abducted five natives.

"This is a calculated assault/offence from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and on outright defiance of Nigeria territorial sovereignty, not minding the consequences of crossing the international boundary to carry out intimidations and harassment on the already alarmed citizens of Danare, with warnings of further assault."

There are increasing fears that the situation in Southern Cameroons is spiraling out of control, especially since Cameroon's 84-year-old president Paul Biya is willing to use any amount of violence, slaughter, torture and abuse to stay in power.

Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, Cameroon is right on the cusp of entering a generational Crisis era, which means that it's possible that the current violence could spiral into a new civil war, this time between the Anglophones and the Francophones. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Independent (Nigeria) and Vanguard (30-Jan)

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Nigeria sends army to curb violence between herders and farmers

On January 31, a group of young men believed to be from the Christian Tiv farmer ethnic group attacked travelers waiting at the Gboko bus station in central Nigeria. The travelers were said to have "light skin and look like Fulanis," referring to the Muslim Fulani herder ethnic group. The Tiv attackers used sticks, stones and machetes to subdue the victims, and then set them on fire.

The attack is believed to be in revenge for an attack a week earlier by armed Fulanis who stormed a Tiv farming village and opened fire on the residents.

These are just two of a series of increasingly violent tit-for-tat attacks between herders and farmers. Herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes. About 168 people were killed in these tit-for-tat attacks in January alone.

On Wednesday, Nigeria's army announced the launch of "Exercise Ayem Akpatum," a phrase that is said to mean "Cat race" in the Tiv language. The exercise will run from February 15 to March 31, 2018.

It is "aimed at curbing all cases of kidnapping, armed banditry, cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger states, sundry crimes in Kogi state and herdsmen/farmers clashes in all respective states, especially in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states." Focus will be placed on raids, search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and humanitarian activities such as medical outreaches.

I have my doubts that "Exercise Ayem Akpatum" is going to do anything to solve the problem, but that remains to be seen.

As I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Nigeria, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

As in the case of the Cameroon situation, there are fears that the increasing violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria today will spiral into full-scale civil war. Nigeria's last generational crisis war was the Biafran War or Nigerian Civil War, fought between Nigeria and the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The war began on July 1967, and ended on January 11, 1970, with the surrender of Biafra.

Since that war climaxed only 48 years ago, Nigeria is in a generational Unraveling era, and there are plenty of traumatized survivors of that war still alive who will do anything to prevent it from happening again. So there will not be a new civil war at the present time, but this localized violence between herders and farmers will continue and worsen. AFP and AFP (1-Feb) and Nigerian Eye and Nigerian Government

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Feb-18 World View -- Nigeria threatens Cameroon as 40,000 refugees cross the border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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7-Feb-18 World View -- Maldives crisis pits India vs China in the Indian Ocean

Maldives president arrests Supreme Court justices to get favorable court ruling

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Maldives president arrests Supreme Court justices to get favorable court ruling


Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean
Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean

India is debating whether it will be necessary to intervene military in the Maldives, as the government appears to be getting increasingly unstable.

Maldives is an archipelago of around 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of India, with enormous strategic significance because of its proximity to international sea lanes through which two-thirds of the world’s oil and half its container shipments pass.

Maldives has had one presidential crisis after another for years, but the current crisis began most acutely in March 2015, when president Abdulla Yameen jailed Mohamed Nasheed, a former president who had been the only democratically elected president in the country's history. Nasheed and a dozen supporters were jailed on "terrorism" charges, which Nasheed said were politically motivated.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail, but in 2016 he was permitted to go the UK for emergency medical treatment. While in the UK, he was granted asylum, and he's lived there in exile.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2015 convictions were unconstitutional, and that all of Nasheed's supporters should be released from jail.

In response, Yameen ordered the police to arrest two of the Supreme Court justices. The remaining three judges then reversed the previous order to free Nasheed's supporters, and so they remain in jail. Yameen has ordered a 15-day state of emergency and imposed martial law, giving him and the police unlimited authority to arrest anyone without charging them.

The biggest industry in the Maldives is tourism, and this is the height of the tourist season. The US, the UK, India and China are all advising citizens not to travel to the Maldives for fear that the political chaos could turn into street violence.

Nasheed, still in exile, is calling on India to intervene militarily. India did intervene militarily in 1998, when Maldives was under attack from Sri Lankan Tamil militants. Today, India is keeping its navy on alert and continuing patrols around the Maldives islands, but there are no plans now to intervene. Al-Jazeera and New Delhi TV and BBC and Daily Telegraph (Australia) and AP

Maldives crisis pits India vs China in the Indian Ocean

When Mohamed Nasheed was president, Maldives had a close relationship with the UK and India. However, president Yameen has distanced himself from the UK and India, and is developing close relationships with China, much to the distress of India.

Under Yameen, Maldives has also developed close relations with Saudi Arabia. In June, 2017, Maldives joined in the blockade by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain against Qatar.

For decades, India has considered both Maldives and Sri Lanka to be part of its major sphere of influence. But China has invaded both countries with infrastructure projects, gaining influence at India's expense. China has recently taken control of Sri Lanka's southern Hambantota seaport.

India was shocked on December 8 when China and Maldives signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This brings Maldives into China's Maritime Silk Road, a component of China's Belt and Road Initiative. Other agreements provided for cooperation in health, tourism, technology and climate change. When combined with China's control of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport, this gives China considerable control over the sea lanes in the India Ocean. The Diplomat and First Post (India) and Nikkei Asian Review and The Diplomat (21-Apr-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Feb-18 World View -- Maldives crisis pits India vs China in the Indian Ocean thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Feb-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people

UN Security Council is worthless as Syria uses chemical weapons with impunity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people


A poison hazard danger sign in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria (picture-alliance/AA/A. Dagul)
A poison hazard danger sign in the town of Khan Shaykun, Idlib province, Syria (picture-alliance/AA/A. Dagul)

Rescue workers are reporting that warplanes from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and from his ally Russia have stepped up bombing attacks on civilians in densely populated neighborhoods in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, and the use of chlorine gas has been stepped up. At least 29 people were killed.

Typically chlorine gas is deliver through the use of barrel bombs. The barrel bombs are filled with metal and chlorine gas in order to kill as many people as possible.

Al-Assad has used Sarin gas in the past to kill dozens or hundreds of people at a time. As a chemical weapon, chlorine gas doesn't immediately kill as many people as Sarin, but it's used in a different way. When warplanes start bombing women and children particularly hide in basements of buildings. Since chlorine gas is heavier than air, it seeps down into the basements and forces the choking women and children out into the open, where they can be targeted by missiles and gunfire.

As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. 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. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he's targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he's used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. Shia/Alawite al-Assad considers almost all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. AP and Reuters and Deutsche Welle

UN Security Council is worthless as Syria uses chemical weapons with impunity

At the United Nations Security Council meeting on Monday, US Ambassador Nicki Haley condemned Russia for blocking investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria:

"The news out of Syria this morning is following a troubling pattern. Victims of what appears to be chlorine gas are pouring into hospitals. ...

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Security Council Resolution 2118, the Assad regime’s obligations are clear: It must immediately stop using all chemical weapons. We spent much of last year in this council watching one country protect the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons by refusing to hold them responsible."

The reason that Russia is using its veto to block investigations of chemical weapons attacks in Syria is because Russia knows that Syria is using the chemical weapons to target innocent civilians. Bashar al-Assad is a war criminal, but Russia's president Vladimir Putin is also a war criminal, and there's honor among thieves or, in this case, honor among war criminals.

The Russians don't want to make the same disastrous mistake they made in 2013, after al-Assad's Sarin gas attack, killing hundreds of civilians. Russia allowed an investigation to go ahead, but they were too clever by half by allowing the investigation to go forward, but the investigators were forbidden from assigning blame. So A U.N. chemical weapons team was authorized to investigate the incident. However, thanks to a threatened Russian veto, the U.N. team was forbidden from assigning blame for the Sarin attack. But the team found a clever way of assigning blame without having to say it. In their scientific analysis of the evidence, they included calculations of the trajectories of the rockets that delivered the Sarin gas. They drew no conclusions about where the rockets were launched, but they provided enough scientific information within the report so that experts studying the report could analyze the trajectories to prove that the rockets must have been launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit.

There have been several investigations of the 2013 Sarin gas attack, and there are thousands of pieces of evidence that al-Assad used Sarin gas on ordinary civilians, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

As if that weren't enough, there was a new report last week that a new investigation used laboratory tests to prove that the Sarin gas used in the 2013 attack was identical to the Sarin gas that al-Assad turned over to investigators in 2013 when he agreed to permanently eliminate Syria's chemical weapons program. The new tests prove, once again, that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the 2013 Sarin gas attack, though that hasn't been in doubt for years.

After the attack, al-Assad didn't admit he was responsible, but agreed to a destroy a 1,300 metric ton stockpile of chemicals related to the 2013 attack. Few people believed that al-Assad followed through on his promise, and laboratory tests since then proved that he didn't.

I've been around for a few decades, and I keep asking myself, how could all this be happening? We have al-Assad's use of chemical weapons with impunity, we have Russia invading and annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, we have China building illegal large military bases in the South China Sea with the obvious intention soon of controlling all access to the South China Sea, and we have China building multiple large nuclear missile systems whose only purpose is to attack the United States in a preemptive attack. At the same time, we have a political clown circus going on in Washington, and an equally idiotic Brexit circus going on in London.

I know that Generational Dynamics has predicted all along that this sort of thing was going to happen, but I still react in amazement every day how the world has completely lost all common sense and is pushing itself off the edge of a cliff, guided by sheer insanity. It's astonishing. How could all this be happening? Politico and Reuters (30-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Feb-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad steps up use of chemical weapons on his own people thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Feb-18 World View -- Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise

Officials go from optimism to pessimism over solving Macedonia issue

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise


Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday (Sky News)
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday (Sky News)

Chances to resolve a major European dispute dimmed considerably on Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of Greeks crowded into Syntagma Square in the center of Athens on Sunday to protest any name change that contains the word "Macedonia." Crowd size estimates varied from 140,000 to one million.

The dispute is between Greece and the country just north of Greece known as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM), or informally (outside of Greece) as just "Republic of Macedonia."

Greece has vetoed attempts by Macedonia to join either Nato or the EU because many Greeks consider "Macedonia" to be pure Greek name, and they oppose another other country using it as part of their own name. They are especially infuriated by Macedonia's claims that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. They claim that he was Greek because at that time the Kingdom of Macedon was part of Greece.

The proposed compromises involve adding a modifier, such as "Republic of New Macedonia," or "Republic of Upper Macedonia." In the past, right-wing nationalistic governments in both Greece and Macedonia were refusing to accept any compromise. However, it's been hoped that a compromise will be reached this year, because the governing parties in both countries are left-wing.

In Athens, the protests were led by 93-year-old composer Mikis Theodorakis, who wrote the score for "Zorba the Greek." He has always been on the far left, but on Sunday he was supporting the far right in opposing any compromise on the Macedonia name. On Saturday, self-described Anarchists spray-painted red paint all over his home, but on Sunday he said, "I am calm and ready." Kathimerini (Athens) and Greek Reporter and BBC and Meta (Macedonia)

Officials go from optimism to pessimism over solving Macedonia issue


The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks
The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks

There has been growing hope expressed by officials in Nato and the European Union, in Macedonia and even among some officials in Greece, that finally this decades-old struggle might finally be resolved.

However, Sunday's huge anti-compromise rally in Athens is going to make compromise difficult. Opinion polls show that a majority of Greeks oppose the use of "Macedonia" in any compromise solution. About 300,000 people turned out at a demonstration on Jan. 21 in Thessaloniki, capital of Greece’s Macedonia region. Even members of Greece's parliament who would like to adopt a compromise know that they will have to face angry voters in the next election.

Some Greek officials are saying that there are very real reasons for concern in agreeing to allow "Macedonia" to be part of FYROM's new name. These concerns stem from FYROM's constitution.

Article 3 of the FYROM constitution says that the country "has no territorial claims against neighboring countries," but also states that the country’s borders could change in accordance with "the principle of free will and in agreement with internationally accepted rules."

Article 49 raises the greatest concerns:

"The republic is interested in the regime and the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats, by assisting in their cultural development and and promoting bonds between them."

Greek officials are concerned that when the lawyers take over at some future time, then these articles could be used to claim that any Greeks living in Greece's Macedonian provinces are under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Macedonia.

Any compromise agreement would have to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries by a 2/3 majority. If there is no ratification, then each country would have to hold a referendum. There has been a lot of optimism that this problem will be solved this year, but Sunday's huge rally in Athens must at least turn some of that optimism to pessimism. Balkan EU and Greek Reporter (24-Jan) and Greek Reporter (16-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Feb-18 World View -- Hundreds of thousands in Athens Greece protest Macedonia name compromise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Feb-18 World View -- Kenya cracks down on political opposition after mock inauguration

Fears grow of repeat of 2008 post-election violence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya cracks down on political opposition after mock inauguration


Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga holds up a Bible as he swears himself in as "the people's president of the Republic of Kenya" (AFP)
Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga holds up a Bible as he swears himself in as "the people's president of the Republic of Kenya" (AFP)

Kenya is in crisis after the government led by president Uhuru Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu, has been cracking down on free speech in violation of a court order, and is making arbitrary arrests of leading figures in the opposition, which is led by Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo.

The government earlier this week ordered Kenya's top three independent TV channels to stop broadcasting, to prevent them from broadcasting Odinga's mock inauguration ceremony. The shutdown was originally supposed to be temporary, but the government has ordered the shutdown to continue. On Thursday, a pro-Odinga activist obtained a court order saying declaring the shutdown at an end, but the Kenyatta government has used police force to prevent the court order from being served on the government.

At the same time, the government have ordered the arrests of several pro-Odinga supporters. In one case, that of political activist Miguna Miguna, the police are ignoring a court order that he be released on bail.

Kenya's government chaos began in August of last year, when Uhuru Kenyatta won reelection as Kenya's president in an election that claimed was invalid because of numerous irregularities. In a ruling that shocked not only Kenya but all of Africa, Kenya's Supreme Court issued a ruling, overturning the election. A new election was held on October 26. Odinga's party declared that election invalid and boycotted it. Kenyatta won that election as well.

On Tuesday of last week, Odinga held a mock inauguration ceremony at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya's capital city. (Uhuru is Kiswahili for freedom.) He held up a bible and declared himself the "people's president," at a "swearing-in" ceremony where he said that he was answering to a "high[er] calling to assume the office of the people's president of the Republic of Kenya."

Despite the fact that Kenyatta's government called the ceremony an act of treason, and despite fears that police would prevent the event from taking place, thousands of enthusiastic Odinga supporters attended the mock inauguration.

The government permitted the ceremony to go ahead, but called it an act of treason. It shut down the independent TV stations, forbidding anyone from broadcasting the event, and then began the arrests of the "conspirators" in the mock inauguration. CNN and Reuters and The Nation (Nairobi) and NPR

Fears grow of repeat of 2008 post-election violence

In 2007, there was a presidential election where Odinga from the Luo tribe was defeated for president by another member of the Kikuyu tribe.

After the December 2007 president elections, there was a period of extremely bloody inter-tribal violence in the Rift Valley in Kenya, beginning early in 2008. The worst atrocity occurred when 30 people were lured into a church to escape violence, and a young gang locked the doors and set the church on fire, burning everyone alive. All in all, more than 1,200 people were killed in the tribal violence between the Kalenjins, who are mostly herders, and the Kikuyus, who are mostly farmers. The Luos are an offshoot of the Kalenjins.

Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. At that time, Kenya was a British colony, and the Mau-Mau rebellion was largely a fight against the colonists. The 2008 violence was not a full-scale war, and it fizzled quickly. But today, nine years later, a new crisis war is overdue, and with the British colonists long gone, it's feared that there will be a new full-scale crisis war between the Kikuya, Kalenjin and Luo tribes.

Kenya's history has been something of a clash between two dynasties, the Kenyatta and Odinga dynasties. During the Mau-Mau rebellion, both the Kikuyus, led by Jomo Kenyatta, and the Luos, led by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, opposed the British colonists, although because of the country's geography, the Kikuyus bore the brunt of the fighting.

The Kenyattas and the Odingas were united after the war ended, but as the younger generations grew up, there was a clear split by the Awakening era of the 1980s, with Odinga and the Luos leaning toward Communist Russia and China, while Kenyatta and the Kikuyus were strongly pro-Western.

Incidentally, Barack Obama's ancestors were Luos. When Obama won the U.S. presidency in 2008, Kenyans were ecstatic, and his victory was declared a national holiday. But by the time of his re-election in 2012, Kenyan audiences celebrated him less as the son of a nation than as the son of a particular ethnic group, the Luos.

The Kikuyus have been in power for most of Kenya's history, and the Luos have been continually marginalized. After a failed coup in 1982, Raila Odinga himself was placed under house arrest for seven months.

Today, Kenya is just entering a generational Crisis era. The survivors of the Mau-Mau rebellion have wanted to prevent a new full-scale war from occurring, but now those survivors are almost completely gone, replaced with younger generations, many of whom are thirsting for war. The 1982 coup, which occurred during a generational Awakening era, fizzled quickly, as did the violence in 2008. But the population is very different today, and an attempted coup, if one occurred, could quickly spread into a larger war.

Uhuru Kenyatta is probably aware of this, and that's probably the reason he tells himself that it's necessary to shut down opposition television stations and jail opposition leaders. Unfortunately, those repressive actions will not prevent violence, and in fact could bring about the violence more quickly. The Nation (Kenya) and The Herald (Zimbabwe) and NPR (24-Jul-2015)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Feb-18 World View -- Kenya cracks down on political opposition after mock inauguration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Feb-18 World View -- Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes

Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes


A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)
A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)

Police in Calais France intervened to protect around 20 Afghan migrants being attacked by more than 100 African migrants armed with iron rods and sticks.

This incident occurred on Friday afternoon, around the same time as a gunfight three miles away between about 100 Eritreans and 30 Afghans queueing for free meals at a distribution point near the town's hospital. Between the two incidents, 22 migrants are being treated in hospitals, including five in critical condition with gunshot wounds.

Nothing like this was ever supposed to happen again, once France closed down and bulldozed the big Calais migrant camp called "The Jungle" in 2016. At one point, The Jungle housed almost 10,000 migrants, and France's president Emmanuel Macron has promised that The Jungle will never return, saying, "There will be no reconstruction of the Jungle and no tolerance for the illegal occupation of public space."

To prevent a new Jungle from appearing spontaneously, Macron has adopted a number of very harsh policies. According to various reports, police are treating refugees brutally. Materials such as sleeping bags and covers are being confiscated and thrown out. Refugees are prevented from sleeping in the open, so they have to run into the woods and sleep there. Sometimes the police spray food with teargas so that it become inedible.

Nonetheless, various estimates indicate that 700-1000 migrants are now "sleeping rough" in Calais, mostly in the woods. When "The Jungle" existed, there was an infrastructure including semi-permanent dwellings, regular food deliveries, and some level of police protection for the migrants. Today, it's total chaos, with migrants sleeping under trees, NGOs providing irregular food deliveries, and police committed to getting rid of the migrants.

A furious Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said such violence "was absolutely unacceptable," and said her town was confronted by all-out gang warfare:

"They are people who live off this. Culturally, they are against the state, institutions. They help neither the migrants nor the population.

The serious incidents multiplied from this afternoon. This was fighting between migrants, these were turf wars. There are more and more guns, iron bars and other weapons being used.

We have to clear the area. This is a security issue. The public can't carry on accepting this situation."

France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb spent the night in Calais and said:

"There will be people here at their wits’ ends faced with this increasingly violent presence among a certain number of migrants, who it is plain to see are organized in gangs.

We know there are gang leaders ... and it is these networks we must dismantle."

Collomb has a solution: He said that within two weeks the government would take over control of food distribution from local aid groups and conduct the handouts outside the town. That, he said, would remove an incentive for the migrants to gather in Calais.

In addition, last month Britain and France announced that the 2003 Le Touquet migration agreement will be renewed, and that Britain will pay £44.5 million to France to reinforce security measures in Calais, including fencing, CCTV and detection technology. France 24 and Reuters and Daily Mail (London)

Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

Last week, protesting French fishermen completely shut down the port of Calais. Fishing boats blocked ferries from leaving and entering the port, while on land, fishermen burned tires to block access to the port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer.

The fishermen were protesting electric pulse fishing by large trawlers. The technique uses electrodes to emit electric waves, stunning fish which then float upwards and are scooped up by giant nets. However, supporters of pulse fishing say the technique reduces unwanted bycatch and avoids plowing nets along the seabed.

The second issue that the French fishermen were protesting was that they could lose access to English fishing waters after Brexit. With Britain in the EU, all the fishing waters are shared by all EU countries. After Brexit, that issue has to be renegotiated. This is just one more of the difficult issues that the port of Calais is presenting to UK-EU negotiators.

The blockade of the port ended after a few hours, but it took many more hours to clear the traffic jam that had built up.

That's because more than 2.6 million vehicles per year cross the English Channel between Calais and the Port of Dover, and any temporary blockage can cause a major traffic jam.

Today, with Britain still part of the EU, vehicles move on and off ferries to cross the Channel without delay, but after Brexit, there will have to be customs border checks. France says that it will have to hire an extra 95 customs officers this year, to perform the border checks after Brexit in March 2019. According to one analyst, a two-minute delay to process a single truck could cause a 17 mile traffic jam.

Britain has not yet announced its plans for its own customs border checks on its side of the Channel, but prime minister Theresa May says that it is seeking the freest possible trade with the EU after Brexit. Independent (Ireland) and UK Haulier and Reuters and London Express

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Feb-18 World View -- Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Feb-18 World View -- Reformist criticizes Iran's Supreme Leader, as women conduct anti-hijab protests

Iran's 'Girls of Revolution Street' tear off their hijabs and headscarves

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arrested Iran reformist Mahdi Karroubi harshly criticizes Supreme Leader Khamenei


Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leader, surrounded by supporters on June 17, 2009 (Reuters)
Mehdi Karroubi, opposition leader, surrounded by supporters on June 17, 2009 (Reuters)

In a move that may not have been good for his continued survival, 80 year old Iranian reformist Mahdi Karroubi harshly criticized the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in a letter published on his political party's web site.

The criticism comes just one month after nationwide street protests that began as demonstrations against soaring food prices, but then grew into much more serious protests about government corruption among the political élite. It's widely believed that when Iranian sanctions were lifted after the nuclear deal was signed, and Iran received billions of dollars as a result, that money went to élite clerical institutions, at the same time that a banking crisis has caused millions of Iranians to lose their life savings.

As usual, Khamenei blamed the United States, Israel and other "foreign enemies" for the nationwide street protests. At least 25 people were killed in the protests, and hundreds of peaceful protesters were jailed.

Mehdi Karroubi has been under house arrest for seven years for supporting peaceful protesters during the 2009 election, when Iran's security forces overreacted and there was blood running in the streets.

Karroubi's letter to Khamenei was a reaction to last month's street protests:

"I urge you, before it is too late, to open the way to structural reforms of the system. ...

The system is going downhill to such an extent that it feels endangered by a few thousand people demonstrating.

Instead of repeating accusations of links with the enemy and instead of harsh confrontation, listen to them. ...

More than 50 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of state bodies over which there is no supervision... Poverty and unemployment are plaguing the country.

More than 10 million Iranians, among 80 million, now live in absolute poverty. Under such conditions, it is natural that the lower classes, who were the grassroot supporters of the Islamic Revolution, will turn into a gunpowder barrel."

Karroubi also criticized Khamenei for letting the Revolutionary Guards take a commanding role in the economy as this "has tarnished the reputation of this revolutionary body and drowned it in massive corruption." Radio Farda (RFERL) and AP and Reuters

Iran's 'Girls of Revolution Street' tear off their hijabs and headscarves


From 2007: An obvious criminal at large on the streets of Tehran (France 24)
From 2007: An obvious criminal at large on the streets of Tehran (France 24)

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the bloody, vicious Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988, just as America was in a generational Awakening era in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II. Awakening eras are characterized by generation conflicts between the generations of traumatized survivors of the war versus the generation that grew up after the war (the Boomers in America's case).

There are actually many similarity between America in the 1960s and Iran today. In both cases there were protests by college students against foreign wars, poverty and the economy.

One particular feature of America in the 1960s was the "Women's Lib" movement, where cute, attractive college girls paraded around demanding to be treated the same as men, and put on big shows of burning their bras to make the point that there was no difference between the sexes.

Iran's Awakening era has its own Women's Lib movement. It started on December 27, just as nationwide street protests were starting, when an unidentified woman climbed on top of an electricity box on one of Tehran’s busiest streets, Enqelab (Revolution) Avenue, removed her head scarf, and began waving it in the air.

A video clip of the woman, later identified as Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother, quickly went viral, and that was the beginning of "Girls Of Revolution Street." Now there is a movement for women to take off their headscarves and wave them in the air in protest of compulsory headscarves and hijabs.

This is anathema to the hardline geezers, who consider a girl without a headscarf to be almost as bad as an infidel. In 2007, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president at the time, ordered police in Tehran to swoop down on women with loose headscarves and arrest them. In some cases, they were simply warned. but in other cases they would be piled into a bus and taken to the police station for "questioning."

Every generational Awakening era has a climax. America's Awakening era climaxed with the resignation of president Richard Nixon in 1974. Iran's Awakening era will climax with some sort of regime change that will replace the Khamenei and the other hardline geezers that survived the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979 and are still running the country with a new, younger generation of leaders. And since young people in Iran today tend to be pro-American and pro-Western, and have no desire to push Israel into the sea, expect Iran to become an American ally once the Awakening era climax takes place. Radio Farda (RFERL) and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Feb-18 World View -- Reformist criticizes Iran's Supreme Leader, as women conduct anti-hijab protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Feb-18 World View -- New reports show that Taliban are gaining territory in Afghanistan

Losing to Taliban has been predicted for years by generational analysis

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New reports show that Taliban are gaining territory in Afghanistan


Taliban presence in Afghanistan districts (BBC)
Taliban presence in Afghanistan districts (BBC)

A new study by the BBC, based on interviews with 1200 people across Afghanistan, finds that the Taliban are in full control of 4% of Afghanistan's districts, and have an active and open physical presence in a further 66%, significantly higher than previous estimates of Taliban strength. That means that only about 30% of the districts are still controlled by the Afghan government. The interviews were conducted late in 2017.

The extent to which the Taliban partially or fully control districts of Afghanistan has been one of the most useful statistics used by analysts and politicians for gauging the success of the Nato coalition in defeating the Taliban.

However, there are indications that the US military is trying to suppress this kind of information. The Quarterly Report To The United States Congress issued by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) was released on Tuesday. According to the report, SIGAR has been specifically instructed by the US military not to release this kind of information any more, even though it's unclassified. According to the report:

"Aside from that, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the Afghan government had been one of the last remaining publicly available indicators for members of Congress -- many of whose staff do not have access to the classified annexes to SIGAR reports -- and for the American public of how the 16-year long U.S. effort to secure Afghanistan is faring. Historically, the number of districts controlled or influenced by the government has been falling since SIGAR began reporting on it, while the number controlled or influenced by the insurgents has been rising -- a fact that should cause even more concern about its disappearance from public disclosure and discussion."

A spokesman in Kabul, representing the US-led Nato coalition, denied both reports, saying that the Taliban contested or controlled only 44% of the Afghan districts, and that SIGAR had not been instructed to withhold unclassified data.

Whatever the actual figure is, no one as far as I know questions the fact that the Taliban have been gaining territory and the Afghan government has been losing territory, ever since most foreign troops left the country in 2014. And this trend is going to continue. BBC and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and Reuters

Losing to Taliban has been predicted for years by generational analysis

As I've been writing for years, a generational analysis there is no chance at all that the Taliban will be defeated in Afghanistan. Journalists, analysts and politicians are unable to grasp even the simplest generational analysis. Nonetheless, it's worthwhile summarizing what I've described in the past.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

This growing generation of young vengeful Pashtuns cannot be defeated by any conventional or unconventional army. They're capable of forming cells, living off the land, and conducting terror attacks at any time, targeting the government and the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance.

Afghanistan's capital city Kabul has been targeted in just the last two weeks by a series of massive terrorist attacks, killing hundreds of people. Furthermore, these attacks have been inside the most well-protected areas of Kabul, indicating that the Taliban terrorists have had help from the inside -- undoubtedly provided by other Pashtun youths.

The fact that the Taliban are gaining more and more territory each year is just a reflection of the fact that more and more youngsters in the Pashtun generation are coming of age, and are willing to avenge what they consider to be the atrocities committed against their parents' generation.

There's no way to stop this. This generation is going to continue growing, while foreign forces increasingly tire of fighting a war that most Westerners don't even care about.

However, as I've written in the past, the Nato alliance and the US administration appear to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. France 24

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Feb-18 World View -- New reports show that Taliban are gaining territory in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Feb-2018) Permanent Link
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31-Jan-18 World View -- Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled

War continues in full force, with Syria and Turkey killing 'terrorists'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled


Civil defense team looks for survivors after al-Assad regime airstrike in Idlib.  (Anadolu)
Civil defense team looks for survivors after al-Assad regime airstrike in Idlib. (Anadolu)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin wanted to be the world-renowned diplomat that brought peace to Syria. So last year he blew off the UN sponsored peace talks led by Staffan de Mistura, and he joined with Iran and Turkey to form his own "peace talks" process, held in Astana, Kazakhstan. And they came up with a peace plan.

Of course, the peace plan was rejected by the parties actually fighting in Syria -- the Syrian regime led by the psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad, and "moderate" anti-Assad opposition in Syria, the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). All of those four groups rejected the peace plan, so it was ridiculous for Putin or anyone else to believe that the peace plan would work.

And it didn't. They came up with four "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones." The fighting slowed down a little in these four zones for a little while, but today the whole agreement is in shambles, as the fighting is in full force. It is a total failure by Vladimir Putin.

There was a meeting of Putin's peace plan group in Sochi on Tuesday that Putin was calling the "Syrian National Dialogue Congress."

The meeting was supposed to take two days, but it was called off after one day, when Syrian opposition representatives heckled Putin's right-hand man, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and then walked out.

There was an additional drama at the Sochi airport. Some opposition members arrived at the airport, but refused to go to the conference hall because they saw pictures of Syrian flags there. They decided that the fix was in.

Opposition members point out that Bashar al-Assad's army is still using barrel bombs and chlorine gas on civilians, is targeting hospitals and schools, is preventing food and medicine from reaching civilians, has ignored ceasefires, and has broken every promise to stop doing these things. So opposition members know that Russia and al-Assad are just going to screw them again, so why bother with this so-called "peace conference"?

Putin announced in December that the Syrian war was over, and that Russia's troops will be returned to Russia. Less than two months later, it's clear that Putin's announcement was garbage. Reuters and CNN and Tass (Moscow)

Russia sidelines the failed United Nations Syria peace process

Russia's "peace process" has almost completely eclipsed the UN-sponsored "peace process," lead by UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

I've written about any number of Syria peace plans over the years. Kofi Annan, the virulently anti-American former Secretary-General of the United Nations from Ghana, was the first UN envoy on Syria. Annan formulated a farcical six-point 'peace plan' which said absolutely nothing, but which al-Assad used as a cover to continue exterminating innocent Sunni women and children with impunity.

After Kofi Annan was repeatedly humiliated by Bashar al-Assad, the UN appointed a new Syria peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, to replace Kofi Annan. Brahimi wasn't as much of an idiot as Annan was, but he still resigned in disgust in May 2014, after it became clear that al-Assad really had no desire to do anything but exterminate Sunni civilians. Now, the current UN envoy is Staffan de Mistura, who goes around all the time saying, "This will not be tolerated," but who accomplishes nothing except, again, to provide cover for Bashar al-Assad's atrocities.

So Vladimir Putin took over the peace process business. The UN processes held out a fig leaf of being impartial, but Putin was clearly and unequivocally in favor of Bashar al-Assad, and committed to supporting his genocide and war crimes, while claiming to be promoting peace.

So to complete the farcical circle, de Mistura attended the Russian conference in Sochi under the condition that Russia promised that the United Nations would be responsible for drafting a constitution and the mediation process. Putin apparently agreed, and now the mantle of failure will pass from Russia back to the United Nations. Guardian and Russia Today

War continues in full force, with Syria and Turkey killing 'terrorists'

If you want to kill someone in Syria, it's perfectly OK as long you call him or her a "terrorist."

So Turkey is committed to killing all the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militias in Syria, calling the "terrorists." Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is very critical of the US for arming and supporting the YPG, whom the US army found to be essential in fighting and defeating ISIS in Raqqa.

Turkey was supposed to have defeated the YPG in Afrin by now, but the battle is taking longer than they expected. Assuming that they ever defeat the YPG in Afrin, the plan is to proceed further east to Manbij, where they will apparently meet American forces who are defending the YPG.

Meanwhile, the regime of the Shia/Alawite Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian bombers, is killing his own "terrorists," namely innocent Sunni women and children in two "de-confliction" or "ceasefire zones," Eastern Ghouta and Idlib. Al-Assad continues to commit war crimes, in cooperation with Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

Ironically, al-Assad is being helped by Erdogan because Turkey used to be a protector of the civilians in Idlib, but is now distracted by the fight against the YPG in Afrin.

So, while Erdogan is killing the terrorists in Afrin, al-Assad is killing the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.

There is a fantasy, apparently widespread, that one way or another the Syria war will end at some point soon, and then Syria will return to "normal," just as it was before al-Assad started the war by trying to exterminate peaceful protesters in 2011. And in fact, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, and so the war should have (and would have) fizzled out within a year or two.

But now you have multiple countries -- Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Turkey, the US, Israel and others -- and you have multiple factions within Syria -- YPG, HTS, ISIS -- all wanting a piece of Iraq, or at least wanting to make sure that some other faction doesn't get a piece. Each faction believes that the war will end soon, but each faction expects a different outcome.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

The mess and chaos in Syria is just a few steps away from a broader war. AP and TRT World (Ankara, 18-Jan) and Middle East Monitor (24-Jan) and Middle East Eye (23-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-18 World View -- Russia's Syria peace talks in Sochi dissolve into farce as Lavrov gets heckled thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Jan-18 World View -- NY Times publishes a generational analysis of South Korea

Brief generational history of South Korea since World War II

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

NY Times publishes a generational analysis of South Korea


The Korean women's hockey team is planned to include players from both countries (AP)
The Korean women's hockey team is planned to include players from both countries (AP)

Mainstream journalists, analysts and economists are generally incapable of grasping even the simplest generational concepts, so on the extremely rare occasion when a major publication publishes an actual generational analysis it's worth noting.

An article in the NY Times by Choe Sang-Hunjan titled "Olympic Dreams of a United Korea? Many in South Say, ‘No, Thanks’" gives a generational analysis of South Korea as the Winter Olympics games approach, and the changing attitudes to reunification of different South Korean generations.

The article quotes surveys that show a big gap in attitudes between younger and older South Koreans:

The article quotes a former South Korean foreign minister: "I am taken aback. Young people seem to think of North Korea as strangers who barge into their party bringing with them nothing but empty spoons."

The current left-wing South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, has long supported unification, driven by his personal desire to see his birthplace in the North.

According to the article:

"Key members of Mr. Moon’s presidential office and governing party are progressives in their 50s, who went to college in the 1980s. Then, campuses were rife with anti-American activism, partly driven by resentment over the division of the Korean Peninsula after World War II. Students defied the authorities by sending a “unification envoy” to the World Festival of Youth and Students, alternative games that North Korea held in Pyongyang in 1989 to counter the previous year’s Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Progressives in that era believed in a peaceful process of reunification, built on the expansion of economic and social exchanges. Today, many of that generation see the North’s nuclear weapons program as a desperate attempt to protect itself from the United States and the South, with which it is still technically at war."

These paragraphs need a bit of interpretation. As I'll explain in detail below, what the article calls 1980s "progressives" are known as the "386 Generation" of the 1980s -- affluent, highly pro-Leninist-Marxist and highly anti-American, since they had no memory of their parents' extreme poverty and destitution, nor of how an American military intervention saved South Korea from the North in 1950.

However it is true, as the article points out, that the 386er generation strongly believed that the communist government of North Korea was superior to Western democracies, and that the South and the North could be unified peacefully if only the South could adopt that same kind of government. Events since then, especially "the fiasco of the 386 generation" (described below), and North Korea's unstoppable nuclear missile development, have forced the 386ers to abandon those extreme radical views, and look for opportunities for peaceful negotiations. The 2018 Winter Olympics games are the best opportunity so far. NY Times (or Open version)

North Korea cancels joint cultural event because of 'insulting' media reports

On Monday, North Korea abruptly canceled a joint cultural event to be held on February 4 in the North Korean territory of Mount Kumgang. The plan had been for skiers from both sides to train in North Korea's Masikryong Ski Resort.

The North blamed the South Korean media for encouraging “insulting” public sentiment regarding the North. There were no specifics given, but South Korea has a free press, and there has been a lot of criticism of North Korea. There have also been individual protests, including burning a picture of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, which would be a capital offense if done in North Korea. However, it's not known whether those were the problem.

It's suspected that the North is angry about media coverage of North Korean plans to stage a large military parade in Pyongyang on February 8, just before the start of the Olympics. Some media reports say that some 50,000 North Korean soldiers will march in the parade, which will feature the latest in North Korean weapons, including ballistic missiles. These reports may be the reason why they canceled the cultural event.

The South Korea's Unification Ministry issued a statement:

"It is very regrettable that an event agreed by the South and the North will not be held due to North Korea's unilateral notification (decision). What has been agreed must be implemented under the spirit of mutual respect and understanding as the South and the North have only taken a hard-earned first step toward improving the South-North relationship."

In another development, South Korea's Defense Minister Song Young-moo said:

"The North Korean regime will probably be removed from the map if it uses developed nuclear weapons against South Korea or the United States.

It's an anachronistic idea that North Korea will use nuclear weapons for the unification (of the two Koreas)."

It's certain that there will continue to be some hostile media coverage, and it's certain that there will be anti-North protesters before and during the games. This media coverage will be interpreted by the North as threatening their new strategy of using the Olympics to drive a wedge between South Korea and the US. Whether they become so infuriated that they start canceling other events, or even their entire participation in the games, remains to be seen. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and UPI and The Hankyoreh (Seoul) and Yonhap News (Seoul)

Brief generational history of South Korea since World War II

In an article that I wrote in 2007 ( "South Korean politicians are 'euphoric' over North Korea nuclear deal"), I included a brief generational history of South Korea. The following is an update.

Korea is one of the oldest nations on earth, with some 4000 years of history. Here we can only give a brief summary of its extremely tumultuous history in the 1900s:

That 2007 article was written in response to conciliatory policy changes by the George Bush administration, resulting in euphoria on the part of South Koreans. In that article, I quoted a BBC correspondent, Charles Scanlon in Seoul, who described the euphoria as unrealistic:

"We are seeing something approaching euphoria, from at least among some members of the South Korean government, in reaction to this agreement that was signed in Beijing.

The Unification Minister who's responsible for relations with the North said this could be a turning point in the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

And certainly the South Koreans do feel to some extent vindicated by what has been in effect a major change in U.S. policy toward North Korea.

They've been urging a more conciliatory approach from the very beginning, and they're certainly very relieved that the Americans now do seem serious about getting a negotiated settlement with the North Koreans, and they've softened some of their pressure tactics.

The president, Roh Moo-hyun, said he's expecting a very easy implementation of this accord.

I think there we are seeing really wishful thinking on the President's part, because after all any agreement with the North Koreans is not going to come easy."

I don't know whether the current president Moon Jae-in personally feels euphoria about the new Winter Olympics détente, but as we've described, the young generation of South Koreans feel little but anger. The controversy has sent South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s overall approval rating below 60% for the first time since he took office in May last year, dropping more than 6 percentage points in one week. Korea Times (5-Feb-2008) and Meng News (3-Jun-2014)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jan-18 World View -- NY Times publishes a generational analysis of South Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Jan-18 World View -- Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden

Brief generational history of South Yemen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden


Map of Yemen showing regions held by Houthis and allies, Government forces and allies, and al-Qaeda presence (al-Jazeera)
Map of Yemen showing regions held by Houthis and allies, Government forces and allies, and al-Qaeda presence (al-Jazeera)

Dozens of people were killed or wounded on Sunday in the port city of Aden on the southern coast of Yemen, as the result of clashes between the forces of the official government of Yemen, backed by Saudi Arabia, versus the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist faction backed by United Arab Emirates (UAE), and claiming Aden as the capital city of Southern Yemen.

A week ago, Yemen was in the midst of a proxy war between two different governments backed by two different foreign countries. But now, at this moment, Yemen's proxy war now has three different three different governments, backed by three different foreign countries:

In addition, there's one more major non-government force in Yemen, and that's Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In recent years, AQAP's leadership has turned from harshly ideological Sharia policies that alienated the tribal populace into pragmatists that are making allies of tribal leaders, by providing security, protection, and a measure of stability.

