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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's

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

23-Jul-14 World View -- Al-Jazeera attacked by gunfire in Gaza

Report: Israeli warplanes strike weapons arsenal in Sudan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Jazeera attacked by gunfire in Gaza, after Israel threatens expulsion


Contentious al-Jazeera interviews on Monday with Hanan Ashrawi and Mark Regev
Contentious al-Jazeera interviews on Monday with Hanan Ashrawi and Mark Regev

The Al-Jazeera office in Gaza city was attacked with gunfire on Tuesday morning. No casualties were reported. The attack came in the midst of the continuing war between Gaza and Israel.

Al-Jazeera blamed the attack on Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, who threatened on Monday to expel al-Jazeera from Israel. According to al-Jazeera:

"The foreign minister’s comments were a direct threat against us and appear to have been taken as a green light for the targeting of our journalists in Gaza. We hold the Israeli authorities fully responsible. They have put the lives of journalists in danger."

Al-Jazeera has already been banned in Egypt, which accused it of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a terrorist organization by Egypt's government. Al-Jazeera is headquartered in Doha, and is funded by Qatar, which has openly split with Egypt over the Gaza war. Egypt has also jailed al-Jazeera journalists just for reporting news in Egypt. ( "24-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's Kangaroo Court finds Al-Jazeera journalists guilty with no evidence")

Lieberman's statement indicates that Israel is also considering banning al-Jazeera, claiming that it's openly biased against Israel in the war with Gaza.

"Qatar has turned into a global problem. Al Jazeera is a central pillar of the propaganda apparatus of Hamas. ...

[Al-Jazeera] has abandoned even the perception of being a reliable news organization and broadcasts from Gaza and to the world anti-Israel incitement, lies, and encouragement to the terrorists."

There are several versions of al-Jazeera. The one I listened to until last year was al-Jazeera English. I've written about al-Jazeera's biases several times in the past. The interesting thing about al-Jazeera's biases is their attitudes towards the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Hamas is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, so al-Jazeera loves Hamas, and hates the Palestinian Authority. In fact, my perception has been that al-Jazeera hates the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas even more than it hates Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Al-Jazeera Arabic has been vitriolically anti-American since its founding in 1996, and it provided open support for Osama bin Laden following the 9/11/2001 attacks. Even in recent years, al-Jazeera Arabic has continued to promote "a jihad ideology."

Al-Jazeera banned for extreme bias

Starting in August of last year, al-Jazeera English was no longer available in the United States. Good ol' former VP Al Gore, the climate change saint, sold his defunct "Current TV" cable channel to Al-Jazeera for half a billion dollars, and that channel became "Al-Jazeera America" or AJAM.

Al-Jazeera America tries to emulate CNN by broadcasting the usual political stuff from Washington, with an American point of view, with far less anti-American and anti-Israeli vitriol than even Al-Jazeera English. However, this almost makes it irrelevant, since why would you want to hear about Washington from al-Jazeera, when you could hear about it from CNN, Fox, or MSNBC? That's probably why it's been doing poorly in the ratings, and has to lay people off. Al Gore really put one over on the Emir of Qatar, getting half a billion dollars for a defunct cable network.

I certainly agree that Al-Jazeera is a biased as people say it is, but they're really not any more biased than, say, NBC News. NBC News broadcasts what the Obama administration tells them to broadcast, and Al-Jazeera broadcasts what the Emir of Qatar tells them to broadcast. In both cases, there's a veneer of respectability and independence, but in both cases the biases are consistent.

So if you're like me and you want all points of view on the news, then the best time to listen to AJAM is during three particular hours of the day: At 6 am ET, 9 am ET, and 2 pm ET. During these hours, AJAM broadcasts the "Al-Jazeera News Hour" from al-Jazeera English, and so you get a lot more of the point of view of Hamas and the Palestinians during those time periods.

The 9 am ET hour on Monday was extremely contentious. The context was that Israeli warplanes had struck the Al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza City. They first interviewed Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi. She was permitted to talk for 5 or 10 minutes almost without interruption:

"Israel is engaged in war crimes. Israel is engaged in state terrorism. It is targeting and killing civilians. ...

"We've heard some really disturbing statements, not just from Netanyahu, but being repeated like a mantra from Obama and John Kerry, talking about Israel in a state of self-defense, or the Palestinians using their own children as human shields. ...

That kind of language is intensely racist. I'm amazed that they even dare make these statements. Not only do they target you and kill you, but they rob you of your humanity."

I don't know what "racism" has to do with this, but I assume she learned that technique from the Obama administration. I was wondering if she also thought that the Israelis were misogynistic and homophobic as well, while she was at it.

After Ashrawi spoke for several minutes, unchallenged and almost uninterrupted, the next interview was with Mark Regev, spokesman for Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The interview was something of a shouting match, with the interviewer repeatedly accusing Israel of targeting the al-Aqsa hospital, and Regev repeatedly saying that civilian targets are legal when they're being used by the enemy's "war machine."

By the end of the interview, both sides were furious and shouting. Regev was asked once again, "Do you apply that to a hospital full of patients? Yes or no?" and he responded:

"I'll ask you a question.

If your al-Jazeera cameramen could take pictures of Hamas rockets being launched from a hospital, then I'd be happy to answer questions like that. But they're not allowed to take pictures, because they know if they take pictures of rockets being fired from civilian areas, then they'll get into trouble with the local authorities.

Why is it that 2000 rockets have been fired on Israel, and you haven't got a single picture of a rocket being fired from an urban area?"

With that, the al-Jazeera interviewer responded: "We'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much, Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister." Al-Jazeera and Jerusalem Post

Report: Israeli warplanes strike weapons arsenal in Sudan

There are reports that Israeli warplanes on Friday struck a warehouse in Khartoum, Sudan, that was holding long-range missiles from Iran that were to be sent to Hamas in Gaza. Sudan admits that there was a big explosion, but denies that the warehouse contained weapons, and denied that Israel struck the warehouse. Israel has not commented.

As we reported yesterday in "22-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza war splits Arab states into competing alliances", Sudan is forming an alliance with Qatar, Turkey and Iran in support of Hamas in its war with Israel.

Two weeks ago, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir was seen meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar. In October 2012, Sudanese government blamed an Israeli airstrike for the explosion of a military factory in the southern suburbs of Khartoum. Jerusalem Post and Sudan Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jul-14 World View -- Al-Jazeera attacked by gunfire in Gaza thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza war splits Arab states into competing alliances

Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists grudgingly give up 'black boxes'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists grudgingly give up 'black boxes'


Pro-Russian separatist taking 'black box' two days ago, before it was turned over to Malaysian officials
Pro-Russian separatist taking 'black box' two days ago, before it was turned over to Malaysian officials

Late Monday, the pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, under enormous international pressure, grudgingly handed over to Malaysian officials the "black boxes" from Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot out of the sky on July 17. The separatists, currently being led by self-declared prime minister Alexander Borodai, have been preventing international access to the crash site in order to hide the complicity of the separatists and Russia in shooting down the airliner. Borodai himself is a Russian, a former deputy directory of Russia's FSB (known as the KGB in Soviet days).

The so-called "black boxes" (which are actually orange) are likely to contain the last few minutes of the voices of the pilots flying MH17, as well as numerical data generated by the plane's computers. Most experts consider it unlikely that the MH17 pilots even suspected what was going to happen until the missile actually struck, and so the black boxes are not likely to contain data that would indicate culpability in the shoot down.

US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on number Sunday news talk shows, and on each one he enumerated what he called "an enormous array of facts" providing evidence that Russia was implicated in shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday. Here are some of the items in his evidence list:

Russian commentators, including Russia's president Vladimir Putin, have been advancing one fantastical theory after another to deflect blame from themselves. The most common theme is that the Ukrainian government purposely shot down the airliner to given themselves an excuse to attack the separatists. It's hard to think of any better word than "desperate" to describe these theories. CNN and ABC News and NBC News

Gaza war splits Arab states into competing alliances

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Monday evening, apparently to add one more to the long list of fruitless peace mediations he's attempted. In this case, he's teaming up with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a joint effort to negotiate a peace process between Israel and Gaza. Both Kerry and Ban have made statements in the last few days suggesting that they're critical of the number of Palestinian casualties that have resulted from Israel's ground invasion of Gaza, and so both Kerry and Ban are widely seen at least slightly favoring Hamas over Israel.

In a sense, Kerry and Ban are playing out of their league because, really, no one in the Mideast really cares at all what they think. The Gaza war is inflaming a powerful geopolitical fault line in the Mideast, and events are not under the control any politician or group of politicians.

The Gaza war is exposing two major factions:

Long-time readers of Generational Dynamics are aware of the predictions, over a decade ago, of an approaching war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that following the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. However, there's been a need to fill in additional details, and one of the most important and most puzzling "details" was how the different Arab states would align themselves in that coming war between Jews and Arabs. These alignments are now beginning to clearly emerge.

I now have to add a word about Iran. As I've been saying for years, Iran will be an ally of the United States in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. This prediction is firm, but is only slightly related to what's happening in the Mideast. In the coming world war, China will be allied with Pakistan, and America will be allied with India -- which will be allied with Iran. The close ties between Hindus and Shia Muslims date all the way back to the epochal Battle of Karbala in 680, and the relationship continues to this day.

This suggests that the above alignment (Egypt + Saudi Arabia + Israel versus Qatar + Turkey + Iran) may not be final. In Egypt, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood won overwhelming popular political victories in the 2012 elections and the consitutional referendum. This popular loyalty could revive at any time, depending on circumstances. Also, the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq in the last few months has been explosive. These facts indicate that many of the alignment "details" are still to be determined. (Paragraph corrected. 22-Jul) Reuters and CNN Wire and AFP and Debka and Israel Hayom

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza war splits Arab states into competing alliances thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Jul-14 World View -- Israel's war with the Gaza tunnels moves into population centers

ISIS evicts Christians and Kurds from Mosul Iraq as new bomb blasts hit Baghdad

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's war with the Gaza tunnels moves into population centers


A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza (Reuters)
A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza (Reuters)

Thirteen Israeli soldiers and dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed on Sunday, as Israel substantially widened and intensified the ground invasion of Gaza. The ground invasion has become a war over the major Hamas strategic assets: The network of dozens or perhaps hundreds of miles of underground tunnels criss-crossing Gaza, containing weapons storage and launching pads and bunkers for command and control. When the ground invasion began, three days ago, the focus was on tunnels at the border between Gaza and Israel, used by terrorists to invade Israel to kill or abduct Israeli citizens. But now the attack has moved into the heart of Gaza where Hamas has placed the most important strategic tunnels purposely in densely populated areas, so that striking at the tunnels is impossible without killing dozens or even hundreds of Palestinian civilians. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is saying that this situation is necessary because Hamas is using Gaza civilians as human shields, but others in the international community are calling the attack an Israeli massacre on innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children. Jerusalem Post and Debka

Growing Palestinian military capabilities raise questions of Israel's objectives

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the Gaza military operation will continue as long as required, but others in the international community are calling for immediate cessation of hostilities.

There's increasingly a question of what Israel's objectives are. It's becoming apparent that it would take at least several weeks (or months) of aggressive military action to destroy the tunnels, killing tens or hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians, but even then, it's likely that not all the tunnels would be destroyed. And even if they were, the tunnels could be rebuilt within a few months. So what's Israel's objective?

The logic of the situation leads many to think that the objective is to inflict as much pain on Gaza as possible, in order to discourage rocket attacks. Under this theory, Palestinians are being "massacred" for no other purpose but to buy a couple of years' time until the next war and the next "massacre."

In the meantime, militia factions in Gaza are increasing their military capabilities. Since the last war in 2012, the capacities of these militias have been enhanced through training exercises, following military training programs and curricula, including the development of special or commando forces.

Troop numbers have increased considerably. Hamas's military wing, the Ezz Al-Din Qassam Brigades, can be regarded as a "standing army" of some 7,000 soldiers, with 25,000 untrained fighters able to bear arms. Other militia groups with similar numbers include:

At the same time, the power and sophistication of the militias' weapons has been growing. In particular, the power and capabilities of the rockets being launched into Israel has been growing.

Following the "Egyptian Revolution" that began with on January 25, 2011, overthrowing Egypt's long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, Hamas was able to smuggle large amounts of weapons provided by Iran into Gaza. According to one high-level Hamas official, this was the "golden era" of weapons smuggling:

"The brigades did not waste a single second. This was a golden era for the resistance’s arms. These basically consist of Russian weapons that come from Iran or elsewhere, or even from the free market that exists on both sides of the borders. Although the borders are now tightly controlled, arms are abundant. The closure of the tunnels slowed the flow of arms but did not stop it entirely. The promise of money makes smugglers very resourceful in finding new means to smuggle merchandise.

We were certain that the situation in Egypt after the revolution would not last and that the Muslim Brotherhood would not remain in power for a single year let alone a single term. We were certain of this and we knew that we had to take as full advantage of that period as possible in order to secure arms and ammunition."

What should be increasingly clear to everyone is that the hope for some sort of "permanent peace" is absurd. As I wrote for the first time in 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that there would be no peace between Arabs and Jews, and that they would be re-fighting the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. When I wrote that in 2003, there were two groups of critics: the kind critics who called me "alarmist," and the unkind critics who called me "psychopathic." However, I doubt that either of those two groups of critics would doubt today that those predictions were correct. That war is coming, and the outcome will almost certainly not be favorable to Israel, as I wrote last week. Times of Oman and Al-Ahram (Cairo)

ISIS evicts Christians and Kurds from Mosul Iraq as new bomb blasts hit Baghdad

The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) tightened its grip on the northern Iraq city of Mosul in the last few days, first by evicting hundreds of Christian families, and then by preparing to evict Kurds as well. Christians have lived in Mosul for millennia, but now ISIS has delivered an ultimatum to Christians: Leave the city, pay a tax, or die. Those leaving the city are being stripped of all their belongings, and are permitted to keep only the clothes on their backs. Following the eviction of Christians, ISIS is giving Kurds only a few days to leave the city.

Muslims in both Mosul and Baghdad are expressing sympathy for the evicted Christians, and promising solidarity and aid. This comes as a new spate of suicide bombings struck Baghdad on Saturday. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the bombings, and claims that one of the two suicide bombers is a German national. Bas News (Erbil) and AFP and Today's Zaman (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-14 World View -- Israel's war with the Gaza tunnels moves into population centers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-14 World View -- Netherlands leads international outrage against Russia for airliner shootdown

Why do Arabs have so many children?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France reorganizes its troops in Africa


Sahel region of western Africa (Economist)
Sahel region of western Africa (Economist)

France has about 3,000 troops in Africa, as peacekeepers in two trouble spots -- Mali and Central African Republic. France was a major colonial power in Africa, and so demands for further French help in controlling terrorism in Africa is growing, especially with the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). French presidents have tried in recent decades to reduce France's African involvement, known as Françafrique, but to no avail. France's current president, François Hollande, also tried to end Françafrique, but the rise of an insurgency in Mali and a potential genocide in Central African Republic have forced France to increase their forces, not reduce them.

Hollande is consolidating France's military effort into Operation Barkhane, headquartered in Chad's capital city, N'Djamena. From these headquarters, France will deploy troops, fighter jets, transport planes, drones, armored vehicles, and other military hardware in the anti-terror fight being fought across western Africa. France 24 and Economist

Netherlands leads international outrage against Russia for airliner shootdown

An editorial in the Amsterdam paper The Telegraaf calls Alexander Borodai, a leader of the east Ukraine pro-Russian separatist, and his cronies "Murderers," and criticizes Holland's prime minister Mark Rutte for not being aggressive enough in criticizing Russia's president Vladimir Putin for complicity in shooting down flight MH17 on Thursday:

"What has to happen before our government says 'we won't take this'. The Netherlands should be banging its fists on the table... the cabinet needs to make it clear to the world that we are seething with anger. This is terror, a war crime, mass murder!'

'The Netherlands is acting in this crisis as if it is a little country and that lessens the impact of the prime minister's words that he will not rest until the perpetrators are brought to justice.'"

An editorial in another paper says that peace in Europe has been built on the bones of millions of victims of nationalism, war and racism. Vladimir Putin, the paper says, is responsible for the return of echoes from the darkest period in European history.

At least 189 Dutch nationals are among the 298 people who were abord flight MH17 when it was shot down by a missile from eastern Ukraine, apparently pro-Russian separatists or by Russian military advisors.

These editorials come amidst stories that pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are disrespecting and "dragging around" the dead bodies of Dutch victims of the plane crash, and dispersing their luggage and belongings. Rutte is calling images of separatists holding up children's toys "too disgusting for words."

Apparently the pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine are purposely contaminating the crash scene and destroying evidence, and desperately trying to hide complicity of Russia in shooting down the airliner.

An outraged Mark Rutte had a "very intense" and "very personal" phone call with Putin on Saturday. 'I told him "time is running out for you to show the world that you have good intentions, that you will take responsibility",' according to Rutte:

"It is absolutely necessary and the first priority that the recovery of the victims take place as soon as possible. Everyone who does not cooperate immediately and fully casts a very serious suspicion on himself.

I am shocked by the images of totally disrespectful behavior on this tragic place. Against all rules of a careful study, there appear to be people who walk around with the personal belongings of the victims, recognizable within the debris. This is downright disgusting. ...

I have just had a very intense phone call with the Russian president. I told him that time was running out, and he has one last chance ... to show the world that he does what is expected of him."

Dutch News and Netherlands government (Trans) and Netherland Times

Why do Arabs have so many children?

In my article last week, "13-Jul-14 World View -- Will Israel win the next war between Arabs and Jews?", I pointed out that the birth rate in Sunni Muslim countries since World War II has been approximately double that of other countries. I speculated that Sunni Muslims had a "gritty determination" to beat the West by having more children, and I invited a communication from anyone having a better explanation.

I received that following from a woman in United Arab Emirates (UAE):

"I was reading your article on the Israeli-Arab war, as you called it, and you noted the considerably high family sizes and birth rate among Sunni Muslims in the Middle East as likely related to a plan to “outbreed” the Christians and Jews or whatnot.

As a Sunni Muslim myself, I can give you some firsthand insight. Though this is not evidence in itself, for what it’s worth, I will tell you that I have never heard that suggestion (that we are trying to outbreed anyone) within my Muslim friend and family circles. Rather the cause of these high fertility rates is definitely rooted in Muslim culture itself.

Speaking largely for Arab families, we are heavily reliant on the support of extended family. It is not uncommon in the UAE, for example, to live in front of your in-laws, and I have seen my own grandparents nestling in neighborhoods alongside their brothers and sisters. It is a type of interdependence that is comfortable for Arabs, so much so that to any new generation saying they will not fulfill this duty to keep that big group of people to support on going by having a family themselves becomes an instant threat to the cultural fabric of that family.

I have grown up being told to have many kids so that they will be able to spread the message of Islam, similarly to how many yearn for sons to carry on the family name. It is natural for a people to want more of their kind.

Islam and Arab culture have been very mixed up in recent years— and may have been so for many years, in fact. The reality is that Islam respects the People of the Book (Christians and Jews). In theory we are to recognize their beliefs as key to our own. But in practice you know how far it is from the truth.

Anyway, hope you will find this insightful."

I thank this woman for being kind enough to send me this message.

There are two conflicting aspects to this concept, that Arabs always have large families as a cultural matter, to support one another and to spread Islam. On the one hand, it means that a lot of soldiers are available to win a war. On the other hand, it means that a lot more soldiers will be killed in the next war, when they will be used as cannon fodder. This is a subject that requires more research.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jul-14 World View -- Netherlands leads international outrage against Russia for airliner shootdown thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Jul-14 World View -- Russia blows off US accusation of complicity in shooting down airliner

Israel warns of 'significantly widening' the ground operation in Gaza

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel warns of 'significantly widening' the ground operation in Gaza


The aftermath of a missile strike in Gaza on Friday (AP)
The aftermath of a missile strike in Gaza on Friday (AP)

On Friday, thousands of Israeli troops accompanied tanks rolling into Gaza. The military said that it hit at least 150 targets, including rocket launchers and tunnels used for raids, and for moving and storing weapons. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that operation could expand:

"Since it is impossible to deal with the tunnels only by aerial means, our troops are also dealing with it on the ground. Here as well, there are no guarantees for total success, but we will do the utmost to achieve the best result. My instructions to the IDF are to prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation, and the chief of staff and the military are prepared accordingly."

Israel has called up more than 53,000 reservists over the past week.

Israeli actions are the targets of protests in many countries, including Bangladesh, Jordan, South Africa, Venezuela, and Turkey, because of the Palestinian casualties. International officials are demanding a cease-fire and a peace agreement. Jerusalem Post and PBS and ABC News

Russia blows off US accusation of complicity in shooting down airliner

On Friday, the United States all but accused Russia of pushing the button that launched the missile that shot down flight MH17. President Obama made this statement:

"Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine. We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine. Over the last several weeks, Russian-backed separatists have shot down a Ukrainian transport plane and a Ukrainian helicopter, and they claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian fighter jet. Moreover, we know that these separatists have received a steady flow of support from Russia. This includes arms and training. It includes heavy weapons, and it includes anti-aircraft weapons."

At a meeting on the United Nations Security Council, US ambassador Samantha Power more explicitly accused Russia of complicity:

"We assess Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 carrying these 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala-Lumpur was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, a SA-11 operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine. ...

Only SA-11, SA-20 and SA-22 are capable of hitting an aircraft at this flight’s altitude of 33,000 ft.

Separatists were spotted hours before the incident with the SA-11 system at the location close to the sight where the plane came down. Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11 it is unlikely they could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Thus we can’t rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems."

Interestingly, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin didn't attempt to refute these charges, except for the perfunctory claim, "We didn't do it."

Instead, Churkin blamed Ukraine's government for allowing passenger airlines in that airspace. Russia's president Vladimir Putin made a similar statement. This is like a bank robber blaming the robbery on the institution that built the bank.

Furthermore, Russian separatists in Ukraine are preventing researchers from investigating the crash. The wreckage has already been substantially contaminated.

So the visceral message conveyed by Russia's attitude is: "We don't really give a s--t that you think we shot down an airliner. We annexed Crimea and got away with it, and now we'll get away with this, and you're not going to do a single thing about it."

However, there may still be blowback on Russia. Hundreds of passengers were killed from numerous countries, including dozens of passengers from Holland and Germany, and some countries may, at the least, demand compensation at the International Court of Justice.

There may also be blowback in another form. This atrocity may force the Ukraine government to escalate its military action against the pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine. At the same time, reports indicate that Russia troops are massing on the Ukraine border, suggesting that there may be a larger battle to come. White House and Russia Today and The Conversation

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-14 World View -- Russia blows off US accusation of complicity in shooting down airliner thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-14 World View -- Will Russia get away with it again?

Multiple simultaneous crises signal deteriorating geopolitics

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Multiple simultaneous crises signal deteriorating geopolitics


It's thought that flight MH17 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile system
It's thought that flight MH17 was brought down by a Russian-made Buk missile system

On Thursday, the deterioration of the world's geopolitics took a giant step forward with two major new crises:

Also on Wednesday, there were a couple of "minor" crises of the kind that occur all the time. For the past five days, armed groups have been attacking Libya's main airport in Tripoli. Terrorists attacked the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, and in Pakistan, terrorists struck in Lahore in the east, and other terrorists struck in Hangu, in the northwest.

The world has become a much darker place in the 11 years since I started writing Generational Dynamics.

Will Russia get away with it again?

Flight MH17 was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew members, when it crashed in east Ukraine near the border with Russia, killing everyone on board.

According to reports, Igor Strelkov, the commander of the pro-Russian separatist militias east Ukraine tweeting the following immediate after the MH17 was shot down:

"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 last 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.

But reports indicate that pro-Russian separatists are preventing any independent international investigation of the crash site to take place, and that they've confiscated the plane's "black boxes," and are sending them to Russia. It's believed that whatever investigation occurs will be conducted entirely by the Russians, who will simply cover up their activities. American, Europe and the United Nations did nothing beyond toothless sanctions when Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, and they will do nothing in this case either.

It's a cruel irony that the flight MH17 that was shot down on Wednesday was a Malaysian Airways plane, just like the MH370 flight that disappeared on March 5, and still hasn't been found. Malaysian officials were excoriated, particularly by the Chinese, because there were so many Chinese victims, and the Malaysians didn't seem to know what was going on.

MH17 was on a flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia, and there were passengers from many countries throughout Asia, as well as from Europe and America. Countries like Japan, China and India have taken a neutral view of the entire Ukraine conflict. Now that many of these countries will have citizens who lost their lives because pro-Russian separatists shot down an airline with weapons supplied by Russia, will these countries continue to remain neutral to the Ukraine conflict? We'll have to wait and see. International Business Times and VOA and Newsweek

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jul-14 World View -- Will Russia get away with it again? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Jul-14 World View -- Sectarian violence continues to grow in Central African Republic

Gaza conflicts open old wounds in the Arab world

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gaza conflicts open old wounds in the Arab world

Egyptian columnists were furious a few days ago when Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas, criticized the Egyptian army for failing to come to the aid of the Palestinians in Gaza. Many pointed out that Mashal was living in luxury in a high class hotel in Doha, Qatar, instead of fighting in Gaza. According to one column, translated by Memri:

"Where is your spirit of heroism, Abu Walid [i.e., Khaled Mash'al]? Join your brothers. Leave Doha's hotels, which you have enjoyed, and go down into the trenches and fight the Zionist enemy that murders the fruits of our loins. Mash'al, we are tired of defending the [Palestinian] cause that you have sold for cheap to an MB gang whose way you followed even though they have lost their [own] way. We want neither a reward nor gratitude from you. Brother Mash'al, Egypt is in a state of war. We have enough problems [of our own]. We are sufficiently [busy with] the plots of your brethren, the members of your movement. You have bankrupted us. We are starving for bread while you eat delicacies on the tables of Doha's lowlifes... Egypt understands this message well and intends to extinguish the war you sparked, Mash'al... Remember the stature of the commander of the Egyptian army, who loses sleep to defend our children in Gaza and who opened the [Rafah] crossing to save them, while you languish in your bed in Doha!"

Besides the personal mocking of Mashal, the point of this and many Egyptian columnists is that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is supported by Qatar, but which is considered a terrorist organization by Egypt's government. Numerous terrorist acts in northern Sinai, near the border of Gaza and Israel, are being blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood and on Hamas itself. For this reason, the tunnels underneath the wall separating Egypt from Gaza have been shut for years by Egypt's army. Even during the presidency of MB leader Mohamed Morsi, before he was ousted in an army coup, the tunnels and crossings were rarely opened, because it was too dangerous for Egypt.

When Egypt made its proposal to mediate the war between Gaza and Israel, almost everyone (myself included) were certain that Hamas would reject the proposal, not just because it came from Egypt, but also because they've been totally humiliated in the war because they launched thousands of missiles into Israel, and have almost nothing to show for it.

As we reported in March, the Gulf Arab states have had a major split over issues ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to Iran. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain went so far as to recall their ambassadors from Qatar.

Those differences have been exacerbated by the current Gaza crisis. On Wednesday, leaders of Tunisia, Turkey and Qatar, joining with France, denounced the Egyptian regime as "unfit" for the role of mediator, and said that they're going to lead the mediation efforts between Israel and Gaza.

As it turned out, Israel has agreed to a five-hour cease-fire on Thursday on humanitarian grounds, but many reports indicate that the cease-fire may be a prelude to a full scale ground invasion. Memri and Middle East Monitor

Iran offers full support to Hamas

Iran is promising to support Hamas with "all might," saying that they will make all efforts to serve the "Palestinian nation." A parliamentary delegation is poised to leave for Gaza. According to one MP:

"A Majlis [parliamentary] delegation will be dispatched to Gaza Strip to express sympathy with the families of Gaza martyrs and deliver donations from the Iranian people to the residents of this region."

Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani called on Muslim countries to stand united against Israel. Press Tv (Tehran) and Press Tv

Sectarian violence continues to grow in Central African Republic

For the last few months, sectarian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been centered in the capital city, Bangui, in the southwestern region of the country. However, new reports indicate that the violence has been moving east, and has now reached the region surrounding the central city of Bambari, and farther east.

After a coup last year by Muslim leader Michel Djotodia, Muslim Seleka militias began killing tens of thousands of Christians, and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. This year, Christian anti-balaka militias have retaliated with vengeance, massacring hundreds of thousands of Muslims, and have driven millions more from their homes. ( "29-Mar-14 World View -- Christians versus Muslims in Central African Republic")

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely.

The Kongo-Wara rebellion was nominally an uprising against the French colonialists, but it also had it share of the same kind of tribal violence that we are seeing today. After a crisis war like that ends, the survivors on both sides look back in horror at the acts that were perpetrated on both sides, and vow to devote the rest of their lives to making sure that nothing like that happens to their children or grandchildren. They succeed at that, but once the survivors have passed away, so that there's no one left with a personal memory of the last crisis war, then there's nothing to stop a new crisis war from starting, and that's what's happening now.

New reports by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) indicate that the sectarian violence that's occurred in the last few months is more extensive than previously believed. And reports by Human Rights Watch are documenting the spread and escalation of tit-for-tat sectarian violence into eastern parts of the CAR. Most of the victims were men who were chopped to death by machetes. According to an HRW director:

"Sectarian violence is moving eastward, engulfing new communities. The limited numbers of French and African Union peacekeepers deployed in Bambari are unable to adequately protect civilians and end the killings – although without their presence, the bloodshed would likely have been worse."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, CAR is headed for a genocidal generational crisis war, which will be just as bloody as the generational crisis war that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. It's becoming increasingly evident that this war will go beyond a civil war between Muslims and Christians in CAR, and will end up involving the French peacekeeping forces as active participants in the war, as well as other tribes and ethnic groups. Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jul-14 World View -- Sectarian violence continues to grow in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Jul-14 World View -- Hamas furious at Egypt's cease-fire proposal, as violence escalates

Turkey's prime minister Erdogan makes vitriolic attack on Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel signals escalated military attack on Gaza on Wednesday morning


Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli air strike on Gaza (BBC)
Palestinians inspect the site of an Israeli air strike on Gaza (BBC)

On Tuesday, Israel ordered thousands of Palestinians in eastern and northern Gaza to leave their homes before 8 am on Wednesday. Israel is using recorded telephone messages and leaflets to notify Gaza residents. It's not known whether the new action will be an escalated missile attack, or whether Israeli troops will be involved. BBC

Hamas furious at Egypt's cease-fire proposal, as violence escalates

Hamas rejected, and Israel accepted, the cease-fire proposal offered by Egypt on Monday evening. The proposal called for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel to begin early Tuesday morning. Israel held off bombing Gaza for six hours, to give Hamas a chance to consider the proposal, and during that time, dozens of rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel. When it became clear that Hamas would not accept the proposal, Israel resumed bombing military targets in Gaza.

According to Hamas in a statement:

"To avoid confusion and to be clear with our people, al-Qassam Brigades confirm that we haven't been contacted by any official or unofficial entities about terms of this alleged initiative.

If what has been circulated is true, this initiative means kneeling and submissiveness and so we completely refuse it and to us, it's not worth the ink used in writing it."

This is not surprising. As we wrote yesterday, Hamas has been humiliated by the fact that they've launched hundreds of rockets into Israeli territory and accomplished almost nothing, mainly thanks to Israel's sophisticated Iron Dome anti-missile system. For the Hamas leadership to agree to a cease-fire now would probably cause violence between the militant factions within Gaza itself, as the more extreme factions turn against Hamas leadership for allowing itself to be further humiliated.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement:

"We accepted the Egyptian proposal in order to present an opportunity for Gaza to be disarmed of its missiles, rockets, and tunnels through political means, but if Hamas does not accept this proposed cease-fire – and this is how it appears at present — Israel will have full international legitimacy for an expanded military operation to return the necessary quiet."

Hamas is infuriated by this situation because it appears that the entire cease-fire proposal was a setup to further humiliate Hamas, while giving Israel legitimacy to escalating its missile attacks on the military targets in Gaza.

According Michael Oren, Israel's former ambassador to Washington:

If Hamas rejects the very public diplomatic offer here, then if the fighting renews, Israel can then pursue its military goals with a tremendous amount of international legitimacy behind it – something that was lacking prior to the outbreak of the hostilities."

However, along with this legitimacy comes a great deal more tension between the two sides, with substantially more fury on the Hamas side and substantially more nationalism on the Israeli side.

Appearing on the BBC on Tuesday, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the probability of an Israeli ground invasion into Gaza has increased substantially in the last 24 hours, and that the current conflict is "dangerously different" from the conflicts that occurred in 2012 and 2008:

"It is. What's worrying me now is not simply that you have Hamas against the Israelis, but there's a tribal element, because of the three Israelis who were killed, then the one Palestinian in the revenge killing. So you now have this taking place at multiple levels and it's not just organized violence, it's unorganized violence, and the two are potentially truly dangerous."

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Arabs and the Jews are headed for a war characterized by exactly this kind of unorganized "tribal" violence. It may happen this time, or in two years, or in five years, but it's coming, and the outcome will almost certainly not be favorable to Israel. International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and Jewish Telegraphic Agency and CS Monitor

Turkey's prime minister Erdogan makes vitriolic attack on Israel

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday accused Israel of "terrorizing the region" with its bombardment of Gaza:

"With utter disregard for international law, Israel continues to terrorize the region, and no country but us is telling it to stop. It has sprayed bullets and caused deaths, as it does every Ramadan.

No tyranny is everlasting; sooner or later every tyrant has to pay the price... This tyranny will not remain unaccounted for."

Erdogan also criticized an Israeli member of parliament, Ayelet Shaked of the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party, for saying that "mothers of the martyrs" should also be killed. "What is the difference between this mentality and Hitler's?" asked Erdogan. Zaman (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-14 World View -- Hamas furious at Egypt's cease-fire proposal, as violence escalates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-14 World View -- Ukraine accuses Russia of shooting down military transport plane

Rise of ISIS spawns new jihadist groups in Indonesia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine accuses Russia of shooting down military transport plane


Fragments of downed Ukrainian An-26 transport aircraft
Fragments of downed Ukrainian An-26 transport aircraft

A Ukrainian AN-26 military transport flying near the border with Russia was shot down on Monday. Ukraine is accusing Russia of shooting down the plane from Russian territory which, if true, could be an important game-changer in the geopolitical battle that currently involves Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and the United States.

According to Ukraine's government:

"Factoring in that the plane was flying at the altitude 6,500m, it was impossible to hit it with man-portable anti-aircraft system, which means the plan was attacked by some other, more powerful rocket weapon, which was used, probably, from the territory of the Russian Federation. ...

At the moment, judging from the data provided by Ukrainian airmen, two theories are being considered: the shot was fired from the up-to-date surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system Pantsir or a self-guided air-to-air missile X-24 from a Russian plane, which could have been scrambled from the airfield Millerovo [Russia]."

Ukrainian officials are examining the wreckage. If it's proved that Russian forces shot down the plane, then Ukraine may be forced to make its own military response, targeting Russian assets. Furthermore, EU and American officials may now feel obligated to impose much harsher sanctions on Russia, or be accused of letting Russia cross another "red line," with no response.

Russia has made no comment. Separately, Nato reported a Russian troop build-up near the Ukraine border, increasing their number to 12,000 troops. Ukraine News Agency and AP and BBC

Rise of ISIS spawns new jihadist groups in Indonesia

As we've been reporting for a year and a half, the result of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad's genocidal activities directed towards innocent Sunni women and children in Syria has made Syria a jihadist magnet for militants around the world to receive terrorist training. And in the last few months, it's resulted in the formation of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), which has taken control of a large region in eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Authorities in Indonesia are concerned about the rise of ISIS for two separate reasons. One is the concern that many countries have -- that dozens of Indonesian would-be jihadists have gone to Syria for training, and may come home with new skills and capabilities and renewed ideological commitment to conduct armed jihad.

However, the success of ISIS in gaining territory has made ISIS a model for terrorist groups within Indonesia itself. Jihadist groups within Indonesia are swearing allegiance to ISIS, and are promoting ISIS locally through community-based events such as charity work. The number of ISIS cheerleaders online is also rising. New pro-ISIS websites, Facebook groups and Twitter accounts continue to emerge with thousands of followers. So the rise of ISIS could determine new directions for the militant Islamist movement in Indonesia, and increased violence. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

Egypt proposes a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war

Egypt is proposing to mediate a cease-fire starting early on Tuesday in the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, followed by a series of meetings and negotiations. It's not believed that Israel would agree to a cease-fire without a permanent cessation of rocket launchings from Gaza into Israel.

It's believed that pressure from Islamic Jihad would prevent Hamas from agreeing to any cease-fire. A cease-fire would be humiliating because Gaza has launched hundreds of rockets, but not a single Israeli has been killed. Many have landed on unpopulated farmland, and many others have been shot down by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, so that Gaza has absolutely nothing to show for all the rockets they've sent. BBC

Palestinian lawyer says that proving Israeli war crimes would be difficult

The Palestinian representative to the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHCR) was interviewed on TV on the subject of going to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and charging Israel with war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to Ibrahim Khreisheh:

"The missiles that are now being launched against Israel – each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity whether it hits or misses, because it is directed at a civilian targets. What Israel does against Palestinian civilians also constitutes crimes against humanity. With regard to crimes of war under the Fourth Geneva Convention – the settlements, the Judaization, the checkpoints, the arrests, and so on – we find ourselves on very solid ground. However, there is a Palestinian weakness with regard to the other issue. Therefore targeting civilians – be it one civilian or a thousand – is considered a crime against humanity. ...

Please note that many of our people in Gaza appeared on TV and said that the Israeli army warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment. In such a case, if someone is killed, the law considers it a mistake rather than an intentional killing, because [the Israelis] followed the legal procedures. As for the missiles launched from our side: We never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall, or about the operations we carry out. Therefore, people should know more before they talk emotionally about appealing to the ICC."

Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-14 World View -- Ukraine accuses Russia of shooting down military transport plane thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-14 World View -- Terrorist attacks in Egypt's Sinai raise fears of ISIS links

Why the U.S. can't offer effective help to Nigeria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's Boko Haram takes credit for Lagos explosion

In a 16-minute video, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau is claiming responsibility for a bombing in Nigeria's main southern port city of Lagos on June 25, a bombing that the government apparently tried to cover up by saying that it was an accident. There was a huge explosion on June 25 in a shopping mall in Nigeria's capital city Abuja, killing 24 people, as we reported at the time,, and Boko Haram was assumed responsible for it. However, the second explosion on the same day, in Lagos, was called an accident by the government, apparently to avoid panicking the population. Investigations by the press had already determined that it was a terrorist attack, not an accident, and now Boko Haram is claiming responsibility.

A terrorist attack on Lagos could be a significant blow to Nigeria's economy because Lagos is an international business hub. The target of the Lagos attack was a fuel depot. Fortunately, the female suicide bomber never reached the depot because, if she had, it would have caused a massive chain explosion. Since the suicide bomber was apparently poorly trained, it's thought that the bombing was perpetrated by Boko Haram itself.

Boko Haram has been thought of as a terrorist group operating in northeast Nigeria, where it has abducted hundreds of schoolgirls, who have still not been freed after several months. If group can now conduct terror attacks all the way to the Lagos in the south, it would mean a significant increase in Boko Haram's reach.

There's also evidence that Boko Haram is responsible for numerous attacks on farmers. Almost every developing country has major battles at some point between farmers and cattle or camel herders. The herders' animals trample the farmers' crops, infuriating the farmers. The farmers then put up fences which block the herders, infuriating the herders. This is a theme in several African countries, including Kenya and Sudan. In Nigeria, there have been a marked increase in deadly attacks on farmers, and they've been blamed on cattle herders from the Fulani tribe. But some officials suspect that the attacks might be linked to Boko Haram, who are from the Kanuri ethnic group, but may have been infiltrated by Fulani. Nigeria Guardian News and Reuters

Why the U.S. can't offer effective help to Nigeria

In the 16-minute video, Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau mocks the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag twitter campaign, featuring Michele Obama carrying a sign with the hash tag. The campaign has been completely ineffective.

There have been numerous questions about why the U.S. isn't doing more to help Nigeria recover the girls. The question was answered on Thursday by Lauren Blanchard, a specialist on African affairs, speaking to a Congressional committee. According to Blanchard:

"[The main impediment is] gross violations committed by the Nigerian forces, the Nigerian government’s resistance to adopting a more comprehensive approach to Boko Haram, and the continued lack of political will."

In particular, the Nigerian government has simply stalled in approving Nigerian units for training and assistance:

"Multiple systemic factors further constrain the effectiveness of the Nigerian security force’s response to Boko Haram, notably security sector corruption and mismanagement, and some of these factors impede US support even for units that have been cleared for assistance."

It's suspected that because of tribal loyalties, some factions in Nigeria's army and policy are sympathizing with Boko Haram, and perhaps working for the terrorist group. Osun Defender (Nigeria)

Terrorist attacks in Egypt's Sinai raise fears of ISIS links

Militants in Egypt's northern Sinai, near the border with Israel, fired mortar rounds late Sunday at a military post, killing a soldier and seven civilians. Militants in Sinai have also fired rockets at Israel in support of Palestinians during the war in Gaza.

Militants have found a haven in northern Sinai, particularly after the turmoil in Egypt since 2011. Egyptian officials are concerned that the rise of Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) will increase terrorist activities in Sinai. The fear is that al-Qaeda linked organizations and Salafist jihadists will merge with ISIS or "declare allegiance" to it. It's not expected that many jihadists in Sinai to convert to ISIS, and it's believed that there are no Egyptians in the ISIS command hierarchy. In fact, some Muslim Brotherhood leaders have refused to recognize ISIS. But ISIS might attack supporters among extremist militias in Libya, or from Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), and those supporters might come to Sinai. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Al-Ahram

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-14 World View -- Terrorist attacks in Egypt's Sinai raise fears of ISIS links thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-14 World View -- Will Israel win the next war between Arabs and Jews?

Israeli special forces appear to be fighting in Gaza

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israeli special forces appear to be fighting in Gaza


The Al-Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad claim that they have been fighting Israeli special forces in Gaza (AFP)
The Al-Quds Brigades and Islamic Jihad claim that they have been fighting Israeli special forces in Gaza (AFP)

The Islamic Jihad and the Al-Quds Brigades in Gaza are claiming they clashed on Sunday morning with Israeli special forces that entered Gaza. The Israeli army has confirmed these reports. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel is considering a ground invasion of Gaza, but that no decision has yet been reached.

However, other reports indicate that Netanyahu is considering proposing an exit strategy for the war. First, Israel will eradicate a major portion of Hamas's military resources in Gaza, but leave it in power.

Second, Israel will back down from a ground invasion of Gaza in return for international agreement that Israeli forces will be assigned the responsibility for the security of the Jordan Valley and the West Bank, to protect them from an invasion of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. Al Aribiya and Jerusalem Post and Debka

Will Israel win the next war between Arabs and Jews?

I received a number of comments questioning my statements in "9-Jul-14 World View -- Mideast war or peace? It all depends on what Hamas wants." four days ago. I wrote that many Arabs want a war with Israel because they believe that they could win it, simply based on population. Israel has 7.8 million people, while there are 123.2 million Arabs in adjoining countries, and population is destiny.

There were two categories of objections: Biblical prophecy, and history. I'll address both of them below.

But in reading the Mideast press, I get the strong impression that the Israeli people are way overconfident, and are certain they can't lose. This is in contrast to Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who gives me the feeling that he's in a state of panic. From the Palestinian leaders, I get the impression of gritty determination that this time they're going to win.

However, in writing this article, I'm not taking an ideological stand. I'm following the Generational Dynamics methodology. And in that methodology a war is an act of nature, like an earthquake or a hurricane. It's neither good nor bad. Like an earthquake, it accomplishes nothing but destruction. As I first wrote my analysis of President Bush's Mideast Roadmap to Peace, in May, 2003, a war between Arabs and Jews is coming with absolute certainty, just as earthquakes and hurricanes come with absolutely certainty.

So this article continues the previous analysis by addressing the question of whether Israel is going to win the next major war between Jews and Arabs. The analysis indicates that Israel is probably going to lose. But wars end, in the aftermath, there may yet be a new Israel.

Biblical prophecy and the future of Israel

People who believe in Biblical prophecy often look to the Bible to try to discern what will happen to Israel. One person wrote the following to me:

"The one thing wrong with Generational Dynamics theory is it does not account for religion. I am 100% backer of Generational Dynamics except when it comes to Israel who is Yahweh's chosen people, even though they don't act like it. He would not let the region be trampled on by Esau's and Ishmael's descendants. I don't want to enter in a debate of who believes in what. I'm just saying that comparing Israel's 7.8 million versus 123.2 million Arabs and giving the victory to the Arabs is a bit premature. Just sit back and watch what happens."

I would respond by saying that no one could know what Yahweh's plan is. Perhaps his plan is to let Israel be trampled on by Esau's and Ishmael's descendants, so that a new Israel can rise from the ashes. That would be completely in the spirit of many historical Biblical stories.

In fact, if you think about it, Israel was created by the United Nations out of the ashes of World War II. It would certainly be consistent with millennia of Jewish history if Israel were completely destroyed by the coming war, and then rose again afterwards.

Here's a comment that a web site reader sent to me in February 2011, as the Arab world was in tumult over the "Arab Awakening" in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and other countries:

"I feel you are off in a few points. The biggest problem is you do not address the Bible's predictions in your assessments of a world conflict. As the Bible sees it, we shall have a limited war in the Middle East (Psalm 83/Isaiah 17/Jeremiah 49) that will involve Israel vs. Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This war will end with Israel 'nuking' Damascus off the map and the world CRYING for a peace plan. With the inner ring of Arab nations conquered by Israel the Middle East problems will be seen as over, a 'new' global leader will provide a seven year treaty that makes more war impossible. Though when everyone says 'peace and safety', the end comes quickly. In 2-3 months I think, Russia and Iran and the outer ring of Arab nations will attack Israel in revenge (with Russia adding their might, but planning to double-cross the Arabs once things are done). ... As Ezekiel 38-39 reads God will supernaturally save Israel, and leave but 1/6th of its attackers alive."

First, I try to tell people who believe in Bible prophecy to interpret today's events to be very cautious, because populations have moved. Just to take one example, the Turks came from central Asia, and didn't move into Anatolia (today's Turkey) until about 1000 years ago. So someone using Bible prophecy to interpret events today about Turkey would have to explain away the fact that there's a whole new race of people living in Turkey, different from the people who lived there at the time of the prophecy.

However, I particularly want to focus on the prophecy about Damascus, which several people have written to me about over the years, in Isaiah 17:1-3:

"1 The oracle concerning Damascus. "Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city And will become a fallen ruin. 2 "The cities of Aroer are forsaken; They will be for flocks to lie down in, And there will be no one to frighten them. 3 "The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, And sovereignty from Damascus And the remnant of Aram; They will be like the glory of the sons of Israel," Declares the LORD of hosts."

There are many people who interpret these verses as indicating that someone is going to drop a nuclear weapon on Damascus. The attacker would be Israel or Iran or Russia, according to different interpretations.

What's fascinating about this prophecy is that it seems that almost everyone in the Mideast seems to know about it. So if anybody actually DOES drop a bomb on Damascus at some time in the future, it will truly be a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the attacker will certainly justify this action by saying it's a Bible prophecy. Thus, it would be possible to argue that the CAUSE of the nuclear attack on Damascus would have been the Bible prophecy.

So the net result of all this is that it's very difficult to justify applying any Biblical prophecy to today's events, and every easy to get into trouble because of it. Pulpit Biblical Commentary

History and population and the future of Israel

Several people sent me messages something like the following:

"In fact Israel was already outnumbered like that in 1948 and 1967 and 1973. It always had a more efficient army with American-made up-to-date weapons."

As I mentioned earlier, this statement is based on an invalid assumption that just because Israel, with 7.8 million people, won wars in the past against Arabs, with over 100 million people, that they'll do it again. In fact, my reading is that the Israeli people (as opposed to the politicians) are so overconfident, they may lose rather quickly and decisively.

However, I'd like to focus on another aspect of the population issue, that I've written about in the past. Here, from the CIA World Fact Book, are the number of births per 1000 population in various Sunni Muslim countries:

And here are the number of births per 1000 population for some other countries:

Since World War II, the birth rate in Sunni Muslim countries has been roughly twice as high as in other countries.

I've been aware of this since the 1990s, since it was mentioned in Samuel P. Huntington's book "The Clash of Civilizations." I've asked many Muslims why this has been happening, and I've never gotten an explanation. So I can only make an educated guess.

Around 1300, a Muslim Turkish tribe led by its chieftain, Osman, started making conquests, eventually becoming the Ottoman Empire. It had a series of almost unbroken conquests, including the destruction of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. It continued with one success after another until 1683, when the Habsburgs (Germans) defeated the Ottomans, almost destroying their entire army, in the War with the Holy League (1683-99). This was a calamitous defeat, and signaled a reversal of the Ottoman Empire's fortunes. There were further defeats, culminating in the complete destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and the declaration of the secular Turkish Republic in 1922. This was also the end of the worldwide Islamic Caliphate in Istanbul.

So after roughly 300 years of almost unbroken victories, the Muslim world suffered roughly 300 years of almost unbroken defeats. This led to several decades of chaos, and eventually to "the Nakba" or "the catastrophe" -- the partitioning of Palestine in 1948, and the creation of Israel.

My speculation is that a sense grew across the Muslim world that these repeated Muslim defeats could be turned to victories in only one way: by outbreeding the Jews and Christians. I don't know if anyone issued a fatwa or if some Muslim politician made an appeal. But in the six decades since World War II, when Western politicians were encouraging couples to have no more than two children, to prevent a population explosion, the Muslim world was encouraging couples to have as many children as possible, in order to defeat the West.

That's my speculation for why the birth rate in the Sunni Muslim countries has been twice the birth rate in Western countries. If some Islamic scholar or historian has a better explanation, I would like to hear it, and I would welcome receiving a communication on the subject.

Returning now to the original topic, since the time of the Nakba, there has been a gritty determination in the Arab world to defeat Israel, and they may very well succeed. But the destruction of the Ottoman Empire didn't mean the end of the Muslims, and the destruction of Israel will not mean the end of the Jews. It's well to remember that the Jews have survived for millennia, despite many attempts to exterminate them, and there's little doubt that the Jews will survive again, whether Israel does or not.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-14 World View -- Will Israel win the next war between Arabs and Jews? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza tunnels make Israeli ground offensive dangerous but necessary

Health workers flee from West Africa as Ebola epidemic spreads

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gaza tunnels make Israeli ground offensive dangerous but necessary


A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza (Reuters)
A Palestinian tunnel in Gaza (Reuters)

Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza is targeting Hamas military installations, but is also targeting farms or bare land and even greenhouses. The reason is that the Palestinian militias have learned important lessons in previous wars with Israel, and have set up sophisticated defenses in the form of an extensive network of tunnels, some as much as 30 meters deep. Over time, Hamas's engineers and diggers -- known by Israel as "spiders" -- gained a great deal of expertise in setting up "underground cities," with bunkers and fortifications, all hooked up to electricity and oxygen. These tunnels can hide thousands of missiles and missile launchers from Israeli spy planes, but that's only one of their purposes.