Since Saudi Arabia and UAE are supposed to be allies, this development is being called a "war within a war." There have been reports that officials in both Saudi Arabia and UAE are ordering their militaries to stop shooting in Aden, and to resolve the issues. If the shooting does not stop, then it will be AQAP that gains in the south, and the Houthis that will gain in the north. Reuters and Al-Jazeera and The National (UAE) and Jamestown

Brief generational history of South Yemen

Because of its location, the port city of Aden has been strategically important for centuries. In 1839, Britain captured the port of Aden and southern Yemen from the Ottomans, and was made part of British India. Britain ruled Aden and southern Yemen, consisting of 24 tribal states (sultanates, emirates and sheikdoms), until the 1960s.

Yemen's last generational crisis war was the Yemen Civil war, which began in 1962, and was largely a proxy war involving forces from Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Britain, the United States, and (pre-revolutionary) Iran. The Yemen Civil War ended in 1968, and in the diplomacy that followed, in February 1970 Yemen was split into the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR, North Yemen) allied with Saudi Arabia, and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY, South Yemen), a Marxist communist country allied with Russia. South Yemen was the Arab world's only communist state so far.

In 1990, at the end of the generational Recovery era, the two countries were unified into a single country, Yemen, in an agreement designed to eliminate all the tensions between the two countries. In many ways, this was a marriage of convenience, since relations remained tense, but it put Ali Abdullah Saleh into a clear position of leadership. There was an attempt at secession by southern secessionists in 1994, but it was put down quickly, leading to the entrenchment of Saleh's northern-based regime. Saleh governed Yemen most of the time since then, until he was killed in December, 2017.

Saleh was the country's president until 2011, when he was ousted as an outcome of the "Arab Spring" that affected countries throughout the region. Saleh was forced to turn the office of president over to his vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi. Saleh then formed a "marriage of convenience" with the Iran-back Shia Zaydi Houthis in northwest Yemen. On September 21, 2014, Saleh and the Houthis captured Sanaa from Hadi's forces. Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa, and has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia for two years. From the point of view of the international community, Hadi is still president of Yemen.

Since 2015, the war in Yemen was largely a proxy war between Iran versus a Saudi Arabia - United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition. In November 2017, Saudi Arabia imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Yemen, giving as a reason to prevent the Houthis from importing more of Iran's weapons systems.

This blockade was a humanitarian disaster for Yemen. Yemen is already one of the poorest countries in the world, and because of the proxy war, mass starvation and disease have been spreading across the country. Aid from NGOs was only partially relieving the situation, but with the Saudi blockade, even that aid was cut off.

The blockade was apparently too much for Saleh. Early in December he announced that he was separating from the Houthis, and offered to mediate a ceasefire between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia. Three days later, the Houthis had him ambushed and killed.

The death of Saleh fragmented tribal opposition to the Houthis in North Yemen, giving the Houthis more substantial control over the north.

Now the UAE is backing the secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC), indicating that the coalition fighting the Houthis is also fragmenting. In addition to making it even harder for NGOs to provide aid, to help prevent massive starvation and cholera, this "war within a war" will help AQAP gain further control through alliances with other tribes.

Writing anything about Yemen, you can't help but feel sorry for this poor country. Because of the country's strategic location, everyone wants a piece of it, and they're willing to fight proxy wars to get a piece. It's only the people suffering endless misery and poverty, as helpless pawns subject to constant bombings, starvation and cholera. It reminds one of the old African proverb: When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers. History.com and Global Security and Harvard - History of Yemen Civil War - 1962-68 (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jan-18 World View -- Clashes erupt between Saudi and UAE backed forces in South Yemen's port of Aden thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Jan-18 World View -- New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95

Trump doubles down on war on Taliban in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95


A distant view of the explosion in Kabul on Saturday (Khaama Press)
A distant view of the explosion in Kabul on Saturday (Khaama Press)

Exactly one week after a spectacular 16 hour siege by the Taliban of the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan's capital city Kabul, killing dozens, a new suicide bomber struck on Saturday.

The new attack was a massive bombing by a suicide attacker in an ambulance killed at least 95 people and wounded 158, almost all innocent civilians. The ambulance got through security checkpoints by claiming that he was carrying a person to a hospital. When one checkpoint officer got suspicious, the driver blew up the ambulance, which was full of explosives.

The Taliban have not yet claimed responsibility for this attack because of the the bad PR they get when they kill innocent civilians. It's suspected that the ambulance driver was trying to reach the Interior Ministry building in order to kill government officials.

Both last week's attack and this one occurred in areas that are supposed to be under heavy security. Government officials are coming under heavy public criticism for being unable to prevent these attacks. Tolo News (Kabul) and Khaama Press (Kabul)

Trump doubles down on war on Taliban in Afghanistan

President Donald Trump issued a statement condemning Saturday's terror attack:

"I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured. This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners.

The Taliban's cruelty will not prevail. The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies, and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology. Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taliban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them."

The idea of defeating the Taliban is fantasy, for reasons I've reported many times in the past.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

This rising generation of young terrorist Pashtuns cannot be defeated by any conventional or unconventional army. They're capable of forming cells, living off the land, and conducting terror attacks at any time, targeting the government and the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance. What Trump calls "the Taliban's cruelty" is actually their revenge for the atrocities that were committed against their parents over 20 years ago. This is not going to end because of some piece of paper drawn up by government ministers in Kabul, and anyone who things so is living in a world of total fantasy.

In August of last year, Trump gave an Afghanistan strategy speech announcing that some 4,000 more American troops would be sent to Afghanistan, in order to achieve "victory."

As I described at the time, Trump promised victory by redefining "victory":

"Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition: attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge."

When you think about it, this definition of "victory" has already been almost completely achieved. Going down the list, we attack our enemies, ISIS has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, al-Qaeda has been at least partially crushed, the Taliban are not taking over Afghanistan, and there haven't been any mass terror attacks against America.

But this definition of "victory" doesn't say anything about bringing peace to Afghanistan, nor does it promise an end to terror suicide bomber attacks in Kabul. As far as Trump's definition of victory in Afghanistan is concerned, it's pretty much already been achieved, despite Saturday's bombing.

As I've written in the past, Trump appears to have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Fox News and India Today and CBS News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jan-18 World View -- New massive Taliban attack in Kabul Afghanistan kills 95 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Jan-18 World View -- Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement

War becomes more likely as Mali enters a generational Crisis era

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement


Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300, was under attack by Tuareg rebellion
Djenna Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali, built around 1300, was under attack by Tuareg rebellion

A spate of jihadist terror attacks in central Mali on Thursday left nearly forty people dead. At least 26 people were killed in a landmine explosion that was targeting the UN's peacekeeping mission in Mali. The peacekeeping mission is named MINUSMA, or the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission. There were two further attacks, also on Thursday in central Mali, killing seven jihadists and two soldiers.

The irony is that, whether by accident or on purpose, the jihadist attacks occurred just after the UN Security Council (UNSC) issued a statement criticizing the government and several ethnic groups in Mali for not implementing a 2015 peace agreement. The Security Council threatened additional sanctions against officials in Mali if the terms of the peace deal haven't been implemented by the end of March.

Once again, watching a UNSC "peace process" in action, one has the feeling that one is watching a farce. The 2015 peace agreement was signed by the government and by several ethnic and rebel groups who are mostly cooperating with the government. But Mali is a huge country and the agreement does not cover all of it, and of course the jihadists that conducted Thursday's attacks were not party to the agreement at all. So it's hard to see how the agreement even makes any sense.

Apparently the thought behind the agreement is that government and these rebel groups would work together to defeat the jihadists, and so bring peace to the land. If they really wanted to do that, then they wouldn't need a peace agreement, and anyway, Mali is too large a country to be governable.

The UN Security Council statement is actually quite interesting, since it lists all the things that the parties have to do to bring peace to Mali. Here are some excerpts:

"The members of the Security Council expressed a shared sense of impatience regarding the persistent delays in the full implementation of key provisions of the Agreement. They underscored the pressing need to deliver tangible and visible peace dividends to the population in the north and other parts of Mali. ...

The members of the Security Council stressed in this context the importance of taking immediate and concrete action to fully and expeditiously deliver on key provisions of the Agreement, in particular through: progress in the decentralization process, including through the holding of appropriate consultations between the parties aimed at reviewing and strengthening consensus on existing legislation and through the adoption of legislation establishing a regional territorial police force; the operationalization of the interim administrations in the north of Mali, including through the allocation of the necessary human, technical and financial resources to perform their missions; progress in the cantonment and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes, including through the definition of adequate eligibility criteria and reintegration quotas and through the submission of finalized lists of candidates, as well as progress in the security sector reform, with a view to the progressive redeployment of the reconstituted armed and security forces in Mali; the establishment of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Kidal and Timbuktu; and ensuring full and equal participation of women."

That's an interesting list of tasks. It's a shame that none of them has much to do with ending jihadist attacks or bringing peace.

And notice the last task "and ensuring full and equal participation of women." This shows what a farce this is. Instead of worrying about stopping jihadist attacks, they're worried that the security forces will be half men and half women. You'd think that this was a parody dreamed up by people who want to mock and ridicule the United Nations, but no, this is the real thing. Radio France Internationale (RFI) and AP and United Nations

War becomes more likely as Mali enters a generational Crisis era

The downfall of Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 created a domino effect that led to a rebellion in northern Mali by the Tuaregs, an ethnic groups spread across northern Africa's Sahel region between Libya and Mali. The domino effect continued when the chaos of the Tuareg rebellion led to an al-Qaeda linked jihadist incursion.

The jihadists were briefly chased out by France's Operation Serval, but they returned, and led to other rebel and jihadist groups to enter the region. There were numerous international efforts, mainly led by France, to eject the rebel and jihadist groups. The most ambitious was Operation Barkhane, an offensive deployed in 2014 in five countries, which sought to fight jihadists in five countries -- Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The United Nations peacekeeping effort, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), was established on April 25, 2013.

It was just a week ago that we reported that Britain agreed to send three RAF CH-47 Chinook transport heavy lift helicopters to provide logistical support to France's Operation Barkhane, along with 50-60 support staff.

MINUSMA has been pretty much a failure, and has come under increasing criticism. According to a United Nations analysis released earlier this week, MINUSMA is being reassessed.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, says the following:

"Five years after the Mission’s establishment and two years and a half after the signature of the peace agreement, we believe the time has come to reassess the assumptions that underpin MINUSMA’s presence, review its key mandated tasks against achievements on the ground and reexamine the Mission’s layout through a comprehensive strategic review."

Of course, this political gobbledygook really says nothing, but it does express increasing anxiety over what's taking place.

Now, that statement was released before Thursday's attack targeting the MINUSMA peacekeepers themselves. In general, jihadists are increasingly targeting UN peacekeepers, and this is no exception.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this appears to be a textbook case of what happens when a country is about to enter a generational Crisis era.

Mali's last generational crisis war was the Tuareg rebellion that climaxed in 1963.

After a crisis civil war reaches a climax and is settled, the traumatized survivors reach an agreement to make sure that nothing like it ever happens again. But as younger generations grow up after the war, low-level violence begins and increases. As the war survivors die off, this violence becomes more violent and occurs more often, although the war survivors prevent it from tipping into full-scale war.

Based on examination of hundreds of examples in all places and times in history, Generational Dynamics has found that a turning point is reached 58 years after the climax of the preceding crisis war, which is the time when the country enters a new generational Crisis era ("fourth turning"). That seems to be the point in time when the generations of war survivors disappear (retire or die) so completely that they're unable to prevent another war, and so a new crisis war can begin in any of the years that follow.

So 2018 is the 55th year after the end of the 1963 Tuareg Rebellion. History has shown that's a little too early for full-scale war to occur. But as each year passes, there are fewer and fewer war survivors around, and there are more and more kids in the younger generations with a thirst for war.

This is what we're seeing now. The United Nations Security Council made a 2015 peace agreement with representatives of the old geezers in the war survivor generation. The agreement is nice to have, but it's completely irrelevant to the increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic younger generations. So there is zero probability that the 2015 agreement will be implemented, and there is zero probability that MINUSMA or the United Nations will have any success whatsoever in quelling the violence in Mali, which is only going to increase. IRIN News and United Nations and 2015 Mali Peace Agreement and BBC (20-Aug-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jan-18 World View -- Jihadists attack UN peacekeepers in Mali just as UN demands that Mali implement peace agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Jan-18 World View -- In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities

Migrant workers built modern China, and are now being discarded

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities


A rare street protest in Beijing against demolitions of migrant homes and businesses (Getty)
A rare street protest in Beijing against demolitions of migrant homes and businesses (Getty)

The mayor of China's capital city Beijing has announced that workers would demolish 15 square miles of homes used by low-paid migrant workers. Many migrants have lived in these homes for years or decades, but now the city is declaring the homes to be illegal structures. The migrants will be evicted and left homeless.

Officials are not saying how many migrant workers would be evicted by the demolitions this year. However, in general terms, Beijing would like to reduce the population of Beijing by 15%, and this would fall most heavily on the estimated 3 million migrant workers living in Beijing, or 450,000. (Other reports estimate 8 million migrant workers in Beijing. The larger figure may include suburbs.)

In December of last year, a demolition campaign evicted tens of thousands of migrant workers in just one month alone, so these figures seem to be credible.

Some demolitions had been going on slowly for years, but when a shantytown fire on November 18 killed 19 people, the demolitions and evictions took on a shape that's being described a "vicious" and "cruel."

People were given only few hours' notice before their homes were demolished, and they were forced into the sub-zero December temperatures. The demolitions included small businesses as well as homes, causing many migrants to lose their life savings as well as their source of income. Many migrants had been supporting their families by sending money back to them, but that source of support was cut off overnight.

Chinese intellectuals have petitioned the government to halt the evictions, calling them a violation of human rights. Even some state media have criticized the campaign. According to Yi Fuxian, a China population expert, the government has called migrants a low-end population - basically implying that they're inferior quality human beings. "China didn't just say this. They actually wrote it into government documents. This is absurd," says Yi. Reuters and Shanghaiist (24-Nov) and BBC and NPR (4-Dec-2017)

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Migrant workers built modern China, and are now being discarded

Whenever a large number of foreign migrants travel from one region to another, the reactions of the natives generally range from marginalization to open hostility to violence, sometimes ending in deportation. In Beijing, the migrants are not foreigners. They're ordinary Chinese from farms and rural areas who come to the city to improve themselves, or to earn money to send back to their families.

According to China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there are an estimated 282 million rural migrant workers in China, making up more than one third of the entire working population of 807 million.

Migrants work are almost always marginalized and work in low-paid jobs. They're subject to various kinds of abuse, including forced overtime and non-payment of salaries. The vast majority of rural migrant workers are still employed in low-paid jobs in manufacturing, construction and services. According to NBS figures, the employment by sector is as follows:

The millions of migrants living in Beijing, often for decades, were the laborers who built Beijing into the huge metropolis that it is today. Now their work is done, and they're being left cold, broke and homeless.

Although news stories have focused mainly on Beijing, thanks to the shantytown fire on November 18, we're apparently seeing a major change in Chinese policy that affects all large cities, and possibly medium sized cities as well.

The likely causes of this change of policy are as follows:

This kind of major demographic policy change can only put strain on China's economy, which is already running on a huge debt bubble and a huge real estate bubble.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this split could be significant as the first signs of a new internal rebellion, for which China is overdue. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). The leaders of China's Communist Party (CCP) are well aware of this history, and they're aware that a new internal rebellion is now due, and probably overdue.

China used to publish the number of "mass incidents" occurring in the country. The number of "mass incidents" of unrest recorded by the Chinese government grew from 8,700 in 1993 to about 90,000 in 2010, according to several government-backed studies. The government stopped publishing the figures in 2010, but it's reasonable to believe that the number of mass incidents per year is well into the hundreds of thousands. If even just one of these mass incidents occurred in America or Europe, it would be international news, so the fact that hundreds of such mass incidents occur in China EVERY DAY indicates how socially unstable China is.

So you already have an economy running on a huge debt bubble, with hundreds of thousands of mass incidents per year, and with millions of marginalized migrants scheduled to lose their homes and their jobs, when the country is well into a generational Crisis era. China's next, massive, historic internal rebellion is overdue, and this new policy could end up being one of the triggers. China Labor Bulletin (Hong Kong) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, 5-Jan) and The Diplomat (26-Jul-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jan-18 World View -- In major policy shift, China will demolish thousands of migrant homes in cities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Jan-18 World View -- Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out

Tensions rise between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River dam

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out


Outsized election poster of al-Sisi in Cairo (Reuters)
Outsized election poster of al-Sisi in Cairo (Reuters)

Egypt's presidential election, to be held on March 26-28, is looking more and more like a farce, as opponents of the current president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, are being forced to withdraw, one after the other. It may be that al-Sisi will be the only person left on the ballot.

Sami Anan, a retired army Chief of Staff and a former member of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces, was arrested on Tuesday, two days after announcing that he would run for president. He was dragged from his car on Tuesday morning and taken before a military court. He has not been seen since.

Anan was arrested on the charge of announcing that he would run for president. This was a violation of the law, according to authorities, because Anan was affiliated with the armed forces. He's also charged with inciting a rift between the Armed Forces and the Egyptian public. Officials said that he was "summoned for interrogation in front of specialized personnel" for his crimes. Needless to say, Anan's candidacy has been withdrawn.

That's the way this election is going. The presidential election will take place on March 26-28, and al-Sisi, who was himself the former chief of Egypt's armed forces, recently announced that he will run for re-election. But magically, one after another, al-Sisi's potential opponents are being forced to withdraw.

On November 29 of last year, Colonel Ahmed Konsowa announces his plans to run for president, but three days later he was arrested, and convicted of "expressing political opinions as a serving military officer."

Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat is the nephew of the former Egyptian president Anwar al-Sadat, who was assassinated in October, 1981, by extremists who blamed him for signing a peace deal with Israel.

Mohammed Anwar al-Sadat had planned to run for president, but dropped out last week because his campaign staff was being threatened. According to al-Sadat:

"The logic says the regime should allow two or three or four people to run against Sisi to make it look legitimate. But it seems like they don’t even care about how it looks anymore."

A left-wing rights lawyer Khaled Ali said that he would run on November 6 of last year. He was arrested for making "an obscene gesture" outside a Cairo court. Several members of his campaign were arrested on various charges. Anan's arrest on Tuesday was apparently the last straw, as Ali withdrew on Wednesday. According to a supporter,

"[T]here was a widespread feeling that we won’t be given a chance to compete.

Anan’s arrest in this rough manner added [to] the impression that this regime wants a referendum, not competitive elections. We wanted a true competition. We didn’t want to take part in a play or provide material for the regime to claim these are genuine elections."

There's still one major contender opposing al-Sisi. Mortada Mansour, an MP more right-wing than al-Sisi, announced his bid on January 13, and has until January 29 to get 25,000 nomination signatures, with a minimum of 1,000 each from 15 of Egypt's 29 provinces. Mansour announced that his first act as president would be to ban access to Facebook.

The Sadat, Ali and Anan campaigns say that they routinely experienced interference or intimidation. Al-Sisi's reelection seems assured, as dissent has been crushed, and all three were forced to withdraw, showing what a farce the election is becoming. Africa News and Guardian (London) and Telegraph (London)

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Tensions rise between Egypt and Ethiopia over Nile River dam

Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi says that he does not want war with Ethiopia and Sudan, but tensions are rising nonetheless over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that Ethiopia is constructing on the Blue Nile river.

In a televised broadcast last week, al-Sisi said:

"We are not prepared to go to war against our brethren or anyone else for that matter. I am saying this as a clear message to our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Egypt neither conspires nor meddles in anyone's internal affairs. We are determined to have good relations [with Sudan and Ethiopia]. Our region has seen enough the past few years."

Nonetheless, one does not declare that he doesn't want to go to war unless he's actually thinking about going to war.

Ethiopia's $5 billion GERD project is soon to be completed, and will be the largest hydroelectric dam project in Africa. Ethiopia says that the GERD will provide power to millions of people in desperate need of electric power, and it sees GERD as a means over overcoming poverty.

However, it will also reduce the flow of water downstream to Egypt. Egypt depends on the Nile river to supply most of Egypt's drinking war, to irrigate the Nile Delta, and to generate half of the country's electricity through the operation of Egypt's Aswan High Dam.

The GERD dispute is becoming a part of the larger regional dispute related to the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.

Turkey, which backs Qatar, has a relationship with Sudan and Somalia, while Ethiopia and Sudan have a strategic alliance. Egypt's and Eritrea's leaders met recently to discuss mutual interests.

It seems unlikely that Egypt and Ethiopia will go to war, but the chances of war could increase as the GERD project nears completion. VOA and Al Jazeera and Egypt Independent

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jan-18 World View -- Egypt's presidential election becomes a farce as opposition candidates are forced out thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Jan-18 World View -- China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods

In policy shift, US sides with Indonesia in South China Sea over Natuna Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods


Floating marketplace in Mekong delta in Vietnam
Floating marketplace in Mekong delta in Vietnam

Multiple dams and hydropower projects being built in China on the Lancang Jiang River, which becomes the Mekong River when it leaves China, are having a significant effect on the livelihoods and living conditions of millions of people along the Mekong River in downstream countries. The Mekong originates on China's Tibetan plateau and flows over 4,000 km through southern China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

China has already built six dams along the river, and 11 more are under construction, with 28 more dams planned in the future. These large dams upset the ecosystem and threaten the livelihoods for an estimated 60 million farmers and fishermen living in the lower Mekong basin, where it nurtures one of the world’s most fertile areas for agriculture and fishing. Thailand and Vietnam are among the world’s largest producers of food commodities like rice. Not only do China's dams affect the water available for irrigation, they disrupt the migration of fish and block the flow of silt downstream that sustains riverine environments.

However, this goes beyond ecology. These dams give China control over the Mekong River, which means that China cause use them as leverage to control much of the economy of Southeast Asia.

The dispute over the Mekong River is similar to the dispute over the South China Sea. In the South China Sea, China is using its massive military power to threaten its neighbors, to annex regions belonging to other nations, and to build military bases that were declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

So now a similar dynamic is occurring along the Mekong River. China has been building these dams and hydroelectric projects without concern for the five downstream nations. Furthermore, China controls water flow according to its own needs, even if it means starving or flooding downstream inhabitants. China's attitude towards its neighbors is not surprising. After all, China displaced millions of its own people to build the Three Gorges Dam, so China's leaders really couldn't care less about people in other countries.

China's dams have been blamed for several droughts along the Mekong delta in recent years. China claims that those droughts were all caused by natural weather changes, but the perception remains that China is causing the droughts. Furthermore, China's dam building has negatively affected fishery stocks in the river. Once again, China claims it's not responsible, but when fishermen are unable to fish, they are going to blame China.

China's plans don't stop there. China is using its control of the water as leverage to force downstream countries to allow it to clear small islands and land features along the entire length of the river, calling this "navigation channel improvement." This will permit commercial and military vessels weighing up to 500 metric tons to travel along the river from China to the South China Sea.

In 1995, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam formed the Mekong River Commission (MRC) as a forum for managing changes to the river. China refused to join the MRC, to avoid being bound by its requirement that developments require consultations with the other members. Instead, China in 2015 formed a new organization of the four MRC nations plus Myanmar, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), which it controls. South China Morning Post and Foreign Policy and Jamestown and Cambodia Daily (17-Jan-2017)

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In policy shift, US sides with Indonesia in South China Sea over Natuna Sea

As we reported in September, Indonesia announced that it would rename the part of the South China Sea within its own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as the "North Natuna Sea," causing China to throw a temper tantrum. ( "10-Sep-17 World View -- China demands that Indonesia end plans to rename its own territorial waters")

The US has so far stayed completely out of this particular dispute, but on Tuesday US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in a meeting in Jakarta with Indonesia's Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, said the United States would help Indonesia play a central role in the region, and would help it to maintain maritime security in the "North Natuna Sea." This use of the phrase "North Natuna Sea" is being considered a US endorsement of Indonesia's position.

It should be noted that the waters under discussion here are part of Indonesia's EEZ, but are far, far, far away from China. Most of China's claims have been labeled as invalid by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, but this particular claim by China is clearly completely delusional, as can be seen on any map.

The Trump administration is becoming increasingly confrontational with China's illegal claims in the South China Sea. There are regular FONOPs (Freedom of navigation operations) in the South China Sea, where a US warship travels through international waters illegal claimed by China, causing China to throw more temper tantrums. The endorsement of Indonesia's claim to the "North Natuna Sea" is one more step on that path. UPI and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jan-18 World View -- China's Mekong River dams criticized for affecting other countries' livelihoods thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Jan-18 World View -- More than 100,000 Greeks hold mass protest over 'Macedonia' name change

Massive protests in Thessaloniki Greece threaten Tsipras government

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece and Macedonia negotiate a contentious name change to replace FYROM


Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki on Sunday protest any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki on Sunday protest any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)

One of the most emotional issues in Greece and the Balkans is taking center stage over negotiations to change the name of the official Republic of Macedonia to one that is acceptable to Greece. The Kingdom of Macedon is an ancient name, dating back centuries BC, and is the birthplace, in 356 BC, of Alexander the Great.

The Republic of Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but Greece objected to its use of that name, claiming that having that name would give the country a claim to Greece's own province of Macedonia. The country was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). It has also been admitted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the name FYROM. The European Union and Nato also recognize only the name FYROM. However many countries, including Russia and the United States, also recognize the name Republic of Macedonia, or just Macedonia.

Greece has repeatedly used its veto power to prevent the country Macedonia from joining either the EU or Nato under any name that contains the word "Macedonia." As this situation has been going on for 25 years, there is now a great deal of pressure on the two countries to come up with a compromise.

The Greek government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras has indicated that it is willing to allow "Macedonia" to appear in the name, provided that it's modified or qualified in some way. There are five proposals on the table:

The last proposal references the capital city Skopje. The name Vardar refers to a river that rises in West Macedonia and then south into Greece, where it is called the Axios River.

Tsipras will be meeting his counterpart, FYROM prime minister Zoran Zaev, on Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos, and both men indicate that they'd like to resolve the issue once and for all, if that's possible. Meta (Macedonia) and B92 (Belgrade) and RFERL and AP (18-Jan)

Massive protests in Thessaloniki Greece threaten Tsipras government

More than 100,000 Greeks rallied on Sunday in Thessaloniki (Salonica), the capital city of Greece's administrative region of Macedonia. They were protesting any name change to the country Macedonia that included the name "Macedonia." In particular, they objected to all five of the proposed compromise names listed above.

A poll shows that over 68% of the Greek people oppose agreeing to any use of "Macedonia" in the new name. Politicians from the opposition party New Democracy are siding with the protesters. The Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos initially agreed with the protesters, but after a meeting with Tsipras said that the country now needs "unity" and "national solidarity" with whatever agreement is reached in Davos.

In April of last year, I wrote an article on Macedonia, and I included a brief history of Alexander the Great, referring to him as "the most famous leader in Macedonia's history." I was astounded when this description resulted in an extremely vitriolic and long-running comment stream, with comments coming from all sides -- especially the Macedonians, the Greeks, the Albanians and the Bulgarians.

In summary, Greek commenters said the following:

Macedonian comments said the following:

These comments became extremely acrimonious and went on for a long time. At one point I asked the participants whether there would be blood on the floor if they were all in the same room together. I didn't get an answer. All this indicates to me that the Balkans region, which has been the site of repeated crisis wars throughout history between the Christian civilization and the Muslim civilization, may well provide the start of the next major European war.

Into that context, we now have this emerging issue of the name change for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to something else. We'll have to see whether there's anything else that everyone can agree to. Kathimerini (Athens) and B92 (Belgrade) and Greek Reporter and Meta (Macedonia)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jan-18 World View -- More than 100,000 Greeks hold mass protest over 'Macedonia' name change thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Jan-18 World View -- Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters

Sunday's attacks throw new doubts into claims of 'victory' in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters


The enormous Kabul Intercontinental Hotel that was under attack for 16 hours this weekend (Tolo News)
The enormous Kabul Intercontinental Hotel that was under attack for 16 hours this weekend (Tolo News)

The claims by the Afghanistan government and the US-led coalition forces that the Taliban is finally under control were completely undermined this weekend by three separate terrorist attacks by the Taliban.

The most spectacular of the attacks was a 16 hour siege of the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital city Kabul. Attackers dressed in army uniforms and armed with automatic weapons stormed the hotel on Saturday evening. They sprayed the areas with bullets, and forcibly entered some rooms and killed the people inside.

Social media showed parts of the building catch fire, after which guests tied sheets together to escape from their rooms.

Afghan security forces fought the attacks in a gun battle that lasted well into Sunday. Afghan government officials says that four Afghan civilians and 14 foreigners were among those killed. Other reports indicate that the death toll was well over 30.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed credit for the attack, saying, "Our five fighters, Bilal, Ayubi, Khalil, Bashar and Abid entered the building and conducted the operation that resulted in the death of 10 foreigners and Afghan government officials." However, Afghan government officials say that there were only four attackers.

This was not the only Taliban terrorist attack to occur on Sunday.

In Balkh province in northern Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed credit for an attack that killed 18 Afghanistan militiamen on Sunday.

In Herat province in western Afghanistan, eight people were killed by a roadside bomb. No one claimed credit, but it's assumed that the Taliban were responsible. The Taliban were probably targeting police or the Afghan military, but since the eight people killed were ordinary civilians, the Taliban would want to avoid the bad publicity of claiming credit.

There is one thing about Sunday's attacks that I found very interesting: That there were no claims of credit from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Usually, a militia in the Taliban carries out these terror attacks, and then the ISIS public relations agency, Amaq, claims credit for the attack, even though ISIS was not involved and probably didn't even know it was going to happen until they read about it online. Now that ISIS has been defeated in both Syria and Iraq, and the "Islamic State" brand name has been thoroughly humiliated, it may be that the Amaq PR agency is no longer in business. At any rate, Taliban terror groups that used to vow allegiance to ISIS are apparently now back to being just plain, old Taliban terror groups. Tolo News (Kabul) and Fox News and Al Jazeera and Reuters

Sunday's attacks throw new doubts into claims of 'victory' in Afghanistan

As I've been writing for years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, a "victory" in Afghanistan is impossible. Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

There is absolutely no way that this new young generation of Pashtuns are going to enter into any "peace process" with representatives of the hated Northern Alliance, brokered by the old geezers in the Kabul government, supported by the United States. The whole concept of such a "peace process" is so completely ridiculous and absurd that you'd have to be a full-time resident of Fantasyland to think that it's possible.

So the Taliban attack on the International Hotel in Kabul on Sunday was intended to destroy the credibility of the Afghan government and the US-led coalition, and it undoubtedly succeeded.

A massive car bombing in Kabul in July of last year killed 36 and wounded dozens more. It was an attack on the ethnic Hazara community in Kabul, and the Hazaras were one of the ethnic groups in the Northern Alliance fighting the Pashtuns.

In August of last year, dozens of civilian men, women and children, mostly Hazara Shia Muslims, were massacred in a two-day gun battle in northern Afghanistan. About 50 people were shot and killed, 30 houses were torched and burned to the ground, several mosques were set ablaze, and an unknown number of villagers were taken hostages. Seven Afghan troops and 12 Taliban militants were killed in the fighting.

With regard to the two other attacks on Sunday, in Balkh province in northern Afghanistan and Herat province in western Afghanistan, news reports don't indicate what ethnic groups were targeted, but it's almost certain that the targets were government forces or Northern Alliance ethnic groups.

These kinds of attacks are not going to stop. In fact, as more and more members of this young Pashtun generation come of age, the attacks are going to increase.

As I wrote in an analysis last year, the Trump administration is probably well aware that there is no hope of any meaningful "victory" in Afghanistan, but they may have a larger purpose in mind. There are several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. So remaining in Afghanistan allows us continued use of those bases, as the war with China and Pakistan approaches.

This may be a similar strategy to the one that the US military is following in Syria. The US announced a "Border Security Force" (BSF) and a continuing commitment of forces to Syria to avoid repeating the 2011 Iraq withdrawal blunder without leaving any forces behind, allowing the rise of ISIS in Iraq. The US has backed off from the BSF, now calling it a kind of local police force, but its purpose is the same - to maintain a residual American force in Syria to prevent a resurgence of ISIS. The strategy in Afghanistan is similar -- maintain a residual force in Afghanistan, not with the hope of defeating the Taliban, but with the ability to maintain and support valuable military bases.

This is an extremely complex strategy, but it makes a great deal of sense as war with China and Pakistan approaches. In the meanwhile, we should expect a lot more bad news. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Stars and Stripes and Tolo News (Kabul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jan-18 World View -- Multiple Afghanistan Taliban terror attacks leave 'victory' plans in tatters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey begins invasion of Syria while China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty'

Summary of major Generational Dynamics predictions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey begins its air and ground invasion of Syria's Afrin


Map showing Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij, both Kurdish YPG strongholds, and targets of Turkey's planned invasions (al-Jazeera)
Map showing Syrian cities of Afrin and Manbij, both Kurdish YPG strongholds, and targets of Turkey's planned invasions (al-Jazeera)

While we're stuck with suffering through the unbelievably pathetic clown circus going on in Washington, there are actually things going on in other parts of the world.

Turkey's military operation against Syria's Afrin region that we described yesterday has begun. Turkish warplanes have conducted hundreds of airstrikes at Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units) targets in Afrin. Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias are moving into Afrin to conduct the ground war. The FSA consists of Arabs and Turkmens opposed to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Russia says that it has moved its 300 or so troops out of Afrin to safety. Russia, which controls the airspace over Afrin, is not stopping Turkey's airstrikes, indicating that Russia is giving tacit approval to Turkey's operation.

Turkey's own troops have not crossed the border into Syria, although there have been reports of trucks carrying Turkish tanks crossing the border to Afrin. Turkey would have no reason to commit its own troops unless the FSA troops started getting bogged down.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that the after Afrin the next target will be Manbij. Although Manbij is west of the Euphrates River Valley, there are American units in the region, so a clash with Americans would be a possibility, although it's likely that both sides would do everything to avoid it.

In a speech on Saturday, Erdogan said:

"The promises made to us over Manbij were not kept. So nobody can object if we do what is necessary.

Later we will, step by step, clear our country up to the Iraqi border from this terror filth that is trying to besiege our country."

This refers to several American promises that were not kept. The Americans promised that the YPG would be armed and trained only until the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was defeated in Raqqa, but is continuing to arm and train YPG fighters for its Border Security Force (BSF). The Americans promised that they would withdraw as soon as ISIS was defeated, but now are saying that they will stay indefinitely, rather than risk repeating the blunder made with the 2011 withdrawal from Iraq.

Turkey's ground invasion is highly risky. Both the FSA militias and the YPG militias are battle hardened, and the victory in Afrin may not be as quick as Erdogan is fantasizing. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al Jazeera and Hurriyet

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China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty' in new confrontation in South China Sea


Map showing that the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal is far from China, but within the Philippines EEZ (Inquirer)
Map showing that the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal is far from China, but within the Philippines EEZ (Inquirer)

According to Lu Kang, the spokesman for China's foreign ministry:

"On the night of January 17, the USS Hopper missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles off China's Huangyan Dao [i.e., the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal] without gaining permission from the Chinese government. ...

China has indisputable sovereignty over Huangyan Dao [Scarborough Shoal] and the adjacent waters."

Lu Kang is a serial liar. Whether the subject is Doklam Plateau, the South China Sea, Taiwan, or North Korea, Lu Kang says any nonsense he wants, with no regard for the facts.

China has no sovereignty whatsoever over the Scarborough Shoal. It's within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines, as shown by the above map. In 2016, Lu Kang and China were completely humiliated when United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's claims in the South China Sea were hoaxes and lies.

Even the word "indisputable" is a lie on its face. Obviously China's claims are disputable, have been disputed, and have been shown to be false. Lu Kang is a serial liar.

American naval spokesman Commander Nicole Schwegman responded:

"The United States conducts routine and regular FONOPs [Freedom of Navigation Operations], as we have done in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

We have a comprehensive FONOP program under which U.S. forces challenge excessive maritime claims across the globe to demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law. FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements. FONOPS are designed to comply with international law and not threaten the lawful security interest of coastal States."

That the US simply ignores China's false claims in the South China Sea is undoubtedly very humiliating to the Chinese, who become infuriated whenever anyone challenges their false claims.

This is the second time this week that the Chinese were humiliated by an American action. The US and Canada co-sponsored an international meeting to discuss the North Korea crisis, and China was totally infuriated that it wasn't invited to attend. Foreign Ministry of China and Inquirer (Manila) and ABC News

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Summary of major Generational Dynamics predictions

The following is a summary of the major Generational Dynamics predictions that I've posted in the past. None of this is new, except that all of these predictions are listed together in one place. These predictions have been essentially unchanged for over ten years.

First, by way of introduction, although I sometimes call myself the gloomiest person in the world, it's worth noting that there are other forecasts that are gloomier than mine. These include the following:

So my oft-stated Generational Dynamics predictions are these:

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey begins invasion of Syria while China lies about 'indisputable sovereignty' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria

The growing conflagration in northwest Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria


Many thousands of displaced Syrians in Afrin and Idlib will likely be displaced again (AFP)
Many thousands of displaced Syrians in Afrin and Idlib will likely be displaced again (AFP)

For months, Turkish officials, including president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have been threatening to invade a region of northern Syria to kill or expel Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militias. The target region is a corridor of land along the northern border between the cities of Afrin in the west and Manbij in the east. We've reported on Turkey's plans to invade Afrin and Manbij several times in the past.

On Friday, Turkish military forces massed on Turkey's southern border with Syria, and began artillery shelling targets within Afrin. This has been described as the beginning of the ground invasion by Turkish officials, but so far Turkish troops have not crossed the border, and no time is being given for when that will happen. Because there have been numerous claims for months that an invasion of Afrin was coming soon, and none has occurred so far, we cannot be certain that an actual invasion will occur at this time, or whether it's just another bluff. Presumably, we will know by the end of the weekend.

If the ground invasion occurs, Turkey's forces will be combined with forces from the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is comprised of Syrian Arabs and Turkmens.

This invasion would not lead to a direct conflict with US-backed forces in the recently announced Border Security Force (BSF), because Afrin and Manbij are both west of the Euphrates River Valley, which is the western boundary of the region to be patrolled by the BSF. However, the US State Dept. has counseled Turkey not to attack YPG forces in Afrin, because doing so could destabilize the entire region.

The US has been working with the YPG because the Kurds have proven themselves to be the most effective fighters in Syria against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) -- better than the Turks, the Russians and the Syrians. However, Turkey is infuriated by this relationship, because they consider all Kurds in Syria to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is a terrorist group that has conducted an insurgency within Turkey for three decades, and has perpetrated number spectacular terrorist bombings in Turkey. So Turkish officials have called the BSD a "terrorist army" being supported by the US military, and have vowed to "drown" it. Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara) and News Click (India)

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Collapse of the Russian 'peace process'

Another major player in the region is the Russian military. Russia's president Vladimir Putin has been pursuing his delusional peace process in Syria with the hope of being recognized worldwide as the man who brought peace to Syria.

Actually, Russia's attempts at peace have just been another farce. Russia, Iran and Turkey held several rounds of peace talks last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, and came up with a plan for four "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones." Unfortunately, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad did not endorse the talks, nor any of its agreements. So al-Assad has completely ignored the de-confliction zones, using them as cover to continue his genocidal acts, such as attacking innocent women and children in Eastern Ghouta using WMDs (chlorine gas) and barrel bombs. In addition, al-Assad's barrel bombs and missiles are specifically targeting hospitals and schools, in order to destroy as much life as possible.

So Russia's de-confliction zones have simply been turned into al-Assad war zones. Because of his delusional belief in these de-confliction zones, Putin announced in December that the war was over, but it's far from over. Putin also announced that Russian troops would be withdrawn, but repeated attacks on Russia's Khmeimim airbase by "terrorists" means that Russian troops will have to remain, since protection of the base cannot be trusted to dysfunctional Syrian troops.

Another part of Putin's delusional peace plan was that he was going to convince the Kurds to agree to some kind of peace arrangement with Bashar al-Assad, and convince the YPG to give up its weapons, so that everyone could live in peace and happiness.

That plan has already been upended by the US announced of the Border Security Force, which is to consist of 15,000 hardened YPG fighters, along with another 15,000 trainees. Turkey has expressed so much fury and outrage over what it calls this "terrorist army," that the US backing off somewhat, and saying that, oh, it's not really an army or anything like that, but just a bunch of policemen doing guard duty. However, the Turks don't believe that.

But Russia still has a relationship with the Kurds, and last year Putin sent troops to Afrin, presumably to protect the Kurds from the Turks. So there have been reports all week that the Turks were meeting with the Russians to ask for permission to invade Afrin. The reports on Friday were that Russian troops were withdrawing from Afrin, but other unconfirmed reports from Russia say that the Russians are denying that they're withdrawing their troops.

So, we know that Turkey is massing troops, but there are a couple of things that we don't know: We don't know whether Turkey got Russia's permission, and we don't know if Turkey will invade anyway. Jamestown and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Reuters

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The growing conflagration in northwest Syria

Turkey's invasion of northern Syria would come at the same time that Bashar al-Assad is pursuing massive waves of attacks on ordinary civilians in Idlib, another one of Russia's "de-confliction zones" or "ceasefire zones" which al-Assad has turned into war zones.

There are 2.6 million civilians living in Idlib, and they've essentially become sitting ducks for massive attacks by Syrian and Russian warplanes. ( "14-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe")

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are being forced to flee north toward the border with Turkey, and in many scenarios, they will cross the border into Turkey, and produce new waves of migrants reaching Europe.

At the same time, Turkey is threatening to attack Kurdish enclaves in a region stretching from Afrin to Manbij, creating even more hundreds of thousands of refugees. These two situations could combine to bring about a refugee disaster of massive proportions. This would be a repeat of what's already occurred, when millions of Syrian refugees fled into neighboring countries, with more than a million reaching Europe.

Reading the Turkish media makes it clear that Turkey is becoming extremely nationalistic and xenophobic, with the xenophobia directed not only at the Kurds, but also at Americans and Israelis, who are increasingly being blamed for their troubles. Turkey's relationship with Russia is a marriage of convenience if there ever was one, and the actions by Russia's ally, Bashar al-Assad, in Idlib are creating a refugee disaster on Turkey's doorstep.

Generational Dynamics predictions that I've been posting for years haven't changed. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Anadolu (Ankara) and Al Araby (UK)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jan-18 World View -- Turkey's troops mass on border, preparing to invade northern Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jan-18 World View -- Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement

Britain will pay £44.5 million to renew the Le Touquet migration agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement


Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May meeting at Sandhurst Military Academy on Thursday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May meeting at Sandhurst Military Academy on Thursday (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

On Thursday, France's president Emmanuel Macron visited Britain's prime minister Theresa May at Sandhurst Military Academy near London, where they announced a collection of military agreements.

The agreements are being described as a new Entente Cordiale ("Friendly Agreement"). This refers to an agreement that the two countries signed on April 8, 1904, resolving long-standing colonial disputes in North Africa, and creating a united front against Germany a decade before the Great War (World War I) began. Under the agreement, France recognized Britain's control over Egypt, and Britain recognized France's control over Morocco. When the German government sent Kaiser Wilhelm II to Morocco in March 1905 to challenge France's hegemony there, Britain sided with France.

The new agreement creates a military alliance between the two largest military powers in Europe, the only two nuclear powers in Europe, and Europe's two permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. With Britain leaving the European Union, it was felt that this bilateral alliance between the two countries takes on increased importance.

The elements of the agreement include the following:

According to May, "Together we will continue to play a full role to improve the security of the continent." BBC and UK-France Security and Defense Agreement (PDF) and History.com and International Business Times

Britain will pay £44.5 million to renew the Le Touquet migration agreement

As we described two days ago France's president Emmanuel Macron is demanding additional payment from Britain to continue the Le Touquet agreement.

The Le Touquet Agreement was signed in February 2003, and it grants a small region of France's land in Calais to Britain, so that Britain can set up border controls on the French side of the English Channel, rather than on the British side.

Without the Le Touquet Agreement, migrants arriving in Calais could travel to Britain with no hindrance. With the agreement, migrants arriving in Calais are on British soil as they approach the Channel Tunnel, and so they are subject to British border controls before they ever cross the Channel. It's generally agreed that this arrangement has prevented huge waves of migrants from crossing the Channel to reach Britain.

However, French officials have long complained that they bear the economic consequences of the Le Touquet agreement. Thousands of migrants have traveled from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan to Calais in hopes of crossing the Channel, but instead they get stopped in Calais, and the Calais authorities become responsible for providing humane treatment and dealing with any associated crime, as well as migrant camps like The Jungle. Without the agreement, they would simply travel on to Dover, and Britain would have all those problems.

So on Thursday, Britain's prime minister Theresa May agree to invest £44.5 million ($62 million) to reinforce security measures in Calais, including fencing, CCTV and detection technology.

Britain also committed to taking in a higher proportion of migrants than they have in the past. In particular, they will resettle 480 unaccompanied children currently in Calais. France 24 and BBC and Reuters and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jan-18 World View -- Britain and France renew 1904 Entente Cordiale with new military agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration

US, Canada sponsor international North Korea meeting to send signal to China, Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US, Canada sponsor international North Korea meeting to send signal to China, Russia


The South Korean women`s ice hockey team may play with the North Korean team (Yonhap)
The South Korean women`s ice hockey team may play with the North Korean team (Yonhap)

The United States and Canada are co-sponsoring an international meeting to discuss actions to be taken to prevent North Korea's development of a nuclear weapon deliverable by a ballistic missile.

According to Canada's foreign ministry:

"In this spirit, Canada is co-hosting, with the United States, the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula on January 16, 2018. The Vancouver group of foreign ministers from across the globe will meet to demonstrate solidarity in opposition to North Korea’s dangerous and illegal actions and work together to strengthen diplomatic efforts toward a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula. To this end, foreign ministers will also discuss ways to increase the effectiveness of the global sanctions regime in support of a rules-based international order."

It's almost buried, but the key word here is "denuclearized."

And when you drill down what the term "denuclearized" means to the meeting participants, it means that all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons development must be completely removed from North Korea, and full, thorough international inspections have to be put in place. When that happens, then all international sanctions will be moved, and the result will be "a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula."

Here's a list of the 20 countries attending the meeting: Canada, United States, Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, France, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and United Kingdom.

Two countries are missing: China and Russia.

This is infuriating China. In the delusional New Year's speech of China's president Xi Jinping, he bragged that China will "always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order," even though China is an international criminal, having repeated Hitler's actions by annexing other countries' regions and building illegal military bases in the South China Sea. (See "1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues")

So China is calling the Vancouver meeting "illegitimate" and "cold war thinking." Russia said that the meeting was "a threat to peace efforts." Russia invaded Georgia and made Georgia's provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia into Russian controlled puppets; Russia invaded Ukraine and Crimea, and illegally annexed Crimea. Russia and China always support each other's criminal activities, and so the US and Canada decided that there was no point in inviting them to Tuesday's conference.

In an interview on Wednesday, president Donald Trump praised China for its efforts to restrict oil and coal supplies to North Korea but said that China could do much more. He also said:

"Russia is not helping us at all with North Korea. What China is helping us with, Russia is denting. In other words, Russia is making up for some of what China is doing. ...

But unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia, and in some cases it’s probable that what China takes back, Russia gives. So the net result is not as good as it could be."

The official reason being given why Russia and China were not invited to the meeting is that it's a meeting of a 20-country working group that fought in the Korean war 65 years ago. This is an obvious excuse, since the real reason is that China and Russia are not believed and not trusted. In fact, many people suspect that they're happy with North Korea's nuclear missiles, since the nuclear missiles are pointed at the United States, and not at them.

Russia and China want all such meetings to be held in the UN Security Council, where they can give nonsensical speeches and can veto anything they don't like. The fact that Russia and China are so furious that a meeting is being held without them indicates a great deal of anxiety that they may not be able to get away forever with lying and showboating. Canadian Foreign Ministry and South China Morning Post and AP and Canadian Press

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North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration

Most of the mainstream media are bubbling with glee at the news of North Korea's participation in the winter Olympics games to be held in South Korea from February 9-25.

The plans for North Korean participation announced so far include:

(Being the cynical person that I am, I'm going to guess that the girls in the 230-member cheerleading squad will be mingling with the North Korean athletes, and will have been trained to watch for and report any signs of defections.)

Many media sources are describing this as a public relations masterstroke by North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, and that may be right. At the beginning of the year, North Korea was under enormous pressure to end its development of nuclear missiles. He carefully orchestrated the announcements that the North would be participating in the Olympics, and in doing so he bought himself 2-3 months' time to continue nuclear and ballistic missile development with little cost to himself.

It's worth noting that almost all mainstream media sources, even those bubbling over with glee at developments, are questioning Kim Jong-un's motives. Surprisingly, some media sources credit the Olympics games breakthrough to Donald Trump's harsh tweets. One analysis in Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo even worries that the developments will give the North much needed cash:

"North and South Korea will hold a celebration in the North's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort on the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, and have skiers from both sides will train in Masikryong Ski Resort on North Korea's east coast.

South Korean officials made the proposal during talks in the border truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday and North Korea agreed. The latest agreement raises fears that package tours to Mt. Kumgang could resume and provide the North with cash for its nuclear and missile programs, and that Seoul could weaken economic sanctions against North Korea."

In fact, it seems apparent that few people are being fooled by Kim Jong-un's publicity stunt. Even in his New Year's speech in which he announced his participation in the games, and that "people who share the same blood [should] be happy together," he also said that North Korea now has "a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon" such that "the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range," so that "The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state." North Korea will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets," in order to create an arsenal of such weapons.

This extremely belligerent threat has not been forgotten, and was well-remembered by the participants in the Canada-US sponsored meeting on North Korea held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Trump's chief of staff John Kelly was interviewed on Fox News on Wednesday, and said the following about the North Korea situation (my transcription):

"This is one of those things that landed on this president's lap [when he took office]. It's been in the process for 25 years. We've kicked the can down the road. The problem at this point in time is there's no road left. We have to deal with this guy. He cannot have a deliverable atomic weapon that can reach the United States reliably. It just cannot be. Obviously the president would much prefer to do this in alliance with every other nation of good will to convince this guy that it is not in his interest. But I believe we're out of road."

I cannot imagine any statement more clearly made than this one that since "we're out of road," action has to be taken imminently. Furthermore, this is consistent with any number of statements in the last year by Trump, H.R. McMaster, Steve Bannon, Lindsey Graham, and others.

There seems no way out of this. Either Kim Jong-un will have to back down, in which case he'll probably be killed by his generals, or Trump will order some military action to remove the North Korean threat, possibly leading a major regional or world war.

It looks like the North Korea nuclear issue is on pause until the February 25, when the Olympics games end. At that time, I would expect something to happen. Chosun Ilbo (Seoul) and Korea Herald and Washington Post and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea's Olympics publicity stunt gains widespread media adoration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jan-18 World View -- France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais

Macron demands more money from Britain and to renegotiate the Le Touquet Agreement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais


Emmanuel Macro was warmly received by residents of Calais on Tuesday (Sky News)
Emmanuel Macro was warmly received by residents of Calais on Tuesday (Sky News)

France's president Emmanuel Macron visited the port city of Calais on Tuesday, in preparation for a visit to meet Britain's prime minister Theresa May in London, later this week.

Calais is significant because it has the entrance to the Channel Tunnel that provides auto and rail connections through the English Channel to Dover in England. In recent years, refugees from numerous countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan have made their illegally, often by paying exorbitant rates to human traffickers, to reach Calais, in the hope of finding a way to reach Britain and apply for asylum there.

Calais became the home of a huge migrant camp called "The Jungle," housing 7,000 migrants. French authorities shut the camp down in October 2016, forcing the migrants to disperse or to be housed in refugee centers in other parts of France. In the refugee centers, they could apply for asylum and remain in France if the application was accepted, or be deported to their home countries if the application was rejected. In 2017, there were 100,000 asylum applications in France, 17% higher than in 2016. Among refugees whose asylum applications are rejected, reports indicate that only 20-30% are actually deported.

The Jungle camp was shut down by Macron's predecessor François Hollande, but Macron has vigorously adopted policies to prevent any sort of camp to reemerge. Macron's policies have been so harsh that some pro-refugee activists are comparing Macron unfavorably to the hated former anti-immigrant president Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to various reports, police are treating refugees brutally. Materials such as sleeping bags and covers are being confiscated and thrown out. Refugees are prevented from sleeping in the open, so they have to run into the woods and sleep there. Sometimes the police spray food with teargas so that it become inedible.

According to Macron during Tuesday's visit to Calais:

"There will be no reconstruction of the Jungle and no tolerance for the illegal occupation of public space. ... We have a responsibility to protect those who are in danger, [but] we can't welcome millions of people who live in peace in their countries."

However, Macron's critics say that he is badly out of touch. According to Olivier Brachet, a judge who specializes on asylum cases:

"The policy of Macron belongs to the world of yesterday, not to the world of today. It is very traditional. Yes to political asylum, no to economic migration.

Prime ministers and presidents have been saying that already for thirty years. That is not where the problem lies. The problem is sending back irregular migrants to their country. There are no bilateral solutions. In fact, there are only European solutions. Because individual countries are not going to lift a finger by saying, ok, we agree, we’ll take them."

At present, there are still nearly 1,000 people in the region, camped out in one way or another, with 700 migrants estimated in Calais, and a further 300 or so in nearby Dunkirk. RFI and Sky News and Reuters

Macron demands more money from Britain and to renegotiate the Le Touquet Agreement

The Le Touquet Agreement was signed in February 2003 by then French Minister of Interior Nicolas Sarkozy and his British counterpart David Blunkett. In many ways, it's quite novel. It grants a small region of France's land to Britain, so that Britain can set up border controls on the French side of the English Channel, rather than on the British side.

Without the Le Touquet Agreement, migrants arriving in Calais could travel to Britain with no hindrance. With the agreement, migrants arriving in Calais are on British soil as they approach the Channel Tunnel, and so they are subject to British border controls before they ever cross the Channel. It's generally agreed that this arrangement has prevented huge waves of migrants from crossing the Channel to reach Britain.

It's worth noting that the Le Touquet Agreement is a bilateral agreement between Britain and France, and so it is not affected by Brexit. However, it's becoming a bit of leverage to be used by France to gain concessions from Britain in the Brexit negotiations.

According to Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart:

"We are the ones suffering the economic consequences of the [Le Touquet] border deal, which the British have no intention of renegotiating.

Aid workers try to help them, and there are local shelters where they can seek assistance. But most don’t want our help. They put themselves in awful situations and don’t want anything from France.

There are between 400 and 600 migrants in Calais. They want to go to the UK and are always making trouble. They stop drivers and jump into UK-bound bound lorries.

They storm the ring road leading to the port and attack riot police using metals bars and heavy objects, risking their lives and the lives of locals. ... The local population is tired of this situation, it’s unacceptable.

The Treaty of Touquet has to be re-negotiated. We cannot satisfy ourselves with a British government that just helps us to keep its own security. They have to give economic compensation to the city of Calais and to its projects."

Reports indicate that, because of Macron's demands, Britain has already agreed to renegotiate the agreement, and in particular has agreed to increase its financial contributions. France's interior minister Gerard Collomb said, "Our understanding is that they will pay more. The question is how much and for what."

There are further discussions of a "Franco-British operational task force," which will be responsible for managing all the migrants on the French side, and Britain will also be required to accept more migrants than it has in the past.

It's believed that neither side has any appetite for abandoning the Le Touquet Agreement altogether, as Calais would immediately become a magnet for thousands more migrants wishing to travel to Britain. France 24 and Express (London) and Telegraph (London) and PDF: Text of 2003 Le Touquet Treaty

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  • Furious Sarkozy tirade at EU meeting over Roma Gypsies (17-Sep-2010)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jan-18 World View -- France's Emmanuel Macron vows no more Jungle refugee camps in Calais thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Jan-18 World View -- US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder

    Turkey, Russia and Syria infuriated by the Border Security Force announcement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder


    US soldiers train Kurdish SDF forces in how to control a drone (Reuters)
    US soldiers train Kurdish SDF forces in how to control a drone (Reuters)

    The US-led coalition against ISIS in Syria is training a force of 30,000 fighters, mostly drawn from the existing predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in order to form a "Syrian Border Force" (BSF) to prevent a resurgence of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    The purpose of the BSF is to avoid repeating what is seen to be a blunder made by president Barack Obama in 2011, when American troops were withdrawn from Iraq with no continuing presence to prevent the spread of a new insurgency. Many people refer to that as a blunder by Obama that permitted the spread of the ISIS insurgency in Iraq. The intention is that the new BSF will prevent a similar blunder in Syria, now that ISIS is no longer in control of Raqqa.

    According to coalition spokesman Colonel Thomas F. Veale:

    "The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000.

    The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the Syrian Democratic Forces to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close."

    As Veale's statement suggests, the training has already been going on for some time. In fact, this is a follow-up from a statement made on December 22 by US Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command. Votel pointed out that Russia's president Vladimir Putin had declared early in December that ISIS was defeated in eastern Syria, but then ISIS took over six villages in the area just days later.

    Votel confirmed, for the first time, that there were 2,000 American troops in Syria, and said that they will be training "border security forces" in Syria:

    "[The border security forces] will help prevent resurgence of ISIS and will help bring control. We do it right where it's needed [in Syria].

    You just can't go in and have a fight and drop a bunch of bombs and then step away from it and think that the problem is solved. This is a reminder of just how resilient and capable this organization [ISIS] is, and how we have to really make sure, as we complete these operations, that we've done it very thoroughly."

    The training would include instruction in interrogation, screening, biometric scanning and other skills to help identify insurgents who may be trying to cross into Syria from neighboring countries, now that the emphasis is on stabilization and peacekeeping, not fighting.

    There were 230 individuals who were trained in the program announced in December. The US considers the SDF and the Kurdish fighters to have been the most effective fighting force against ISIS, better than Turkish forces and Syrian forces. So 15,000 hardened fighters in the SDF will initially be realigned to a new mission in the Border Security Force, and additional fighters will be recruited and trained, to bring the total BSF force to 30,000.

    The BSF will be responsible for patrolling the borders of a region stretching from the Euphrates River Valley in the east to the Iraq border in the east, and north to the border with Turkey.

    The ethnic composition of the force will vary relative to the areas in which it serves, with efforts taken to ensure that people serve close to their homes. This all but guarantees that Kurds, who make up a majority of the population in northeastern Syria, will be establishing checkpoints along the roughly 820-kilometer (510-mile) Syria-Turkey border, while more Arabs will serve in areas along the Euphrates River Valley and along the border with Iraq. The Defense Post (13-Jan) and AP (22-Dec)

    Turkey, Russia and Syria infuriated by the Border Security Force announcement

    The area being patrolled by the Border Security Force seems enormous to many people. Furthermore, while the objective may be to prevent infiltration of ISIS across Turkey's border, it seems likely that a major purpose of patrolling the Euphrates River Value will be to prevent infiltration of Syrian army forces, and a major purpose of patrolling the Iraq border will be to prevent Iran from completing its road connecting Baghdad to Damascus.

    Turkey has been complaining for almost two years that while the Kurdish forces in the SDF were fighting ISIS in Raqqa, they could also be preparing for new terrorist attacks in Turkey itself. The Kurds in the SDF are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which conducted an insurgency within Turkey for three decades, and which has perpetrated major terror attacks within Turkey during the last three years.

    Turkey claims that the US promised that the Kurdish forces would no longer be armed, once ISIS was defeated, and that the US is reneging on that promise. Turkey claims that the new Border Security Force will be a Kurdish army poised to attack Turkey.

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Turkey will attack the Kurdish forces, and clear its border of "terrorists." That remark apparently was not referring to Kurdish forces in the BSF region, but rather to Kurdish forces in Afrin, and also to Iraq. However, Erdogan also criticized the US support of the SDF:

    "Making a terrorist wear a uniform, and flying your country's flag over the buildings they use, does not change any facts. Thousands of weapons sent to the region are already on the black market and some of them are being used against us."

    On Monday, Erdogan added:

    "The United States has admitted that it has created a terrorist force along our country's border. Our duty is to drown this army of terror before it is born."

    Erdogan is threatening an imminent military attack on Kurds in Afrin, Manbij, and other targets in northern Syria. However, he's made such threats before without carrying through.

    Russian officials are angered by the BSF announcement because they see that it has no other purpose than to partition Syria permanently:

    "In fact, that means separation of a huge territory along the border with Turkey and Iraq. The actions we currently see indicate that the United States does not want to keep the territorial integrity of Syria. We see not the desire to help to extinguish the conflict as soon as possible, but rather the desire to assist those who want to take practical steps for regime change in the Syrian Arab Republic. ...

    What it would mean is that vast swaths of territory along the border of Turkey and Iraq would be isolated, it's to the east of the Euphrates river. There are difficult relations between Kurds and Arabs there. If you say that this zone will be controlled by the forces supported by the US, there will be a force of 30,000 people. ...

    There is a fear that they are pursuing a policy to cut Syria into several pieces."

    Not surprisingly, Syria's foreign ministry denounced the plan for the Border Security Force:

    "Syria strongly condemns the US announcement on the creation of militias in the country's northeast, which represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.

    Syria considers any Syrian who participates in these militias sponsored by the Americans as a traitor to their people and nation, and will deal with them on this basis."

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    This prediction indicates that the current alliance between Turkey and Russia will end at some point soon. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP and Russia Today and Al Jazeera

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jan-18 World View -- US in Syria announces a Border Security Force to prevent repeat of Iraq withdrawal blunder thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Jan-18 World View -- Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide'

    Cameroon crisis escalates as English-speakers flee to Nigeria to escape French-speakers' violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon crisis escalates as English-speakers flee to Nigeria to escape French-speakers' violence


    Anglophone Cameroon cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee the violence from the Francophone security forces (Reuters)
    Anglophone Cameroon cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee the violence from the Francophone security forces (Reuters)

    There are fears that the crisis in Cameroon's Anglophone (English-speaking) regions is spiraling out of control, leading to a refugee emergency, and possibly shutting down cocoa production, an important part of Cameroon's economy.

    Tens of thousands of people from the Southern Cameroons, as the Anglophone provinces of Cameroon are known, have been forced to flee across the border into Nigeria in the last three months, to escape increasingly brutal violence by Francophone security forces of the country's despotic Francophone leader, 84 year old Paul Biya, who has been in power 37 years.

    Even thousands of cocoa farmers have been forced to abandon their crops and flee to larger towns or to Nigeria. Normally, they produce more than 100,000 tonnes of beans, nearly half of the country's output.

    The violence started in 2016, but at the start is one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

    In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

    Violence by Francophone security forces grew during 2017, and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when pro-Anglophone activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march, and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them, resulting in the mass flight of refugees into Nigeria.

    Nigeria is being increasingly drawn into the Cameroon crisis, as Cameroon Francophone security forces have been illegally crossing the border into Nigeria to pursue and arrest refugees fleeing the violence.

    On January 5, armed Nigerian security forces stormed a hotel in Nigeria's capital city, Abuja, where Cameroonian activists were meeting, and arrested 15 men and held them in secret custody for over a week. It's feared that Nigerian authorities will extradite the activists to Cameroon, where they'll be held without trial and tortured. This has caused a debate by legislators and human rights activists within Nigeria itself, who say that the arrests were in violation of Nigerian law, and that deporting them would be a violation of international law.

    According to Jeffrey Smith of nonprofit Vanguard Africa:

    "With elections due later this year, and with President Biya’s increasing unpopularity, this is a potentially explosive situation that merits much more attention than it has been receiving, namely from regional leaders who should, in theory, have an interest in containing the regional unrest."

    Presidential elections are scheduled for October. 84-year-old Biya is expected to run again, and to use corruption and force to rig the elections to make sure he wins. Quartz and Reuters and Premium Times (Nigeria) and Amnesty International

    Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide'

    The violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroons has resulted in a significant split in Cameroon's Catholic Church, with accusations being launched between Anglophone bishops and Francophone bishops.

    On October 4 of last year, the Anglophone Bishops issued a declaration, excerpted as follows:

    "We also condemned in very unequivocal terms the violence perpetuated by some groups of young people on the one hand and the acts of brutality, torture, inhuman and unjustified treatment meted out to some of our youths by the Forces of Law and Order on the other hand. We called on the Government to restrain such barbaric action of the Forces of Law and Order and to bring to justice those of them who had been irresponsible, so that peace may reign. ...

    Friday, 22nd September 2017, was a very significant turning point. ... [A] huge population of men, women, youths, old and young, and even children turned out on the streets of many towns and villages of the North West and South West Regions to demonstrate peacefully and express their right to self-determination. This peaceful march of mostly innocent citizens, carrying peace plants and shouting “No violence! No violence!” and defying the Forces of Law and Order, should have sent home to the authorities a message of the fact that it was not just a handful of people outside the country calling for this restoration. While some of the Forces of Law and Order, reading the signs of the times, did not react violently, others instead of using their guns to protect citizens, shot live bullets at unarmed civilians, killing some and maiming others. ...

    We condemn in the strongest terms possible the barbarism and the irresponsible use of firearms against unarmed civilians by the Forces of Law and Order, even if they are provoked. The divine injunction: “Thou shalt not kill!” remains valid even in such circumstances. We call on the Head of State of the Republic of Cameroon, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, to stop the bloodbath and genocide that has skillfully been initiated in the North West and South West Regions. Mr. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, said that “a genocide begins with the killing of one man – not for what he had done – but for who he is”. The statement by the Minister of Communications, the Spokesperson for the Government, that some Anglophone Cameroonians are “terrorists” is a subtle call for what can be described as “ethnic cleansing” or a genocide as all Anglophone Cameroonians are now considered as ‘terrorists’ and as such they qualify for elimination, just because they are Anglophones! We need to stop the imminent genocide! ...

    At the moment, the Anglophone Problem can no longer be taken lightly or ignored. It needs urgent attention, to avoid the growing genocide. People have lost loved ones to brutal killings and do not even know where some of their corpses are now. Every individual who is killed increases the number of aggrieved persons and families, resentment and anger, which are very difficult to address."

    Francophone bishops played down this statement by ignoring the issues, but making a general condemnation of all violence, such as this by Francophone Archbishop Samuel Kleda:

    "In the name of our common citizenship, brotherhood and humanity, the defense of legitimate interests must go hand in hand with social harmony, which is what is being sought ... Violence, regardless of its source, does not build, it destroys."

    However, this infuriated Anglophones, who saw this as trying to evade the issues by lumping them together with all the other problems in Cameroon.

    Anglophone Father Gerald Jumbam wrote a letter to Kleda, saying:

    "[Cameroonians by virtue of their history] cannot be loyal subjects to the despicable and tyrannous Yaoundé government. Archbishop, you speak of Decentralization and you offer us it as the best gift you think fitting for the resolution of this crisis? We are determined to decline a gift so laden with spurious promises and deceitful propensities."

    IDN and Bareta News (6-Oct-2016) and Crux Now

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jan-18 World View -- Cameroon Catholic Church splits over government 'barbarism' and 'growing genocide' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    14-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe

    Al-Assad's continued chlorine attacks on civilians follow Putin's 'Grozny model'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Al-Assad's continued chlorine attacks on civilians follow Putin's 'Grozny model'


    Aftermath of al-Assad attack on Eastern Ghouta on January 4 (Reuters)
    Aftermath of al-Assad attack on Eastern Ghouta on January 4 (Reuters)

    Warplanes belonging to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad carried out chlorine gas attacks in Eastern Ghouta, a city in the suburbs of Syria's capital city Damascus. Health workers said that six people were treated for minor breathing problems.

    Canisters of chlorine gas are sometimes called "the poor man's atom bomb." They don't kill large numbers of people, but they have a different purpose of forcing large numbers of people out into the open. This is part of the "Grozny strategy" used by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, so-named because he used it in Grozny in Russia's 1990s war with Chechnya. In the Grozny strategy, civilians are forced out into the open so that they can be targeted like fish in a barrel, and killed in large numbers.

    Frequent chlorine gas attacks in Eastern Ghouta are part of that strategy. The regular missiles and barrel bomb explosions force civilians, especially women and children, to hide in basements or deep in building interiors. Chlorine gas is heavier than air, so the chlorine gas seeps into underground hiding places, and forces the women and children out into the streets, where al-Assad's forces can massacre the women and children in large numbers. Al-Assad considers these women and children to be cockroaches, and are to be exterminated like cockroaches.

    Al-Assad is following the same policy he used a year ago to totally destroy East Aleppo, with 275,000 people, in about six months. Eastern Ghouta has about 400,000 people, so al-Assad has a long way to go. Al-Assad has also targeted Ghouta with several Sarin gas attacks.

    In the meantime, his warplanes are specifically targeting hospitals and schools, and the army is preventing food and medicines from entering the region, so that the people can be starved to death. This is the same technique used by al-Assad last year to destroy East Aleppo. BBC and Daily Mail (London) and LA Times (13-Feb-2017) and CNN (7-Sep-2016) and Arms Control Association (17-Nov-2017)

    Syria's al-Assad threatens to drive hundreds of thousands more refugees into Turkey and Europe

    The regime of Syria's president is pursuing a strategy in Idlib province that could trigger a refugee "catastrophe," and send hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees north across the border into Turkey, and from there into Europe.

    According to Thomas Garofalo of the International Rescue Committee (IRC):

    "We are extremely concerned for the safety of the 2.6 million people living in Idlib if the frontline continues to advance. People have told us that they will have no choice but to uproot themselves once again and head further north. They will be heading to displacement camps that are already far beyond capacity, which means their situation will get even worse, in the dead of a wet, cold winter."

    Previously, an estimated 1.1 million people have fled to other parts of Syria.

    Already, more than 70,000 people have fled their homes and moved further into Idlib to escape the latest wave of al-Assad's violence. Many have sought refuge near the border with Turkey. Activists say whole villages near the frontline have been abandoned. "There could be a really parlous humanitarian catastrophe," said one European diplomat.

    As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee north toward the border with Turkey, Turkey's army is prepared to block them from crossing the border. These refugees will be trapped, and they'll be sitting ducks as targets of Syrian and Russian airstrikes, including barrel bombs, chlorine, and Sarin. Since Turkey is preventing them from escaping, Turkey will become active partner in the mass slaughter, and they'll be accused of allowing it to happen. Rather than being accused of enabling al-Assad's mass slaughter, Turkey may well be forced to permit them to cross the border to flee al-Assad's violence

    Another possible scenario is that rather than be blamed for helping the mass slaughter, Turkey may decide to fight the Syrians, and may be joined by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Generational Dynamics prediction is of a major war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other, and this is one scenario how it can occur.

    No matter which of these scenarios occurs, hundreds of thousands of refugees will pour out of Idlib into Turkey, and then into Europe.

    As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. Things really worsened 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. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

    Both Eastern Ghouta and Idlib Province are supposed to be in "de-escalation zones," and free from attacks. These de-escalation zones were negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey. As I wrote all along, they had no chance of working since al-Assad did not agree to them, and had no intention of honoring them. The de-escalation zones are a total farce on the part of Russia, a farce compounded in December when Vladimir Putin declared that the war had ended. Guardian (London) and Al Araby (UK) and Guardian (London)

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    13-Jan-18 World View -- US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport

    US-Pakistan relations continue as before, despite US aid cutoff

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US-Pakistan relations continue as before, despite US aid cutoff


    China-built Gwadar port in Pakistan
    China-built Gwadar port in Pakistan

    It was less than two weeks ago when president Donald Trump made a scathing criticism of Pakistan's "lies and deceit" related to the Afghanistan war, and said that $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan would be suspended. It was widely feared that this announcement would cause US-Pakistan relations to spiral into open hostility and a complete break. ( "3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid")

    Well, apparently nothing has really changed. Even the inevitable angry words haven't been particularly harsh. Yes, some feelings were crushed, and Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said that "the entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed." However, nothing worse than that has happened. In fact, since Trump's announcement, there have been two phone calls between Bajwa and US CENTCOM military commander General Joseph Votel.

    This was summarized in a tweet from Pakistan's military:

    "Comd USCENTCOM & a US Senator telephoned COAS to discuss security coop post POTUS tweet. “Entire Pakistani nation felt betrayed on trivialising our decade old cooperation. We won’t ask for restoration of financial assistance but honourable recognition of our contributions”, COAS. http://pic.twitter.com/oHEQGGvyIf"

    According to an unnamed senior Pakistani foreign ministry official:

    "There is no freeze [in relations]. We are speaking to each other, at all levels. We are not sharing the details of that at this time, but the effort to find some common ground or traction on both sides is there."

    This sentiment was confirmed by a US State Department official, also unnamed.

    Richard Snelsire, the spokesperson for the US embassy in Islamabad, said: "We have received no notification regarding a suspension in defense and intelligence cooperation."

    In fact, a few harsh words from Trump are not the worst thing that has happened to US-Pakistan relations. In 2011, the US conducted a military operation on Pakistani soil to capture Osama bin Laden, and that REALLY infuriated the Pakistanis. Later, a US air strike inside Pakistan killed more than a dozen army soldiers and officers. In reaction, Pakistan closed down the supply lines to the US forces in Afghanistan, and only reopened them after the US apologized.

    So US-Pakistan relations weathered those crises, and have apparently weathered the current crisis, and things are going on as before. Reuters and Al Jazeera and Dawn (Pakistan)

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    US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport

    Because Afghanistan is a land-locked country, the US-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan receives supplies that arrive in Pakistan's port in Karachi. The supplies then take a full week to travel overland by truck to reach Afghanistan. When Pakistan shut down this supply route in 2011, supplies had to take a very long route through Central Asia.

    So now the NATO coalition forces are asking Pakistan to permit supplies to arrive in Pakistan's China-built Gwadar port. From there they would be loaded onto trucks and reach Afghanistan within 24 hours, rather than a week.

    And this brings to mind one of the great issues that the pundits discussed after Trump announced the cutoff of aid to Pakistan: That cutting ties with Pakistan would push Pakistan further into the arms of China.

    It's true China and Pakistan describe their relationship as as "all-weather friends, deeper than the deepest ocean, sweeter than honey and dearer than eyesight" and all that. However, there's a whole nother side to that issue that hasn't been mentioned much: Pakistan doesn't want to be China's bitch.

    Particularly in the last one or two years, China has been harshly rolling over Pakistan, with issues related to the $60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China is demanding full control of infrastructure such as dams and power plants. China will control thousands of acres of Pakistani land to gain access for Pakistan's agriculture to meet China's food needs. Thousands or tens of thousands of Chinese workers are already flooding into Pakistani cities and towns, creating "Chinatowns" across the country. Mandarin Chinese is already a required school subject in Sindh province. The Pakistani culture will be transformed in many places to a Chinese culture. China will install an elaborate electronic surveillance system in Pakistani cities, for use with policing, similar to the harsh electronic surveillance systems being installed in China itself.

    The worst may be that China is setting a debt trap for Pakistan, similar to what it's already done in other countries, such as Tajikistan and Sri Lanka. Pakistan will be $90 billion in debt to China, and will have to repay China over 30 years. If Pakistan fails to repay it, then China will take over territory and other Pakistani assets. So Pakistan's relation with China may be "dearer than eyesight," but that doesn't mean that Pakistan wants to be a full-fledged colony of China, just as it once was, along with India, a full-fledged colony of Britain.

    There's also an emerging controversy over the port at Gwadar. China insists that the purpose of CPEC is purely commercial: to provide a way for goods to travel from China's Xinjiang province to the Indian Ocean, and Gwadar port is the endpoint. But in the last month, speculation has been growing that China plans to turn Gwadar into a Chinese military naval base. The speculation has emerged over the question of how China is going to provide security in the Gwadar port.

    Both China and Pakistan are denying the speculation. An unnamed Pakistani official is quoted as saying, "Pakistan Navy is well-equipped to handle the security of Chinese shipments, and we will manage the security of the shipments effectively."

    Unfortunately, such assurances by China are completely laughable, since China has pretty much zero credibility about anything. When China began building illegal artificial islands in the South China Sea, they insisted that they were purely for commercial use, and would be popular tourist attractions. That was simply a lie. Today, those islands are full-fledged military bases, bristling with Chinese missiles, warplanes, radars, bunkers, and other military equipment. No tourists are welcome.

    So now NATO is asking Pakistan to allow its military supplies for Afghanistan to transit through Gwadar port, and Pakistan is said to be considering the question. Presumably, one of the issues that Pakistani officials are considering is this: Gwadar is supposed to be a commercial port, so let's make some money from it by allowing NATO shipments, and then use that money to pay off the humongous debt we owe to China. Whether China will be happy with that solution remains to be seen.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia, Iran and the West. Asia Times and Jamestown and VOA and Daily Pakistan and Value Walk and The Hindu

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jan-18 World View -- US requests Pakistan's permission to ship Afghan supplies through Gwadar seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Jan-18 World View -- Tunisia anti-austerity activists call for huge protests on Friday

    Tunisia protests evoke memories of the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tunisia anti-austerity activists call for huge protests on Friday


    A female protester cowers in front of the police in Tunis on Tuesday (AFP)
    A female protester cowers in front of the police in Tunis on Tuesday (AFP)

    Tunisia police have arrested over 600 people since Sunday, when widespread peaceful anti-austerity protests began to turn violent. Protesters in 20 cities, including the capital city Tunis, have attacked police stations and government buildings and set tires on fire in the streets. Over 50 police officers were wounded.

    Anti-austerity activists are calling for large new protesters across the country today, after Friday prayers. The protests were triggered by new austerity laws that came into effect at the beginning of this year.

    Tunisia has been pursuing a strategy of economy reform geared towards cutting government expenditure and devaluing its currency. The protests were triggered by the 2018 Finance Act that came into effect on January first, with the goal of reducing the budget deficit. It raised value-added tax (VAT) on cars, alcohol, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items,

    The austerity measures were put into place based on requirements by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2016, the IMF gave a four-year $2.8 billion loan to Tunisia, but payments are tied to the Tunisian government carrying out economic and social reforms.

    After a review of Tunisia's economy in October of last year, the IMF statement said:

    "IMF staff and the economic team of the new government agreed that front and center of all reform efforts is the need to create jobs and contain debt. Better managing the public-sector wage bill, which is among the highest in the world and absorbs half of total expenditure, will be indispensable. ...

    Specifically, the budget bill would focus on reducing the deficit through comprehensive tax reform and rationalizing inefficient expenditure. It would also dedicate more resources in support of SMEs. Executed within an adequate framework, investments through public-private partnerships (PPP) could improve the quality of infrastructure and help free up resources for other high priority spending on health and education.

    Ensuring the sustainability of the social security system, improving governance and oversight of loss-making public enterprises, and modernizing the civil service remain critical structural reforms to reduce fiscal risks and make the overall economy more competitive."

    So prices have been rising significantly since January 1, but salaries have been frozen.

    Tunisia's unemployment rate is high, with the result that more than 60% of working men and 83% of working women are part of the country's growing informal economy. AFP and Express (London) and International Monetary Fund (6-Oct-2017) and Middle East Eye

    Tunisia protests evoke memories of the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    The so-called Arab Spring was triggered a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in protests about food prices that seem remarkably similar to those occurring today.

    By January 2011, there were massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia, forcing the president to flee the country. The protests spread to Egypt, resulting in the resignation of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak.

    The protests also spread next door to Libya. By February, the bloodbath in Libya spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Dictator Muammar Gaddafi threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he'll crush any enemy. This caused a massive refugee crisis in Libya, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into neighboring countries. It's this huge destabilizing refugee crisis in Libya, along with the threat of a flood of refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, that led the Arab League to demand that the West implement a no-fly zone, and approval by the UN Security Council. The no-fly zone eventually led to the war in Libya, and the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

    There was also a refugee crisis in Tunisia, sending thousands of Tunisians across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

    In the end, Tunisia's president Zine el Abedine Ben Ali stepped down gracefully, and left behind a secular government. Tunisia is considered by many to be the only country that weathered the Arab Spring in a successful manner, emerging as a secular democracy.

    However, the last six years have not been kind to Tunisia. The worst occurred in 2015, when there was a major terrorist attack at a museum in Tunis in March.

    But this was followed by an even more horrific attack in June, when a gunman disguised as a tourist opened fire at a Tunisian hotel in the beach resort Sousse, killing 37 people. He arrived at the beach in a boat, and hid his weapons in an umbrella. He removed the weapon, a Kalashnikov assault rifle, from the umbrella and strolled through the hotel grounds, opening fire at the pool and beach, reloading his weapon several times and tossing an explosive.

    This has been devastating to Tunisia's tourist industry, which accounts for 15% of its GDP and most of its foreign currency revenues.

    Now the new round of violent street protests are raising fears that the country is becoming unstable. Tunisia escaped the worst of what happened to other Arab countries after the Arab Spring, but it may turn out that the worst was simply postponed. Euro News and Foreign Policy (3-Jan-2011) and CNN

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    11-Jan-18 World View -- Tit-for-tat violence between Nigeria's Muslim herders and Christian farmers becomes more serious

    Nigeria searches for solutions to problem of herders vs farmers

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tit-for-tat violence between Nigeria's Muslim herders and Christian farmers becomes more serious


    Cartoon: Farmer vs Herdsman in Nigeria (AllAfrica)
    Cartoon: Farmer vs Herdsman in Nigeria (AllAfrica)

    In what is being called a "harvest of deaths in the new year," more than 80 people in Benue State province of Nigeria have been killed in just the first ten days of this year in tit-for-tat clashes between farmers and herders. There have been similar clashes in other provinces. In several years of these clashes, there are now more than 80,000 displaced people, forced into refugee camps.

    Herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes.

    In a recent incident over the weekend, more than a dozen people were killed. Unidentified gunmen from the Bachama tribe attacked Fulani settlements on Friday, in revenge for previous attacks by Fulanis. On Saturday, Fulanis conducted a reprisal attack. Four Fulanis and eight Bachamas were killed. Residents of the affected village put the death toll at 40, though this could not be verified.