If Israel wants to achieve its stated goal of getting rid once and for all of Gaza's rocket launching system, it's going to need a ground invasion to clean out all the tunnels and bunkers.

But then the web of tunnels takes on the even deadlier purpose of trapping Israeli soldiers entering Gaza, according to a Hamas leaflet:

"The Qassam Brigades’ strong point is if Israel decides to launch a ground offensive, it would transform its soldiers from hunters to hunted, sitting ducks caught in a crossfire, as a result of the careful planning, preparations, surveillance, identification of the enemy’s weak points and use of the element of surprise to confound the Israelis and decimate them in gun battles with fighters who would prove their superior fighting ability.

These tunnels, dug under every street and alley in Gaza, constitute a strength to be exploited by the brigades to exacerbate the Israeli military’s confusion and create security concerns that the army will be unable to deal with. This will lead to a fundamental problem that compels it to modify its rules of engagement with Hamas."

The tunnels also pose a threat to rural communities in Israel along the border with Gaza. There are dozens of tunnels that can be used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel and kill or abduct civilians and soldiers. Al-Monitor and Jerusalem Post and Al-Monitor

Health workers flee from West Africa as Ebola epidemic spreads

Health workers on the front line of the spreading Ebola epidemic in western Africa are returning home from their assignments. The Ebola virus continues to spread rapidly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, with 44 new cases and 21 deaths in the last three days, bringing the total to 888 cases and 539 deaths since February. Health workers are being disproportionately affected, because they're the ones who care for the sick patients, and yet they are not provided with even the most basic supplies, such as hand gloves. Without gloves, a person touching an Ebola patient is likely to contract Ebola himself. There are accusations that the little money being allocated to fight Ebola is being pocketed by executives and bureaucrats, with little left for supplies and logistics for the front line health workers. This is already the worse Ebola epidemic in history, and if the exodus of health workers continues, the epidemic could become catastrophic for the region. Even so, there's no danger of a worldwide epidemic, since Ebola is only spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as opposed to a virus that can spread through the air. All Africa and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza tunnels make Israeli ground offensive dangerous but necessary thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Jul-14 World View -- Australia joins Japan, Vietnam, Philippines in opposing China

A humiliated Russia considers next steps in east Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

A humiliated Russia considers next steps in east Ukraine


Ukrainians in a refugee camp in southern Russia (Russia Today)
Ukrainians in a refugee camp in southern Russia (Russia Today)

The decisive victory of the Ukraine government forces over the pro-Russian separatists in Slovyansk last week has left the Russian leaders searching for a new direction. At one extreme, a group led by Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, who first called for the annexation of Crimea, is calling on Russia's president Vladimir Putin to intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine, "to save Russia's moral authority." The pro-Russian separatists did not even put up much of a fight, in Slovyansk and several other cities, fleeing to other strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk. The leader of the separatists is insisting that there will be no retreat from Donetsk, but Moscow fears that those two cities will fall quickly as well, leading to total humiliation in Moscow.

Ukraine's military offensive is continuing, with air strikes targeting separatists positions near Donetsk, killing and dislodging them. Ukraine's ground forces are attempting to close the border with Russia, which has been a sieve through which Russia has supplied the separatists with tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft guns, and other weapons. Ukraine's government is resisting calls for a cease-fire, and says that the "all-out" assault on pro-Russian separatists may last another month

According to one analysis, the Russian air force could be preparing for a covert action over Donbas to support the rebels, as a last step short of direct intervention. In a similar conflict in 1992–1993 in Abkhazia, Russian air force jets and helicopter gunships attacked Georgian government positions, posing as unidentified rebel aircraft, while Moscow stringently denied any involvement — as today it denies sending arms and men into Donbas. If there is no ceasefire soon, the Russian air force may go into covert action over Donbas as early as next week. Jamestown and BBC and AFP and Jamestown

Australia joins Japan, Vietnam, Philippines in opposing China

Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines have been forming an alliance against China, as China has been moving to annex other countries' territories in the South and East China Seas. Relations between Vietnam and China have become particularly hostile since China deployed an oil rig in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). (See "China's neighbors react to new South China Sea claims" from last week.)

Now Australia is signaling that it is also joining this alliance. The change in policy was indicated in a statement by Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, during a visit by Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe to Australia to meet Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott. Like many of China's neighbors, Australia had had a policy of being careful not to anger China, for fear of retaliation.

But there was a major confrontation last November, after China announced an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), demanding that any foreign aircraft flying into the East China Sea would have to inform China's military beforehand. ( "24-Nov-13 World View -- In new escalation, China demands to control air space over Japan's Senkaku islands".)

Julie Bishop was visiting Beijing at that time, and complained about the unilateral declaration of the ADIZ. According to reports, China's foreign minister told her that the ADIZ was none of her business, and he "famously tore strips off her," with cameras rolling. ("Tear strips off somebody" is apparently an Australian expression meaning to severely scold someone.)

So now, Bishop is explaining that she's learned some lessons from that experience. In particular, Australia's previous policies of reticence toward China have only caused confusion, and that it's better to be frank than misunderstood:

"China doesn’t respect weakness.

The freedom of the skies and freedom of the seas in that part of the world is important to us because that’s where the majority of our trade is done.

So I believed that, at that time, we had to make it clear where we stood on unilateral action that could be seen as coercive and could be seen to – and which did – affect our national interests. ...

So, when something affects our national interest then we should make it very clear about where we stand."

Bishop said she had no doubt that America would remain the pre-eminent force internationally:

"This is a debate that the US will have to have about its role in the world. It is currently the only super power with the military capability to act globally and the US must determine whether it’s going to continue in that role. I believe that it must, and it will."

Sydney Morning Herald

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-14 World View -- Australia joins Japan, Vietnam, Philippines in opposing China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas accuse each other of war crimes

Measles spreading rapidly in China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel and Hamas accuse each other of war crimes


Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor
Israel's UN ambassador Ron Prosor

The United Nations is expected to hold crisis talks on the Israel-Hamas war on Thursday, as the war escalates.

On Wednesday, Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said the following:

"The intensification of Israel’s aggression against the 1.7 million Palestinians imprisoned in the Gaza Strip by Israel’s immoral blockade threatens to further destabilize the dangerous situation on the ground and fully ignite yet another round of deadly violence. ...

[T]he occupying Power has intensified its onslaught against the besieged Gaza Strip in grave breach of international law, including international humanitarian law and the relevant provisions regarding the protection of civilians in armed conflict and in grave breach of the prohibition of reprisals and collective punishment against the civilian population under occupation. ...

War crimes are clearly being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people and this must be unequivocally condemned and stopped. A strong message must be sent to Israel, the occupying Power, to cease immediately its military campaign and abide by the law, in order to deescalate this dangerous situation, to promote calm, and, most importantly, to save innocent civilian lives."

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor responded, making the following points which I'm summarizing from memory:

Prosor's charge is confirmed by a Hamas spokesman in an interview, translated by Memri, when asked about people "reverting to the human shield method" of opposing Israel:

"This attests to the character of our noble, Jihad-fighting people, who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood. The policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes has proven effective against the occupation. Also, this policy reflects the character of our brave, courageous people. We in Hamas call upon our people to adopt this policy, in order to protect the Palestinian homes."

According to Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

"Hamas is committing a double war crime by intentionally trying to hit Israeli citizens, and using the local Gaza population as human shields."

The rhetoric appears to be heating up to the extent that neither side is giving itself a way to back down. Tensions are rising and events are moving quickly in the Mideast. It's still possible that things will settle down and return to the usual status quo, but it's also possible that we'll be seeing a major war within a week or two. WAFA (Palestine) and Memri and Jerusalem Post

US Embassy in Tel Aviv closes due to rocket fire from Gaza

The US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, has been closed, and is providing only "minimal services," mostly by e-mail. Some rockets and missiles that have been launched from Gaza in the last few days have reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. According to a leaked United Nations report, it's believed that Iran has been supplying Hamas with long-range M-302 missiles. US Embassy in Israel and Jerusalem Post and CS Monitor

Measles spreading rapidly in China

The number of cases of measles is growing rapidly in China this year. The rise in the number of cases is being blamed on the number of migrant workers -- 245 million migrant workers, or 18% of the population -- and the fact that migrant workers haven't been getting vaccinations. China Digital Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jul-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas accuse each other of war crimes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Jul-14 World View -- Mideast war or peace? It all depends on what Hamas wants.

Hamas says that all Israelis are now targets

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hamas says that all Israelis are now targets

Several Palestinian spokesmen that I heard on Tuesday on the BBC and al-Jazeera said that any Israeli, man, woman or child, is now a target of Hamas, since Israel has been illegally occupying Palestinian territory since 1948.

Hamas has been trying, in fact, to make every Israeli citizen a target by launching hundreds of missiles into Israel from Gaza. Some of these are Syrian-made M302 rockets that can reach as far as Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, much farther than Hamas's capability in the past.

This has resulted in a war of air attacks. Israel is retaliating with its warplanes by attacking hundreds of suspected rocket launch sites in Gaza.

Israel's Defense Force (IDF) called up 1,500 reservists on Monday, and on Tuesday announced that it would begin calling up 40,000 more reservists, in preparation for a possible ground invasion into Gaza.

This does not imply that a ground invasion is imminent. It will take a number of days or several weeks to make all the preparations necessary for a ground invasion. In fact, Israeli officials have suggested that they're proceeding slowly in order to Hamas room to stand down. Jerusalem Post and BBC and Jerusalem Post

Hamas will decide whether it's war or peace

First, I have to remind long-term Generational Dynamics readers that the very first major analysis that I wrote was in May 2003, when President George Bush issued his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace," which called for a Palestinian state by 2005, side by side with Israel. In that analysis, I wrote that the Mideast Roadmap would fail, and that in fact the Mideast was going to re-fight the 1948 war between the Arabs and the Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. I said that this war would be delayed as long as the survivors of the 1948 war, particularly Yassir Arafat and Ariel Sharon, were alive, because they remembered the horrors of that war, and would do everything possible to keep those horrors from being repeated.

There have been four wars since then -- the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; and the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012.

However, none of these wars spiraled out of control because, as the saying goes, cooler heads prevailed. And those cooler heads would most likely be survivors of the 1948 war.

But cooler heads are disappearing as the years go by, and the survivors die off. More and more, younger generations are determining policy, and these are not cool heads. In the last weeks, we've seen young Israelis call for "Death to Arabs" on social networking sites, and we've seen what are undoubtedly younger generations of Palestinians rioting in the West Bank and shooting off rockets in Gaza.

More and more, you hear Palestinian leaders say that they have no desire or motivation to seek peace. (The major exception is Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who is also a 1948 war survivor.)

This is especially true in Gaza. Hamas used to have a friend in Egypt, but the new government under Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi considers the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist group, and sees Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, in the same way. Hamas used to have a friend in Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but Erdogan has too many of his own problems, especially with Syria. Hamas used to have friends in Syria and Iran, but those friendships became diminished when Syria's president Bashar al-Assad began his "industrial strength" genocidal campaign against Sunni Muslims. Hamas just became part of a "unity government" with the Palestinian Authority, but Hamas is clearly a partner in name only, with little real influence in the joint government.

So Hamas really has no friends left, and Gazans deeply resent the "Gaza prison" that they live in. So there's little or no desire, especially among young people, to show restraint in attacking Israel.

Undoubtedly many Gazans want a war with Israel, and undoubtedly many feel that they can win a war with Israel, when it becomes a war between Jews and all Arabs. If all Arabs join in, then those sentiments are undoubted right, as you can see by comparing populations. Israel has a population of 7.8 million. The Arab nations and territories that adjoin Israel include Gaza - 1.8 million, West Bank - 2.7 million, Lebanon - 5.9 million, Jordan - 7.9 million, Syria - 18.0 million, and Egypt - 86.9 million.

So that's Israel's 7.8 million versus 123.2 million Arabs in the adjoining countries. There's little doubt who would win that war. And when one of the Palestinian television commentators said on Tuesday that Israel had no right to exist because it was on Palestinian land, he was saying that the 1948 would be re-fought, and that this time the Arabs would win.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that the Mideast is headed for a major war, refighting the 1948 war between Arabs and Jews, is 100% certain. I said this in 2003 in commenting on President Bush's Mideast Roadmap to Peace, and I've said it repeatedly since then, especially during the recent farcical "peace process" engineered by John Kerry and the Obama administration.

So now Israel and Hamas are headed for some kind of imminent conflict. Will it spiral into a full-scale war between Arabs and Jews? The Israelis don't want that, because they know they would almost certainly lose. The Israelis can only hope that some of the Arabs turn against each other. So whether it's war or peace is really up to Hamas and the Palestinians. The groups launching the rockets into Israel certainly want war, but there are still a few cooler heads around, even in Gaza. These full-scale wars have to come in their own time, and it may not yet be the time.

A full-scale war between Arabs and Jews is coming with absolute 100% certainty. But whether it happens "this time" or "the next time" or "the time after that" remains to be seen. But one of these times, it will happen. Times of Israel and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jul-14 World View -- Mideast war or peace? It all depends on what Hamas wants. thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Jul-14 World View -- Young Jewish males confess to lynching, as Israel and Gaza prepare for war

Russia's Vladimir Putin appears to be the loser in Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel and Gaza prepare for war after rocket barrage


A rocket being launched from the Gaza Strip in 2012
A rocket being launched from the Gaza Strip in 2012

Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas in Gaza, is taking a responsibility for the barrage of 80 rockets launched from Gaza into southern Israel on Monday. A source in Israel's Defense Force (IDF) is saying that a decision has been made to launch a military offensive into Gaza. 1,500 reservists have been called up, and infantry assault units are deployed on the Gaza border. These will be backed up by intensified air strikes against the Gaza rocket launchers. Jerusalem Post and Debka and Daily Star (Lebanon)

Three young Jewish males confess to killing Palestinian teen

Of the six young Jewish extremists arrested on Sunday for the murder of Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir, three have confessed under intensive questioning, according to Israeli officials. According to one source, one of the suspects is cooperating with police, and has incriminated the others. The confessions are supported by security footage taken from a camera in a nearby building, showing the faces of two of the suspects. However, the suspects have not yet been permitted to see their lawyers.

It's thought that 15-year-old Khdeir was lynched and burnt to death in revenge for the abduction and killing on June 10 of three Israeli teens. The lynching triggered massive riots and demonstrations by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and may also have triggered the barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza. Israeli officials moved quickly to investigate and find the murders of Khdeir in the hope of cooling the tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. On Monday evening, after the announcement of the confessions, the rioting had quieted down considerably.

It's believed that the murderers of the three Israeli teens are hiding out in the West Bank, and that the Palestinian Authority is doing little of nothing to bring them to justice. There have been no arrests in the case of the three Israeli teens. Jerusalem Post

Russia's Vladimir Putin appears to be the loser in Ukraine

Last week's announcement by Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko to end the unilateral cease-fire apparently caught Russia by surprise, though the greatest surprise was Saturday's decisive victory over the pro-Russian separatists in Slovyansk. The working assumption was that Poroshenko would keep extending the truce, thus allowing the conflict to "freeze" and making possible the establishment of a de-facto independent "Novorossiya" (New Russia) in eastern Ukraine.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has been using such a strategy to "freeze" the foreign policy of the U.S. and Europe for several years. The strategy was to use the United Nations Security Council. By vetoing every resolution, Putin was able to cripple American and European foreign policy, but since Putin's Russia ignored the Security Council in its own actions, he essentially had a free hand on the world stage. This was particularly true in Syria, where Putin provided an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for use in his genocidal attacks against his own people.

Putin had expected Poroshenko to yield to international demands to keep extending the cease-fire. In fact on Thursday, just before Saturday's victory, France's president François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were strongly pressuring Poroshenko to resume the cease-fire, and they were also asking Putin to mediate between the two sides. At that point, Putin must surely have thought he was going to get everything he wanted, and so reports indicate that the loss of Slovyansk was an unpleasant shock.

So here's the summary:

That ends today's geopolitical lesson. Jamestown and Reuters (7/3)

Photos shared with the #GazaUnderAttack hashtag are often deceptive

The hashtag #GazaUnderAttack is being used to organize worldwide protests against Israel for bombing Gaza, by showing photos of the results of the bombing. A BBC investigation has revealed that many of the images are not from the latest conflict, and not even from Gaza. Some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-14 World View -- Young Jewish males confess to lynching, as Israel and Gaza prepare for war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-14 World View -- Israeli police hold six suspects in the murder of Palestinian teen

Pakistan's military attack on Taliban produces little besides chaos

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's military attack on Taliban produces little besides chaos


Taliban militants get their hair and beards trimmed so they won't look like killers (AFP)
Taliban militants get their hair and beards trimmed so they won't look like killers (AFP)

The repercussions of the June 8-9 terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi Pakistan are still being felt, in the form of a continuing military operation to "clean out" the Taliban's hideouts and weapons stores from North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal area. The airport attack seemed finally to focus the minds of Pakistan's government so that after years of Taliban bombing of schools, mosques and markets, something was finally going to be done.

Investigations that following the airport attack revealed that many of the perpetrators were Uzbeks from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terror group with international ambitions that we're written about from time to time. The heavy IMU involvement in the Karachi airport attack indicates that the IMU is experiencing a resurgence in strength and capacity.

As of Saturday, Pakistan's military is claiming to have killed 386 militants, including dozens of Uzbeks, in the North Waziristan operation.

This has not generated much excitement among the Pakistani public, who are more concerned that the military operation is going to blow back in the form of multiple revenge terrorist attacks across the country.

Some 600,000 civilians have fled their homes in North Waziristan, many running across the border to Afghanistan, straining resources there, or else traveling north to the town of Bannu. Bannu’s limited civic services were largely unable to cater to the needs of its estimated 700,000 population, but it is now required to cope with the influx of almost 500,000 internally displaced persons as well as their more than 100,000 cattle.

There are numerous reports that thousands of militants figured out that this military operation was coming, and fled the area before it started. The figure of 386 seems small compared to the thousands who have fled.

We're even seeing chatty news stories about militants who running to barber shops to get their hair and beards trim, so that they'll look like "ordinary people," rather than murderers.

Other stories reveal that these hard core militants who demand that everyone else follow austere Sharia law, avoiding anything from the West don't practice what they preach. The extort money from poor civilians and use it to buy French and Turkish perfumes, body sprays and soaps, presumably so they'll smell good the next they rape and decapitate a pretty girl.

The military has been helpless against the Taliban for years, and there's no reason to assume that things have changed much. Furthermore, some of the Taliban groups are actually funded by Pakistani agencies, to have them at the ready for a future war with India, possibly in Kashmir. So most Pakistanis appear to be cynical about the attempt to "clean out" the Taliban, and are more worried about how the Taliban are going to get revenge than anything else. The National (UAE) and The News (Pakistan) and Arab News and AFP

Israeli police hold six suspects in the murder of Palestinian teen

Israeli officials are hoping that the swift action by police in identifying the killers of the Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir within four days of his being lynched and burned alive will cool off the tension between Israelis and Palestinians. Six young Jewish males were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of having perpetrated the crime. Most Israelis are sickened and disgusted by the lynching, but from reports I've read I get the impression that there is sizable minority of Israelis, probably mostly in younger generations, who consider the lynching to be deserved retribution and justice. There has been a small but growing Israeli anti-Palestinian terrorist gangs for a number of years, but the murder of Khdeir is exception for its brutality. The worst case scenario for Israel is the realization of a tribal and communal war waged by hatred and revenge on both sides, spiraling out of control. AP and Jerusalem Post

Israeli airstrikes kill seven Gaza gunmen

Israel launched a series of air strikes on Gaza early on Monday in response to repeated rocket fire on southern Israel, and Hamas said that seven of its gunmen were killed. Israeli military authorities confirmed the strikes, saying they "responded to rocket attacks against southern Israel," targeting 9 "terror" sites and concealed rocket launchers. They said the attacks had made "direct hits."

The rocket attacks from Gaza have split the Israeli cabinet, according to reports. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is advocating a cautious approach, in order to avoid further inflaming the situation, while several ministers, led by foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, criticized Netanyahu for the tepid response to rocket fire from Gaza. Reuters and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-14 World View -- Israeli police hold six suspects in the murder of Palestinian teen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-14 World View -- Palestinian violence spreads after new atrocities are revealed

Ukraine's Poroshenko claims a major victory against pro-Russian separatists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinian violence spreads after new atrocities are revealed


Screen grab of video showing Israeli police holding down and beating 15-year-old Tarek Khdeir
Screen grab of video showing Israeli police holding down and beating 15-year-old Tarek Khdeir

The autopsy of Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian teen who was abducted, burnt and killed on Wednesday, found soot in his respiratory canal, indicating that he was burnt alive.

A youtube video that's gone viral shows Israeli police beating a 15 year old Palestinian boy on Thursday evening, and then arresting him. The boy turns out to be a US citizen, Tarek Khdeir, the cousin of the teen who was burnt alive, visiting Jerusalem from Florida to attend his cousin's funeral.

The news of these two atrocities has triggered widespread violence, not only in the West Bank, but also by Arab citizens of Israel. The police beating of 15-year-old Tarek is particularly causing international outrage and disgust.

It is widely believed, though not proven, that Abu Khdeir was lynched and burned alive by far-right Israeli settlers, in a "price tag" attack seeking revenge for the abduction and killing of three Israeli Jewish teens on June 10. The attack on his cousin, as shown in a youtube video, has added to the Palestinian fury.

Israeli fury at the Palestinians has been growing as well. Israeli online campaigns are calling for revenge against the Arabs. After the three Israeli teens were kidnapped, and before their dead bodies were discovered, one web site called for the killing of one Arab an hour until the teens were released. According to Israeli justice minister Tzipi Livni:

"It doesn’t need to end in murder to be shocking. It is enough to see what is written on the social networks – they have turned into a hotbed of dangerous and violent incitement. This is not the way of the state of Israel. We must not let the extremists win."

However, a Jerusalem Post editorial says that Israelis are fed up with dead Jews, though it doesn't suggest how the problem can be remedied:

"But something changed with the murder of these three innocent teens. It was not just the senselessness of the act; three defenseless teen boys killed for no reason other than that they were Jewish, for no other purpose but to indulge Palestinian hate. Rather, it was a feeling that this had happened one too many times. That there was a critical mass of dead Jews that had now been reached, beyond which the Israeli public and the world Jewish community is not prepared to mourn any more.

That we were finally fed up. That we weren’t going to take it any more. That we weren’t going to make peace any longer with the fact that Jews are born to die. That Israel doesn’t have to make do with the sight of children’s carcasses found rotting in caves. ...

And we have every right to be fed up. No nation should have to live like this. No nation should have to die like this. Something has to be done. The status quo is unacceptable. No-one quite knows how it can be remedied, but what we do know is that the option of dead Jews is no longer acceptable. We have a right to live."

AFP and Ma'an (Bethlehem) and The National (UAE) and Jerusalem Post and YouTube

Ukraine's Poroshenko claims a major victory against pro-Russian separatists

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko is claiming a major victory on Saturday, after government troops forced pro-Russian separatists occupying the town of Slovyansk to flee from the city, and then raised the Ukrainian flag over the city council building. According to Poroshenko:

"This is not a complete victory yet, and it is not the time for fireworks displays.

But the cleansing of Slovyansk from gangs who are armed to the teeth is of huge symbolic importance. This is the start of a turning point in the fight against the militants."

Slovyansk was the first city seized by the pro-Russian separatists after Russia had invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula. At that time, in early April, the separatists hoped to repeat the Crimea experience by laying the groundwork for a Russian invasion into east Ukraine that would allow Ukraine's south and east to be annexed to Russia as well. Russia's president Vladimir Putin kept 50,000 troops on Russia's border with Ukraine for several weeks, giving the impression that Russia was about to invade. Russia also supplied the separatists with weapons, creating the impression that if they took control of as many cities as possible, then the Russian invasion would proceed. However, Russia never did invade.

But Slovyansk has remained the emotional heart of the separatist militia activities, and so its capture by Ukraine's government forces marks a significant victory.

Reports indicate that the separatists fled to Donetsk, another separatist stronghold. The separatists will undoubtedly make a major stand in Donetsk, and it remains to be seen whether the Ukrainian forces will be as successful there. CTV (Canada) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-14 World View -- Palestinian violence spreads after new atrocities are revealed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Jul-14 World View -- Activists demand restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii

East Ukraine fighting gets bloodier as new peace talks are scheduled

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Activists demand restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii


Native Hawaiian activists are seeking to regain the Kingdom of Hawaii
Native Hawaiian activists are seeking to regain the Kingdom of Hawaii

Activists in Hawaii are demanding that the federal government return the land taken from the descendants of the original Polynesian inhabitants of Hawaii after the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893. Hawaii was annexed by the United States in 1898 as a territory. Hawaii was bombed by the Japanese in 1941, and citizens played a crucial role in the Pacific war, raising national sentiments to make it a state. It became a state in 1959.

In 1993, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law what has been called the "Apology Resolution, which "apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii."

Last month, on June 18, the U.S. Department of Interior announced a series of meetings to be held at various locations in Hawaii to gauge popular sentiment about the formation of a "Native Hawaiian" government. This would be similar to the existing governments of Native American Indian groups, although that comparison is causing controversy because many Native Hawaiians do not wish to be identified as a Native American tribe.

The meetings are still ongoing, and are contentious. Some groups favor the Native Hawaiian government proposal, while activists are demanding that any decision be postponed for at least six months to allow the courts to determine the constitutionality of the U.S. annexation of Hawaii, versus whether the Kingdom of Hawaii still exists as a valid legal entity. West Hawaii Today and Dept. of Interior and Catholic Online

East Ukraine fighting gets bloodier as new peace talks are scheduled

In the four days since Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko announced the end of the 10-day unilateral cease-fire in the conflict with pro-Russian separatists, 13 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed, with no reports on the numbers of separatists or civilians that have also been killed.

Since the end of the cease-fire, Poroshenko has sent soldiers, combat tanks, cannons, fighter jets and helicopters to east Ukraine, with the objective of forcing the pro-Russian separatists to lay down their weapons or to flee across the border back to Russia.

At the same time, Poroshenko has scheduled peace talks for Saturday with representatives of the pro-Russian separatists. Whether the peace talks will be held remains to be seen. Reuters and Deutsche Welle

Mormons provide a free survival manual

The Mormons (Church of Latter Day Saints) have prepared a manual to help people cope with preparations from all kinds of emergencies, from surviving an ice storm to the Avian flu to all out war. The manual is intended for active Mormons, but anyone can download and read it. In its 500 pages, it tells you about food preservation and storage, emergency kits, bug out kits, ham radios, medical kits, firearms, heating, cooking, lighting, clothing, shelter, and sanitation. As I skimmed through this manual, it occurred to me that to prepare for everything would be a full time job for weeks, and then still require lots of time to keep supplies up to date. LDS AVOW (Another Voice of Warning)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-14 World View -- Activists demand restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Jul-14 World View -- Israel masses troops on Gaza border and violence escalates in Jerusalem

China reaffirms plans to annex India's Arunachal Pradesh province

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel masses troops on Gaza border and violence escalates in Jerusalem


Israeli policeman aims his weapon during clashes with Palestinians on Thursday (AP)
Israeli policeman aims his weapon during clashes with Palestinians on Thursday (AP)

Israel is facing escalating violence on two fronts -- barrages of rockets from Gaza and street violence in Jerusalem -- a day after a Palestinian teen was abducted, burnt and killed, apparently in revenge by Israeli settlers for the abduction and deaths of three Israeli teens. Both the Israeli and Palestinian populations are expressing deep deep anger, and expressing a desire for retribution and revenge.

Israel's warplanes have been targeting "Hamas terror sites" in the Gaza Strip, in response to over 20 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel since Wednesday. Palestinian officials say that 10 civilians were wounded. In Israel, two houses were damaged, but no injuries were reported.

Reports indicate that Israel's cabinet is split on whether to launch an all-out attack on Hamas in Gaza, or to assassinate Hamas leaders. At the very least, it's expected that Israel will wait at least a day to see if the violence subsides before undertaking any military operations. VOA and Washington Post and Jerusalem Post

China reaffirms plans to annex India's Arunachal Pradesh province

China reaffirmed its plans to annex other countries' territories in the South China Sea by publishing a new map, as we described two days ago. The new map has raised concerns in Vietnam, the Philippines and other neighbors.

It turns out that this map also similarly reaffirms China's plans to annex India's province of Arunachal Pradesh, which China refers to as "South Tibet." The map shows Arunachal Pradesh as part of China.

Because of the threat from China, India's new prime minister Narendra Modi has announced a plan to impart "military training" to people living in areas close to the China-India border. The government plans to train border populations at the level of a paramilitary force and even give them arms training so that in times of emergency they can be utilized. According to India's Home Ministry, "[The] border population makes the eyes and ears of a government on the border. They are the biggest bulwark against any aggression by the enemy as they live there and watch every movement." The Diplomat and Times of India

China's Xi Jinping visits S. Korea and disparages N. Korea

China's president Xi Jinping made his first state visit to South Korea on Thursday, and joined South Korean president Park Geun-hye in criticizing North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The visit sent some terse messages from Xi to North Korea's Kim Jong-un. This is the first time that a Chinese leader has visited South Korea before visiting North Korea, and this is the first time that Xi joined with South Korean in openly and clearly criticizing North Korean policies. What effect this will have on Kim is of course unknown, but it wouldn't surprise me if he defiantly steps up his nuclear weapons program as a result. McClatchy and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-14 World View -- Israel masses troops on Gaza border and violence escalates in Jerusalem thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Jul-14 World View -- Airport security to increase as Yemen bomb makers join with Syrian jihadists

China bans Ramadan fasting for Uighurs in Xinjiang province

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jerusalem violence triggered by 'price tag' killing of Palestinian teen


Far-right Israeli protesters block intersection in Jerusalem, shouting 'Death to Arabs'
Far-right Israeli protesters block intersection in Jerusalem, shouting 'Death to Arabs'

A 16 year old Palestinian teenager was abducted from outside his home in east Jerusalem, and forced into a car that sped off. His burned body was found hours later in a vacant lot, triggering massive violence.

The crime is believed to be a "price tag" attack by Israeli settlers seeking revenge for the abduction of three Israeli teenagers on June 10. Their dead bodies were found on Monday, triggering large protests by Israelis. Anger was growing among Israelis, and on Tuesday and Wednesday there were hours of protests by far-right Israelis shouting "Death to Arabs." The death of the Palestinian teen followed, leading to rock throwing by Palestinian protesters, met by teargas and rubber bullets from Israeli security forces.

The phrase "price tag" is frequently used by far-right Israeli settlers to denote revenge attacks against Palestinians or IDF soldiers in response to moves by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts, or as retribution for attacks by Palestinians. The attacks have usually been against mosques or other property, and sometimes even Christian property, but they've occasionally crossed the line into violence against Palestinians. The abduction and murder of a Palestinian teen would be a major escalation in the price tag attacks.

Violence has been growing in the West Bank, and there have been a flurry of rockets from Gaza targeting residences in Israel. It remains to be seen whether this violence continues to spiral upward, or subsides. International Middle East Media Center (Gaza) and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

China bans Ramadan fasting for Uighurs in Xinjiang province

In the face of increasing numbers of terrorist acts by Muslim Uighurs from China's northwest Xinjiang province, Chinese authorities had issued orders that Uighurs are not permitted to take part in traditional fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, which runs this year from Saturday, June 28th through the evening of Monday, July 28. Uighurs will be prevented from fasting in schools and public offices, and inspections will be made on Uighur residences.

It's hard for me, at least, to figure out how preventing Uighurs from fasting is going to help quell terrorist activities. Chinese authorities have been trying for years to restrict Muslim practices in Xinjiang, and have flooded the province with Han Chinese to force assimilation, but with little success.

The Uighur separatists have never been closely linked to the international jihadist movement. The ten million Uighurs in China speak a Turkic language and practice Sufi Islam, while al-Qaeda, for example, are mostly Arabic-speaking Sunnis. But increasing restrictions on Muslim practices in Xinjiang province appear to be catching the attention of Muslim militants outside of China. If the Uighurs become part of the worldwide Muslim militant movement, China will have only itself to blame. AP and Economist

Muslim players at World Cup Football (Soccer) face Ramadan fasting problems

Muslims playing at World Cup Football (Soccer) matches in Brazil, including players from Algeria, Belgium, France and Germany, are faced with the requirement of fasting all day during the June 28 to July 28 Ramadan period.

Researchers have found that for Muslim athletes during Ramadan, both aerobic and anaerobic activity diminish during fasting, and foot speed, agility, dribbling speed, and endurance all decline significantly. The annual observance of Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and the act of fasting is said to cleanse the soul by freeing it from harmful impurities. Deadspin.com

Airport security to increase as Yemen bomb makers join with Syrian jihadists

US officials will increase security at American airports and at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States. The exact measures have not been revealed, but could include increased random screening of passengers and tighter controls on footware, mobile phones, and computers.

The increased security follows from reports that legendary bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri, who developed the shoe bomb for Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, is working on new bomb configurations that will escape existing airport detection capabilities, and is working with the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra (Islamic Front) in Syria. Syria is of interest to al-Asiri because thousands of young men from Europe and America have been traveling to Syria to train to be terrorists and fight the Syrian regime.

So the nightmare scenario is that al-Asiri develops an undetectable bomb, and gives it to a European or American al-Nusra jihadist with a clean passport, who detonates it during a flight. AP and Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-14 World View -- Airport security to increase as Yemen bomb makers join with Syrian jihadists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Jul-14 World View -- Ukraine's forces assault pro-Russian separatists as cease-fire ends

In face of China's increased aggression, Japan reinterprets its constitution

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's forces assault pro-Russian separatists as cease-fire ends


Petro Poroshenko visits the Ukrainian troops last week (AP)
Petro Poroshenko visits the Ukrainian troops last week (AP)

Both Ukraine government forces and pro-Russian separatists in ease Ukraine appear to be digging in for a protracted conflict, as a dozen or so people were killed on Tuesday in firefights between the two groups. The government forces began an assault on the pro-Russian separatist positions after Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an end to a 10 day old cease-fire.

Poroshenko had declared a unilateral 7-day cease-fire on June 20, and then extended it for three more days. However, during the cease-fire, Russian-led forces continued attacking Ukrainian fixed positions, killing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers. At the same time, U.S. and Nato intelligence ascertained that during the unilateral cease-fire, Russia transferred additional tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft guns and other hardware to the Russian-backed fighters.

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is a war criminal providing supplies of heavy weapons to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to conduct his "industrial strength" torture and extermination of civilians. Putin has no ethics or morals, and in Ukraine was playing the usual game of calling for peaceful negotiations, using the time to rearm his troops. Putin and European leaders all were pressuring Poroshenko to extend the cease-fire past June 30, but he was receiving a great deal of internal pressure not to force his own armed forces to stand still as sitting ducks for Russian-supplied weapons.

On Tuesday, Poroshenko gave a nationally televised speech ending the cease-fire:

"After a June 30 evening meeting of the the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine I, as Commander-in-Chief, have decided not to pursue a unilateral cease-fire.

Protection of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, safety and life of civilians requires not only defensive but also offensive operations against terrorist militants.

The Armed Forces, National Guard, the State Border Guard Service, Security Service have received appropriate instructions. ...

We will attack and liberate our land. Non-renewal of the ceasefire - is our response to terrorists, rebels, looters, and to all those who are making fun of civilians, who are paralyzing the work of regional economy, who steal the payments of salaries, pensions, stipends, who undermine and destroy railroad plumbing, who have deprived people of normal, peaceful life. ...

Everyone who stood in the way of armed resistance to lawful authority, but realizing that mistake and wants to correct it, as president, I guarantee FAILURE to justice. Condition One - voluntarily lay down their arms."

Vladimir Putin responded as follows:

"Unfortunately, President Poroshenko has taken the decision to resume military actions, and we – meaning myself and my colleagues in Europe – could not convince him that the way to reliable, firm and long-term peace can’t lie through the war.

So far, Petro Poroshenko had no direct relation to orders to take military action. Now he has taken on this responsibility in full. Not only military, but also political, more importantly.

Everything that’s going on in Ukraine is of course the internal business of the Ukrainian government, but we are painfully sorry that people die, civilians."

Given his support of torture and genocide in Syria, I doubt very much that Putin is "painfully sorry" that civilians die. Also, there has been no confirmation that his "colleagues in Europe" agreed with his version of the discussions. Australian Broadcasting and Jamestown and Voice of Russia and Ukraine's government (Trans)

China's neighbors react to new South China Sea claims

President Obama's recent visit to Asia was, like many of his foreign trips, supposed to reduce hostilities and encourage peaceful negotiations, especially between China and its neighbors. Instead, it seems to have encouraged China to more aggressively assert its claims to the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China is building a network of airstrips and military garrisons in the South China Sea in clear violation of international law.

China has updated its famous "nine-dash map," which depicts its sovereignty over the entire South China Sea with a new map that signals China's treatment of its territorial claims as a "core interest," meaning that any compromise in the South China Sea would be equivalent to giving away a part of mainland China. This is consistent with China's repeated statements indicating that it will annex the entire South China Sea and declare war on anyone that tries to stop them.

A web site reader recently wrote the following:

"Mr. Xenakis, you sir are very good in your craft. I may not have heard or read about most of the international incidents here in your column, but your articulation about China's strong-armed annexation of a string of islets and shoals belonging to the Philippines is a fact I can definitely affirm myself. Proof is that one of these shoals, Panatag shoal and the seas surrounding it, has been a common fishing ground of my ancestors even before WW2. Now this area is surrounded by hundreds of large Chinese fishing trawlers, sucking everything from a grain-sized shrimp to giant, 10-pounder oysters. And these illegal fishermen are escorted by a numbers of Chinese coast guard ships armed with cal. 50 machine guns and powerful water cannons, used to intimidate and deter us Filipino fish folks from our livelihood."

China's relations with its neighbors continue to deteriorate, bringing increasing criticism. Diplomatic relations with Vietnam and the Philippines have become increasingly hostile, and the two countries are forming an alliance with Japan against China. Even Singapore, which has always been very cautious about China, is now speaking out, decrying China's militaristic approach. Reuters and Lowy Interpreter

In face of China's increased aggression, Japan reinterprets its constitution

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has won his battle to partially abandon his country's self-defense only military policy by getting his cabinet to approve a reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution, the clause that permits military activity only for self-defense.

The change reinterprets the clause to allow Japan to use military action to come to the aid of an ally under military attack. According to Abe:

"We will not resort to the use of force (solely) with the aim of defending other countries. By being fully prepared to deal with any situation, Japan can foil any attempt to wage war against Japan."

According to the reinterpretation of the self-defense clause, Japan will use only the minimum force necessary, and only when the attack on the ally poses a clear danger to Japan. Japan Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-14 World View -- Ukraine's forces assault pro-Russian separatists as cease-fire ends thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Jul-14 World View -- ISIS makes laughable 'Caliphate' claim

Pentagon announces additional 300 troop deployment to Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS makes laughable 'Caliphate' claim


Wanted poster for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Wanted poster for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced that it's changing its name to just "Islamic State," is declaring the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq to be a "Caliphate," and is demanding allegiance from all Muslims worldwide to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.

The demand that that all Muslims worldwide pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi is laughable. He won't even get allegiance from many people in ISIS itself, such as the former officers in Saddam's Baathist army who are currently in ISIS only because they want to fight against the regime of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In fact, ISIS's demand for allegiance from all Muslims worldwide is likely to infuriate jihadists in al-Qaeda linked groups, and may encourage fights among jihadist groups. In Syria, the terrorists in the Islamic Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra ("Victory Battlefront") will almost certainly not be willing to pledge allegiance.

Whether ISIS's "Islamic State" will last more than a few weeks or months remains to be seen. ISIS claims that the border between Syria and Iraq, which was set up by evil Westerners following World War I, has now been erased forever. However, that border has survived generational crisis wars in both Syria and Iraq in the 1980s, so the boundary is probably more solid than analysts expect.

None of this is to underestimate the danger from ISIS, particularly because ISIS has captured billions of dollars worth of American weapons including tanks, humvees, trucks, rockets, artillery pieces, rifles, ammunition, helicopters, and other heavy weaponry, from storehouses in Mosul that were supposedly being guarded by the Iraqi army. ISIS is already quickly making good use of those weapons not only in Iraq, but also in Syria. AP and LA Times

Threats to Kingdom of Jordan may require US and Israeli troops

Officials in the Kingdom of Jordan fear that with the new weapons stash and bank account of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and with their success in Iraq and Syria, that Jordan will be their next target. Jordanian officials estimate that there are some 2,000 Jordanian jihadists who are already members of ISIS or another terrorist group. In southern Jordan, in the town of Maan, Bedouin jihadists are demonstrating in favor of ISIS. Jordan's security forces have ringed the town.

However, not all extremists in Jordan are pleased with the prospect of an invasion by ISIS. A leader of Jordan's Salafi movement is quoted as saying:

"We warned those who are aligned with the Islamic State not to go out and rally or to take any action in Jordan, as it is outside their religiously sanctioned mission and would hand a gift to Jordanian authorities trying to depict us as terrorists. ... Unfortunately, these are kids who know very little about their own religion, about jihad, and are not willing to answer or listen to anybody."

If the Bedouin jihadists combine with ISIS, it would bring an Islamist revolt to King Abdullah, and an Islamist army right to the door of Israel. The Jordanian army may be stretched too thin to cope with all the threats, and the 12,000 US soldiers and USAF F-16 fighter squadron already in Jordan may get involved. Israeli forces may get involved as well. Ammon News and Economist and Debka

Pentagon announces additional 300 troop deployment to Iraq

On Monday, June 16, President Obama notified Congress that about 275 U.S. military personnel were deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. On Thursday, June 20, President Obama announced that 300 additional military advisors would be sent to Iraq. Since then, the USS Bataan, with 1000 marines, was the seventh warship to head for the Persian Gulf.

Now on Monday, the Pentagon announced that an additional 300 more troops are being sent to Iraq. According to the announcement:

"Capabilities provided include a detachment of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, which will bolster airfield and travel route security. Similar to the U.S. security personnel who arrived in Baghdad earlier this month to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, they will integrate with existing U.S. embassy security teams."

According to CNN, the purpose of the new deployment is to protect the Baghdad airport, which must be protected from ISIS at all costs.

This brings to 800 the total number of US troops in Iraq, almost three times as many as in President Obama's original announcement on June 16. Department of Defense and CNN

What do we call ISIS now?

The naming of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has always been somewhat chaotic. Some media call it ISIL, others ISIS. Some call it Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Levant or al-Sham. Months ago, I tried to finesse the problem by referring to "The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL)," which was kind of a cute and ironic way of covering all the bases. I finally gave that up in the main articles, because it was too clunky, though in the keywords section at the end, I still use something like "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, ISIS, ISIL."

So now we have a new name, "Islamic State," adding to the chaos. So I can finesse this in the keywords section with: "Islamic State / in Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL." That should cover everything for now. What should I do in the article text? Maybe "Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS, ISIS)." Or maybe I'll just stick with ISIS for a while, and see what other people do.

There's one more name that you'll sometimes see in the press: DAESH, which it's the Arabic form of ISIL, meaning that it's the initials of the Arabic words for Islamic State in Syria and al-Sham.

Israel threatens revenge for deaths of three kidnapped teenagers

Three Israeli teenagers who were abducted on June 10 were found dead on Monday, in a pit in the West Bank. They had been the subject of an extensive manhunt throughout the West Bank, during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas, were arrested. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that the three were "kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals" and promised: "Hamas will pay." Hamas is threatening retaliation for any attempt to punish Hamas. BBC and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-14 World View -- ISIS makes laughable 'Caliphate' claim thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Jun-14 World View -- Nigeria's Boko Haram attacks a Church, but flees from bees and snakes

Bank of International Settlements warns of 'euphoric markets' and high debt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's Boko Haram attacks a Church, but flees from bees and snakes

Terrorists, assumed to be Boko Haram, killed dozens of people on Sunday in an attack on three villages in northeast Nigeria, including one targeting worshippers at a church. That attacks took place only a few miles from Chibok, where Boko Haram abducted over 200 schoolgirls several weeks ago.

There are new terrorist attacks every few days in Nigeria, including gunfights, suicide and car bombs, and abductions of young girls and boys. The Nigerian army and government is viewed as helpless against the crimes of Boko Haram.

However, Boko Haram may be facing a new enemy, which they themselves fear may be supernatural. Some members of Boko Haram have been arrested while fleeing a forest hideout, because of what they believe are spiritual attacks from mysterious snakes and bees, which had killed many of their leaders. According to one of the fleeing terrorists:

"Most of us are fleeing because there are too many snakes and bees now in the forest. Once they bite, they disappear and the victims do not last for 24 hours.

We were told that the aggrieved people who had suffered from our deadly mission, including the ghosts of some of those we killed, are the ones turning into the snake and bees. Our leaders fled, too."

According to another member, "They believe the Chibok people are using juju to pursue us because of their children said to have been taken by our leaders." Reuters and Vanguard (Nigeria)

Bank of International Settlements warns of 'euphoric markets' and high debt

The Bank of International Settlements (BIS), which is the international institution that was created during the 1930s Great Depression to coordinate individual countries' central banks, issued its 2014 annual reports with warnings that the financial markets are too "euphoric" and have become detached from reality, particularly as regards the use of debt and quantitative easing.

According to the report:

"The global economy continues to face serious challenges. Despite a pickup in growth, it has not shaken off its dependence on monetary stimulus. Monetary policy is still struggling to normalize after so many years of extraordinary accommodation. Despite the euphoria in financial markets, investment remains weak. Instead of adding to productive capacity, large firms prefer to buy back shares or engage in mergers and acquisitions. And despite lackluster long-term growth prospects, debt continues to rise. There is even talk of secular stagnation."

According to the report, "Financial markets have been exuberant over the past year, at least in AEs, dancing mainly to the tune of central bank decisions. Volatility in equity, fixed income and foreign exchange markets has sagged to historical lows. Obviously, market participants are pricing in hardly any risks." This means that it's quantitative easing and "money printing" by the Fed and other central banks have fed into financial markets, removing any risks and creating imbalances, as long as the money printing continues.

The BIS attributes these problems to the fact that the world economy has been in a "balance sheet recession," a term that we discussed at length in 2009 in "Fiscal stimulus programs in 1930s and today", about the findings of Richard C. Koo, Chief Economist at Nomura Research Institute.

The report notes that public debt worldwide is now considerably higher than it was in 2007, before the current financial crisis began. According to the BIS, balance sheet recessions have two key features.

"First, they are very costly (Chapter III). They tend to be deeper, give way to weaker recoveries, and result in permanent output losses: output may return to its previous long-term growth rate but hardly to its previous growth path. No doubt, several factors are at work. Booms make it all too easy to overestimate potential output and growth as well as to misallocate capital and labour. And during the bust, the overhangs of debt and capital stock weigh on demand while an impaired financial system struggles to oil the economic engine, damaging productivity and further eroding long-term prospects.

Second, as growing evidence suggests, balance sheet recessions are less responsive to traditional demand management measures (Chapter V). One reason is that banks need to repair their balance sheets. As long as asset quality is poor and capital meagre, banks will tend to restrict overall credit supply and, more importantly, misallocate it. As they lick their wounds, they will naturally retrench. But they will keep on lending to derelict borrowers (to avoid recognizing losses) while cutting back on credit or making it dearer for those in better shape. A second, even more important, reason is that overly indebted agents will wish to pay down debt and save more. Give them an additional unit of income, as fiscal policy would do, and they will save it, not spend it. Encourage them to borrow more by reducing interest rates, as monetary policy would do, and they will refuse to oblige. During a balance sheet recession, the demand for credit is necessarily feeble. The third reason relates to the large sectoral and aggregate imbalances in the real sector that build up during the preceding financial boom - in construction, for instance. Boosting aggregate demand indiscriminately does little to address them. It may actually make matters worse if, for example, very low interest rates favor sectors where too much capital is already in place."

Generational Dynamics predicts that the global financial crisis is far from over, and that there is much worse to come. Bank of International Settlements

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-14 World View -- Nigeria's Boko Haram attacks a Church, but flees from bees and snakes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Jun-14 World View -- Sarajevo Serbs unveil monument to Gavrilo Princip, who triggered World War I

West African Ebola outbreak is now the worst in history

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sarajevo Serbs unveil monument to Gavrilo Princip, who triggered World War I


Bosnian actor Jovan Mojsilovic poses in front of monument honoring Gavrilo Princip at ceremony on Saturday (AP)
Bosnian actor Jovan Mojsilovic poses in front of monument honoring Gavrilo Princip at ceremony on Saturday (AP)

By all rights, World War I should be an almost completely forgotten event in the dust bins of history, with its 16 million deaths a symbol of a time when people weren't nearly as smart and sophisticated as we are today, and so did many stupid things.

That may be the attitude in America, but it's certainly not in the Balkans, where a monument to Gavrilo Princip was unveiled on Saturday in East Sarajevo by Nebojsa Radmanovic, the Serb leader in the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Austria-Hungary had occupied Bosnia since 1878, and Princip was the one of seven members of the group Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia) that wanted independence from Austria-Hungary.

Exactly one hundred years ago, on June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his pregnant wife Sophie.

At Saturday's ceremony, Radmanovic said that Princip was a hero to the Serb people:

"Today, we have Gavrilo in East Sarajevo, a revolutionary, a man who to us, is one century of hope. We remember the Young Bosnia members and Gavrilo Princip proudly. ...

Gavrilo Princip’s shot was a shot for freedom. His shot was a prelude to what some Europeans had prepared for years, and Serbs finished the war as winners. We remember Mlada Bosna and Gavrilo Princip with pride."

There were also centenary commemorations of the start of World War I in the other half of Sarajevo, but the Muslims and Croats in those commemorations do not consider Princip or any Serb to be a hero. Fresh in their minds are the memories of the Bosnian war in 1992-95, when 100,000 people died and Sarajevo suffered a 1,425 day siege by Serb forces. To them, Princip is just a terrorist who killed a politician and a pregnant woman, and brought a flourishing epoch to an end.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the 1990s Bosnian war came at the expected time. World War I ended in 1918, and new crisis wars begin when the survivors of the previous crisis disappear. By the 1990s, none of those survivors were left, and the region collapsed into one of the bloodiest and most vicious wars in the post-WW II era. According to one historical summary of the war:

"It was during this initial wave of Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansing — orchestrated by Radovan Karadzi and his generals — that the world began to hear tales as horrifying as anything you can imagine. Militia units would enter a town and indiscriminately kill anyone they saw — civilian men, women, and children. Pregnant women mortally wounded by gunfire were left to die in the street. Fleeing residents crawled on their stomachs for hours to reach cover, even as their family and friends were shot and blown up right next to them. Soldiers rounded up families, then forced parents to watch as they slit the throats of their children — and then the parents were killed, too. Dozens of people would be lined up along a bridge to have their throats slit, one at a time, so that their lifeless bodies would plunge into the river below. (Villagers downstream would see corpses float past, and know their time was coming soon.) While in past conflicts houses of worship had been considered off-limits, now Karadzi's forces actively targeted mosques and Catholic churches. Perhaps most despicable was the establishment of so-called “rape camps” — concentration camps where mostly Bosniak [Bosnian Muslim] women were imprisoned and systematically raped by Serb soldiers. Many were intentionally impregnated and held captive until they had come to term (too late for an abortion), when they were released to bear and raise a child forced upon them by their hated enemy. These are the stories that turned “Balkans” into a dirty word.

The Bosnian Serb aggressors were intentionally gruesome and violent. Leaders roused their foot soldiers with hate-filled propaganda (claiming, for example, that the Bosniaks were intent on creating a fundamentalist Islamic state that would do even worse to its Serb residents), then instructed them to carry out unthinkable atrocities. For the people who carried out these attacks, the war represented a cathartic opportunity to exact vengeance for decades-old perceived injustices. Everyday Serbs — who, for centuries, have been steeped in messages about how they have been the victims of their neighbors — saw this as an opportunity to finally make a stand. But their superiors had even more dastardly motives. They sought not only to remove people from “their” land, but to do so in such a heinous way to ensure that the various groups could never again tolerate living together."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Bosnia and Yugoslavia were on a "World War I" timeline, meaning that their crisis wars occurred around the time of WW I, and then repeated 60-80 years later. The Iran/Iraq war (1980-88) and the Syria/Lebanon war (1976-1982) are other examples of wars on the WW I timeline, and these wars were full of similar atrocities.

Americans and Westerners in general think that they're more civilized, and immune to these atrocities, but nothing could be further from the truth. Western countries, for the most part are on the "World War II timeline." These same kinds of atrocities occurred in WW II, and when these wars recur 60-80 years after the end of WW II, these Americans and Westerners will be subject to the same kinds of atrocities.

BBC and inSerbia (Belgrade) and B92 (Belgrade) and Understanding Yugoslavia

What could trigger another world war?

Consider the following events of the last 15 years:

These are all modern day examples of situations that are similar to the Austria-Hungary occupation and annexation of Bosnia in the late 1800s. In all these modern day examples, there were many actions that took place very quickly -- within a few hours or a day or two. If a situation were going out of control, there would be no time for quiet contemplation or debates in the defunct United Nations Security Council.

There have been many renewed debates recently about the causes of World War I. One of the most frequently mentioned causes is the "blank check" that Germany provided to Austria. Germany promised unconditional support to Austria in its invasion of Serbia. That brought Germany into the war. France also issued a kind of "blank check" to Russia, promising support against Austria, and that brought Russia into the war.

America has issued many "blank checks" to many countries. After World War II, America signed a large number of mutual defense treaties with other countries. These include agreements with Japan, South Korea, Israel, Taiwan, the Philippines, the ANZUS agreement with Australia and New Zealand, a special treaty with Iceland, and the NATO agreement with all of Europe.

A mutual defense treaty is arguably not the same as a "blank check," but it's close enough so that a misstep or miscalculation on the part of any country could start a world war.

In 1914, it took the action of just one young man to trigger 16 million deaths. The fighting ranged from Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign — where Newfoundlanders fought and died alongside Indians, Australians and New Zealanders — to the Balkans, the killing fields of the Western Front, the waters off Argentina, and in the Pacific where the Imperial Japanese Navy fought on the same side as Britain and France, grabbing German colonies and outposts in China and Micronesia.

The Japanese sent warships to the Mediterranean and off the coast of South Africa, and were involved with Canadian, Czech and British troops in the Siberian Intervention against Communist Russia, during the last days of war and for several months thereafter.

One of the ironies of The Great War was that Gavrilo Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914, was opportunistic. The driver of Ferdinand's vehicle took a wrong turn, and the wrong turn brought Ferdinand into shooting range of Princip. If the driver had not taken that wrong turn, then something else would have had to trigger The Great War, and Gavrilo Princip would not have a monument dedicated to him.

And that shows how easy it is for a misstep or miscalculation to lead to war. BBC and National Post (Toronto)

West African Ebola outbreak is now the worst in history

According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been more than 635 cases of Ebola across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leona, with at least 399 deaths. Those figures are substantially higher than when I wrote about this four days ago. Ebola can spread rapidly through a population because it's spread by touch, especially with the bodily fluids of a person who is infected, but has not yet shown symptoms. WHO officials are now saying there is a real danger that it could spread to neighboring countries, such as the Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau. There's no danger of a worldwide epidemic, since Ebola is only spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as opposed to a virus that can spread through the air. USA Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-14 World View -- Sarajevo Serbs unveil monument to Gavrilo Princip, who triggered World War I thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Jun-14 World View -- USS Bataan with 1000 marines to join six other warships in the Persian Gulf

We have Jean-Claude Juncker to kick around again.

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

We have Jean-Claude Juncker to kick around again.


Jean-Claude Juncker and David Cameron
Jean-Claude Juncker and David Cameron

Jean-Claude Jüncker is to become the next president of the European Commission, roughly weaker equivalent of the president of the United States, after the European Council backed his nomination this afternoon in Brussels. The European Council, the leaders of the 28 nations of European Union, voted 26-2 in favor of Jüncker. Only Britain and Hungary were opposed.

Jean-Claude Jüncker is a total politician. Almost everything he says is completely full of crap, but his political skills are so great that he can sell it to a credulous press that acts to him the like the NY Times and NBC News act toward President Obama.

It was always great having Jüncker around. He was head of the Eurogroup, the eurozone finance ministers, and so he was in charge of the efforts to bail out Greece. At every point in the bailout, he would make a statement that Greek fiscal crisis had been solved, and he would back it up with some figure that was completely ridiculous. But the mainstream press would lap it up the way they lap up everything Obama says, and it's up to someone like me to point out what's going on.

The most amusing moment occurred in May, 2011, when Jüncker was caught in a lie so obvious that even he couldn't BS his way out of it. Finally he said When it becomes serious, you have to lie, to explain why he lied. From that point on, we could always assume that everything he said was a lie, since everything was always serious.

Jüncker was prime minister of Luxembourg from 1995 to 2013, and when he retired, it was assumed that he would go off to a Swiss chalet and write his memoirs. But he wanted the job of President of the European Union, and when the European Parliament ratifies the nomination on July 16, then he'll have what he wanted. And we'll have him back to kick around again. Irish Times and Reuters

Britain's David Cameron hints at leaving EU because of Juncker


Jean-Claude Jüncker in 2005, shaking his fist at British prime minister Tony Blair (BBC)
Jean-Claude Jüncker in 2005, shaking his fist at British prime minister Tony Blair (BBC)

Britain's prime minister called Jean-Claude Jüncker the wrong man for the job of EU president, and said:

"There are times when it’s very important that you stick to your principles and you stick to your convictions even if the odds are heavily stacked against you rather than going along with something that you believe is profoundly wrong. And today is one of those days. ...

If the European Council, the elected heads of government, are going to allow the European Parliament to choose the next president of the European Commission in this way I wanted it on the record that Britain opposed that.""

He added that support in Britain to remain in the EU is "wafer-thin," and that Jüncker's accession would harden the opposition.

The dispute is bitter and personal. There have even been reports of Cameron meeting with other leaders earlier in the week to discuss Jüncker's heavy drinking and smoking problems. Jüncker's liking for "a cognac at breakfast" was causing concerns. One European diplomat said: 'His alcohol consumption has been raised by a number of leaders since the (European) parliamentary elections.'

However, this was not the first bitter, personal disagreement between Jüncker and a British prime minister. In June, 2005, at an EU budget summit, Jüncker was demanding of Britain's PM Tony Blair to agree to give up a $5 billion rebate that Margaret Thatcher had negotiated in 1984. Blair refused, unless France's president Jacques Chirac agreed to reduce the large agricultural subsidies that were given to French farmers. Jüncker shook his fist at Blair, and at a post-midnight press conference, a furious Jean-Claude Jüncker clearly condemned Blair and the UK, saying he felt ashamed that "certain people did not have the will to reach agreement when some poorer other countries were willing to do so."

Britain and Jüncker represent opposite poles on the spectrum of EU federalism. Jüncker wants to give as much power as possible to the politicians in Brussels, while Cameron, and Blair before him, want Britain to retain as much individual sovereignty as possible. The appointment of Jüncker to the EU presidency is a real thumb in the eye of Cameron and Britain, and this story is not yet over. BBC and Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

The financial crisis in Greece continues

Jean-Claude Jüncker led the way in the bailout of Greece. Greece's financial crisis hasn't been in the news much recently, so it's appropriate to ask how Greece is doing today.

In October, 2011, European leaders announced a new plan to bail out Greece. For details, see my article at the time, "28-Oct-11 News -- Markets explode on crazy Rube Goldberg eurozone deal". The heart of the announcement was that investors holding Greek bonds would "voluntarily" lose 50% of their investments -- take a 50% "haircut." (It later turned out to be 75%.) In return, Greece would go on an austerity program that would lower its deficit to GDP ratio from 160% to 120%, by 2020.

That turned out not to be enough, and in November, 2012, Jüncker announced to the world what was to be the final bailout of Greece. (See "28-Nov-12 World View -- Europe's new charade in Greece's bailout announcement") At the 2 am press conference, here's Jüncker's announcement:

"This is not just about money. This is the promise of a better future for the Greek people and for the euro area as a whole, a break from the era of missed targets and loose implementation towards a new paradigm of steadfast reform momentum, declining debt ratios and a return to growth."

Since the situation was serious, we can assume that Juncker was lying, and indeed he was.

Where's Greece today? The unemployment rate is 27%, the highest in the eurozone. Greece's inflation rate is -2%, putting it into the worst deflationary spiral in the eurozone. And its debt-to-GDP ratio has gone up - to 175%. In other words, instead of going from 160% DOWN to 120%, the debt ratio has gone further UP, to 175%.

So Jüncker's fatuous babble about "a new paradigm of steadfast reform momentum, declining debt ratios and a return to growth" was completely wrong on all counts. And Greece's financial crisis is far from over.

In May, I wrote about Europe's 'political earthquake' election, where anti-EU parties surged in several nations. In Greece, the far-left Syriza party got 26.7%, its highest ever, and the neo-Nazi Gold Dawn party got 10% of the vote, its highest ever. Greece is going to keep from being pulled apart, it's going to need more than fatuous political babble from the EU president. Real Clear Markets

USS Bataan with 1000 marines to join six other warships in the Persian Gulf

CNN is reporting that the USS Bataan is being sent to the Persian Gulf with 1000 marines on board. There is no word of a planned invasion. That will make seven warships there -- The USS Arleigh Burke, the USS Truxton, the USS Gunston Hall, the USS George HW Bush, the USS O'Kane, the USS Philippine Sea, USS Mesa Verde -- along with helicopters and warplanes that can be used for an invasion or for an evacuation of US citizens. There have been US drones flying over Iraq for several days, but now it's been confirmed that the drones are armed with Hellfire missiles, to provide air support and force protection in case the 180 or so US military advisors currently in Baghdad comes under attack. CNN and Politico

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-14 World View -- USS Bataan with 1000 marines to join six other warships in the Persian Gulf thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Jun-14 World View -- Saudi Arabia's armed forces on high alert as ISIS approaches

Thousands of Ukrainians flee east Ukraine for Russia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian regime warplanes bomb ISIS on Iraq border, becoming our ally


Men watching Nouri al-Maliki's speech on a TV in a Baghdad cafe, thanking Syria for the air strikes (AP)
Men watching Nouri al-Maliki's speech on a TV in a Baghdad cafe, thanking Syria for the air strikes (AP)

Warplanes from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad struck at positions held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) along the border between Syria and Iraq. Initial reports indicated that the warplanes' targets were within Iraq, though reports differ. According to Iraq's president Nouri al-Maliki:

"There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action. We welcome any Syrian strike against Isis, because this group targets both Iraq and Syria ... But we didn't make any request from Syria. They carry out their strikes and we carry out ours. The final winners are our two countries."

This makes the Syria regime our ally in Iraq, but our enemy in Syria. Iran is also our ally in Iraq, and our enemy in Syria.

In fact, late news is that the Obama administration is asking the US Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip "moderate" opposition forces in Syria. So keep your scorecards up to date, Dear Reader.

As I said many years ago, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, Iran will be our ally and the Sunni Arab states will be our enemy in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. These trends are moving the region in that direction. BBC and Guardian (London)

Saudi Arabia's armed forces on high alert as ISIS approaches

With the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) having taken control of border posts in Iraq on the border with Jordan, putting Saudi Arabia's security in danger, Saudi King Abdullah has put the army and security forces on the highest alert. According to the Saudi state-run news agency:

"Anticipating (that) the terrorist organizations or others might carry out actions that might disturb the security of the homeland, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has ordered taking all necessary measures to protect the gains of the homeland and its territories in addition to the security and stability of the Saudi people."

Saudi reconnaissance planes have found ISIS terrorists heading for the Saudi border, aiming to seize control of the Iraqi-Saudi border crossing at Ar Ar. CNN and Debka

Four questions ISIS uses to tell Sunni from Shia

When the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) conquers a new village, one chore the terrorists have to go through is to decide whom in the village to let live, and whom to torture, rape, mutilate and kill. Since ISIS is devoted to exterminating apostate Shia Muslims, making that decision requires figuring out whether each citizen is Shia or Sunni. According to reports that are coming out of Iraq, the ISIS terrorists ask four questions to determine whom to kill:

People can easily get tripped up if they try to lie. Others refuse to lie about their faith. Times of India

Thousands of Ukrainians flee east Ukraine for Russia

A ceasefire that's been in place in eastern Ukraine for the last few days is due to expire on Friday, and thousands of Ukrainians are in long lines on the border with Russia, fleeing the expected violence. Earlier this week, Russian migration officials said that more than 90,000 refugees had already crossed the border.

The fear is that, once the ceasefire ends, the violence between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists will surge, putting civilians' lives in danger. Western leaders are asking Russia's president Vladimir Putin to call on the pro-Russian separatists to lay down their arms, and to do so "in the next few hours," to prevent further bloodshed. AP and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jun-14 World View -- Saudi Arabia's armed forces on high alert as ISIS approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Jun-14 World View -- Ukraine to sign trade deal with European Union on Friday

Stocks rise after disastrous GDP report

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

At least 21 killed in Nigerian shopping mall explosion


Aftermath of suicide car bomb in Abuja on Wednesday
Aftermath of suicide car bomb in Abuja on Wednesday

It's assumed that Boko Haram is responsible for the suicide car bombing on Wednesday that caused a massive explosion in a shopping mall in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, killing at least 21 people, and scattering body parts around the plaza. It seems that Nigeria's government and army can do nothing to stop the repeated attacks, one or two every week, from Boko Haram, including abductions, gunfights and suicide bombings. It was just just yesterday that we reported that Boko Haram had abducted 90 more women, in addition to the 200+ schoolgirls that they'd already abducted. Daily Mail (London) and Nigerian Bulletin

Ukraine to sign trade deal with European Union on Friday

The event that triggered the violent crisis besetting Ukraine for the last seven months was the last-minute flip-flop by then-president Viktor Yanukovych, who had promised to sign a trade deal with the European Union, to ditch the EU deal and go with a trade deal with Russia.

Now the new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, is going to Brussels on Friday to to sign that same trade deal with the EU, apparently with the reluctant blessings of the Russians. According to Russia's Economic Development Minister, Alexei Ulyukayev:

"A three-party meeting of the EU, Ukraine and Russia is expected to take place at the ministerial level in July. EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, Ukrainian Economy Minister Pavel Sheremet and I will meet to discuss risks that will emerge over the implementation of this agreement and possible measures to offset these risks."

Ulyukayev says that from Russia's point of view, there are two groups of problems:

The Ukraine-EU trade deal is 1,200-page document crammed with rules on everything from turkeys to tulips, cheese to machinery. Itar-Tass (Moscow) and Canadian Broadcasting

Stocks rise after disastrous GDP report

The stock market rose on Wednesday, after the Commerce Department revised its estimate of GDP growth from the first quarter, originally reported to be an anemic +1.0%, to a disastrous fall of 2.9%. The nearly 3% contraction in the economy during the first quarter is being blamed variously on the weather and Obamacare. According to one estimate, indirect taxes from Obamacare are the highest tax increase in decades.

Mainstream economists were shocked by this report. Every quarter, they predict that the economy's growth will start to surge in the next quarter, just as it did after recessions in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. But as I've pointed out many, many times, mainstream economics didn't predict and can't explain the tech bubble of the 1990s, didn't predict and can't explain the huge credit and real estable bubble of the mid-2000s decade, and the real estate collapse and credit crisis after 2007. Hell, they didn't even know that there'd been a real estate bubble until around 2009, two years after it had started to burst.

Mainstream economists didn't predict and can't explain any of those events. They don't have a clue what the economy is going to do this year, and even less of a clue about next year.

What they don't understand is that a return to the 1970s-90s is 100% impossible. That was a different generational era. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the mood and behavior of people today matches the 1930s, not the 1980s, which means that the velocity of money is going to continue to plummet, and that the economy is in a deflationary spiral.

However, stock market share prices rose on Wednesday. The reason that investors were happy about the disastrous GDP data was that it means that the Fed will continue its program of "printing" tens of billions of dollars in new money, and pumping into the financial system, allowing it to flow into the stock market.

For investors, bad news is still good news. Investing.com

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jun-14 World View -- Ukraine to sign trade deal with European Union on Friday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Jun-14 World View -- The Iraqi catastrophe worsens as European youth join ISIS

Boko Haram in Nigeria abducts 60 more girls and 30 boys

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Iraqi catastrophe worsens as European youth join ISIS

European authorities are becoming increasingly concerned about the numbers of European youth who are going to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the jihad against the regimes in Syria and Iraq. Media interviews with some of these young jihadists indicate an enormous level of ignorance:

"I'm from the south of England. I grew up in a middle class family. Life was easy back home. I had a life. I had a car. But the thing is: You cannot practice Islam back home. We see all around us evil. We see pedophiles. We see homosexuality. We see crime. We see rape."

There are hundreds and, more likely, thousands of young men who have gone to fight with ISIS, as are would-be jihadists from around the world, from America to Indonesia to Pakistan to Africa to Russia.

According to a Lebanese analyst, the Western media are ignoring the danger posed by ISIS, by vastly underestimating its power and accomplishments, and even sometimes portraying it as a benign people's revolution of tribal youths.

ISIS was formed only a little over a year ago in Syria, and it's repeatedly fought off and beaten not only attacks by Syria's army, but also other Sunni militant groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra. Despite having to fight battles on several fronts, in the last few weeks it's accomplish an extremely complex and sophisticated victory in Iraq, taking control of an Iraqi land area that is bigger than several Arab countries combined, and is threatening Saudi Arabia and Jordan. ISIS has taken control of many of the border crossings between Iraq and Syria, effectively erasing the border between the two countries.

The Western media have also given an unlikely impression of the size of ISIS, sometimes describing it as having only a few hundred or a few thousand fighters. In fact, the old Al-Qaeda in Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had at least 15,000 fighters, and possibly many times more. ISIS is likely to have all those fighters available, and those are buttressed by foreign jihadists coming from around the world.

None of this should be any surprise to long-time readers of Generational Dynamics World View, as we've been describing the increasing strength of the jihadist movement in Syria for well over a year. It's also worth taking a moment to repeat the main factors that have made this possible:

CNN and Al Monitor

ISIS conducts sophisticated media campaign to attract European youth

In the last few months, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has launched a sophisticated Al-Hayat Media ("Life is belief and jihad") and a media campaign in English, German, French, and other languages, targeting Western audiences. The character and quality of the productions suggest that the staff is experienced in producing media materials for Western audiences. Apparently, one of the main figures active in the new media branch is German rapper-turned-jihad-fighter Abu Talha Al Almani (aka Deso Dogg), who was wounded twice in the fighting in Syria. Al-Hayat's twitter account was shut down because of its offensive material, but Al-Hayat media's videos and materials are also distributed in other ways.

One British youth, who goes by the name Abu Abdullah Al Brittani, gives online advice to underage British youth on how to exchange currencies, how to travel to Syria and join ISIS, and even gives advice on marriage and family. MEMRI and Daily Mail (London)

Russia may revoke its March 1 resolution authorizing Ukraine invasion

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has asked Russia's Federation Council to cancel the resolution, passed on March 1, that authorized an invasion of Ukraine by Russia's armed forces. Putin's call is a response to the unilateral ceasefire called by Ukraine's President Petr Poroshenko. A decision will be reached today (Wednesday). Voice of Russia

Boko Haram in Nigeria abducts 60 more girls and 30 boys

The Nigerian terrorist and sex pervert group Boko Haram has abducted 60 more girls and young women, some as young as 3. In addition, some 30 boys were abducted. The abduction took place during a three-day siege of a village in northeast Nigeria, during which many people were killed, the entire village was burned down, and the Boko Haram perverts took their time picking out the girls that they wanted to abduct. These new kidnappings come over two months after 200-300 schoolgirls were abducted. The Nigerian army and government is viewed as helpless against the crimes of Boko Haram. However, Boko Haram has indicated that it may be willing to release 219 schoolgirls in return for the release of all Boko Haram militants currently in Nigerian jails. The government has rejected such suggestions in the past, but is now said to be considering it. AFP and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jun-14 World View -- The Iraqi catastrophe worsens as European youth join ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's Kangaroo Court finds Al-Jazeera journalists guilty with no evidence

Ebola virus is 'out of control' in western Africa

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's Kangaroo Court finds Al-Jazeera journalists guilty with no evidence


Caged Al-Jazeera journalists in court on Monday (AP)
Caged Al-Jazeera journalists in court on Monday (AP)

Countries and human rights organizations around the world are condemning the convictions by an Egyptian court of three Al-Jazeera reporters, with sentences ranging from 7 to 10 years in jail. they were accused of "spreading false news," falsely portraying Egypt as being in a state of "civil war," as well as aiding or joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The trial was closely watched by journalists and governments around the world, with all the proceedings widely reported, and apparently not a shred of evidence was provided supporting the charges. The evidence that was presented was irrelevant, and a lot of it was completely phony. In one case, a BBC (not Al-Jazeera) podcast was presented as evidence.

(Definition of "Kangaroo Court": Slang for a court of law in which the violations of procedure, precedents, and due process are so gross that fundamental justice is denied. It usually means that the judge is incompetent or obviously biased.)

According to several analysts, the logic behind the ruling is as follows:

Al Ahram (Cairo) and Al Ahram and BBC

Boomers have no one to sell their stocks and real estate to

A web site reader referred me to the article excerpted below:

The Generational Short: Who Will Boomers Sell Their Stocks To?

The implicit conclusion: the Baby Boomers won't have anyone to sell their stocks, real estate and bonds to. Correspondent Eric A. demolished the fantasy that Gen X will have the income and assets to buy the Boomers' stocks held in IRAs, local government and union pension funds and 401K accounts.

The idea that Gen-Y will have the wealth (not to mention the desire) to buy the Boomers' stock market portfolios at nosebleed valuations poses a peculiar conundrum: the only way Gen-Y will have the wealth to buy Baby Boomers' assets is if the Boomers sell their assets and pass the wealth along to Gen-Y.

So if both Gen-X and Gen-Y are out as buyers, who's left to buy the tens of trillions of dollars of Boomer assets at bubblicious prices? Given that other nations face the same demographic dilemma, the answer appears to be: no one. ...


A Tale of Two Dows
A Tale of Two Dows

If this is the New Normal, then what that means is a bubble and crash every 7+ years is now the expected cycle. ...

Doesn't it boil down to this? If we can't come up with a viable cohort who can afford (and is willing to place that generational bet) to buy Baby Boomer assets at current bubble-level prices, then it follows that as the first Boomers start selling their assets, prices will fall as there is nobody left to buy them, at least at these valuations.

Those who see the current era as an aberration have one logical action: sell now and get out while the getting's good. Zero Hedge

Ebola virus is 'out of control' in western Africa

Doctors Without Borders is calling the Ebola epidemic in western Africa "out of control." There have been 567 cases and 350 deaths since the epidemic began in March. The outbreak has spread to 60 different locations in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The virus is spreading widely because people are traveling without realizing that they're infected with the virus. It can take 2-21 days for someone to feel sick after they've been exposed. Once symptoms show, many die within 10 days. There's no danger of a worldwide epidemic, since Ebola is only spread through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, as opposed to a virus that can spread through the air. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's Kangaroo Court finds Al-Jazeera journalists guilty with no evidence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Jun-14 World View -- Jordan on alert as ISIS captures more Iraq border towns

Pakistanis fear nationwide blowback from military offensive against Taliban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians during hunt for kidnapped teens

Israeli troops on Sunday killed two Palestinians in the West Bank as they conducted a hunt for three Israeli teenagers who disappeared and were allegedly kidnapped ten days earlier on June 10. Their deaths raise to four the number of Palestinians killed in Israel's largest military operation in years. The operation is being conducted across both the West Bank and Gaza.

While condemning the killing of the Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces are cooperating in the manhunt. PA president Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the kidnapping, and this has caused a rift between PA/Fatah and Hamas, shortly after the two groups formed a "unity government."

Abbas on Sunday reiterated his commitment to help Israel find the kidnapped teens, but warned that the actions of Israel's military could ignite the Palestinian street:

Israel’s continued destructive actions, including shooting innocent Palestinians in cold blood, while Ramadan is around the corner and the situation on the Palestinian street is explosive, can only serve to ignite the West Bank and take things out of control."

Israel has been bitterly opposed to the unity government, and is using the kidnapping as an opportunity to crush the Hamas organization in the West Bank by arresting 340 Palestinians, about two-thirds of them members of Hamas. Hamas claims that it had nothing to do with the kidnapping, but Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has "irrefutable proof" that Hamas is guilty, and that the proof will be made public soon.

Part of the "game" being played on both sides is the potential for trading prisoners for hostages. In 2011, Israel release 1,027 Palestinians held in Israeli prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, and Israeli soldier who had been held hostage by Hamas for five years. More Palestinians were released from prison during the "peace process" that collapsed a few months ago. Many of the Palestinians being arrested by the Israeli forces had been previously released. Some reports indicate that Palestinians are in favor of efforts to kidnap Israeli teens, because they can be exchanged for prisoners, as in the case of Shalit. If that's Hamas's strategy, then we can assume that Israel's strategy is to arrest as many Palestinians as possible, so that they can be freed in exchange for the teen hostages.

Israel's massive reaction to the kidnapping reminds me of 2006, when Israel panicked and launched the Lebanon war with Hezbollah within four hours, with no plan and no objectives. The result was a disaster for Israel and for Lebanon. That isn't the case so far this time, but it may begin to approach that point. Jerusalem Post and AP and International Middle East Media Center (Gaza)

Israeli air strikes hit Syria after cross-border attack

Israel says that it's carried out air strikes on nine military targets within Syria. The air strikes were in response to mortar fire or shelling from Syria that killed a 15-year-old Israeli boy in the Golan Heights. In March, Israel conducted air strikes against several Syrian military targets after a bombing that injured four of its soldiers in the Golan Heights. BBC

Pakistanis fear nationwide blowback from military offensive against Taliban

Some 350,000 people (known as "internally displaced people" or IDPs) from the North Waziristan agency in Pakistan's tribal area are now refugees, fleeing the military action that's clearing out militants, bases, communications centers, safehouses and weapons stores in the agency. (The different regions in the tribal area are called "agencies.")

Some are fleeing to Afghanistan, as we described yesterday, but most, including tens of thousands of children, are waiting in long lines in extremely hot weather to get security clearance to enter the town of Bannu, where they hope to be safe. They're escaping from the violence of the military action by Pakistan's army against Taliban hideouts and weapons stores in North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal area. There are fears of a humanitarian disaster, or that the IDPs could spread polio, as many of the displaced children have not been vaccinated.

The Pakistani Taliban have been bombing schools, mosques and markets across Pakistan for years, and there have been repeated calls for the army to go into North Waziristan, where most of the Taliban bases are located. The government and the army resisted those calls for years, fearing blowback, but now military action was triggered by the terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi earlier this month. Investigations showed that the airport attackers were not only Pakistanis, but were also Tajiks and Uzbeks from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETI).

However, once the airport attack occurred, it was clear to everyone that the military action would begin soon, and so the Pakistani, Uzbek, and Tajik terrorists have all fled, leaving behind seven million civilians and a possible humanitarian disaster.

Now the concern is rising quickly that the predicted blowback is about to occur. Targets in the capital city Islamabad are already being threatened, and concerns are rising of a new, more dangerous wave of terrorist attacks across the country. BBC and Daily Times (Pakistan) and Asian Tribune (Sri Lanka)

Jordan on alert as ISIS captures more Iraq border towns

Jordan is increasing its border defenses and putting some military units on alert after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured three more Iraqi border towns, including one on the border with Jordan, only 200 miles from Amman. ISIS now has unchecked control of hundreds of miles along the Iraq-Syria border, allowing easy travel of people and weapons between the two countries, and putting ISIS in easy reach of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Washington Post and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-14 World View -- Jordan on alert as ISIS captures more border towns thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Jun-14 World View -- India's PM Narendra Modi government in crisis over Iraq hostages

In strategic victory, ISIS captures Syria-Iraq border crossing

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China sends four new oil rigs into South China Sea


Chinese ship sprays water cannons at smaller Vietnamese ship in May
Chinese ship sprays water cannons at smaller Vietnamese ship in May

After military tensions surged in the last few months between China and Vietnam over China's drilling rig within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), China is now launching four new oil rigs. In response to a question, China's foreign ministry said, "Please don't worry, there won't be any problem." It's possible, though not yet confirmed, that all four of the oil rigs are entirely within China's waters. Reuters

In a turnabout, Pakistan refugees flood into Afghanistan

For years, Pakistan has been hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan fleeing the war there. Now there's a flood of thousands of Pakistan refugees fleeing into Afghanistan, where there are no refugee camps to accommodate them. They're escaping from the violence of the military action by Pakistan's army against Taliban hideouts and weapons stores in North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal area. The military action was triggered by the terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi earlier this month. More than 100,000 thousand people in North Waziristan have been forced to flee their homes, and those that haven't gone to Afghanistan have traveled to nearby provinces in Pakistan in the hope of finding food and shelter. VOA

India's PM Narendra Modi government in crisis over Iraq hostages

The Iraq crisis has become a political crisis for the new government of prime minister Narendra Modi, because the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken 40 India citizens as hostages. According to reports, the the Indian workers are now being held in a cotton warehouse in the vicinity of Mosul. In addition, 46 Indian nurses are trapped in a hospital in Tikrit. There are over 10,000 to 20,000 Indians in Iraq, both legal and illegal migrants. Many of them are in the Shia-dominated south, and if the war escalates, then they will be in danger. India is also concerned that the conflict will result in a sharp increase in oil prices, which would harm India's economy. The Hindu (India) and Times of India

In strategic victory, ISIS captures Syria-Iraq border crossing

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) made a major strategic victory on Saturday by capturing the town of al-Qaim in Iraq, a border crossing between Syria and Iraq. This will permit ISIS to join its armies in Syria and Iraq, and permit the free flow of people, weapons and commercial goods between the two armies, and will provide a direct path for ISIS to approach Baghdad. ISIS has captured billions of dollars worth of American weapons, including tanks, humvees, helicopters, and other heavy weaponry, from storehouses in Mosul that were supposedly being guarded by the Iraqi army. Those weapons can now be moved back into Syria, if desired, for use against Hezbollah, Iranian forces, and the Syrian regime army. CNN and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-14 World View -- India's PM Narendra Modi government in crisis over Iraq hostages thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Jun-14 World View -- With Syria destabilizing, number of refugees back to WW II levels

Financial advisors taking kickbacks in addition to commissions

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

With Syria destabilizing, number of refugees back to WW II levels


Ban Ki-moon on Friday said that Syria and Iraq are losing 'cohesion and integrity'
Ban Ki-moon on Friday said that Syria and Iraq are losing 'cohesion and integrity'

For the first time since World War II, the number of refugees that have been forced to leave their homes because of violence or persecution exceeds 50 million. During 2013, there were about 10.7 million individuals who became new refugees. Fully half of the new refugees were children, and the large preponderance were mothers and children.

The top three countries producing new refugees in 2013 were:

The top five countries that hosted refugees were:

2013 saw multiple refugee crises, reaching the greatest levels since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While there was only one major war causing refugees in 1994, there were several in 2013: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Central African Republic.

The figures were in a new report by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN refugee agency - UNHCR). António Guterres, the head of UNHCR, announced the report with a big dollop of wishful thinking:

"Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed. Without this, the alarming levels of conflict and the mass suffering that is reflected in these figures will continue.

The international community has to overcome its differences and find solutions to the conflicts of today in South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic and elsewhere. Non-traditional donors need to step up alongside traditional donors. As many people are forcibly displaced today as the entire populations of medium-to-large countries such as Colombia or Spain, South Africa or South Korea."

Guterres says that Europe, America and other wealthy countries have an obligation to do more to help refugees escape from violence and persecution.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this worldwide surge in refugees is a sign that many countries of the world are becoming unstable in the generational Crisis era.

As an aside, the report says that there are additionally about 3.5 million stateless people in the world, though they are not counted as refugees. UNHCR

Ban Ki-moon says that Syria and Iraq are becoming unstable

The normally mild-mannered U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed anger on Friday at the situation in Syria. He blamed the war on Syria's president Bashar al-Assad for launching the war against peaceful protesters three years ago, and he criticized the Security Council and the international community for failing to do its duty, and for risking the "cohesion and integrity" of Syria and Iraq:

"Divisions within Syria, the region and international community, even within the United Nations, and continued arms flows continue to fuel the conflict. These bleak prospects have darkened further with a flare of violence and sectarian tensions in Iraq. Suddenly the cohesion and integrity of two major countries, not just one, is in question.

The time is long past for the international community, in particular the Security Council, to uphold its responsibilities," he said in urging the U.N. council to impose an arms embargo on Syria."

Of course this is never going to happen, because Russia (along with Iran) is a supporter of the genocide in Syria, and China sides with Russia because China is busy annexing other countries' territories.

It's kind of interesting how the U.N. Security Council has evolved since the end of World War II. At that time, it was thought that the UNSC could maintain peace in the world. Its five permanent members -- Britain, France, U.S., Russia and China -- had all been the targets of preemptive war by Germany and Japan. Since these five countries had learned such harsh lessons, it was thought that they would be the ones to guarantee that nothing like WW II ever happened again.

The ability of the UNSC to preserve peace has been eroding for decades, but the real death for the UNSC was struck in 2011 by Russia's president Vladimir Putin. As I've reported several times, Putin's strategy has been to use the United Nations as a tool to control Barack Obama and cripple American foreign policy, and he's been spectacularly successful with that. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

This has been a remarkable development. Instead of learning any lesson from WW II, Putin and Russia are leading the world into a new world war, and are PREVENTING the UNSC from doing anything about it. In fact, the UNSC is now a tool to CAUSE war, rather than a tool to PREVENT war.

This is just one more example of why people never learn the lessons of history. VOA

Both America and Europe face floods of mother and child refugees

There's been a great deal of news coverage recently of the flood women and children coming through the border in Mexico in order to remain in the United States. Estimates are that between 60,000 and 80,000 children without parents will cross the border in 2014. The huge size of this mass of children is a new phenomenon, for which the border patrol is completely unprepared. Unlike adult male migrants, who try to get into the U.S. without being spotted by a border guard, these children run to the borders guards, as they've been told that unaccompanied children will not be deported. In many cases, they carry with them the name and phone number of relatives or friends in the U.S. They're escaping violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

A similar phenomenon is happening in Europe. Some 43,000 migrants, many of them unattached children, cross the Mediterranean in shaky, unstable boats headed for Italy or Greece. Many of these children drown, or have to be rescued by patrol ships sent out by European governments. These children are fleeing violence in Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and other countries.

These surges of child migrants into Europe, America and elsewhere are highly charged political issues, and are a big part of the increasing instability of the world that's leading us into a new world war. CNN

Financial advisors taking kickbacks in addition to commissions

According to James Sanford of Sag Harbor Advisors, many financial advisors take kickbacks from the companies whose mutual funds that they advise clients to invest in. In other words, if you're paying a financial advisor to tell you what you should invest in, he may be selecting the investments that bring him the largest kickbacks, rather than investments mostly likely to be good for you. This is unethical, or course, and probably illegal, but with Washington from the President on down perpetrating the greatest acts of corruption I've seen in my lifetime, who cares what financial advisors are doing? CNBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-14 World View -- With Syria destabilizing, number of refugees back to WW II levels thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Jun-14 World View -- President Obama orders more U.S. military involvement in Iraq

Nato reports new Russian troop build-up on Ukraine's border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Warlord Suleiman becomes Iraqi Sunni anti-government spokesman


Sheik Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman
Sheik Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman

Sheik Ali Hatim Al-Suleiman is a warlord, Emir of the Dulaim tribe in Iraq. And he's being quoted in media reports quite a bit and is becoming the unofficial spokesman for all the Iraqi Sunnis who are joining ISIS. the Dulaim tribe is one of the largest in Iraq, and al-Suleiman was one of the warlords who sided with the Americans against al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2007. Now he's disillusioned with the government of president Nouri al-Maliki, and is joining with ISIS against al-Maliki.

According to al-Suleiman:

"It is the tribal rebels who are in control of the situation in Mosul. It is not reasonable to say that a group like ISIS, which has a small number of men and vehicles, could be in control of a large city like Mosul. Therefore, it is clear that this is a tribal revolution, but the government is trying to force us all to wear the robe of the terrorists and ISIS.

The time for political solutions has passed. We will not permit a political solution. Maliki has used all his strength against the Iraqi people ... So how can there be a political solution? The only solution is Maliki’s ouster.

“When we get rid of the government, we will be in charge of the security file in the regions, and then our objective will be to expel terrorism—the terrorism of the government and that of ISIS."

Suleiman believes that Iraq is headed for partition:

"The revolution does not belong to anyone, but the tribal revolutionaries are the masters of the scene. Iraq is heading towards partition. There are two choices; either Iraq becomes a sea of blood, or each community rules itself. Central government is not the solution. We do not want an Iraq that fails to respect our dignity and religion."

I guess this is a possibility, but the Generational Dynamics historical analysis of Iraq that I posted two days ago indicates that it's unlikely. There are sectarian differences in Iraq, but as I described at length, those differences are far less significant than the Arab/Persian differences that separate them from Iran. Partitioning Iraq would throw the Shias into hands of Iran, and nobody wants that, as far as I can tell. It's true that the Kurds want a separate Kurdistan, and they have wanted that for over a century, but the Kurds control a lot of oil, so it's unlikely that the Sunnis and Shias will agree to a Kurdish separation. Washington Post and Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh)

President Obama orders more U.S. military involvement in Iraq

President Barack Obama set as his highest priority is to be able to brag that he left office with all U.S. wars ended. Because his only foreign policy doctrine was to be the anti-Bush, he's had one disastrous foreign policy debacle after another. Now concerns are being raised that there's another foreign policy debacle in the making.

For the third time this week, Obama is announcing an increase in America's re-involvement in Iraq. First, he sent 300 troops to protect the embassy in Baghdad. Then word came of surveillance flights over Iraq. Now, on Thursday, he's announcing 300 more troops, to serve as "advisors," a phrase that I've heard many times in my life. Here's his statement on Thursday:

"Second, at my direction, we have significantly increased our intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets so that we’ve got a better picture of what’s taking place inside of Iraq. And this will give us a greater understanding of what ISIL is doing, where it’s located, and how we might support efforts to counter this threat.

Third, the United States will continue to increase our support to Iraqi security forces. We’re prepared to create joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIL. Through our new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, we’re prepared to work with Congress to provide additional equipment. We have had advisors in Iraq through our embassy, and we’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces going forward.

American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.

Fourth, in recent days, we’ve positioned additional U.S. military assets in the region. Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL. And going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it. If we do, I will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region."

With the remark that "American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq," it's not clear to me whether he's lying to the public or to himself.

He also made demands of Iraqi leaders:

"Above all, Iraqi leaders must rise above their differences and come together around a political plan for Iraq’s future. Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence that they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process rather than through violence."

But this is naive, for the historical reasons I gave two days ago ( "18-Jun-14 World View -- Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq", viz., Iraqi Sunnis and Shias will unite during a generation crisis war against common enemy, but they are politically chaotic during a generational Awakening era, and will not unite.

The White House doesn't know what it's doing. Inaction in Syria in 2011 led to the creation of ISIS and its spillover into Iraq, and now the President isn't even mentioning Syria, but is hoping that Iraq's government will "advance their interests and aspirations through the political process." This is so bizarre it's laughable.

I don't know how many people have told me that they don't like the idea of the U.S. being "policeman of the world," but that's exactly what the U.S. has been since President Harry Truman's Truman Doctrine of 1947. Every President since then has fulfilled that commitment till now, because the cost of a small military action was always better than a repeat of something as enormous as World War II. President Obama has repudiated that commitment, and the Mideast is turning into a mess because of it, just as New York city would turn into a mess if the police force stopped policing. Like it or not, America is the policeman of the world, and is already paying a price for the abrogation of that commitment. White House and AP

Nato reports new Russian troop build-up on Ukraine's border

You'll recall that Russia's president Vladimir Putin kept promising to pull back his 50,000 troops from Ukraine's border, and nothing happened, week after week. Finally the troops were pulled back. But now, Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is reporting that Russian troops are coming back, and that "at least a few thousand" are once again deployed along the border. A statement from Ukraine's government said that they'd identified two airborne divisions, and airborne assault brigade and a motorized rifle brigade at the border.

It's not known what the purpose of this Russian troop movement is. There are two possibilities:

We'll have to wait a few days to see which scenario is right. Washington Post and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-14 World View -- President Obama orders more U.S. military involvement in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Jun-14 World View -- Chinese and Vietnamese officials meet without smiling and agree on nothing

U.S. is flying F-18 surveillance missions over Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. is flying F-18 surveillance missions over Iraq


F-18 Super Hornet attack aircraft
F-18 Super Hornet attack aircraft

After send 375 special forces troops to Iraq earlier this week, President Obama's administration has authorized F-18 surveillance missions over Iraq. The administration has also received a request from the Iraq's government to begin air strikes against targets from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, air strikes would require special forces on the ground to identify targets.

F-18s are not traditional surveillance aircraft, but are attack aircraft, and they're big and loud. It's believed that the intent is to frighten the ISIS militants with a lot of noise. Fox News

Chinese and Vietnamese officials meet without smiling and agree on nothing

For years, China has been taking actions to annex the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China has been using a "salami slicing" strategy, annexing the South China Sea bit by bit, threatening anyone who stands in its way with military action. The confrontation between China and the Philippines has gotten moderately worse in the last few months.

But the confrontation between China and Vietnam has become extremely bitter in the last few months, after China set up an oil rig and started drilling for oil in a region in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone (EEZ). China and Vietnam have been ramming each other's ships, and Chinese warships frequently train their high-pressure water hoses on exhaust pipes, antennae, radars and windows of Vietnamese ships, in order to disable to sink them. Last month, the oil rig triggered anti-China demonstrations across Vietnam that turned violent, killing five Chinese nationals and injuries to hundreds more.

So China's top diplomat Yang Jiechi visited Hanoi on Wednesday, to meet with Vietnam's foreign minister Pham Binh Minh and prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the media "expressed hope" that this would cool things off.

So when Yang and Minh first met and shook hands, they did so with only the faintest of smiles. According to Minh:

"Our meeting ... demonstrates that the two parties and states of Vietnam and China have the desire for dialogue to settle the current complicated situation in the East Sea."

According to China's foreign ministry, Yang replied:

"The most urgent thing is for Vietnam to stop its interference and harassment, stop hyping up the issue and stop whipping up disagreement to create new disputes, and properly deal with the aftermath of the recent serious incidents of violence."

China Daily and Thanh Nien News (Hanoi) and Reuters

Ebola unexpectedly surges again in western Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) believed that the Ebola virus breakout in Spring of this year had fizzled out, as there hadn't been any new deaths from the virus since April. But in recent days, seven people have died in Monrovia, Liberia's capital city. It's now believed that Ebola is still spreading in west Africa, where the death toll now exceeds 330. The outbreak began in Guinea, and later spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The new deaths have spurred fears that the outbreak is no longer under control, as authorities had previously said. VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-14 World View -- Chinese and Vietnamese officials meet without smiling and agree on nothing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Jun-14 World View -- Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq

Was the 2003 ground invasion of Iraq a mistake?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq accuses of Saudi Arabia of sponsoring ISIS and 'genocide'


ISIS militants in Iraq (AFP)
ISIS militants in Iraq (AFP)

Iraq's prime minister Nouri al-Maliki in the past has suggested that Saudi Arabia is supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but on Tuesday he used the strongest language ever:

"We hold them responsible for supporting these groups financially and morally and for its outcome - which includes crimes that may qualify as genocide: the spilling of Iraqi blood, the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and historic and religious sites."

The Saudis vehemently deny this, but this is a sign of the gathering sectarian conflict in the Mideast. Reuters and NBC News

Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq

Many politicians and journalists are expressing concern about a possible "Sunni versus Shia civil war" within Iraq. This brings back memories of the 2004-2008 period, when the loony left, including NBC News and the NY Times, were using the threat of a civil war as a way of expressing contempt for President George Bush. Now they're talking about civil war again, but as a way of expressing sympathy for their beloved President Barack Obama.

As I wrote dozens of times during that period, Iraq was and is in a generational Awakening era, and so a civil war was and is impossible. In the 2004-2008 period, there was some violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, but in the end, the two groups cooperated in expelling al-Qaeda in Iraq via the "Anbar Awakening." I wrote about this in my lengthy April 2007 analysis, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", which was the best and most accurate analysis of the Iraq war from any media source at that time.

The key to understanding the relationships between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias is to look at their last two generational crisis wars, the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution, in which the Iraqi Sunnis and Shias united against Britain, and the 1980s Iran/Iraq war, in which the Iraq Sunnis and Shias united against Iran. It's important to understand that the 1980s was was not a sectarian war between Shias and Sunnis; it was an ethnic war between Arabs and Persians. So it's not surprising that in 2007, Shias and Sunnis united again to expel al-Qaeda in Iraq in the Anbar Awakening.

There is SOME violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, but there's a huge difference between "some violence" and "full-scale civil war." A major turning point in the Iraq war occurred when al-Qaeda in Iraq bombed the Shiite al-Askariya shrine in Samarra in February, 2006. This inflamed the Shiites, who had previously been restrained, to the extent that they began launching death squads against the Sunni jihadists. However, by the beginning of 2007, that violence was tapering off.

This year's invasion of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has, once again, triggered some sectarian violence between Iraqi Sunnis and Shias. However, in 2007, the sectarian violence was being driven by al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the sectarian violence today is being driven by ISIS. Many Iraqi Sunnis have joined the foreign fighters in ISIS in this sectarian violence, but multiple reports indicate that the Iraqi Sunnis are fighting against the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, not against Shias in general.

According to reports, the foreign fighters in ISIS are attempting to impose strict Sharia law on Mosul and other captured cities. My guess is that the Iraqi citizens are not going to like this.

Iraq in the 1930s generational Awakening era

If you want to understand Iraq today, a good place to start is in Iraq's previous generational Awakening era, the 1930s, following the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution. In my 2007 article, referenced above, I quoted at length from the Library of Congress history of Iraq during that period. It's well worthwhile to read that entire history, but here I'll only quote a couple of excerpts.

First, here's what happened during the 1920 crisis war, which was a rebellion against British rule:

"Ath Thawra al Iraqiyya al Kubra, or The Great Iraqi Revolution (as the 1920 rebellion is called), was a watershed event in contemporary Iraqi history. For the first time, Sunnis and Shias, tribes and cities, were brought together in a common effort. In the opinion of Hanna Batatu, author of a seminal work on Iraq, the building of a nation-state in Iraq depended upon two major factors: the integration of Shias and Sunnis into the new body politic and the successful resolution of the age-old conflicts between the tribes and the riverine cities and among the tribes themselves over the food-producing flatlands of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The 1920 rebellion brought these groups together, if only briefly; this constituted an important first step in the long and arduous process of forging a nation-state out of Iraq's conflict-ridden social structure."

Next, here's what happened during Iraq's generational Awakening era in the 1930s:

"On October 13, 1932, Iraq became a sovereign state, and it was admitted to the League of Nations. Iraq still was beset by a complex web of social, economic, ethnic, religious, and ideological conflicts, all of which retarded the process of state formation. The declaration of statehood and the imposition of fixed boundaries triggered an intense competition for power in the new entity. Sunnis and Shias, cities and tribes, shaykhs and tribesmen, Assyrians and Kurds, pan-Arabists and Iraqi nationalists--all fought vigorously for places in the emerging state structure. Ultimately, lacking legitimacy and unable to establish deep roots, the British-imposed political system was overwhelmed by these conflicting demands."

This is a pattern that Iraq follows: During generational crisis wars, when the survival of the nation and its way of life is at stake, the Sunnis and Shias unite, and nationalism trumps sectarianism. (Think of America in World War II.)

But during the political battles in the decades that follow the war (think of America in the 1960s), sectarianism trumps nationalism, and the country splits into sectarian and ethnic political battles.

That pattern is being repeated today. Iraqi Sunnis and Shias have many bitter disagreements, but they unite when they have to.

The next steps for Iraq

Based on the above analysis, here's what I conclude:

In a sense, the sectarian war in Iraq is still a side show. The real war continues in Syria, and the sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias throughout the Mideast will be the real war.

Was the 2003 ground invasion of Iraq a mistake?

There's a lot of talk about who's to blame - Bush or Obama - for the current debacle in Iraq. So to start with, let's point out that the war in Iraq didn't begin in 2003. It began in 1991. And the Bill Clinton administration had several major and highly visible run-ins with Saddam Hussein over the latter's refusal to allow inspections for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The Clinton administration was bombing Iraq almost daily when Bush came into office.

The 2003 ground invasion did not occur because we felt bad for the 75,000 or so Iraqis that Saddam was killing every year. It occurred because of a nationwide -- indeed, worldwide -- panic over Saddam's WMDs. He had used them against Iran in 1988, and he had refused United Nations inspections to determine whether he was still manufacturing them, which only increased the sense of panic.

Some people like to point out that France's prime minister, Jacques Chirac, said that Saddam had no WMDs. It's hard to understand how he would know that, especially since there was some evidence that Saddam himself didn't know he no longer had any stores of WMDs. But later investigations revealed what was going on with Chirac.