    There has been an ongoing stream of these tit-for-tat attacks, which have been getting increasingly violent, leading to fears of a larger war.

    Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is being blamed for the violence, but he says that the problem is caused by population growth. A statement from the president's office notes that the population of Nigeria was 63 million in 1960 when it achieved independence, and adds:

    "Today, the population is estimated at close to 200 million, while the land size has not changed and will not change. Urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.

    It is therefore both unfair and unkind for anyone to keep insinuating that the president is condoning the spate of killings in Benue and other neighboring states.

    President Buhari has publicly condemned the violence at every turn. He is prepared to permit every possible step that can lead to the stoppage of the killings."

    However, Buhari himself is a Hausa-speaking Fulani from northern Nigeria. Although he's repeatedly condemned the deadly clashes as "wicked and callous," many people in other tribes and political parties suspect him of supporting the attacks for political gain.

    Nonetheless, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Buhari is correct. Conflicts between herders and farmers are common in many countries, and I've described them in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, the farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. This Day Live (Nigeria) and AFP

    Nigeria searches for solutions to problem of herders vs farmers

    In order to stop the violence, the governor of Benue State has passed an "Anti-Grazing Law" that came into effect in November, as I reported at the time in the growing violence between herders and farmers in Nigeria. The law prohibits open grazing of cattle, and requires herders to maintain their herds of cattle on ranches. As I wrote at the time, the new law is somewhat laughable, as there's no way that it will stop Fulani herder attacks on farmers. And it certainly hasn't stopped the violence.

    The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), which is the lobbying group representing Fulani herders, are blaming the Anti-Grazing Law for increasing violence, since the law has encouraged the growth of vigilante farmer groups attacking herders and they cattle.

    Another proposed solution is being opposed by MACBAN: The implementation of "cattle colonies" across the country. The herders will be given large blocks of land, having adequate water and pasture for grazing of cattle. A standard cattle colony will also have shopping and supply centers for dairy products, with abattoirs and meat warehouses for processing finished products.

    Herders would be restricted to the "cattle colonies," so it's not surprising that MACBAN opposed them. Furthermore, no matter wonderful promises the politicians make about the colonies, everyone can be sure that herders will be given whatever block of land nobody wants, and herders would become completely marginalized.

    The herder association are expressing an entirely different solution -- adopt the European system of providing subsidies of a few euros a day for each dairy cow that a farmer or rancher owns and maintains.

    These subsidies are part of the European Union's controversial €58 billion per year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Since the UK pays a significant amount of that money, CAP may not survive Brexit intact. Leadership (Nigeria) and The Nation (Nigeria) and Politico (EU)

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    10-Jan-18 World View -- Venezuela threatens to close borders with Colombia and Dutch territories

    Venezuela threatens to end trade with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Venezuela's Socialism drives hundreds of thousands into Colombia


    Larry Centeno, 44, once had his own construction company in Venezuela. Now he makes a living selling coffee on the streets of Colombia’s capital.  (Miami Herald)
    Larry Centeno, 44, once had his own construction company in Venezuela. Now he makes a living selling coffee on the streets of Colombia’s capital. (Miami Herald)

    Venezuela's Socialism continues to destroy the economy. More and more, people are losing weight because of food shortages, and children are dying in hospitals because basic medicines aren't available.

    The bolivar currency, in which the "sainted" former president Hugo Chávez took such pride and pleasure, is today worth little more than toilet paper, with the country's inflation rate around 600%, expected to rise to 2,300% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    Venezuela has more oil than any other nation in the world, but because of successful implementation of pure Socialism by Chávez and by the current dictator, Nicolás Maduro, the oil company PDVSA has been nationalized and turned over to the dictator's Socialist cronies, who are so corrupt and incompetent they couldn't operate a bicycle, let alone an oil company.

    The result is that oil production keeps falling. It's absolutely incredible how much destruction Socialism is doing to Venezuela's economy. In December, Venezuela produced 1.7 million barrels of oil per day, down 27% since 2014, and the lowest level of production in 28 years. Even though global oil prices have been rising in the last few weeks, it's done little good for Venezuela because oil production keeps collapsing.

    Since oil is pretty much Venezuela's only export that it can use to earn foreign currency (dollars), Venezuela can no longer import food or medicines, which is why people are starving to death and babies are dying in hospitals.

    Maduro is hoping that Russia or China will bail him out, the way that they used to bail out Cuba's Socialism. However, those countries really don't care about Venezuela and so it will be bailed out only to the extent that it annoys the United States.

    With the bolivar currency more worthless than toilet paper, and with food and medicines almost impossible to buy, hundreds of thousands of people from Venezuela have been crossing the border into Colombia, some just to get food to take back home, some to earn money to take back home to family.

    There's an ironic twist. When it was available, food was heavily subsidized in Venezuela. So people living near the border would buy subsidized food in Venezuela and sell it in Colombia at much higher prices.

    This is no longer possible. Instead, citizens now take anything they can from Venezuela and take it across the border to sell it and earn Colombian pesos, and then use those pesos to purchase food, medicines, and other basic products needed to survive. They can then sell those products on the black market in Venezuela at a much higher price. Rice, for instance, can be bought in Colombia for the equivalent of about 1,300 bolivars and sold in Venezuela for around 1,800 bolivars.

    With hundreds of thousands of refugees possibly turning into millions, Colombia's own economy may become destabilized. According to Jozef Merkx, head of the U.N. High Commission on Refugees in Colombia, the Colombian government will have the primary responsibility of providing documentation, health services, education, and in some cases shelter to the migrant influx. This is a problem facing many countries around the world where huge numbers of migrants and refugees are fleeing violence and starvation. Vice News and Reuters and CNN and Reuters (8-June-2016)

    Venezuela threatens to end trade with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire

    Venezuela is threatening to end all trade with three Caribbean islands governed by the Netherlands -- Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. And the reason is the same as for Colombia.

    Venezuelans are smuggling goods into those three islands, just as they are into Colombia.

    Venezuela's Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro is seeking to blame anyone but himself for the disaster he's caused. Often he blames a criminal conspiracy by the United States.

    But now he's blaming "the mafias" for his disaster. In December he said,

    "In Aruba and Curaçao, the mafias are tearing us apart, and I have even thought about closing all means of communication, and all commercial interaction, of all kinds: Both air and sea with Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire at any time.

    I’ve thought about it seriously, about the mafias that take everything — the oil, rubber, shampoo, meals, everything — and for Cúcuta ... And Maicao ... Oh, we have a surprise for you."

    On Friday of last week, Maduro began to implement his "surprise."

    He suspended all air and sea traffic with Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The suspension was supposed to last only 72 hours, but on Monday he not only extended the suspension indefinitely, but also prohibited all trade between the islands and Venezuela.

    Venezuela's vice president Tareck El Aissami announced the extension by echoing Maduro's words and saying that they will combat "the mafias that steal our assets and smuggle with impunity strategic materials, which severely affect the services and quality of life."

    This could be financially disastrous for the three islands, because they have a big economic dependency on Venezuela. Fresh fruit and vegetables arrive at the islands in small boats from Venezuela.

    Most important, Venezuela's oil company PDVSA leases refineries in Curaçao and Aruba to process crude into gasoline, naphtha, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, base oils and lubricants, and to blend its diluted extra-heavy crude with light crude for export, much of it sent to PDVSA's US-based subsidiary, CITGO. On Bonaire, PDVSA owns a large oil terminal.

    So far, Maduro's blockade of the three Caribbean islands has not affected their relationship with PDVSA. However, in view of the concern that this will be Maduro's next step, the government of the Netherlands has been asked contact Venezuela's government and "to seek clarity from Venezuela" with regard to commercial relations. PanamPost and Telesur and Hellenic Shipping News and Jamaica Observer and Miami Herald

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-18 World View -- Venezuela threatens to close borders with Colombia and Dutch territories thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Jan-18 World View -- Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France

    The 'Jungle' is closed in Calais France, but the migrants aren't gone

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France


    Migrants set up temporary shelter tents near the Canal Saint-Martin, Jaures and Stalingrad metro stations in northern Paris (Yeni Safak)
    Migrants set up temporary shelter tents near the Canal Saint-Martin, Jaures and Stalingrad metro stations in northern Paris (Yeni Safak)

    France registered over 100,000 migrant asylum requests in 2017, the highest number in over four decades, up 17% from the previous year, though officials say they're not overwhelmed and can cope with the situation. This compares to a 16% rise in 2016.

    Ironically, the greatest number of migrants come from within Europe itself. Albania tops the list of countries of origin with 7,630 requests, up 66% from the previous year. Afghanistan is second with 5,987 requests, followed by Haiti with 4,934, Sudan with 4,486, and Guinea with 3,780 asylum requests.

    Germany receives a greater number of asylum requests, and expects to receive 200,000 requests in 2018. Reuters and France 24 and YeniSafak (Turkey) and Exit (Albania)

    France threatens to restore Schengen visa regime with Albania

    Although Albania is a European country, it is not part of the European Europe, and it is not in the Schengen Zone where people can move from country to country without a visa. Nonetheless, a number of European countries, including France, permit entry without a visa by someone with an Albanian passport, and Albania is in negotiations with to become a member of the EU.

    However, because the volume of asylum seekers coming from Albania is so large, France is threatening to advocate a return to the Schengen visa regime for Albania, and to veto any further negotiations over joining the EU. Germany and the Netherlands have made similar threats.

    Albania has long been the poorest country in Europe, and in 2016 had a GDP per capita of about $4,100, according to the World Bank. This is the reason that so many young people in Albania wish to migrate to other European countries, and in fact figures from the IMF indicate that 2/3 of young people in Albania intend to leave Albania for another country, if they can.

    The problem for these young people is that although currently they can travel to other European countries without a visa, they can only remain for a limited time, and they do not qualify for asylum. Since the European Union has declared that Albania is a "safe country of origin," all migrants from Albania are considered to be "economic migrants," who do not qualify for asylum.

    So among the Albanians who made asylum requests in 2016, on 6.5% of the requests were approved. By comparison, the approval rate was 95% for Syrians, 85% for Afghans, and 59% for people from Sudan. Exit (Albania) and Balkan Insight and Exit (Albania) and International Monetary Fund (PDF)

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    The 'Jungle' is closed in Calais France, but the migrants aren't gone

    The "Jungle" was the migrant camp in Calais, France, where migrants would come in the hope of reaching Britain. France closed the Jungle camp in October 2016, and have done everything possible to prevent the creation of a new migrant camp.

    Nonetheless, there are still about 500 migrants and asylum seekers living on the streets and in wooded areas in and around Calais, according to Human Rights Watch, and about 100 are unaccompanied children. Most of them are from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

    According to HRW, French riot police have been confiscating or destroying asylum seekers’ and other migrants’ personal belongings, such as sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, and sometimes phones, medication, and documents.

    According to HRW: "The ongoing police violence and destruction and confiscation of people’s belongings is inhumane and unconscionable. The French authorities should immediately put an end to these abuses and ensure that migrants are treated with the dignity to which every human being is entitled." Human Rights Watch

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-18 World View -- Number of asylum seekers, led by Albanians, hits record high in France thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    8-Jan-18 World View -- Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans

    Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans


    Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh (Rohingya Vision TV)
    Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh (Rohingya Vision TV)

    The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) has taken credit for a terrorist attack on Burmese security forces on Friday in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar. A military vehicle was attacked with an IED (improvised explosive device), injuring five soldiers.

    On Sunday, a statement tweeted by ARSA took credit for the attack:

    "ARSA has ... no other option but to combat ‘Burmese state-sponsored terrorism’ against the Rohingya population for the purpose of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community.

    Rohingya people must be consulted in all decision-making that affects their humanitarian needs and political future."

    Since 2011, Burma's security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. Many were forced to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. Today, there are about 650,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

    Western governments have been demanding that Burma stop the ethnic cleansing and genocide, and agree to a plan to repatriate the 650,000 Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh. However, this entire repatriation plan was always a fantasy, for several reasons:

    So the repatriation plan is a fantasy that was and is never going to happen, but now Myanmar's government can use the ARSA attacks as one more reason to refuse to agree to the plan. AFP and Guardian (London)

    Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow

    Since 2011, there have been constant genocidal attacks on Muslims in Burma, especially Rohingya Muslims by Burmese Buddhists. They 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 supposedly a sign of peace and happiness, but Wirathu and the Burmese have turned "969" into a sign of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    As we reported last month, a UN investigator on the Rohingya crisis was scheduled to travel to Burma right about now, but Burmese officials announced they were blocking any further UN investigations. Yanghee Lee, the lead UN investigator, responded to the ban by saying, "there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine."

    ARSA was formed in the last year in reaction to the years of ethnic cleansing by Buddhists. The situation in Burma became a lot more alarming after ARSA attacked some Burma border posts on August 24. Burma's army responded with a massive increase in genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee into Bangladesh. An analogy in the US would be that after Black Lives Matter killed a policeman, if the US army started entering black neighborhoods and killing, torturing and raping all the black civilian residents, including women and children, forcing them to flee into Mexico.

    The refugee crisis in Bangladesh continues to grow. The Burmese army is still committing ethnic cleansing, and there are still Rohingyas fleeing into Bangladesh to escape the violence. According to an analysis by Save the Children, more than 48,000 Rohingya babies will be born in refugee camps this year, where disease and starvation are prevalent.

    The refugee camps may become completely unlivable in May, when the rainy season begins in May. When the monsoon rains arrive, there is a strong likelihood of landslides, causing shelters, latrines and people to come crashing down on top of one another.

    An analysis by Indian journalist Manash Ghosh claims that the entire Rohingya crisis is the result of well-planned strategy by four nations -- Myanmar, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Each of these countries has a different reason to be part of this planned strategy:

    I always have to chuckle at these bizarre conspiracy theories, because they're always wrong, and because they always overlook the obvious fact that politicians are far too stupid to pull off anything so complex. Still, it's an interesting analysis because it describes some motives that are not otherwise obvious.

    Burma's ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingyas did not come about from any "well-planned strategy" by a bunch of politicians. It came from the people of Burma, and the fact that Burma is entering a generational Crisis era.

    It's the masses of Buddhist Burman people who are bringing about the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas, as I described in detail last year in "9-Sep-17 World View -- Burma's (Myanmar's) ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas witnessed by BBC reporter", as acts of revenge for what happened in World War II. At that time, the Buddhists were on the side of the Imperial Japanese, fighting the British colonists and the Rohingyas. There were massive atrocities committed on all sides, and those atrocities by the Buddhist Burmans, by the Muslim Rohingyas, and by the Christian British, are now being paid back. As that article describes, the murderous Buddhist hatred for the Rohingyas is deep and entrenched, and cannot be caused or prevented by any politicians.

    Once the war ended, the Buddhist and Rohingya survivors of World War II did everything possible to make sure that no such atrocities would be committed again. There were compromises -- the Rohingyas could settle and live peacefully in Rakhine State but they wouldn't be given citizenship -- and it was hoped that would be enough to keep the peace. And it did, as long as the WW II survivors were still alive. But now they're gone, and the generations born after WW II are ready to commit the same atrocities all over again. The Buddhists have been committing atrocities against the Rohingyas at least since 2011. Now ARSA is beginning to take hold, and we can expect to see more Rohingya atrocities targeting the Buddhists. Before it's over, all the horrors of World War II will repeated in one form or another. History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Daily Star (Bangladesh) and Daily Star and The Pioneer (India)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-18 World View -- Rohingya ARSA attack on Burma (Myanmar) police complicates fantasy repatriation plans thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination

    Russia's 'de-escalation zones' turn into total farce

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination


    From November: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)
    From November: Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad hug and say that the Syria war is at an end (AP)

    I've written many times and given detailed examples of what happens to countries following a generational crisis civil war. Such a war is generally between two tribes or ethnic groups who have been neighbors for decades, who intermarried, and whose children played together, but then suddenly they turn on each other and commit atrocities, rapes, murders, torture, mutilations and massacres on their former neighbors, including women and children.

    When such a war ends, someone, usually from the winning tribe, becomes leader, and almost always this is someone who had directed or approved these atrocities, rapes and massacres, and in his mind considers them to have been completely justified. It should not be considered the least bit surprising that such a person turns into sociopathic monster, just like individuals like John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David Berkowitz.

    The difference, of course, is that these individuals can carry out further atrocities, rapes and mutilations only through their own resources, while country leaders can turn the entire government into a genocidal bulldozer. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia. In the last century, they include Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong.

    So Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad is continuing with full force his war of extermination against his historically hated enemies, the Syrian Sunnis. He's made it clear repeatedly that he considers them all to be the equivalent of cockroaches, and are to be exterminated, just like cockroaches. Furthermore, he's receiving the full support of Russia's Christian president Vladimir Putin, Iran's Shia so-called cleric Seyed Ali Khamenei, and Lebanon's own psychopathic Shia monster, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. These people all claim to have some level of piety, but if their religions mean anything, then they'll all burn in hell for their monstrous sins.

    As I've written many times in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century. The Syrian war began in 2011 when al-Assad ordered his army and air force to attack peacefully protesting civilians, including women and children. Things really worsened 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. He dropped barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons onto innocent Sunni women and children, he targeted bombs on schools and hospitals, and he used Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

    It's almost unbelievable how much destruction al-Assad has caused. Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries came to Syria, first to join the rebels fighting al-Assad, then to join the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad created the al-Nusra front and ISIS. He's created millions of refugees that have flooded into neighboring countries, and over a million have poured into Europe.

    18 months ago, Bashar al-Assad, Putin, Khamenei and Nasrallah were targeting East Aleppo in Syria, with 275,000 people, including huge numbers of women and children. By the time it was over, there were hundreds of thousands of deaths, and the city was almost completely destroyed.

    So now al-Assad, Putin, Khamenei and Nasrallah are doing the same thing to Eastern Ghouta, with 400,000 people, including huge numbers of women and children. Ghouta became world famous in 2013 because it was the place where al-Assad used the WMD Sarin gas on ordinary civilians.

    Last week, at least 25 civilians were killed by regime and Russian airstrikes, followed by 17 on Saturday.

    Aid agencies have told the BBC that the airstrikes are particularly targeting hospitals. At least 10 hospitals have been targeted by airstrikes in the last two weeks. These include barrel bombs targeting a maternity hospital, presumably because al-Assad believes that the babies being born in these maternity hospitals are just baby cockroaches, and they should be exterminated immediately.

    So if it took al-Assad about six months to totally destroy East Aleppo, with 275,000 people, then we can expect him to take about ten months to similarly destroy Eastern Ghouta, with 400,000 people. Al-Assad has a lot more women and children to kill, and a lot more maternity hospitals to bomb, so it will take a while. BBC and AFP and Reuters

    Russia's 'de-escalation zones' turn into total farce

    Al-Assad has indicated that he will next turn his attention to Idlib and the neighboring parts of northwest Syria, now home to more than 2 million people, many of them refugees from East Aleppo and other regions attacked by al-Assad.

    According to Russians, Ghouta and Idlib were all supposed to be "de-escalation zones," by agreement of Russia, Iran and Turkey in meetings in Astana, Kazakhstan. I always said that those meetings and agreements were a complete farce for the obvious reason that they involved Russia, Iran and Turkey, but not the actual people fighting on the ground, al-Assad's army and Sunni opposition fighters. And we're seeing that farce now. The de-escalation agreements are completely meaningless, since al-Assad never had any intention of following them. That would have been like the U.S. and Mexico trying to end World War II in Europe by signing a de-escalation agreement with each other in Acapulco. It's just a complete farce.

    Readers may recall that in November, Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin hugged each other, and said the war was over. Putin said:

    "I asked the Syrian president to stop by. I would like to introduce you to people [al-Assad] who played a key role in saving Syria.

    Regarding our joint operation to fight terrorists in Syria, this military operation is indeed coming to an end. I'm pleased to see your willingness to work with everyone who wants peace and settlement."

    This can only be described as more high farce.

    So the question is this: How long is this unbelievable carnage going to go on? Bashar al-Assad has been killing innocent women and children for seven years, and has created millions of refugees. Is he going to be allowed to continue killing innocent women and children for another seven years? How long will it be before anyone says, Enough! Reuters and Al Jazeera and BBC (13-Dec-2017)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-18 World View -- Syria's Bashar al-Assad targets civilians and hospitals in never-ending war of extermination thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Jan-18 World View -- Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence

    Forces realign in the Yemen war following the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence


    Map of Yemen showing areas controlled by Houthis, Saudi-led coalition, and al-Qaeda (Economist)
    Map of Yemen showing areas controlled by Houthis, Saudi-led coalition, and al-Qaeda (Economist)

    On Friday, Iran-backed Shia Houthis launched a ballistic missile from Yemen into Saudi Arabia's southwestern province of Najran. The Saudi military confirmed the launch, but said that it did no damage, as it was intercepted by Saudi air defenses of Najran.

    The Houthis have launched several missile attacks on Saudi Arabia recently, and the Iranians have been accused of supplying the Houthis with these missiles and other weapons.

    However, the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh last month provides unique evidence that not only is Iran supplying weapons to the Houthis, it's also providing intelligence and possibly directing all the actions of the entire Houthi force.

    Saleh's Sunni forces had been working side-by-side for years with the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi-led coalition. This alliance was always a marriage of convenience of two groups that disliked each other, and it's not surprising when the alliance finally fell apart on December 4 of last year. Two days later, the Houthis ambushed Saleh and killed him and his entire family.

    The Houthis gained a huge cache of weapons, and they killed many of Saleh's former aides and fighters, but not all of them, and some of them fled to Aden.

    BBC reporter Nawal Al-Maghafi, speaking on the BBC World Service on Friday, said she had tracked down Saleh's closest aide, now in Aden. The aide said:

    "I was with him, and he was defending his home, with his aides and nephews by his side. Three or four tanks surrounded his house. They began firing."

    Al-Maghafi asked the aide about the presence of Iranians, and he said:

    "There are Iranians by their side, and they tell them exactly what to do. I saw them with my own eyes. They give them weapons, but it's the information they give that is most important. I met the Iranian advisers when I was with Saleh. They were always beside the Houthi leaders."

    Al-Maghafi said that while she was in Sanaa, she was able to speak with "other well-placed sources [who] all confirmed the existence of the Iranian advisers."

    Iran's substantial support for the Houthis has been long suspected, but of course always denied by the Iranians. Al-Maghafi's reporting provides the first on-the-ground proof of the Iranian support. AFP and Al Jazeera and Sky News

    Forces realign in the Yemen war following the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh

    The Yemen war began for real in March 2015, when the Iran-backed Houthis took control of the capital city Sanaa, forcing the Sunni government to flee to the port of Aden in the south. Since then, at least 10,000 civilians have been killed, mostly in airstrikes in the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis. There have been 40,000 injuries.

    According to UN humanitarian official Mark Lowcock:

    "The situation in Yemen - today, right now, to the population of the country - looks like the apocalypse.

    The cholera outbreak is probably the worst the world has ever seen with a million suspected cases up to the end of 2017.

    [A] terrible new epidemic of diphtheria (a bacterial disease which should be completely preventable by immunization) has already affected up to 500 people with dozens and dozens of deaths in the past few weeks. That is going to spread like wildfire.

    Unless the situation changes, we're going to have the world's worst humanitarian disaster for 50 years."

    The war worsened substantially when the Houthis launched another ballistic missile on November 4. It reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border, the farthest any Houthi missile had traveled.

    In retaliation, Saudi Arabia broadened a land, air and sea blockade, preventing even food and medicines from entering Yemen. This was threatening massive starvation and causing a deepening and increasing humanitarian disaster that was too much for Ali Abdullah Saleh, who at that time was still in his marriage of convenience with the Houthis. Saleh split with the Houthis, and offered to mediate between the Houthis and the Saudis.

    On December 4, the Houthis ambushed Saleh and his family, killing them all.

    Since that time, there's been a realignment of forces. Some of Saleh's fighters have stayed with the Houthis, but most of them have headed south to Yemen, joining the official Yemen army still led by former president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

    According to some reports, the Houthis have been losing ground to Yemen army, backed by Saudi coalition airstrikes, but things are extremely fluid.

    We can now be certain that the Yemen war is a full-fledged proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which is providing airstrikes and weapons to Yemen's army, versus Iran, which is providing weapons, intelligence and direction to the Houthis. It seems certain that the Yemen war is not nearly over. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Al-Jazeera and Arab News and The National (UAE)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-18 World View -- Iranian advisors are 'on the ground' with Houthis in Yemen, supplying weapons and intelligence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction

    The stark choice facing the Trump administration

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction


    I believe that this is an artist's rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like.  The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)
    I believe that this is an artist's rendering of what North-South negotiations in Panmunjom will look like. The talks are scheduled for next week. (Yonhap)

    A few days ago, I quoted a couple of sentences from the New Year speech of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un. It now appears that the speech fits into a much larger North Korean strategy, so I'm quoting a lengthier excerpt, translated directly from the original Korean by KGS Nightwatch:

    "A significant achievement accomplished last year by our party, state, and people is the fact that we achieved the great historic cause of the perfection of the state nuclear forces.

    A year ago, precisely at this place, I, representing the party and the government, made public that the preparatory work for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic rocket was being carried out in the finishing stage, and many rounds of test launches were conducted in a safe and transparent manner over the past year for its implementation, and its definite success was proved to the whole world.

    Last year, we conducted a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon test as well, in addition to all kinds of nuclear delivery means, and thereby successfully and victoriously achieved our general aim and strategic goal, and our Republic, at long last, possessed a powerful and reliable war deterrent that no force and nothing can reverse.

    Our state nuclear force can smash and respond to any nuclear threat by the United States, and it serves as a powerful deterrent that restrains the United States from the adventurous game of playing with fire.

    The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state.

    The United States should clearly know that the fact that the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range, and that a nuclear button is always on my office desk, are never a threat but reality. ...

    The nuclear weapons research and rocket industry sectors must mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets, whose might and reliability are already firmly guaranteed, and put spurs to the work of deploying them for action.

    It is also necessary to always maintain an immediate nuclear counterattack operational posture to cope with the enemies' nuclear war maneuvers. ...

    Speaking of the winter Olympic games to be held soon in South Korea, they are a good opportunity to demonstrate the nation's status and we sincerely hope that the games will be held successfully. From this aspect, we are willing to take necessary measures, including sending a delegation, and the North and South authorities can urgently get together for this. It is natural for the people who share the same blood to be happy together and help with fellow countrymen's happy events."

    The speech was considerably harsher and more belligerent than has been reported in the mainstream media, which have mostly focused on the "nuclear button" button on his desk.

    Donald Trump tweeted the following in response:

    "North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"

    The mainstream media responses to this appear to have been written by teenage idiots. Some question his mental state, and as I'm typing typing this, I'm watching CNN discuss this topic: "Psychiatrist to lawmakers: Trump is unraveling." As one analyst on Fox pointed out, the loony left accused Goldwater, Reagan and both Bushes of being mentally unstable, so the latest rounds of loony left comments are no surprise.

    There's no question in my mind that Trump's tweet had a strategic purpose. One possibility -- and this is the sort of thing I've suspected for a while -- is that Trump is trying to goad Kim into doing something stupid, to justify an American attack to take out North Korea's missile and nuclear weapon capability. A more prosaic possibility is that he's trying to force Kim into a box to reduce his negotiating leverage, and that apparently has happened with regard to South Korea.

    Trump takes the credit for planned talks between North and South Korea:

    "With all of the failed “experts” weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn’t firm, strong and willing to commit our total “might” against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!"

    As I'm typing, CNN is now broadcasting an interview with an analyst, Ian Bremmer, who is critical of Trump but describes a likely strategic purpose of Trump's tweets: He is crediting Trump with causing China to take a harsher position against North Korea, and possibly causing North Korea to talk to South Korea, while adding that the tweets might backfire and result in a miscalculation that causes a war. Reuters and KGS Nightwatch and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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    North Korea's 'clarification' of the New Year speech

    Following Kim's New Year's speech, a North Korean official announced that the hotline between North and South Korea has been reactivated for the first time since February 2016. There were apparently negotiations conducted over the hotline, there may have been a decision that a North Korean delegation would attend the South Korea Olympics in February, and North Korea may have been informed that South Korea and Donald Trump had acceded to the North's demand to postpone the joint military drills between South Korea and the US until after the Olympics. There are reports that talks between the North and the South will begin on January 9 in Panmunjom.

    On Wednesday, North Korean media issued a "clarification" of Kim's New Year speech beginning:

    "Comrade Kim Jong Un, who is chairman of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea State Affairs Commission, after receiving a report -- that South Korea's Ch'o'ngwadae announced official support and welcome upon hearing his stand on participation in the PyeongChang Olympic Games and the issue of improvement of North-South relations that he announced in the 2018 New Year's address, and that at the first cabinet meeting on 2 January, president Moon Jae-in personally expressed an active intention of support and instructed relevant sectors to establish working-level measures -- gave a highly positive assessment of it and expressed his welcome for it."

    Here is the KGS Nightwatch analysis of the full clarification:

    "The so-called clarification is Kim’s follow-up to South Korea’s acceptance of his offer. It is unprecedented. Kim’s personal involvement indicates he sees this proposal as much more than an offer to participate in the Olympics.

    The agreement to work with South Korea is now as formal as an exchange of notes can get. Kim mentioned South Korean President Moon by name in respectful fashion. This is the first time he has done so.

    Kim personally ordered agencies and organizations to begin working-level measures that reciprocate the measures that President Moon ordered. The listing of the party and government organizations that received direct orders from Kim reinforce the judgment that this is a highest priority, serious initiative and stratagem.

    We have mentioned in prior editions of NightWatch that Kim’s highest objective in the nuclear and ballistic missile programs has been to hold one of more US cities hostage to a nuclear missile threat for the purpose of keeping the US out of a future Korean war. The logic of that position also applies to North-South in general, especially reunification.

    For Kim Jong Un, the proposal to participate in the Olympics is not just a first step towards improving North-South relations. It also is his first initiative in the new strategic environment in which, in his view, South Korea cannot necessarily rely on the US for automatic protection, owing to the threat to US cities.

    This is not the same old wedge-driving tactic. In our judgment it is the start of the second phase of Kim’s reunification strategy. The first phase was to complete the strategic nuclear force so that it deters the US. The second phase is to manipulate the Korean political climate under that new strategic condition.

    A key question for Kim and his acolytes is whether South Korea will react differently to North Korean overtures, now that the US is under a North Korean nuclear threat. The Olympics proposal tests whether North Korean nuclear blackmail makes South Korea more cooperative. If it is successful, Kim may be expected to cite it as an example of what can be accomplished by the Koreans working together without US interference.

    Kim’s authorization of a clarification suggests that he and his men are interpreting President Moon’s enthusiastic response to Kim’s proposal as an initial success in phase two. For example, the US Ambassador to the UN said the US would not take the North’s proposal seriously absent a move on denuclearization. That statement is out of step with the South Korean response to Kim’s proposal.

    Kim’s strategic weapons are integral to his reunification strategy. Moon thus far is validating Kim’s estimate of the prospects for improved relations with South Korea without the US under North Korean leadership."

    Yonhap News (Seoul) and KGS Nightwatch and CNN and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

    The stark choice facing the Trump administration

    Kim's New Year speech contains some extremely harsh messages that are rarely mentioned in the mainstream media:

    According to Kim, North Korea now has "a super-powerful thermonuclear weapon" such that "the entire US mainland is in our nuclear striking range," so that "The United States can never provoke a war against me and our state." North Korea will "mass produce nuclear warheads and ballistic rockets," in order to create an arsenal of such weapons.

    We know that North Korea will not hesitate to sell its missile and nuclear technology. In 2007, Israel bombed and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria that had been built by the North Koreans. There's little doubt that North Korea would once again sell its technology to Syria, Iran, and another other rogue nation.

    So that's the disastrous reality that the Trump administration is facing. Those idiots who are calling Trump "mentally unstable" and such are people who are endorsing the decades of policies that have inevitably led to this disastrous reality.

    Trump has indicated that he will not permit the above reality to occur. I've quoted other officials, such as Lindsey Graham, who say that a war between the US and North Korea is inevitable. In fact, I've quoted high level Chinese officials quoted in Chinese media saying that a war before March is likely.

    As regular readers are aware, I've frequently described how Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief adviser. Bannon is an expert on world history and military history and, through our association, is also an expert on Generational Dynamics theory and analysis. Trump's foreign policy in the last year has not only been completely strategic and rational, it has been entirely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses of what's going on in the world, in particular the certainty that a war with North Korea cannot be avoided.

    As everyone knows, during the last two days there have been explosions and fireworks in the media over name-calling between Trump and Bannon. A split between Trump and Bannon does not mean that Trump no longer believes that a war with North Korea is inevitable.

    Kim Jong-un is aware of all this as well, and a large part of Kim's strategy must be to derail Trump's plans, whatever they are. This is a crucial point that the KGS Nightwatch analysis misses. There is absolutely no way that Kim is going to get away with using nuclear blackmail to allow him to create a nuclear missile arsenal aimed at the US. For that matter, Japan, South Korea, and even China will not allow that kind of blackmail, since they know that Kim would just continue blackmailing them on other issues, and that Kim could turn those missiles on them, and also sell the nuclear and missile technology to other Asian states.

    The South Korean Olympic games are scheduled to run from February 9 to February 25. Whether the child dictator's new strategy will work should become evident soon after that. National Interest and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-18 World View -- North Korea reveals major change in strategic direction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Jan-18 World View -- Mongolia turns to India, as nationalism and xenophobia towards China grow

    India to help construct Mongolia's first oil refinery

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Mongolia elects new president after highly nationalistic anti-China campaign


    Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi open-pit copper mine in South Gobi desert
    Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi open-pit copper mine in South Gobi desert

    Khaltmaa Battulga, a fierce critic of China, won the June 26, 2017, election for president of Mongolia after a highly nationalistic campaign, taking advantage of the deep anti-China xenophobia across the population. At the beginning of the campaign his slogan was "Mongolia First," echoing Donald Trump's "America First" motto. He frequently mentioned "threats" from the east, meaning China.

    During the campaign, Battulga even referred to his opponent contemptuously as an erliiz, a person of mixed Mongolian and Chinese heritage, and used the slogan "Mongol Ylna" (a Mongol will triumph) to point out that only he had a Mongol origin. Battulga also advocated greater economic independence from China.

    There's a bit of a backstory to Battulga's campaign for president.

    It's worthwhile pausing here to say again that China has always claimed that it never interfered in other countries' internal affairs. So whenever someone complained that China was jailing, torturing and massacring peaceful protesters or Tibetans or Uighurs, Chinese officials would ignore the complaints, saying it was an internal matter.

    China's policy was phony, of course, and that's illustrated by what happened to Mongolia in 2016. In November, Mongolia invited the Dalai Lama to visit for a four-day trip. The Dalai Lama is revered by Buddhists in Mongolia, but also by Buddhists in China's Tibet, which is why Chinese officials hate him.

    So China punished Mongolia in December 2016 by closing part of the border, leaving hundreds of trucks carrying copper and coal backed up on the highway in sub-zero temperatures. Mongolia was forced to make an official apology.

    So now move forward in time to the presidential election campaign in 2017. One can well imagine that this contemptuous treatment by China infuriated the Mongolian electorate, stoking nationalism and xenophobia towards China.

    So it appears that China's policy of punishing Mongolia has backfired, and was an important part of the election of China's nemisis, Battulga. China would have been better off following its fictional policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. East Asia Forum (11-Aug-2017) and The Diplomat (3-Oct-2017) and Foreign Policy (5-Dec-2016) and The Citizen (India)

    India to help construct Mongolia's first oil refinery

    Much to China's displeasure, India will be invading China's backyard by helping to build Mongolia's first oil refinery. India is also providing a $1 billion credit line to finance the projects. The 20-year loan will have an interest rate of 1.75 percent and principal payments will be waived during the first five years. This rate is considerably lower than China is reportedly charging countries for One Belt One Road infrastructure, with the objective of avoiding a disaster similar to the one Sri Lanka suffered when they had to give China control of Sri Lanka's seaport in lieu of repaying the loan to finance building the seaport.

    Mongolia is landlocked, lying between Russia and China, and those countries are its main trading partners. Presently, Mongolia exports crude oil to China, but imports refined petroleum products from Russia. Once the project is completed, The refinery will have a processing capacity of 1.5 million metric tons of oil per year and will annually produce 560,000 tons of gasoline and 670,000 tons of diesel fuel, as well as 107,000 tons of liquefied gas, giving an enormous boost to Mongolia's economy.

    The project will substantially reduce Mongolia's dependence on China for its energy needs, and bring Mongolia closer to India. Sputnik News (Moscow) and Swarajya Magazine (India) and Tribune (India)

    Brief generational history of Mongolia

    Mongolia is a land-locked country nestled between Russia and China. Thus, most of its history is dominated by its relationship with those two countries. In the 1200s, the Mongols under Genghis Khan conquered and dominated China, in a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206, forming the Mongol Empire, the largest empire in history. In the next generational crisis war, Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered all of China, and created the Yuan Dynasty in 1271.

    The Yuan Dynasty ruled all of China until it was overthrown by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in 1368. By 1636, all of Mongolia was conquered and ruled by its successor, the Qing Dynasty.

    The Qing dynasty fell in 1911 in a generational Awakening era climax, part of which was a proxy war between China and Russia in Mongolia. Mongolia was under a Soviet-dominated Communist regime for almost 70 years, from 1921 to 1990. In 1932, a crisis war began in the form of a Buddhist rebellion against Russia's communist government.

    After declaring independence from China in 1924, the People's Republic of Mongolia remained embroiled in rivalries between Russia and China, and so maintained its communist identity, giving up its Buddhist identity for secularism. Thus, Javzandamba Hutagt, the 9th Bogd (spiritual leader of Mongolian Buddhists), born in Tibet in 1932, was barred from traveling to Mongolia until the end of Mongolia's communist era in 1990, as the Soviet Union collapsed. Since then, Mongolia has been increasingly turning from secularism back to its Buddhist roots, and the Dalai Lama has played an active part, much to the consternation of the Chinese. In particular, the Dalai Lama hopes to defeat China's attempt to name his successor, by declaring that the next Dalai Lama will be born on Mongolian soil.

    Mongolia is a resource-rich country, with big deposits of copper, coal, gold and oil. 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 to invest in huge road and infrastructure projects. When the price of commodities collapsed, Mongolia's economy was in serious trouble.

    Mongolia is hugely dependent on China, which receives 90% of its exports. So Mongolia was hurt even further when China decided to punish Mongolia, after the visit by the Dalai Lama. Mongolian Embassy and University of Central Arkansas and CS Monitor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-18 World View -- Mongolia turns to India, as nationalism and xenophobia towards China grow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid

    Ohhhhhhhh noooooo! Chocolate may be extinct by 2050!

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In scathing criticism of Pakistan, Trump administration cuts $255 million in aid


    Pakistan army soldiers board an army vehicle in Peshawar on June 24, 2017 (AFP)
    Pakistan army soldiers board an army vehicle in Peshawar on June 24, 2017 (AFP)

    In a tweet posted on Monday, Donald Trump wrote:

    "The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

    On Tuesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations anncouned that Washington would withhold $255 million in assistance to Pakistan. Haley said, "There are clear reasons for this. Pakistan has played a double game for years. They work with us at times, and they also harbor the terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan. That game is not acceptable to this administration. We expect far more cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism." Haley said that the US may take additional steps.

    Although Pakistani officials were infuriated by the tweet, a three-hour meeting of Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) decided that Pakistan must not give any "knee jerk" reaction to the tweet, and they reached the conclusion that despite "unwarranted allegations, Pakistan cannot act in haste."

    Pakistan's government did summon the US ambassador and register a protest, but did not take the next logical step of recalling its own ambassador from Washington.

    The NSC statement said that the committee was of the firm view that the real challenges in Afghanistan were political infighting, massive corruption, phenomenal growth of drug production and expansion of ungoverned spaces inside the country full of sanctuaries for multiple international terrorist organizations posing a serious and direct threat to Afghanistan, its neighbors and the entire region. Reuters and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and CNN

    US-Pakistan relations at a crossroad

    Tuesday's tweet by Trump could not have been a surprise, as it was the culmination of any number of announcements data back years.

    In a surprise visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, three weeks ago, vice president Mike Pence warned that it was putting Pakistan "on notice":

    "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our efforts in Afghanistan. The days to shelter terrorists have gone. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor terrorists.

    For too long Pakistan has provided safe haven to the Taliban and many terrorist organizations, but those days are over. President Trump has put Pakistan on notice."

    Major Geneneral Asif Ghafoor, Pakistan's chief military spokesperson, responded angrily to Pence's claims, saying that there was no organized infrastructure of any terrorist outfit inside Pakistan. Ghafoor said that Pakistan will no long allow itself to be bullied by the United States, and blamed India for the problems in Afghanistan:

    "We have fought an imposed and imported war twice in Pakistan, and now we cannot do any more for anyone.

    The US needs to check India’s anti-Pakistan role not only from inside of Afghanistan but also through the enhanced and increased ceasefire violations along the LoC [Line of Control in Kashmir] and the Working Boundary so that Pakistan remains focused on peace not only in Pakistan but beyond."