Jacques Chirac, Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan were all implicated in skimming hundreds of millions of dollars from Iraq's "Oil for Food" program. This was discovered when a list of the corrupt officials was found in Iraq's Oil Ministry after the war. In other words, Chirac, Putin and Annan didn't care how many people were slaughtered by Saddam's WMDs; the three of them were just cheap crooks that didn't want their corruption to be discovered, no matter how many people were killed.

Finally, would have happened without the 2003 ground invasion? Former British prime minister Tony Blair recently pointed out that Saddam would also have been subjected to the 2011 Arab Awakening, like all the other dictators in the region, and that the current turmoil would have occurred anyway. But that isn't the worst of it.

Iran had already been victimized by Saddam's WMDs. If the U.S. had simply backed out and let Saddam do what he wanted, then Iran would have continued to believe that Saddam had stores of WMDs. Iran would have sped up its nuclear bomb development program, and probably would have developed chemical and biological weapons themselves. In that case, within a few years, we would have had Syria, Iraq, and Iran, all possessing weapons of mass destruction, and ready to use them.

So, whether you like the 2003 ground invasion or not, things would have been MUCH worse without it.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-14 World View -- Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Jun-14 World View -- U.S. sending 275 troops back into Iraq to protect embassy

Kenya suffers worst terrorist attack since Westgate Mall attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya suffers worst terrorist attack since Westgate Mall attack


Burnt out cars after orgy of violence in Mpeketoni Kenya
Burnt out cars after orgy of violence in Mpeketoni Kenya

The Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab is claiming responsibility for an "orgy of violence" on the town of Mpeketoni, on the coast of Kenya about 25 miles from the Indian Ocean, killing 50 people. The terrorist attack particularly targeted a group of soccer fans who were together at a venue showing the World Cup matches. This was the worst terrorist attack since the three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Kenya, in September of last year, for which al-Shabaab also claimed responsibility. Like the Westgate mall attack, and like last week's attack terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, the attack was well planned and sophisticated, as al-Qaeda linked terrorist attacks generally exhibit greater complexity and sophistication. Standard Media (Kenya) and Reuters

Syrian warplanes strike inside Iraq

Syrian warplanes struck two separate convoys belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) inside of Iraq. The Syrian planes struck on Saturday with the help of Iranian intelligence, according to sources. Apparently we're now allies of the Syria's president, the genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad. Fox News

U.S. sending 275 troops back into Iraq to protect embassy

President Obama notified Congress on Monday that about 275 U.S. military personnel are deploying to Iraq to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Obama also said the troops are equipped for combat and will remain in Iraq until the security situation becomes such that they are no longer needed. The White House is considering other military options, and is having discussions with Iran. USA Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-14 World View -- U.S. sending 275 troops back into Iraq to protect embassy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Jun-14 World View -- The size of the Iraq catastrophe continues to unfold

Pakistan launches major military action against Taliban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The size of the Iraq catastrophe continues to unfold


ISIS militants kill Iraqi soldiers after forcing them to lie in trenches
ISIS militants kill Iraqi soldiers after forcing them to lie in trenches

Here's a collection of facts that I gleaned from the Sunday news talk shows and from some media reports:

LA Times and Israel National News and Slate

Senator Lindsey Graham says Obama has to order air strikes in Iraq

I listened to numerous interviews on the Sunday morning news talk shows, and I felt the best one was the CNN interview with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham:

DONNA BASH: And, Senator, on the issue of Iraq, I know that you have said that you think U.S. airstrikes is the only answer right now. But I want you and our viewers to look at something, the toll so far when it comes to Iraq, 4,424 deaths, wounded, 32,239, and then the cost of money, $770 billion. I have got to ask the question that I'm sure so many Americans out there watching are going to ask. Why spend one more dollar or risk one more life?

GRAHAM: Because Iraq and Syria combined are going to be the staging area for the next 9/11 if we don't do something about it. The people holding ground in Iraq also hold ground in Syria. Economic instability that comes from a collapsed Iraq will affect gas prices and our economic recovery. But the main reason is, if ISIS is not dealt with, that's the staging area for a new attack on the United States. They -- the -- the predecessor -- they're the follow-on to al Qaeda in Iraq.

What they will do is use the area between Baghdad, Kurdistan and Syria to operate with impunity. They have a lot of wealth. They will plan an attack against our country. And my biggest fear is that they're going to march toward Jordan.

And I hope America understands that, if the king of Jordan goes, if he's the victim of these guys, then the whole Mideast is in turmoil.

BASH: And you really thinks that's possible?

GRAHAM: Yes.

GLORIA BORGER: What makes -- what makes you think they have the organization to pull something like that off?

GRAHAM: What makes you think they don't?

Look what's happened. Look what's happened. They have basically occupied a portion of Syria. They -- they took the second largest city in Iraq. They're going into Baghdad.

My number one goal is, let us stop them from going into Baghdad, not the Iranians. If the central government in Iraq collapses -- and that's their goal -- they're trying to get the Iraqi government to collapse -- the Iranians dominate the south. They will own all the resources in the south.

These guys will operate from Baghdad to Kurdistan, all the way into Syria. They will consolidate economic and military power. They will march towards Jordan and Lebanon. And they will use that space to attack us. If Baghdad falls, if the central government falls, a disaster awaits us of monumental proportions.

BASH: Now, the question about the leadership there now, Prime Minister Maliki, he is somebody who perhaps has not done all the things that the U.S. should have -- wanted them to do, which is, I think, an understatement.

GRAHAM: Yes.

BASH: So is he the right man for the -- to lead Iraq right now?

GRAHAM: No. Stop the march on Baghdad. Form a new government. Send Petraeus and Crocker over, somebody who knows...

BORGER: How do you form a new government? It's a democracy.

GRAHAM: There are plenty of voices over there.

He [al-Maliki] should resign. He's incapable of bringing the Sunnis back into the fold. Three things have happened in 2010 and '11 to create this. How did we get there should be the question. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIS, was on their back, just about gone. Syria blows up. They get reinforcements from Syria into Iraq.

Maliki withdrawals from the coalition. He becomes a sectarian leader. Obama's administration is completely hands-off, and we withdraw troops in 2011. That's the perfect storm.

BORGER: But whose fault was that? You know, the...

GRAHAM: That's President Obama's fault.

BORGER: Why is that President Obama's fault? Maliki didn't want to leave a residual force there.

GRAHAM: Bush -- no, that is not true. That is absolutely a lie.

I was there on the ground, at the request of Secretary Clinton. Maliki, Barzani and the Sunnis were willing to accept an American force. We wanted the agreement to go through parliament, which would have been a disaster.

They got what they wanted. The Obama administration wanted to say: I ended the war in Iraq. I'm going to end the war in Afghanistan.

This was as predictable as the sun rising in the east. I blame President Obama mightily for a hands-off policy when it comes to Iraq.

BASH: Because, I mean, we can debate this probably for a long time, because Maliki...

GRAHAM: Look forward.

BASH: OK. So, looking forward, Iran, Bloomberg News had an interesting op-ed today, saying that they are sort of the frenemies of the U.S. right now in Iraq. And people might not realize this, that Iran, who is generally no friend of the U.S., is now potentially working -- going to work with the U.S. on Iraq. ... How -- does that make you feel comfortable or comfortable?

GRAHAM: No. Hell no, it doesn't.

Why did we deal with Stalin? Because he was not as bad as Hitler. The Iranians can provide some assets to make sure Baghdad doesn't fall. We need to coordinate with the Iranians. And the Turks need to get in the game and get the Sunni Arabs back into the game, form a new government without Maliki.

But, yes, I don't want Iran to dominate Iraq. And that's where they're headed. If the central government falls, the Iranians are going on the Shia area of -- of Iraq, the south. Don't the Iranians save Baghdad. Let us save Baghdad, so there will be a chance at a second government.

BORGER: Do you -- is it your prediction that, eventually, this White House will go for airstrikes?

GRAHAM: I think they have to. And it's stunning to me that nobody in Congress is saying, you have got to come to us first. Everybody in Congress is scared to death of what's going to happen in Iraq. They won't come out and admit it. But nobody is saying, Mr. President, don't use airpower. The air force in Iraq, I think, has been grounded. But Nic will know that better than I do.

CNN

Rep Steve Stockman: U.S. planning a military operation to rescue the schoolgirls from Boko Haram

A U.S. Congressional delegation is in Nigeria to discuss the terrorist group Boko Haram, which continues to abduct schoolgirls. According to Texas congressman Steve Stockman, the U.S. is planning military action in Nigeria:

"We get briefed by the military and pending the approval of the government of Nigeria and our government, we plan to take action, but I don’t think we are going specifics this time; it was a classified briefing. We stand ready to help and as soon as our government and Nigerian government approves, we will take action.

What I want to say is that I think what it is right now is to work with the Nigerian government in training of the military. I want to emphasize again here that we have come all these miles to say that our Congress stands ready to cooperate and the government in a manner that is appropriate and with the consent of Nigerian government. And I want to emphasize the need for the Victims Relief Fund because there is so much suffering going on by the young girls and the their families that have been touched by this violence."

World Stage Group (Lagos, Nigeria)

Pakistan launches major military action against Taliban

Last week's massive terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday has shocked the nation, and pressured the government to order the army to do something it's never done before: to go in and clean out the hideouts and weapons stores in the North Waziristan Agency in Pakistan's tribal area that are making the terrorist strikes possible.

According to a Pakistan army statement:

"On the directions of the government, armed forces of Pakistan have launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Waziristan Agency. The operation has been named Zarb-e-Azb. ...

Using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property. They had also paralyzed life within the [North Waziristan] agency and had perpetually terrorized the entire peace loving and patriotic local population.

Our valiant armed forces have been tasked to eliminate these terrorists regardless of hue and color, along with their sanctuaries. With the support of the entire nation, and in coordination with other state institutions and law enforcement agencies, these enemies of the state will be denied space anywhere across the country. As always, armed forces of Pakistan will not hesitate in rendering any sacrifice for the motherland."

An unnamed official says, "Thousands of troops will participate in this action. You can roughly say 25,000 to 30,000 troops will be involved in the operation."

Reports indicate that many people, both civilians and militants, have left North Waziristan in the last few days because the army offensive was anticipated.

The prime minister Nawaz Sharif has tried everything possible to avoid this moment, including attempted "peace talks" with the Taliban that could never have succeeded. This is a very significant change in direction for Pakistan. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-14 World View -- The size of the Iraq catastrophe continues to unfold thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Jun-14 World View -- Iran asks U.S. to intervene in Iraq, and offers to help

Ukraine conflict escalates sharply after plane shot down, killing 49

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran asks U.S. to intervene in Iraq, and offers to help


 Large crowds of Shie volunteers in Baghdad prepared to fight ISIS (BBC)
Large crowds of Shie volunteers in Baghdad prepared to fight ISIS (BBC)

Here's a Saturday afternoon BBC interview with Professor Fawaz Gerges, London School of Economics, that I transcribed, in which both the interviewer and the interviewee expressed utter astonishment at the day's news:

INTERVIEWER: "Let's start with Iran. Now they say they're willing to cooperate with the United States. I can't believe those words are coming out of my mouth. What would be the motivation behind that? They do simply fear ISIS, and what could happen to Iraq? ..."

GERGES: "One of the most important developments to come out of this particular crisis is the convergence of interests of the United States and Iran. Both powers have vested interests in stopping the ISIS surge. Iraq is the most pivotal ally of Iran. And the United States fears that ISIS could really present a threat not only to Iraq's integrity, but for regional stabilities.

I cannot believe it myself. The Iranian leadership OPENLY and PUBLICLY calling on the United States to intervene in Iraq. A radical departure from Iran's previous position.

Remember, Chris, for your viewers, Iran played a fundamental role in nudging its allies to force the US out in 2011. Now, both powers -- and I have no doubt in my mind that both powers are talking secretly. Even now, both powers are not talking about it, because they're planning contingency plans, because only the United States and Iran could regroup and help the Iraqi forces to consolidate that power."

What they were talking about is a speech by Iran's president Hassan Rouhani saying that they would help the U.S. confront "terrorist groups" in Iraq and Syria, referring principally to the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). According to Rouhani:

"If the Iraqi government asks us for help, we may provide any assistance the Iraqi nation would like us to provide in the fight against terrorism.

All countries need to embark on joint effort regarding terrorism.

At the moment, it's the government of Iraq and the people of Iraq that are fighting terrorism.

We have not seen the US do anything for now. Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that."

There are reports that Iran has already sent two battalions of troops into Iraq, though they deny it.

President Obama is offering to help Iraq's president Nouri al-Maliki with the U.S. military, but with "no boots on the ground." The aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush has been moved into the Persian Gulf to provide Obama with options for possible airstrikes.

We now have a sectarian Sunni versus Shia conflict growing in the Mideast, and it looks like Iran and the U.S. are going to be allies. Reports indicate the White House have been "surprised" by how quickly all of this is happening. Obviously the White House doesn't read my web site, because these are all things that I've been predicting for years, based on Generational Dynamics analyses.

The Generational Dynamics web site is unique in the world. I'll repeat the challenge that I've issued repeatedly since 2005: Find me a politician, analyst, journalist or web site anywhere in the world with anything close to the predictive success of Generational Dynamics and this web site. I know that none exists, because I've looked.

So those of you on both the left and the right who have send me hate mail from time to time should be aware that you're wrong and I'm right -- or more precisely, Generational Dynamics is right. Anyone can have an ideological opinion and rant about it, but Generational Dynamics is not an ideological opinion, but a methodology that applies System Dynamics and Chaos Theory to generational trends and flows, and always seems to be right.

I'm completely schizophrenic about this. The part of me that's into math and computers and analytics is thrilled that Generational Dynamics seems to work consistently. But the part of me that's human and deals every day with stories about starving children, schools blown to smithereens, and "industrial strength" torture is extremely saddened and depressed. I have little doubt that one day, undoubtedly after my death, Generational Dynamics will be regarded as a major advance in historical analysis. BBC and Independent (London)

U.S. wholesale prices unexpectedly decreased in May

The Labor Department reported that the Producer Price Index (PPI), the measure of how much wholesale prices are increasing, fell 0.2% in May, indicating that wholesale prices fell, rather than increasing. That is, instead of seeing inflation, we're seeing deflation. Once month's data isn't necessarily dispositive, but the PPI has been close to zero for months, and gone negative four times in the last year.

The prediction that I've been making for years is that the economy is in a deflationary spiral. This directly contradicts almost all mainstream economists and politicians who have been predicting inflation or hyperinflation because of low interest rates and quantitative easing. As in the case of Iran being our ally in a Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict, Generational Dynamics has been consistently right and mainstream economists, pundits, analysts and politicians have been wrong. Bloomberg and Reuters

Ukraine conflict escalates sharply after plane shot down, killing 49

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko vowed to retaliate against pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine, after a military plane was shot down by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile, presumably supplied by Russia, killing 49 people on board on Saturday morning.

The missile attack triggered a pro-Ukrainian protest in Kiev that turned violent. Several hundred protesters hurled eggs and paint at the Russian embassy in Kiev, and other protesters turned over cars that carried diplomatic plates. Kiev police looked on and did nothing to stop the violent protests.

The fighting continues to escalate in Ukraine, thanks to tanks, heavy weapons and "volunteers" supplied by Russia. Ukraine and Russia are in a generational Crisis era, so it's quite possible that the conflict will spiral into a full-scale war. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-14 World View -- Iran asks U.S. to intervene in Iraq, and offers to help thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Jun-14 World View -- U.S. and Iran move to help Iraq's al-Maliki stop ISIS

U.S. State Dept. confirms Russian tanks in Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran and Iraq's al-Sistani call for sectarian war in Iraq


Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, delivers statement on Friday calling on followers to fight ISIS
Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, delivers statement on Friday calling on followers to fight ISIS

The "blitzkrieg" attack by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on cities and villages across Iraq is panicking residents of Baghdad as the fighting draw near. Most of the cities captured by ISIS so far have large Sunni Muslim populations that are disaffected and furious because of the contemptuous treatment they've received from the government of Shia president Nouri al-Maliki, and because of their abandonment by the US forces that they worked hard with to drive out Al-Qaeda in Iraq during the 2007 Anbar Awakening.

Now that those same Sunni populations are joining with ISIS, to the extent that even Sunni soldiers in Iraq's army are deserting their posts, Shia populations in Baghdad and eastern Iraq are panicking. On Friday, the Iranian-born Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most powerful Shia cleric in Iraq, issued a statement calling on his followers to fight ISIS. The statement was delivered in a sermon by his spokesman Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai:

"All citizens who are able to bear arms and fight the terrorists in defense of their nation, people and holy sites should volunteer and join the security forces to achieve this holy aim.

Iraq is facing a grave and significant challenge and the terrorists aim not only to control some of the provinces but instead they stated that they are targeting all the provinces, especially Baghdad and Karbala and Najaf. Thus the responsibility of stopping them and fighting is the responsibility of all and is not restricted to any one creed."

The statement added that anyone who sacrifices his life "in defense of his country, people, and honor, will be a martyr."

Reports indicate that young men from Shia communities have begun to mobilize and form militias, although Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is calling on followers to wait for further instructions.

At the same time, there are reports that Iran is sending weapons and advisers from the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to aid the Shia government. IRGC leader Major General Qassem Suleimani is in Baghdad to meet militia leaders and tribal chiefs defending the capital.

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani promised that Iran would "not allow the supporters of terrorists to disrupt security and stability of Iraq through exporting terrorism to Iraq."

This is essentially a call to sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias within Iraq. These is already a sectarian war next door in Syria, and this effectively joins the two together. LA Times and BBC and International Business Times

Obama caught be surprise, discussing military options in Syria

According to an unnamed U.S. official in President Obama's administration speaking to CNN, they were caught off guard by the speed with which the ISIL forces moved across Iraq:

"We've been watching the intelligence continually and the fractures in Iraq that have grown as a result of the underlying political environment and lack of inclusive governance. If anything was surprising, it's only the speed at which the situation continued to deteriorate over the past few days and the apparent ease at which the (Iraqi security forces) abandoned their units and positions."

On Friday, President Obama made his second statement about Iraq in two days:

"Yesterday, I convened a meeting with my National Security Council to discuss the situation there, and this morning I received an update from my team. Over the last several days, we’ve seen significant gains made by ISIL, a terrorist organization that operates in both Iraq and in Syria. In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory. And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people. And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well."

He said that the administration would be preparing military options, but emphasized that no troops will be sent into Iraq. Analysts have suggested that these options include drone surveillance and air strikes, and possibly limited actions by special forces.

He added that the government of Nouri al-Maliki would have to do its part to set aside sectarian differences:

"So we have enormous interests there, and obviously our troops and the American people and the American taxpayers made huge investments and sacrifices in order to give Iraqis the opportunity to chart a better course, a better destiny.

But ultimately, they're going to have to seize it. As I said before, we are not going to be able to do it for them.

And, you know, given the very difficult history that we've seen in Iraq, I think that any objective observer would recognize that in the absence of accommodation among the various factions inside of Iraq, various military actions by the United States, by any outside nation, are not going to solve those problems over the long term and not going to deliver the kind of stability that we need."

In response, al-Maliki blamed President Obama for flip-flopping on Syria, and allowing the Syrian civil war to spill over into Iraq.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I can guarantee that this kind of "accommodation" among the Sunni and Shia faction will NOT occur. So what will Obama do then? Answer: Faced with an increasingly powerful ISIS, the U.S. military will get more heavily drawn into Iraq and Syria.

It was almost ten years ago that I predicted, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran and the U.S. would become allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war. I've repeated that prediction dozens of times. Ten years ago that prediction seemed intuitively ludicrous, but now we see that it's coming true. For two years, America has been pulling away from its old ally, Saudi Arabia, and it coming closer to its new ally, Iran.

This is how these trend predictions work. Ten years ago, all I could tell you was the trend. I could not have predicted any of the details, such as an ISIS succeeding in a "blitzkrieg" attack across Iraq that caught the Obama administration by surprise. But that's how it always happens. It's like a pressure cooker on a stove. You can identify the trend -- that the pressure was getting higher and higher. You could predict that, at some point in the future, the pressure will be so great that the pressure cooker has to explode, but you can't say when. Then when it finally happens, there's no time to do anything, and if you happen to be standing next to it, then you're dead.

The same is true of many other Generational Dynamics predictions that I've posted over the years. I can tell you with 100% certainty that a major financial crisis and stock market crash are coming, but I can't tell you when. But when it happens, almost all your stock market savings will be lost. And the crash will happen so quickly that you won't be able to do a thing about it. Only the bankers who caused the financial crisis in the first place will get their money out quickly. Everyone else will lose. CNN and Washington Post

U.S. State Dept. confirms Russian tanks in Ukraine

As clashes continue in east Ukraine between Ukraine's security forces and pro-Russian separatists, video have emerged of Russian tanks and weapons coming across the border from Russia. On Friday, the U.S. State Dept. confirmed this:

"In the last three days, a convoy of three T-64 tanks, several BM-21 or Grad multiple rocket launchers and other military vehicles crossed from Russia into Ukraine near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne. This is unacceptable. We are confident that these tanks came from Russia."

AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-14 World View -- U.S. and Iran move to help Iraq's al-Maliki stop ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Jun-14 World View -- President Obama considers military action in Iraq

Foreign exchange price fixing will exceed libor scandal in criminality

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sunday's attack on Pakistan airport signals terror tactical shift


Smoke rises on Monday morning after the assault on Karachi's airport (AFP)
Smoke rises on Monday morning after the assault on Karachi's airport (AFP)

The terrorist attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday did not achieve its primary objective of hijacking an aircraft and holding its passengers hostage. Nonetheless, it represents a more sophisticated kind of attack, following the model of previous major attacks that were more like complex military actions. One is Mumbai's '26/11' three-day terrorist attack in 2008, and another is the three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Kenya, in September of last year.

Apparently there had been Taliban sleeper cells planted in Karachi weeks or months before. These cells provided shelter, weapons, explosives, transport and intelligence to the terrorists who eventually carried out the attack. As in the other cases, there were a series of well-planned attacks designed to defeat and kill layers of security and take control of the target.

It's no longer a "simple" case of a suicide bomber walking into a shopping center or mosque to kill as many people as possible. Now there are more complex objectives, with huge financial rewards to fund future projects.

Pakistan's government now has to face some hard realities. The "peace talks" with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP), which has claimed credit for the attack, were never more than a joke anyway, but they did provide a fig leaf to hide government officials' desperation. The TTP is headquartered in Pakistan's tribal area, but analysts point out that the army has only made half-hearted attempts to defeat them there, not being willing to go in and clean out the hideouts and weapons stores that are making the terrorist strikes possible. Dawn (Pakistan) and Indian Express

President Obama considers military action in Iraq

President Obama is facing a dilemma about responding to the collapse of what he considered a major achievement, ending the war in Iraq. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has executed a "blitzkrieg" in Iraq, giving it control of huge swaths of land, millions of dollars of money stolen from banks, and huge volumes of heavy weapons stolen from weapons stores. When combined with ISIS's control of parts of neighboring Syria, ISIS is on the verge establishing a new "Sunni Islamic Caliphate" nation, bounded on the west by Bashar al-Assad's rump Syria, and bounded in the east by Nouri al-Maliki's rump Iraq. It's not certain that ISIS will be able to indefinitely hold all this territory, but if it does, then the territory will serve as a base for terrorist and military attacks on other nations.

According to President Obama at a press briefing on Thursday:

"Well, this is an area that we’ve been watching with a lot of concern not just over the last couple of days but over the last several months, and we’ve been in close consultation with the Iraqi government. Over the last year, we have been providing them additional assistance to try to address the problems that they have in Anbar, in the northwestern portions of the country, as well as the Iraqi and Syrian border. That includes, in some cases, military equipment. It includes intelligence assistance. It includes a whole host of issues.

But what we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq is going to need more help. It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community.

So my team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them. I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.

Part of the challenge ... is that the politics of Shia and Sunni inside of Iraq, as well as the Kurds, is either going to be a help in dealing with this jihadist situation, or it’s going to be a hindrance. And frankly, over the last several years, we have not seen the kind of trust and cooperation develop between moderate Sunni and Shia leaders inside of Iraq, and that accounts in part for some of the weakness of the state, and that then carries over into their military capacity.

So I think it’s fair to say that in our consultations with the Iraqis there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking at all the options. But this should be also a wakeup call for the Iraqi government. There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently against these extremists. And that is going to require concessions on the part of both Shia and Sunni that we haven’t seen so far.

The last point I’ll make -- what’s happened over the last couple of days I think underscores the importance of the point that I made at my West Point speech: the need for us to have a more robust regional approach to partnering and training partner countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. We’re not going to be able to be everywhere all the time, but what we can do is to make sure that we are consistently helping to finance, train, advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security. And that is a long and laborious process, but it’s one that we need to get started."

Phrases like "there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily," and "There has to be a political component to this so that Sunni and Shia who care about building a functioning state that can bring about security and prosperity to all people inside of Iraq come together and work diligently" indicate to me that President Obama still doesn't have a clue what's going on in the world.

There's a great deal of fury growing against President Obama. Statements like "American blood drove al-Qaeda out of Iraq, and Obama has squandered all of it," or "I fought in Afghanistan, and Obama has given the worst of the worst of the Taliban a free pass" are increasingly common. White House

Foreign exchange price fixing will exceed libor scandal in criminality

Britain's government is proposing legislation to punish foreign exchange rigging with criminal sanctions, including prison.

This is another case where bankers from different banks colluded with one another to defraud their customers making currency conversions from one currency to another. One banker would call his pal at another bank to let him know that some client was about to exchange, say, $10 billion for euros. The two bankers would collude on front-running and setting the exchange rate so that when the transaction went through, a few minutes later, the bankers could pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Readers may recall the Libor scandal that began a couple of years ago, where bankers would collude with one another to fix interest rates. Those actions may have cost clients hundreds of millions of dollars, but the foreign exchange market is much bigger, $5.3 trillion, and clients may have lost hundreds of billions of dollars over the years.

It's now been over ten years that Gen-X "financial engineers" flooded into banks and knowingly created tens of trillions of dollars of fraudulent synthetic securities backed by faulty subprime mortgages, and not a single one has gone to jail. The worst that happens is that the bank gets fined. But the individual crooks who caused the global financial crisis keep the millions of dollars that they gained fraudulently, and are free to go on in their jobs to find other ways to defraud investors. The Libor scandal proves that.

Now we're going through the same process again, with the foreign exchange price-fixing scandal. Supposedly, UBS will pay $8 billion in fines, Deutsche Bank AG will pay $4.4 billion, and Citibank will pay $4.3 billion.

Supposedly, this time is different because legislation is being proposed to make foreign exchange fixing a criminal activity. But defrauding clients is already a criminal activity. All of the fraudulent activities of these bankers is criminal activity. The problem is not the laws, but that the criminals are rewarded by letting them keep their money, and they're not prosecuted and sent to jail. AFP and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-14 World View -- President Obama considers military action in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Jun-14 World View -- ISIS and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi sweep across Iraq, capture Tikrit

The collapse of Iraq's army

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS sweeps across Iraq, captures Tikrit


Families in massive traffic jam fleeing Mosul on Tuesday (Reuters)
Families in massive traffic jam fleeing Mosul on Tuesday (Reuters)

Iraqi citizens are panicking as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continued its sweep across Iraq on Wednesday, capturing another city, Saddam Hussein's home town Tikrit, the day after capturing Mosul, a city with 1.6 million people.

At the same time, over half a million people have fled their homes in Mosul, either becoming homeless refugees or hoping to be taken in by family members elsewhere. The exodus surged out of concerns that Mosul would quickly run out of food and gasoline and, according to several reports, out of fear that the Baghdad government will begin bombing Mosul, as he bombed cities in Anwar Province earlier.

Iraq's desperate Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki appeared on television on Wednesday and ordered all military leaders who deserted their positions to be court-martialed. He also called on Shia militias to go out and fight the Sunni ISIS. This is essentially a call to sectarian war.

Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr whom readers may remember played a prominent role in opposing American forces in 2003 after Saddam Hussein's army had been quickly defeated, responded immediately to al-Maliki's call, saying:

"We’re ready to coordinate with some government entities to set up Al Salam Brigades to defend things that are sacred."

These Shia militias will have to face an ISIS that is an order of magnitude stronger than it was just a week ago, having gained momentum from the successful attacks on several villages and cities and, most important of all, having taken control of more than 200 U.S.-provided armored vehicles and masses of weaponry from stores in Mosul. It would not be unexpected if Iran supplies weapons and fighters to al-Sadr, just as it has to Syria and Hezbollah. Bloomberg and CNN

The collapse of Iraq's army

What astonishes most people is that a lightly armed group of about 1,000 ISIS fighters was able to overrun Mosul. Government forces in Mosul included two army divisions, numbering up to 25,000 soldiers, along with 10,000 federal police officers and some 30,000 local police officers. Amazingly, reports indicate that all of these security officers dropped their weapons and fled, leaving the city open to ISIS.

A lot of this can be explained from generational theory. Iraq's last generational crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, climaxing in 1988 with Saddam's use of chemical weapons, so Iraq is no in a generational Awakening era. Iraq's army fought brutally at that time, as all armies do during a generational crisis war, and are considered by many to have won the war. However, once the crisis war reaches a climax, people look back at the horrors and atrocities -- the enemy's and their own -- and they vow never to let that happen again. For America after World War II, that's why there was so much revulsion toward the Korean War in the 1950s, and so much opposition to the Vietnam war in the 1960s and 1970s.

So by the time of the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam's troops had little or no fight in them, and they lost quickly. That was still true in the 2003 ground war, and it's true today as the Sunni population has no will to fight against the ISIS invaders. According to several reports, positions in Iraq's army and security forces are among the best paid jobs available in Iraq today, and so many young men get these positions through bribery and corruption, and under the assumption that they won't have to do much fighting.

In the 2004-2008 time frame, I wrote many times about the unwillingness of Iraqis to fight. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from April, 2007.) I quoted a letter from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist who ran the al-Qaeda in Iraq, apparently for Osama bin Laden:

"Jihad here unfortunately [takes the form of] mines planted, rockets launched, and mortars shelling from afar. The Iraqi brothers still prefer safety and returning to the arms of their wives, where nothing frightens them. Sometimes the groups have boasted among themselves that not one of them has been killed or captured. We have told them in our many sessions with them that safety and victory are incompatible, that the tree of triumph and empowerment cannot grow tall and lofty without blood and defiance of death, that the [Islamic] nation cannot live without the aroma of martyrdom and the perfume of fragrant blood spilled on behalf of God, and that people cannot awaken from their stupor unless talk of martyrdom and martyrs fills their days and nights. The matter needs more patience and conviction. [Our] hope in God is great."

One of the most remarkable features of the Iraq war at that time is the there were no Iraqi suicide bombers. Fathers and mothers refused to let their sons become martyrs in this way. As a result, al-Zaquawi had to import young men from Saudi Arabia and Jordan to blow themselves up and become martyrs.

A few years have passed since then, and there's a new generation of Iraqis growing up, with no personal memory of the Iran/Iraq war, but there are still too many survivors around to be willing to risk fighting another war. So the Iraqi people of Mosul simply flee, and the Iraqi soldiers of the army drop their weapons and do the same thing. Al Monitor (Washington) and Bloomberg

What next for ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi?

The same war-weary Sunni population that drove the foreign fighters in Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of Anbar Province in 2007 are now completely disillusioned by the contempt directed at them both by the American administration led by Barack Obama, and by the contempt directed at them by the Shia al-Maliki government. The hearts and minds that the George Bush administration had won over to the American side are now willing to join ISIS as their only hope to improve their lives. At least they're unwilling to oppose ISIS.

This gives ISIS's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a vision of turning Iraq into a hardline Sunni Islamic state. With the help of old supporters of Saddam Hussein, as well as other young men willing to join the fight, al-Baghdadi has Baghdad in his sights. Saddam was able to govern Iraq and its Shia majority by means of terror and torture, and al-Baghdadi may believe he can do the same. This will be alarming to Iran, which will not sit still and just let it happen. Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-14 World View -- ISIS and Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi sweep across Iraq, capture Tikrit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Jun-14 World View -- Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS

Thailand's military junta uses sexy 'army girls' to change minds

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand's military junta uses sexy 'army girls' to change minds


Thailand junta's 'army girls' pose for a photo
Thailand junta's 'army girls' pose for a photo

The coup d’état by Thailand's army on May 22 overthrew the government of Yingluck Shinawatra but did not, as feared, lead to massive street protests. Nonetheless, for 2/3rds of the population that supported Yingluck, Thailand is no longer the stereotypical "land of smiles."

But the military junta is hoping to bring back some smiles by adopting a public relations campaign led by sexy "army girls," wearing short camouflage-style dresses and ammunition belt-style dog collars. The girls will sing and dance, and will host street parties with free food and music.

Thailand has imposed martial law, and anyone opposing junta rule risks being jailed. But whether playing to one Bangkok stereotype, the "sex capital of the world" will bring about a return to the other stereotype, "land of smiles," remains to be seen. Bangkok Post and Telegraph (London)

Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS

The jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has taken control of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, after Baghdad. Some 1300 ISIS fighters besieged the city, and took control of it in four days, as members of Iraq's army dropped their weapons and fled. The opened the jails and freed 2,400 prisoners.

Mosul is a major strategic prize for ISIS, being on the main export route for Iraqi oil, and a sophisticated center for transportation and commerce. Mosul is the second large city to fall to ISIS, the first being Fallujah in January. ISIS now controls a wide swath of land extending deep into Syria to the west and deep into Iraq to the east. Al-Qaeda has been trying for years to take control of an entire country, to mimic Iran's Great Islamic Revolution that created a hardline Shia Muslim state. Al-Qaeda has tried to create a hardline Sunni Muslim state in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Mali and others, but they've never succeeded. But now ISIS is succeeding where al-Qaeda has failed, by creating an as-yet unnamed Islamic state straddling Syria and Iraq. (ISIS is not part of al-Qaeda, from which it was ejected for not following orders in Syria.) CNN and Reuters

Iraq's president Nouri Al-Maliki declares state of emergency

In a move of desperation, Iraq's president Nouri al-Maliki declared a national state of emergency on Tuesday, after the fall of Mosul, and granted himself dictatorial powers.

Nouri al-Maliki has been president of Iraq since 2006, but has seen Iraq fall apart since the Americans withdrew in December 2011. The Shia leader practically declared war on the Sunnis immediately after the withdrawal. He ordered the arrest of 13 of the bodyguards of Sunni vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, leading several Sunni blocs in the parliament to boycott the government, causing the government to be destabilized.. Al-Maliki continually isolated the Sunnis, who are a minority in the population, and now he's paying the price for it. There were new elections held a couple of months ago, but a new government has not yet been formed because of the political chaos.

There are so many terrorist bombings in Iraq on an almost daily basis that they often don't even make the news outside of Iraq. But in fact, the number of deaths has been increasing almost every month since the Americans' withdrawal. In May alone, about 800 people were killed in terrorist bombings.

During the Iraq war under President George Bush, the American army pressed very hard to pacify the Sunni tribal chiefs and populations. President Bush's surge succeeded not just because additional troops were being sent in, but because the entire surge program was geared towards getting the Sunnis in Anbar province to expel Al-Qaeda in Iraq. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from April, 2007.)

Before he became president Barack Obama bitterly opposed the surge that led to victory in Iraq. After he became president, his only policy was to withdraw as quickly as possibly, with no concern for a relationship with the Sunnis, or with getting al-Maliki to develop a relationship with the Sunnis.

So it's not surprising today that there are many reports that the disaffected Sunnis in Anbar Province, the same ones that drove jihadists out in 2007, are now joining with the jihadists to oppose al-Maliki's government. This has been a major factor in the growing strength of ISIS in Anbar Province, on the border with Syria.

The other major factor in the growth of ISIS is the war in Syria. With no leadership from American to stop them, and especially with the major flip-flop after the chemical weapons "red line" was crossed last year, many Sunnis in Syria have come to believe that their only hope is to join ISIS in fighting Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. As I've written many times, Syria has become a magnet for jihadists around the world, and is now the world's biggest training ground for jihadists.

(The news this week is that Hillary Clinton says that as Secretary of State she favored helping the opposition rebels, in the beginning, before ISIS had a chance to form. I've always said that Clinton would have been a much better president than Obama, because she knows something about what's going on in the world, while Obama doesn't have a clue. And John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, is as dumb as a doorknob.)

All the Mideast trends I've been talking about for years are coming together. From Pakistan to Syria, we see the growth of Sunni militias, and possibly armies, while we see Shia militias grow in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria. ISIS is continuing to spread and gain strength, and a number of analysts believe Jordan will be its next target. BBC and Bloomberg and CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-14 World View -- Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan

Massive Taliban attack at airport in Karachi, Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive Taliban attack at airport in Karachi, Pakistan


Police display confiscated suicide vests and heavy weapons brought in by the terrorists.  In the foreground are the dead bodies of the terrorists in white sacks (AP)
Police display confiscated suicide vests and heavy weapons brought in by the terrorists. In the foreground are the dead bodies of the terrorists in white sacks (AP)

Taliban militants dressed as security forces stormed the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday night and Monday morning, and at least 30 people, including 10 heavily armed gunmen, were killed in a battle that ran for six hours. Security forces announced on Monday morning that the attack had come to an end, but gunfire and bomb blasts continued to be heard into Monday evening.

Jinnah International Airport is the largest and most prestigious airport in Pakistan. It's named after Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah is revered in Pakistan, for his work with Mahatma Gandhi to bring about Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. When Gandhi was killed by a Hindu extremist in February, 1948, Jinnah called him "one of the greatest men produced by the Hindu community." Jinnah himself died later that year of tuberculosis.

Pakistanis are expressing outrage that the militants were able to bring into the airport a huge arsenal of suicide vests, grenades and rocket launchers, without being detected by any airport security. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

Tens of thousands of families flee homes in Pakistan's tribal area

Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) has claimed credit for the attack. The spectacular Karachi airport attack comes at a time when the Taliban itself is having problems. (See "29-May-14 World View -- Major faction defects from Pakistan Taliban, splitting it in two") The TTP claimed that the airport attack was revenge for an American drone strike in November 2011 that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, at that leader of the TTP, whose death led to the split.

In recent months, Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif has been pursuing "peace talks" with TTP. This pursuit was always something of a joke (like the Mideast "peace talks") because the TTP demanded TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be withdrawn from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the entire country. It turned out that Sharif did secretly order the release of 19 Taliban militants from jail, in order to appease the TTP leadership, and those released militants are presumably out somewhere killing more civilians.

The airport attack is being seen as a message that there is no chance of "peace" between Pakistan's government and the Taliban. They got their people out of jail, and they really can't hope to get anything more, so now they're continuing with violence.

Although Karachi is far away from Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA), the airport attack is having a major effect there. The airport attacks have triggered fears that Pakistan's army will launch a new campaign against militants in the FATA, and reports indicate that in North Waziristan, some 25,000 to 50,000 people, mostly women and children, fearing violence from an imminent army attack. and AFP and Bloomberg

Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan

In a separate incident, as many as 23 people were killed when a suicide bomber stormed a hotel where about 300 Shia pilgrims were staying. The incident took place in the town of Taftan in Balochistan, on Pakistan's border with Iran. The attack came when a convoy of 10 buses stopped at two hotels. The buses were carrying the pilgrims returning from a visit to Shia holy sites in Iran, stopping for a rest in Taftan. There were two suicide bombers, but only one of them was able to detonate himself. The terror group Jeish Al-Islam claimed responsibility.

Numerous Taliban groups have been attacking Shia Muslims in Balochistan for years, and Iran's government has been extremely critical of Pakistan for not stopping these attacks. Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) has publicly and firmly announced as its goal the extermination of all Shia Muslims in Pakistan, and has been methodically setting off bombs in order to achieve that goal. On January 21, LeJ blew up a bus of Shia pilgrims returning from Iran, killing 24.

Presumably, Sunday's incident was the last straw for Iranian officials. After this incident, Iran closed its border with Pakistan for an indefinite period, and all activities pertaining to travelling and trade have been suspended. Pakistan Tribune and Fars News (Tehran)

Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough

One of the most fascinating comparisons to come out of Generational Dynamics theory is Iran today with America in the 1960s, at times when the countries were in respective generational Awakening eras, with the rise of young generations following the last crisis war. In 1960s America, the generations of traumatized survivors of the horrors of World War II were determined to prevent anything like that from happening again, so they adopted conservative social policies and fought to stop the communists in Vietnam. The generations that grew up after the war had no patience with these austere policies were widespread. The generational conflict climaxed with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

Iran's last generational crisis war was the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war, which climaxed in 1988 with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons. During the last decade, I've reported frequently on the political clashes between the elders, the war's traumatized survivors, and the young people who do not like restriction on clothing and dating, who love Western tastes and fashion, and who do not particularly want to sea Israel pushed into the sea. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who is definitely a traumatized war survivor, constantly expresses concerns about the younger generation. In an address over the weekend, he said the following:

"Individuals who moved with sharp revolutionary motivation have now changed their views by 180 degrees, and the meaning of the Revolution is incomprehensible to them and we must be vigilant so these characteristics do not penetrate the University’s Jihad complex.

“The revolutionary path of University Jihad must be preserved. It must not be allowed for this important scientific center to be influenced by the political maze of 'leftists' and 'right-wingers.'

The production of destructive atomic bombs, is one hundred percent against humanity."

Just as America's generational split was settled with the resignation of Richard Nixon, Iran's generational split will finally be settled with the death of Ayatollah Khamenei, who is now 74 years old. AEI Iran Tracker

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration

Pope Francis plants an olive tree for Mideast Peace

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration


Many Egyptians, especially women, cheer al-Sisi's inauguration speech, believing he's the savior they've been waiting for (AFP/BBC)
Many Egyptians, especially women, cheer al-Sisi's inauguration speech, believing he's the savior they've been waiting for (AFP/BBC)

Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi was inaugurated as president of Egypt on Sunday, to screams of delight from fans, particularly women. With more than a quarter of Egyptians living in poverty, he promised to cure poverty. He promised to build 26 new tourist resorts, eight new airports and 22 industrial estates. He's just like Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, inaugurated on Saturday, India's Narendra Modi, inaugurated two weeks ago, France's François Hollande last year, and Barack Obama two years ago. They all make promises that can't be fulfilled, and which are often mathematically impossible, which means that they're all morons or liars or, more likely, both. In any event, they're all full of crap.

On the one hand, al-Sisi promised "There will no exclusion of any Egyptian from our march." But on the other hand, one thing that al-Sisi did not do is hold out any hand of reconciliation to his opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, comprising 25-30% of the population.

"As for those who shed the blood of the innocents, there will be no place for them in this path.

And I say it loud and clear, there will be no soft stand with anyone who resorts to violence or whoever wants to delay our march towards the future that we want for our children."

He called them terrorists and repeatedly said that national security was his highest priority. Since he ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood last year as army chief, his army and security forces have killed or jailed thousands of Egyptians, many completely innocent. These include three reporters from Al-Jazeera, who apparently are jailed to get even with Qatar, Al-Jazeera's home country.

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, sent al-Sisi a "cable of congratulations" on his inauguration, but did not attend the ceremony because he wasn't invited. Leaders of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were invited, as were leaders of western countries. The kings of Jordan and Bahrain also attended. However, because of al-Sisi's violent ouster of democratically elected Morsi, and continued violence against innocent protesters, no top officials from Western countries were present. Many African Union leaders were also absent, as Egypt was suspended from the African Union two days after Morsi's ouster. BBC and Reuters and AP

Pope Francis plants an olive tree for Mideast Peace

Pope Francis held a historic and unprecedented prayer meeting for peace in the Mideast at the Vatican, together with Israel's president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The Pope said:

"Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to meeting, and no to conflict. yes to dialog, and no to violence. Yes to negotiations, and no to hostilities. Yes to respecting deals, and no to provocation. Yes to sincerity, and no to being false. For all this, we need courage and strength of soul."

Shimon Peres said:

"I have come here from Jerusalem, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and the vibrant heart of the Jewish People. In Hebrew, the word Jerusalem and the word for peace, share the same root – Shalom. And it is with that prayer in our heart and that call to action that we stand together. From Jerusalem, I have come to call for Shalom – Peace. Peace between nations. Peace between faiths. Peace between people. Peace for our children."

Mahmoud Abbas said:

"God, answer my prayers for peace and justice in my homeland Palestine, the Middle East, and the rest of the world."

In order to guarantee peace, the three went beyond words to bring peace to the Mideast. In addition to their speeches and prayers, they planted an olive tree in the Vatican garden together, to show how people of the world could work together to build the world without conflict.

One Vatican analyst said, "In the Middle East, symbolic gestures and incremental steps are important." Other analysts around the world exclaimed, "Thank God! Peace at last! The Pope has brought peace to the Mideast! Thank God!" AP and Israel National News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Jun-14 World View -- Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's new president promises peace in a united Ukraine


Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)
Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)

Petro Poroshenko, who was elected president of Ukraine on May 25, promised to reunite Ukraine in peace in his inauguration speech on Saturday. He said, "I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands — please lay down your arms," and he promised amnesty "for those who do not have blood on their hands." He insisted that the Crimean peninsula "was, is and will be Ukrainian," although he did not indicate how Ukraine can regain control of Crimea.

Poroshenko has spoken recently with Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and apparently they've known each other for a long time, as Poroshenko's candy empire does a lot of business in Russia. Poroshenko promised in his speech that he would open a corridor of "safe passage" to Russia, something that Russia had demanded in the U.N. Security Council, and Putin appeared to respond by ordering tightened security along the border to prevent illegal crossings.

Pro-Russian rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko’s speech. A rebel leader, Denis Pushilin, said, "At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces." AP and Bloomberg

Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election

Polls have indicated for some time that even the Russians living in eastern Ukraine do not want eastern Ukraine to be part of Russia. After the revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, replacing him with an interim government Kiev, most of these same Russians don't like or trust the Kiev government either.

But according to James Sherr, Ukraine specialist from London think tank Chatham House, the election of Petro Poroshenko is changing some minds, and improving the prospects for Ukraine. At the same time, Vladimir Putin and the Russians are forced to change tactics. This is my transcription of his interview on BBC:

"[Saturday's inauguration speech] was crucial. I think with this speech Ukraine is now clearly back in the center of its drama, and Poroshenko has projected an image of someone who can take Ukraine into the future. This was a very purposeful, positive and realistic speech, and it's done something very important in Ukraine where, for months, there has been an interim government, a lot of indirection and uncertainty, and in the west the preoccupation for months has been almost exclusively on Russia, and if Ukraine has any image at all, it's been largely negative. So coming on top of these very impressive elections with this very high turnout on the 25th of May, I think this is now presenting a very different image, and it helps to establish a different dynamics. ...

He's reaching out to his own country's well-being, and it's important to bear in mind when you talk about separatism in the east, we're talking about activity in two eastern regions, out of six. And if you look at the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, which are predominantly Russian speaking -- that's nine regions. And in only two, and at that only parts of two, are the separatists pretty firmly in control. So that context has to be borne in mind.

The Russians' tactics are rapidly adjusting. When the Russians started this whole enterprise in eastern Ukraine, they expected that the citizen population living there would rise up in their support. And that has not happened. We had hundreds of thousands of people on the street in Kiev [referring to the original protests in December], you have not have that in Dnetsk and Luhansk -- the fighters have been supported by at most crowds of hundreds, and at most a few thousands.

So they started changing tactics then. And I think the election itself has been a further blow to them. Their preoccupation still is to get Western acquiescence in an overall deal that will federalize Ukraine in such a way that the regions it partially controls will not only have autonomy, but have veto power over the central government itself. That's what they mean by federalization. It has no resemblance to what the term means in any other country in the world. I think that's understood inside the EU. It's certainly understood by president Poroshenko."

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

Iraqi officials have been caught by surprise at the size of three days of attacks across the country by the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Gunmen attacked city buildings and neighborhood in Samarra on Thursday, and gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the northern city of Mosul on Friday. On Saturday, jihadists attacked Anbar University in the Iraq city of Ramadi, killing the guards and blowing up a bridge leading to the school. Iraqi special forces launched a counterattack to retake the campus, where most of the students are Shias.

ISIS continues to grow and size and strength, having killed more than 4,400 people this year alone. It began in Syria when the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad started slaughtering thousands of innocent Sunni women and children, and driving millions from their homes. It has become the rock star jihadist organization these days, where tens of thousands of young people from all of the world have come to join. It's growing in both Syria and Iraq, and is threatening the Shia-led government in Iraq.

ISIS continues to grow for several reasons:

Terrorism violence has grown almost every month since the total withdrawal of American forces in December, 2011. ISIS continues to grow and become a major threat to the Mideast and to the world. The National (UAE) and Ammon News (Jordan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jun-14 World View -- Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Jun-14 World View -- Pentagon issues annual report on China's military

Former ambassador to Syria harshly criticizes Obama's policies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pentagon issues annual report on China's military


Chinese soldier in live-fire air defense exercise in 2010 (AP)
Chinese soldier in live-fire air defense exercise in 2010 (AP)

China is developing a new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple nuclear warheads as part of a large-scale military buildup, according to the "Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China."

The so-called MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) missile will carry with it up to ten additional missiles with nuclear warheads, so that a single MIRV missile can strike up to ten different targets with nuclear missiles. China is developing these MIRV weapons in order to be able to overwhelm U.S. missile defenses in a war against the United States.

China has deployed a number of nuclear missile systems, including missiles that can be launched from submarines or from land, and which are specifically designed to target American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers.

China has also deployed thousands of short and medium range missiles for use in striking Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any other nation that challenges its annexation of other countries' sovereign regions in the South and East China Seas.

According to the report, China "is investing heavily in its ground force, emphasizing the ability to deploy campaign-level forces across long distances quickly. This modernization is playing out with wide-scale restructuring of PLA ground forces that includes a more rapid, flexible special operations force equipped with advanced technology; improved army aviation units using helicopters armed with precision- guided munitions; and C2 capabilities with improved networks providing real-time data sharing within and between units." These capabilities will be used in attacks on China's neighbors, including Taiwan, and potentially for introducing ground forces into a United States crippled by a barrage of missile attacks.

According to the report's summary:

"Although the dialogue between the United States and China is improving, outstanding questions remain about the rate of growth in China's military expenditures due to the lack of transparency regarding China's intentions. In 2013, China announced a 5.7 percent increase in its annual military budget to $119.5 billion, continuing more than two decades of sustained annual defense spending increases. China sustained its investments in strategic forces modernization, as well as key anti-access / area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities such as advanced intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons, and offensive cyber capabilities. China's military investments provide it with a growing ability to project power at increasingly longer ranges."

The Obama administration has gone out of its way to avoid portraying China as an enemy, but according to one expert on China's military:

"The 2014 Pentagon PLA report has come a long way to presenting a more useful listing of China’s military direction.