    Ghafoor read out this statement in English, to make it clear that he was directing it at the United States.

    The US has been giving aid to Pakistan ever since 9/11/2001, when America came to depend on Pakistan's help in the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Annual aid to Pakistan peaked at $3.5 billion in 2011, but the relationship with Pakistan was strained by the 2011 raid on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad that revealed that he had been hiding in plain sight in Pakistan.

    Pakistani officials claimed surprise that bin Laden was hiding out in Pakistan, but those denials have never been believed. Since then, both the Obama administration and Congress have been cutting aid to Pakistan. Funding fell below $1 billion in the 2016 budget request.

    So Trump's decision this week to very publicly cut aid to Pakistan is not something out of the blue, but has been coming for several years. China has previously said that it would make up for any aid reduction by the US.

    This bizarre relationship between the US and Pakistan can only be understood in the context of the war in Afghanistan. Trump claims that the US is going to defeat the Taliban and win the war in Afghanistan, but as I've written in detail in the past, that's completely impossible. There is no possible victory in Afghanistan.

    I wrote a lengthy analysis in August in "23-Aug-17 World View -- Trump promises victory in Afghanistan by redefining 'victory'". As I pointed out then, and numerous times in the past, Trump's foreign policy strategy is completely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analysis of the world. As long time readers are aware, I've worked on several projects in the past with Steve Bannon, Trump's former chief adviser. Bannon is an expert on world history and military history and, through our association, is also an expert on Generational Dynamics theory, whose principles he's passed on to Donald Trump. Mainstream journalists and analysts are mostly completely baffled by Trump's foreign policy decisions mainly because they have no clue about generational theory.

    So Trump knows that we're headed inevitably for war with North Korea, China and Pakistan, and his policies are guided by that reality. Trump's very public scathing criticism of Pakistan, and the decision to cut aid, make perfect sense if you realize that there's no point in paying money to a country that you're going to be fighting in a war.

    Pakistan's leaders are generally contemptuous of America's leaders, but now they've come to a crossroads and have to make a decision. On the one hand, they want American aid, and they want access to a number of American weapons systems. Trump's harsh message can be paraphrased as follows: Help us in Afghanistan a lot more than you have, and try to win back enough trust to get what you want from America, or else continue as before on the path eventually to cutting all ties with America.

    The fact that Pakistan's government did not yet recall its ambassador to Washington indicates that they realize that this is no easy decision. Geo TV (Pakistan, 22-Dec) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Foreign Policy (23-Aug)

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    Ohhhhhhhh noooooo! Chocolate may be extinct by 2050!


    According to NOAA, chocolate promotes science literacy among children by forming dinosaurs. (Daniele Civello)
    According to NOAA, chocolate promotes science literacy among children by forming dinosaurs. (Daniele Civello)

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), climate change will force the plants that produce chocolate into extinction by 2050. According to the NOAA, they'll die off because the rain forests are disappearing.

    Chocolate extinct! Thank goodness I won't be around to see that! CBS News and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-18 World View -- US-Pakistan relations hit major crossroad, as US cuts aid thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Jan-18 World View -- Escalating violence in Iran protests brings calls for Iran-Israel friendship

    Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran protesters kill a police officer in escalating violence


    A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)
    A university student protects herself from teargas while protesting at the University of Tehran. (AP)

    At least 15 people have been killed in widening street protests in Iran, and Iran state television reports that one of the dead and several of the wounded are police officers.

    During the 2009 demonstrations, retaliation by Iran's security forces and by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) was rapid and bloody. Iran's government is anxious avoid a repeat of the 2009 violence and bloodshed, and so the police have been restrained, and the IRGC has not gotten involved so far. However, the apparent ambush of a police officer may be a game-changer.

    The BBC's Iran correspondent Rana Rahimpour described how the protests got started (my transcription):

    "They are being careful about how forcefully they respond to these protests, because as [president Hassan Rouhani] has already acknowledged, people have a very legitimate reasons to be angry.

    Over the last few months, there were scattered, relatively small protests against many of the investment banks that have gone almost bankrupt, had been shut down by the government, and more than two million people have lost their life savings.

    And the first Death to Rouhani slogans that we had started from those smaller protests. So he knows that people have good reasons to be angry. We're talking about serious corruption among the political élite. We're talking about unemployment, which according to his interior minister, in some parts of the country that's up to 60%.

    These investment banks were apparently involved the same sorts of fraudulent deals as the US banks were during the subprime real estate crisis. As their bad debt accumulated, they went bankrupt and two million people lost their life savings. When the protests last week in Mashad in northeastern Iran, it was specifically in reaction to the corruption related to the bank bankruptcies, where a lot of ordinary people lost their life savings, while many in the political élite did well.

    According to Rahimpour, the trigger for the current explosion in protests was Rouhani's release of the upcoming annual budget, which fully revealed the level of corruption:

    "Three weeks ago, president Rouhani released the details of his upcoming budget for the Iranian new year in March, in which it became clear that he doesn't have any control over more than half of the budget, that are already going to many religious organizations. And that went viral. People got extremely angry. Cause we're talking about people that have lost their life savings, many factory workers haven't been paid for months, they can't pay their loans, they can't pay their mortgages.

    And suddenly they realize that OK, these religious clerical organizations are getting millions. So that's one reason for anger. They've raised the price of bread, recently. There's talk of raising the price of petrol. So all of this together, and possibly interference of regional rivals as President Rouhani said, together, the situation was ripe for unrest like we're witnessing right now."

    On top of this, it's becoming widely believed among the Iranian protesters that Iran got a huge financial bonanza from the Iran nuclear deal and the ending of sanctions, but that the money had benefited these same clerical institutions, but hadn't benefited the ordinary people at all. This is the basis of the call for an end to the clerical regime.

    In comparing to the 2009 protests, these protests are smaller, but they're far more widespread. The 2009 protests were concentrated mainly in Tehran, while the new protests are taking place in many smaller towns across Iran. Furthermore, unlike the 2009 protests, the current protests seem to be completely spontaneous and leaderless, and are spreading through social media.

    Without a protest leadership, the police are unable to target a single person or group of people. For that reason, the government is shutting down access to social media in the hope of suppressing the protests that way. Tehran Times and BBC and Al Jazeera and Reuters

    Trump and Netanyahu express solidarity with Iranian protesters

    As long-time readers are aware, I predicted over ten years ago, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran would be a United States ally in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war.

    Ten years ago, the idea that Iran and the US would become allies seemed fantastical and insane. But during the Barack Obama administration, whatever one thinks of the Iran nuclear deal, Iran and America overcame much of the vitriolic rancor that separated them.

    The reason that Iran and the US are becoming allies is generational. The hardliners in Iran are in the dying generations that fought in the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, and considered the Iranian Hostage Crisis a great victory for them. However, those people are dying off, and the generations growing up after the war are pro-Western and pro-American. At some point, there will be an "Awakening climax" in Iran, like the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, that signals the victory of the younger generations over the war survivors, and the end of the hardline regime. A likely outcome is that Iran will become the same kind of ally as it was under the Shah of Iran, prior to 1979.

    So we're seeing Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu expressing friendship and support for Iran -- but not for the old geezers in the hardline regime, but for the young generation of protesters.

    Donald Trump tweeted as follows:

    "Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!

    Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!

    The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most."

    Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video in which he said the following:

    "Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people.

    This regime tries desperately to sow hate between us. But they won’t succeed. And when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom."

    The possible friendship between Netanyahu and the Iranian people exposes an important conflict in the geopolitics of the Mideast.

    Recently, Israel has been closely allied with Egypt in fighting Islamist terrorists, especially in Egypt's northern Sinai. Egypt has also been an ally of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the Arab split that led to the blockade of Qatar over its close relations with Iran.

    Israel has also recently been closely allied with Saudi Arabia because of their common enmity to Iran.

    If you connect all those dots and now throw in a possible future détente between Israel and Iran, then you quickly arrive at a conflict. This is not a trivial situation, and will almost certainly lead to some kind of conflict not currently anticipated.

    Generational Dynamics predictions that I've been posting for years haven't changed. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Reuters and Jerusalem Online

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-18 World View -- Escalating violence in Iran protests brings calls for Iran-Israel friendship thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues

    North Korea says that its nuclear arsenal protects it from attacks

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues


    Xi Jinping giving New Year speech (Xinhua)
    Xi Jinping giving New Year speech (Xinhua)

    China used to brag that it never interfered in other countries' business. Whenever someone complained that China was massacring peaceful protesters or Tibetans or Uighurs, Chinese officials would say that it's an internal matter, and just as China didn't criticize other nations' internal matters, other nations should just leave China alone.

    But according to China's president Xi Jinping's delusional New Year's address to the nation, all of that is changing now that both Xi Jinping and China have become strong and powerful:

    "As a responsible major country, China has something to say.

    China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China's international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China's pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order. The Chinese people are ready to chart out a more prosperous, peaceful future for humanity, with people from other countries."

    One can only shrug and wonder what much of this means. With regard to upholding the United Nations, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has already ruled that China is an international criminal. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea") China is also the principal supporter of Russia in illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. China has no intention of upholding the authority of the United Nations, except selectively for its own benefit.

    Xi Jinping says that China will "always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order." Does anyone seriously believe that?

    I've gotten quite a bit of reaction to my October 24 World View article, Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism. In that article I wrote that the Chinese people themselves have become almost completely delusional. Press reports indicate that many Chinese, especially young Chinese, believe that China's Socialism has already beaten the United States. They believe that because China is a dictatorship, it can accomplish things that a democracy can't, and therefore can defeat the Western democracies at any time of their choosing.

    The things that I've been told are all anecdotal, but they're consistent. Chinese people consider themselves superior to Americans and other Western people, and expect to use military power (war) to dominate the world, and set up a "new world order."

    From what I can tell, Chinese people don't actually hate Americans. They save that vitriolic hatred for other Asians, including people from Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea and Japan. One person told me how contemptuous the Chinese he's spoken to are towards the people from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Another person wrote,

    "The Chinese are arrogant, rude, intolerant, loud, demanding and overbearing. They flaunt their wealth and rule over underlings, especially foreign ones, with an iron fist and a bamboo rod. Other Asians despise them and wherever they go as tourists they are disliked and held in disdain as being little more than peasants with credit cards."

    I keep comparing the Chinese today to the Nazis of the 1930s, and the points of comparison keep growing. The Chinese seem to consider themselves to be the "Master Race," just as the Nazis did. The Chinese consider it their right to annex regions belonging to other countries, just as the Nazis did. And the "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Nazi's "National Socialism."

    A lot of these impressions are anecdotal, but they're consistent. If there are any Chinese people out there who think that I'm wrong, then please write to me and tell me that I'm wrong and why. Because I would very much like to be wrong.

    I frequently quote Friedrich Nietzsche and I do so again now: "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule."

    As things stand, China is delusional and on the same path as Nazi Germany. China will cause a catastrophe to itself and the rest of the world. History will look back on China as the worst disaster to the world in history, worse than the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese combined. By 2050, China will be worse off than it was in 1950. Xinhua and Times of India and Scroll (India)

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    Xi Jinping promises to eliminate poverty by 2020

    If Xi Jinping's speech sounded delusional about foreign policy, it sounds totally wacky on economic issues.

    According to Xi, in only three more years, by the year 2020, those rural residents who are currently living in conditions of extreme poverty should be lifted above the poverty line:

    "It would be the first time in thousands of years of Chinese history that extreme poverty had been eliminated. It is our solemn promise.

    Only three years are left to 2020. Every one of us must be called to action, do our best ... This is a great cause, important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. Let's do it together and make it happen."

    Just in general, the whole "poverty" concept is largely a hoax. Regulators always define the "poverty line" that separates the poor from the rest, so that there are always 10-12% of people in poverty. This is a matter of definition. Whatever algorithm regulators use to define poverty, it always comes out so that 10-12% of the people are in poverty.

    No matter how wealthy a country is, there's always a poorest 10-12%. So by definition, poverty can never be cured.

    So here's Xi Jinping promising to end poverty in China by 2020, three years from now. China is known to lie about economic statistics, and it may simply be that Xi Jinping believes what his government tells him.

    China claims an annual 6.9% growth rates, but I've heard many analysts claim that the true figure is close to 1%, and that the 6.9% figure represents increase in debt, rather than increase in growth. This is a subtle distinction that may be beyond the understanding of a politician like Xi Jinping.

    Xi's speeches have been promising aggressive development of China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI). In this vision, China will be building towns, cities, buildings, roads and other infrastructure throughout Asia, and continuing all the way to Europe. In the oceans, China will be making new alliances and numerous ports for Chinese ships, putting China at the center of a new world order.

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bank of International Settlements (BIS), Moody's and S&P have all expressed alarm at China's ballooning debt, and are predicting a major correction. This is consistent with the Generational Dynamics prediction of a global financial panic and crisis.

    As for the Belt and Road Initiative, the situation in Sri Lanka, where China financed building of a seaport then ended up controlling it because Sri Lanka can't make the payments, has raised a lot of suspicions that China is setting a debt trap for other nations as well. Projects in Pakistan and Nepal have been put on hold for this reason, putting the whole BRI concept into question. Xinhua and India.com and Forbes and Fortune (7-Dec) and Politico (EU)

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    North Korea says that its nuclear arsenal protects it from attacks


    Kim Jong-un on television on Sunday (AP)
    Kim Jong-un on television on Sunday (AP)

    North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un also gave a New Year's speech in which he bragged that he's already safe from attack by the United States, and that he's building an arsenal of nuclear missiles with which to attack the United states:

    "The U.S. should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table. The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range. ... The United States can never start a war against me and our country. ...

    We must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment."

    AP and AFP

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    Generational Dynamics World View finishes another year with a perfect record

    Well, it's the beginning of the New Year.

    There were 365 days in 2017, and I posted 365 Generational Dynamics World View articles. I didn't miss a single day. A perfect record. That just proves what an obsessive mind is capable of.

    When I started writing daily articles in January 2010, I wrote "Dear Reader, I'm going to try this for a while and see if it works for me. Ideally I'll produce a news summary every day, but that's probably unrealistic. I'll try to do it as often as possible." Much to my own amazement, I'm still doing it every day eight years later.

    I started the Generational Dynamics web site in 2003. Since then, I've written almost 6,000 articles containing thousands of Generational Dynamics predictions and analyses, all of which have come true or are trending true. None has been proven wrong. No web site, analyst, journalist, or politician has come even close to the analytical and forecasting success of GenerationalDynamics.com. Generational theory is truly amazing, and a truly historic development.

    Now it's 2018, and we're looking forward to an extremely dangerous year, with crises in North Korea, China, the South China Sea, the Mideast, Crimea, Africa, and elsewhere. Any one of these crises could spiral into something bigger. As we've reported recently, even Chinese officials are saying that they expect a war over North Korea in the next few months.

    If you want to forget about what's going on in the world, then just focus on the politics of the Russia dossier or the latest sexual harassment accusation. But if you do want to know what's going on in the world, then the #1 most accurate source in the world is the daily Generational Dynamics World View articles. You can read them every day on http://GenerationalDynamics.com and on the excellent Breitbart National Security web site, or you can subscribe, and receive them for free every day in your inbox.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jan-18 World View -- Xi Jinping says that China will now have a 'say' on all international issues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jan-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Dec-17 World View -- With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy'

    US warns Assad regime to stay west of Euphrates river

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy'


    Jim Mattis (Getty)
    Jim Mattis (Getty)

    According to Pentagon estimates, there are few then 1,000 fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) left in eastern Syria, down from several thousand just a few weeks ago. This is largely through the efforts of the mostly Kurdish US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have focused their efforts on eradicating remnants of ISIS.

    The Pentagon in the past has said that US forces would remain in Syria "as long as we need to," and on Friday U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave an outline about how the role of US forces will be changing in 2018, following the collapse of the self-declared ISIS caliphate in Raqqa.

    According to Mattis, ISIS is on the run, with some remaining ISIS fighters in the Middle Euphrates River Valley:

    "As we sit here today at the end of 2017, the caliphate is on the run, we’re breaking them.

    We are in the process of crushing the life out of the caliphate there, while trying to keep the innocent people safe – which is very hard with this group.

    It [ISIS] is less inspirational when they have lost their physical caliphate; it is less inspirational as the stories of what it was like living under their rule come out. I think it is a brand with a diminishing appeal, but the appeal is still there for those who go in for that philosophy."

    Mattis said the time is right for "an attempt to move toward normalcy," by operations like clearing IEDs, and ensuring peace and stability:

    "What we will be doing is shifting from what I call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach, to a stabilizing [approach].

    You'll see more U.S. diplomats on the ground. When you bring in more diplomats, they’re working that initial restoration of services. They bring in the contractors. That sort of thing, There’s international money that’s got to be administered so it actually does something and doesn’t go into the wrong people’s pockets."

    The approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would stay and provide security for the diplomats and civilians, as well as help with training and aid in efforts to hunt down IS fighters. Dept. of Defense and VOA and CNBC

    US warns Assad regime to stay west of Euphrates river

    The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is demanding that US forces leave Syria completely, and is calling the US presence "illegal."

    But according to Mattis, there is a demarcation line between the forces of the al-Assad regime and its ally Russia on one side, and the Syrian Democratic Forces and the coalition forces on the other side:

    "This is the demarcation line, and we've said that we will operate on one side, the Russians on the other. And we're still taking ISIS down. Nothing has changed."

    Mattis is denying that that US-backed forces have engaged "Assad forces" crossing the demarcation line:

    "It hasn't come up. They're not even trying it. So I'm not concerned. ...

    "Well, right now, it's a mistake if somebody does it. So it's not a warning to anybody."

    Despite the implied warning by Mattis, al-Assad says that the Kurds are "traitors," and he wants his army to attack them and possibly to exterminate them. The al-Assad regime currently controls about 55% of Syria, and Kurdish forces control about 28%.

    Turkey also considers the Kurds in the SDF to be "terrorists," and wants to see their role reduced. Furthermore, Turkey has recently called Bashar al-Assad a "terrorist."

    It appears that, in addition to eliminating the remaining 1,000 ISIS fighters, the remaining 2,000 US troops in Syria will have the job of protecting the Kurds from the Turkish and al-Assad forces. Critics of Friday's announcement by Mattis claim that it's a prescription for open-ended mission creep. AFP and Jerusalem Post and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and Eagle Online

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Dec-17 World View -- With ISIS collapsing, US forces will remain in Syria to restore 'normalcy' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    30-Dec-17 World View -- Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran

    Iran's regime begins responding to the protests

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran


    Anti-government demonstrations in Mashad, Iran, on Thursday (AP)
    Anti-government demonstrations in Mashad, Iran, on Thursday (AP)

    A small Thursday protest in northeastern Iran against the economic policies of Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has spread on Friday to become a general anti-government protest in cities across Iran. The protesters are now targeting not just Rouhani, but the entire regime of Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei.

    Iran's economy has become increasingly desperate, and politician's statements blaming Iran's economy on outside forces (i.e., the United States) are increasingly disbelieved.

    Egg prices in Iran had doubled since last week, due to the government's culling of millions of chickens diagnosed with avian flu. Unemployment stood at 12.4% in this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, up 1.4% from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million.

    Rouhani had promised that the economy would improve significantly after Iran reached the nuclear deal with America and the West, because of the removal of economic sanctions. However, the money that was derived from the removal of sanctions has been wasted on government corruption and foreign wars.

    The slogans being chanted by protesters in different cities have been collected by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK), an organization led by Maryam Rajavi, advocating the removal of the hardline Iranian regime. Some of the slogans are listed below.

    The original protests on Thursday were about the economy and government corruption:

    By Friday, they had morphed into general anti-government and anti-regime protests:

    Anti-war protests zeroed in on Iran's enormous expenditures on war efforts for Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Yemen:

    Maryam Rajavi, referenced above, said:

    "This uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty.

    The four-decade record of the mullahs’ rule has been nothing but inflation, poverty and corruption, torture and execution, killings and aggression. The bulk of the people’s wealth, including the money released in the nuclear deal, is either spent on repression and export of terrorism and war, or is plundered by the regime’s leaders. The overthrow of the religious fascism is the first step to get out of the crisis that is intensifying every day.

    The mullahs’ regime has no future; investment on it is doomed to failure, and it is time for the international community to not tie their fate to this regime and recognize the Iranian people Resistance to overthrow that regime."

    Ms. Rajavi's statement is interesting, because it's almost formulaic in being similar in tone to screeds by American anti-war activists in the 1960s and 1970s, and indeed to screeds by anti-Donald Trump politicians today. Payvand (Iran) and Bloomberg and Deutsche Welle and Al Arabiya

    Iran's regime begins responding to the protests

    As I've been writing for years, Iran's population is behaving like a typical country in a generational Awakening era. This is one generation past the previous generational crisis war, in this case the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988.

    America's last generational Awakening era was the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. There was a "generation gap" pitting the traumatized survivors of World War II versus the Boomers who grew up after the war, and were not traumatized. There were student riots, long hot summers, the Summer of Love, bra-burning, anti-war protests, Kent State shootings, all culminating in the Awakening era climax, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.

    We don't know when it's going to happen, but Iran is headed for a similar climax. Perhaps it will be on the death of the current 79-year-old Supreme Leader, or perhaps it will be based on some sort of electoral change, as happened with Richard Nixon.

    In the late 1990s, college students in these younger generations started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests, during Iran's generational Awakening era. Khamenei and the Iran hardliners brutally suppressed those protests, but doing so didn't change minds. Today, those students are 30-40 years old, and have risen to positions of power, ready to take over when the current hardline leadership dies off. And by the way, this is also true within the ranks of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

    They are generally pro-Western and pro-American, and consider Saudi Arabia to be an existential threat. This is one of several reasons why I've been saying for years that, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be an ally of the United States, along with Russia and India, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries.

    There was a serious split between hardliners and moderates in Iran's government 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, while the moderates in the government wanted to permit peaceful protests, and wanted the jailed protesters to be released.

    Iran's government was extremely embarrassed by its violent response to peaceful protesters in 2009, and want to avoid a repeat, as indicated Friday by hardline cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda:

    "If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad."

    So Iran's government is in a quandary. The protests are small now, although they're a lot more widespread than the 2009 protests, which were mainly limited to Tehran. If the protests fizzle out by themselves, then all will be well for the time being. But if the protests grow in the next days and weeks, then the government will be forced to crush them, and as Alamolhoda says, world media will be filled with pictures and video of blood running in the streets of Tehran, as in 2009. BBC and Iran Front Page and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Dec-17 World View -- Anti-government, anti-war and economic protests spread across Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    29-Dec-17 World View -- Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov

    Who's going to pick the cotton in Uzbekistan?

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov


    Women working as forced laborers pick cotton in Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley (EurasiaNet)
    Women working as forced laborers pick cotton in Uzbekistan in the Fergana Valley (EurasiaNet)

    Uzbekistan's new leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev is sacking senior security officials in the corrupt and bloody National Security Service (NSS), the local successor to the Soviet KGB, and has promised to reform economic reporting, saying that reported figures for economic growth and employment had been "fiction" for years.

    Mirziyoyev's predecessor was Islam Karimov, a vicious, corrupt dictator who had been in power since 1991, and who died a year ago at age 78 after suffering a stroke.

    Karimov ruled over a deeply corrupt system of wealth distribution among powerful clans, involving nepotism and cronyism. The population was kept in line by forced labor, mass arrests, torture and repression.

    Mirziyoyev has been in office for 15 months, and has promised hope and change in several areas, including liberalizing the economy and ensuring security, interethnic harmony and religious tolerance. However, he's said nothing about strengthening the public's role in the political process, or of improvement in human rights or allowing independent media. Reuters and RFE/RL and Reuters and RFE/RL

    Rise of Islamic radicalism and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)

    Under Karimov, the region has seen Islamic radicalism in the form of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in the densely populated and restive Fergana (Ferghana) Valley. The Fergana Valley lies in three separate countries. It consists of eastern Uzbekistan, part of northern Tajikistan and part of southwestern Kyrgyzstan. It's the most densely populated region of Central Asia, and has been plagued by frequent ethnic and religious conflict since the Soviet breakup.

    Following a wave of jihadist terror attacks in March 2004, 23 Muslims were put on trial on terrorism charges. In May 2005, Some 10,000 Muslims in Andijon (Andizhan) in the heart of the Fergana Valley began protesting the trial peacefully. However, the demonstrations turned violent when armed protesters attacked the prison, freeing dozens of prisoners, including the 23 Muslims on trial. Government soldiers moved in and fired on thousands of protestors, killing 500 people and causing thousands of refugees to flee Andijon and cross the border into Kyrgyzstan.

    Since then, the IMU has become increasingly radicalized. Its initial goal was to turn the entire Fergana valley into a caliphate, but it was drawn into the Afghanistan war by the American intervention, and has cooperated to some extent with the Taliban in executing terrorist attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Although originally allied with al-Qaeda, the IMU has changed allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

    The current objectives of the IMU are currently unclear, but using the IMU as a reason, Karimov has fueled resentment towards the government through mass arrests. Protest has been unheard of because the National Security Service (NSS) is so feared, but now the new leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev is vowing to bring the NSS under control. Mirziyoyev is starting by firing some senior level officers, but whether anything will really change remains to be seen.

    It's believed that hundreds of Uzbeks are in Iraq and Syria fighting with ISIS and other jihadist groups. With the continuing demise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it's possible that some of these will return to Uzbekistan and join with local insurgents to pose an internal threat to the country.

    Jihadists from Uzbekistan have occasionally perpetrated terrorist acts in other regions.

    An Uzbek citizen was arrested in Sweden in April when he ran a truck into a crowd in Stockholm and killed four people. The suspect had been denied a request for residency in Sweden and expressed sympathy with the ISIS. Two Uzbeks and a Kazakh were arrested in Brooklyn in 2015 and charged with conspiring to support ISIS.

    Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, was arrested immediately after killing eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City on October 31. Saipov came to America in 2011, and in 2013 was married in Ohio to a 19-year old girl, Nozima Odilova, who is also from Uzbekistan. They have two children. Saipov was apparently radicalized while in the United States.

    Uzbekistan's president Shavkat Mirziyoyev immediately acknowledged the violence and expressed his condolences, writing to President Trump, "Uzbekistan is prepared to provide all measures and means to assist in the investigation of this terrorist act."

    Under Karimov, Uzbekistan has been a U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, and the US has also used Uzbekistan as a strategic location to bring goods and military equipment into Afghanistan. That's expected to continue under Mirziyoyev. Crisis Group (29-Sept) and EurasiaNet (1-Nov) and Newsweek (31-Oct) and The Atlantic (1-Nov)

    Who's going to pick the cotton in Uzbekistan?

    Uzbekistan became a cotton-producing powerhouse in the twentieth century for an ironic reason.

    In the mid-1800s, the Russians invaded Uzbekistan. Russia had lost its supply of cotton from the southern United States because of the American Civil War, and the Russians wanted to establish a safe source of cotton, and so they developed a large cotton-producing agriculture in Uzbekistan.

    As part of Stalin's Soviet Union, Uzbekistan became a cotton powerhouse starting in the 1920s. In support of the cotton trade, millions of ethnic Russians began pouring into the country, especially into the fertile Fergana Valley (or Ferghana Valley), in the far eastern portion of the country.

    1991 was a pivotal year for Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley. That was the year that the Soviet Union collapsed, resulting in the formation of Uzbekistan as an independent republic. It also resulted in a great deal of financial hardship for the Russians still living in the Fergana Valley. The result was the first signs of Islamic fundamentalism in Uzbekistan when some unemployed young Muslims seized the Communist Party headquarters in the city of Namangan in the Fergana Valley, and ended up forming the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

    What makes this ironic is that the cotton trade in the American south before the Civil War depended on slavery, and the cotton trade in Uzbekistan since independence in 1991 has also depended on slavery.

    Since 1991, it has become standard practice by the government to use forced labor to pick the cotton. Theoretically it was voluntary, but in practice the government forced teachers, doctors and students, including children, to leave hospitals, schools and universities and go to the cotton fields.

    The new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has vowed to end forced labor, and has issued a decree categorically banning the use of children, along with education and healthcare workers, in the harvest. These people were sent home right in the middle of this year's cotton harvest, much to their surprise.

    However, as analysts point out, cotton is an existential crop for Uzbekistan, and somebody has to pick the cotton, and now other groups are picking cotton as part of a new wave of forced labor.

    The long-term plan is to attract voluntary cotton-pickers through higher wages, and to mechanize the harvest through 15,000 harvesting machines. Whether this will be done remains to be seen, but in the meantime, forced labor is still being used to pick the cotton. EurasiaNet (31-Oct)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Dec-17 World View -- Uzbekistan's Shavkat Mirziyoyev promises to end atrocities of previous leader Islam Karimov thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    28-Dec-17 World View -- China funds unauthorized anti-Japan comfort woman statue in Manila, Philippines

    South Korea calls for renegotiating 2015 deal with Japan on comfort women

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China funds unauthorized anti-Japan comfort woman statue in Manila, Philippines


    Unauthorized comfort woman statue on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the Philippines (Japan Forward)
    Unauthorized comfort woman statue on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the Philippines (Japan Forward)

    An unauthorized statue representing a "comfort woman" during Japan's occupation of the Philippines has been erected on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, usually reserved for statues of actresses and former presidents.

    The statue was funded by a group of Chinese donors working in secret with a Philippines feminist organization. The statue was reported in Chinese media even before an unveiling ceremony took place on December 9.

    On December 12, the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent a letter to the Mayor of Manila, with "requests for background information regarding the monument, including the process of erecting such monuments, and the circumstances that led to the erection of the "Comfort Woman" statue." The mayor responded that the statue had been erected without a permit, and that no permit had been issued.

    A similar statue in San Francisco has drawn retaliation from Japan. San Francisco and Osaka, Japan's third-largest city, became sister cities in 1957, as part of a post-war effort to foster peace. Last month, the mayor of Osaka announced that they will end the relationship. Osaka mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said, "Our relationship of trust was completely destroyed. I will dissolve the sister-city relationship."

    So far, no similar retaliatory measures have been taken against Manila or the Philippines for the Manila statue. Manila is a sister city of Yokohama, Japan, while Japan is the Philippines' biggest partner in trade, investment, and official development assistance.

    Although no permit has been issued for the statue in Manila, Teresita Ang See, identified as a "community and anticrime advocate" of Chinese ancestry in Manila, justifies the statue:

    "The Japanese occupation is a fact. The atrocities, persecutions, massacres, rape and other war crimes are facts. These we cannot and should not deny. There is a park at the corner of Anda and Gen. Luna Streets in Intramuros, put up by the Memorare Manila, to remember the more than 100,000 civilians killed during the Battle of Manila."

    The Japanese say that they object to the statues because they are being singled out, when rape and sexual slavery are common in any war.

    And the Japanese are absolutely right.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, rape, sexual slavery and other sex crimes are common in war, especially generational crisis wars, as a way of demoralizing the enemy.

    Japan's sex crimes are over 70 years old, but there are girls and women being sold as sex slaves in Libya today. These are Mideast and African refugees who come to Libya hoping to cross over to Europe. Instead, they run out of money to pay human traffickers and they get auctioned off in slave auctions. The men are auctioned as worker slaves, and the boys, girls and women are auctioned as sex slaves. That's happening today, and I'm not aware of any statues being erected for them.

    As a Chinese woman, Teresita Ang See statement about comfort women is probably motivated as much by her hatred of the Japanese and Philippines people as she is about her concern for the victims.

    The hatred between Chinese and Philippines people is enormous, as was documented in a 2003 book World on Fire by Yale Law School professor Amy Chua. Chua was a member of the élite Chinese descent minority living in Manila, in an enclave walled off from ordinary Filipinos, whom she never saw except as servants living in filth in the basement of her family's mansion. Chua described what happened after one of the servants murdered her aunt:

    "Each time I think of Nilo Abique -- he was close to six feet and my aunt was four-feet-eleven-inches tall -- I find myself welling up with a hatred and revulsion so intense it is actually consoling. But over time I have also had glimpses of how the Chinese must look to the vast majority of Filipinos, to someone like Abique: as exploiters, as foreign intruders, their wealth inexplicable, their superiority intolerable. I will never forget the entry in the police report for Abique's "motive for murder." The motive given was not robbery, despite the jewels and money the chauffer was said to have taken. Instead, for motive, there was just one word -- "Revenge."

    My aunt's killing was just a pinprick in a world more violent than most of us ever imagined. In America we read about acts of mass slaughter and savagery; at first in faraway places, now coming closer and closer to home. We do not understand what connects these acts. Nor do we understand the role we have played in bringing them about.

    In the Serbian concentration camps of the early 1990s, the women prisoners were raped over and over, many times a day, often with broken bottles, often together with their daughters. The men, if they were lucky, were beaten to death as their Serbian guards sang national anthems; if they were not so fortunate, they were castrated or, at gunpoint, forced to castrate their fellow prisoners, sometimes with their own teeth. In all, thousands were tortured and executed."

    Perhaps one of my readers from the Balkans can let me know if there are any statues being erected for the men who were castrated by their fellow prisoners with their teeth.

    In the end, this whole comfort women issue is an opportunistic way to collect money from the Japanese, but it's really all about the ethnic hatred that the Japanese, Chinese and Philippines have for each other. In the last war, it was Japan versus China and the Philippines. In the next war it will be China versus Japan and the Philippines.

    So the Japanese are completely correct that they're being singled out for things that are common in generational crisis wars.

    History is written by the victors. America and the West were the victors in World War II, and American soldiers saved both China and the Philippines from being conquered, colonized and enslaved by the Japanese. The Japanese lost the war to the Americans and the West, and their crimes are being singled out. That's the way the world works. Washington Post (25-Nov) and Japan Forward and ABS-CBN (Manila, 20-Dec) and The Standard (Philippines)

    South Korea calls for renegotiating 2015 deal with Japan on comfort women

    Civic groups in South Korea are demanding that a December 2015 deal between Japan and South Korea to settle the comfort women issue be repudiated, and a new deal be negotiated to obtain more money from Japan, as well as full acceptance of blame.

    The 2015 agreement included a $8.8 million fund paid by Japan to help the victims. Anti-Japanese groups in South Korea claim that the 2015 agreement did not fully take into account the views of the victims, and that more money should be paid to them directly, rather than through the government. According to some reports, victims who accepted money from the fund were vilified by the anti-Japanese groups.

    The agreement also called for the removal of statues of comfort women outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and outside the Japanese consulate in Busan city, but those statues have not been removed.

    The 2015 agreement was supposed to resolve the comfort women issue once and for all. Although all the activists' demands were met at the time, some former victims were angry that they had not been consulted.

    Japan's foreign minister Taro Kono has reacted angrily to the demand to renegotiate the 2015 deal:

    "If (South Korea) tries to revise the agreement that is already being implemented, that would make Japan’s ties with South Korea unmanageable and it would be unacceptable."

    The implication of this threat is that South Korea and Japan will not be able to work together to effectively counter nuclear missiles threats from North Korea.

    South Korea's foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said, "Based on the findings, the government will gather opinions of the victims and others involved going forward with a focus to be placed on a victims-centered approach. In addition, action will be taken carefully in consideration of any impact that it could have on the relations between South Korea and Japan." Yonhap (Seoul) and Reuters and Asia Times and The Atlantic (28-Dec-2015)

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    27-Dec-17 World View -- Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security

    India kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in Kashmir in revenge attack

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    India kills 3 Pakistani soldiers in Kashmir in revenge attack


    Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan, after a double suicide bombing on Dec 17 (Las Tampas)
    Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan, after a double suicide bombing on Dec 17 (Las Tampas)

    Indian officials are bragging about a "tit-for-tat" revenge attack on Monday evening, when Indian army troops crossed the Kashmir Line of Control (LoC) and crossed from the Indian-governed side to the Pakistani-governed side. There they conducted a "localized tactical operation," first creating an explosion 100-300 meters across the LoC, and then ambushed a unit of Pakistani army troops, killing three and wounding one.

    Indian officials call it a "tit-for-tat" response to an almost identical raid carried out by Pakistani troops on Saturday on Indian troops, killing one Major and three soldiers.

    India adopted a policy of retaliatory revenge attacks after 19 Indian soldiers were killed when terrorists attacked an Army camp in Uri on September 19, after which India's army conducted "surgical strikes" into Pakistani territory in Kashmir.

    However, Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) is denying that Indian troops ever crossed the LoC into Pakistani soil. Instead, the FO said that the Pakistani soldiers were killed by the explosion. According to Pakistan, firing by Indian forces had "provided a cover for the planting of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] by non-state actors", which resulted in the martyrdom of three soldiers. Daily Pioneer (India) and Dawn (Pakistan) and The Quint (India)

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    Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security

    After a brutal terror attack on a Methodist Church in Quetta, Afghanistan, on December 17, Christians in Pakistan celebrated Christmas under tight security, provided by Pakistan's government in the form of commandos, snipers and plain-clothes policemen deployed across the country to protect Christians and Christian churches on Christmas.

    On December 17, two suicide bombers attack a Methodist Church in the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of the restive province of Balochistan. Hundreds of worshippers were attending services when the attack occurred. Nine people were killed, and dozens wounded.

    On March 26 of last year, at least 69 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 injured in a suicide bombing attack in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, crowded with Christians celebrating Easter Sunday. The suicide bomber was apparently targeting children, as the explosion took place in a children's playground, near swings and other rides.

    Christians and other religious minorities have regularly faced atrocities across Pakistan. Shia Muslims are targeted most often, along with Hindus, Ahmadis and Christians.

    Christians have been systematically targeted by Pakistan’s perverse blasphemy laws, which prescribe a mandatory death sentence for any act purportedly bringing Islam and its Prophet to disrepute. Most recently, a Christian man, Nadeem James Masih, was sentenced to death on September 15, 2017, for blasphemy. Nadeem was arrested in July 2016, after his friend Yasir Bashir told the Police that he sent him a poem on WhatsApp that was insulting to Islam. Straits Times and AP and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Las Tampa (Italy)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Dec-17 World View -- Christians celebrate Christmas in Pakistan under tight security thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    26-Dec-17 World View -- Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria

    Combined Syrian and Iranian forces taking control of enclave on Israel's border

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Combined Syrian and Iranian forces taking control of enclave on Israel's border


    Lebanon-Israel border
    Lebanon-Israel border

    The combined forces of Syria's army and Iran-backed Hezbollah militias are fighting to take control of Beit Jinn, in the expectation that that its fall would also have a domino effect on all the Sunni anti-Assad militias in the entire Quneitra region of the Syrian Golan, allowing Iran and Hezbollah to mass forces in Syria on Israel's border. Beit Jinn is about 11 km from Israeli army positions on Mt. Hermon in Israel, while Quneitra is 5.5 km from the Israeli border.

    On one side are the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, combined with militias from Iran-backed Hezbollah, and apparently supported by Druze militias in the region, for a total of several thousand fighters, backed by heavy aerial bombing and heavy artillery shelling.

    On the other side are a combination of Israeli-backed "moderate" Free Syrian Army (FSA) anti-Assad Sunni rebels, combined with Sunni fighters from formerly al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), for a total of several hundred fighters. The combined Sunni forces are fighting under the banner of Itihad Quwt Jabal al Sheikh, or "Union of fighters of Jabal al Sheikh," and they are mainly drawn from local fighters from the area.

    The Sunni groups are denying that they're close to surrender. According to an official from one Sunni group, "The Iranian-backed militias are trying to consolidate their sphere of influence all the way from southwest of Damascus to the Israeli border." Reuters and Israell National News and Al Manar (Hezbollah) and Debka (Israel)

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    Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria

    With the collapse of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in both Iraq and Syria, and with Russia's recent announcement that it was going to remove most of its forces from Syria, Iran is moving to consolidate its control over parts of both countries. Two objectives are, first, to establish a land highway from Tehran (Iran) to both Damascus (Syria) and Beirut (Lebanon), and second, to establish an Iranian military base in southern Syria near the Israeli border. A further objective would be the eradication of the "Zionist regime."

    In November, Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will feel free to act in any way it wants in Syria, in order to defend its own security, and particularly to prevent Iran from establishing a military base in Syria:

    "We maintain absolute freedom of action and the only considerations that guide us are the security considerations of Israel. ... With regards to Iran, we will simply not allow for Shi'ite consolidation and Iranian entrenchment in Syria nor will we allow Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel. Anyone who has yet to understand that is advised to do so."

    A report in November said Iran is establishing a permanent military base outside Al-Kiswah, located 14 kilometers (8 miles) south of Damascus. Early in December, there were airstrikes attributed to Israel on Al-Kiswah and other targets around Damascus.

    According Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the US, the chances of a military confrontation between Israel and Iran are growing quickly. Dermer was asked what the chance was of a military conflict with Hezbollah in the next year:

    "Well, I wouldn’t put a percentage on that, but I think it is higher than people think because of Iran’s continued push through the region. If Iran is not rolled back in Syria, then the chances of military confrontation are growing. I don’t want to tell you by the year or by the month. I’d say even by the week.

    Because the more they push, we have to enforce our red lines, and you always have the prospects of an escalation, even when parties don’t want an escalation because we will not allow Iran to establish that presence and establish another terror front against Israel in Syria. We’re not going to allow it to happen. So in taking action to defend ourselves, you don’t know what could happen. But I think it’s higher than people think."