But it is now time for this report to take the next step. It needs to become an illustrated book translated into multiple languages. This document defines the Chinese military’s trajectory more than any other statement by any other country — which is why the Chinese government hates it and wants to shut it down."

Indeed, China very bitterly denounced the Pentagon report. According to China's Foreign Ministry, China has always adhered to the path of peaceful development, pursued a defense policy which is defensive in nature and become a staunch force in safeguarding peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region and the world:

"China's military buildup is completely aimed at safeguarding the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and is part of the country's justified rights."

As we see more and more in the South China Sea, China's view of adhering to "peaceful development" is to annex other nation's territories, and by "safeguarding peace and stability" it means that anyone who does not do as China demands gets killed. U.S. Dept. of Defense and Free Beacon and Xinhua (Beijing)

Al-Sisi's election as Egypt's president tainted by low turnout

A year ago, army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi staged a coup and overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the only democratically elected president in Egypt's history, along with his Muslim Brotherhood government. After leaving the army, al-Sisi won his own election to president on May 28, with a landslide 96.9% of the vote. In contrast to Morsi's elections, many observers consider al-Sisi's election to be fraudulent, since thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been killed or jailed, and in fact anyone who advocated voting against al-Sisi risked being beaten or jailed.

Now al-Sisi's opponents are calling the election a fiasco because of low voter turnout. The government is claiming 47.5% voter turnout, but it was obviously from live pictures carried by BBC and CNN of deserted polling places on election day that this figure is way too high. The Muslim Brotherhood is gleefully claiming that turnout was no higher than 12%, based on data that they collected on election day.

Egyptian authorities took many desperate measures to increase the voter turnout, after the low turnout on the first day of the election. The election had been scheduled to run two days, but it was extended to a third day. A national holiday was declared, and popular artists recorded songs for YouTube encouraging people to vote.

Just as anyone who disagrees with President Obama's policies is labeled a "racist," the pro-al-Sisi media is blaming "terrorists" in the Muslim Brotherhood for preventing people from voting.

However, others in the pro-al-Sisi media are blaming al-Sisi himself:

According to one columnist:

"At this time, many young people are prosecuted, thrown in prison, and heavily fined [under the regime's protest law]. It is astonishing that after this, the current Mubarak-esque government expects these young people – the nation's work force – to labor, to produce, and to vote..."

Another columnist pointed out:

"Field Marshall 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi must realize – and I believe he does – that his job, his aspirations, and his political dimensions are completely different now than they were before the election. He must realize that the popular rage is much greater than [just] that of the MB, and that the attempts to excuse every crisis by [blaming] terrorism in order to cover up political incompetence will no longer be convincing to the millions of Egyptian citizens."

Memri

Former ambassador to Syria harshly criticizes Obama's policies

Robert Ford served for three years as President Obama's ambassador to Syria, before resigning two months ago. Now he's saying that the reason he resigned is that he could no longer defend the U.S. administrations policies with respect to Syria. According to Ford:

"We need - and we have long needed - to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other non-lethal assistance.

Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly the al Qaeda groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates who frankly we have much in common with.

[While Russia and especially Iran are massively increasing their assistance to Assad,] our policy was not evolving and finally I got to a point where I could no longer defend it publicly."

In an interview on BBC on Friday, Ford explained that President Obama's policies have permitted al-Qaeda linked jihadists to gain strength in Syria. Ford was particularly critical of Obama's flip-flop last year, when Syria's president Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama's "red line" and used sarin gas to kill people, and Obama did nothing about it after saying that al-Assad would "face consequences." According to Ford, moderate opposition Syrians were so angered and discouraged by Obama's flip-flop that they joined jihadists groups because that was only possible way they could continue fighting al-Assad. According to Ford:

"We need - and we have long needed - to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other non-lethal assistance. Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly the al Qaeda groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates who frankly we have much in common with."

These views will be no surprise to regular World View readers, but it's unusual for an ambassador to be so critical of a President so soon after resigning. Reuters and NPR

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-14 World View -- Pentagon issues annual report on China's military thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Jun-14 World View -- Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China

Eurozone moves to negative interest rates to fight deflation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China


Chinese destroyer Haribing
Chinese destroyer Haribing

Of the nations (Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) whose sovereign territory China is annexing via military force, Indonesia has tried to stay out of the disputes with China, and to concentrate on its own internal problems -- internal terrorist attacks, and separatist movements.

But now China's growing belligerence is causing Indonesia to shift strategies. According to one analyst,

"The focus in defense spending is moving to dealing with external threats. There is a concern from an Indonesian perspective that the South China Sea should not become a Chinese lake and that freedom of shipping should be maintained."

Indonesia has some 17,000 islands to police, stretched across 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) from east to west. The Malacca Strait that Indonesia shares with Malaysia is a key shipping lane that links the economies of countries such as India, China and Japan. Bloomberg and National Interest

Eurozone moves to negative interest rates to fight deflation

With four euro zone countries -- Slovakia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus -- now in deflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) took the desperate step of setting the "deposit rate" to a negative interest rate, -0.1%. The "deposit rate" is the interest rate that a regional bank receives when it deposits money in the ECB. If the interest rate goes negative, it means that a regional bank must pay the ECB to hold its deposit. The purpose of the move is to incentive regional banks to lend money out to other businesses, rather than depositing it in the ECB.

Few analysts believe that this interest rate reduction will make much difference. For that reason, ECB president Mario Draghi has announced that quantitative easing is being discussed. The United States "prints" $55 billion per month in quantitative easing to increase the stock market bubble. Business Insider and Bloomberg

Dept of Homeland Security seeks a 'sarcasm detector'

The Dept. of Homeland Security Secret Service has issued a solicitation for a "Social Media Software Analytics Tool," commercial software that will automate the process of monitoring social media, detect statistical patterns in real time, and visually present the data clearly and concisely. Among the required capabilities, the software must have the "Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives." So if someone sends out a tweet threatening to kill someone, the software has to be able to tell whether the tweet is a joke or not. What could go wrong with that? Engadget and Federal Business Opportunities

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-14 World View -- Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-14 World View -- History is repeating itself in China and Vietnam

Nigeria helpless as Boko Haram trashes entire villages

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria helpless as Boko Haram trashes entire villages


Aftermath of Boko Haram attack in May (AFP)
Aftermath of Boko Haram attack in May (AFP)

Boko Haram on Sunday attacked residents of Attagara, a village in northeast Nigeria near the Cameroon border. Like many villages, Attagara residents were frustrated by the impotence and helplessness of the Nigerian army and security forces to protect them, so they formed vigilante groups to defend themselves. On Sunday, the Attagara vigilante groups immediately came out and retaliated, killing several of the Boko Haram militants.

On Tuesday, men dressed in army uniforms arrived in Attagara with about 200 motorcycles said they had arrived to protect the residents, and asked the residents to gather in the church. Once they were all inside, the men, who were militants in disguise, surrounded the church, killed everyone, and burnt down the entire village.

In addition to having abducted almost 300 teenage schoolgirls who have still not been recovered, and killing hundreds of civilians in bombings, Boko Haram militants have taken control of dozens of villages. Boko Haram is dividing Nigeria's public along religious lines. The Christians believe that Muslims in general are complicit with Boko Haram, while the Muslims believed that they're all being unfairly blamed for the horrific actions of a terrorist gang. It's believed that many soldiers in Nigeria's army also work for Boko Haram, in order to supplement their pay. These fears appear to have been confirmed on Wednesday, when Ten generals and five other senior military officers were found guilty in courts-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram extremists. AP and BBC and AP

Reader comments: History is repeating itself

The following are some reader comments to my last two articles:

From Trevor in the Generational Dynamics Forum:

"One major thing that concerns me is that, indeed, history is repeating itself once again. I've talked to numerous people and realize that we are just as arrogant, just as complacent, and just as unprepared for a major attack as we were in 1941. With all the talk that China can't possibly threaten us, we said something very similar- indeed, almost word for word- against Japan, only to be proven completely wrong. Doing the same thing against China would be even more disastrous yet it appears likely.

Our current policy is assuming that war is a thing of the past, that we'll never have to fight another ground war again, so why bother preparing for it? Any comparisons I try to make about similar mistakes in the past are shot down "We're more civilized than that now" "Things are completely different" "We're so far ahead of everyone else that we're in no danger". Of course, there are others who like to say that any warning of China or anyone else is all lies.

Sadly, pretty much everyone in office at the moment care more about their political power, crushing their rivals, rewarding their cronies, and screwing everyone else over than actually attempting to do something about the very real threats we currently face. Plenty of historians criticize our decision not to mobilize and prepare for WWII sooner, but that's exactly what we're doing today. Don't forget: winter is coming."

Alton Wang takes China's side in the BigPeace comments section:

"You are correct in that these waters [South China Sea] were indisputable for the past 2000 years, because China owned them, and Viet Nam never said anything, perhaps because Viet Nam itself was subsidiary to China and relied on Chinese troops to fight against the French and the Americans as well. Your own prime minister Pham Van Dong actually acknowledged Chinese ownership to these waters too. Now all of a sudden you are claiming sovereignty? Now who's attempting to change the status quo here?

A response from Henry Nguyen, who takes Vietnam's side in the same BigPeace comments section:

"Vietnam said nothing because they already developed and lived on these islands for 400 years. Vietnam was fighting the French for 100 years until China started helping. Whatever those helps were, eventually cancelled by Chinese invasion in 1979. PM Pham Van Dong did not acknowledge Chinese ownership (google and read again) and even if he did, as PM of North Vietnam he had no power to give away what controlled by the South. Research for facts and stop relying on Chinese distortions: Vietnam 1st sent naval troops to these islands to map, build storm shelters, plant trees, collect shipwrecks and valuables since early 1,600's. In fact, all Chinese occupations in Paracels and Spratlys today, resulted from invasions of Vietnamese presence."

Here's another question, from Thucydides in the Generational Dynamics Forum, regarding some technical questions about how generational theory applies to Vietnam, in view of the fact that Vietnam's last generational crisis war was the 1970s war between North and South Vietnam, in which the U.S. sided with the South and lost:

"It appears to me that Vietnam is behaving rather odd for a country in a generational awakening era. The governing officials that are provoking China are from the older generation that remembers the Vietnam war. Does generational dynamics predict that they will back down rather than risk an unwinnable war? Or is it possible that a country in a generational awakening era can allow things to escalate into a war that it is predestined to loose?"

Keep in mind that the U.S. didn't back down from the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars. The political justifications for these wars came out of WW II -- act as policeman of the world to prevent another world war.

Vietnam is in a generational Awakening era. Vietnam beat the U.S., then beat China in a brief war, and my guess is that they're thinking that they can beat the Chinese again in some way. It would be interesting to understand exactly what thought process the Vietnamese leaders are going through these days. They may believe that even if China can beat them, they'll still inflict enough damage on the Chinese that it won't be worth it to them. That would be consistent with the likely view of the victories over the U.S. and China. They wore down the U.S., and they may have decided that they can wear down China too. Generational Dynamics forum and BigPeace comments and GD forum

Generational timeline of ancient Palestine/Israel

Nathan G, a student in the Generational Dynamics forum, has done some research to establish a generational timeline for generations of ancient Palestine/Israel. He points out that several issues arise because of conflicts of chronologies (Was the Exodus in the 15th or 13th century BC? Did David rule in the 11th or 10th century BC?). However, this is a good starting point to identify generational crisis wars in those centuries, and serve as a basis for more research:

Ancient Israel/Palestine generational crisis list:

Jesus himself was in the same generational archetype as today's Boomers, and he was an extremely charismatic Alinsky-style 1960s-style activist, just like the Boomers. That's why he caused so many headaches for the Romans and the money changers, and why they had to get revenge. Generational Dynamics forum

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-14 World View -- History is repeating itself in China and Vietnam thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-14 World View -- Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China

Saudi Arabia reports significantly more deaths from MERS virus

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat


Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat (AFP)
Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat (AFP)

On May 24, a gunman entered the Jewish Museum in Brussels and shot three people dead, wounding a fourth. The perpetrator, Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, was finally captured on Monday, June 1, at a train station in Marseille. What has particular concerned French prosecutors is that Nemmouche had been radicalized by the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while spending a year fighting in Syria.

According to France's prime minister Manuel Valls, France is now increasing its estimate to 800 of the number of French people who have fought or plan to fight in Syria, and he warned that they pose an unprecedented security threat. According to Valls:

"We have never before faced a challenge of this kind. It is without any doubt the most serious threat we face.

We have to ensure the surveillance of hundreds and hundreds of French or European individuals who are today fighting in Syria."

Once again I'm repeating the point that I've been making now for well over a year, that Syria has become an international magnet for jihadists around the world, from places as far apart as Indonesia, Pakistan, North Africa, France, Germany and Dagestan. Recent research confirms that some 11,000 of these jihadists have flocked to Syria -- 3,000 from Western Europe and 100 from America. These jihadists will have no language or cultural problems when they return home, where they will pose a terrorist threat. AFP and BBC

Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China

China's belligerent military actions in the South China Sea, annexing regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, have drawn worldwide criticism, and caused Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines to form a military alliance to oppose China. The criticism is so sharp that a number of analysts have openly questioned why the Chinese would act so belligerently, if doing so incurred such criticism. These questions are extremely naive, but here are the answers from the point of view of Generational Dynamics:

Chinese actions towards the Vietnamese have been acts of war, or pretty close. News reports of Chinese ships using water cannons on Vietnamese ships seem to convey a benign impression. But these water cannons are being directed at doing maximum damage, to force the ships to return to port for repair. And that's only part of it. Chinese ships have been ramming smaller Vietnamese ships with the purpose of sinking them or damaging them beyond repair.

According to unconfirmed reports, Vietnam is developing an aggressive strategy to counter Chinese belligerence. The strategy develops in stages:

Once again, we have a strategy that's extremely naive. The strategy is "creating circumstances where China would have to accept the status quo or escalate." If this were 20 years ago, China would accept the status quo. But today, given a choice between accepting the status quo or escalating, China will escalate. And if Vietnam launches any ballistic missile at any China asset or city, China will clobber Vietnam, quickly spiraling into world war.

One way or another it's clear that Vietnam is not going to tolerate much longer China's annexing of Vietnamese property and attacking and crippling Vietnamese ships, without a substantially escalated response. The Diplomat and People's Daily (Beijing)

Saudi Arabia reports significantly more deaths from MERS virus

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health on Tuesday reported 282 people have died from MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), a major increase from the previous official death toll of 190. This is out of 688 total cases in Saudi Arabia. As happened last year, concerns are growing that a major pandemic might begin during the Hajj, when millions of Muslims from around the world arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once in a lifetime pilgrimage. The Hajj in 2014 is scheduled for October 2-7. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-14 World View -- Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-14 World View -- Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan

Hamas leader resigns as Palestine unity government is announced

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's King abdicates as Catalonia moves to secession referendum


King Carlos poses in front of an elephant that he and his wife killed in Botswana in 2011
King Carlos poses in front of an elephant that he and his wife killed in Botswana in 2011

Spain's King Juan Carlos, is revered among older Spaniards for his deft handling of Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and for putting down an attempted army coup in 1981. But younger Spaniards see him as the man who went on a lavish elephant-hunting trip in 2012 at the height of Spain's financial crisis.

On Monday, King Carlos abdicated the throne:

"We have felt the need for renovation, and to open up a better future. Today a younger generation deserves to step forward.

I want the best for Spain, to which I have dedicated my whole life. I have decided to abdicate my crown to give way to a new generation embodied by my son Felipe, heir to the throne. I keep and will keep Spain forever deep in my heart."


Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia. (EPA)
Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia. (EPA)

In the mid 2000s decade, Spain had one of the worst real estate bubbles of any country in the world, and unemployment today is above 25%. Catalonia is holding on November 9 a referendum to vote on seceding from Spain. The Spanish government considers the referendum to be illegal, but it's going ahead anyway. It's hoped that the ascension of Prince Felipe and his glamorous wife Princess Letizia to the throne will help dull Catalonia's desire for independence. AP and Guardian (London)

Hamas leader resigns as Palestine unity government is announced

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced on Monday that his organization (PA/Fatah) and its arch-enemy Hamas have joined into a unity government. In a ceremony in Ramallah in the West Bank, Abbas said:

"Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case.

This black page in the history (of the Palestinians) has been turned forever, and we will not allow it to come back."

The Hamas charter demands the total destruction of Israel. Abbas has promised that the new unity government will recognize Israel and renounce violence, but this promise is not widely believed.

However, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh dramatically announced his resignation, so that he would not stand in the way of the reunification agreement.

"We're leaving the government, but not the nation. We're leaving the ministries but not the question of the nation."

It's thought that Haniyeh stepped down because Hamas is close to bankruptcy. Since the Syrian war, Hamas has lost its main financial sponsor, Iran. And Gaza is doubly blockaded, both by Israel and by Egypt. So Haniyeh can continue doing whatever he wants, but just won't be part of the unity government. The real test will occur when Islamic Jihad, which is an independent terror group in Gaza that has been arming for a future war with Israel, decides to launch a new barrage of rockets into Israel. What will the unity government do then? Gulf Today (UAE) and Times of Israel

Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan

The terrorist group Boko Haram is responsible for thousands of deaths through terrorist attacks in northeastern Nigeria, and is still holding hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls, possibly as sexual slaves. But Boko Haram is posing an additional danger to Nigeria and the entire region by making it almost impossible to administer polio vaccines. The vaccination campaign has been forced to use so-called "hit-and-runs," sending workers guarded by security officers into insecure areas to quickly administer vaccines, and quickly escape.

Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio is endemic.

Pakistan has been a particular problem because the Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the administration bragged in 2011 that a vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. Polio is spreading within Pakistan, and travelers from Pakistan have been carrying the virus to other countries, particularly China and the Mideast. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a requirement that all Pakistanis traveling abroad will be required to present a polio vaccination certificate at the time departure, and those certificates became mandatory on Sunday, June 1. CBC and Dawn (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-14 World View -- Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-14 World View -- Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan

Hamas leader resigns as Palestine unity government is announced

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's King abdicates as Catalonia moves to secession referendum


King Carlos poses in front of an elephant that he and his wife killed in Botswana in 2011
King Carlos poses in front of an elephant that he and his wife killed in Botswana in 2011

Spain's King Juan Carlos, is revered among older Spaniards for his deft handling of Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, and for putting down an attempted army coup in 1981. But younger Spaniards see him as the man who went on a lavish elephant-hunting trip in 2012 at the height of Spain's financial crisis.

On Monday, King Carlos abdicated the throne:

"We have felt the need for renovation, and to open up a better future. Today a younger generation deserves to step forward.

I want the best for Spain, to which I have dedicated my whole life. I have decided to abdicate my crown to give way to a new generation embodied by my son Felipe, heir to the throne. I keep and will keep Spain forever deep in my heart."


Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia. (EPA)
Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia. (EPA)

In the mid 2000s decade, Spain had one of the worst real estate bubbles of any country in the world, and unemployment today is above 25%. Catalonia is holding on November 9 a referendum to vote on seceding from Spain. The Spanish government considers the referendum to be illegal, but it's going ahead anyway. It's hoped that the ascension of Prince Felipe and his glamorous wife Princess Letizia to the throne will help dull Catalonia's desire for independence. AP and Guardian (London)

Hamas leader resigns as Palestine unity government is announced

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced on Monday that his organization (PA/Fatah) and its arch-enemy Hamas have joined into a unity government. In a ceremony in Ramallah in the West Bank, Abbas said:

"Today, with the formation of a national consensus government, we announce the end of a Palestinian division that has greatly damaged our national case.

This black page in the history (of the Palestinians) has been turned forever, and we will not allow it to come back."

The Hamas charter demands the total destruction of Israel. Abbas has promised that the new unity government will recognize Israel and renounce violence, but this promise is not widely believed.

However, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh dramatically announced his resignation, so that he would not stand in the way of the reunification agreement.

"We're leaving the government, but not the nation. We're leaving the ministries but not the question of the nation."

It's thought that Haniyeh stepped down because Hamas is close to bankruptcy. Since the Syrian war, Hamas has lost its main financial sponsor, Iran. And Gaza is doubly blockaded, both by Israel and by Egypt. So Haniyeh can continue doing whatever he wants, but just won't be part of the unity government. The real test will occur when Islamic Jihad, which is an independent terror group in Gaza that has been arming for a future war with Israel, decides to launch a new barrage of rockets into Israel. What will the unity government do then? Gulf Today (UAE) and Times of Israel

Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan

The terrorist group Boko Haram is responsible for thousands of deaths through terrorist attacks in northeastern Nigeria, and is still holding hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls, possibly as sexual slaves. But Boko Haram is posing an additional danger to Nigeria and the entire region by making it almost impossible to administer polio vaccines. The vaccination campaign has been forced to use so-called "hit-and-runs," sending workers guarded by security officers into insecure areas to quickly administer vaccines, and quickly escape.

Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio is endemic.

Pakistan has been a particular problem because the Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio providing vaccines, ever since the administration bragged in 2011 that a vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. Polio is spreading within Pakistan, and travelers from Pakistan have been carrying the virus to other countries, particularly China and the Mideast. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a requirement that all Pakistanis traveling abroad will be required to present a polio vaccination certificate at the time departure, and those certificates became mandatory on Sunday, June 1. CBC and Dawn (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-14 World View -- Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Jun-14 World View -- Prisoner swap deal infuriates many Afghans, 'big victory' for Taliban

Abbas: Palestinian unity government will 'renounce violence' against Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Please resend e-mail messages

If you sent me an e-mail message on Thursday or Friday (May 29/30), then I may not have received it due to a massive attack on the e-mail servers for my web site. In that case, please resend.

Taliban chief Mullah Omar calls prisoner swap a 'big victory'


Mullah Mohammad Omar
Mullah Mohammad Omar

The release of five high-level Taliban prisoners from Gitmo, in exchange for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl who has been held captive for 5 years, is being declared a "big victory" by the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar:

"I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation, all the Mujahideen and to the families and relatives of the prisoners for this big victory regarding the release of five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo prison. ...

We shall thank almighty for this great victory. The sacrifice of our Mujahedin have resulted in the release of our senior leaders from the hand of the enemy. ...

I thank the government of Qatar, especially its emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad (Al Thani), who made sincere efforts for release of these leaders and for their mediation and for hosting them. May Allah grant all of them with rewards"

The five Taliban prisoners had been officials in the Taliban regime driven out by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks. AFP and NBC

Many Afghans express anger at the release of the Taliban prisoners

Some Afghans are criticizing the release of five Taliban prisoners, saying that they'll resume fighting within Afghanistan after the U.S. troops leave.

According to the U.S. military, the five are "high risk," and were implicated in the murder of thousands of Shia Muslims in Afghanistan. The Taliban are militants within the Pashtun ethnic group, which is Sunni Muslim. There is continuing sectarian tension throughout the region, and the return of Taliban militants with a history of slaughter of Shia Muslims is going to raise alarms.

According to one high school teacher living in Kabul:

"This decision showed that the region, Afghanistan and its people aren’t worth anything to American government.

Otherwise, why would they swap a useless army soldier who broke the law with the five most dangerous Taliban fighters?"

The phrase "broke the law" refers to the accusation that Bergdahl had been captured in the first place because he abandoned his post, and walked away from his military base with only a compass and a bottle of water. Reuters

Abbas: Palestinian unity government will 'renounce violence' against Israel

Palestinians expect to form a new "unity government" with a press conference scheduled for Monday afternoon. The unity government will join Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, with the Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) for the first time since the factions went to war in 2008.

The United States has not taken a public position on the reunification of the two Palestinian groups, but on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone to PA president Mahmoud Abbas. In the phone call, Abbas promised Kerry that the new unity government would recognize Israel and renounce violence. Few people believe that this promise will be kept.

Hamas is threatening to block Monday's announcement unless a number of power-sharing issues are resolved. Previous attempts to form a unity government have failed because of such issues. However, the reunification has become a major international issue, and Hamas officials are indicating that they'll go ahead with the announcement despite their misgivings and expect to make changes later. Jerusalem Post and Gulf News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-14 World View -- Prisoner swap deal infuriates many Afghans, 'big victory' for Taliban thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Jun-14 World View -- Hagel sets a 'red line' for China in South China Sea

Migrants from Syria and Africa flood into Italy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrants from Syria and Africa flood into Italy


Boat with migrants fleeing from Libya (DW)
Boat with migrants fleeing from Libya (DW)

Over 3,500 migrants, including hundreds of women and children, as well as many unattached children, arrived in Italy in a single day, as the annual "migration season" begins to enter its peak period, thanks to the warm weather. Some 43,000 migrants have arrived so far this year, the same amount all of 2013. The migrants arrive from Syria and North Africa, and most are believed to have started crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya. According to Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi:

"Europe has to call on the United Nations to intervene in Libya and more generally it must show a capacity to manage the immigration phenomenon."

Greece, Italy and Malta have repeatedly asked their fellow EU countries for help in handling the large numbers of migrants. Immigration was a major political issue in the recent elections for European Parliament, where a number of anti-immigrant parties did unexpectedly well. Deutsche Welle and Reuters

Hagel sets a 'red line' for China in South China Sea

As we reported yesterday, Japan's president Shinzo Abe spoke on Friday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Asian security issues. He announced enhanced military relationships with Vietnam and the Philippines, and demanded that China abide by international rules and laws, rather than coercion and threats.

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave a speech at the same conference, and expressed approval of Abe's plan. Hagel also made some harsh criticisms of China:

"But in recent months, China has undertaken destabilizing, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea. It has restricted access to Scarborough Reef, put pressure on the long-standing Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal, begun land reclamation activities at multiple locations, and moved an oil rig into disputed waters near the Paracel Islands.

The United States has been clear and consistent. We take no position on competing territorial claims. But we firmly oppose any nation’s use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert those claims.

We also oppose any effort – by any nation – to restrict overflight or freedom of navigation – whether from military or civilian vessels, from countries big or small. The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged."

Now here's the problem: When Hagel says that the U.S. "will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged," many people will not believe him. They will remember the following:

Now Hagel is setting another "red line." Does anyone really believe that the U.S. will do anything but "look the other way"? The following statement is attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt." It seems that any time Hagel or President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry opens his mouth, he makes a fool of himself. It would be better if they all followed Abraham Lincoln's advice and kept their mouths shut.

China's Lt. Gen. Wang Guanzhong responded to Hagel's speech:

"Secretary Hagel's speech is full of threats and intimidating language. Secretary Hagel's speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asia region's instability giving rise to a disturbance. Secretary Hagel, in this kind of public space with many people, openly criticized China without reason. This accusation is completely without basis. ...

It was ... filled with instigation, threat and intimidation, which wanted to incite the destabilizing factors of Asia-Pacific region to stir up disputes."

Maj. Gen. Zhu Chenghu said that the "charges are "groundless," and that:

"[T]he Americans are making very, very important strategic mistakes right now. ...

If you take China as an enemy, China will absolutely become the enemy of the US. If the Americans take China as an enemy, we Chinese have to take steps to make ourselves a qualified enemy of the US. But if the Americans take China as a friend, China will be a very loyal friend; and if they take China as a partner, China will be a very cooperative partner."

Dept. of Defense and Economic Times and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-14 World View -- Hagel sets a 'red line' for China in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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31-May-14 World View -- Japan's Shinzo Abe asserts Asian leadership against China

Nigeria blames Cameroon for failure to defeat Boko Haram

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia finally pulls its troops back from Ukrainian border


A blood-stained icon of Jesus lies in blood-soaked shattered glass after a clash on Tuesday at Donetsk airport (Reuters)
A blood-stained icon of Jesus lies in blood-soaked shattered glass after a clash on Tuesday at Donetsk airport (Reuters)

When Russia moved 40,000 troops up to the border with Ukraine, it was widely believed that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent. The invasion never happened, but there followed a series of game-playing (intentional lying) episodes by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, announcing that the troops were being pulled back, when in fact there was no intention to pull them back.

But now, finally, Nato is confirming that about 2/3rds of the troops have been pulled back, though thousands of Russian troops still remain.

Even without an explicit invasion, the pullback does not indicate an end to Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. Reports continue of trucks laden with Russian and Chechen fighters and weapons traveling across the border to support and supply the pro-Russian separatist militias. Russia's "stealth invasion" indicates that further warfare is to come. Washington Post and Australian Broadcasting

Japan's Shinzo Abe asserts Asian leadership against China

Speaking in Singapore on Friday at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue on Asian security issues, Japan's president Shinzo Abe said that Japan will continue to be a pacifist state that makes great contributions to global peace, and he expressed the intention for Japan to take a more active part in guaranteeing peace and security throughout Asia.

However, the indicated that the way he's going to do that is to ally with Vietnam and the Philippines to force international arbitration over the territory that China plans to annex -- and indeed has already annexed by military force in some cases.

"What the world eagerly awaits is for our seas and our skies to be places governed by rules, laws and established dispute resolution procedures. The least desirable state of affairs is having to fear that coercion and threats will take the place of rules and laws, and that unexpected situations will arise at arbitrary times and places."

This was a direct criticism of China, which is refusing to follow international rules and established dispute resolution procedures. China does not want to submit the disputes to a court, because China would win some battles and would lose some battles. China is the greedy tyrant that wants everything. That's why China was furious and began taking revenge against the Philippines for appealing their disputes to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. China has refused to cooperate with the Tribunal.

At Friday's conference, Abe said that Japan has provided ten patrol boats to the Philippine Coast Guard, and that Japan is planning to do the same for Vietnam as well.

A Chinese analyst says that Abe is playing with international law to advance nationalistic goals:

"Abe is going against the spirit of peace that is fundamental to international law by using it as an excuse to move in the opposite direction."

Japan Times and Xinhua

The Chinese view of the 'China Threat'

China's state-run news agency provides a very interesting analysis of why they believe other countries see them as "evil or dangerous." Here are some excerpts:

"A tragic hostility is unfolding in Asia while Vietnam and Japan, who share similar culture heritage with China, see their neighbor much more like a thorn in their sides. After a Vietnamese fishing boat deliberately entered Chinese waters and collided in a kamikaze-style attack on a vessel protecting an oil rig in China’s Xisha Islands on Monday, Hanoi blamed it on China and quickly sought foreign aid to beef up its marine patrol. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe found this a good chance for finger-pointing and eagerly dressed up Japan as a counterweight to the growing influence of China. This is ironic. Since his Liberal Democratic Party-led government took power at the end of 2012, Abe has been upsetting Asia with his attempts to reverting to militarism.

A good question is why has the term “China threat” been coined rather than “Japan threat”? Here are three key reasons. Firstly, China keeps emphasizing its special characteristics or differentia from the other states, which creates mystery and makes it easily depicted as an imaginary enemy. Still today, many Chinese sadly find their national totem of the dragon and the red flag of the country’s governing party, both majestic in the Chinese culture, seen as evil or dangerous symbols in the West. Secondly, within a few decades, China effectively eliminated poverty, and quickly rose into the world’s second-largest economy. More disturbing is the fact that all its economic achievements have been made under a political system whose founders had aimed to eliminate capitalism.

Over the past few centuries, the world has been following the Law of the Jungle: the strong get stronger while the weak get weaker. Can China be so different from the previous powers in not seeking hegemony? It is a question upsetting many people across the world. Many of those who advocate containing China involuntarily make an empirical judgment. It was too bad that Japan was not stopped in the 1930s. So it is time to stop China now, they say. But believe it or it, empiricism could be wrong. China will never be a second Japan.

With a history of 5,000 years and incorporating diverse culture that they have either created or had imposed on them, the Chinese people have developed a unique perspective on the relationship between man and nature as well as between state and state. Those familiar with Chinese history know China was the world’s most powerful state for a long period of time but it never colonized or invaded any country. “However large a country is, bellicosity will cause it to perish,” goes an old Chinese adage that still resonates nowadays."

Xinhua

Nigeria blames Cameroon for failure to defeat Boko Haram

The 200+ schoolgirls abducted on April 16 by the terror group Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria have still not been recovered, and there is no indication that they'll ever be recovered. Furthermore, since the girls' abductions, over 500 civilians have been killed in multiple terror attacks by Boko Haram. Nigeria has struck a deal with Niger to allow its troops to cross the border in pursuit of Boko Haram, and is discussing a similar deal with Chad. But Cameroon is refusing to make such a deal, and Nigerian officials are accusing Cameroon of providing a safe haven for Boko Haram terrorists:

"Niger has been proactive and aggressive, Chad has shown zero tolerance for Boko Haram. Cameroon, we've engaged them to be more pro-active. They haven't really. Not yet."

However, Cameroon officials deny the allegations:

"Cameroon has never been the weakest link in the chain. As the deployment of troops and equipment in the past few days prove, we have put up an iron curtain with enough firepower, which Boko Haram cannot break."

Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-14 World View -- Japan's Shinzo Abe asserts Asian leadership against China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2014) Permanent Link
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30-May-14 World View -- Missile attack on Ukraine helicopter portends a bigger conflict

Hamas and Fatah move to unified Palestinian government, as Israel objects

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Missile attack on Ukraine helicopter portends a bigger conflict


Black smoke rising from the scene of the helicopter crash (AP)
Black smoke rising from the scene of the helicopter crash (AP)

On Wednesday, pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine launched a ground to air missile, and downed a Ukraine army helicopter, killing 12 government soldiers. This was a devastating blow to Ukraine's government, and it seriously escalates the conflict.

There have been multiple reports that fighters from Russia have been joining the anti-government rebels. According to one report on the BBC, there have been numerous fighters from Chechnya, Abkhazia and South Ossetia crossing the border and fighting on the side of the pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine. There have also been some reports of rebel groups fighting each other for control of their individual regions.

The ground-to-air missile that brought down the helicopter may or may not have been supplied by Russia. Ukraine itself is a manufacturer of many kinds of weapons, so there are multiple possible sources where the rebels could have obtained this weapon.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Ukraine is in a generational Crisis era, which means that a spark could ignite a conflict that spirals into a war. I'm particularly struck by how often I hear the words "fascists" and "Nazis" used, evoking memories of the bloody battles of World War II. The people who are using those words have little or no memory of the horrors of the torture, rape and mutilation that occurred in those battles. All they know is that their side were the heroes, and the other side were the criminals, and that it's finally time to even the score. BBC and Kyiv Post

Hamas and Fatah move to unified Palestinian government, as Israel objects

With last month's collapse of the Mideast "peace talks," the Palestinians made it clear that they're going to go their own way. This means, for example, applying to hundreds of United Nations organizations as the State of Palestine.

On Thursday, the Palestinians announced the next step in their plans. Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) announced that Rami Hamdallah, who is considered to be a relatively non-ideological technocrat, is to be the head of the new unity government, combining Hamas and Fatah.

There were problems almost as soon as the announcements were made. There were also supposed to be announcements of the entire unity government cabinet, but they were postponed because of disagreements. Fatah and Hamas were at war several years ago, and several subsequent attempts at unity have collapsed because of hostility between the two.

If the Palestinians do succeed in forming a unity government, then they'll face other problems. The U.S. and the EU identify Hamas as a terrorist organization with a charter that includes the total destruction of Israel. So Israel has said that they won't do business with any government that includes Hamas. And U.S. law prohibits aid to the Palestinians to benefit Hamas, "or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence."

If a unity government is actually successfully formed, then there will be pressure within the EU to recognize the unity government. That would certainly change the geopolitical landscape, but there are many "if's" that will have to be faced before that point is reached. Ma'an News (Bethlehem) and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-14 World View -- Missile attack on Ukraine helicopter portends a bigger conflict thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2014) Permanent Link
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29-May-14 World View -- Major faction defects from Pakistan Taliban, splitting it in two

Riot police dismantle migrant camps in Calais France

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Riot police dismantle migrant camps in Calais France


For many of the refugees, all of their belongings were bulldozed into a pile and put into plastic bags (AFP)
For many of the refugees, all of their belongings were bulldozed into a pile and put into plastic bags (AFP)

Three days after the anti-immigrant Front National party hammered France's ruling Socialist party in elections of members to the European Parliament, French riot police began forcibly evacuating three migrant campsites in the northern city of Calais on Wednesday. Some 500 migrants, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, were forced to grab whatever belongings they could before bulldozers came and cleared the area.

Calais is a port town on the English Channel, and it's France's closest point to Britain. Each year it draws thousands of migrants hoping to travel to Britain, where they would try to get a job and take advantage of Britain's welfare and health benefits. France 24 and Euro News

1,000 migrants storm Spain's Melilla enclave in Africa


A flood of migrants scaled the metallic fence dividing Morocco from Metilla (AP)
A flood of migrants scaled the metallic fence dividing Morocco from Metilla (AP)

On the same day that French riot police stormed the Calais migrant camp, about 1,000 African migrants in Morocco stormed the border and entered Spain's Melilla enclave. The enclave is considered Spanish territory, and therefore European territory. The border between Morocco and Melilla is separated by two tall metallic fences. If only a few migrants attempt to cross, then the border police can stop them. But on Wednesday, 1,000 migrants stormed the border in a coordinated crossing. Some 400 of the migrants made it across, and headed for the CETI refugee center there. The refugee center is supposed to handle only 500 refugees, but it's now accommodating about 2,000. The migrants will be processed at the center. A few will be offered asylum in mainland Spain, and the rest will be sent back. The Local (Spain)

Major faction defects from Pakistan Taliban, splitting it in two

Pakistanis are expressing glee at the news of a major split in the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP).

The TTP is an umbrella organization for a number of terrorist organizations in Pakistan. The TTP was founded in 2007 and led for years by Baitullah Mehsud, from the Mehsud tribe in Waziristan. Baitullah Mehsud was killed by an American drone strike in 2009. He was succeeded by Hakimullah Mehsud, but Hakimullah Mehsud, also from the Mehsud tribe, was later killed by another drone strike, this time in November 2011.

The TTP was taken over by a non-Mehsud leader, Maulana Fazlullah. A number of factions have been unhappy with Fazlullah's leadership, and there have been bloody clashes between different militant organizations, becoming more violent in the last few weeks.

A spokesman for the Mehsud tribe said on Wednesday:

"We announce our defection from the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, we have chosen Khalid Mehsud as the new leader for South Waziristan.

The present (Fazlullah-led) Taliban regime is carrying out bomb attacks on public places with bogus names and also money is being extorted from madrassas and other institutions which is not acceptable.

[The leadership] within the TTP has gone towards robberies, extortion, unjustified killing [and targeting] Islamic madrassas, and it is taking foreign funding to attack targets in Afghanistan, taking responsibility for attacks under false identities, creating divisions within other jihadi groups, and especially spreading unfounded propaganda against the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP leadership has fallen into the hands of a bunch of conspirators, the umbrella organization is involved in criminal activities like robbery and extortion.

We consider the bombing of public places, extortion and kidnappings un-Islamic, and since the TTP leaders continued with these practices, we decided we should not share the responsibility."

According to the spokesman, the Mehsud group is "unhappy" at the deviation by Mullah Fazlullah from the real struggle of the TTP – the establishment of an Islamic state. BBC and Dawn (Pakistan)

Is this the end of the TTP (Pakistan Taliban)?

A number of commentators are saying that this marks the end of the TTP altogether, and that may well be true. It's going to be difficult to get a collection of bloody terrorist groups to agree to obey the same leader.

Other commentators are saying that this is good news, because it now means that the "peace process" between the government and the Taliban can go ahead. I can't imagine how anyone could possibly believe this. The whole Pakistan "peace process" concept was always a total fantasy, as I've written many times, but if there ever were going to be some sort of signed peace agreement, it would have to have been with a leadership powerful enough to bring everyone into line. Obviously the Taliban has nothing like that today, if it ever did.

I've written about any number of TTP-linked terrorist groups. There's Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), which is dedicated to war with India, and which masterminded the Mumbai's horrific 26/11' three-day terrorist attack. There's Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which has publicly and firmly announced as its goal the extermination of all Shia Muslims and Hazaras in Pakistan, and has been methodically setting off bombs in order to achieve that goal, and is connected to Jundullah, a terrorist group that has perpetrated major attacks on Shia mosques and Revolutionary Guard stations in southeastern Iran. And there's Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (TIF), which we described two days ago, and is methodically attacking schools in southern Balochistan enrolling girl students.

These organizations are not now going to agree to some kind of "peace agreement" because TTP is splintering. In fact, if TTP had any effect at all on these organizations, it would have been to be more moderate, for the common good of all the bloody TTP terrorists. But without the umbrella group, they're now free to act on their own, slaughtering civilians at will, with nothing to inhibit them.

As I've said many times, the Generational Dynamics prediction is that India and Pakistan will re-fight the bloody war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan. That war was not directed by presidents or prime ministers or leaders of any kind on either side. It was driven by massive slaughter coming from entire generations of people, entire generations of Hindus versus entire generations of Muslims, in what was one of the bloodiest battles of the century. The splintering of TTP can only bring a new version of that war closer. Tribune (Pakistan) and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-14 World View -- Major faction defects from Pakistan Taliban, splitting it in two thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2014) Permanent Link
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28-May-14 World View -- Vietnam accuses China of ramming and sinking its fishing boat

Japan strengthens military alliances with Philippines and Vietnam

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam accuses China of ramming and sinking its fishing boat


Shinzo Abe (WSJ)
Shinzo Abe (WSJ)

Vietnam says that about 40 Chinese steel-hulled vessels surrounded a group of smaller, wooden Vietnamese fishing ships on Monday afternoon in the South China Sea. One fishing boat was rammed and sank, and the fisherman were picked up by other Vietnamese boats.

China said that the opposite occurred. According to the state-run news agency, the fishing boat capsized after harassing and colliding with a Chinese fishing boat. According to China, Vietnam has sent a number of ships to obstruct the oil drilling in waters claimed by both Vietnam and China.

China has repeatedly said that they are going to annex regions of the South and East China Seas belonging to Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. China is enforcing its demands with it's huge and growing military power, and threats of military action against any country that doesn't obey its commands.

According to Vietnam, China has been repeatedly attacking Vietnamese ships. Chinese warships frequently train their high-pressure water hoses on exhaust pipes, antennae, radars and windows of Vietnamese ships, in order to disable to sink them. AP and Xinhua and CNN and Thanh Nien News

Japan strengthens military alliances with Philippines and Vietnam

With China's bellicosity becoming more strident almost every week, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe is strengthening Japan's military links with Vietnam and the Philippines, and said that with regard to China's "unilateral drilling activities" in the South China Sea, "We will never tolerate a change to the status quo by force or coercion."

In December 2013, Japan provided 10 patrol vessels to the Philippines Coast Guard, and is now planning to accelerate similar aid to Vietnam. According to Abe:

"Unilateral drilling activities are taking place in areas of the South China Sea where borders are not defined. I am deeply concerned about the heightening of tensions that has resulted. Japan’s position is that we will never tolerate the change of status quo by force or coercion. We are seeking a peaceful resolution based on international law."

WSJ and VOR

Egypt extends presidential election for a day because of low turnout

It was two years ago that Mohamed Morsi was elected president of Egypt in the only democratic election in Egypt's multi-millennial history. And it was one year ago, that the army, led by general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, overthrew Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in a coup, jailing him and thousands of supporters, and even arranging for death sentences for Muslim Brotherhood leaders. It's particularly scandalous that several Al-Jazeera reporters have been jailed for reporting the news from Egypt, and those reporters have now been in jail for eight months.

So now, al-Sisi has resigned from the army and returned to civilian life so that he can run for President of Egypt. The Egyptian people had two days to cast their votes, Monday and Tuesday. The problem is that turnout was exceptionally low -- why bother to vote when you know that al-Sisi is going to win? This is being seen as a humiliation for al-Sisi and a problem for Egypt, since an extremely low turnout cuts al-Sisi's credibility and ability to govern. It's also in sharp contrast to the huge crowds that turned out in 2012 to vote for Mohamed Morsi.

So Egypt has announced that the election has been extended to a third day, Wednesday, so that more people can vote. Authorities are even threatening to fine people who don't vote. Al Ahram (Cairo) and CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-14 World View -- Vietnam accuses China of ramming and sinking its fishing boat thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2014) Permanent Link
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27-May-14 World View -- Nigeria backs out of deal to recover Boko Haram's abducted schoolgirls

Jordan bluntly expels Syria's ambassador

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria backs out of deal to recover Boko Haram's abducted schoolgirls


Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram
Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram

Nigerian government officials are saying that they know the location of the 200+ schoolgirls that were abducted by Boko Haram last month, but they will not be recovered by force, because any gunfire would put the girls' lives in danger.

The BBC is reporting that the Nigerian government had made a deal with Boko Haram to exchange 50 of the girls for 100 Boko Haram militants who have been captured and put in jail. However, the government backed out of the deal during a summit meeting earlier this month with Nigerian, African and Western leaders at which they agreed to wage "total war" against Boko Haram. ( "19-May-14 World View -- Boko Haram attacks Chinese camp as summit takes place in Paris") No reason was given for why the deal canceled, but it's surmised that negotiating with terrorists and agreeing to the exchange would encourage a lot more abductions of other schoolgirls. Channels TV (Nigeria)

Attacks on schoolgirls spread to Balochistan in southwest Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) have mostly focused their terrorist attacks on northwest Pakistan, but now a new splinter group, Tanzeem-ul-Islami-ul-Furqan (TIF - Organization of the creation of Islam) is spreading terror attacks deep into the southwest province of Balochistan, and is particularly targeting schools with girls enrolled. A letter sent to 23 English Language Learning Centers warned that teaching in English is forbidden, and added:

"Private schools should completely stop girls’ education, both co-education and separate education. We urge all van and taxi drivers to refrain from taking girls to schools. Otherwise, they will also be targeted... Any institution or persons defying the warning will be deemed as an enemy of Islam and therefore punished."

The group has been killing school teachers and burning down schools, and have threatened "the worst consequences as prescribed in the Quran" if girls' education is not completely shut down.

All this is happening in the context of separatist activity by a Baloch nationalist group called the Baloch Student Organization (BSO-Azad). Pakistan's government has reacted to this separatist activism by relocating thousands of ethnic Punjabis to Balochistan for large development project. This has led to violence by Balochis against Punjabis, with the result that over 19,000 of Balochi civilians have "disappeared" from abductions by Pakistan's intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with more than 2,000 of them having been "killed and dumped." South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Al-Jazeera

Jordan bluntly expels Syria's ambassador

A furious Jordanian foreign ministry declared Syria's ambassador Bahjat Suleiman, a former general and intelligence chief, as persona non grata, and ordered him to leave the country within 24 hours. According to the state-run news agency:

"The government took the decision after the envoy continued his insults and un-friendly statements against Jordan, Jordanian political figures, national institutions and citizens, despite repeated warnings by the government not to indulge in and desist from making such provocative statements, the envoy said.

"Mr. Suleiman used Jordan as a platform to cast doubt on Jordan's stances and directed baseless accusations on more than one occasion and through such statements," the spokesperson said, noting that he used Jordanian territories to direct insults against Arab and neighboring countries and their leadership, with whom Jordan has strong ties.

These insults, which targeted Jordan and Arab countries, were a flagrant violation of all diplomatic norms and charters, she said, stressing that Jordan totally rejects such acts. The envoy had not observed the simplest diplomatic norms in a country that is hosting hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees."

Jordan is harboring over a million refugees from Syria, as a result of the genocidal war and crimes against humanity by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Apparently some of the insults that Jordan was complaining about was that Suleiman accused Jordan of harboring terrorists by giving refuge to refugees. This guy really has balls.

The expulsion comes just a few days before the planned June 3 Syrian presidential election, which many people consider to be a farce. Suleiman had announced that Syrian citizens living in Jordan would be able to come to the Syrian embassy in Amman and vote there. Jordan's foreign minister had warned that this could bring security problems to Amman.

In a tit-for-tat retaliation, Syria expelled Jordan's chargé-d'affaires from Damascus. Jordanian officials said the chargé d'affaires was not currently in Syria. Petra (Jordan) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-14 World View -- Nigeria backs out of deal to recover Boko Haram's abducted schoolgirls thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2014) Permanent Link
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26-May-14 World View -- Europe has 'political earthquake' as anti-EU parties surge in elections

Pope Francis to try his hand at a Mideast 'peace process'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe has 'political earthquake' as anti-EU parties surge in elections


Marine Le Pen rally in Paris. The sign says, 'No to Brussels, yes to France.'
Marine Le Pen rally in Paris. The sign says, 'No to Brussels, yes to France.'

France's president François Hollande referred to Sunday's European Parliament election as a "political earthquake," as mainstream parties across Europe, including Hollande's own Socialist party, suffered calamitous defeat. Although each country is different, the generalization is that the parties that did better than expected favor strong controls on immigration, and advocate leaving the euro currency or the European Union entirely.

A big factor in all the elections was the euro crisis, which had not yet occurred at the time of the last European Parliament elections in 2009. Countries like France and Greece chafe at the austerity measures being forced on them, while countries like Germany dislike having to bail out the other countries.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far right Front National party, (the phrase "far right" has different meanings in Europe and America) said that France had "shouted loud and clear" that it wanted to be run "by the French, for the French and with the French" and not by "foreign commissioners" in Brussels. Front National is expected to take 25% of the vote, while the Socialist party will receive its lowest ever vote at 14.5%.

Britain's UK Independence Party (UKIP) scored a stunning victory by coming out ahead of both mainstream parties, Labor and Conservative, and is the first party in more than a century to do so. Immigration is considered by many to be a serious problem in the UK, and there has been talk for some time of the UK leaving the European Union. The UKIP victory may also have repercussions for the referendum to be held in the Fall by Scotland, to determine whether it should secede from the UK.

In Greece, two parties at opposite extremes did well, united by anger at austerity measures. The far left anti-bailout anti-austerity party Syriza got 26.7%, coming in in first place among the parties, but that will not be enough to unseat prime minister Antonis Samaris, whose New Democracy party came in second with 22.8% and can form a coalition with other parties. Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party got 10% of the vote, enough to send three MEPs (Members of Parliament) to Brussels, even though some party leaders are being tried for criminal activities.

Overall, the anti-EU parties did better than expected, but pro-EU parties will still continue to dominate the European Parliament in Brussels. Independent (London) and Washington Post and Kathimerini

'Chocolate King' wins presidential election in Ukraine

Exit polls show that billionaire candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko won a clear victory in Sunday's election for president of Ukraine. He supports strong ties with Europe, but also wants to mend relations with Russia. This was a solid victory by Poroshenko, and may restore confidence that Ukraine will survive intact, though without Crimea. Russia's president Vladimir Putin had said he would honor the results of the election, though in the past his actions have borne little relationship to his promises. If he keeps his promise, then presumably he will stop saying that the government in Kiev is the result of an illegitimate fascist coup.