    The last major clash between Israel and Hezbollah occurred in 2006. The war was triggered when two Israeli soldiers were ambushed and kidnapped while on patrol near the border with Lebanon. Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war with Hezbollah within four hours, with no plan, no objective, and no idea what was going on. The war that was considered disastrous for both sides. Jerusalem News Service and Meir Amit Intelligence Center and Reuters (12-Nov) and Politico

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Dec-17 World View -- Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah heading for a military confrontation in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    25-Dec-17 World View -- Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce

    The 'anti-war movement' in World War I

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce


    Christmas truce drawing from the London News of January 9, 1915.  The drawing's caption reads, in part, "British and German soldiers arm-in-arm and exchanging headgear: a Christmas truce between opposing trenches. Drawn by A. C. Michael."
    Christmas truce drawing from the London News of January 9, 1915. The drawing's caption reads, in part, "British and German soldiers arm-in-arm and exchanging headgear: a Christmas truce between opposing trenches. Drawn by A. C. Michael."

    An almost-forgotten event in an almost-forgotten war.

    One of the most remarkable occurrences in modern warfare occurred just a few months after World War I had begun.

    On December 24, 1914, the German and British soldiers laid down their arms, crossed into the "No Man's Land" separating their trenches. They sang Christmas carols, played games, and shared jokes and beer with one another. They also used the time to bury their dead.

    Hundreds and perhaps thousands of men on the Western Front experienced the informal truce. The war had begun only months earlier, and there was probably more curiosity than hatred between British and German troops. Once the soldiers began receiving Christmas presents from home, the mood in many areas became more festive than warlike.

    This story illustrates how different World War I was from World War II.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, World War II was a generational crisis war for America and Western Europe, but World War I was a non-crisis war. (World War I was a generational crisis war for Eastern Europe, Russia and the Mideast.)

    Can you imagine Hitler's German troops and Churchill's English troops singing Christmas carols and playing games at the beginning of World War II? That would have been impossible.

    World War I is now an almost completely forgotten war in America, except for its name. Because of the similarity of names between World Wars I and II, and because Americans fought Germans in both wars, most Americans believe that WW I and WW II were similar to one another.

    Today there are few people, even among historians (as I've discovered), who have any idea what the Great War (WW I) was about. Most people seem to believe that WW I was the same as WW II -- some pre-Hitler Hitler-type decided to invade France and started a world war. First World War - Christmas Truce

    The 'anti-war movement' in World War I

    In fact, World War I was much more similar to our Vietnam war than it was to World War II.

    World War I was very politically divisive for both America and Germany. America actually remained neutral between England and Germany for several years, and only entered the war in 1917, to much political dissent. To this day, many historians still consider America's entry in WW I to have been unwise. In a 2004 survey of historians' views on the "greatest" and "least great" presidents, the two presidents voted the "most controversial" were Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was considered controversial because he was the President who entered America into World War I, despite enormous political opposition. I have personally interviewed older men who are still absolutely furious at Wilson for getting America into that war.

    Antiwar writings began appearing in both Britain and Germany. In England in 1917, Wilfred Owen, a 24-year-old soldier, wrote "Anthem for Doomed Youth":

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

    What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

    Ironically, Owen died in 1918 in the same week that WW I ended. The "Doomed Youth" that he described have become known as the Lost Generation, in the same generational archetype as today's Generation-X. (See "Politicians commemorate Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916.")

    World War I was just as politically divisive for Germany. Germany did not start WW I, as many people naïvely believe. WW I started in the Balkans and spread to Russia. Germany was "accidentally" forced into the war because of a long-standing treaty with Austria which obligated Germany to invade France because France was an ally of Russia. England was pulled into the war because of a previous agreement with France.

    By 1918, the German people were sick of the war, and when the Americans joined the war, that was the last straw for the German people, who forced their country's leaders to capitulate. Germany's incredible capitulation, long before it was necessary, occurred because the German people were so politically angered by the war. Essentially, Germany capitulated in WW I for exactly the same reason that America capitulated in the Vietnam War -- because of enormous political opposition back home during a "generational Awakening" era.

    But when Germany capitulated on November 11, 1918, German troops were still deep within Belgian and French territory. Writing in his 1931 book World in Crisis, Winston Churchill said that if Germany had continued to fight, they would have been capable of inflicting two million more casualties upon the enemy. Churchill added that the Allies would not have put Germany to the test: simply by fighting on a little longer, the Allies would have negotiated a peace with no reparations, on terms far more favorable to Germany than actually occurred in the peace dictated by the Allies.

    Between the Christmas Truce and the early capitulation, it was clear that the German people had little interest in fighting World War I.

    After the war, the young German soldier Erich Maria Remarque wrote "Im Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)" depicting the heroic soldiers as becoming a "lost generation," following a completely pointless war. Some consider it to be the greatest antiwar book of all time. Churchill - World Crisis (full text PDF) and Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front (full text PDF)

    World War I vs World War II and World War III

    By contrast, WW II was a generational crisis war for Germany (as well as England and America). That war was no "accident." Hitler planned his attack on France and England for years in advance, in secret, and Hitler kept on fighting long after it was clear that Germany would lose. There was no early capitulation.

    As I described in 2008 in "The gathering storm in the Caucasus," today's international situation is much more similar to the prelude to WW I than to WW II.

    World War II could almost have been anticipated by someone watching the murderous Adolf Hitler - and actually it was by Winston Churchill. But there was no figure like Hitler in WW I, which was triggered almost by a random event. When Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serb high school student, the war in Eastern Europe was triggered. Germany was as shocked by the war as anyone, and had no desire to invade France, but was forced to by a treaty with Austria.

    Today, a new world war could be launched in the same way as either WW I or II. There are Hitler-like figures on the scene, including China's Xi Jinping and North Korea's Kim Jong-un. And there are also deep xenophobic and nationalistic urges that are prevalent in many countries, especially in China and North Korea, directed against the US, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and India.

    Furthermore, there's a historical irony. After World War II, the United States took on the role of Policeman of the World, and in doing so, signed some sort of mutual defense treaty with many countries: Japan, South Korea, Israel, Taiwan, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, the ANZUS agreement with Australia and New Zealand, a special treaty with Iceland, and the NATO agreement with all of Europe. The purpose of these treaties was to discourage attacks on any of these allies that would otherwise have the risk of spiraling into World War III.

    So today, since those are mutual defense treaties, all of those countries actually have an obligation to defend the US in a war with China. Even if they stay neutral, any incident could trigger a larger war. Furthermore, the extreme xenophobia in China makes it more likely that the Chinese will interpret the mutual defense treaties in a way that will cause them to attack those countries. The irony is that these mutual defense treaties were supposed to prevent World War III, but instead they make World War III more likely.

    Finally, with the US distracted in Asia, countries in the Mideast and elsewhere will feel free to launch their own attacks on their own enemies.

    The most obvious imminent threat is North Korea. Two days ago, China and Russia both signed off on new extreme Security Council sanctions that N Korea calls a "total blockade" and "an act of war." It's becoming increasingly likely that a war with North Korea will begin soon, quite possibly starting with a preemptive strike by the US, and that China will tolerate it as long as US troops and S. Korean troops don't remain in N. Korea, or come close to the Yalu river.

    Analysts are hoping that any such situation will end in some kind of peace treaty, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I would expect it to escalate in a much larger war in this generational Crisis era.

    And so, a world war could be triggered today by any of a number of random events, even by a high school student who manages to assassinate some world leader. Any event like that could spiral into a regional war and then into a world war, as happened in 1914.

    So, the Christmas truce of 1914 is a unique, sentimental story to think about in this holiday season, as we realize with sadness that there'll be no Christmas truces in the "clash of civilizations" world war that's just around the corner. BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Dec-17 World View -- Remembering the 1914 World War I Christmas Truce thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    24-Dec-17 World View -- US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges

    Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges


    Portable Javelin anti-tank missile
    Portable Javelin anti-tank missile

    In a move that some analysts describe as escalatory, the US State Department announced that it will be sending weapons to the government of Ukraine to provide "enhanced defensive capabilities" to help Ukraine build its military long-term, defend its sovereignty and "deter further aggression." According to State Dept. spokesman Heather Nauert:

    "US assistance is entirely defensive in nature, and as we have always said, Ukraine is a sovereign country and has a right to defend itself."

    She did not describe what weapons will be sent, but unnamed sources say that they will include portable Javelin anti-tank missiles.

    The semantics are complex here. It's true that these missiles can be shot at people to kill them, but that would largely be a waste since they're designed to destroy tanks, in particular the Russia-supplied tanks that the Russians have been using in East Ukraine to win battles and gain ground on Ukrainian forces. For that reason, the Javelin anti-tank missiles are described as defensive in nature.

    Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has been requesting these and other lethal weapons for years, as the Russians have been gaining ground in East Ukraine. President Barack Obama considered sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but never approved them. Both Republicans and Democrats have called on the government to provide these weapons. President Donald Trump has been considering the plan ever since the State Department and the Pentagon signed off earlier this year, and finally approved it last week. AP and Newsweek (21-Dec) and Guardian (London)

    Violence surges in East Ukraine as Russia withdraws its monitors

    The war between Russians and Ukrainians in East Ukraine began in 2014, but has been thought to be a "frozen conflict" for some time, because of the "Minsk agreement," a ceasefire agreement signed in 2015.

    However, the ceasefire has been pretty much meaningless, as the violence has been escalating much of the year, according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitors ceasefire violations. According to the OSCE, there have been 16,000 ceasefire violations in one week alone, December 11-17. According to the OSCE:

    "We note with concern a sharp deterioration in the security situation with ceasefire violations reaching levels not recorded since February this year."

    Kurt Volker, the US special envoy for Ukraine, says that the war is ratcheting up into a major crisis:

    "A lot of people think that this has somehow turned into a sleepy, frozen conflict and it's stable and now we have...a cease-fire. It's a problem but it's not a crisis.

    That's completely wrong. It is a crisis. This has been the most violent year, 2017, and frankly last night was one of the most violent nights, certainly since February, and possibly this year."

    Volker was speaking on December 19, and he was referring to the surge in violence that occurred the day before -- just after Russia withdrew its ceasefire monitors from the OSCE monitoring programs. Volker tweeted:

    "Russia withdrew its officers from JCCC - a ceasefire implementation tool - right before a massive escalation in ceasefire violations. Ukraine just suffered some of the worst fighting since February, 2017. Decision for peace lies with Russia. 9:01 AM - 19 Dec 2017"

    Volker said that the "massive escalation" in violence was correlated to the Russia's withdrawal from the ceasefire monitoring program, and suggested that it was coordinated by the Russian soldiers in east Ukraine. Reuters and RFE/RL and AFP

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    Russia objects to weapons sale with laughable statement

    It's worthwhile to take a moment to review the massive program of disinformation and lies that Russia has pursued since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict.

    Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just "volunteers." That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80% of Russia's army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are "volunteers" is like saying that America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "volunteers."

    In July 2014, the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia, as was confirmed in 2015 by a Dutch report following a lengthy investigation. Russia made one moronic claim after another, everything from the claim that MH17 fell out of the sky by itself to a claim that the US shot down MH17 to embarrass Putin.

    After Putin's Russian forces invaded Crimea, Putin denied that there were Russian troops in Crimea, but later he awarded a medal to the leaders of the successful invasion. Putin said there were no plans to annex Crimea, but then Russia annexed Crimea soon after.

    The point of reviewing all this history is that now we're in a new Ukraine crisis, and we're in the same situation, where everything that the Russians say is 100% worthless.

    So now we have Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Grigory Karasin, saying that the US decision "raises the danger of derailing the process of peaceful settlement in Ukraine."

    This is laughable. There is no "process of peaceful settlement."

    The war in east Ukraine is being fought by Russian troops -- "volunteers" -- supplied with heavy Russian weapons, including tanks. As Kurt Volker says, "Decision for peace lies with Russia."

    The Ukrainian troops are defensive. East Ukrainian is Ukrainian territory being invaded by foreign troops -- Russian troops. So if Karasin is serious about a "process of peaceful settlement," then Russia could stop sending troops and weapons into East Ukraine.

    It's also up to the Russians to turn this into a full-scale war. Most analysts believe that the Russians do not want this, and can't really even afford it. But that's what would happen if the Russians send in more troops and more weapons. Russia Today and NBC News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Dec-17 World View -- US sending anti-tank missiles to Ukraine as East Ukraine violence surges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    23-Dec-17 World View -- Tanzania and China pass new laws to send government critics to jail

    How to confront a Chinese troll

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    New Tanzania law makes it 'sedition' to reference a statistic the government doesn't like


    Outspoken Tanzania MP Zitto Kabwe arrested for 'sedition' (East African)
    Outspoken Tanzania MP Zitto Kabwe arrested for 'sedition' (East African)

    Lots of countries these days have laws that make it a criminal activity to criticize the government. Dictators and other psychopathic leaders use these laws to control the political opposition, since anyone who criticizes the leaders can be beaten, tortured, raped and jailed. So with Christmas approaching, it's worthwhile to note that two countries are implementing new laws to jail government critics.

    On October 29, police in Dar es Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania, arrested parliament member Zitto Kabwe on charges of "sedition."

    His crime? At a campaign rally, he said that the national economic growth for the second quarter was a 5.7%, when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that their figure was 7.8%.

    According to police commander Lazaro Mambosasa, "The MP was later transferred to Central Police Station for further interrogation related to seditious words uttered on the material day."

    Tanzania's president John Magufuli is apparently clamping down on criticism. According to his opponents, 400 have been arrested and questioned in the past two years. Politicians in the opposition Chadema party have been specifically targeted, although journalists and artists have also been arrested. MP Tundu Lissu has been arrested multiple times, once for revealing that Canada had seized a commercial aircraft for non-payment, and once when he was charged with "hate speech" after calling Magufuli a "dictator."

    Magufuli now wants to clamp down harder. Last week, he instructed the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to fine or jail any individuals, institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accused of airing or publishing false statistics. Magufuli said that the minimum sentence should be three years in jail.

    What this reminds me of is the Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward in 1958-59. Mao wanted to turn China into a Socialist powerhouse.

    500,000,000 million peasants were taken out of their individual homes and put into communes, creating a massive human work force. The family unit was dismantled. Communes were completely segregated, with children, wives and husbands all living in separate barracks and working in separate battalions. Communal living was emphasized by eating, sleeping, and working in teams. Husbands and wives were allowed to be alone only at certain times of the month and only for brief periods.

    Mao dismantled the Central Statistical Bureau, the organization responsible for keeping track of all the economic activity going on in the country. As a result, China's leadership had no real idea whether the Great Leap Forward was meeting its objectives or not. As a result, corruption and fraud became rampant, and no one knew what was going on. Farms lied about crop harvests, and there was no way to verify them. By the time the problems were discovered, tens of millions of people died of starvation, and Mao was disgraced.

    John Magufuli should keep that historical example in mind. By jailing people who tell him what he doesn't want to hear, there may be a national disaster in the making. Tanzania Daily News and East African (Kenya, 31-Oct) and All Africa (1-Nov) and East African (26-Aug)

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    New China law 'protects the honor' of Chinese heroes


    Chinese souvenir badge with pictures of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao (AFP)
    Chinese souvenir badge with pictures of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Xi Jinping, and Hu Jintao (AFP)

    A 19-year-old Chinese man living in Inner Mongolia, identified only by his surname Luo, has been arrested for "stomping and insulting" a portrait of Genghis Khan. A video of the act went viral, and police received complaints that the video had caused a disruption to society.

    Genghis Khan is definitely not revered by many Han Chinese, especially in the areas that he conquered and ravaged during the Mongol invasion of China, a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206. However, he is revered by ethnic Mongols, including Mongols who are Chinese citizens. Luo was sentenced to one year in prison for desecrating a portrait of Genghis Khan.

    Now China is considering a new law that criminalizes anyone deemed to have smeared the “reputation and honor” of the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s canon of heroes and martyrs.

    The draft law bans the illicit appropriation of land and facilities near memorials of heroes and martyrs, as well as any damage or contamination of such memorials. "Those who appropriate, damage or contaminate memorials, and insult or slander heroes and martyrs, may receive administrative penalties from public security or even criminal sanctions." Xinhua and South China Morning Post and Xinhua and Radio Free Asia

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    How to confront a Chinese troll

    Getting attacked by trolls is a constant fact of life for people who post articles about other countries. I've been attacked by trolls from Russia, Syria, China, Burma, Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and other countries, when they didn't like my article because the facts embarrassed their country or country leader.

    In several recent articles, I've compared China's "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" to Nazi Germany's "National Socialism," and noted that they were very similar. I said the same thing in a recent article on China's military buildup on Bhutan's Doklam Plateau.

    A Chinese troll named "J Y" started attacking me, saying that India was much worse than China. After a few exchanges, I wrote:

    "I could send you links to a thousand Indian media articles that criticize Narendra Modi. You can't post a single link to a Chinese media article that criticizes Xi Jinping."

    What followed was really bizarre. I kept demanding that he post a link to any article that criticizes Xi Jinping. He repeatedly evaded this question, and posted links to left-wing web sites criticizing India.

    Finally, I wrote:

    "Really, this is hilarious. You know, at first I thought you might come up with some article that maybe criticized Xi Jinping in some minor way, maybe the way he combs his hair or something.

    But now I realize that if some article like that even existed, then you couldn't link to it, because then you would be criticizing Xi Jinping, and you would be abducted and thrown into jail by the Chinese Communist Nazis. So you don't dare do anything like that, and all you can do is evade the whole issue.

    China is a country where you can't even post a picture of Winnie the Pooh, because the cartoon character looks too much like Xi Jinping!!!!"

    So this turned out to be a very interesting situation. Dear Reader, if you ever confront a Chinese troll online, just keep demanding that he say anything to criticize Xi Jinping, or link to a Chinese media article criticizing Xi Jinping, and he won't have an answer.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-17 World View -- Tanzania and China pass new laws to send government critics to jail thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    22-Dec-17 World View -- General Assembly Jerusalem vote: Low 'yes' count humiliates Palestinians

    Palestinians in Jerusalem fail to get excited by UN vote

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    General Assembly Jerusalem vote: Low 'yes' count humiliates Palestinians


    Turkey's president Erdogan at United Nations on Thursday
    Turkey's president Erdogan at United Nations on Thursday

    The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted 128-9 with 35 abstentions in favor of a resolution demanding that all states must obey Security Council resolutions, and which supposedly therefore makes the declaration by US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to be "null and void." The resolution had been sponsored by Turkey and Yemen.

    Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital changes nothing on the ground, so the recognition was little more than symbolic. Thursday's General Assembly resolution is non-binding, so it's completely symbolic. And therefore the Palestinian victory was only symbolic.

    The mainstream media have been calling it "a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump" or a "new repudiation of the Trump administration," or "proof that the United States is isolated in the world" or a "major humiliation for Trump, Israel and the United States."

    The problem is that it was none of those things. It was actually a humiliation for the United Nations and the Palestinians, because the vote 128-9 was far lower than expected, and far lower than votes on Jerusalem-related resolutions in the past:

    In the case of the last two of these resolutions, they both occurred during President Barack Obama's administration, and they were opposed by Obama. So if Thursday's vote was a stinging defeat for Trump, then previous votes must have been stinging defeats for Obama.

    In view of these past votes, the Palestinians had hoped and expected that Thursday's vote would be approved by at least 150 votes. The result of 129 votes was a big humiliation.

    The low vote count was undoubtedly the result of threats by the Trump administration to cut foreign aid to countries that supported the resolution. US ambassador Nikki Haley had said that the U.S. would be "taking names" of those countries.

    This threat prompted numerous furious responses prior to the vote. The most furious was from Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

    "Mr. Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic will with your dollars. Our decision is clear.

    I call on the whole world: Don't you dare sell your democratic struggle and your will for petty dollars.

    I hope and expect the US won't get the result it expects from there (the UN) and the world will give a very good lesson to the US."

    In view of the actual vote, it was apparently the United States that gave a very good lesson to the United Nations.

    The question now is: What consequences will the United States have to pay for this threat and this power play?

    President Obama announced a "red line" saying that the US would strike Syria's president Bashar al-Assad if he used chemical weapons. When al-Assad crossed the line and used Sarin gas, Obama flip-flopped on his threat, which was disastrous for American foreign policy.

    Now it seems that President Trump set a "red line," and that many nations crossed the red line on Thursday by voting in favor of the UN resolution. So what's Trump going to do now? Much of that foreign aid is in support of America's own security, and cutting it sharply would be a danger to America. On the other hand, flip-flopping on the red line commitment could be harmful for the administration's credibility. Presumably we'll know the answer soon. United Nations and NBC News and United Nations (30-Nov) and Al Jazeera

    Palestinians in Jerusalem fail to get excited by UN vote

    President Trump's declaration on December 6 of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has infuriated much of the aging leadership of the Palestinians, including Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

    But as for Palestinians "on the street" in Jerusalem, it's generated more cynicism than excitement.

    The average Palestinian is around 20 years old. The Oslo Accords agreement, signed in 1993, was supposed to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue, but the average Palestinian knows that the Oslo agreement accomplished nothing, and that nothing has changed, except that their octogenarian leaders are still giving speeches and doing nothing more to change things.

    Palestinian leaders had hoped for several weeks of "days of rage" by thousands of Palestinians in Jerusalem, as occurred in July, when the thousands of Palestinians poured into Jerusalem streets after Israel installed metal detectors outside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound, in order to deter terrorists. This was the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, but no such violence occurred after Trump's Jerusalem announced. There was brief violence, but it fizzled quickly.

    To the Palestinians in Jerusalem, Thursday's General Assembly angry speeches by Erdogan and Abbas were nothing new. They'd heard the same speeches dozens or hundreds of times before, and nothing changes.

    One Palestinian activist said, "It's a pointless exercise. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has to evaluate the whole diplomatic process of going to the UN. The experience we've had is that for decades now these resolutions have not changed anything." Asia Times and Al Jazeera

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    21-Dec-17 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN Rohingya investigator, as genocide charges are raised

    Burma officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN investigator from investigating atrocities against Rohingyas


    Rohingya boys in Burma search through the ashes of their village after it was burned down by Buddhists (Reuters)
    Rohingya boys in Burma search through the ashes of their village after it was burned down by Buddhists (Reuters)

    Yanghee Lee, the United Nations' special investigator on the Rohingya crisis in Burma (Myanmar), has been blocked from doing any further investigation by officials from Burma. She had previously made several invited visits to Burma as part of her investigation, and was recently invited to come again in January.

    After being barred on Wednesday, Lee said that "there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine," referring to years of genocidal attacks on Muslims, especially Muslim Rohingyas, by Buddhists, 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 supposedly a sign of peace and happiness, but Wirathu and the Burmese have turned "969" into a sign of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Buddha must be turning over in his grave.

    In a statement, Lee said:

    "I am puzzled and disappointed by this decision by the Myanmar Government. This declaration of non-cooperation with my mandate can only be viewed as a strong indication that there must be something terribly awful happening in Rakhine, as well as in the rest of the country.

    [After promising continued cooperation two weeks ago,] now I am being told that this decision to no longer cooperate with me is based on the statement I made after I visited the country in July. ...

    The Government has repeatedly denied violations of human rights are occurring throughout Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine state. They have said that they have nothing to hide, but their lack of cooperation with my mandate and the fact-finding mission suggests otherwise."

    What Lee said in July was that it was "unacceptable" that people meeting her were watched and even followed by agents.

    Lee's official title is UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. She has visited Burma six times since she began her mandate in June 2014, although the government has consistently refused access to some areas. United Nations and Reuters and Al-Jazeera (22-July)

    Burma officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges

    Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, says that after years Buddhist slaughter, rape and ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, it's possible that Burma's leader, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, may face genocide charges, as well as Gen Aung Min Hlaing, the head of Burma's army.

    Since 2011, I've been using the word "genocide" in an informal sense to describe the atrocities that Burmese Buddhists are conducting against Burma's Muslims, especially the Rohingya Muslims.

    By 2013, thousands of Buddhists were making frenzied attacks on Muslims in cities across Burma, with multiple rapes, murders and atrocities, killing dozens. In one publicized event in the town of Meiktila, Buddhists took 20 Muslim boys from a madrassa, and hacked them to death, soaked their bodies in petrol and set them alight, leaving a blackened patch of ground.

    This was a major milestone in Burma's genocide of Muslims, similar to Kristallnacht, when the Nazi Germans made the same kinds of frenzied, uncontrolled attacks on Jews in 1938.

    These attacks were led by racist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, who calls himself the "Buddhist Osama bin Laden." He was pictured on the cover of Time Magazine on July 1, 2013, with a caption, "The Face of Buddhist Terror." He advocates the extermination of all Muslims in Burma, and many Buddhists are killing, raping and mutilating Muslims, burning down their homes and villages, because Wirathu tells them to do it.

    During 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, the massive genocidal attacks by Burma's army on Rohingyas have driven over 600,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh, killing, raping and mutilating them, burning down their homes and villages.

    The United Nations became particularly alarmed in August 2017 when some Rohingya activists attacked some Burma border posts, triggering a massive increase in the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas. An analogy in the US would be that after Black Lives Matter killed a policeman, if the US army started entering black neighborhoods and killing, torturing and raping all the black civilian residents, including women and children.

    Burma's Buddhist genocide of Muslims is the second-worst genocide so far this century, the worst being Bashar al-Assad's Shia/Alawite genocide of Sunnis in Syria. Aung San Suu Kyi is turning out to be the Hitler of Burma's genocide.

    Although I've used the word "genocide" informally, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein is suggesting that it may actually be proven formally in a court of law:

    "For obvious reasons, if you're planning to commit genocide you don't commit it to paper and you don't provide instructions.

    The thresholds for proof are high. But it wouldn't surprise me in the future if a court were to make such a finding on the basis of what we see."

    Zeid said that he spoke to Suu Kyi in February 2017, and asked her to stop the atrocities:

    "I appealed to her to bring these military operations to an end. I appealed to her emotional standing ... to do whatever she could to bring this to a close, and to my great regret it did not seem to happen."

    Ethnic cleansing "clearance operations" by Burma's (Myanmar's) army have driven some 620,000 ethnic Rohingyas from Rakhine State into Bangladesh, threatening to destabilize the entire region. BBC and News Corp (Australia) and Straits Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-17 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) blocks UN Rohingya investigator, as genocide charges are raised thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    20-Dec-17 World View -- Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq

    Iraq's Baghdad government splits over role of Iran-backed Shia militias

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq


    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a religious guidance that called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS in 2014. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call. (AFP)
    Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a religious guidance that called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS in 2014. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call. (AFP)

    Thousands of Kurds attacked several offices of the main political parties of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Monday and Tuesday. Most of the rioters were teachers, students and civil servants, protesting austerity and unpaid public sector salaries.

    Iraqi Kurds have never gotten along well with any of their neighbors. During Iraq's last generational crisis war, the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the climax occurred in 1988 when Saddam Hussein used WMDs (poison gas) on both the Kurds and the Iranians. Because the Kurds want to form an independent Kurdistan, containing pieces from Turkey and Iran as well as Iraq, all three countries have cooperated in putting sanctions on the Kurds.

    Iraq's government in Baghdad allowed the Kurds to self-govern in some limited areas with the formation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan, the region of Iraq predominantly populated by Kurds.

    When the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) captured Mosul in 2014, and took control of much of Iraq, the peshmerga, the Kurdish militias, were a crucial part of the military effort to recapture Iraq from ISIS.

    However, the Kurds were never rewarded for their bravery. After Mosul was recaptured earlier this year, the KRG decided to a referendum on seceding from Iraq and forming an independent Kurdish state. This referendum was opposed almost universally in the international community, and it particularly alarmed all of Kurdistan's neighbors. So the Kurds might have gotten some economic benefits and some additional self-governance, but after the referendum passed on September 25, everybody seemed to ask, "You helped us beat ISIS, but what have you done for me lately?" Iraq, Turkey and Iran cooperated in putting harsh economic sanctions on Kurdistan, and Iraq launched a military operation that recaptured areas that the Kurds were occupying following the war against ISIS.

    The sanctions caused Kurdistan's economy to suffer, and the military operation triggered fights between factions among the Kurds. The fighting has now gone on for two days. Since Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past the Iran/Iraq war, there are many survivors of the war that do not want so see the current situation spiral into a bigger civil war. Rudaw (Kurdistan) and Reuters and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and The National (UAE)

    Iraq's Baghdad government splits over role of Iran-backed Shia militias

    Iraq's Shia militias, the Hashd al-Shaabi militia or Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), with links to Iran, were also crucial to the defeat of ISIS in the last two years. However, the PMF were accused of massive human rights abuses, targeting ordinary Sunni citizens in several cities where they fought to expel ISIS.

    Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, in 2014 called on the Iraqi people to take up arms against ISIS. Tens of thousands of Shia people answered his call that then resulted in the birth of the Hashd al-Shaabi.

    Now that ISIS has been defeated, al-Sistani is praising the "historic achievement" of the Hashd forces, but is now saying that the time has come to merge the Hashd militias into the regular Iraqi army.

    The Hashd have 140,000 registered fighters which is about half the size of the Iraqi army. Al-Sistani said that it is the duty of the state to now take care of the Hashd fighters financially and otherwise, and the families of those who lost their loved ones.

    This call has renewed the political conflict between the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Supporters of the two held huge protests that turned violent earlier this year.

    Al-Sadr, who has close links to the ayatollahs in Iran, supports the call. However, al-Maliki, who is building a coalition in preparation for next year's elections, wants to keep them out of the army, so that they will support him next year. If they were in the army, they would be prohibited from having political ties.

    Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, and is in a period of massive political chaos similar to their last generational Awakening era in the 1930s, as I described in my 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq." However, just as the political chaos of the 1930s did not spiral into war, it won't do so today either. Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-17 World View -- Thousands of Kurds in violent protests against Kurdistan government in northern Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    19-Dec-17 World View -- China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau

    China's media predict nuclear war in North Korea by March

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau


    New satellite images show Chinese road construction in Doklam region (NDTV)
    New satellite images show Chinese road construction in Doklam region (NDTV)

    New satellite images of the region surrounding Bhutan's Doklam Plateau reveal that China is resuming its military buildup, after pulling back from a military standoff with India during the summer. There are reports that China has positioned in the Doklam region more than 1,000 soldiers who are likely to remain in the area throughout winter for the first time. China built two helicopter platforms, dozens of houses and stores, and upgraded roads to cope with the very severe winter.

    The military confrontation began suddenly and unexpectedly on June 16, when China sent troops and construction workers to begin road construction in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau, with the apparent intention of annexing the region. At Bhutan's request, India sent in troops to prevent the annexation.

    There were no bullets fired, but there were reports of Indian and Chinese soldiers bumping each other with their chests to push each other back. The descriptions of the situation in the Indian media were restrained, to avoid inflaming the situation. The Chinese media were the opposite, with extremely belligerent and vitriolic editorials setting deadlines for India, threatening a Chinese military invasion of India that would destroy India's army, and warning India that its defeat would be even worse than India's defeat in a 1962 border war.

    So when the crisis ended just as suddenly and unexpectedly on August 28, and analysts could only guess at the reasons. During those 73 days, it appeared that China and India were on the verge of a major border war, and it seemed that India would not back down for any reason. Part of the speculation for why China backed down was that a conflict would spill over into Kashmir or into the Indian Ocean, and China did not want a war at that time just before an international meeting to be held in Beijing, to be followed by the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee is scheduled for October 19.

    The prosaic explanation was that China had backed down so that they could build up their military forces and try again. China says that the new military infrastructure and troops are for peaceful purposes, just as they claim for the South China Sea.

    India's Lt Gen Abhay Krishna of the Eastern Command on Saturday said the Army is totally geared up to face any situation in the Doklam sector:

    "The Indian Army is always in very high spirits, we are always ready to take on any mischief by anybody. I am not going to name anybody specifically. Territorial integrity is ingrained in our blood and for that we will go to any extent to ensure the territorial integrity."

    Sputnik News (Moscow) and New Delhi TV and The Diplomat and Indian Express

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    Foreign ministers of China and India meet, and discuss Doklam


    After their meeting, China's foreign minister Wang Yi used his arm to comfort India's foreign minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Indian Express)
    After their meeting, China's foreign minister Wang Yi used his arm to comfort India's foreign minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj (Indian Express)

    Last week, the foreign ministers of India and China met, and discussed Doklam. India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

    After the December 11 meeting, Swaraj said:

    "Foreign Minister Wang Yi and I agreed that we should further strengthen our mutual trust to develop a better understanding between the two parties. And it will be better to meet again, and without agenda, which will help us to expand our mutual understanding."

    However, Wang Yi's statement was considerably more blunt:

    "The matter was finally settled peacefully through diplomatic means, reflecting the maturing of bilateral relations. However, lessons should be learned and should be avoided again."

    What lessons was Wang referring to that should be learned? In a speech last week, Wang said:

    "We handled the Indian border troops' trespass into China's Dong Lang (Dokalam) area in our national interest, on just grounds and with restraint.

    Through diplomatic means, we engaged with the Indian side and it withdrew its equipment and personnel."

    A web site reader posted a comment about a time when he asked a Chinese girl whether America and China were going to war:

    "I met a Chinese person at Toastmasters. I asked her this. Her reply was along the lines of 'There will be no war. America just has to grow up and learn its place.'"

    Another web site reader responded to my observation that any criticism of China infuriates them. He wrote: "Spades don't like to be called a Spade. And the main reason they are so touchy is because they think they are the supreme, superior race. So the article's comparison of China to German Nazi National Socialism is spot on." Indian Express

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    China's media predict nuclear war in North Korea by March

    A couple of days ago, I quoted Chinese experts who warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea.

    On Sunday, an article in China state media Global Times quoted Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang as follows:

    "The war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year," Wang said, stressing that "China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the Northeast China regions should be mobilized for that."

    "Such mobilization is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes," he added.

    There are two things of note:

    In my article, I estimated that a war between the US and North Korea would begin within 6-18 months, though 3 months is a possibility. The time frame probably depends more on what North Korea does than anything else.

    Wang suggests that the war would be localized. That may be true for a while, but once these things start, it would start spreading. I would expect it to reach Europe within at most two years. Global Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-17 World View -- China resumes military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    18-Dec-17 World View -- Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China

    Nepal reacts to India's bungled meddling over the new constitution

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China


    Zhangmu in Tibet, in China, just across from the Nepal border (Bob Witlox/Flickr)
    Zhangmu in Tibet, in China, just across from the Nepal border (Bob Witlox/Flickr)

    The country Nepal is a strip of land, about 500 miles long and 100 miles wide, that separates a part of the border between India from China's Tibet. With China and India on the verge of a border war, Nepal becomes extremely important strategically to both India and China.

    Nepal recently held elections under a new constitution adopted in 2015. These elections will elect 275 members to the House of Representatives and 550 representatives to the assemblies of the seven newly-created provinces.

    The elections have been won overwhelmingly by a "Left Alliance" of two hyphenated communist parties -- the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (MC). These two parties have been locked in adversarial conflict and rivalry for years, but they've put aside their differences in a marriage of convenience to form a governing coalition. The Left Alliance will control not only the national government, but also six of the seven provinces.

    Analysts say that the emergence of the Left Alliance does not necessarily mean that Nepal's voters prefer communism to democracy. Instead, the vote express a new nationalism which has three key components – the search for political stability and peace, the demand for fast and comprehensive development and assertion against India.

    For centuries, Nepal was governed by a Hindu monarchy with close ties to India. In 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra got drunk at a party and gunned down the entire royal family, and then killed himself. Dipendra's motive turned out to be that he had wanted to marry his girlfriend, Devyani Rana, but his parents had refused. This triggered a renewal of a Maoist insurgency that had begun in the 1990s.

    This is Nepal's first free election in a secular republic, replacing the monarchy with an elected government. My República (Nepal) and The Wire (India) and Al Jazeera

    Nepal reacts to India's bungled meddling over the new constitution

    Nepal has long been one of the world's poorest countries, and 2015 was a year with one major disaster after another.

    Two massive earthquakes struck Nepal on April 25 and May 12, 2015. More than 8,800 people were killed, and 600,000 homes were flattened. Millions of people were left with inadequate food, clean water and shelter. Nepal still has not recovered from that disaster.

    The earthquake came at a time when the government was in a state of almost total paralysis, because the constitutional transition Hindu monarchy to a secular republic was in process, triggering massive demonstrations, especially by the Madhesis, a mostly Hindu ethnic group in Nepal's Tarai region on the border with India.

    The new constitution was adopted on September 17. On September 24, the Madhesis began massive demonstrations, blockading the truck traffic passing between India and Nepal. This was a disaster for Nepal's economy, which depends on imports from India for many goods, including petroleum and cooking gas, forcing many manufacturers to shut down.

    Nepal blamed India for the border blockade, saying that India's prime minister Narendra Modi was using the blockade to force Nepal to eliminate clauses in the new constitution that the Madhesis claim discriminate against them. Some people say that the recent victory of the Left Alliance was a reaction to India's bungling two years ago in handling the blockade.

    Nepal media are debating whether the election results mean that Nepal is moving away from India towards China. China has been trying to improve its influence in Nepal since the removal of the Hindu monarchy, and so the victory of the Left Alliance represents a kind of victory. It also allows politicians, even those who favor India, to say that the Left victory is a victory for nationalism and independence from the "Indian bully." However, the Madhesis and other Hindu ethnic groups form 40% of the population, and they would oppose choosing China over India.

    Also, Nepal can't go too far in alienating India, because of the economic dependences. Nepal is a landlocked country, and the only way to transfer goods to or from the Indian Ocean is through India and the port of Vishakhapatnam on the Bay of Bengal.

    Realizing the alarm that many people feel over their victory, the Left Alliance has released a statement:

    "As per the directions made by the constitution of the Nepal, we will develop the relation with friendly nations especially the neighboring countries and the international unions and organizations on the basis of independent foreign policy."

    The statement added, "We, the left power, are committed to form a stable government and fulfill the promises which we made before." My República (Nepal) and ANI (India)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Dec-17 World View -- Communists score major election wins in Nepal, possibly moving country towards China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    17-Dec-17 World View -- Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea

    Concerns grow over the threat of a North Korean nuclear reactor disaster

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea


    A North Korean soldier squats along the Yalu River in Sinuiju, North Korea, which borders Dandong in China's Liaoning province, Sept 9, 2017.
    A North Korean soldier squats along the Yalu River in Sinuiju, North Korea, which borders Dandong in China's Liaoning province, Sept 9, 2017.

    Chinese government advisers are warning that "North Korea is a time bomb," and China must prepare for an unpreventable nuclear war on the Korean peninsula. China used to be able to control the North Korean government, but it was losing control, and "Northeast China should mobilize defenses for war."

    Shi Yinhong, a university professor that advises the Beijing government, says that nuclear war is inevitable:

    "Conditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades.

    North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator."

    The logic behind this claim is similar to the same logic that many American analysts have been using, and the same logic that I've been writing about. North Korea will not be dissuaded from its goal of having an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles pointed at the United States, which he will use in an extortion to gain control of South Korea, and he will sell the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to rogue states like Iran and Venezuela. Trump will not allow this to happen, and so one way or another a war will begin in the next 6-18 months.

    Nanjing University professor Zhu Feng said that no matter how minor the possibility, China should be prepared psychologically and practically for “a catastrophic nuclear conflict, nuclear fallout or a nuclear explosion":

    "Why do we always act like ostriches? Why do we always believe a war won’t occur?

    What China needs is a sense of urgency about its declining influence in strategy related to the peninsula and the way it brings down China’s status and role in East Asian security issues."

    Chinese analysts give as a principal cause of the imminent war the fact that the US and South Korea hold joint military exercises. South China Morning Post and Newsweek and Quartz and South China Morning Post (9-Dec)

    Concerns grow over the threat of a North Korean nuclear reactor disaster

    A recent video went viral showing North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un standing next to an untested liquid-fueled missile, smoking a cigarette. The video prompted a torrent of tweets expressing regret that Kim’s lit cigarette had not "solved the problem for us."

    The video illustrates the fact that North Korea does not take seriously the need to operate its nuclear reactors safely, as Western nations and China do. Even a small nuclear accident that could normally be contained could turn into a catastrophic disaster if North Korea did not respond quickly and correctly.

    Even a small nuclear accident would generate widespread panic as word began to leak out, because of North Korea's lack of transparency and the fact that they would deny that anything is happening. In the case of Japan's Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster, Japan was completely transparent about what was going on, but there was still public panic. After a disaster in North Korean, the regime would suppress all reporting of the incident, and they would probably refuse help from outside countries. The resulting panic would spread into China, South Korea and Japan. 38 North and South China Morning Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-17 World View -- Chinese experts warn China to prepare for nuclear war in North Korea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    16-Dec-17 World View -- China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea

    Trump to target China's unfair trade policies in National Security Strategy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea


    China's continuing military buildup on Fiery Cross island.  This year alone, there was construction on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters (AMTI/CSIS)
    China's continuing military buildup on Fiery Cross island. This year alone, there was construction on buildings covering 27 acres, or about 110,000 square meters (AMTI/CSIS)

    China's relations with Australia have taken a sharp downturn following the November publication of Australia's "2017 Foreign Policy White Paper," which harshly criticizes China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea. The White Paper says the following:

    "The South China Sea is a major fault line in the regional order. Australia is not a claimant state and does not take sides in the competing claims. Like other non-claimant states, however, we have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway, and in the norms and laws that govern it.