As expected, voting was light in the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, where pro-Russian activists have declared their independence from Kiev, and are trying to use violence to bring about the annexation of the two provinces by Russia. BBC showed videos of pro-Russian thugs threatening voters and smashing ballot boxes to prevent a vote from taking place. However, turnout was high in the rest of Ukraine. AP and RFERL

Pope Francis to try his hand at a Mideast 'peace process'

Presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama have all tried to arrange a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, without success, as have a number of European leaders. Now Pope Francis has announced he is joining the crowd. The Pope is on a three day visit to the Mideast. ( "25-May-14 World View -- Pope Francis visits Mideast to reconcile with Jews, Orthodox, and Muslims")

After giving an outdoor mass in Bethlehem's Manger Square on Sunday, he invited Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the Vatican for a "peace initiative." According to the Pope:

"In this, the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, I wish to invite you, President Mahmoud Abbas, together with Israeli President Shimon Peres, to join me in heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.

I offer my home in the Vatican as a place for this encounter of prayer.

Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is a constant torment. The men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the offer to go to the Vatican, while the office of Israeli President Shimon Peres issued a statement welcoming the invitation.

It's now been 11 years since I wrote my first generational analysis of the Mideast peace process in May 2003, when President George Bush issued his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace." From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, peace in the Mideast is impossible, because the Arabs and the Jews will be re-fighting their genocidal war that began last time in 1947 with the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The traumatized survivors of that war spent their lives doing everything they could to keep anything so horrible from happening to the children and grandchildren, and they succeeded in that. But now almost all of those survivors are gone, with the major exception being Mahmoud Abbas himself, and the younger generations have no hesitancy in risking steps that could spiral into all out war. When Abbas retires or dies, then the last major obstacle to such a war will be removed. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-14 World View -- Europe has 'political earthquake' as anti-EU parties surge in elections thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2014) Permanent Link
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25-May-14 World View -- Pope Francis visits Mideast to reconcile with Jews, Orthodox, and Muslims

Pope Francis's visit also commemorates forgiveness of Jews

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis visits Mideast to urge freedom of religion


Pope Francis kisses a boy before celebrating a mass in Amman on Saturday (Getty)
Pope Francis kisses a boy before celebrating a mass in Amman on Saturday (Getty)

Pope Francis visited Jordan on Saturday, where he asked for freedom of religion for everyone. On Sunday, he'll move on to the Palestinian territories, and give the nod to the state of Palestine, and then move on to Jerusalem, where he'll meet with Orthodox and Jewish leaders.

In Jordan, he denounced arms dealers who are bringing misery to the Syrian civil war. He had an emotional meeting with refugees from Syria and Iraq who have fled to Jordan. He prayed to God:

"Convert those who seek war, those who make and sell weapons!

We all want peace, but looking at the tragedy of war, looking at the wounded, seeing so many people who left their homeland who were forced to go away, I ask, 'Who sells weapons to these people to make war?'" he asked. "This is the root of evil, the hatred, the love of money."

The Pope particularly took note of violence against Christian communities, forcing many to flee the region. He encouraged those who had decided to remain in the region. AP

The schism of the Orthodox and the heresy of the Protestants

While the Protestant Reformation is considered to be a heresy in the Catholic Church, the split between the Roman (Catholic) and Byzantine (Orthodox) churches is generally called a "schism," because there are no serious doctrinal differences separating the churches. From the early days, there were always several branches of the Catholic Church, the two most important being the Western / Roman branch and the Eastern / Greek branch centered in Byzantium (later Constantinople, and even later Istanbul). But, like a married couple living apart, they developed differences that eventually could not be reconciled, and led to estrangement. The Romans couldn't speak Greek, and the Greeks couldn't speak Latin. Each developed rites that were strange to the other. They had joint meetings and councils, but they couldn't agree on policies, and couldn't understand each other anyway. The schism officially began on July 16, 1054, when Rome excommunicated a Greek patriarch, Caerularius.

For the Greek Orthodox, the seminal moment in their relationship with the Catholics came with the Crusades. In 1204, along the way to fighting the Muslims in Jerusalem, the Crusades sacked Constantinople, starving and murdering its citizens, and plundering the Church's treasures accumulated over the centuries. The deed was capped by placing a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia, at that time the most beautiful church in Christendom. This moment is burned into the psyches of Orthodox Christians.

In 1964, Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem for the purpose of healing the schism and uniting the Churches. It was the first meeting of the leaders of the split church since 1054. In 2001, Pope John Paul visited Athens and encountered large anti-Catholic protests. He apologized for the sacking of Constantinople, and made a plea for forgiveness.

So now the official purpose of Pope Francis's Mideast trip is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 meeting. Francis will meet Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. He's still the Patriarch of Constantinople, even though the name of the city was changed to Istanbul, after the Moslems conquered it in 1453. They will meet on Sunday at the spot where Jesus is believed to be buried.

By the way, if my mother were alive today, she would be furious at all this. She loved the Catholic Church and often attended services there (because they're considerably shorter than the Greek Orthodox services), but she is quite clear that the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox are, in her words, "completely useless to each other."

The Protestant Reformation began in 1517, when Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses" on the door of Wittenburg Cathedral, in protest at the Catholic doctrine of indulgences. The 500th anniversary of that event occurs in 3 years. New Advent Encyclopedia and NPR

Pope Francis's visit also commemorates forgiveness of Jews

On Saturday, Pope Francis said that "Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right," and he hoped that there would be a "climate of serene coexistence" between all religions. During his visit to Jerusalem on Sunday, the Pope will undoubtedly make remark about coexistence with the Jewish religion.

For centuries, the Catholics have blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus, and have justified discrimination against Jews for that reason. The most explicit statement of this was a Papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV on July 14, 1555. It applied mainly to the city of Rome. It established a ghetto with only one entrance and exit, and prescribed severe economic restrictions. It begins with the words, "Cum Nimis Absurdu" ("As it is completely absurd"), and goes on to explain that though they are condemned to eternal servitude through their own fault (killing Jesus), it is absurd that they should be allowed to live freely with Christians.

Here's the beginning:

"As it is completely absurd and improper in the utmost that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal servitude, can under the pretext that pious Christians must accept them and sustain their habitation, are so ungrateful to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return contumely, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve, they manage to claim superiority: we, who newly learned that these very Jews have insolently invaded our City Rome and a number of the Papal States, territories and domains their impudence increased so much that they dare not only to live amongst the Christian people, but also in the vicinity of the churches without any difference of dressing, and even that they rent houses in the main streets and squares, buy and hold immovable property, engage maids, nurses and other Christian servants, and commit other and numerous misdeeds with shame and contempt of the Christian name. Considering that the Church of Rome tolerates these very Jews evidence of the true Christian faith and to this end [we declare]: that they, won over by the piety and kindness of the See, should at long last recognize their erroneous ways, and should lose no time in seeing the true light of the catholic faith, and thus to agree that while they persist in their errors, realizing that they are slaves because of their deeds, whereas Christians have been freed through our Lord God Jesus Christ, and that it is iniquitous for it to appear that the sons of free women serve the sons of maids.

1. Desiring firstly, as much as we can with God, to beneficially provide, by this. that will forever be in force, we ordain that for the rest of time, in the City as well as in other states, territories and domains of the Church of Rome itself, all Jews are to live in one and if there is not that capacity in two or three or however many quarters may be enough; they should reside entirely side by side in designated streets and be thoroughly separate from the residences of Christians, by our authority in the City and by that of our representatives in other states, lands and domains noted above, and that there must be only one entrance and exit from this quarter."

The paragraph above explicitly describes how the ghetto is to work. The bull goes to list enormous restrictions on Jews, including where they may earn a living.

Even in the 1800s, the Rome ghetto still existed. Here's how it's described in the October 1870 edition of The Atlantic magazine:

"The inquirer visited the Ghetto, in the low ground near the Tiber, and found it "the most horrible and neglected quarter of the town," in which not the humblest of the thousand prelates about Rome would set his foot, any more than as Indian Brahmin would cross the threshold of a Pariah's hovel. "I learned,” says this author, “that the most humble employment in the most humble office would as soon be given to a beast as to a Jew; that for a child of Israel to ask in Rome to be employed as a commissary, would he more absurd than for the giraffe of the Jardin des Plantes to ask for an under-prefectship in Paris.” No Jew can own a foot of land in the papal dominions, nor cultivate one, unless in the name of a Christian; and if a Jew, using this artifice, ventures to cultivate a garden or a farm, his harvest is safe from pillage only so long as the legal device remains a secret. Let but the Christians around learn that the harvest is the property of an Israelite, and “a rage for plunder” seizes them, which leaves the hapless proprietor with desolated fields."

The Papal bull "Cum Nimis Absurdu" has never been withdrawn, and was considered by many to be the teachings of the Church well into the 20th century, well through the time of Hitler and the Holocaust.

It was only fully repudiated finally on April 13, 1986, when Pope John Paul II made a dramatic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome and gave an address that fully repudiated the terms of "Cum Nimis Absurdu":

"We are all aware that, among the riches of this paragraph no. 4 of Nostra Aetate, three points are especially relevant. I would like to underline them here, before you, in this truly unique circumstance. The first is that the Church of Christ discovers her "bond" with Judaism by "searching into her own mystery" (cf. Nostra Aetate, ibid.) The Jewish religion is not "extrinsic" to us, but in a certain way is "intrinsic" to our own religion. With Judaism therefore we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.

The second point noted by the Council is that no ancestral or collective blame can be imputed to the Jews as a people for "what happened in Christ's passion" (cf. Nostra Aetate, ibid.) Not indiscriminately to the Jews of that time, nor to those who came afterwards, nor to those of today. So any alleged theological justification for discriminatory measures or, worse still, for acts of persecution is unfounded. The Lord will judge each one "according to his own works," Jews and Christians alike (cf. Rom 2:6)

The third point that I would like to emphasize in the Council's Declaration is a consequence of the second. Notwithstanding the Church's awareness of her own identity, it is not lawful to say that the Jews are "repudiated or cursed," as it this were taught or could be deduced from the Sacred Scriptures of the Old or the New Testament (cf. Nostra Aetate, ibid.). Indeed, the Council had already said in this same text of Nostra Aetate, but also in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, no. 16, referring to Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans (11:28-29), that the Jews are beloved of God, who has called them with an irrevocable calling."

In particular, for the first time, the Pope specifically and unambiguously repudiated the claim that the Jews were at fault for the death of Jesus. NY Daily News and Zionism-Israel Information and The Atlantic (Oct 1870) and CCJR (Council of Centers on Jewish Christian Relations)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-14 World View -- Pope Francis visits Mideast to reconcile with Jews, Orthodox, and Muslims thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2014) Permanent Link
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24-May-14 World View -- Washington seeks to protect Jordan and Israel from Syria militants

Britain's anti-European Union party appears headed for European Parliament

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Washington seeks to protect Jordan and Israel from Syria militants


Map of the Battle for Golan - May 2014 (Debka)
Map of the Battle for Golan - May 2014 (Debka)

Leaders in the U.S., Jordan, and Israel are becoming increasingly concerned about the threats to Israel and Jordan from the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (the Islamic Front) group, which is now controlling much of Syria's southern border. According to an Israeli assessment, the insurgents have the upper hand in the Syrian Golan and are close to occupying the key town of Quneitra, which has a border crossing to Israel. Al-Assad’s military has suffered some serious defeats in the Golan Heights in the last couple of months, causing Israel to bolster its military forces in the Golan on the Syrian border to confront the al-Nusra forces. The al-Assad regime is also alarmed, as Quneitra is close to Damascus, and could serve as a launching pad for an al-Nusra attack on Damascus.

Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber) says that the U.S. military may get back into the Mideast. According to Debka, the U.S. administration, is supplying some rebel groups in southern Syria with arms, intelligence and funding. Israeli and Jordanian military intelligence experts are helping the CIA weed out al-Qaeda fighters from the US-backed rebel forces and make sure they do not get hold of the heavy weaponry, such as anti-aircraft missiles that could be turned against Israel and Jordan.

Most observers now believe that the al-Assad regime is fully entrenched, and not going anywhere. According to the Debka report, the Obama administration's objective is to minimize the threat posed to Israel and Jordan by by the Syrian Army and its allies, Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite militias. Also, the US military would establish a foothold on the Damascus periphery, and would seek to challenge Russia and Iran by establishing ties with high-ranking Syrian general command officers and the field commanders of units deployed in and around Damascus. According to Debka's intelligence sources, this strategy was fiercely opposed by Joint Chiefs chairman Martin E. Dempsey, who opposes new military operations during the Afghanistan withdrawal, and who fears that it would bring the U.S. face to face with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, and even Russian servicemen posted from Moscow. However, the Obama administration was convinced by Jordanian and Israeli officials, who argued that this was Washington's last chance to force the Syrian army and its Iranian allies to stay away from their borders, while at the same time planting a strong US presence in position for determining the future course of events in Damascus. Reuters and Al-Monitor and Debka (Subscription)

Britain's anti-European Union party appears headed for European Parliament

UK Independence Party (UKIP) surged in local elections on Thursday, leading many to believe that Sunday will market its biggest electoral triumph to date when the results of elections to the European Parliament are announced. UKIP leader Nigel Farage bragged, "This is a massive leap forward in the battle to break into Westminster constituencies in numbers in the general election next year."

According to the UKIP web site, "UKIP is a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first. ... The EU controls Immigration, Business and Employment, Financial Services, Fishing, Farming, Energy and Trade. It seeks now to control Law and Order, Foreign Affairs and Tax. Only outside the EU can we start to solve the problems our country faces." The party platform includes:

Farage and the party have been accused of being "racist, sexist and homophobic," but according to Farage this name-calling backfired on election day. France 24 and UKIP Web Site

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-14 World View -- Washington seeks to protect Jordan and Israel from Syria militants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2014) Permanent Link
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23-May-14 World View -- Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites

China shocked by major terrorist attack in Xinjiang province

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites


General Prayuth Chan-ocha (center) announces his army coup on nationwide television on Thursday
General Prayuth Chan-ocha (center) announces his army coup on nationwide television on Thursday

Just two days after declaring martial law and promising not to take over the government, Thailand's army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha did just that -- seizing control of government on Thursday in a non-violent coup. Prayuth announced on Thai television:

"In order for the situation to return to normal quickly and for society to love and be at peace again ... and to reform the political, economic and social structure, the military needs to take control of power."

Prayuth represents a major victory for the "yellow shirt" elite protesters, mostly of Chinese descent, known as Thai-Chinese. They've crippled the capital city Bangkok for months, demanding that the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, step down. Yingluck's main constituency is the much larger "red shirt" population of mostly indigenous ethnic Thais, known as Thai-Thais. Yingluck finally did resign two weeks ago, as a result of a court order, but the yellow shirts were demanding a lot more: Instead of permitting a democratic election, the elites were demanding that the government be run by a "people's council" that they select. The reason is that an election would only bring to power another "red shirt" leader, as Yingluck's Pheu Thai political party has won the last five elections.

It now appears that the elites will have their way. Prayuth is no neutral observer. He has openly favored the yellow shirt cause, and he ordered the Thai army to run tanks through red shirt barricades and assault them with live ammunition when they the ones protesting in 2010. However, he's taken no similar actions against the yellow shirts that have been protesting since December, shutting down businesses and government buildings. Bangkok Post and BBC

A history of coups in Thailand

Thailand is quite familiar with army coups. There have been 18 previous successful or attempted coups since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. The most recent coup occurred in 2006, when Thaksin Shinawatra, the charismatic brother of Yingluck, was deposed in an army coup.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is building into a familiar and bloody situation. Thailand's last generational crisis war was the 1970s extremely bloody "killing fields" civil war that occurred next door in Cambodia, in which the Thai strongly supported the Khmer Rouge terrorists that slaughtered some 8 million Cambodians. So Thailand today is in a generational Awakening era.

So what we have now in Thailand is two major groups separated by an ethnic fault line. The Thai-Chinese live mostly in central Thailand around Bangkok, and they're a "market-dominant minority," meaning that even though they're a minority, they control most of the money and businesses in the country. The Thai-Thai live in rural areas, mostly in the north. Many are farmers, but many are laborers that do the jobs that the elites don't want to do.

So as I've written several times in the last few years, here's what we can expect: Starting now in this generational Awakening era, there will be periods of violence alternating with periods of peace. What happens in these situations is that these alternating periods go on for decades, with each period of violence worse than the preceding one. Finally, when the country reaches a generational Crisis era 30-40 years later, the violence crosses a line, and the two ethnic groups have a full scale civil war.

Now that Prayuth is running the country, what's he going to do next? He can't call for an election, because the Pheu Thai "red shirts" will win. He appears to be going in the direction of giving the elites everything they want -- an unelected "people's council," selected by the elites, to run the country.

While the yellow shirts have been protesting since December, the red shirts have held back from confronting them, and their leaders have said that they'd continue to do so as long as there wasn't a coup. Well, now there's been a coup. You can be certain that the red shirt protesters are absolutely furious, and they'll become even more furious as this situation continues. They're demanding a new election (because they believe that their side will win), and if the army instead continues to install a "people's council" run almost entirely by yellow shirts, there's going to be violence. We can expect a very violent crackdown on any red shirt protests.

There's one more angle to this. Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, is highly revered, and it's considered a crime even to criticize him. But he's 86 and frail, and although he's not known to be ill, he may pass before too much longer. There is some speculation that Prayuth will try to assume some role with powers similar to the King's at that time. This is speculation at this point, but if military rule continues for months, then rumors about this possibility can be expected to grow. BBC

China shocked by major terrorist attack in Xinjiang province

In possibly the worst terrorist attack in China in years, 31 people were killed and 94 injured in a sophisticated attack on in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang province, home of the Turkic Muslim ethnic group, the Uighurs or Uyghurs. The attackers drove two cars into crowds of shoppers at a crowded marketplace tossing bombs out the window as they drove. The objective was obviously to cause as much carnage as possible. It's believed that the assailants survived and are in police custody. According to one analyst, "This is the single most lethal terrorist attack that China has suffered."

Xinjiang is a vast region and is home to more than 10 million Uighurs. China has tried to pacify the region in past decades by relocating huge numbers of Han Chinese to Xinjiang, to the extent that Han Chinese now outnumber Uighurs. Uighur activists claim that they suffer a great deal of discrimination, not only getting the most menial jobs, but also being restricted from their own cultural practices such as prohibiting women from wearing traditional headscarves or young men from growing beards. This has not pacified the region, however, but only infuriated them further. The reports don't say, but I'm going to guess that most of the shoppers in that marketplace were Han Chinese. McClatchy and AP and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-14 World View -- Thailand's army seizes power in major victory for 'yellow shirt' elites thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2014) Permanent Link
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22-May-14 World View -- President invokes War Powers Act, sends troops to help Nigeria

Russia and China sign 'historic' energy deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and China sign 'historic' energy deal


Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Shanghai on Wednesday (Getty)
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping in Shanghai on Wednesday (Getty)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin and China's president Xi Jinping in Shangai signed an energy deal that specifies that Russia, starting in 2018, will deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year to China, meeting a quarter of China's current natural gas demand of 150 billion cubic meters. Over 30 years, the deal, which is being described as "historic," is expected to be worth around $400 billion.

Putin was extremely anxious to get this deal signed. As the Ukraine crisis has unfolded, the Europeans have increasingly discussed being less dependent on Russian energy. Furthermore, the gas to be supplied to China will come from Russia's Far East, where there is no natural buyer except China. On the other hand, China has a number of other potential sources.

The announcement was something of a surprise, and occurred after a number of news reports had said that Putin's visit to China had failed to produce an energy deal. However, details of the deal, particularly the price, were not revealed, and it's believed that China forced a desperate Vladimir Putin to accept a rock bottom price, much lower price than he would have liked. Many analysts believe that 2018 date is extremely optimistic, and that a 2020 date is more realistic. Whether the deal continues to appear "historic" remains to be seen. Forbes and AP

As reality sets in, east Ukraine public turns against Russian separatists

A new survey shows that people living in eastern Ukraine, where separatists are active, shows that only 22% of the people want Ukraine aligned with Russia, while 32% say it should be closer to the European Union. This is happening because the initial "revolutionary" excitement is dying down and reality is setting in. Rotting garbage is piling up in the hallways of the government office building seized by separatists in eastern Ukraine. And the separatists who are supposedly government separatist regions in reality have almost no authority over anything except themselves. According to one analyst, the annexation of Crimea is already causing problems for Russia: "It's already too costly for Russia to swallow Crimea. It will be just impossible to swallow the east of Ukraine, but the public is expecting it. So that's the difficulty." Washington Post and VOA

Boko Haram strikes again, this time in northern Nigeria

A day after a double bombing in the central Nigerian city of Jos killed 118 people, a Boko Haram assault on three villages in northern Nigeria on Wednesday killed 48 people. The terrorists attacked villages, forcing people to hide in the bush, from where they could watch as their homes of thatch-roofed mud huts were burned down.

As Boko Haram has abducted over 200 schoolgirls and perpetrated one terrorist bombing after another, Nigeria's government has appeared to be increasingly helpless, and Nigeria's army has been almost completely invisible. National Post

President invokes War Powers Act, sends troops to help Nigeria

The United States is sending 80 military personnel and at least one unarmed Predator reconnaissance aircraft drone to Chad as part of the international effort to defeat Boko Haram. The unmanned drone will join similar aircraft based in Niger that have already been participating in the search for the kidnapped schoolgirls. The President sent a letter to Congress invoking the War Powers Act:

"Approximately 80 U.S. Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Chad as part of the U.S. efforts to locate and support the safe return of over 200 schoolgirls who are reported to have been kidnapped in Nigeria. These personnel will support the operation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft for missions over northern Nigeria and the surrounding area. The force will remain in Chad until its support in resolving the kidnapping situation is no longer required.

This action has been directed in furtherance of U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions."

ABC News and White House

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-14 World View -- President invokes War Powers Act, sends troops to help Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2014) Permanent Link
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21-May-14 World View -- Jihadists from New York to Uzbekistan flock to Syria to fight

'Catastrophic' bombing in Jos Nigeria kills 118

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

'Catastrophic' bombing in Jos Nigeria kills 118


Shopkeepers in Jos salvage belongings after the attack (AFP)
Shopkeepers in Jos salvage belongings after the attack (AFP)

Two car bombs exploded in a busy market in Jos, a city in central Nigeria, on Tuesday. The first explosion went off at 3:28 pm in the center of the market, and the second followed about 14 minutes later. The attack was meant to cause as many casualties as possible. The victims were ordinary people, both Christians and Muslims.

The terrorist group Boko Haram has not yet claimed responsibility, but they are believed to be responsible. Boko Haram appears to have declared total war against Nigeria -- abducting hundreds of schoolgirls, and exploding one car bomb after another in different parts of the country. Nigeria's government and president Goodluck Jonathan appear to be helpless to stop the attacks. PM News Nigeria and CNN

FBI says that Americans are going to Syria for jihad

New research indicates that some 11,000 foreign fighters from around the world have traveled to Syria to join al-Qaeda linked Sunni terrorists fighting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting a war of extermination against his own Sunni Muslim population. About 3000 have come from Western Europe, and on Tuesday the FBI indicated that more than 100 of them are Americans. Furthermore, the problem has been "metastasizing rapidly," as more and more young, disaffected Sunni Muslims go to the "jihadist magnet" for training and experience.

I've been writing about this for well over a year, and it's been a bit of a puzzle about why this very serious problem has been ignored by the mainstream media. Probably the simple answer is that much of the media acts as a mouthpiece for President Obama, who has declared that the war against terrorism is over, and so mentioning Americans going to Syria for jihadism training would make Obama look bad. As far as Europe is concerned, one analyst says,

"[T]hat’s because some on the left in Britain and elsewhere have been busy downplaying the conflict or romanticizing it as something akin to the international brigades during the Spanish Civil War that attracted George Orwell and other idealists. But unlike Orwell in the 1930s, these fighters on their way to Syria are not traveling to fight against fascists. Many are young Western Muslims rushing to join a fascist group that is too extreme even for al-Qaeda: the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Members have been known to behead even fellow fighters. And it’s not much consolation that the more 'moderate' volunteers are joining, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria."

American intelligence officials believe that among the dozens of Americans who have gone to Syria to fight, six to 12 or more have already returned to America, and may be planning terrorist attacks here. In addition, European citizens from countries with visa waivers can easily travel to the United States. Daily Beast and ICSR, King's College London and Daily Beast (4/27)

Militants from Russia, Central Asia join Jamaat Sabiri to fight in Syria

A new militant jihadist group, Jamaat Sabiri, is raising concern in Uzbekistan in Central Asia because it's recruiting central Asians to fight alongside al-Qaeda linked terrorists in Syria. The group's core is made up of about 100 jihadists from countries in Central Asia, as well as Russians from Chechnya and Dagestan. An Uzbek government official points out that militants seeking to join the Syrian war have been streaming into Syria by different routes, including via Pakistan and Turkey:

"[Transporting militants into Syria] isn't a simple operation, so there are some major players who work out the details and provide funding and protection. ...

We've been seeking to find out via our channels what Uzbeks are fighting on the terrorists' side. New reinforcements mostly consist of ethnic Uzbeks born in Osh Oblast, Kyrgyzstan, where recruiters are active and where there's an extensive network of informal and unregistered Islamic groups ostensibly studying the Koran. We actively co-operate with our Kyrgyz colleagues on that issue."

This is a new direction for Uzbek militants, made possible by the war in Syria. In 2009 ( "Islamist Uzbeks lead terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan") I wrote about the growth of al-Qaeda linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), centered in the Fergana Value, where Osh is located, and its plan for global jihadism. At that time, the IMU was linked with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

My 2009 article included a brief generational history of Uzbekistan, with a focus on the ancient conflicts along the fault line separating ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Russians. Now that fault line is flaring again, as jihadist Central Asians and jihadist Russians are joining forces in Syria, in the form of a new jihadist group, Jamaat Sabiri.

And all of these jihadists have a common enemy: ethnic Russians. A prime motivator of Jamaat Sabiri would be the fact that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is providing an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad to be used in his war crimes against Sunni Muslim women and children. They're undoubtedly already planning massive terrorist attacks in Moscow and other large Russian cities.

It's too late for the West to do anything about Syria now, even if it had the will. Syria is already way too far down the road to be helped, or to keep it from triggering the massive sectarian war that will encompass the entire Mideast. I believe that the West could have taken out al-Assad in 2011 and done the world a big favor.

But there's no excuse for the actions of Putin. Putin has single-handedly created what is currently the greatest disaster in the world, and has no desire to stop.

Putin appears to me a man with the worst nihilistic impulses, and at times like this I like to quote Edith Hamilton's book, The Greek Way, and her translation of the speech of Aeschylus's tragic character Prometheus:

"There is no torture and no cunning trick,
There is no force that can compel my speech. ...
So let [Zeus] hurl his blazing thunderbolt,
And with the white wings of snow,
With lightning and with earthquake,
Confound the reeling world.
None of this will bend my will. ...
Seek to persuade the sea wave not to break.
You will persuade me no more easily."

Prometheus refuses to listen, and so the universe crashes around him. Central Asia Online

Use of social media to recruit jihadists

A new report entitled "Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter it" describes the role that extremist materials online play in the radicalization process that's used to recruit jihadists. According to the report:

The report recommends developing "counter-extremist" materials and publishing them online to challenge extremist ideologies. Quilliam Foundation

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-14 World View -- Jihadists from New York to Uzbekistan flock to Syria to fight thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2014) Permanent Link
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20-May-14 World View -- Algeria closes its borders with Libya as fighting mounts in Tripoli

China brags about it's growing military power and influence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. charges China's People's Liberation Army with cyber espionage


The building in Shanghai housing People's Liberation Army Unit 61398
The building in Shanghai housing People's Liberation Army Unit 61398

The Dept. of Justice on Monday indicted five specific military officers in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. According to the press release:

"The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to hack into American entities, to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In some cases, it alleges, the conspirators stole trade secrets that would have been particularly beneficial to Chinese companies at the time they were stolen. In other cases, it alleges, the conspirators also stole sensitive, internal communications that would provide a competitor, or an adversary in litigation, with insight into the strategy and vulnerabilities of the American entity."

The indictment is specifically related to economic espionage, which it distinguishes from the other, more common kind of espionage used for "national security."

The extent of the espionage was revealed last year in a report by the American computer security firm Mandiant, which identified a PLA "Unit 61398" in a Shanghai building guarded by PLA soldiers. ( "20-Feb-13 World View -- New report reveals massive cyber war attack by China's army") According to the Mandiant, which refers to this unit as APT1:

"Our evidence indicates that APT1 has been stealing hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006. Remarkably, we have witnessed APT1 target dozens of organizations simultaneously. Once the group establishes access to a victim’s network, they continue to access it periodically over several months or years to steal large volumes of valuable intellectual property, including technology blueprints, proprietary manufacturing processes, test results, business plans, pricing documents, partnership agreements, emails and contact lists from victim organizations’ leadership. We believe that the extensive activity we have directly observed represents only a small fraction of the cyber espionage that APT1 has committed. ... Since 2006 we have seen APT1 relentlessly expand its access to new victims."

Once APT1 gains control of someone's network, it retains control in stealth mode and downloads all the data in the network. In one case, APT1 accessed a network for four years and ten months. In another case, APT1 downloaded 6.5 terabytes of information in ten months.

Monday's indictment is for political purposes only. There is zero probability that any of the people named in the indictment will be tried in court. Dept. of Justice and LA Times

China brags about it's growing military power and influence

According to Global Times, which is a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, China is rising to become the most powerful nation in the world, and is ready to resort to "non-peaceful" measures as necessary:

"China is at a delicate point in its rising process. On the one hand, China's growing strength empowers it to take initiatives on the global stage, but on the other, the uncertainty oozing from such a rise is discussed and even hyped up by the outside world. The US, as well as China's other neighboring countries have unprecedented ambitions to contain China's use of growing influence.

It's a demanding and risky job to let other countries get used to China's rise and treat China as a major power. Vietnam and the Philippines, which haven't updated their knowledge about China, still cherish the illusion that China can simply be forced back by pressure.

China's interests are beyond the South China Sea. It must strike a balance between securing its territorial waters and maintaining a vibrant growth trend.

China faces a dilemma with its growing power. On the one hand, it will be confronted by neighbors like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, and other stakeholders like the US if it makes use of its power.

On the other, if China conceals its power, its determination to safeguard territorial integrity will be underestimated, which would further foster the unscrupulousness of countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan.

China also bears pressure from the inside, which simply calls for a rough stand against provocations from Vietnam and the Philippines.

But the Chinese government needs to weigh up different scenarios and look at the big picture.

China has taken the first assertive step in securing its territorial integrity in the South China Sea, and in the meantime faces strong protests from Hanoi and Manila, and obvious bias from the US. China's diplomatic risks are rising, but these are the costs that have to be borne as China becomes more powerful.

The South China Sea disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner, but that doesn't mean China can't resort to non-peaceful measures in the face of provocation from Vietnam and the Philippines. Many people believe that a forced war would convince some countries of China's sincerely peaceful intentions, but it is also highly likely that China's strategy would face more uncertainties."

There are some people who hope that China will seek some compromise with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, to avoid going to war. This essay, like many other essays, shows that China has no intention of even minimal compromise, and will continue to annex other countries' territories. These countries will have a choice of being repeatedly demeaned, debased and humiliated, or striking back. But these are all proud countries with proud populations that are growing increasingly nationalistic by the day. This can only end one way. Global Times (Beijing)

China's military can now destroy every U.S. satellite

A U.S. Air Force analysis demonstrates that China is the first country in the world with a weapon capable of destroying satellites in geostationary orbit. When combined with their other anti-satellite systems, every U.S. satellite is now vulnerable to destruction in time of war.

This is only one of the ways that China's military is today becoming more technologically superior to the U.S. In numerous areas of military competition, China's military capabilities are rapidly approaching and exceeding those of the United States.

Military analysts have frequently made mistakes in the last decade that systematically underestimate China's military capabilities. One error is to misjudge China's doctrinal and capability innovations, such as ballistic missiles, because they operate differently than America's military capabilities. Today, many analysts substantially overestimate the time and underestimate the ability of the Chinese to train their military to use the new capabilities. In fact, every year in the last decade, U.S. intelligence estimates of what and how much China can do have turned out to be wrong. The National Interest

Massive floods in Balkans uncovering landmines from 1990s war

The devastating flooding of the last few days in Serbia and Bosnia is the worst since record keeping began 120 years ago. Many entire cities and villages have been submerged by the floods, and dozens of people have been killed. Over 50,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes. The region received in two days the amount of rain normally received in two months.

The flooding is also uncovering land mines that were buried during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. The flooding is also causing landslides that shift the locations of the land mines from their original locations in minefields. Signs that had been erected that warned of land mines and marked the locations of mine fields have been washed away, so that it's no longer knowable where the land mines are. CNN

Algeria closes its borders with Libya as fighting mounts in Tripoli

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are among the countries evacuating their embassies in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, and Algeria has closed its border with Libya, as civil war is threatened. Libya is a land of hundreds of militias, all competing with one another for power and money. Before 2011, dictator Muammar Gaddafi had been in power for 30 years, and had succeeded in keeping the militias under control. After he was ousted by the Nato military intervention, Libya has been increasingly lawless, with a central government in Tripoli having difficulties governing.

Over the weekend, General Khalifa Haftar defected from the government and joined a group of anti-government militias, leading to fears of an all out civil war. Haftar says that he's fighting terrorism in Libya by fighting against Islamist militias, some of whom have links to al-Qaeda. Some are comparing him to Egypt's General Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government last year.

There are now two main groups of militias in Libya, the Islamist militias headed by parliament chief Nouri Abu Sahmein versus Haftar's group of those opposed to the Islamists. There has already been fighting in Benghazi and Tripoli, and it's feared that the fighting will spiral out of control.

The U.S. military has doubled the number of aircraft standing by in Italy if needed to evacuate Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. A decision to evacuate will be made "minute by minute, hour by hour," according to defense officials. Daily Star (Beirut) and CNN

Thailand's army declares martial law

Thailand's army has taken a surprise decision without consulting the government to declare martial law in Bangkok on Tuesday morning, after months of chaos that have all but shut the country's economy down. ( "10-May-14 World View -- Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign")

According to the army, it's taken the step "to preserve law and order for people from all sides" and to stop "ill-intentioned groups from using war weapons." The army has conducted coups in the past, including a 2006 coup ousting Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of Yingluck Shinawatra, who was forced to resign as prime minister last week. However, the army announcement insists that Tuesday's declaration is not a coup. "The public do not need to panic but can still live their lives as normal." BBC

Note: Some days it's hard to find any news stories more relevant than the search for airplane parts in the Indian Ocean. But that was not the case today.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-14 World View -- Algeria closes its borders with Libya as fighting mounts in Tripoli thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2014) Permanent Link
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19-May-14 World View -- Boko Haram attacks Chinese camp as summit takes place in Paris

China imposes economic sanctions on Vietnam

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Boko Haram attacks Chinese camp as summit takes place in Paris


Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan talks with France's president François Hollande in Paris on Saturday (Reuters)
Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan talks with France's president François Hollande in Paris on Saturday (Reuters)

An armed militia assumed to be Boko Hara attacked a Chinese company's camp on Friday night in northern Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria. One Chinese employee had two bullet wounds, and ten others were missing, assumed to have been abducted. The armed attackers forced their way into the camp, and after three hours of gunfire, left the camp with the abductees and all the camp's vehicles.

There had been an elite Cameroonian battalion guarding the Chinese camp, but many soldiers had been transferred to Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, for a military parade marking National Day on May 20.

The attack came as a summit meeting in Paris was convened on Saturday of west African leaders from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Western leaders. On Saturday they agreed to wage "total war" on Boko Haram, saying that the Nigerian group, which had abducted hundreds of schoolgirls whose whereabouts are still completely unknown, had gone from being a purely Nigerian threat to a threat to all of west Africa. According to Chad's President Idriss Deby:

"There is determination to tackle this situation head on ... to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram."

However, no clue was given about how this "total war" was going to be conducted. The Nigerian army is "not organized" in a way to deal with Boko Haram, according to Western officials. However, providing outside military help to Nigeria a sensitive political issue, because Nigerians consider their country able to take care of itself. Nonetheless, France has 6,000 troops in Africa (in Mali and Central African Republic), the U.S. is apparently helping with air searches, and Britain and Israel are providing intelligence, in an attempt to recover the girls.

It's also suspected, but completely unconfirmed, that Nigeria's government is conducting secret talks with Boko Haram represents to pay a fairly substantial ransom to get the girls back. If that turns out to be true, then "total war" will have meant giving the terrorists what they want. Xinhua and Reuters

Terrorist car bomb kills 5 in northeast Nigeria

Late Sunday, a terrorist bomb in Nigeria's northern city of Kano killed 5 people. A car bomb was used on a busy street filled with popular bars and restaurants. Kano is mostly inhabited by Christians. The perpetrators are assumed to be Boko Haram. Reuters

China imposes economic sanctions on Vietnam

China is sending 5 additional warships to Vietnam to evacuate thousands more citizens, and is beginning to call off some planned "bilateral exchanges" with Vietnam, in response to last week's anti-China riots in Vietnam that killed two Chinese and injured hundreds. According to China's Foreign Ministry:

"The violence has sabotaged the atmosphere and conditions for communication and cooperation between China and Vietnam."

In the past, China has threatened economic sanctions against Japan and the Philippines, with implied additional threats of military attacks, unless these countries are obedient to all of China's demands. China has repeatedly said that they are going to annex regions belonging to Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. Last week, China indicated that it will not back off "one inch" from its demands.

At times like this I always like to respond to argument I always hear that such-and-such a country will not go to war with another country because it would be "bad for business." If this were true, there would never be any wars. In fact, the opposite is true. If two countries have good business relationships, then those relationships will be used as an additional weapon of war, leading to additional nationalistic fury on all sides, rather than preventing war. People's Daily (Beijing)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-14 World View -- Boko Haram attacks Chinese camp as summit takes place in Paris thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2014) Permanent Link
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18-May-14 World View -- China evacuates 3,000 citizens from Vietnam, fearing more violence

Taiwanese businesses bear the brunt of Vietnam's riots

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China evacuates 3,000 citizens from Vietnam, fearing more violence


Taiwan-owned furniture factory torched last week by rioters (AFP)
Taiwan-owned furniture factory torched last week by rioters (AFP)

China has evacuated more than 3,000 Chinese nations from Vietnam as of Saturday afternoon. The evacuations were by chartered plane and ships, according to Chinese media. The evacuations follow a week where thousands of anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam, furious over China's installation of an oil rig in waters in the South China Sea historically claimed by Vietnam, turned violent and torched a number of factories in a southern Vietnam industrial park, killing two and injuring hundreds. Following that, a mob of a thousand Vietnamese protesters stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam, hunted down Chinese workers, killing one, and torched the complex.

China is demanding that Vietnam take tougher measures to punish rioters. According to a Chinese official, "We are strongly dissatisfied by the Vietnamese side failure to respond effectively to curb an escalation."

Vietnamese officials normally don't permit anti-Chinese demonstrations, for fear of antagonizing the Chinese. It's believed that last week's demonstrations were approved by the government, to show displeasure at China's actions in the South China Sea. Chinese officials are now saying that "illegal acts" would be stopped, as they could damage national stability. However, anti-Chinese dissident groups have urged new demonstrations on Sunday. Xinhua and BBC

Taiwanese businesses bear the brunt of Vietnam's riots

More than 100 Taiwanese companies operating in Vietnam were affected by last week's riots. At least 11 buildings were set on fire. Hundreds of family members of Taiwanese employees have been evacuated, while about 70 Taiwanese staffers remain in Vietnam to oversee the situation.

Many Vietnamese workers in Taiwan are becoming concerned that the anti-China riots in Vietnam are going to affect them. One Vietnamese worker in Taiwan said that she feels sorry for the Taiwanese who have suffered losses in Vietnam. "I feel terrible and very sad because Taiwanese people are all very friendly and nice." There are currently over 489,000 foreign workers in Taiwan, 25.6% of whom are from Vietnam, the second-largest source of migrant workers in Taiwan.

The actions by China to install an oil rig in waters that are in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone is what triggered last week's riots, but the anti-Chinese feelings in Vietnam go far deeper than that. According to one analyst:

"Riots can easily start over minor issues that then get conflated with others. These are factory workers, not political science or history scholars. They have 'Chinese' overseers, they feel that these people are not nice to them and now they - or someone like them - is invading the country."

In other words, the riots may have been triggered by bad working conditions in Chinese businesses as well as bad working conditions in Vietnamese businesses. This would be an embarrassment to the Vietnamese government. Focus Taiwan and Focus Taiwan and BBC

Generational History of Vietnam

I posted this generational history of Vietnam several years ago, and with Vietnam in the news again, now would be a good time to look at it again.

Vietnam's last generational crisis war was the civil war of the 1960s and 1970s. The war was not fought against the Americans, though the Americans were there, supporting the South Vietnamese. It was fought between the North and the South, and the Americans were irrelevant.

In fact, generational crisis wars between North and South Vietnam have occurred regularly, every 70-90 years, since North and South Vietnam have had different ethnic origins. North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) was originally populated by ethnic Chinese, while South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) was populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one crisis war after another over the centuries, whether the Americans were there or not.

Generational crisis wars in 1471 and 1545 finally ended the Champa Kingdom in the south, and also drove out the Chinese Army from the north. However, the country remained partitioned until the Tay-Son rebellion, 1771-1790, the most celebrated military event in Vietnamese history. In its explosive climax in 1789, the Vietnamese troops repelled a much larger Chinese army in a brilliant battle that united the country for the first time.

The generational awakening era that followed the Tay-Son rebellion changed the country enormously. The 1800s were the high point of literary culture in Vietnamese history, and, thanks to the French, Christianity bloomed, with hundreds of thousands of Catholic conversions from Confucianism and Buddhism. That lasted until the next crisis war, the French conquest of Indochina in 1865-1885.

Under the French, the Catholic Church flourished, opening missions, schools and hospitals all over the country.

Vietnam's next Awakening era featured riots and demonstrations directed at the French colonialists, and the rise of Ho Chi Minh. Ho took part in the founding of the French Communist Party in 1920, and formed the Revolutionary Youth League in Vietnam in 1925. Ho led numerous anti-colonial uprisings in the following decades, and during WW II, Ho formed the Viet Minh political / relief organization, for people starving to death thanks to confiscation of goods by the occupying Japanese.

After WW II, Ho Chi Minh led the effort to drive the French from Vietnam, and succeeded with human wave assaults against a large French encampment at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

With the French gone, Vietnam was once again partitioned into North and South. Ho controlled the North, with support from the Soviet Union and China, and over half a million Catholics migrated from the North to the South. America feared that South Vietnam would also fall under Communist control.

This was the time when America had fought two world wars, and was desperately fearful of a third one on the horizon, this time with the Communists. It was considered essential to stop Communism before it could become too threatening, and so America endeavored to stop Communism from spreading from North to South Vietnam. America began providing advisors in the 1950s, growing to full-scale armed intervention in the 1960s. The North-South crisis civil war finally ended in 1974, with Hanoi's victory, followed by Hanoi's reign of terror.

Today, Vietnam is well into one more generational awakening era. When President Bush visited Vietnam in 2006, the young people of Saigon (they don't like to call it Ho Chi Minh city) lined the streets and cheered wildy, expressing admiration for America, and also hostility towards their Hanoi masters.

Today, even Hanoi wants to be friends with America, to counter threats from China in the South China Sea.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-14 World View -- China evacuates 3,000 citizens from Vietnam, fearing more violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2014) Permanent Link
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17-May-14 World View -- Serious human rights problems arise in eastern Ukraine and Crimea

Terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, causes mass evacuations

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, causes mass evacuations


Aftermath of twin bombings in Nairobi on Friday (EPA)
Aftermath of twin bombings in Nairobi on Friday (EPA)

Kenyan officials were furious on Wednesday, after Britain, the U.S., France and Australia issued warnings about travel to Kenya, based on intelligence about an imminent terrorist attack. Hundreds of tourists responded to the warnings by checking out of hotels, prompting Kenya officials to say that the alerts were "unfriendly," would increase panic, and play into the hands of the terrorists.

That was Wednesday. On Friday, while Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta was giving his nationally televised state of the nation speech, at least 10 people were killed and dozens injured in a twin bombing in a market in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The bombing occurred at Gikomba Market, one of the biggest second-hand clothes markets in east and central Africa. It's assumed that the perpetrators are the Somalia-based al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab, which has been responsible for a number of terror attacks, including the horrific 3-day attack on Nairobi's upscale Westlake Mall, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. (See "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears")

Britain's Foreign Office is now warning of a continued "high threat" from terrorists. Some tour operators have cancelled all flights to Mombasa until October, and some 400 tourists already there will be flown back. BBC and Daily Mail (London)

Serious human rights problems arise in eastern Ukraine and Crimea

A report by the United Nations finds that life is becoming increasingly chaotic in Crimea, which has been annexed by the Russian Federation, and eastern Ukraine, which is under threat from Russian troops. According to the report:

However, Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who is one of east Ukraine's largest employers, is using patrols of steelworkers in his employ to try to restore order in some cities. Akhmetov is joining with other groups to insist that eastern Ukraine remain united with the rest of Ukraine. United Nations and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-14 World View -- Serious human rights problems arise in eastern Ukraine and Crimea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2014) Permanent Link
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16-May-14 World View -- China blames U.S. as anti-China violence grows in Vietnam

Palestinian commemorate founding of Israel as 'Nakba Day'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China blames U.S. as anti-China violence grows in Vietnam


Martin Dempsey (left) watches as Fang Fenghui lectures him at the Pentagon on Thursday
Martin Dempsey (left) watches as Fang Fenghui lectures him at the Pentagon on Thursday

On Thursday, a mob of a thousand Vietnamese protesters stormed a Taiwanese steel mill in Vietnam, hunted down Chinese workers, killing one, and torched the complex. Taiwanese companies, many of which employ Chinese nationals, have borne the brunt of Vietnam's anti-China protests and violence. The protesters are furious over China's installation of an oil rig in waters in the South China Sea historically claimed by Vietnam.

Also on Thursday, China's top military leader, the head of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Fang Fenghui, was in Washington, meeting at the Pentagon with U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey. At the joint press conference, Fang blamed President Barack Obama's pivot to Asia, saying that Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan had seized on it to cause trouble in the South and East China seas. (This is China's standard message. All of Asia could live in peace and harmony, as long as the U.S. and all the Asian countries are docile and obedient to the commands issued by China.)

As for the oil rig, Fang made it clear that China would make no concessions at all:

"I think it’s quite clear ... who is conducting normal activity and who is disrupting it. ...

Territory which has passed down by our ancestors into the hands of our generation – we cannot afford to lose an inch."

He added that China does not seek conflict, but is not afraid of it. War between Vietnam and China has never been closer. AP and Reuters

U.S. asks Vietnam to permit additional Navy ship visits

With tensions growing sharply between Vietnam and China, the U.S. Navy on Thursday to permit the Seventh Fleet to have additional U.S. port calls. Currently, Vietnam limits U.S. port calls for one visit of up to three ships each year, to avoid antagonizing China. But now that Vietnam has reversed policy and is willing to antagonize China by permitting peaceful anti-China protests, it's thought that Vietnam may make a similar change of policy with respect to U.S. naval port calls.

Because of China's increasingly offensive military activity in the South China Sea, Vietnam has felt it's had no choice but to develop closer military relations with the U.S., India and Russia. Reuters

Japan moves toward reinterpreting its pacifist constitution

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe officially announced Thursday the intention to reinterpret its pacifist constitution to permit using the armed forces for "collective self-defense." I discussed this issue in detail recently in "5-May-14 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan".

This reinterpretation of the constitution will permit the armed forces to use the military to defend allies, particularly the United States, if the ally is being attack but Japan is not. It will also permit the Japan to rescue Japanese civilians in remote locations. In his announcement, Abe alluded to China when he mentioned as an example a case in which an armed group disguised as fishermen land on the country’s remote islands. Many Japanese oppose the reinterpretation of the constitution, fearing that it's the first step on a slippery slope to war. Japan News

Palestinian commemorate founding of Israel as 'Nakba Day'

Palestinians on Thursday commemorated the 66th anniversary of the founding of Israel on May 15, 1948, as "the Nakba" or "the catastrophe." Palestinians remember May 15 as the day in which Palestinians were expelled from Palestine, as the region fell into a bloody war between Arabs and Jews. According to one Palestinian official, "There is no backing out from the right of the refugees to return, for the Palestinian revolution was launched in 1965 for the implementation of this right and tens of thousands of martyrs and hundreds of thousands of wounded have fallen for this cause." Daily Star (Beirut)

Lebanon accused of discriminating against Palestinians from Syria

Palestinians are accusing Lebanon of implementing new regulations on the border with Syria that are indiscriminately harming Palestinians. The new regulations were triggered by the arrest last week of 49 Syrians and Palestinians previously living in Syria on suspicion of possessing forged documents. However, the new regulations are even forcing Palestinian families to split up when they're faced with a medical emergency. Like Israel, Lebanon has been the target of terrorist attacks by jihadists, and is implementing new regulations with the intention of preventing new terrorist attacks. Daily Star (Beirut)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-14 World View -- China blames U.S. as anti-China violence grows in Vietnam thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2014) Permanent Link
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15-May-14 World View -- Thousands of violent Vietnamese protesters torch Chinese businesses

In a new escalation, China builds airstrip on Philippines reef

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In a new escalation, China builds airstrip on Philippines reef


Anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam (AFP)
Anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam (AFP)

China appears to be building an airstrip on the Mabini Reef, a region in the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines as part of its exclusive economic zone. This is the next step in China's "salami-slicing strategy" where it's militarily annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. China has indicated that it intends to annex the entire South China Sea, and Chinese media indicates that the purpose of the salami-slicing strategy is to annex the other countries' one small piece at a time, so that the U.S. will not be provoked into intervening. The Philippines government has protested the annexation of Philippines territory, but China's foreign minister scoffed at the protest, saying,

"Whatever construction China carries out on the reef is a matter entirely within the scope of China's sovereignty. I don't know what particular intentions the Philippines has in caring so much about this."

GMA News (Philippines) and Interaksyon

Thousands of violent Vietnamese protesters torch Chinese businesses

Thousands anti-Chinese protesters in Vietnam, furious over China's installation of an oil rig in waters in the South China Sea historically claimed by Vietnam, turned violent and torched a number of factories in a southern Vietnam industrial park. It was Chinese factories that were the nominal targets, but the angry mob also attacked properties owned Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan.

The protests followed last week's major naval confrontation between China and Vietnam. Vietnam sent a flotilla of about 30 ships to blockade a mobile rig that China was installing in waters within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone. China responded by sending 60 ships to break the blockade. Vietnam has released video of Chinese ships ramming the Vietnamese ships and spraying them with water cannons. ( "8-May-14 World View -- China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea")

The Vietnamese protests earlier this week were non-violent, but violence was triggered when China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs was "requiring" Vietnam to concede its rights:

"The Xisha (Paracel) Islands are China's inherent territory. The Chinese company's normal operations fall within China's sovereignty. China ... has required the Vietnamese side to take all necessary measures to protect the safety and lawful rights of Chinese citizens and institutions in Vietnam."

The Vietnamese government has forbidden anti-Chinese protests in the past, for fear of antagonizing the Chinese. These growing protests are apparently approved by the government, and therefore represent a major policy change by the government. It seems likely that the Vietnamese are preparing for war with China, especially if China keeps annexing Vietnamese territory. Vietnam won a brief war with China in 1979. CNN and Vietnam Net and Xinhua

Cyberwar between China and Vietnam may be breaking out

After last week's naval confrontation between China and Vietnam, some news reports indicated that Vietnamese hackers were conducting DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on a few Chinese web site. Vietnamese officials warned Vietnamese hackers to stop, because China, who have teams of hackers attacking the United States, would almost certain target Vietnamese sites in revenge. That's exactly what appears to have happened, as 102 Vietnamese web sites, most personal and small businesses, have now been attacked by Chinese hackers. So we'll have to see if this thing spirals into a cyberwar, or if it peters out. Vietnam Net and Thanh Nien News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-14 World View -- Thousands of violent Vietnamese protesters torch Chinese businesses thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2014) Permanent Link
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14-May-14 World View -- Muslim world split by Boko Haram abductions

Russia bans U.S. from International Space Station

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Muslim world split by Boko Haram abductions


Both jihadists and ordinary Muslims are condemning Boko Haram for the mass abduction of young schoolgirls
Both jihadists and ordinary Muslims are condemning Boko Haram for the mass abduction of young schoolgirls

It's a common Western complaint of Islam that Muslim officials and clerics rarely condemn the acts of Islamist terrorists, or that any such condemnations are rarely as aggressive as a Christian cleric condemnation of a terrorist act by a Christian.

There have been similar criticisms about the Muslim reaction to the Boko Haram abduction of over 200 young school girls. Within Nigeria itself, there is bitter criticism that the politicians and the army did nothing for weeks, and that Goodluck Jonathan, was even seen dancing the day after the attack.

However, as the worldwide public has become aware of this terrorist act, it's caused a fierce debate with the Muslim community -- both among ordinary Muslims and among jihadists.

One Muslim, Sydney Casely-Hayford in Ghana, says that Boko Haram reflects flaws in Islam. He argues that the "continuous silence" of Muslim clerics is an indication that Boko Haram is subtly accepted:

"I have not heard so far one single high ranking, respected Muslim cleric [in Ghana] stand up and say [the activities of Boko Haram] is totally non-Muslim activity; this is not what Islam is all about. ...

You [Islamic Leaders] need to hold a big stage and say so clearly so that we all understand that you are against what is going on."

In response, the Coalition of Concerned Muslims says that the accusation of "subtle acceptance" is an absurd and blatant lie, as numerous comments by Muslim Clerics and Muslims in general have been published:

His assertion that the ‘Boko Haram’ projects the weakness of Islam as a religion is devoid of logic. It is sad and strange that he has chosen to use the actions of ‘Boko Haram’ as a yardstick in measuring the strength or otherwise weakness of Islam. It is intellectual dishonesty to judge Islam by way of the behavior of a few deviant followers.

A majority of Muslims have conducted themselves well wherever they are located. Under no circumstance should the actions of a few deviant folks be used to describe Islam but rather it is sound and logical to use the actions of the majority of Muslims. Does he not see that the world would be in chaos if Muslims throughout the world were to unite upon violence and aggression? Would it be fair to say the Catholic Church projects the weakness/flaws in Christianity because its priests abuse children? Or the inhumane actions of the Lord’s resistance Army in Uganda show that Christianity has flaws? We Muslims have been thought to be just in our dealings and analysis and so we do not draw such flimsy conclusions as done by Mr. Casely Hayford."

With ordinary Muslims reacting angrily to the Boko Haram abductions, it's perhaps surprising that even jihadists are shocked by the appalling and repulsive nature of the attack. One jihadist was most fearful of revenge attacks, and gave a very interesting historical analysis:

"Today, there are different sentiments, as the peoples of the [Islamic] nation hear from the channels news that we never hoped to hear – namely, the kidnapping of Muslim and non-Muslim girls and your announcement that you intend to sell them as slaves.

This matter, if you proceed with it, will become a dangerous precedent and will bring about grave calamities such as the nation of Islam has never heard of for centuries. Your announcement of 'imprisoning' hundreds of girls will not benefit Islam and the Muslims in any manner. On the contrary, it will reflect tragically not only on their image but also on whatever similar reactions the enemies of Islam will carry out. The [Islamic] nation has enough tragedies as it is.

Brothers in [Boko Haram]: if you do this, and sell the girls as prisoners, can you guarantee to your wives, your daughters, your sisters, and your Muslim relatives here and there that the enemies will [not] commit rape against them and will not defile their honor and modesty?

Do not open the gates of evil, have mercy on your Muslim sisters, and protect your religion's reputation.

Know that not everything that is permitted in Islam is proper to do at all times and in any manner without considering its advantages and disadvantages.

Know that imprisonment and enslavement resulting from war between Muslims and infidels are part of reciprocity, and that this was the norm among peoples in ancient times. Today, however, as the act of enslavement between the nations of the world has ceased to exist, and the exchange of prisoners has become the custom, we as Muslims should not initiate this toward our enemy, since it has grave repercussions. Preventing harm takes precedence over making gains, according to famous jurisprudential principle. We do not know what advantage for Islam and the Muslims will be gained if you do this…

We appeal to you: Release the girls and do not continue their imprisonment and enslavement. The Muslims today are suffering from enough oppression; do not bring any harm on their honor [i.e. their women]."

Not all jihadists were convinced, however. One responded: "On the contrary, [we should] imprison [as much as we can]. Ripping out the hearts of the infidels who have no morals in war is a legitimate administration of justice. As a Muslim, I think that the brothers, the mujahideen in Nigeria, did a good thing. I pray to the great Allah to give them victory and power throughout the land." Citi-Fm (Ghana) and Ghana Web and Memri

Russia bans U.S. from International Space Station

In retaliation for American sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine situation, Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin announced on Tuesday a series of sanctions against the U.S.:

Moscow Times and Telegraph (London)

Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi resigns in disgust

When the Syria war began in 2012, the Arab League and the United Nations appointed former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan as a special envoy to bring peace to Syria. Annan formulated a farcical six-point 'peace plan' which said absolutely nothing, and so was not vetoed Russia in the U.N. Security Council.

By August 2012, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has made a fool of Annan enough times that Annan resigned, and he was replaced by 78 year old Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi. I had noticed a difference in tone between the two: whereas Annan sounded pathetic and dishonest, Brahimi sounded realistic and truthful.

Brahimi was congratulated on a couple of occasions, when he got both sides, the al-Assad government and the opposition rebels, to participate in a peace conference in Geneva, once in 2013, and once in February of this year. Syria had previously agreed to discuss a "transitional government body," which meant that either al-Assad would step down or at least that the opposition would have a place in the government. The regime absolutely refused to even put that subject on the meeting agenda. The "peace talks" collapsed once and for all, and Brahimi clearly blamed the Syrian regime, and apologized to the Syrian people. The regime was furious at Brahimi after that, and considered him to be biased.

And why should al-Assad step down? Why should he compromise on anything?

So it's absurd to believe that al-Assad would ever compromise on anything.

Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi have been useful idiots for the Assad regime by providing cover for him to continue his war criminal acts on civilian Sunnis, and cover for the Russians and Iranians to make sanctimonious statements while they support al-Assad's bloody slaughter.

It's worth remembering again, as I wrote in 2011 (see "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics"), Russia adopted a policy of using the United Nations Security Council to cripple American and Western foreign policy. Putin has been incredibly successful with this policy, and has crippled American and Western policy almost completely, most recently in Ukraine.

So Lakhdar Brahimi, now 80 years old, stepped down on Tuesday, and apologized to the Syrian people once more:

"It's not very pleasant for me. It's very sad that I leave this position and leave Syria behind in such a bad state."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised to appoint a new envoy, but I doubt that there's any hurry. al-Jazeera and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-14 World View -- Muslim world split by Boko Haram abductions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2014) Permanent Link
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13-May-14 World View -- Mixed emotions over Narendra Modi's probable win in India

Will Ukraine's 'People's Republic of Donetsk' be absorbed into Russia?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Will Ukraine's 'People's Republic of Donetsk' be absorbed into Russia?


Armed Pro-Russian activists stand guard near clear plastic ballot boxes (AFP)
Armed Pro-Russian activists stand guard near clear plastic ballot boxes (AFP)

The events of this weekend in Ukraine were truly amazing.

The ballot question that people in the province of Donetsk were asked to vote on was: "Do you support the Act of State Self-rule of the Donetsk People's Republic?" It was similar in the province of Luhansk.

Both the BBC and Al-Jazeera covered the elections live from various polling stations. A lot of people came out to vote, and there were long lines at the polling stations, but that was mainly because there were something like six polling stations for half a million people in some cities.

Both BBC and al-Jazeera were able to predict right in the polling station that the "Yes" votes were winning almost unanimously. How did they know that? Well, when someone came to vote, he was handed a sheet of paper that came out of a printer that anyone could have easily printed. He would go to a table where he would mark his ballot in plain sight of everyone, then he would drop the sheet of paper into the ballot box -- a tall rectangular container made of CLEAR PLASTIC. So when the camera was pointed at the ballot box, you could see how the person voted, and you could see that everyone was voting "Yes." Then there were interviews with people, typically afraid of being identified by name, who would have liked to vote "No," but were afraid to do so for fear of having the crap beaten out of them.

As we reported last week, Russia's president Vladimir Putin was caught in a lie, in the claims that 97% of the voters in the Crimean secession voted for secession. It turns out that these figures are fraudulent, and the actual figure is 50% of a 30% turnout, or 15% of voters. Putin may already be perpetrating a similar fraud in the east Ukraine referendum.

Back in the 80s, the Soviets would always brag about their election results, where the chosen candidate was always elected by 99-100%. These results would always be greeted with a great deal hilarity, because we all assumed that the elections were dishonest. Well, what was interesting this weekend was to see a real "Soviet-style election" in action. Of course Soviet-style elections are still the norm in Russia, which is how Putin got elected. I wonder if they use clear plastic ballot boxes in Moscow?

So anyway, pre-referendum opinion polls in eastern Ukraine showed that most people were really pissed off at the government in Kiev, but that they also didn't want to be absorbed into Russia. So when they voted "Yes" on "Do you support the Act of State Self-rule of the Donetsk People's Republic?", they thought that they were voting to become a self-ruling republic. But that didn't stop the referendum leaders from immediately declaring that the people had spoken, and the people wanted Donetsk to be absorbed into the Russia Federation, just like Crimea.

Putin was quoted on Monday saying that Russia had no intention of annexing Donetsk, but of course he said exactly the same thing about Crimea just before Russia annexed it. BBC and RFERL

Kerry to meet with Palestinians to discuss ending aid

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in London on Thursday, to discuss whether or no the U.S. will continue to provide up to $500 million in aid to Palestinians.

This meeting will come several weeks after the total collapse of the Mideast "peace talks" that Kerry set up last year. The "peace talks" were considered to be a joke around the Mideast, as the Israelis and the Palestinians rarely even spoke to each other. By the end of March, the whole thing was reduced to angry finger-pointing. It's believed that the Kerry and the Obama administration blame Israel for the collapse of the "peace talks," because Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu refused to agree to a plan where Israel would return to its post 1948 borders.

The Palestinians have been making it clear that they're going to go their own way now. They're applying to hundreds of United Nations organizations as the State of Palestine, and they've indicated their intention to go to the International Criminal Court and charge Israel with war crimes.

But from the point of view of the United States, the most significant change is that Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) announced it will form a unity government with Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, and identified as a terrorist organization by the United States, with a charter that includes the total destruction of Israel.

Unfortunately for Abbas, U.S. law prohibits aid to the Palestinians to benefit Hamas, "or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence." Fatah and Hamas were at war several years ago, and several subsequent attempts at unity have collapsed because of hostility between the two. Presumably Kerry is going to tell Abbas on Thursday that if he wants U.S. aid to continue to flow to the Palestinians, then it would be a good idea for this attempt at unity to collapse as well. But according to some news reports, there's a chance that Abbas will tell Kerry to take his money and go home. Reuters

Mixed emotions over Narendra Modi's probable win in India

Official results won't be published until Friday, but exit polls indicate that that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, has won a historic victory in India's parliamentary elections. It now looks likely that the BJP will be the first party in 30 years to win an absolute majority in parliament. The government Congress Party has suffered a devastating defeat, in an election with an extremely high turnout.

Much of Modi's popularity comes from his "hope and change" promises to improve the economy and eliminate corruption in New Delhi. But concerns have been raised because of his avowed (Hindutva) Hindu nationalism, he will worsen the relationship between Hindus and Muslims and India. His rhetoric has particularly targeted Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, and he recently threatened that as soon as he took office he would deport Bangladeshi immigrants, saying, "I will send these Bangladeshis beyond the border with their bags and baggages." Times of India and CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-14 World View -- Mixed emotions over Narendra Modi's probable win in India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2014) Permanent Link
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12-May-14 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches last spring/summer offensive against Nato

Saudi farmers kiss their camels in defiance of MERS warnings

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi farmers kiss their camels in defiance of MERS warnings


Saudi farmer kisses his camel in defiance of official Saudi warnings (Al Sharq)
Saudi farmer kisses his camel in defiance of official Saudi warnings (Al Sharq)

Health officials in Saudi Arabia are telling people to drink only pasteurized camel milk, to eat only well-cooked camel meat, and, for those who handle camels, to wear masks and gloves in doing so. Camels have been identified as the "reservoirs" of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), which has been continuing to spread, especially in Saudi Arabia. Studies show that it's been common in camels for at least 20 years, without spreading to humans. But apparent mutations in the MERS virus have allowed it to spread to humans, and have allowed some human to human transmission, raising pandemic concerns.

However, some camel farmers in Saudi Arabia have been calling the warnings ridiculous, and have been posting photos and videos of themselves defiantly hugging and kissing their camels. Some farmers are demanding that evidence be produced that their camels have the virus, and others point out that they've lived for decades with camels and have never been infected by them. Gulf News and Reuters and Recombinomics

Afghan Taliban launches last spring/summer offensive against Nato

The Afghan Taliban is announcing its final offensive against Nato, prior to Nato's withdrawal. According to a statement by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan:

"In order to fully complete our religious obligation in attaining the gratitude of Allah (SWT) and in defense of our Islamic homeland, we once again announce our annual spring operations under the name of ‘Khaibar’ with the onset of the new military year against the invaders and their spineless backers!

The upcoming ‘Khaibar’ operation shall begin with the cries of Allah u Akbar throughout the country at 5am local time on Monday ... 12th May of 2014.

Like previous years, the main target of the current year’s blessed Jihadi operation shall be the foreign invaders and their backers under various names like spies, military and civilian contractors and everyone working for them like translators, administrators and logistics personnel.

Similarly the blessed ‘Khaibar’ Jihadi spring operations shall target all high ranking government officials, cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, security officials, occupation backing officers in the Interior and Foreign Ministries, attorneys and judges that prosecute Mujahideen as well as agents in the National Directorate that pursue and torture Mujahideen.

Various modern military techniques shall again be utilized in the current annual ‘Khaibar’ operations. Back-breaking martyrdom strikes, infiltrator operations (insider attacks), targeting large and well fortified enemy bases with heavy weapons and missiles as well as carrying out head-on offensive operations against enemy gatherings shall be some of the main techniques used in these spring operations.

The main targets of the annual spring ‘Khaibar’ operations shall be the military gatherings of foreign invading forces, their diplomatic centers and convoys as well as the military bases of their internal mercenary stooges, their convoys and the facilities of foreign, interior, intelligence and Arbaki militia."

The Battle of Khaibar was fought by Mohammed in 629. Islamic State of Afghanistan and Khaama Press (Afghanistan)

Summit of Asian nations splits on China

Anti-China protests are generally prohibited by the Vietnamese government, but apparently the government approved hundreds of people demonstrating in front of the Chinese Embassy on Saturday to protest China's installation of a mobile oil rig in waters near the Paracel Islands that Vietnam claims are in its exclusive economic zone. They were demanding that China remove the rig from Vietnamese waters.

There was a major naval confrontation last week when Vietnam sent a flotilla of about 30 ships to blockade the rig. China responded by sending 60 ships to break the blockade. Vietnam has released video of Chinese ships ramming the Vietnamese ships and spraying them with water cannons.

There was another confrontation last week, when the Philippine maritime police arrested 11 Chinese fishermen hunting sea turtles were captured in Philippines waters. The Chinese have demanded that the fishermen be released, but Philippines officials are saying that the fishermen will be tried in court on the charges of hunting endangered species.

This week's meeting of ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) was dominated by discussion of these two confrontations with China. Vietnam and the Philippines wanted ASEAN to issue a strong statement criticizing China, but the other members don't wish to risk antagonizing China. China has indicated that it will use its vast military power to take control of the entirety of the South China Sea, and all islands and properties in it, despite that fact that parts have been historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. Chinese media has indicated that it is using a "salami-slicing strategy," where it annexes one region after another, each one too small to expect the U.S. or anyone else to react militarily. Reuters and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-14 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches last spring/summer offensive against Nato thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2014) Permanent Link
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11-May-14 World View -- Romania demands explanation from Russia for bomber threat

Violence increasing in Ukraine ahead of referendum

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Romania demands explanation from Russia for bomber threat


Tupolev TU-160 'Blackjack' bomber
Tupolev TU-160 'Blackjack' bomber

Romania's foreign ministry is demanding an explanation from Russia concerning a threat made by Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, after his plane was refused entry into Romania's airspace, to return with a bomber. Rogozin's plane was refused entry because Rogozin is on the list of Russian officials who are the targets of European and American sanctions that were imposed as a result of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Rogozin was returning from Transnistria (Transdniestria), a small Russian-speaking region within Romanian-speaking Moldova on the far west border of Ukraine. Activists in Transnistria say they would like repeat the events in Crimea, and become part of the Russian Federation after seceding from Moldova. Rogozin visited these activists on Friday as part of the celebration of Victory Day on the 69th anniversary of Nazi surrender on May 9, 1945.

As he left Chisinau Airport in Moldova, Rogozin's plane first entered Ukraine's air space, but the plane was met by Ukrainian warplanes and was forced to return to Chisinau. Next, the plane attempted to circumvent Ukraine by traveling through Romania and Bulgaria, but Romania refused the request because of the EU sanctions.

In response, Rogozin, who is apparently a heavy twitter use, tweeted:

"Romania has closed its air space for my plane, upon the U.S. request, Ukraine doesn't allow me to pass through again. Next time I'll fly on board TU-160."

The Tupolev TU-160 'Blackjack' bomber is a strategic bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear missiles.

Romania's Defense Ministry responded with the following statement:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken note with surprise that today, May 10th, 2014 the Russian Federation’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin tweeted that “Upon US request, Romania has closed its airspace for my plane. Ukraine doesn't allow me to pass through again. Next time I'll fly on board TU-160.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs feels that a Russian Deputy Prime Minister threatening to use a strategic bomber is a very serious threat in the current regional context where the Russian Federation has violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and separatist forces are committing grave violations of public order in the neighboring state.

In this context the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requests that the authorities in Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry, provide public clarification whether the statements quoted from Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin are the official position of the Russian Federation with regard to Romania as a Member State of the EU and NATO.

At the same time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds that Romania has unequivocally supported the sanctions regime instated by the European Union with respect to actions that undermine or threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence."

There are still a couple of mysteries surrounding this saga. First, how did Rogozin travel from Moscow to Chisinau on Thursday. VOR says that his plane traveled through Bulgaria and Romania, but didn't explain why he was permitted to do that. Second, how did Rogozin travel back from Chisinau to Moscow? VOR says he's back in Moscow, and speculates that he took an ordinary passenger plane. Voice of Russia and Romania Ministry of Defense

Russia's Rogozin says that Moldova seized Transnistria secession signatures

There's apparently more to the above story about the travels of Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin. Rogozin is claiming that when Ukraine's warplanes forced Rogozin's plane to make a U-turn and return to Chisinau airport in Moldova, boxes of signatures collected by secessionist activists were seized. According to a Rogozin tweet on Saturday:

"Moldovan security services are on our plane and seizing boxes with Transdniestrian people’s signatures for reunification with Russia."

It's been reported for several weeks that secessionists have been collecting these signatures, hoping to force a referendum that would permit Transnistria to secede from Moldova and join the Russian Federation, following the example of Crimea. But if Rogozin's tweet is correct, then all of those boxes of signatures have now fallen into the hands of Moldovan security forces. Itar-Tass (Moscow) and New Eastern Europe Journal

Violence increasing in Ukraine ahead of referendum

Pro-Russian separatists plan to go ahead with secessionist referendums in two cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, despite a call on Wednesday by Russia's president Vladimir Putin to postpone the referendums. It's now believed by many politicians that Putin's call was made to protect himself from further Western sanctions, rather than for any desire to see the referendum called off.

This follows a day of violence in the city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine, which resulted in 20 deaths following clashes between government forces and anti-government activists. Putin did his best to fire up pro-Russian nationalist sentiments by coming to Crimean and speaking to the screaming crowds:

"There is a lot of work to be done, but we will overcome all the difficulties because we are together. This means we have become even stronger, and I congratulate you on the great victory."

Putin said he was sure that 2014 would become known in history as the year Crimea's people decided to return to Russia and the memory of their ancestors. CNN and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-14 World View -- Romania demands explanation from Russia for bomber threat thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2014) Permanent Link
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10-May-14 World View -- Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign

MERS virus spreads more rapidly in Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign


Yellow-shirt protesters sit with police, who generally side with them against the red shirts (Reuters)
Yellow-shirt protesters sit with police, who generally side with them against the red shirts (Reuters)

After a series of court rulings this week, Thailand's prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra was impeached, and she and much of her cabinet were forced to resign, in what opponents are calling a "judicial coup." The case that was used to force the resignations appears to be a really crazy activist government kind of thing. Yingluck in 2011 began a rice-subsidy scheme that paid rice farmers well above market rate for their crop. This pleased Yingluck's biggest group of supporters, the mostly indigenous Thai rural population, but it cost the government $21 billion, and infuriated the powerful elite opposition in Bangkok, mostly Chinese descendants.

The crisis was brought about by months of protests by the "yellow-shirt" market dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority, vastly outnumbered by the "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai who do most of the menial labor, and who continue to support the Yingluck's Pheu Thai political party. Because of the Thai-Thai majority, the Pheu Thai have won the last five elections and can continue to do so. It's almost comical that the minority elite repeatedly used the courts to throw out a Pheu Thai prime minister.

Now Thailand is in a ridiculous situation. Yingluck offered to resign and call new elections in January, but the yellow shirt elite protesters forced the new election to be called off because they knew that the Pheu Thai candidate would win. Now Thailand has no government at all, and the only constitutional way forward is another election -- which the Pheu Thai would win.

The elites are backed by the King, by the army and by the courts, none of whom like all those rural workers who grow the food and do the jobs no one else wants to do. So they're going to use the army and the courts to prevent another Pheu Thai candidate from becoming PM. They're going to use the army and courts to appoint a "people's council" of their own sycophants to run the country, with no election required. The only problem with that is that the majority of Thailand's population is going to be infuriated.

The rural "red shirts" are planning a march around Bangkok on Saturday. The red shirts have held off, as long as Yingluck remained in office, but now they're expected to become a lot more belligerent, and possibly violent.

When Yingluck took office in 2011, she promises to use 'femininity' to resolve disputes. It looks like it didn't work. Today Online (Singapore) and Time

Many young people in Kenya learning Mandarin

With China investing so many billions of dollars in transportation and energy projects in Kenya, many young Kenyans see the best hope for their future job opportunities is with China. For that reason, many young Kenyans are learning Mandarin. Al Jazeera

MERS virus spreads more rapidly in Saudi Arabia

During the last 24-hour period, there were 14 new confirmed cases of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) diagnosed, and 5 new deaths from the disease. At the same time, the first MERS patient was diagnosed in Lebanon, a man who had recently returned from visiting a Persian Gulf country. The rising incidence of new MERS cases in Saudi Arabia indicates that human to human MERS transmission is widespread in western Saudi Arabia, which raises serious pandemic concerns.

As happened last year, concerns are growing that a pandemic might begin during the Hajj, when millions of Muslims from around the world arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once in a lifetime pilgrimage. The Hajj in 2014 is scheduled for October 2-7. CIDRAP and Recombinomics

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-14 World View -- Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2014) Permanent Link
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9-May-14 World View -- Boko Haram abduction of schoolgirls becomes international issue

Ukraine's pro-Russian activists to go ahead with secession referendum

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's pro-Russian activists to go ahead with secession referendum

Pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine have defiantly announced that they have 3 million ballots already printed, and that they're going ahead with Sunday's referendum on separation from Ukraine, despite Wednesday's surprising call from Russia's president Vladimir Putin to postpone it.

I listened to several different analysts and commentators speculate on the reasons why Putin made his flip-flop, and called for postponement of the referendum. Here are some of the speculations:

Interestingly enough, I didn't hear a single commentator say that Putin called off the referendum because "it's the right thing to do."

And on Thursday, the Pentagon repeated that there have been no changes to the Russian forces on the border, despite Putin's obviously dishonest claim that Russian forces had been pulled back. AP and Pew Research and CS Monitor

Boko Haram abduction of schoolgirls becomes international issue

The United States is leading an international effort along with Britain, France and China, to help Nigeria find the 276 or so missing schoolgirls that were abducted by the terror group Boko Haram on April 16. It's believed that the U.S. will provide some military help using drones, launched from a new drone base in Niger. However, it's believed that the search for the girls will be hampered by the fact that they girls have probably been split up into smaller groups, that they've probably been moved into neighboring countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad, and that some of them may already have been sold as slave girls.

Boko Haram has followed the abduction with a series of additional terror attacks, including a bombing in the capital city of Abuja, the abduction of 8 additional girls last Sunday, and the murder of hundreds of people in a village on Monday. It used to be that Boko Haram bombed government installations and Christian churches, but now it seems that Boko Haram has almost "freaked out" with mass attacks on civilians that are so gruesome and horrific that even al-Qaeda avoids them, because of the negative publicity.

For a couple of weeks after the abduction occurred, it seemed that nobody particularly cared, not the government of Nigeria, and not the international community. (See "2-May-14 World View -- New car bombing in Nigeria, while 200 kidnapped girls are still missing".) But this week the feminists have come out with a #BringBackOurDaughters twitter campaign. Whether the cries of feminist outrage will encourage Boko Haram to change its way or, to the contrary, will encourage Boko Haram to abduct even more schoolgirls remains to be seen. CS Monitor and CNN and Tribune (Nigeria)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-14 World View -- Boko Haram abduction of schoolgirls becomes international issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2014) Permanent Link
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8-May-14 World View -- China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea

Putin 'withdraws' Russian troops, and calls off Sunday's east Ukraine referendum

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea


Chinese ship sprays water cannons at smaller Vietnamese ship over the weekend
Chinese ship sprays water cannons at smaller Vietnamese ship over the weekend

Eight Vietnamese boats have been "rammed, hit or sprayed with high-pressure hoses [by Chinese boats] ... damaging Vietnamese vessels and injuring their crew members" since Saturday, according to Vietnamese officials. The Vietnamese ships were attempting a blockade to prevent China from deploying a mobile drilling rig to search for oil and gas in regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, and which Vietnam claims as part of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

China has been adopting a "Lebensraum" policy of claiming all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. According to China, these countries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorial waters, while China has the right to annex everything in sight. China has already used its vast military power to forcibly annex territories belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and has militarily threatened islands belonging to Malaysia.

According to Vietnamese officials, "Vietnam has exercised restraint. But if Chinese vessels continue ramming Vietnamese ships, we'll have to act out of self-defense."

In a separate incident on Wednesday, 11 Chinese fishermen hunting sea turtles were captured Wednesday by Philippine maritime police. According to the Chinese, "Several armed men forced themselves onto the boat and fired four or five shots in the air. They then took control of the boat." But the Philippine National Police rebutted this statement, saying that the Chinese fishermen had been caught with 800 sea turtles, which are protected under Philippine law. The incident took place near the Spratly Islands’ Half Moon Shoal, which the Philippines claims is within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

Tensions between China and other nations, particularly Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines, in the East and South China Seas, have been growing steadily, along with threats and confrontations. This is a trend that seems to worsen every week, as all of these countries' populations become increasingly nationalistic. Now we have Chinese ships ramming Vietnamese ships, and we have Chinese warplanes and Japanese warplanes both surveying the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Some accident or miscalculation could lead to a larger conflict at any time. LA Times and Thanh Nien News (Hanoi)

Putin 'withdraws' Russian troops, and calls off Sunday's east Ukraine referendum

Russia's president Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia's troops have withdrawn from the border with Ukraine. However, the Pentagon says that there's been no evidence of movement in Russia's soldiers, so apparently this was another Putin lie.

However, Putin surprised everybody on Wednesday by calling on Ukraine's pro-Russian separatists to postpone a referendum that was scheduled for this Sunday, May 11. The purpose of this referendum was to duplicate the 97% Russian victory in a similar March 16 referendum held in Crimea that Putin used as an excuse to separate Crimea from Ukraine and annex it to Russia.

This announcement was a surprise to the West, to Ukraine's government, and even to the pro-Russian separatists who were preparing for the referendum. The separatists say that they're going to hold the referendum anyway.

Possibly even more surprising, Putin announced that Ukraine's president elections, scheduled for May 25, should go ahead. Putin had previously opposed these elections because they would legitimize the government in Kiev. VOA

Vladimir Putin caught in a lie about the Crimean referendum

It's likely that the reason that Putin called for postponing or canceling Sunday's separatist referendum is because he decided that the pro-Russian side was likely to lose. In fact, there have been polls that indicate that people of eastern Ukraine dislike the Kiev government, but still don't want to be part of Russia.

But now it's emerged that the published results of the Crimean referendum were fraudulent. Putin had claimed that 97% of the Crimeans had voted to separate and join Russia. It was obvious that the 97% figure was at least an exaggeration, since no honest election ever gets such lopsided results. But now an official Russian agency, the Presidential Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, accidentally posted the real figures on its web site: that only 30% of eligible voters turned out to vote, and only 50% of those voted for annexation. So only 15% of eligible votes (50% of 30%) voted for annexation.

The 97% claim was the lynchpin of Putin's argument that Crimea should be separated from Ukraine and annexed to Russia, and now that entire justification has been invalidated. Even with the 97% figure there never was any legitimacy for one country to annex another country's territory, but now the entire operation is shown to be a sham. Washington Post and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-14 World View -- China rams Vietnamese ships in the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2014) Permanent Link
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7-May-14 World View -- Iran's navy chief says he can sink an American aircraft carrier in 50 seconds

Another terrorist attack on a railway station in China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Another terrorist attack on a railway station in China


Police officers patrol at Guangzhou railway station after Tuesday's knife attack (Getty)
Police officers patrol at Guangzhou railway station after Tuesday's knife attack (Getty)

Six people injured in a knife attack at a railway station in the southern Chinese metropolis of Guangzhou late Tuesday night. This is the third high profile attack at a Chinese railway station in a little more than two months. On March 1, several attackers with knives killed 29 civilians and injured another 143 at a railway station in the southwestern city of Junming. And on April 30, three people were killed and 79 injured in a knife attack in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province in northwestern China, the home of China's mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

As in the previous two cases, the perpetrators in this case are assumed to be terrorists from the Uighur minority. Even though they're using "low-tech" weapons, the Uighur separatists appear to be getting more sophisticated in proving that they can strike at any place and time of their choosing. Some of the most militant separatist Uighurs have been training with jihadist organizations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Nato troops pull out of Afghanistan this year, it's likely that many militants fighting there will return to China. Xinhua and Guardian (London)

China makes plans for the collapse of North Korea's regime

Japan's Kyodo news service has obtained documents outlining China's plans in case the North Korea regime collapse. Of special concern is a massive outflow of refugees and military personnel into China. The refugees will be interned in camps, with political or military figures assigned to special camps where they can be watched closely, to prevent them from activities such as directing military activities. However, the document makes no mention of china's military entering North Korea, which would cause a repeat of the 1950s Korean War. Kyodo (Tokyo) and The Diplomat

Iran's navy chief says he can sink an American aircraft carrier in 50 seconds

A couple of weeks ago, Iran announced that it would running military war games that attack mockup of American warships and aircraft carriers, including replica of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. On Monday, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Ali Fadavi announced that their tests have been successful:

"Today the Americans and the entire world know that one of our operational goals is destroying US Navy Forces. ... Aircraft carriers provide US airpower in combat; therefore it is natural that we want to sink them. ...

Americans are unaware of many matters. Their research centers analyzed the mock aircraft carrier in a common way. We have been building and sinking mock US destroyers, frigates, and cruisers for years. We sank their models within 50 seconds even with various operational [counter] measures. ...

We will execute this regarding the mock aircraft carrier as well because destroying, annihilating, and sinking US boats has and will be in our plans."

Fadavi claimed that IRGC speed boats can travel at a top speed of 40 knots, while US vessels are stuck at 31 knots. He added that Iran planned to increase its boats’ speed to 80 knots, which he said was three times the speed of US destroyers.

However, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which is based in Bahrain says:

"Firing weapons at a stationary structure floating on pontoons is not a realistic representation of having the capability to target a 100,000-ton warship ... maneuvering at speeds in excess of 30 knots."

AEI Iran Tracker and Military Times/AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-14 World View -- Iran's navy chief says he can sink an American aircraft carrier in 50 seconds thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2014) Permanent Link
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6-May-14 World View -- Violence in Odessa Ukraine revives memories of Nazi massacre of Jews

Pakistan travel restrictions urged to stop spread of polio

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

As immigrants surge into Greece, 22 die on Aegean Sea


A fishing boat approaches the capsized vessel that had had 65 passengers on Monday (Kathimerini)
A fishing boat approaches the capsized vessel that had had 65 passengers on Monday (Kathimerini)

At least 22 people drowned, including several children, and 10 more are missing when a dangerously overloaded yacht overturned as it was traveling from Turkey to Greece through the Aegean Sea. There were some 65 immigrants on the 30-foot yacht. The survivors were from Syria, Somalia and Eritrea.

As we reported in 2012, Greece has been building fences and posting border guards along the Evros river that separates Turkey from Greece. Since then, the number of immigrants making the dangerous trip across the Aegean sea has increased substantially to about 1,000 immigrants per month. However, by April, the number has surged further to 1,500. Kathimerini and Greek Reporter (4/12)

U.S. considers helping Nigeria find its abducted girls

The evidence is mounting that the administration of Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan and the army have done little or nothing to find and recover the 276 or so schoolgirls, aged 16-18, who were abducted by the terror group Boko Haram on April 16. Reports indicate that nothing was done even when leads to the location of the girls had been provided. This had led to charges of ineptness or incompetence or worse -- accusations that the government supports the terrorist abductors. And on Monday, Boko Haram released a video bragging about the abduction and threatening to sell them, usually for around $10-20 apiece. (This leads me to wonder, why doesn't the government just "buy" them and return them to their parents?).

United States Secretary of State John Kerry pledged that the U.S. will do "everything possible" to help return the captives to their families. However, it's not clear what kind of help is being proposed. Any sort of military help has been excluded, and presumably this would prohibit the use of American drones to search for the girls. CS Monitor

Pakistan travel restrictions urged to stop spread of polio

There was a time, several years ago, when the World Health Organization (WHO) thought that polio could be exterminated completely worldwide. This goal took a major turn backward in 2011 when the administration bragged that a polio vaccination program in Pakistan was used as a cover to locate and capture Osama bin Laden. Since then, the Pakistani Taliban have been murdering health care workers in Pakistan involved in polio vaccination, with the result that polio is spreading in Pakistan, and being exported to other countries, particularly China and the Mideast. According to WHO, polio has begun to spread rapidly in 2014, particularly in Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria. WHO is recommending, at the highest priority, that these countries implement immediate polio eradication strategies, and ensure that all travelers leaving the country receive a dose of polio vaccine before leaving. WHO and Dawn (Pakistan)

Violence in Odessa Ukraine revives memories of Nazi massacre of Jews

Jews living in Odessa are considering an emergency evacuation, under the expectation that violence will grow considerably next week. Jews haven't been directly affected by the violence so far, but the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have prepared a fleet of 70 buses, and are considering renting a holiday camp to house 600 Jews away from Odessa next weekend.

During World War II, the Nazi army and their Romanian allies massacred some 30,000 Odessa Jews and Russians, beginning in October, 1941. Feelings on all sides have been polarized by last week's violence in Odessa, especially because this week marks the defeat and surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945. Ukrainian nationalists had collaborated with the Nazis in fighting the Russians. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this kind of polarization is most likely to recur around the time that the survivors of the previous massacre have disappeared (retired or died), which would be about now, and so the Jews are right to be concerned about the possibility of violence in Odessa. Russia Today

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5-May-14 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan

Reinterpretation would avoid having to amend the constitution

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's pacifist constitution limits much military activity


Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe

After the end of World War II, Japan adopted a 'pacifist' constitution, at U.S. insistence, that prohibited any military action except in response to a direct attack on Japan itself. According to Japan's Ministry of Defense:

"After World War II, Japan has resolved to ensure that the horrors of war will never be repeated and has ever since made tenacious efforts to establish itself as a pacific nation. The establishment of eternal peace is a sincere wish shared by the Japanese people. The Constitution of Japan, upholding pacifism, sets forth in Article 9 the renunciation of war, non-possession of war potential and denial of the right of belligerency of the state. Since Japan is an independent state, it is recognized beyond doubt that the provision in the article does not deny the inherent right of self-defense that Japan is entitled to maintain as a sovereign nation.

Thus the self-defense right of Japan is not denied, and therefore, the Government of Japan interprets the Constitution as being allowed to possess and maintain the minimum level of armed strength for self-defense necessary to ensure that Japan exercises the right. On the basis of such understanding, the government has adopted an exclusively defense-oriented policy as its basic policy of national defense, has maintained the Self-Defense Forces as an armed organization and has taken steps to improve their capabilities and conduct their operations under the Constitution. ...

The self-defense capability to be possessed and maintained by Japan under the Constitution is limited to the minimum necessary for self-defense. ...

But in any case in Japan, it is unconstitutional to possess what is referred to as offensive weapons that, from their performance, are to be used exclusively for total destruction of other countries, since it immediately exceeds the minimum level necessary for self-defense. For instance, the SDF is not allowed to possess ICBMs, long-range strategic bombers or offensive aircraft carriers. ...

The Three Non-Nuclear Principles are those of not possessing nuclear weapons, not producing them and not allowing them to be brought into Japan. Japan firmly maintains the principles as the fixed line of national policy."

Under international law, if a nation's ally is attacked by another country, then the nation may use its armed forces in defense of its ally. This is known as "collective self-defense," and it particularly can be invoked by either of two countries that have a mutual defense agreement, such as the mutual defense agreement signed by Japan and the United States. However, collective self-defense is prohibited in Japan's constitution:

"Under international law, there is recognition that a state has the right of collective self-defense, that is, the right to use armed strength to stop armed attack on a foreign country with which it has close relations, although the state is not under direct attack. It is beyond doubt that as a sovereign state, Japan has the right of collective self-defense under international law. It is, however, not permissible to use the right, that is, to stop armed attack on another country with armed strength, although Japan is not under direct attack, since it exceeds the limit of use of armed strength as permitted under Article 9 of the Constitution."

Japan Ministry of Defense, Part I and Part II and Part III and Asahi Shimbun

Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan

The issue of amending the constitution to allow more kinds of military action has split Japan politically for decades, but it's particularly heating up now for several reasons:

Amending the Japanese constitution would be a difficult and time-consuming process, so Shinzo Abe is supporting a workaround: Reinterpret the meaning of the phrase "collective self-defense" so in many cases, formerly prohibited activities would be interpreted as being permitted as Japan's individual self-defense. For example, an attack on U.S. warships near Japanese waters could be construed as a prelude to an attack on Japan itself.

Abe says that this change is essential for the survival of Japan. Opponents say that approving the exercise of the right to collective self-defensive is a "slippery slope" that will keep expanding to permit additional non-defense military activity.

Japan News and Asahi Shimbun and Japan News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-14 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2014) Permanent Link
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4-May-14 World View -- The 'Odessa Massacre' may portend Ukraine civil war

People on edge in a generational Crisis era

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The 'Odessa Massacre' may portend Ukraine civil war


Girls making Molotov cocktails in Odessa on Friday (Twitter)
Girls making Molotov cocktails in Odessa on Friday (Twitter)

There have been protests and blockades and building takeovers in Slovyansk and other cities in eastern Ukraine, but there was real violence on Friday in Odessa, a port city on the Black Sea in southwestern Ukraine. More than 42 people were killed and dozens were injured in clashes and their aftermath, when pro-Russian activities occupied a building which subsequently caught on fire. Already some people are referring to this as the "Odessa Massacre."

Both the war in Syria and the growing unrest in Ukraine are being fueled by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, but it's well to remember that there's a significant generational difference between Ukraine and Syria. Syria is in a generational Awakening era, with plenty of survivors remaining from the extremely bloody civil that climaxed in the 1982 slaughter of tens of thousands of Syrians in Homa.

What has been driving Syria's civil war has been the actions of the genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad, being fed unlimited amounts of heavy weapons by Putin for use in his genocide. Syria's civil war would have ended before now if (a) Al-Assad had been forced to step down a couple of years ago; or (b) if Putin hadn't been providing unlimited supplies of heavy weapons; or (c) President Obama had carried out his "red line" threat last year of using cruise missiles to destroy al-Assad's air force. The traumatized survivors of the 1980s civil war have no desire to see another civil war.

But Ukraine, Russia, Europe and America are all in generational Crisis eras, will little memory of the horrors previous crisis wars such as World War II. Typically people are familiar with their country's heroes and the enemy's injustices, and have no fear of the consequences. What appears to be happening in Ukraine is that events are beginning to spiral out of control in a generational Crisis era. I'm not talking about a Russian invasion here, though that remains a possibility. I'm talking about a civil war between the ethnic Ukrainians and the ethnic Russians. Dozens of pro-Russian activists were killed in a burning building in Odessa on Friday. Ukraine's government says it's at war. What are the pro-Russians, with Putin's help, going to do to get even with the pro-Ukrainians? VOA

Kiev: The fire was started by pro-Russians

Ukraine's Interior Ministry is saying that police investigation shows that pro-Russian separatists in Odessa were responsible for setting the fire. According to an Interior Ministry statement, separatists broke into the trade union building and barricaded themselves inside. They then started throwing Molotov cocktails from the roof, and some of the incendiary devices hit the building causing a fire that eventually killed more than 40 people, The Interior Ministry also says that many of the Russian separatists in Odessa are from the breakaway region Transnistria of Moldova.

Whether or not any of this is true, or whether it will be believed, is not known. But it's a sign of the increasing complexity of the situation in Ukraine. And given the generational crisis era mood in Ukraine, it shows how easy it would be for something to spiral out of control into a wider war. Kyiv Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-14 World View -- The 'Odessa Massacre' may portend Ukraine civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2014) Permanent Link
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3-May-14 World View -- First case of MERS coronavirus reported in U.S.

President Obama accuses Vladimir Putin of being a liar

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President Obama accuses Vladimir Putin of being a liar


Angela Merkel and Barack Obama in Washington on Friday
Angela Merkel and Barack Obama in Washington on Friday

Violence is spreading in Ukraine. It's mostly confined to a few cities in the east, but there have been casualties in violence on Friday in Odessa in southwest Ukraine. Russia's annexation of Crimea leaves Ukraine with only one major port on the Black Sea, the port in Odessa. If Russia also succeeds in annexing Odessa, then what's left would be a rump nation, completely landlocked.

There's kind of an "honor among thieves and liars" creed that requires liars to defend and support each other. Certainly President Barack Obama has been consistently following that creed in terms of his unending support for the claims of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, whether the subject has been Iran, Syria, or more recently Ukraine.

So possibly the most significant Ukraine news on Friday is that President Obama called Vladimir Putin a liar. It was during a press congress with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who's visiting Washington.

Obama pointed out that pro-Russian activists shot down helicopters using sophisticated surface-to-air missiles that could only have been obtained from Moscow, and that neutral observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been abducted, and that Putin is supporting the abductors, with the conclusion that Putin's statements lacked "honesty and credibility." Here's Obama's statement:

"And one of the biggest concerns that we’ve seen is the Russian propaganda that has been blasted out nonstop suggesting somehow that the Ukrainian government is responsible for the problems in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has shown remarkable restraint throughout this process. The notion that this is some spontaneous uprising in eastern Ukraine is belied by all the evidence of well-organized, trained, armed militias with the capacity to shoot down helicopters. Generally, local protestors don’t possess that capacity of surface-to-air missiles or whatever weapons were used to shoot down helicopters, tragically.

We’ve seen the attempts of OSCE monitors -- who were approved not just by Europe or the United States, but also by Russia -- being detained. And somehow Russia is suggesting that Kyiv is responsible for that? We’ve heard Mr. Putin say, well, Kyiv has to do a better job of reaching out to Eastern Europe -- or eastern Ukraine. You’ve seen attempts by Kyiv in a very serious way to propose decentralization of power and to provide for local elections, and for them to offer amnesty to those who have already taken over these buildings. None of that has been acknowledged by Mr. Putin or the various Russian mouthpieces that are out there.

You’ve also seen suggestions or implications that somehow Americans are responsible for meddling inside Ukraine. I have to say that our only interest is for Ukraine to be able to make its own decisions. And the last thing we want is disorder and chaos in the center of Europe.

So for the German audience who perhaps is tuning into Russian TV, I would just advise to stay focused on the facts and what’s happened on the ground. A few weeks ago, Mr. Putin was still denying that the Russian military was even involved in Crimea. Then, a few weeks later, he acknowledged, yeah, I guess that was our guys. And so there just has not been the kind of honesty and credibility about the situation there, and a willingness to engage seriously in resolving these diplomatic issues."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this statement is a sign of a worldwide change in attitude toward Putin. As I always point out, it's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history. And what we're seeing here is a widespread change of attitude that will affect the events in Eastern Europe during the next year, and not for the better. White House

State Dept. terrorism report emphasizes Syria as 'major battleground'

The U.S. State Dept. issued its annual "Country Reports on Terrorism," and emphasized the role of Syria:

"Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Assad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hezbollah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered ISIL to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, and dramatically increase attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.

Terrorist violence in 2013 was increasingly fueled by sectarian motives, marking a worrisome trend, particularly in Syria, but also in Lebanon and Pakistan."

The point I've been making now for over a year is that Syria has become an international magnet for jihadists around the world, from places as far apart as Indonesia, Pakistan, North Africa, France, Germany and Dagestan. The State Dept. report confirms that thousands of these jihadists have flocked to Syria.

What's happening in Syria is perhaps the greatest disaster of our time. Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has been conducting "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, including repeated use of chemical weapons, particularly targeting innocent Sunni women and children, has enraged Sunnis throughout the world.

There are people who write comments to me saying that we should be more worried about the al-Qaeda linked terrorist opposition groups, like ISIL (mentioned above). But those comments don't even make any sense. It's Bashar al-Assad who's CREATING these terrorist opposition groups. As long as al-Assad is around, ISIL will continue to grow and become stronger.

And once again we have to mention Russia's president Vladimir Putin. Putin is a war criminal, because he's providing an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to al-Assad for use in genocide and crimes against humanity. And now Putin is supplying heavy weapons to thugs in Ukraine, and lying about it. Putin is in the running for the person responsible for triggering the greatest and bloodiest world war of all time. U.S. State Dept.

Man infected with MERS virus traveled through Chicago to Indiana

A health care worker flying from Saudi Arabia to London, then to Chicago, and then traveling by bus to Indiana, was the first in the U.S. to be diagnosed with MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). He was tested for MERS because of his symptoms (shortness of breath, coughing and fever) and because he had traveled from the Mideast. Although the CDC does not believe that he infected other people, since close contact is required, it's theoretically possible that he did, and so the CDC is contacting travelers on the same plane and bus trips. Recently, travelers from the Mideast have resulted in MERS diagnoses in Greece, Malaysia, Jordan, Egypt and UAE.

The main problem is that a person can be infected with MERS, and capable of infecting others, for two weeks before that person develops symptoms. The biggest fear is that a "superspreader" will become infected and spread the virus widely, causing a chain reaction of multiple cases. Chicago Tribune and WebMd

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-14 World View -- First case of MERS coronavirus reported in U.S. thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2014) Permanent Link
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2-May-14 World View -- New car bombing in Nigeria, while 200 kidnapped girls are still missing

Russia resurrects Mayday parade to celebrate Ukraine annexation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia resurrects Mayday parade to celebrate Ukraine annexation


At Mayday rally, banners include the flag of the self-declared 'People's Republic of Donetsk [Ukraine]' (Reuters)
At Mayday rally, banners include the flag of the self-declared 'People's Republic of Donetsk [Ukraine]' (Reuters)

With the annexation of Ukraine's territory pushing the poll ratings of Russia's president Vladimir Putin astronomically high into the 80s, on Thursday Moscow staged the first Mayday parade in decades. According to Moscow's mayor, more than 100,000 people marched in the parade. "This is not by chance, because there is a patriotic uplift and a good mood in the country," he said. There were also large pro-Putin Mayday parades in other Russian cities, as in Simferopol, the capital of the annexed Crimea region. The holiday will continue all weekend.

In the two weeks since an agreement on Ukraine was reached in Geneva on April 17 by Russia, Ukraine, and the west, it's become pretty clear that the Russians never had any intention of abiding by their own agreement, and that Putin and Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov were simply lying. The Russians are using dozens or perhaps hundreds of Russian special forces for training and other support of anti-Ukrainian activists, as well as military threats, with the purpose of destabilizing Ukraine as much as possible. The endgame is presumably to create enough instability to give Russia an excuse for a military invasion. It's possible that events are spiraling out of control even for Putin, because of the highly nationalistic and enthusiastic response of the Russian people and the pro-Russian activists in Ukraine, following the annexation of Crimea. Reuters and Jamestown

Russia prepares for sanctions while ridiculing Obama

A lengthy analysis in Kommersant says that Russian officials are very concerned about the long-term effects of the sanctions that are being imposed on Russia as a result of the annexation of Ukraine's territory. Of particular concern are the sanctions against Russia's giant state-owned energy firm Rosneft, and its head Igor Sechin.