    We have urged all claimants to refrain from actions that could increase tension and have called for a halt to land reclamation and construction activities. Australia is particularly concerned by the unprecedented pace and scale of China’s activities. Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes. We support the resolution of differences through negotiation based on international law.

    All claimants should clarify the full nature and extent of their claims according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Government reaffirms its position that the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the Philippines South China Sea Arbitration is final and binding on both parties."

    According to Australian analyst Nick Bisley, Australia in the past year has become increasingly outspoken in its criticism of Beijing’s behavior, particularly in the South China Sea, but also because of China's interference in Australian domestic affairs. According to Bisley:

    "But after I recently spent a week in China talking to scholars, analysts and commentators, it is also clear that the sourness in Canberra is being reciprocated. The mood among Chinese elites ranges from head scratching puzzlement to outright hostility. The people involved in these discussions are Australia specialists, many have studied here, sent their children to study here and have a generally positive disposition toward to the country. Ordinarily, scholars from China tend to be cautious and often voice their opinions obliquely. Not this time.

    [Australia's] very public backing for the arbitration tribunal decision and its repeated figuring in public pronouncements appears to be a major concern. 'Australia is not a claimant, so why does it make it such an issue?' the Chinese wonder. Indeed, Australia has no disputes or conflicting security interests with China yet it repeatedly emphasizes that China is making the region less secure. This seems to get under the skin of many scholars and commentators."

    The issue, of course, is that China is an international criminal according to a harsh July 2016 ruling by a Tribunal at the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. ( "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea") The ruling eviscerated all of China's claims to the South China Sea, and declared its construction of artificial islands and military bases in international waters in the South China Sea to be illegal. Australia Foreign Policy White Paper

    China reacts contemptuously to Australia's foreign policy white paper

    Pretty much any criticism of China infuriates them, but probably nothing infuriates them more than any mention of the July 2016 Tribunal ruling, which essentially made China an international criminal.

    So if Australia is increasingly concerned about China's military threat to the region and the world, then it's not surprising that Australia has frequently made reference to the Tribunal ruling.

    And if Australia is making frequent reference to the Tribunal ruling, then it's not surprising China is directing more and more of its bottomless supply of fury at Australia. The Foreign Policy White Paper has drawn a particularly large tsunami of contemptuous criticism from China's media. These criticisms have called the white paper "irresponsible." It labeled Australia a "distant propaganda outpost" agitating against China.

    It called Australia "ungrateful" for not appreciating all of the economic benefits they've had because of China, and threatened that China "could relegate ties with Australia to the back of the line, and ignore its immature outburst."

    What I found very interesting about Bisley's remarks is that the Chinese are supposedly bewildered and puzzled by the criticism, since Australia isn't directly involved in the South China Sea. It's similar to when a man beats up his wife and then is bewildered and puzzled why anyone else should care, since they aren't involved.

    The Australians are of course concerned that China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea could result in a regional war in which Australia will be forced to participate. In fact, Australia is directly involved in the South China Sea as $3 trillion of commercial traffic passes through it each year. China's military belligerence in the South China Sea is of concern to Australia, the whole region, and the whole world.

    For Chinese scholars, analysts and commentators to be bewildered and puzzled by Australia's concern is just a sign of how delusional the Chinese people are, something that I've written about many times as typical in a generational Crisis era. In the case of the Tribunal ruling, some of China's evidence to support it claims turns out to be delusional or a complete hoax. Many Chinese people believe that their dictatorship is inherently stronger than the "weak" Western democracies, and that they'll win any war easily.

    Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism. China is becoming a military dictatorship, is annexing other countries' territories as Nazi Germany did in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and is adopting strong nationalist, xenophobic and racist views targeting the Tibetans, Uighurs, Japanese, South Koreans, Philippine people, and Vietnamese.

    As I've written in the past, China is behaving in a highly emotional, irrational, panicky, nationalistic manner, issuing delusional and fabricated evidence to support claims that everybody knows are false claims. China is preparing for a war that it believes it will win, but instead will cause the worst catastrophe in history, to itself and the entire world. China Daily and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Australian Broadcasting

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    China continues aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea

    China's aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea has been out of the news for a while, but not because it hasn't been occurring.

    New imagery released by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) show that China has been aggressively implementing illegal offensive and defensive weapons systems on their artificial islands. According to AMTI:

    "AMTI has identified all the permanent facilities on which China completed or began work since the start of the year. These include buildings ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays. These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels. This does not include temporary structures like storage containers or cement plants, or work other than construction, such as the spreading of soil and planting of grass at the new outposts."

    According to AMTI, "China is poised to substantially boost its radar and signals intelligence capabilities." There's an irony here that this is the same kind of capability that comes with America's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile defense systems. China has been infuriated that there are THAAD systems deployed in South Korea, but at least those are legal. China's radar systems in the South China Sea are a violation of international law. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI) and Reuters

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    Trump to target China's unfair trade policies in National Security Strategy

    President Donald Trump will target China by alleging unfair trade policies in a National Security Strategy (NSS) to be released on Monday. Trump will accuse China of exploiting the international trade system. According to the current draft:

    "The United States helped to expand the liberal economic trading system to countries that did not share our values in the hopes that these states would liberalize their economic and political practices, and provide commensurate benefits to the United States. Experience now suggests that these countries distorted and undermined key economic institutions without prompting significant reform of their economies or politics."

    Since taking office, Trump has sought to maintain friendly relations with China, even treating China's president Xi Jinping as a kind of BFF, in order to elicit cooperation on the North Korea nuclear missile crisis.

    This new NSS statement appears to be at least a partial U-turn on that policy, at a time when relations between Australia and China are reaching a new low. Free Beacon

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Dec-17 World View -- China-Australia relations plummet over China's illegal militarization of South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    15-Dec-17 World View -- Despite growing migration crises, European Union bitterly divided over policy

    European Union continues to face crises regarding migration

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Union continues to face crises regarding migration


    Child migrant in Greek refugee camp (AFP)
    Child migrant in Greek refugee camp (AFP)

    After receiving millions of migrants in 2015 from the Mideast and northern Africa, the European Union implemented some stopgap measures to control the situation.

    Each of these methods has been extremely successful in significantly reducing the flow of migrants from Turkey and Libya, respectively. However, in a sense they haven't solved the problem at all, but instead stretched it out.

    Furthermore, with winter approaching, the season of heaviest migration is ending for now, but there will be a new surge of migration within just a few months.

    Current and approaching problems include the following:

    Al-Jazeera and PRI and Amnesty International and EurActiv (20-Oct) and Reuters

    Bitter divisions emerge at EU summit over migration issues

    With the vast majority of migrants to Europe reaching Greece or Italy first, these two countries have been overwhelmed. Both countries have begged for help from the European Commission (EC), but there's been little help beyond rhetoric.

    In 2015, the EU adopted a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The plan fell apart because few countries were willing to accept their quotas, and Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania refused to resettle any refugees at all. In the end, only about 30,000 refugees were ever resettled under this plan.

    At an EU summit on Thursday that was supposed to be a show of EU solidarity and unity, especially with the Brexit talks going on. But bitter political divisions erupted after EU President Donald Tusk described the refugee quota program as "divisive and ineffective," and called for it to be replaced.

    According to a letter issued by Tusk, the migrant program will once again reach crisis levels by June of next year:

    "After the unprecedented migratory pressure on its external border in 2015, the European Union and its Member States are gradually restoring control. However, the migration challenge is here to stay for decades, especially due to the demographic trends in Africa. Despite our efforts, the smugglers are working energetically to exploit further vulnerabilities at our borders. A crisis situation can reoccur and so in order to prepare ourselves, we need to categorically strengthen our migration policy. To achieve this, we should first look at what has and has not worked in the past two years. On this basis, we should establish an effective and sustainable migration policy based on secure external borders and the prevention of mass arrivals. It also requires finding a consensus by June 2018 on the internal dimension of our migration policy, based on the concepts of responsibility and solidarity."

    Tusk says the existing quota system has to be scrapped and replaced by a new system before June 2018. He concludes by saying:

    "On the basis of the discussion, Leaders will return to these issues with a view to seeking a consensus in June 2018. If there is no solution by then, including on the issue of mandatory quotas, the President of the European Council will present a way forward."

    The quota system has essentially been a fiction, but a fiction that allowed the EU member countries to pretend to their domestic audience that the problems had been solved. Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have led criticism of Tusk's proposal. Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras said that Tusk's comments were "aimless, ill-timed and pointless." Italy's prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said, “We will continue to insist that a commitment on the relocation of refugees is needed.”

    Three countries, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, came out in favor of Tusk's proposal because they have no intention of implementing a quota system anyway. In explaining why Poland would not accept any refugees, Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, "It is worth investing considerable amounts of money in helping refugees in (regions) they are fleeing from. The help on the ground there is much more effective."

    The Czech Republic's prime minister Andrej Babis, said that "It won't happen," and any attempt to impose "nonsensical" quotas in a majority vote would only widen the divisions in the EU.

    In response to Hungary's refusal to accept refugees, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has described Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orbán as ‘shameless’ for refusing to accept any refugees and attempting to buy off his obligations with money. Guardian (London) and Reuters and Dutch News

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    14-Dec-17 World View -- Organization of Islamic Cooperation throws a temper tantrum over Jerusalem

    Palestinians disappointed by final communiqué of OIC Summit

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Organization of Islamic Cooperation throws a temper tantrum over Jerusalem


    A furious Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shakes his finger on Wednesday as he makes a point (AFP)
    A furious Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shakes his finger on Wednesday as he makes a point (AFP)

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held an "extraordinary" meeting on Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey, to protest last week's declaration by president Donald Trump to order the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

    A furious Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced that because the United States is biased in favor of Israel, it will be shut out as a mediator in the peace process:

    "The decision violated international law.

    We shall not accept any role for the United States in the peace process. They have proven their full bias in favor of Israel.

    Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state... There will be no peace, no stability without that.

    We will tell the Israelis that we are no longer committed to any agreement from Oslo until today."

    Abbas said that he had promised the US not to try to become a full member of the United Nations, but now said that the Palestinian Authority intended to return to the United Nations to to gain full membership:

    "We agreed with America we would not join international institutions on the condition that American does not transfer its embassy, does not initiate any action against our office in Washington, and orders Israel to freeze settlement building.

    If there is no Palestinian state along the June 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, there will not be peace in the region, in the territories or in the world. They must choose."

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a "terror state" and called on world powers to recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine:

    "With this decision [by the US to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital], Israel, which is responsible for occupation, blockade, unlawful settlements, home demolitions, evictions, land asset appropriations, disproportionate violence and murders, was rewarded for all its terrorist actions. ...

    I invite all countries supporting international law to recognize Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine. We cannot be late any more.

    The process to include Palestine in international agreements and institutions should be sped up."

    The meeting was attended by some 22 heads of state or government, including those from Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia, Azerbaijan, and Jordan. In addition, some 25 foreign ministers, including from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Kazakhstan, are expected to attend. Saudi Arabia will be represented by its Islamic affairs minister. Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Deutsche Welle and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

    Palestinians disappointed by final communiqué of OIC Summit

    For several years, Palestinians have been expressing frustration that the "Palestinian issue" has been largely forgotten by the international media. Palestinian-Israeli relations used to be one of the top four or five international stories every day, but in the last 2-3 years that issue has been displaced by the war in Syria, Brexit, the North Korean crisis, and other crises.

    Palestinian hopes were raised in July, when the thousands of Palestinians poured into Jerusalem for "days of rage," after Israel installed metal detectors outside the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound, in order to deter terrorists. This was the worst violence in Jerusalem for years, killing several people and injuring hundreds. The Palestinian cause was once again an international news story, and they hoped that it would remain so.

    The story fizzled out, and when Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Palestinian leaders called for more "days of rage," hoping at least to duplicate the intensity of last July's protests, but instead they fizzled out after a couple of days.

    Led by fiery speeches from Abbas and Erdogan, the hope was that this summit would reignite international attention. Here are some excerpts from the resolutions in the final communiqué:

    "1- Reject and condemn in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the President of the United States America recognizing Al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the so-called capital of Israel, the occupying Power; reject it as null and void legally, and consider it an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus to extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security; ...

    3- Reaffirm our attachment to the just and comprehensive -peace based on the two-state solution with east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine. ...

    6- Hold the US Administration fully liable for all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision; and regard it as an announcement of the US Administration's withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace and its realization among all stakeholders and an encouragement of Israel, the occupying Power, to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and the ethnic cleansing it has been practicing in the occupied Palestinian territory in 1967, and in the City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif at its core; ...

    8- Declare East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital."

    Many analysts consider the OIC Summit to be a failure for several reasons.

    First, it was missing important leaders, notably from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Both of these countries have recently developed close relations with Israel, and are thought to have given tacit approval to the Jerusalem declaration before it was made.

    Second, the final communiqué was entirely symbolic. It made the usual boilerplate condemnations of Israel and the United States, but there were no significant follow-on steps listed.

    Third, the recommendation to remove the US as Mideast mediator and replace it with someone else is completely unrealistic. There was talk of using the United Nations as a mediator, but that will never produce anything but rhetoric.

    Fourth, al-Jazeera "man in the street" interviews in Jerusalem after the Summit ended indicated that Palestinians were completely unimpressed with the Summit, because it didn't accomplish anything. OIC Final Communiqué (PDF) and AP and Al-Jazeera

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    13-Dec-17 World View -- China's warplanes conduct 'encirclement' patrols around Taiwan's and Japan's islands

    China unification continues to lose support among the people of Taiwan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's warplanes conduct 'encirclement' patrols around Taiwan's and Japan's islands


    China military parade (China Daily)
    China military parade (China Daily)

    China’s air force has conducted “island encirclement patrols” through international airspace near Taiwan and between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako in the East China Sea. The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) sent two Xian long-range bombers, two fighter jets, an electronic countermeasures aircraft, and an electronic intelligence plane.

    China has conducted this kinds of patrols before, but these patrols were considerably more extensive than in the past. According to China's state media:

    "The PLA Air Force focused on combat readiness and has conducted a series of offshore and maritime training. The PLA warplanes' flight paths are continuously extended, with combat readiness growing accordingly.

    The PLA Air Force's actions are justified and consistent with international laws and practices. The PLA Air Force will stick to its set plans and continue to fly further and deeper.

    The air force started regular high seas training in 2015. The PLA planes circling the island of Taiwan will become routine during their training."

    China has conducted numerous similar patrols near Taiwan this year, saying such practices have been normalized as it presses ahead with a military modernization program that includes building aircraft carriers and stealth fighters to give it the ability to project power far from its shores. The Diplomat and Reuters and Global Times

    Encirclement patrols follow explicit Chinese war threats against Taiwan

    The latest encirclement patrol is thought to be a show of force following an explicit threat made last week by a Chinese diplomat in Washington.

    Li Kexin, a Chinese embassy official, last Friday said that he has been thanking Congressional aides for providing China with a reason to use force to resolve the Taiwan question.

    "I may have to thank you American friends. I said: ‘Are you not going to send military vessels to Taiwan, to [Taiwan's port of] Kaohsiung?' If you send military vessels over there, [you] will activate the Anti-Secession Law [of China]."

    Picking this apart, Li is making a joke. He's referring to suggestions from American officials that the US Navy should make port calls at ports in Taiwan, as it does in many other countries. Li is saying that any US naval vessel at Taiwan's largest port, Kaohsiung, would trigger China's Anti-Secession Law, followed by an invasion by China's armed forces to take control of Taiwan.

    The Anti-secession law provoked massive Taiwan riots when it passed in March, 2005. It orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed.

    Excerpts of the law are as follows:

    "Article 2: There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division. Safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity is the common obligation of all Chinese people, the Taiwan compatriots included.

    Taiwan is part of China. The state shall never allow the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces to make Taiwan secede from China under any name or by any means. ...

    Article 8: In the event that the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan's secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan's secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

    I've written about the Anti-Secession law many times since 2005, and I've pointed out many times that statements by Taiwanese officials seemed to be promoting independence, and that therefore already should trigger the Anti-Secession Law. On the other hand, it's hard to see why a port call by a naval vessels, so that the American soldiers could visit Taipei's bars and perhaps get a drink or a date, would be promoting independence at all.

    Since the threat was issued by a low-level Chinese diplomat in Washington, and was phrased as a joke, it's hard to see the threat as intended to be serious. In fact, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman seemed to play down the threat when asked about it:

    "The position of the Chinese government on the Taiwan issue, which I believe you and all the journalists here are quite clear about, is consistent and clear. We will continue adhering to the policy of "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems" in an effort to advance the peaceful development of cross-straits relations and promote the process of peaceful reunification of our motherland. Meanwhile, we will firmly uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and never tolerate the recurrence of the historical tragedy of national division."

    However, China's state media Global Times is issuing a veiled warning that Taiwan's ruling DPP party and the US do not understand the full impact of the anti-secession law, and that an invasion could come at any time:

    "The island under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has become deficient of both direction and sense of security.

    The Chinese mainland has never given up the option of Taiwan reunification by force, which is clear to people across the Taiwan Straits. But Taiwan is not sure what will prompt the PLA's actions while the DPP has been deceiving Taiwanese that the island will stay safe whatever it does.

    Taiwan knows so little of the mainland's Anti-Secession Law. The DPP is already approaching the boundary of the law and leading Taiwan to a wrong direction. The sustainability of the island's development remains uncertain.

    Li's words have sent a warning to Taiwan and drew a clear red line. If Taiwan attempts to hold an independence referendum or other activities in pursuit of de jure "Taiwan independence," the PLA will undoubtedly take action.

    This is the cornerstone of Beijing's policy on Taiwan that can't be shaken and also the will of the entire Chinese nation. ...

    Li's words are like warning bells on Taiwan authorities considering independence by a salami-slicing strategy. Taiwan is facing what Peking faced in 1949 - being encircled by mainland forces. Any move that oversteps the boundary will be in vain."

    Maritime Executive and Reuters and China Embassy (15-Mar-2005) and China's Foreign Ministry and Global Times

    China unification continues to lose support among the people of Taiwan

    As I've been describing for years, Taiwan's attitudes toward unifying Taiwan with China have been increasingly favoring independence, as younger generations with no memory of the Chinese civil war displace the survivors that war, when they fled Mao Zedong and China's mainland in 1949 for the island of Formosa, which eventually became part of the current Taiwan.

    Taiwan's current government party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has favored Taiwan's independence since it became prominent in the 1990s, as a reaction to China's Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

    The opposing party is Kuomintang (KMT), which was the party formed by the Chinese who fled Mao for Formosa. They have traditionally favored Taiwan's unification with China, with the caveat that they consider Taiwan's to be the legitimate government of all of China.

    The name-calling between the DPP and KMT has been pretty harsh over the years, so I was a bit surprised to read the following in a Taipei News news story about the invasion threat:

    "Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Hung Meng-kai said that the KMT would not tolerate any threats or finger-pointing aimed at the Republic of China’s [Taiwan's] homeland or the security of its people.

    The DPP administration should face up to the importance of maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations and avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings that could cause irrepressible losses to Taiwan, he added."

    I interpret this as a sign that China's unending stream of belligerent threats aimed at Taiwan is causing the KMT and DPP to move closer together and become more unified in opposing unification with China. This isn't the least bit surprising in view of China's extremely vitriolic attacks on Taiwan's politicians, especially DPP politicians.

    Chinese officials are aware of this trend, and although they pay lip service to "peaceful unification," everybody is well aware that there will never be peaceful unification. China is biding its time, waiting for the right trigger to justify an invasion. It's possible, though unlikely, that a mere port call would be enough to trigger a major war, though anything is possible. Taipei Times and China Policy Analysis (22-Mar-2016) and The Diplomat

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    12-Dec-17 World View -- Pakistan overwhelmed and China alarmed over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

    Pakistan alarmed about a Chinese 'debt trap'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China alarmed by consequences of its CPEC investment in Pakistan -- terrorism and corruption


    A truck drives along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway in China's western Xinjiang province. (AFP)
    A truck drives along the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway in China's western Xinjiang province. (AFP)

    The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has almost become an erotic fantasy. It's a $55-60 billion 20-year project that will supposedly build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities, starting from China's easternmost city Kashgar in Xinjiang province, to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. It will have both economic and military components. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

    For economic basket case Pakistan, the benefits are obvious -- a tsunami of money that will overwhelm its existing debt problems, for example allowing easy payment of the $6.1 billion that Pakistan owes to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    The benefits are also obvious for China. The transportation networks from China to the Indian Ocean will connect China economically and militarily to its other ports and bases in the Indian Ocean, bypassing the risks of naval travel associated with problems like the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, and the waters around India.

    But since the agreement was signed in March, China has become alarmed by the potential problems in two major areas: corruption and terrorism.

    The CPEC project will bring thousands of Chinese workers into Pakistan, particularly into Balochstan, where most of the CPEC work will be performed.

    As we reported in June, the ISIS-linked Al Alami offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJA) is believed responsible for the abduction and execution of two Chinese nationals working in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochstan.

    LeJ is a terror group that has vowed to exterminate all Shias in Pakistan, and has carried out numerous terrorist actions targeting Shias and Sufis. But now LeJA is apparently turning its attention from slaughtering Shias and Sufis in Pakistan to the slaughter of thousands of Chinese workers and families who have come to Balochistan to work on CPEC.

    Four days ago, China warned its Chinese citizens in Pakistan of plans plans for a series of imminent "terrorist attacks" on Chinese workers there:

    "It is understood that terrorists plan in the near term to launch a series of attacks against Chinese organizations and personnel in Pakistan.

    The embassy alerts all Chinese organizations and citizens in Pakistan to stay vigilant, safeguard personal security, reduce time spent outside and avoid going to crowded places as much as possible."

    There have been reports that China's Uighur separatist group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) had “sneaked into Pakistan” and posed a threat to Chinese nationals.

    On November 20, China issued "new guidelines" for the CPEC project, stipulating greater involvement of Pakistan's army in the project to improve the security of Chinese nationals.

    It's worth pointing out that Pakistan's army has not been successful in preventing terror attacks on its own civilian population, and has been accused of distinguishing between "bad terrorists," who perpetrate terrorist attacks within Pakistan, and "good terrorists," who perpetrate terrorist attacks within India and Pakistan. It's possible that these "good terrorists" are now turning their attention to the thousands of Chinese workers moving into Balochistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

    South China Morning Post (9-June) and Reuters

    China halts CPEC funds over concerns about corruption in Pakistan

    In a recent speech, Mohammad Zubair, the governor of Pakistan's Sindh province, said that the world was witnessing a historic moment, thanks to China's mega-investment plans, which will make Pakistan a regional leader. According to Zubair:

    "Pakistan’s economy was facing uncertain situation in 2013. The government worked day and night in its first three years to revive country’s economy and our hard work has put the economy on the path of prosperity. Pakistan Stock exchange is now the best stock exchange of region and its rise is a proof of the government’s successful economic policies."

    So Pakistani officials were shocked on November 20, when China unexpectedly withheld funds for continuing development of three projects under CPEC, citing massive graft and corruption, and laid out "new guidelines" for how funds for the CPEC project will be disbursed. Previously approved financing will have to be resubmitted through new procedures before funds can be committed.

    China has become alarmed by the volatility of Pakistan's civilian government, including the dismissal of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on charges of graft and corruption, after some of his financial deal were revealed by the Panama Papers. The terror threats against Chinese citizens in Pakistan is one reason why China is stipulating greater involvement of Pakistan's military, while another reason is that China has lost faith in the civilian government and wants the army to take responsibility for the project.

    According to an analyst:

    "Had corruption been the reason behind the Chinese step (to block funds), it would, or perhaps should, have happened in July, when in the context of the Panama Papers, the former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his relatives were charged with financial irregularities and corruption, which prompted the Pakistani Supreme Court to declare Nawaz Sharif 'unfit' for political office, resulting in his dismissal from the Office of the Prime Minister of the country."

    Despite the temporary cutoff of funds, a Chinese official visiting Islamabad sought to reassure Pakistanis that all was well, and that China wanted to build "a clean corridor, a corridor of integrity":

    "I want to express our strong conviction and determination to press ahead the CPEC to deliver more benefits to the people of Pakistan. ...

    We want to build a CPEC that is a clean corridor, a corridor of integrity.

    We should also guard against the interference from external forces and also prevent the domestic disturbances ... to promote the CPEC construction, so that we can make CPEC a pathway of common development, a pathway of shared fruits and the shared future."

    The unexpected cutoff of funds was a strong message to Pakistan that China is paying the money, and China is dictating the terms, and the project will be done China's way or not at all. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and Times of India and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

    Pakistan alarmed about a Chinese 'debt trap'

    As time goes by and the euphoria about China's $55 billion investment in Pakistan begins to where off, some people are beginning to wonder if CPEC will actually be a financial disaster for Pakistan.

    We've already described what happened with Sri Lanka, when China invested $1.2 billion in Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport in 2009. The plan was that revenue generated by the seaport would be used to repay the Chinese, and the surplus would bring wealth and happiness to all Sri Lankans. It didn't turn out that way, and the project turned out to be a "debt trap." Sri Lanka couldn't repay the loan, and now China has taken control the seaport and the surrounding area. It's been a disaster for Sri Lanka.

    China's CPEC investment is supposed to be paid off the same way. The CPEC projects would generate revenue from trucks carrying goods along the CPEC roads and highways. According to analyst estimates, this turns out to be a fantasy, based on the most optimistic assumptions possible, just as happened with the Sri Lanka seaport project. If any of these super-optimistic assumptions fail, which is what usually happens in real life, then Pakistan's current debt of $6.1 billion to the IMF will look like chicken feed. Instead of being a financial bonanza, the debt burden will crush Pakistan's economy.

    The IMF has examined the CPEC plans and is said to be "appalled" at the implications of the project. Its main concern was that Pakistan’s repayment capacity will remain weak, as the IMF does not see any major increase in exports in the near future. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Express Tribune (26-Oct)

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    11-Dec-17 World View -- China takes control of strategic Hambantota seaport in Sri Lanka, raising concerns in India

    India's alarm grows over spread of China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka formally hands its southern seaport Hambantota over to China


    China gives Sri Lanka a check for $292,097,400.00 as the first payment for Hambantota port (Colombo Page)
    China gives Sri Lanka a check for $292,097,400.00 as the first payment for Hambantota port (Colombo Page)

    China on Saturday formally handed control of its southern port of Hambantota in return for $292,097,400.00, as the first payment on a 99-year lease.

    In 2009, China invested $1.2 billion in the port as part of its "string of pearls" strategy to surround India with ports accessible to China's navy. 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. The result was that Sri Lanka's government has been forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port.

    The announcement in January of this year triggered violent protests by thousands of Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks and anti-government protesters. Protestors said that thousands of Sri Lankans will lose their homes because of the project.

    And then thousands of Chinese families will migrant to the land adjacent to the port, establishing a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

    Many Sri Lankans are accusing China of having purposely set a "debt trap" in 2009, loaning money at extremely high interest rates, knowing that Sri Lanka would be unable to repay the debt, and would be forced to give away Sri Lankan assets to China.

    However, Sri Lanka's prime minister Ranil Wickremesingh sees the project in a much more positive light:

    "The unity government expects to develop and operate the Hambantota Port to make it a main port in the Indian Ocean. ... There will be industrialization in the area which will lead to economic development and promote tourism."

    The government pledged to pay the debt taken by the previous government for these projects loans. With this agreement we have started to pay back those loans. We are going to develop the Hambantota port without burdening the masses. We get US$ 300 million today. We deposit this amount in foreign reserves. The future generation can go forward without a burden. We have taken steps to make Sri Lanka the hub of the Indian Ocean. We thank the Chinese government and its representatives at this occasion."

    The government will receive another 10 percent, or around $100 million, in a month and another $585 million in six months. Colombo Page (Sri Lanka) and South China Morning Post and The Hindu

    India's alarm grows over spread of China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

    China's Maritime Silk Road, also known as the "String of Pearls," is a sea-based network of shipping lanes and port developments throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans to the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. The port in Sri Lanka adds to ports that China controls in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Djibouti. China even has a controlling stake in Greece's port of Piraeus on the Mediterranean Sea.

    India has been increasingly alarmed about being encircled by China's "One Belt One Road" (OBOR) project, including the Maritime Silk Road. Sri Lanka has attempted to allay India’s security concerns, Sri Lanka has repeatedly claimed that no Chinese naval facility would be permitted. However, India remains concerned that one day China's influence will reach a point where Sri Lanka can't say no.

    This situation has resulted in a new controversy: India wants to buy the Rajapaksa International Airport, which is adjacent to the Port of Hambantota.

    Rajapaksa International Airport is being called the "world's emptiest airport." The port is said to be beautiful, and a tourist attraction. But it's almost completely unused. It has a full complement of employees, most of whom stand looking bored, but it handles only one international flight per week. The airport was built along with the port, and it's part of the financial disaster that has resulted from the project, and forced Sri Lanka to lease the port to China.

    It's not known what India plans to do with the airport, but it's suspected that India wants to keep it empty to prevent its use by Chinese warplanes.

    The port deal with China was signed almost ten years ago when the prime minister was Mattala Rajapaksa, who named the airport after himself. But now his son, Namal Rajapaksa, who an opposition MP who may one day become prime minister, is demanding that the deal with India be cancelled, warning that the government should not to allow the country become a "pawn" in international power politics, saying that the government decision on the airport would lead to serious national security and defense implications, with Chinese and Indian forces in close proximity to one another. India Times and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Press Trust of India

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    10-Dec-17 World View -- Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned

    Trump's proclamation hardens splits among Arab countries

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned


    Israeli troops clash with Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah on Thursday (Sky News)
    Israeli troops clash with Palestinian demonstrators in Ramallah on Thursday (Sky News)

    Wednesday's proclamation by president Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel, and to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has roiled international media and politicians around the world.

    International reaction was negative to the point of being hysterical.

    Pope Francis said:

    "I cannot silence my deep concern over the situation that has emerged in recent days. At the same time, I appeal strongly for all to respect the city's status quo, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions."

    EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said:

    "[The announcement] has a very worrying potential impact. It is a very fragile context and the announcement has the potential to send us backwards to even darker times than the ones we are already living in." The worst thing that could happen now is an escalation of tensions around the holy places and in the region because what happens in Jerusalem matters to the whole region and the entire world."

    Britain's Labor shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said that he had taken a "hammer blow" to the peace process, and that "He is setting it back decades."

    Although these remarks are all underpinned by the usual hate-Israel hate-Trump hate-America attitudes that are prevalent, there is an underlying logic: It's pretty clear that the Mideast is headed for all-out war, and the remarks reflect a fear that Trump's announcement will trigger that war.

    In fact, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, called for a new "intifada", or uprising:

    "The American decision is an aggression against our people. It's a declaration of war against our Palestinian people,

    We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy"

    Haniya has repeatedly been trying to incite an intifada. News stations like the BBC and al-Jazeera were almost gleefully reporting anti-Israeli marches and riots in countries from Indonesia to Germany.

    But that was on the first day. By Saturday, the third day, almost all the protests appeared to have fizzled out, as reported by the BBC and al-Jazeera with a tone of disappointment.

    A number of commentators tried to give reasons why the protests had fizzled out. They all gave some version of the following reasons:

    These reasons are ironic because if the new intifada had taken off, and there were major Palestinian street protests with rioting and demonstrations, then the same analysts would have explained that with exactly the same list of reasons.

    The real reason is that it's impossible to predict the exact timing of popular street protests, any more than you can predict the exact timing of stock market crashes. You can predict that they're coming with absolute certainly, but you don't know if it will be next week, next month, or next year.

    None of the news shows that I heard attempted to explain the logic of Trump's proclamation, as he stated in his speech:

    Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

    Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. ...

    I've judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement. ...

    That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers, and planners, so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace."

    In other words, as I've been saying for years, and as pretty much everybody knows by this time, there is zero probability that the "peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians is going to achieve anything. I had to laugh when one analyst was asked whether the peace process was already dead, said that was true, but Trump's announcement makes it even less likely. I guess this analyst wasn't aware that if the probability of an event occurring is already zero, then it can't go any lower, and so Trump's proclamation would leave the chances of a successful peace process unchanged.

    But carrying this logic one step further, if the probability of a successful peace agreement is zero, then the probability could go up, and Trump's proclamation might change the politics in the region to make a peace treaty possible. That in fact is what Trump is claiming, and there are reports that the administration will be presenting a new peace plan soon.

    Trump is using exactly the same kind of logic with respect to North Korea. After three decades of appeasement of North Korea, we're headed for a disaster when North Korea will have an arsenal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles pointed at the United States, which he will try to use in an extortion to gain control of South Korea, and he will sell the nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology to rogue states like Iran and Venezuela. Trump's tweets have been very aggressive and threatening toward North Korea, much to the dismay of the international community, but the objective is to try something different from the policies that have been failing for three decades.

    Unfortunately, the Generational Dynamics prediction doesn't change. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    Trump's proclamation about Jerusalem, and Trump's tweets about North Korea could change the scenario by which the Generational Dynamics predictions occur, but the final outcomes cannot change. And no one can predict what will trigger the coming Mideast war. So it's possible that Trump's critics will turn out to be right, and that his proclamation will turn out to be the trigger for new street riots next week, and for the coming war. White House and Sky News and BBC and Times of Israel and Debka (Israel)

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    Trump's proclamation hardens splits among Arab countries

    No Arab country could publicly support Trump's proclamation, or even fail to criticize as the latest blow to Palestinian dreams. Doing so would create an enormous backlash within the Arab community. However, it's turning out that the proclamation has been splitting Arab countries along lines that we've seen before.

    The key is Saudi Arabia. Officials representing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) described the decision as "unjustified and irresponsible" and "a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process and is a violation of the historically neutral American position on Jerusalem."

    But behind the scenes, Saudi Arabia is said to be "on board" with the decision and the broader US strategy. Saudi Arabia has for decades depended heavily on the United States and the west for security, which the West provides in exchange for a reliable supply of Mideast oil. Furthermore, MBS and Israel are becoming very strongly aligned with regard to what they see as their greatest common existential threat: Iran.

    So Saudi Arabia has provided a muted criticism to the proclamation, and so have the UAE and Egypt. These are the countries that implemented a land, sea and air blockade against Qatar last summer, and that blockade is still in place.

    On the other side, we see Iran, Jordan and Turkey harshly critical. These are the same countries on the other side of the Saudi blockade. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

    "[Trump is] throwing the region into a ring of fire. What do you want to do Mr Trump? What kind of an approach is this? Political leaders exist not to create struggles but to make peace."

    When I can, I like to quote Marwan Bishara, the principal analyst from Qatar-based al-Jazeera, and clearly represents the Qatar position. Bishara hates Israel a great deal, but he hates the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas even more because he sees them as traitors, selling out the Palestinians to Israel.

    On Saturday, Bishara said that Saudi Arabia and Trump are going to give half of the West Bank to Israel, and that "The Saudis are sacrificing Palestine to create some sort of a front against Iran." Reuters and Middle East Monitor and Reuters and Debka (7-Dec)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Dec-17 World View -- Protests fizzle 3 days after Trump's Jerusalem announcement was universally condemned thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo

    Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo


    Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)
    Graph showing that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II (IDMC)

    The worst attack on United Nations peacekeepers in recent history killed 15 people and wounded 54 on Thursday evening in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Kivu state, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.

    UN secretary-general António Guterres made a standard statement expressing outrage:

    "These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime. I condemn this attack unequivocally. There must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else. ...

    These brave women and men are putting their lives on the line every day across the world to serve peace and to protect civilians."

    Officials in Tanzania expressed shock as well, since 14 of the deaths were of peacekeepers from Tanzania.

    There are 15 UN peacekeeping missions, and the largest of them, with 15,000 personnel, is the DRC mission Monusco (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo), with 1,000 troops from Tanzania.

    It's estimated that there are some 120 armed groups in eastern DRC, described as mostly ragtag groups of 60-70 people each.

    In this case the suspected attackers are the Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF), a group of Islamists formed in the late 1990s in western Uganda to fight the government of Uganda. However, a number of analysts say other militia and elements of Congo’s own army have also been involved.

    DRC's president Joseph Kabila is following the standard pattern of African nation leaders of refusing to step down, benefiting from massive corruption, and using massive violence against the opposition to stay in power.

    Kabila has stated that he does not want any UN forces in his country, and so it's entirely plausible, though unproven, that Kabila ordered his army to cooperate with the ADF in Thursday's massacre of the UN peacekeepers.

    Kabila's bloodiest violence is in the opposition stronghold, the central province of Kasai, where more than 3,000 people have been killed in escalating violence blamed on a government-sponsored militia. The UN has identified more than 80 mass graves and said it had found toddlers with limbs chopped off and pregnant women with their bellies sliced open, their unborn babies mutilated.

    The violence has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries, and threatening to destabilize the entire region. United Nations and Reuters and Global Security and MONUSCO

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    Violence continues to spread in countries across Africa

    The violence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the worst of any country in the world, but similar violence occurs in many African countries, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC).

    The IDMC report measures the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in each country. These are people who are forced to flee from their homes either because of violence or because of a natural disaster (usually meaning a drought). In this article, we're focusing on people fleeing violence.

    The countries in Africa with the most IDPs are Sudan (3.3m), DRC (2.2m), Nigeria (2.0m), South Sudan (1.9m), and Somalia (1.1m). People who are forced to flee violence often experience further violence again in their place of displacement, including murder and rape. People in displacement camps are vulnerable to human trafficking and slavery.

    DRC is the worst affected in the last year. In just January through June of this year, there were 997,000 more displacements in DRC, more than the 922,000 that were displaced in the entire year 2016.

    Africa is disproportionately affected by conflict. Africa has 16% of the world's population, but over 33% of the world's conflicts. As the graph at the beginning of this article shows, the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II.

    However, the IDMC found an apparent contradiction that they have to explain: Although the number of armed conflicts has been rising, the intensity of these conflicts has been falling, and yet the number of IDPs has been rising. They explain this as follows:

    "Why then the consistently high rates of conflict displacement seen in our figures? Other forms of violence are on the rise, in some instances involving higher death tolls. ACLED, which monitors armed conflict and political violence, indicates that riots, protests and bombings are increasing in Africa.

    Importantly, violence against civilians is on the rise. Forty-two per cent of incidents of political violence targeted civilians in 2014, and 45 per cent in 2016."

    According to the report, there were 2.7 million people newly displaced people in Africa between January and June of this year, the equivalent of 15,000 people forced from their homes every day. 75% of of new displacement is attributed to conflict and violence. Internal displacement monitoring center (IDMC) and Institute for Security Studies and EyeWitnessNews (South Africa)

    Generational analysis of the rise in armed conflicts in Africa

    The DRC alone is being described as a "mega-crisis" because of the huge numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs), but it's far from unique, as illustrated by the numbers above. Outside of Africa, Syria also has millions of IDPs.

    I've written articles about numerous countries that are currently in generational Awakening or Unraveling eras, with leaders that refuse to step down and are using violence and atrocities against civilians to stay in power. These include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    There's a reason why so many African countries are in generational Awakening eras. The Awakening era is one generation past the end of the preceding generational crisis war, and for most countries of the world, the last crisis war was World War II, so the generational Awakening era occurred in the 1960s and 1970s.

    However, African countries have been on a different timeline. Most African countries were largely unaffected by World War II, but had generational crisis wars in the 1960s-80s. These wars were usually wars of "liberation" from colonial powers.

    The graph at the beginning of this article shows that the number of armed conflicts in Africa has been growing fairly steadily since the end of World War II. In many cases, the colonial powers drafted men from their African countries to fight in WW II, but the countries themselves were not always involved. After WW II ended, the number of demands for liberation from colonial powers led to liberation wars, which explains the sharp increase in armed conflicts in the next three decades.

    However, the armed conflicts that lead to independence for these African nations did not resolve the ethnic and tribal differences occurring within the nations. In country after country, a leader from one tribe or another took control of the country, became rich through corruption, often channeling international aid into their own bank accounts or into weapons to be used against political enemies, and continued using violence for decades to stay in power.

    So the "apparent contradiction" that the IDMC found as described earlier in this article, is explained by the fact that the tribal, ethnic and anti-colonial wars have been ending, but the violence has been replaced by leaders staying in power by using genocide, murders, rapes, torture, jailings, and massacres.

    One thing that's pretty clear is that there's no end in sight for this kind of violence. To the contrary, new post-war generations of young men and women are coming of age, and these leaders who are doing everything they to stay in power are going to have to commit more murders, rapes, torture and jailings to keep these new generations under control.

    This leads to a grim choice for the United Nations and its peacekeeping forces. These peacekeeping forces have been failing to accomplish anything of value, and they will fail even more in the future. These forces are hugely expensive, and really accomplish little or nothing. On the other hand, nobody wants to leave Africa in distress without doing everything possible to help, even if the help is futile. This is one of those problems that have no solution. BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-17 World View -- United Nations stunned as peacekeepers are massacred in DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    8-Dec-17 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands

    Greece furious at Germany over intense airport inspections

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands


    Map showing Greece's Aegean Sea islands that Turkey wants to claim (DW)
    Map showing Greece's Aegean Sea islands that Turkey wants to claim (DW)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan began a two-day trip to Greece on Thursday. This was the first visit by a Turkish head of state in 65 years, since 1952, and only the second visit by Erdogan to any EU nation in 18 months. Relations between Turkey and Greece have been tense for years (for millennia, actually), at a time when relations between Turkey and all of the European Union have been sharply deteriorating, and so the nominal purpose of this trip was to improve bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey.

    Possibly the most contentious issue is an agreement about the island of Cyprus. Half the island has a Greek government, and that part is a member nation of the European Union. The other half has a Turkish government, considered illegal by the European Union. Repeated attempts to unify the island have failed.

    So on Thursday, Erdogan referred to peace talks that failed earlier this year, and said:

    "Who left the table? Southern Cyprus did.... We want the issue to reach a fair and lasting solution but that is not southern Cyprus' concern."

    This was at a joint press conference with Greece's president Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras responded:

    "My dear friend, Mr. President, we must not forget that this issue remains unresolved because 43 years ago there was an illegal invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus."

    Tsipras also complained about frequent violations of Greece's airspace in the Aegean sea:

    "The increasing violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean and particularly the simulated dogfights in the Aegean pose a threat to our relations, and particularly a threat to our pilots."

    It's possible that Erdogan's warplane violations in the Aegean Sea are related to his frequently stated demand that the Lausanne Treaty be renegotiated, to give part of the Aegean Sea to Turkey. As we reported last year, Erdogan claims that Turkey was cheated when it was forced to sign the Lausanne Treaty on July 24, 1923, saying bitterly, "At Lausanne, we gave away the (Greek) islands that you could shout across to." Proponents of the status quo point out that the Lausanne Treaty was an important part of guaranteeing peace between Greece and Turkey following World War I.

    Erdogan claimed that Greece is violating the treaty by refusing to respect the Muslim minority living in Greece, particularly the Turkish enclave in Thrace in northeastern Greece near the border with Turkey. On Friday, the second day of his 2-day visit to Greece, Erdogan has scheduled a visit to Thrace to see for himself. Erdogan says that he visited western Thrace in 2005, where there are 150,000 Turkish descendants, and he wants to visit again. Erdogan is demanding increased rights for the Muslims of Thrace, complaining that Greece doesn't even allow them to select their own religious leaders.

    A final demand by Erdogan was to extradite eight Turkish soldiers and officers who fled from Turkey to Greece on the night of the botched coup in Turkey. 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 says that they cannot be extradited unless the courts rule it based on evidence that has so far not been presented that they were involved in the coup.

    Overshadowing the visit was the situation involving the EU-Turkey migrant deal that was signed in 2015. The agreement has been very successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq into the EU from a torrent into a trickle. However, the number of migrants has been increasing recently, and the EU has failed to fulfill its obligations under the deal: Visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens visiting Europe's Schengen zone, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU. Kathimerini and Deutsche Welle and Kathimerini

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    Greece furious at Germany over intense airport inspections

    Airline passengers traveling from Greece to Germany are supposed to enjoy visa-free travel, since both countries are in Europe's Schengen Zone, hailed as the greatest achievement of European integration. The Schengen agreement effectively abolished border controls between most European Union member states in 1985, allowing the area to function as a passport-free single country for all its travelers

    For the past three weeks, planes carrying passengers from Greece to Germany are no longer allowed to debark into the airline terminal. Instead, they're herded into a bus and taken to a secluded corner of the airport, where they have to stand out in the cold for up to an hour to be receive scrutinizing passport checks and controls. Belgium is adopting a similar policy.

    The reason given is security, and fears of a terror attack during the holiday season. Germany's Interior Ministry says that authorities have counted more than 1,000 illegal entries from Greece since the start of the year.

    Greeks are furious that, once again, they're being used as scapegoats and held to blame for a refugee problem that they didn't create and for which they're receiving little help from the rest of the EU. According to one traveler from Greece:

    "Germany's security concerns may be valid. And the Greek government, also, may be responsible for its abysmal handling of the refugee crisis. But that does not justify unilateral action. It is as if the US state of Massachusetts orders all incoming US travelers from California to go through passport controls at foreign arrivals terminals because California is teeming with migrants."

    This incident only adds to the general fury that Greeks continue to feel towards the Germans, after Germany demanded that draconian fiscal measures be imposed on Greece during the bailout negotiations several years ago. Many Greeks are also still furious at Germany for the Nazi invasion. Kathimerini (21-Nov) and Deutsche Welle (28-Nov)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-17 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan visits Greece with a list of contentious demands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule'

    Time Magazine makes international #MeToo movement 'person of the year'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Time Magazine makes international #MeToo movement 'person of the year'


    Time Magazine's funereal cover: Person of the Year 2017: the #MeToo Silence Breakers
    Time Magazine's funereal cover: Person of the Year 2017: the #MeToo Silence Breakers

    The #MeToo movement has gone international. In the US Congress and businesses, people are being forced out of office by anonymous sources and kangaroo courts. In Europe, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has warned men to start listening to women, after tens of thousands of Swedish women have shared their stories under the #MeToo hashtag. Female MEPs are talking about their experiences in the European Parliament, and are openly displaying "#MeToo" placards at their desks.

    The #MeToo hashtag has also spread to China. In China, the state-run media was forced to retract an article that said that sexual harassment was a Western problem, but "Chinese men are taught to be protective of their women. Behaving inappropriately toward women, including harassing them sexually, contradicts every Chinese traditional value and custom." The article was taken down after a furious reaction by women on social media. Women in factory positions are frequently abused, and Chinese police don't investigate domestic violence complaints, claiming that it's a family matter.

    Time Magazine has now made it official. What Time used to call "Man of the Year" is now the "Person of the Year," and the winner this year is "The Silence Breakers," the female movie stars who broke their silence and openly accused powerful men who harassed and sometimes abused them.

    According to Time, this has been a long time coming:

    "This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought."

    And there's no end in sight. Any man who said or did something to a woman even decades ago that she finds offensive can now be accused and judged by a kangaroo court to be guilty.

    What are the rules? Can a man flirt? Can a man ask a woman he works with out on a date? Can a man tell a woman that she looks good today? Can a man have a sexy picture of his wife on his desk? Can a fireman read Playboy in the firehouse? In the circus atmosphere of today's he-said/she-said world, any interaction between a man and a woman can be turned into an accusation of sexual harassment.

    Female BBC news anchor Katty Kay says that a backlash is already developing:

    "The next fear is that men will get so nervous that they're going to be accused of harassment that they will simply stop hiring, meeting or socializing with female colleagues. There are reports this is already happening. We will get shut out of the room where important decisions are made because men fear our presence? How ironic would that be?"

    As more and more men are forced to face sexual harassment accusations in the current circus atmosphere, it's pretty safe to say that the circus can't last, and that this will pass in a few months.

    This will be a big relief to everyone, especially women, who are going to be facing an increasing backlash, the longer that this continues. Time Magazine and Politico (EU) and The Local (Sweden) and BBC and Guardian (London, 17-Oct)

    The 'Mike Pence rule' shows how the #MeToo backlash will hurt women

    People are talking about the current sexual harassment circus as if this is the first time that anything like this ever happened.

    Actually, exactly the same thing happened in the 1990s, and the backlash that women felt in the 1990s tells us a great deal about the backlash that women are going to be facing today.

    At the beginning of the decade, feminists attacked Clarence Thomas because he had asked Anita Hill out on a date a decade earlier. At the end of the decades, feminists fought bitterly to protect Bill Clinton from seven or more women who credibly accused Clinton of violent forcible rape while he was governor of Arkansas. The entire decade was a circus.

    The decade was a disaster for women. The relations between men and women in the workplace were extremely toxic, as was reported by many commentators.

    I spent much of the 1990s decade doing research for a book on gender issues called Fraternizing with the Enemy - A book on gender issues for men and for women who care about men. I researched the whole range of gender issues - divorce, domestic violence, rape, teen motherhood, sexual harassment, child abuse, incest, including detailed discussions of the Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton issues. The book was based on thousands of interviews and online conversations, as well as extensive research into such things as "feminist legal theory" and "feminist social theory."

    The book is available as a free PDF, on my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download/.

    During my research, I spoke to many men who considered talking to any woman in the workplace to be a career risk. Several men told me stories of making some innocent remark and being charged with harassment.

    Earlier this year, it emerged that Vice President Mike Pence had a policy of never having lunch alone with any woman except his wife, or of drinking alcohol unless his wife was by his side. Since Pence is an evangelical Christian, the mainstream media mocked this as some sort of religious rite. Maybe religion was part of it, but many men who were in the workplace in the 1990s feel the same way. Mike Pence's policy is what I've heard many men describe.

    This toxic relationship between men and women in the workplace is growing again today. NBC News quotes labor attorney Nestor Barrero as saying that "many people" have already asked him if they should take "the Mike Pence approach." He advises against it, but this and other anecdotal evidence indicates that the 1990s are repeating themselves in that men would rather work with men and not with women, because working with women is too great a career risk.

    Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, says that sexual harassment is a serious problem, but says "I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women." (She adds, hopefully, "Actually, this is why you should.")

    I want to quote some excerpts from my book, Chapter 2, "Real Rape" (the title taken from the title of the book "Real Rape" by Democratic activist Susan Estrich). What I described then is what exactly what's happening today, except for a few name changes:

    "The country's largest feminist organization, NOW (The National Organization of Women), began the 90s by vocally and defiantly screaming harassment at a black man who allegedly told a woman a few dirty jokes, and ended up the decade by defending, condoning and carrying water for a white man who allegedly and credibly is a serial rapist, a man who gropes, flashes, uses and abuses every woman in his life.

    If the great, all-powerful male patriarchy had wanted to hatch a plot to cause as much damage and destruction as possible to women and feminists, they could never have done anything so destructive as NOW did to women during the 90s. NOW has damaged men, women, and society so much that it will take years, perhaps decades for the country to recover from it. The only good thing about what happened is that they've totally discredited themselves by carrying water for Clinton, arguably the country's most abusive politician.

    Long before the Clinton sex scandals, the policies advocated by NOW and other feminist groups, the relationship between men and women in the marketplace became enormously hostile, and this hostility ended up hurting women.

    For example, one man is a friend of mine who runs a professional office with his wife. They had had the practice since the 70s of hiring a married woman college graduate each year to serve as an intern for a year. Many of these women went on to become professionals in their own right. However, following Anita Hill's testimony, this man changed his policy, and decided he would never hire another woman intern. Since that time, he's only hired male interns.

    Another example: Another friend of mine ran an office where he normally had about a dozen women social workers working for him. He told me, "I don't dare even tell an employee, 'You look nice today,' because I'm afraid she'll bring sexual harassment charges. The only exception is my secretary -- she's worked for me for ten years, and I can trust her." In other words, this man could not trust the other women working for him.

    Almost every man I spoke to had some story. One man told me that he'd seen a condom machine in a men's room, and he mentioned briefly to a woman associate how shocked he was to see it; she brought a sexual harassment complaint. He told me, "There's something wrong with women today. They're crazy."

    In fact, I've tended to call these stories "crazy women stories," because every man I asked always seemed to have some story, and always seemed to add to it some words like, "These women are crazy."

    One man after another told me they didn't want to have anything to do with women in the workplace. By extrapolating the examples I heard, I would estimate that literally millions of jobs nationwide suddenly became unavailable to women. And women in the workplace were viewed by men as being unstable, unreliable, or "crazy." ...

    It's easy enough to blame men about all this, and I'm sure any feminist reading this automatically does so, but this catastrophe was brought about by NOW and other feminist organizations encouraging women to act this way. ...

    And did women gain anything from all this turmoil? They didn't, and for a reason that feminist "theory" didn't anticipate. When a sexual harassment complaint roils a workplace, a lot of hostility gets generated, and that hostility appears to break half against the alleged victim and half against the alleged perpetrator.

    I've heard from women who brought sexual harassment complaints against someone, and it was always disastrous for the accused man, but it also backfired against the accusing woman. These women were treated with hostility by everyone else, including other women. ...

    I saw one occasion like this with my own eyes between two people I knew at work. The man said something dumb to a woman and got her angry. She complained to the HR rep. The HR rep, a woman, called the man into her office and accused him of harassment. He got pissed off, stormed out of her office, and quit, and got another job immediately elsewhere, at higher pay. The company lost a valuable worker, and everyone, especially the women, especially the man's (female) manager, were pissed off as hell at this woman who brought the sexual harassment complaint and caused so much trouble."

    There's a great deal more information in my book, and I recommend that anyone interested in the subject of gender issues should download the PDF and read it.

    This is now an international issue, and it really is a circus. Many women feel that "something must be done," but they can't figure out what that something is.

    Katty Kay, the female BBC news anchor, says:

    "A backlash now against women would be the worst thing that can happen, it would shove this topic back under the carpet for years. So let's tread carefully, act soberly and use this moment, with the willing support of our male colleagues, to make our workplaces safer and happier."

    She's right. The backlash that developed in the 1990s did shove the topic under the carpet for almost 20 years.

    Why should any man take sexual harassment seriously, when feminist organizations and the Democratic establishment protected Bill Clinton from multiple credible forcible rape accusations for years? Susan Estrich was Clinton's principal supporter after the multiple forcible rape charges. Estrich herself had been raped, and been an active part of the 1990s sexual harassment circus, but then sold herself out as a woman and a rape victim to defend Clinton. Why should any man take sexual harassment seriously after that? Even worse, feminists make wild, irresponsible claims that 25% of all female college students are raped, when the actual figure is about 0.1%. And no one doubts that feminists and the Democratic establishment are protecting other harassers and rapists today.

    The bottom line is this: Men will never take sexual harassment seriously until women do. NBC News and Washington Post (30-March) and Fast Company and Book: Fraternizing with the Enemy (PDF)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    6-Dec-17 World View -- Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta

    Syria regime walks out of UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria regime walks out of UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks


    Aftermath of Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta (NRTTV)
    Aftermath of Syrian and Russian airstrikes in Arbin in Eastern Ghouta (NRTTV)

    Whenever I write about the Syrian war "peace process," I always use the word "farcical" to describe the peace talks. And this always turns out to be correct, as the "peace process" always falls apart with days or weeks, for reasons that were completely obvious at the time that the peace talks were held.

    The core problem is always the same. As I've described in story after story, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is a delusional psychopath, a Shia/Alawite who will never let the war end until he's exterminated all his Sunni enemies, which will never completely happen. As long as Bashar al-Assad is in power, Syria's civil war, including the war crimes, the airstrikes and barrel bombs targeting women and children in schools, hospitals and marketplaces, and the use of Sarin gas and industrial strength torture on civilians, will never end.

    And al-Assad will always have the full cooperation of Russia and Iran in committing these war crimes, making Russia and Iran war criminals as well.

    There have been two main series of peace conferences. The UN-sponsored peace conferences have been held in Geneva, led by United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. In most of these meetings, al-Assad representatives attended, but opposition representatives did not.

    When representatives from both sides attended, the two sides didn't actually talk to each other. Instead, de Mistura led negotiations with the cute name "proximity talks." What this means is that the representatives from the two sides sit in separate rooms, and then de Mistura walks back and forth between the two rooms, carrying messages back forth. It must be hilarious to watch.

    This week's Geneva peace talks were attended by both sides, but the opposition representatives are taking the position that there must a transition that removes al-Assad from power. The al-Assad representatives could not tolerate even being in just the same building with opposition representations saying that al-Assad must go, even in the context of proximity talks where the two sides would never have to see or hear each other, and so the Syrian delegation walked out of the talks on Saturday.

    So, the Geneva talks are supposed to continue until December 15. Let's watch and see if silver-tongued Staffan de Mistura can convince Bashar al-Assad to send his delegation back to the peace conference, before the peace conference ends in total farce. Reuters and The National (UAE) and Foreign Affairs (29-Nov)

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    Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta

    The second series of "peace talks" have been taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan, and were attended by Russia, Iran and Turkey. These were pretty farcical from day one, because they weren't attended by the actual belligerents in the war, the Bashar al-Assad regime and the representatives of the opposition. So any agreements reached in Astana were signed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, but not by the people on the ground actually fighting.

    The main agreement to come out of the Astana peace talks was the implementation of "de-escalation zones" or "de-confliction zones" in Syria. In four regions of western Syria, there would be an enforced ceasefire, and the ceasefire would be guaranteed by Russia, Iran and Turkey, providing whatever troops are necessary for the functioning of the checkpoints and observation posts as well as the administration of the security zones.

    Well, needless to say, Bashar al-Assad never agreed to these de-escalation zones, but it has always been his objective to completely exterminate all his Sunni opposition enemies, so there was never any hope that the de-escalation zones would succeed. However, he did go along with them temporarily, because they freed up his army to attack the opposition in other areas.

    Last year, the al-Assad regime, backed by Russia, conducted an extremely bloody war of extermination against the civilian residents of Aleppo, with numerous war crimes. Al-Assad claimed that the battle of Aleppo was "history in the making":

    "[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."

    This was totally delusional on the part of al-Assad, which is not surprising since he's a delusional psychopath. History was made in Aleppo by the sheer number of war crimes committed by Syria and Russia. If the so-called "liberation of Aleppo" is remembered, it will be for the total destruction of the city.

    So the de-escalation zone agreement was supposed to end this kind of thing, but the destruction of Aleppo is now being repeated in Eastern Ghouta, which is one of the ceasefire de-escalation zones.

    Eastern Ghouta was attacked by the al-Assad regime in 2013 with Sarin gas. There has been almost continuous bombing since then. In the last three weeks, the regime, backed up by Russia, has substantially stepped up the attacks, with massive airstrikes on markets and densely populated residential areas, killing dozens or hundreds of people.

    Eastern Ghouta is part of one of the de-escalation zones that were agreed to at the Astana talks. Opposition officials say that the zones were meant as a charade to divert attention from the heavy daily bombing of civilian areas. That seems to be the case.

    According to the United Nations, there are about 400,000 civilians who are under siege in Eastern Ghouta. Aleppo only had a population of about 250,000, and so Syria and Russia have a lot more women and children to kill, so that will be going on for several months.

    After that, al-Assad can make another delusional speech about how clever he is to have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people. At any rate, between the farcical Geneva peace talks and the farcical Astana peace talks, there is no end in sight for Syria's civil war, as long as Bashar al-Assad is in power. Reuters and Le Point (Paris) and NRTTV (Kurdistan)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-17 World View -- Syria and Russia repeat Aleppo war crimes in massive destruction of Eastern Ghouta thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    5-Dec-17 World View -- Three crises accelerate: Yemen's Saleh killed, Brexit collapses and North Korea war looms

    US officials plan for military strike on North Korea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh killed in Houthi ambush


    Ali Abdullah Saleh
    Ali Abdullah Saleh

    A web site reader posted this message on Sunday:

    "Every day astounds me more than the last. I suppose that's one of the distinguishing features of "times like these." In Generational Crisis times, time seems to be compressed. One 'panic' or another is just hours away, it seems, and great swathes of 'public opinion' change course mid-air like a disturbed mega-flock of starlings."

    On Monday, the time compression seemed to increase, with three crises all seeming to accelerate at the same time on the same day: Yemen, North Korea, and Brexit.

    It was just two days ago that I wrote a lengthy article about a big change in the Yemen war, which has become a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Previously, the Iran-backed Houthis were allied with Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, fighting against the militias supporting Saudi Arabia.

    Saleh has always been a master politician at deftly switching sides, forming alliances of convenience, and then betraying his former allies. Last week, he performed this act again, breaking his alliance with the Houthis, and forming an alliance with the Saudis. But this turned out to be his last act.

    The Houthis were furious at Saleh's betrayal and "treason," and apparently took revenge on him on Monday, when he was ambushed and killed in his convoy at a checkpoint in Yemen's capital city Sanaa.

    Analysts are saying that this is a victory for the Houthis and Iran, but it also weakens the Houthis in the sense that it will further split the tribes previously allied with the Houthis. In particular, in some scenarios, many of Saleh's militias that were fighting alongside the Houthis in the past may attack the Houthis for revenge, and firmly side with the Saudis. Another scenario is that the pro-Saleh tribes will splinter and become ineffective.

    The effects of Saleh's death will depend on what the Saudis and Iranians do next. Saleh's son in Saudi Arabia is being proposed as his replacement. The only thing that's certain is that Saleh's death guarantees more chaos.

    The death of Saleh is expected to complicate Tuesday's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC is an alliance of six Arab countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) -- on the Arabian Gulf. The GCC is already splintered because of Saudi Arabia's air, land and sea blockade on another GCC member, Qatar. Kuwait has been acting as a mediator, and some analysts hoped that Tuesday's meeting would be used to negotiate an end to the blockade of Qatar. However, Tuesday's agenda is likely to be hijacked by the Yemen issue after the death of Saleh. Some analysts are saying that the GCC is near complete collapse. National Yemen and BBC and Al Jazeera

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    US officials plan for military strike on North Korea and war

    Over the weekend, the full realization of what the U.S. is facing from North Korea became more clear and more stark. It's clear that for three decades, US administrations have simply appeased the North Koreans, falling time after time for North Korean promises that they had no intention of keeping, just as Hitler was planning for full-scale war as he promised "peace in our time."

    If we continue on the same path as the last three decades, then:

    Many people believe that China and Russia would welcome these developments by the North Koreans, since the missiles would be pointed at America, not at China or Russia.

    The administration seems to be signaling every day that we're one day closer to war because of the North Korean threat.

    Over the weekend, H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, said:

    "The greatest immediate threat to the United States and to the world is the threat posed by the rogue regime in North Korea and his continued efforts to develop a long range nuclear capability. ...

    I think [the threat] is increasing every day. It means we’re in a race. We’re in a race to be able to solve this problem.

    There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because he’s getting closer and closer and there’s not much time left."

    Sen. Lindsey Graham on CBS News said that the American military should start preparing for war:

    "We're getting close to a military conflict because North Korea's marching toward marrying up the technology of an I.C.B.M. with a nuclear weapon on top that cannot only get to America but deliver the weapon. We're running out of time. McMaster said that yesterday. I'm going to urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea.

    South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour. It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. So I want them to stop sending dependents. And I think it's now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea. ...

    [Trump has] got the best national security team of anybody I've seen since I've been in Washington. The president, himself, early on, made the right decision: 'I'm not going to allow North Korea to hit America with a nuclear weapon. We're not going to live under that threat. If I have to go to war, and I don't want to, to stop it, I will.'

    Everybody before President Trump screwed it up, including Republicans. Now we need to get it right. And I think he's got the right approach. He's got the right team. I hope China will help us. We're running out of time."

    What would a military strike on North Korea look like? On Fox Business Network on Monday, retired army lieutenant colonel Ralph Peters described it as follow (my transcription):

    "This is not a question of a few surgical strikes. If we wanted to destroy, DESTROY their capability to build a fleet of ICBMs, with mated nuclear warheads, it would require an intensive campaign, primarily, not exclusively from the air. It would run a minimum of several weeks, possibly months - you can't predict these things once you start pulling triggers.

    And ultimately the question is the regime in North Korea: can, should it survive?

    So it's not just shooting a couple of launchers, knocking out some missiles. You have to go after deep underground bunkers, research facilities. You have to go after command and control, air defense, intelligence, early warning. And so this is real war. If we had to address the North Korea problem militarily, it's a war. ...

    Is it better to put American cities at risk of nuclear catastrophe or at least nuclear blackmail, or to act while we can?"

    The logic of the imminent North Korean threat and these statements from American officials is that a war is likely within 6-18 months.

    South Korea and the US are holding joint military drills, the largest ever, involving 12,000 US troops. There are also 230 US fighter jets, including the brand new F-35 Lightning, two dozen stealth jets, and over 200 fighters and bombers. North Korea has called it a "preparation for war," and threatened unspecified action. Fox News and CBS News

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    Brexit negotiations collapse over Ireland border issue


    Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London all tweet that if Northern Ireland is going to be favorably treated, then they must be favorably treated.  (BBC)
    Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London all tweet that if Northern Ireland is going to be favorably treated, then they must be favorably treated. (BBC)

    Until midday Monday, the European media were reporting that a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU was imminent. The reason that a breakthrough was predicted was because UK prime minister Theresa May had repeatedly capitulated to the demands of the EU on the three major "Phase I" issues.

    The first Phase I issue was the "divorce bill," the amount that the UK will have to pay the EU to leave, an amount as high as €60 billion. UK politician Nigel Farage, who spearheaded the Brexit movement, famously once said that "the EU can whistle for that money." Over a period of months, May had to agree to pay something, then had to agree to pay €20 billion, and finally last week agreed to pay about €50 billion. The EU considered this to be enough of a commitment for the time being.

    The second issue was the treatment of EU citizens working in the UK. EU officials said that May had made significant concessions, and that would be enough for the time being. However, the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in rejecting UK laws is still an open question, as it has been all along.

    The third issue is the problem of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, separating it from the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. When the UK leaves the EU, there would have be border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a concept that almost everyone rejects, because any border controls are thought likely to result in a renewal of "The Troubles," the decades of violence between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (Catholic, Republican) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (Protestant, Unionist).

    Leo Varadkar, the taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland has stated unequivocally that he would not approve any Brexit agreement that reinstated border controls. The EU has stated unequivocally that the EU would not agree to any proposal that Varadkar rejected, since Ireland would be part of the EU after Brexit, and Northern Ireland and the UK would not.

    So apparently Theresa May's staff came up with some language late last week that seemed to satisfy everyone. The details are unknown, but it would provide some kind of special regulatory status to Northern Ireland that would allow the borders to remain open. It was that level of agreement that led the media to expect a breakthrough on Monday, and Theresa May went off the Brussels to sign the deal.

    While in Brussels, Theresa May placed a phone call to the Arlene Foster, the leader of Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Foster vetoed the plan. She said:

    "Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK. We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom."

    The DUP is a very small but critical part of Theresa May's governing coalition, but if they turn against her, then there will be new elections in Britain. This is somewhat comical, since it's an outcome nobody wants. May and her Tory party would probably lose the election to the Labor Party, and the ultra-leftist Jeremy Corbyn would become prime minister. Corbyn supports the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Ireland, which is the DUP's traditional enemy. Would Corbyn like to be prime minister and take over Brexit negotiations with the EU? My guess is that he enjoys seeing May take all the flak in trying to solve the intractable Ireland problem.

    On top of the veto by the DUP, the leaders of Scotland and Wales, and the mayor of London all tweeted that if Northern Ireland gets special treatment, then they should get special treatment too. Their tweets are shown in the above graphic.

    EU and UK leaders hope that these problems can all be resolved by the December 14 summit meeting in Brussels. If so, then negotiations will move onto trade issues, and those issues will be far more difficult to resolve than the three Phase I issues. It's very hard to get past the feeling that Brexit is a complete disaster for the UK, and probably for the EU as well. Irish Times and BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-17 World View -- Three crises accelerate: Yemen's Saleh killed, Brexit collapses and North Korea war looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    4-Dec-17 World View -- Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence

    Cameroon and Paul Biya behave typically following a generational crisis civil war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence


    People of the Anglophone town of Eyumojock in a tense, angry standoff with police following the killing of some police officers on Wednesday (Cameroon Concord)
    People of the Anglophone town of Eyumojock in a tense, angry standoff with police following the killing of some police officers on Wednesday (Cameroon Concord)

    Separatists in the Southern Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon, seeking independence from the Francophone (French-speaking) government, killed four policemen and two soldiers in two attacks in the last week. The security forces had been sent into the Anglophone regions to try to suppress further unrest, but separatists claim that they have set up checkpoints on roads as symbols of Francophone occupation. The activists are demanding for the Southern Cameroons to secede, and create an independent nation called Ambazonia.

    Ben Kuah, the chairman of the military wing of the secessionist group Ambazonian Governing Council (AGC) said:

    "One of the main objectives is to clear the checkpoints that they have put on our roads. They are the symbols of occupation."

    Cameroon's president Paul Biya promised retaliation for the attacks:

    "I think things are now perfectly clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks.

    Faced with these attacks of aggression, I assure the Cameroonian people that all measures are being taken to end these criminals’ ability to do harm."

    Cameroon's Minister of Defense Beti Assomo said:

    "Following the president of the Republic, the Head of the armed forces’ declaration after the repeated attacks and killings in the country, that are claimed by secessionist movements, we are expected to arrive at concrete measures for the immediate application of the strategy of the heads in the army. And the process is going to continue till this situation that we are experiencing is eradicated."

    The violence started in 2016, but at the start is one almost entirely one-sided violence, with the Francophone security forces violently attacking peaceful Anglophone protesters.

    In 2016, the peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by severely beating several protesters, and shooting two of them dead.

    The Francophone government has done some really stupid things in the past year, apparently in the belief that they can end the peaceful protests by violently attacking the protesters. The security forces repeatedly used tear gas, gunfire, beatings and jailings against the protesters. The government shut down the internet in the Southern Cameroons for several months, in the moronic belief that they would stop protesting if they didn't have the internet available to do their jobs and earn a livelihood.

    Government idiocy reached a height in August, when the government deployed 400 additional police to the Anglophone regions to force schoolchildren to go to school. There were still protests going on over the schools being forced to teach all subjects in French, but instead of simply allowing some courses like geography and math to be taught in English, they sent the police out to drag little children to school.

    The violence took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22, when activist forces began using small bombs to target local security forces. On October 1, separatists staged a massive march, and declared the independence of Ambazonia. In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. At least 5,000 people have fled across the border to neighboring Nigeria to escape the violence.

    On Sunday, state radio said, "Paul Biya has declared war on these terrorists who seek secession," and that a large-scale military operation was being prepared, indicating that a full-scale violent conflict is about to begin. AFP and Cameroon Concord and VOA

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    Cameroon and Paul Biya behave typically following a generational crisis civil war

    As regular readers are aware, we've discovered some patterns that countries predictably follow during the generational Awakening and Unraveling eras, one or two generation past the end of the preceding generational Crisis war.

    In America, the Awakening era was in the 1960s, following World War II, with massive student protests in colleges and racial protests on the streets of Los Angeles, Chicago, and many other cities. The government did not use gunfire and helicopter gunships to stop the violence, and the only jailings were for specific property crimes. The government continued in an orderly constitutional manner, with presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

    Cameroon's last generational crisis war was "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the Anglophone "British Cameroons" colony and the Francophone "French Cameroun" colony. The outcome was a single independent country, Cameroon, which merged the British and French colonies together.

    Paul Biya was born in 1933, and became president in 1982. He consolidated his power by orchestrating a fake coup, giving him an opportunity to eliminate all his rivals, and making him, in effect, a dictator.

    During the generational Awakening and Unraveling eras that followed independence, Cameroon had the same student protests and other protests that every country has, one or two generations after the end of the preceding crisis war. But there's a sharp distinction when the preceding crisis war was an internal civil war. In this case, the government refuses to cede power to the opposition, fearing a renewal of the civil war, and uses murder, rape, torture and jailings arbitrarily against peaceful protesters in the opposition.

    I've described this in numerous countries where the Awakening era follows a generational crisis civil war, including Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hun Sen in Cambodia.

    Paul Biya, who has been president in Cameroon for 34 years, is simply following this same pattern, the same sociopathic violent behavior against a peaceful opposition to remain in power at all costs. If you'd like a simple psychology explanation for why this happens, I will give you mine: When the leader of a country participated in an internal crisis civil war, and during the war was responsible for ordering the rape, torture and slaughter of other people who are essentially his neighbors, then he's traumatized for life, and develops the sociopathy that we've described. But whatever the reason, we've now seen this in one country after another, and the phenomenon is being firmly supported by the research. Quartz and Crisis Group (19-Oct)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Dec-17 World View -- Cameroon's English-speaking provinces on the verge of full-scale violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    3-Dec-17 World View -- Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition

    The Houthi-Saleh 'alliance of convenience' crumbles into violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition


    Tens of thousands gather in Sanaa to demand an end to the clashes between the Houthis and their former ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AFP)
    Tens of thousands gather in Sanaa to demand an end to the clashes between the Houthis and their former ally, Ali Abdullah Saleh (AFP)

    Last month, Saudi Arabia imposed a sea, land and air blockade on Yemen, taking a country which was already in a major humanitarian crisis into an enormous humanitarian disaster. The major effect of the blockade has been to prevent humanitarian aid, including food, medicines and fuel into the country. Of the 25 million population, 20 million rely on humanitarian assistance, and 7-8 million are now facing full-scale famine and starvation as a result of the blockade on humanitarian aid. Furthermore, without fuel, the water pumps in many cities can no longer operate, forcing people to drink filthy water, adding to Yemen's huge cholera epidemic, hitting close to one million people.

    Since 2015, the tribal civil war in Yemen has been largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, especially the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The war dangerously escalated a month ago when the Houthis launched a ballistic missile, undoubtedly supplied by Iran, that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The Saudis reacted with the blockade, giving as a reason the need to prevent the Houthis from importing more Iranian weapons systems.

    Beyond blocking Iranian weapons imports, it wasn't clear whether the Saudis had any further objectives, and indeed some NGO leaders were accusing the Saudis of using "denial of aid" as a "weapon of war."

    If being a weapon of war was part of the Saudi plan, then it appears to have been successful. There's been a major split among the militias in the Houthi coalition.

    There have been four days of increasingly violent clashes between the the two major militias, one led by Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, and the other led by former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is leading some local militias who had previously been allied with al-Houthi.

    After the clashes began, tens of thousands of people filled the streets in Yemen demanding an end to the fighting. After four days of clashes, it was apparently too much for Saleh, who practically begged the Saudis for a ceasefire:

    "I call on our brothers in neighboring countries ... to stop their aggression and lift the blockade. They need to lift the blockade and open the airports, and allow food and medicine to enter the country. We will open a new page with them for dialog. What is happening in Yemen is enough."

    A spokesman for the Houthis said that "Saleh's speech is a coup against our alliance and partnership... and exposed the deception of those who claim to stand against aggression." In addition, al-Houthi responded on television, calling Saleh a traitor and describing his appeal to Saudi Arabia as "treason to the country and a stab in the back." BBC and Washington Post and Reuters and Bloomberg and AP

    The Houthi-Saleh 'alliance of convenience' crumbles into violence

    South Yemen and North Yemen were two separate countries until they unified in 1990 under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh ruled until 2011, when he was ousted as an outcome of the "Arab Spring" that affected countries throughout the region. Saleh was forced to turn the office of president over to his vice president, Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

    In effect, Saleh refused to give up power, and he formed an "alliance of convenience" with the Houthis. Saleh and the Houthis have never really gotten along. During the two decades that Saleh was president, he fought six different wars against the Houthis. On September 21, 2014, Saleh and the Houthis captured Sanaa from Hadi's forces. Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa, and has been living in exile in Saudi Arabia for two years. From the point of view of the international community, Hadi is still president of Yemen.

    On Saturday, Saleh's foreign minister was interviewed on the BBC, and he said that the alliance with the Houthis had to end because Houthis were forming a "state within a state," similar to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a military state within a state within Iran.

    In 2005, Saleh and the Houthis had created an alliance with the nominal objective of forming a unity government that both groups could lead equally. But in the last year, the Houthis have been gaining power in Sanaa, and Saleh has been losing power. Furthermore, there has been rising popular discontent with the Houthis, and that discontent has increased in the last month with the Saudi blockade. Some reports indicate that Saleh has been talking to the Saudis through back channels for a while, so it's even possible that this whole scenario, starting with the blockade, was planned in advance, and triggered by the Houthis' launch of the ballistic missile at Riyadh.

    Since Saleh's call for a ceasefire, the Saudi airstrikes on Sanaa have almost stopped. According to reports, Saleh has promised the Saudis that if they agree to the ceasefire and to lift the blockade, then he will undertake to defeat the Houthis in Sanaa, and drive them back into their northeast stronghold, as he had to do several times when he was president. After that, Saleh says that he and the Saudis can talk, and bring Yemen back to be "normal" again, with him in some sort of leadership position.

    That's actually the optimistic scenario. A more likely scenario is there's another front in the war, and that the clashes between Saleh and the Houthis will become just another war within the Yemen war, the war will continue in a different form. AFP and Gulf News (Dubai) and CNN and Stratfor

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-17 World View -- Yemen war changes direction with collapse of Iran-backed Houthi coalition thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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    2-Dec-17 World View -- UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue

    Humanitarian crises continue to grow year after year

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue


    Funding gap for humanitarian aid for each year 2007-2017, showing gap between needed funds and received funds.  HRP = Humanitarian Response Plans.
    Funding gap for humanitarian aid for each year 2007-2017, showing gap between needed funds and received funds. HRP = Humanitarian Response Plans.

    The United Nations is asking the world community for an increase in donations for humanitarian aid, requesting $22.5 billion for 2018, above the $22 billion originally requested for 2017. More than $10 billion is needed to address the humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen alone.

    According to the "Global Humanitarian Overview 2018" report published on Friday:

    "Many humanitarian crises have become so protracted that they seem permanent. Nineteen of the 21 humanitarian response plans presented in this overview are for humanitarian crises that have been running for five years or more. Three have had humanitarian plans and appeals each year for at least 18 years (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Somalia).

    The steep rise in funding requirements over the years is mainly driven by a set of large-scale protracted crises with humanitarian funding requirements over a billion dollars per year (primarily the Syria crisis, Yemen and South Sudan).

    Food insecurity is also often a consequence of protracted conflict. In late 2017, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNet) highlighted 12 countries in which at least a half-million people will need emergency food assistance (Yemen, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic and Niger). Of these, five are rated in the ‘emergency’ phase of food insecurity, one step short of the worst phase of ‘famine’. Four (Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria) are still at risk of famine conditions."

    In the request for 2017 (the current year), the $22 billion was requested to\help 92.8 million people in need. Over the course of the year 2017, additional crises increased the need for $24 billion, to help 105.1 million people.

    However, there's little chance and the UN will get the funding that it's requesting. The number of humanitarian crises around the world has been increasing sharply. This requires a lot more humanitarian aid, but it also creates a lot more "compassion fatigue" among potential donors, who (correctly) see the demands for humanitarian aid increasing constantly, but then draw the conclusion that they are no longer willing to respond with money.

    The graph above shows the funding requested (black line) and funding received (blue line). As the graph shows, the amount of funding requested has been increasing much faster than the amount of funding received.

    So in 2017, $22 billion was initially requested, rising to $24 billion during the year, but the actual funding received was just $12.6 billion, or just 52% of the amount needed, according to the UN. Relief Web and Global Humanitarian Overview 2018 (PDF)

    Humanitarian crises continue to grow year after year

    As you can see from the above graph, the amount of funding requested went up during the financial crisis until 2010, then fell and leveled off, and then began to surge in 2012. This was the time following the "Arab Spring," when the Mideast and other places in the world began to seriously destabilize. In the Mideast, the war in Libya began, and the genocide in Syria by the Bashar al-Assad also began. More crises began in the years that followed. In Central Asia, the Burma genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims began. In North America, the Haiti earthquake was an enormous disaster. In Africa, wars in South Sudan, Mali, and Central African Republic started, followed by the war in Yemen.

    On top of that, there were continuing humanitarian crises in some countries. In three countries, they had lasted for at least 18 years: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Somalia.

    I remember reading an article in 2004 claiming that the number of wars in the world was at the lowest in history. That was the end of the generational Unraveling era, a time during the 1990s when the world was run by the Silent generation of people who had grown up in the 1930s. They had lived through World War II, and had learned the dangers of extreme nationalism, xenophobia, large refugee flows, and unmet humanitarian crises. Since the world leaders were well aware of these dangers, they made sure that they wouldn't spiral out of control.

    Since 2003-4, most of the world has been in a generational Crisis era, with the survivors of WW II disappearing. And now, about 14 years into a Crisis era, we see all the things that led to WW II occurring again, leading up to a new world war. The things that the World War II survivors devoted their lives to keep from happening again are now happening again and spiraling out of control.

    In yesterday's World View article on the rise of slavery and slave auctions in Libya, I described how huge migration flows in Africa, the Mideast, Central Asia, and even in Beijing China are destabilizing major regions of the world, depleting resources and triggering xenophobia and violence. At the same time, "compassion fatigue" means that less aid is available for desperate people.

    All of these factors -- slave auctions, growing refugee flows, growing humanitarian crises -- are factors that have occurred in the 1930s and prior to other major wars in history, and they are only going to continue growing, and lead to a new world war.

    In 2018, expect more countries to become unstable, more refugee flows, more slave auctions, and more humanitarian crises, and expect more intolerance and political bickering by politicians overwhelmed by the crises and looking for easy solutions that don't exist. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's what always happens in a generational Crisis era. AFP and Al Jazeera and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Dec-17 World View -- UN asks for 2018 increase in humanitarian aid despite compassion fatigue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Dec-2017) Permanent Link
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