"Rosneft is actively working with U.S. companies. Back in 2011 it became a strategic partner of ExxonMobil. ... In exchange for the fields on the shelf of the Russian Arctic and Black Sea, Rosneft received assets in Texas, Gulf of Mexico and Canada. Igor Sechin himself traveled on business to the United States at least three times in two years. In April 2012, he was still in the position of Deputy Prime Minister, and led a delegation ... to New York at the presentation of the Russian oil industry. Then he compared the alliance of "Rosneft" and ExxonMobil with a "flight to the Moon," called for getting rid of "skeletons in the closet" and abandoning historical stereotypes in Russian-American relations. ...

[Rosneft] hoped that ExxonMobil would intervene and convince the White House not to impose sanctions against Igor Sechin. "Obviously, this has not happened, which was to some extent unexpected," says [one analyst]. None of them fully understand what may be the real impact of the sanctions."

Russian officials are particularly concerned that the sanctions "may develop slowly as in the Iranian scenario. ... U.S. sanctions against Iran after their period of active development in 1980-1981 the series and slowly tightened until 2004."

The Russians see the sanctions as the result of the weakness of President Barack Obama and the need to "save face," and to gain advantage at the expense of the European Union:

"Inside the country, [the situation] gives President Obama an opportunity to save face and to answer his Republican critics, who accuse him of indecision and constantly losing to President Putin. Moreover, we should not forget that the sanctions against Russia have little negative effect on Washington, in comparison to the EU, according to one expert. "The EU and Russia may suffer from the sanctions, while the United States will benefit from this opportunity to mobilize allies and remind them of American leadership."

Kommersant (Trans) and Jamestown

New car bombing in Nigeria, while 200 kidnapped girls are still missing

If over 200 girls had been kidnapped almost anywhere else in the world, it would be a big story, at least as big as that of Malaysian flight 370. And yet, despite reports that the girls, aged 16-18, are being forced into marriage or sold as slave girls for $12 each by their Boko Haram terrorist captors, the desperate parents of the girls are wondering why nobody in the West is coming to the aid of Nigeria in searching for the girls, or is even acknowledging the situation.

This mass abduction occurred only a few days after a major terrorist Boko Haram attack ( "15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70"). And now, on Thursday, a new major car bombing occurred, killing 19 people. The new bombing was just two blocks away from the last bombing, on the outskirts of the capital city, Abuja.

It turns out that, according to one Nigerian analyst, even Nigerians themselves are actually gleeful at the abduction of the girls. The reason is that opponents of the president Goodluck Jonathan see this as an opportunity to highlight his ineffectiveness, with the approach of the election scene. This horrific pattern of placing politics above any shred of humanity is hardly unknown in America. According to one Nigerian columnis:

"Indeed, the “weakness” of a President or the security apparatus under his tenure – whether the “weakness” is real or imagined – cannot be a justification for the mass murder committed through the [car bombings]. But the detractors of President Jonathan who blame the “worsening” of the Boko Haram attacks on his “weakness” and the “inadequacy” of his administration’s efforts to combat the insurgency would rather think otherwise. And one of them, in a curios post on social media recently, reacting to the reported threat by the insurgents to kill the abducted girls in their custody if the government’s search for them continues, said all that was happening because “our government has been sleeping”.

I listen to such reactions for any strain of condemnation for the kidnap of the schoolgirls – which the Senate President, David Mark, has rightly described as “sacrilegious” – and I hear none; and I am astonished by how politics might have debased the humanity of some of our citizens, men and women who would rather gloat against the government for its “inability” to prevent the murder or kidnap of their fellow citizens and their children, than respond to the humane imperative to condemn such acts, apparently because they serve their political ends."

If Nigerians themselves are so debased that they don't care about the abduction of 200 girls, then it's hardly a surprise that the rest of the world doesn't care either. BBC and Business Day (Nigeria) and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-14 World View -- New car bombing in Nigeria, while 200 kidnapped girls are still missing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2014) Permanent Link
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1-May-14 World View -- Uighur terrorist explosion in Chinese railway station kills three

Syria's al-Assad now freely uses chemical weapons with impunity

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Uighur terrorist explosion in Chinese railway station kills three


Uighurs pose for photos in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing (BBC)
Uighurs pose for photos in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong in Beijing (BBC)

Three people were confirmed dead and 79 others were injured, including four seriously injured, in the terrorist attack on Wednesday evening at a railway station in Urumqi, capital of China's northwest province Xinjiang. Knife-wielding mobs slashed people at the exit of the South Railway Station of Urumqi and set off explosives. A similar attack took place on March 1 at a railway station in southwestern China, killing 29 civilians and injuring another 143. Both attacks are assumed to have been perpetrated by Uighur separatists from Xinjiang province.

Turkic-speaking, usually Muslim Uighurs live in northwestern China in Xinjiang province, which has been a source of activist violence and separatist demands. China has responded with violent crackdowns, and flooded the province with Han Chinese transplants, diluting their population, in an unsuccessful attempt to pacify the Uighurs.

The March 1 railway station attack occurred at the opening of the the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, headed by China's new president Xi Jinping. Wednesday's railway station attack came during Xi's first visit to Xinjiang since he became president. After the attack, Xi said:

"The battle to combat violence and terrorism will not allow even a moment of slackness, and decisive actions must be taken to resolutely suppress the terrorists' rampant momentum."

The problem of attack in Xinjiang has been getting worse, according to analysts, who say that the incidents are becoming more professional and aimed at larger targets. Xi Jinping vowed to have a "strike first" approach to security. Xinhua and BBC

Syria's al-Assad now freely uses chemical weapons with impunity

It appears Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad is now using chemical weapons -- chlorine and ammonia -- on an almost daily basis. His helicopters drop large barrel bombs on the homes of innocent women and children. The barrel bombs contain explosives, screws, nails and other shrapnel, plus canisters of chlorine and ammonia. When chlorine is inhaled, it reacts with the moisture in the lungs, turning into hydrochloric acid that literally burns the target to death from the inside out. On Wednesday, activists report that a helicopter dropped two barrel bombs laden with gas on the town of Al-Tamanah in the early hours of the morning, with several casualties.

This shows what happens when there's no policeman. The criminals take over and run everything. This is what's happening in Chicago and, since President Obama took office, what's happening in the world.

A couple of days ago, Obama was asked what the "Obama doctrine" is in foreign policy. He stumbled around for a while, and then gave a non-answer and blamed it on Fox news. It's pretty clear that he has no doctrine that he wants to talk about. But based on previous statements, we can infer that his doctrine has two elements: (1) Look at what President George W Bush did, and do the opposite. (2) Announce that you will not use military force, and then do not use military force.

As I've said before, this is a complete reversal of the 1947 Truman Doctrine, which justified military police actions because they could prevent a new world war, and because their costs in blood and money are tiny in comparison to massive costs of World War II. This was later reaffirmed by President John Kennedy when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

Let's go back to 2003, and ask what would have happened if President Bush had followed the "Obama Doctrine" with respect to Iraq, which means he would have said the following to Saddam Hussein: "We will never use military action, even if you develop and use weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)." What would have happened then? (By the way, recall that Saddam was already targeted with sanctions, so more sanctions would not have mattered.)

Saddam Hussein would have gone full-speed ahead, with his WMD program. Even if he delayed, Iran would ASSUME that he was going full-speed ahead with his WMD program. Iran has already been victimized by Saddam's WMDs in 1988, and they would not risk it happening again. Iran would have gone full-speed ahead with its own WMD program, and by this time there would have been another major war between Iraq and Iran, this time with full use of WMDs.

That's what happens when the world's policeman tells the crooks and the thugs that they can commit any crimes they want, and there will be no consequences.

Last year, Obama's "red line" threat was that he would use cruise missiles to destroy al-Assad's air force. If he had gone ahead with that threat, then al-Assad would not be using helicopters to deliver barrel bombs laced with chemical weapons to innocent women and children. That's what happens when there's no policeman. Telegraph and Philadelphia Inquirer

Syria still hasn't surrendered tons of chemical weapons

Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime was supposed to have surrendered all its chemical weapons by now, but it's still holding on to 8% of its declared stockpile of 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons. Al-Assad last year agreed to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons, but obviously he has no reason to comply with his agreement, since there are no consequences for failing to do so. The National (UAE)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-14 World View -- Uighur terrorist explosion in Chinese railway station kills three thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Apr-14 World View -- Proof that Syria's Bashar al-Assad used chlorine on civilians

China's 'Maritime Silk Road' plans threaten India in Indian Ocean

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Proof that Syria's Bashar al-Assad used chlorine on civilians


Deaths from 18-April chlorine gas attack in Syria
Deaths from 18-April chlorine gas attack in Syria

Chemical warfare experts have examined soil samples taken from the scene of three recent helicopter attacks by the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and showed sizeable and unambiguous traces of chlorine and ammonia present at the site of all three attacks. In some cases, the chemical weapons were delivered in canisters marked with their contents. Only the al-Assad regime has access to air power, making it certain that the chemical weapons attack was carried out by the al-Assad regime. Several people, including children, died and hundreds were seriously wounded by the attacks. The three attacks took place on April 11, 18 and 21, and there's additional evidence of numerous other chemical weapons attacks by the al-Assad regime. Last year, al-Assad used sarin gas to kill civilians. The attacks, once again, make Bashar al-Assad a war criminal, but since President Obama flip-flopped last year on his "red line," and did not carry out his threat to use missiles to destroy al-Assad's air force, al-Assad is free to continue to commit genocide with impunity, fully supported and supplied by Vladimir Putin of Russia. Telegraph (London)

Kerry says that Russia's Sergei Lavrov is 'Kafka-esque'

Yesterday, we reported on off the record comments that were secretly recorded, where US Secretary of State said that Israel could become "an apartheid state."

More comments from the same speech have now been published. In them, Kerry specifically accuses the Russians of lying about the Ukraine situation, and specifically refers to Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov not only as lying, but also as "Kafkaesque":

"Intel is producing taped conversations of intelligence operatives taking their orders from Moscow and everybody can tell the difference in the accents, in the idioms, in the language. We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from. ...

It’s not an accident that you have some of the same people identified who were in Crimea and in Georgia and who are now in east Ukraine. This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, let alone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21st century. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst order of behavior. ...

Right now there is not a negotiation; there is a confrontation. I’m sad to report I’ve never seen such a complete, miserable, unaccountable, disgraceful walk away from a set of promises and understandings than what has taken place. I’ve had six conversations with Lavrov in the last weeks. The last one was Kafka-esque, it was other planet, it was just bizarre. Nobody is better at telling you that red is blue and black is white. ... That’s what we are dealing with."

Lavrov has been openly lying for years, as I've documented many times. But Kerry has also continually sucked up to Lavrov by either believing or pretending to believe Lavrov's garbage. Kerry is now changing his policy, though I'm not sure why. Can't he just suck up to Lavrov a little longer? What's the problem?

Franz Kafka was a brilliant early 1900s German novelist. His most famous novel was The Trial, in which a man is arrested, jailed, put on trial, convicted and executed, and he's never told what the charges against him are. This is the sort of thing that happens in Russia, and incidentally is also happening in Egypt these days.

In another of Kafka's novels, the Metamorphosis, one day a man wakes up, opens his eyes, and discovers that he's turned into a large insect. Daily Beast and SparkNotes and SparkNotes

Deadline expires for Kerry's Mideast peace talks

The Mideast peace talks that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry set up last July officially collapsed on Tuesday, as the self-imposed April 29 deadline was reached. The "peace talks" were considered to be a joke around the Mideast, as the Israelis and the Palestinians rarely even spoke to each other. By the end of March, the whole thing was reduced to angry finger-pointing. John Kerry blamed Israel, suggesting that Israel is becoming an "apartheid state." Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israelis, saying:

"If we want to extend the negotiations there has to be a release of prisoners ... a settlement freeze, and a discussion of maps and borders for three months, during which there must be a complete halt to settlement activity."

And a senior Israeli official blamed the Palestinians, saying:

"The moment that Mahmoud Abbas gives up the alliance with Hamas, a murderous organization which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, we will be ready to return immediately to the negotiating table and discuss all subjects."

The Palestinians have indicated that they will now take unilateral steps, including an attempted unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and applying to dozens more United Nations organizations as the State of Palestine. AFP

Russia closes the Sea of Okhotsk to Japan and China

The Sea of Okhotsk is in the northern Pacific ocean, bordering Russia on two sides and Japan in the south. It's estimated to hold over one billion tons of gas and oil, as well as vast fishing grounds. The UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed Russia's petition that the sea is sovereign Russian territory, and Russia's president Vladimir Putin has announced that by the end of the year, the sea will be closed to all outside shipping and fishing. This will close a major fishing area to Japan and China, and forcing them to compete even more intensively elsewhere in the Western Pacific, raising tensions about their currently high levels. It may also embolden the Chinese to move even more aggressively to annex the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, administered by Japan in the East China Sea, and to annex more portions of the islands in the South China Sea. However, China will not have a strong case in those venues, since it's refused to submit the case to the United Nations for arbitration, and indeed has has been taking revenge against the Philippines for appealing to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal. Voice of Russia and Jamestown and World Atlas

China's 'Maritime Silk Road' plans threaten India in Indian Ocean

Since 2001, China has been pursuing a "String of Pearls" strategy, with ports in Gwadar (Pakistan), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and on the east cost of Burma in the Bay of Bengal. Since then, China has announced an expansion to a "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR), which involves the construction of ports, logistical stations, storage facilities and free-trade zones across the Indian Ocean all the way to Africa. China is well on its way to developing the MSR, as shown by the ongoing search for the Malaysian Airlines 370 plane: China has been the most active and engaged participant in the search effort, with over eleven naval and Coast Guard ships scouring vast tracts of the Southern Indian Ocean. India has had no choice but to accept China's encroachment, but will have to seek a way to hedge against China's maritime thrust. Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA - New Delhi)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-14 World View -- Proof that Syria's Bashar al-Assad used chlorine on civilians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Apr-14 World View -- India's Narendra Modi says he'll deport 'Bangladeshis'

John Kerry says that Israel could become 'an apartheid state'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's Narendra Modi says he'll deport 'Bangladeshis'


Narendra Modi (AP)
Narendra Modi (AP)

Self-described Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) Narendra Modi, the leader of India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and expected to be the next prime minister, said on Sunday that he would deport Bangladeshi immigrants:

""I want to warn from here, brothers and sisters write down, that after May 16, I will send these Bangladeshis beyond the border with their bags and baggages."

He alleged that one of his opponents supported "vote bank policies," that allowed illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to obtain forged voting IDs and ration cards for votes.

"You are spreading the red carpet for the Bangladeshis for the sake of votebank politics. If people from Bihar come, they seem to be outsiders to you. If people from Odisha come, they seem to be outsiders to you. You feel bad if Marwaris come.

But if some Bangladeshi comes, your face seems to shine. This country cannot run like this. We won't allow you to destroy the country for the sake of your vote bank politics."

Bangladesh was separated from India by the Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, leading to an extremely bloody war between Hindus and Muslims. A 1971 civil war within Pakistan itself led to the separation of Pakistan from East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh.

In previous statements about deporting Bangladeshis, he appeared to distinguish Hindus from Muslims. In February, he said: "We have a responsibility toward Hindus who are harassed and suffer in other countries. Where will they go? India is the only place for them. Our government cannot continue to harass them. We will have to accommodate them here."

Actually, he's been all over the map on this issue of "Bangladeshis." Last month he alleged a conspiracy to eliminate rhinoceros to make way:

"Aren't rhinos the pride of Assam? These days there is a conspiracy to kill it. I am making the allegation very seriously. People sitting in the government ... to save Bangladeshis ... they are doing this conspiracy to kill rhinos so that the area becomes empty and Bangladeshis can be settled there."

Either despite or because of his statements on Bangledishi immigrants, as well as his promises to improve the economy, to end corruption, and to adopt a tougher, more nationalistic foreign policy with Pakistan and China, opinion polls indicate that Modi is the frontrunner for the position of prime minister. India Times and NDTV (India) and NDTV (22-Feb)

John Kerry says that Israel could become 'an apartheid state'

In off the record comments that were secretly recorded, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the following, with respect to the recently collapsed Mideast peace plan that he had set up:

"A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state. Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to."

As I've said before, it's hard to figure out what's going on with Kerry. He burst onto the scene in 1971 when he declared to the Senate that U.S. Army soldiers were rapists and torturers and no better than Nazi stormtroopers, and he's been belittling the army and the United States ever since. As Secretary of State, he says and does one stupid thing after another, and stumbles from one foreign policy debacle to the next. Is there some deep, brilliant, core plan that he's pursuing, or is he really as dumb as he seems? Daily Beast

Dozens killed in Iraq bombing two days before election

At least 36 people have been killed and 60 injured in a suicide bombing in eastern Iraq, two days before the country heads to the polls in the first nationwide elections since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces. The perpetrators are assumed to be the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), the same group that has broken away from al-Qaeda and is recruiting jihadists in Syria from countries around the world. The Baghdad government has been an ally of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The number of suicide bombings has been increasing steadily since the withdrawal of American forces in December 2011, and has particularly surged this year as the April 30 election approaches. Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-14 World View -- India's Narendra Modi says he'll deport 'Bangladeshis' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Apr-14 World View -- Philippines agrees to major return of U.S. military to counter China

MERS virus spreads more rapidly in the Mideast

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines agrees to major return of U.S. military to counter China


Philippine army soldiers
Philippine army soldiers

America and the Philippines are about to sign a major agreement to permit a large-scale return of U.S. military forces to bases in the Philippines. The agreement is part of the larger "pivot to Asia" that President Obama announced in 2011. For the Philippines, it will boost the 120,000 man Philippine military as China becomes more aggressive in annexing other countries' territories.

The U.S. has had military bases in the Philippines since the early 1900s, following the Spanish-American war, and the bases played a crucial role for America in World War II and the Vietnam war. Subic Bay and Clark became America's largest military bases outside the U.S., but due to a substantial growth of anti-Americanism, The Americans were thrown out in 1991. An agreement in 1999 permitted temporary visits by American forces.

Not all the details have been announced, but this appears to be a major policy reversal by the Philippines, triggered by China's aggressive actions in the South China Sea. China has already annexed the Philippines' rich fishing grounds around the Scarborough Shoal, and has announced its intention to annex by military force territories belonging to all the nations surrounding the South China Sea.

The arrival of a big American military base in the Philippines is unlikely to cause China to back down. To the contrary, it will make the Chinese public to become even more nationalistic, vengeful and warlike, and the Chinese military to become even more bellicose and aggressive. The probability of an accident or miscalculation spiraling into a larger war is increasing. Philippine Star and AFP

MERS virus spreads more rapidly in the Mideast

The MERS virus is spreading more rapidly than had been expected. Saudi Arabia has confirmed 26 more cases of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) in the last week, with 10 more deaths. At the same time, Egypt confirmed its first case of MERS in a man who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

A recent study shows that the MERS had been common in camels for at least 20 years, without spreading to humans. It was first diagnosed in Saudi Arabia about two years ago, and it's suspected that the virus mutated at that time to permit spreading to humans. The fact that it's spreading more rapidly may mean that there's been a further mutation.

MERS is similar in type to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) that spread across Asia in 2003, infecting 8,273 people, killing 9%. MERS is thought to be deadlier, but more difficult to transmit, although the recent spike in cases may mean that it's spreading more easily. Russia Today and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-14 World View -- Philippines agrees to major return of U.S. military to counter China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Apr-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda 'rubs hands with glee' at Snowden disclosures

South Korea's prime minister resigns over ferry disaster

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethnicity to play a big part in Afghanistan election runoff


Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Ashraf Ghani (BBC)
Abdullah Abdullah (L) and Ashraf Ghani (BBC)

U.S. ally Abdullah Abdullah got 44.9% of the vote in the first round of the eight-candidate presidential race earlier this month. In second place was Ashraf Ghani, a former finance minister and World Bank technocrat, with 31.5%. Since no candidate got 50% of the vote, a runoff election is scheduled for June 7.

Ethnic identity is becoming a major factor in the election. Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody civil war fought between 1991 and 1996. The war was fought mainly between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Today's Taliban terrorists are radicalized Pashtuns.

Abdullah is half Pashtun and half Tajik, but he's regarded as Tajik around the country because he fought alongside the Tajiks during the civil war. So it's perhaps not surprising that Abdullah got 80% of the vote in parts of northern Afghanistan, while getting only 3% in purely Pashtun areas in the south and east. In the election earlier this month, the Pashtun vote was split among several Pashtun candidates, but if you add together all the votes for Pashtun candidates, then it exceeds Abdullah's vote.

Non-Pashtuns have rarely been elected president, and have done poorly when they were. For example, the conservative King Habibullah was lampooned as the "son of a water carrier" and was only in power for less than a year at the end of the 1920s before he was executed.

If Abdullah does win, then he'll have to try to unify the country by befriending the Pashtuns, which won't be easy given that he was with people who were torturing, raping, decapitating and slaughtering Pashtuns just 20 years ago. Deutsche-Welle and Bloomberg

Al-Qaeda 'rubs hands with glee' at Snowden disclosures

We have no way of knowing whether the massive intelligence leaks by Edward Snowden have made our missile defenses helpless against a missile attack by China, since neither the U.S. nor the Chinese government are talking about things like that.

However, there is one American enemy that is not afraid to talk about it and brag about how it's helping them prepare secret jihadist terror attacks against America and other targets: Al-Qaeda. According to John Sawers, head of Britain's secret service MI6:

"The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging, and they've put our operations at risk... It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. Al-Qaeda is lapping it up."

A recent issue of the English language Inspire, in the midst of explaining how to encrypt communications to prevent Western governments from learning about terror attacks before they occur, was quite gleeful in its description of the Snowden leaks:

"Obama lied in regard of the NSA program. He asserted it did not spy on its citizens. But every dog has its day, and NSA's day came when the whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the No Secret Agency's dark secrets. The people called for the government to observe the American principles but it did not listen. It abandoned all its privacy policies. This rogue country did not stop at spying on its citizens, it killed them too. Several of its citizens have been targeted in their extra judicial killing program."

Al-Qaeda began using encryption tools in 2007 for its online activities, and by 2009 was distributing a tool called "Asrar Al-Mujahideen" ("Mujahideen Secrets"), based on military grade security technology, to be used for communications by "anyone who wants to wage jihad with us, and we will guide him to a suitable means to kill the collaborators and the archons of unbelief – even in his bedroom or workplace."

Although the "Mujahideen Secrets" provides totally secure communications when properly used, jihadists and murderers are like other people in that sometimes they're too lazy to do things right, and many of the continued to use insecure communications channels like gmail.

However, since the Snowden disclosures, al-Qaeda has changed all its communications protocols, even refusing to accept messages that haven't been properly secured.

For example, a recent article is directed at those wishing to carry out lone wolf jihad attacks. It provides instructions for use of encryption software in communicating with al-Qaeda's "military committee," and promises help in planning and executing the attack, and takes responsibility for providing media coverage. Memri

South Korea's prime minister resigns over ferry disaster

The sinking of a ferry off the coast of South Korea on April 16, with 476 passengers, mostly students and teachers, has taken its first political casualty. South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won announced his offer of resignation in the fact of furious protests for parents and family members accusing him of mishandling the situation, and not responding quickly enough to save passengers. According to Chung:

"I wanted to resign earlier but handling the situation was the first priority and I thought that it was a responsible act to help before leaving. But I've decided to resign now, not to be any burden on the administration."

Chung has a close relationship with President Park Geun-hye, and recently took trips to China and Pakistan to improve political and economic ties. With North Korea's government seemingly always in chaos, it will be important for South Korea's relationship with China to remain stable. BBC and Korea Times (4/14)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda 'rubs hands with glee' at Snowden disclosures thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Apr-14 World View -- Russian jets fly over Ukraine's air space

Nigeria's government under fire over schoolgirl abduction

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Suicide bombers strike hardline Shia campaign rally in Baghdad Iraq


Image grab from video showing one of Friday's three car bombs at moment of explosion (AP)
Image grab from video showing one of Friday's three car bombs at moment of explosion (AP)

Suicide bombers killed 31 people Friday at a campaign rally in Baghdad, Iraq, attended by thousands of supporters of Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, a hardline militant Shia group backed by Iran, and modeled after Lebanon's Hezbollah. The al-Qaeda linked Sunni Muslim terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL). ISIS is the group that has been fighting both the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, and also his moderate opposition. ISIS is becoming well-established in both eastern Syria and western Iraq, as secular Shia/Sunni tensions grow throughout the Mideast. Next Wednesday's election will be the first since the US pulled out combat troops in 2011. AP and BBC

Nigeria's government under fire over schoolgirl abduction

The Nigerian people are frustrated and outraged about the fact that the government appears to be doing absolutely nothing to find the location of the schoolgirls, aged 16-18, who were kidnapped by Boko Haram under cover of darkness on April 16. Attempts were made to abduct 230 girls, but 43 escaped.

The girls were abducted and carried away in trucks for many miles, and the security forces did nothing to stop them. Since then, the army appears to be doing nothing. They're not searching through forests or following up on other leads, as far as anyone can tell. The government has done nothing but produce a couple of reports, but even those have not been released to the public. Many people believe that some people in the government and some people in the army are complicit with Boko Haram. Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan at a recent church service claimed that Boko Haram members had infiltrated the government, and now police officials are demanding that Jonathan provide the names of the suspects.

Nigeria is half Christian and half Muslim, and this case has divided the public along religious lines. The Christians believe that Muslims in general are complicit with Boko Haram, while the Muslims believed that they're all being unfairly blamed for the horrific actions of a terrorist gang. The kidnappings took place in the far north, which is mostly Muslim, and military operations there in the past have been extremely violent, so much of the public is resisting intrusion by the army, despite the kidnappings.

Defenders of the government and the army point out that the area where the girls are being held is remote and heavily forested. It's also close to Cameroon, which means that they could slip though porous borders into nearby countries, including Chad or Niger.

Although this incident is unique in Nigeria's history, and has shocked the entire nation, Boko Haram has abducted girls before, and when they flee to escape the police, they leave the girls behind and abduct new girls. Christian girls in the past who have been rescued were sometimes found to be pregnant or have children, and others had been forcibly converted to Islam and married off to their kidnappers. Daily Post (Nigeria) All Africa and CNN

Russian jets fly over Ukraine's air space

Russian military aircraft entered Ukrainian airspace several times on Thursday and Friday, raising tensions in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier, pro-Russian separatists seized a bus carrying international military observers near the eastern Ukraine town of Sloviansk, which is under control of the activists. Talks are under way to free them.

The have been a few horrific abductions and casualties and deaths in the eastern Ukraine saga, but apart from those, the situation looks more and more like a circus. I personally just can't wrap my mind around the concept that this region is on the verge of a major war.

There's plenty of rhetoric to go around. You have the government in Kiev saying, "The world has not yet forgotten World War II, but Russia is already keen on starting World War III." You have Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov responding with, "The West wants - and this is how it all began - to seize control of Ukraine because of their own political ambitions, not in the interests of the Ukrainian people." And the middle ring of the three-ring circus is Russia's armed forces on Ukraine's eastern border, with soldiers running around, tanks rolling around, and warplanes flying around to thrill people.

In the meantime, there's no upsurge of violence from the people. The pro-Russian and pro-Kiev activists aren't rising up and killing each other. The pro-Russian activists have taken over government buildings in Sloviansk and other villages, but that's more a 1960s-style Alinsky-style protest tactic, rather than a war. And if Russia's president Vladimir Putin really wanted to invade, and risk getting bogged down in a lengthy war, then he would have done so already.

It's worth noting that Russia already has its hands full dealing with the Tatars in Crimea, and that Standard & Poors ratings agency on Friday reduced the investment value of Russian bonds to near "junk" status. Russia's economy is a wreck.

I could be wrong (this is not a Generational Dynamics prediction), but my personal opinion is that eastern Ukraine is nowhere near war, and Russia is nowhere near an invasion. In other words, Putin is bluffing, in order to keep the pro-Russian activists happy, and to gain maximum leverage with the Kiev government and with the West. There may be isolated incidents of violence, and it's possible that things will get worse as the May 25 elections approach, but for the time being, I expect the circus to continue as it is. BBC and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-14 World View -- Russian jets fly over Ukraine's air space thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-14 World View -- Crimean Tatars and Ukraine seek help from Sunni Muslim countries

Israel cancels peace talks after Palestinian reconciliation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine joins Crimea's Tatars in appealing to Turkey and Saudi Arabia


Stalin's Red Army ordered Crimean Tatars to leave their homes on the night of May 18, 1944
Stalin's Red Army ordered Crimean Tatars to leave their homes on the night of May 18, 1944

Ukraine is applying to join the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as an associate member, as a move to protect the 300,000 Tatars living in 300 Muslim communities on the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia. The OIC was established in 1969 "to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world." It has a membership of 57 states. Russia, with a population of 27 million Muslims, is an associate member.

While the world's attention has been focused on eastern Ukraine, and the question of whether Russian troops will invade, Russia still has many problems to deal with in the newly annexed Crimea. Ukraine's OIC application is part of the growing ethnic tensions between the Crimean Tatars and the ethnic Russians. A recent statement by a Russian official that if Tatars don't like it in Crimea, "then they should leave!" is provoking fears that that Russia plans to drive all Tatars off Crimea.

Crimea is the historic homeland of the Tatars. In 1944, Russia's dictator Josef Stalin deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence. The Tatars see today's worsening situation as a sign that Russia's president Vladimir Putin plans to repeat Stalin's mass deportation of Tatars. Islam in Ukraine (Trans) and Jamestown

Putin seeks to 'rehabilitate' the Crimean Tatars

So on April 10, a delegation of Crimean Tatars reached Saudi Arabia to apply for associate membership in the OIC. Although it may take a few months for the application to be reviewed, it's expected to be granted. In addition, Turkey's Foreign Ministry has issued a strong statement demanding that the rights of the Crimean Tatars be protected.

Putin responded on April 21 by signing a decree to "rehabilitate" all the ethnic groups in Crimea that suffered repression under Stalin. According to Putin:

"Taking advantage of an opportunity, I would like to inform colleagues that I have signed a decree on rehabilitation of the Crimean Tatars, the Armenian population, Germans, Greeks - all those who suffered from Stalin’s repressions."

It's doubtful that Putin's rehabilitation decree will do much to remediate the tension, which may lead to violence. That scenario is particularly possible on May 25, when Ukraine's presidential elections occur. Russian activists in Ukraine have already said that they plan to do everything possible to disrupt the elections. Particularly vulnerable will be tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars, who are still Ukrainian citizens, having refused to accept Russian passports, will try to cross the border into Ukraine's mainland to vote, and return. Itar-Tass (Moscow) and Zaman (Ankara)

Israel cancels peace talks after Palestinian reconciliation

Following Wednesday's announcement of a reconciliation between the two Palestinian factions -- Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which governs the West Bank -- Israel's cabinet voted unanimously to suspend all peace talks, and to take unspecified steps in retaliation against the moves.

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will never negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas. According to Netanyahu:

"Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] formed an alliance with a murderous terrorist organization [Hamas] that calls for Israel's destruction. Abu Mazen formed an alliance with an organization whose covenant calls for Muslims to wage Jihad against Jews."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed "deep disappointment" at the decision and said the following:

"Benjamin Netanyahu and his government used the split between the Palestinian factions as an excuse to reject a peace agreement in the past. Today, they are using Palestinian reconciliation as an excuse for the same thing.

The only logical explanation is that the Netanyahu government does not want peace."

Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-14 World View -- Crimean Tatars and Ukraine seek help from Sunni Muslim countries thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Apr-14 World View -- Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France plans to keep young people from going to Syria for jihad


Screen grab from a jihadist recruiting video made last year by Toulouse Muslim converts Jean Daniel, 22, and half-brother Nicolas Bons, 30, after arriving in Syria in March.  Jean-Daniel was killed in fighting in Syria on August 11, and Nicolas was killed by a truck bomb on December 22.
Screen grab from a jihadist recruiting video made last year by Toulouse Muslim converts Jean Daniel, 22, and half-brother Nicolas Bons, 30, after arriving in Syria in March. Jean-Daniel was killed in fighting in Syria on August 11, and Nicolas was killed by a truck bomb on December 22.

I've written many times how disastrous Russia's policy has been, supplying unlimited amounts of heavy weapons to Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad, who is conducting "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, particularly targeting innocent Sunni women and children, which has enraged Sunnis throughout the world. As a result, Syria has become a worldwide magnet for would-be jihadists and terrorists, who go to Syria for training, before returning to make use of their new skills in their homelands.

France estimates that about 700 French citizens or residents have gone to Syria for training and to fight against al-Assad. Young people in France see the war as revolutionaries fighting against a dictatorship that's killing its people.

The administration of president François Hollande on Wednesday announced a new set of measures to stop young people from going to Syria and becoming Islamic radicals. Some of the measures are:

This all sounds a bit 1984-ish, but it's the way things are going. Radio France Internationale (RFI)

Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

A few weeks ago we reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, visiting Japan, failed to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan, and that the U.S. would defend Japan if China attacked the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. But on Wednesday, President Obama, visiting Japan, explicitly said that the U.S. would honor the mutual defense treaty:

"At the same time, the United States is going to deal directly and candidly with China on issues where we have differences, such as human rights. I’ve also told [China's] President Xi [Jinping] that all our nations have an interest in dealing constructively with maritime issues, including in the East China Sea. Disputes need to be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy, not intimidation and coercion. The policy of the United States is clear -- the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S. -- Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands."

However, Obama did not say that they are Japanese sovereign islands.

There is an increasingly widespread belief that despite any promises, the U.S. under President Obama will not honor its agreement when the actual crunch time comes. President Obama has backed down from its world policemen on several recent occasions, most notably when he flip-flopped on Syria's use of chemical weapons.

According to a Japan News newspaper editorial on Thursday:

"Perhaps one motivation for Obama’s directness is to challenge a prevalent perception of weakness, both home and abroad. The U.S. Congress, media and think tanks have become harsher in their appraisal of Obama in general, particularly since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine last month using the threat of force as leverage."

The U.S. has also recently (in February) explicitly rejected China's "nine-dash line," by which China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to other nations. However, the U.S. has ignored China's "salami slicing strategy," by which it has already annexed small regions in the expectation that the U.S. will do nothing -- an expectation that turned out to be correct. The Japan News and Radio Free Asia and The Japan News

Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

The two Palestinian factions -- Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which governs the West Bank -- on Wednesday announced a reconciliation agreement. According to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh:

"This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over."

This announcement was apparently hastily negotiated by the two sides, after Abbas announced that if the Mideast peace talks fail, which now appears to be a certainty, then he may step down and dissolve the Palestinian Authority, leaving the West Bank for Israel and the United Nations to govern.

The agreement calls for new elections in the fall, to elect a unity government for both the West Bank and Gaza.

The two Palestinian factions had a major political split in 2006, and went to war in 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza. Two previous attempts at reconciliation have failed, because of disputes over power sharing. However, it's thought that this new reconciliation attempt might succeed, for the following reasons:

However, there are also plenty of reasons why this attempt might fail. The differences that brought them to war in the first place are still there.

Israel has called off any further peace talks with Abbas, on the grounds that Israel can't negotiate with a group, Hamas, that's committed to the destruction of Israel. BBC and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-14 World View -- Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-14 World View -- Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan

China's commodity and real estate bubbles are bursting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan


Pakistani soldiers (pakarmedforces.com)
Pakistani soldiers (pakarmedforces.com)

Saudi Arabia has begun recruiting soldiers the Pakistan's tribal areas, which are the stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. According to a report on the recruitment:

"Youths skilled in firearms are given preferences.

Monthly salary 75,000 rupees [$750]. Medical and other facilities will also be given.

Will be deployed on borders with Yemen and oil installations."

Preference is being given to youths skilled in using an AK-47. According to the Saudis, up to $20 billion in foreign exchange could come annually to Pakistan.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman are also recruiting in Pakistan. Kuwait is opening a military office in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, to recruit retired Pakistani military officers and trainers to train 11,000 Kuwaiti soldiers.

Ten years ago, based on a generational analysis, I said that the coming Clash of Civilizations world war would pit the West, India, Russia and Iran versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Ten years ago, that seemed far-fetched, but as each year goes by, the trend continues to move in that direction. Memri (4/15) and Memri

U.S. threatens to cut off all aid to the Palestinians

As we reported two days ago, 79 year old Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to personally retire, and also "retire" the Palestinian Authority (PA) that's responsible for governing the West Bank, leaving it to Israel and the United Nations to take responsibility. ( "21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse")

The U.S. State Department is responding with a threat to cut off all aid to the Palestinians, according to spokesman Jen Psaki at Monday's press conference:

QUESTION: "Are you telling Abbas not to keep issuing statements and proclamations that they are going to sort of just close shop with the PA and turn over the occupation responsibility to the Israelis?"

MS. PSAKI: "Well, let me speak to that, because it’s an important question. That – we’re aware, of course, of these reports and comments. That type of extreme step would obviously have grave implications. A great deal of effort has gone into building Palestinian institutions by Palestinians as well as the international community, and it would certainly not be in the interests of the Palestinian people for all of that to be lost. We – the United States has put millions of dollars into this effort. It would obviously have very serious implications for our relationship, including our assistance going forward."

The Palestinian Authority gets about $400 million in aid each year from the U.S. Members of Congress have already threatened cut aid earlier this month, after Mahmoud Abbas applied for membership in 15 United Nations organizations as the State of Palestine. U.S. State Dept. and Israel National News (3-Apr)

ZeroHedge: China's commodity and real estate bubbles are bursting

For the last two months, the ZeroHedge blog has been publishing a series of articles analyzing China's collapsing credit and real estate bubbles, and responding to pundits who say that the collapse isn't happening or that it's purely a Chinese domestic matter.

The latest offering shows how China has been creating huge amounts of debt by using soybean contracts in the same way that American banks used subprime mortgages. You'll recall that investors were "flipping" properties in 2004-2007, meaning that someone would buy a property, wait a few months for properties to rise, and then sell it at a profit. This pushed up the prices of all real estate. When the bubble burst, millions of people lost their homes.

China has been "flipping" soybean contracts in the same way. One Chinese business sells a contract to someone else at a higher price, and everyone makes money, as long as the price of soybeans keeps going up. And international soybean prices have been skyrocketing into bubble levels in the last two months. The problem is that international soybean contract prices have been getting ahead of China's local soybean market, which has been getting depressed. Soybean contracts are different from actual soybeans, and a price rise in one doesn't necessarily mean a price rise in the other. So when it's time for the soybean contract to be fulfilled, and the soybeans are shipped for delivery to the contract holder, the holder has to come up with the money he's committed to pay on the contract. But if he's going to be stuck with a $10 million contract in soybeans for which he can only get $3 million in his local market, then he'll go bankrupt.

This has been happening more and more frequently in the last few weeks, and it portends a bursting of the soybean bubble, along with China's credit bubble in general. Since the soybeans are being shipped from the United States and South America, a lot of soybean farmers are not going to get paid.

It's estimated that Chinese buyers are going to default on a total of about $900 million dollars in soybean contracts. That's a huge domino effect, and it's going on right now.

I recall vividly how in 2006, all the expert economists were saying that a real estate bubble is impossible because "everyone has to live somewhere," and "these building contractors know what they're doing, and wouldn't keep building in a bubble." Then in 2008, Ben Bernanke and other expert economists were saying that there was a problem, but the problem was "contained." What all this means is that the China bubble may or may not be bursting, but that the "expert" economists who say that a China bubble is impossible, or that it's "contained" domestically, don't have a clue what's going on, and are probably full of crap. ZeroHedge and Reuters

45 people in Chicago shot over the weekend

In Chicago over the weekend, 9 people were killed and 36 were wounded from gunshots. 6 children were shot on Sunday night. Almost all of it was gang violence, scattered around the city. Unfortunately, this is a typical Chicago weekend. Chicago is beginning to read like Karachi, Pakistan, or Baghdad, Iraq. Chicago Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-14 World View -- Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-14 World View -- MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan

China seizes a Japanese iron ore carrier ship

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China seizes a Japanese iron ore carrier ship


The Baosteel Emotion bulk carrier, seized by the Chinese (MOL)
The Baosteel Emotion bulk carrier, seized by the Chinese (MOL)

The Japanese firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) said on Monday, that China has impounded one of its iron ore carriers, Baosteel Emotion, while it was docked in Shanghai. A Shanghai court ruled that the ship could be seized for damages and reparations because MOL's predecessor company in 1936 chartered two Chinese freighters that were later sunk by the Japanese Navy. Japan claims that no reparations are due because of a 1972 agreement with China in which China agreed to renounce "its demand for war reparation from Japan." However, China's foreign ministry says that the claims are solely for commercial losses, and unrelated to wartime compensation.

This incident is sure to frighten Japanese companies from doing business with China, and that may be China's motive in pursuing this. China has threatened economic sanctions against Japan in the past. Japan has just reported its worst annual trade deficit in March, with export growth slowed to the weakest in a year, and this incident will only hurt Japan further. LA Times and Xinhua and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Business Standard

MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan

One expert explains it this way:

"It took us over a year to get the first hundred cases of this viral infection. Now in just the last two weeks, we've had a hundred cases ... there's a major change occurring that cannot just be attributed to better case detection. Something's happening.

When humans readily transmit [a virus] to humans, that's what will cause a worldwide outbreak. We are very concerned that ... with what we've seen over the last two weeks ... we may be at that point now.""

The fear is that MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) has mutated in some way that's going to make it easier to spread from one person to another. Saudia Arabia has confirmed more than 50 cases of the virus in the past week, with 13 new cases reported on Monday alone. There have been 257 cases total worldwide since it was discovered in September 2012, with 93 deaths. A new cluster was reported in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week. A 69-year old male Greek citizen residing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was diagnosed in Greece as having MERS. New cases are reported in Jordan. MERS has an incubation period of 2 weeks, meaning that you can be infected and spread the disease to other people for two weeks before you start to show symptoms yourself. The sudden rapid surge in cases is raising fears that the disease is far more widespread in Saudi Arabia than previously assumed, and that travelers to and from Jeddah are spreading the disease to other countries. CNN and Recombinomics and NPR

Philippine police will use 'reasonable force' coercing MERS tests

All 414 passengers on the April 15 Etihad Airlines flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Manila, the Philippines, are being tested for MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). At least 100 of the passengers have been tested so far, all with negative results. The need for testing was triggered when a 32-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who arrived from Riyadh on Sunday (4/20) was suspected of having MERS. Police are tracking down the remaining passengers on the 4/15 flight, and will use "reasonable force" to compel them to submit themselves for a medical examination. The police officers are also being warned to take reasonable precautions to protect themselves.

According to Philippine authorities, most government hospitals in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries continue to employ Filipino nurses and hospital staff. Around 3,000 OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) are leaving the country daily and many of them are bound for Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. Philippine Star (Manila)

Iran's President versus Supreme Leader on 'gender equality'

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran would not accept any form of sexual discrimination.

Undoubtedly, Rouhani was responding to the remarks a day earlier by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who who criticized the West's view's about "gender equality between men and women." He said, Equality is not always the same as justice; justice is always right, but equality is sometimes right and sometimes wrong." Khamenei emphasized that the most important issue for women is the sense of security and peace of mind that women find within families. Press TV (Tehran) and Business Standard

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-14 World View -- MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse

Massive attack on AQAP in Yemen kills dozens of militants

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gunfight in east Ukraine raises fears of renewed violence


Site of the gunfight in Slavyansk in east Ukraine on Sunday (AFP)
Site of the gunfight in Slavyansk in east Ukraine on Sunday (AFP)

Just four days after Russia, Ukraine and the West signed an agreement calling for the de-escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, a gunfight at a checkpoint in east Ukraine, killing three people, has raised fears that the agreement may collapse.

At around 2 am on Sunday morning, unidentified men in four vehicles opened fire at a checkpoint near Slavyansk manned by pro-Russian activists, killing three. The activists returned fire, destroying the two cars and injuring some of the attackers.

Russia is expressing outrage, blaming the attack on Right Sector, a nationalist militia group that was prominent in the February revolution in Kiev.

However, the Ukraine government says that forensic evidence gathered at the scene does not support the claim that Right Sector was involved, but instead appears to show that the evidence was staged to falsely implicate Right Sector.

At any rate, so far this is an isolated incident, and does not yet appear to signal the beginning of a wider war. Irish Independent

Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse

The Mideast "peace talks" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, set up last year by the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry, have never been anything but a joke, but at least they were something to talk about as supposedly providing "hope for a lasting Mideast peace, with Israel and Palestine as two separate and equal nations living side by side in peace forever."

But now the self-imposed deadline for the talks to end, April 29, is approaching, and neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are indicating much desire to extend the deadline. Israel will never agree to return to pre-1967 borders or "right of return," and the Palestinians will never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to guarantee Israel's security.

So now, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is wondering what to do next, now that even the pretend-hope solution is disappearing. Abbas is quoted in an interview Sunday as saying:

"A new generation arrives and asks us: ‘What have you done?’ I am now 79 years old, going on 80. Time has really flown by.

There is no other option except to pass the flag and move on, but it is difficult to do so now because the burden is a tough one and the responsibility is great while the dangers trump the achievements. Who of our people will support us and who will oppose us? What will the Palestinian people do? How will history judge us? The settlements endanger the peace process, and the new generation sees the two-state solution is becoming less and less likely, and that there is no escape from the one-state solution."

What does the "one-state solution" mean? It means that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would dissolve, Mahmoud Abbas would retire, and the only state left would be Israel. Either Israel or the United Nations would then be responsible for governing the West Bank. Without the "peace process," according to Abbas, this is the only remaining choice.

The major aspirant to replace Abbas is his bitter rival, 52 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan has called Abbas a "catastrophe" for the Palestinian people, and would take a much more confrontational, possibly violent approach to Israel. When Abbas asks the question, "Who of our people will support us and who will oppose us?", he's suggesting that passing the flag to Dahlan and the younger generation will lead to war -- among the Palestinians and with Israel.

Israel's economy minister Naftali Bennett responded on Sunday to Abbas' statement:

"“Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] encourages terrorism against Israel as the head of the Palestinian Authority, and then he threatens us with his resignation.

If he wants to go, we won’t stop him. The Jewish people do not negotiate with a gun held against their temple."

Jerusalem Post and Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Massive attack on AQAP in Yemen kills dozens of militants

A high-level official in Yemen's government is saying that a "massive and unprecedented" military operation against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is under way, and that at least 30 AQAP militants have already been killed. Yemen's state news agency said that airstrikes completely destroy an al-Qaeda training camp, where the fighters were "preparing to launch attacks against Yemeni and foreign interests in the area." It's believed, but not confirmed, that U.S. drones were used in the attack. CNN and AP

Suicide and murder rate for bankers continues to increase

It's being increasingly noticed, though discussed in only hushed tones, that that there have been quite a few bankers committing suicide in the last few months. Some reports suggest, without official confirmation, that some of the bankers who committed suicide were under investigation for fraud and other irregularities. There have been 24 suicides or suspicious deaths in the last few months, six of them related to JP Morgan.

In the past couple of weeks, suicides have been replaced with murder. A banker in Lichtenstein and a banker in Belgium were both murdered, probably by disgruntled clients.

As I've said in the past, when I was growing up in the 1950s, I never understood why my parents and teachers and so many other people really hated bankers. Bankers seemed like perfectly reasonably people, and it seemed strange to me that so many people hated them. This was a mystery to me for my whole life. It wasn't until the 1970s or so that people seemed to like bankers again.

The mystery was finally solved for me in 2009. (See "An angry President Obama strongly condemns Wall Street bonuses" from 2009.) That's when I was shocked to learn that Citibank, Bank of America and other banks announced that they would continue paying million dollar bonuses to their employees that had created the financial crisis. These and other banks had caused the financial crisis by creating worthless structured securities and fraudulently selling them to investors. Paying big bonuses to people who defrauded the public for years is, at the very least, a public relations disaster.

So that's when I understood that bankers in the 1930s were like bankers today. Just like today, bankers had defrauded people in the 1920s and 1930s, although they used synthetic securities based on foreign government bonds in those days, rather than synthetic securities based on subprime mortgages as in the recent episode. (See "The bubble that broke the world" from 2007.) And people came to hate bankers so much, that the hatred lasted well into the 1950s and 1960s.

This has also led to a personal revelation for me. My mother's father was a Greek immigrant who came to Chicago and built a very successful retail candy business in the 1920s. But he "lost his business" in the 1930s, and died soon after "of a broken heart," according to my mother. I now realize what must have happened. Some banker had convinced my grandfather to invest his savings and mortgage his business to invest in foreign government bonds or other synthetic securities, and he "lost his business" when he couldn't repay his debt. My mother then had to go out and earn money to support her family. This is like so many people in the last decade who lost their homes and businesses after investing in fraudulent subprime-based securities. That would explain why my mother's hatred of bankers ran so deep, even in the 1950s. She must have blamed a banker not only for making her father lose her business, but also for causing his death and forcing her into the workplace.

There have been a million jokes and stories told about bankers and stock brokers who killed themselves in the 1930s by jumping out of buildings. The recent spate of banker suicides may be history repeating itself. And if history is any guide, and it is, then bankers are going to be even more hated in the decades to come. ZeroHedge and Prison Planet

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-14 World View -- Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter

Japan to set up an army radar base near China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter


Agios Thomas (Saint Thomas) Church in Athens, just after midnight on Easter
Agios Thomas (Saint Thomas) Church in Athens, just after midnight on Easter

The Holy Fire ceremony is possibly the most impressive celebration in all of Christianity, and is performed each year for Orthodox Easter, which occurs this year on April 20. (This is one of the rare years where the Orthodox and Catholic Easters coincide.)

On Saturday morning, Orthodox clergymen break the seal of the door to Christ's tomb in Jerusalem and descend into the chamber. After a while, they emerge with lit candles. Believers say that the "Holy Fire" appears spontaneously from the tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The fire is passed from candle to candle, and is flown to Athens and other cities, so that the Holy Fire can be shared by thousands of worshippers. In Athens, the ceremony begins at 11 pm on Saturday, when practically the entire country is in church. At midnight, the lights are turned off, and everyone's candle is lit with the Holy Fire from the priest's candle, as the priest says, "Christ has risen from the dead and in so doing has trampled on death and to those in the tombs he has given life." Then people head home with their lit candles, and the entire city is lit by the candles with the Holy Fire. The ceremony dates back to the fourth century, and possibly as early as the first century. HolyFire.org and Greece Travel

Ukraine calls an Easter Truce

Ukraine's government in Kiev has announced an Easter truce in it "anti-terrorist operation" against the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to Thursday's agreement between Russia, Ukraine and the West, such operations may be illegal anyway.

The pro-Russian separatists continue to refuse to leave the buildings they occupy or remove the blockades they set up, as called for in Thursday's agreement.

However, the separatists are said to be disappointed that a new poll indicates that 57.2% of the people in Donetsk, the center of the east Ukraine activists, say that Kiev has not violated their rights, and 66.3% say they are against a Russian military intervention. BBC and AFP

Japan to set up an army radar base near China

In a move that will surely infuriate the Chinese, Japan on Saturday broke ground for a new radar station and army base on Yonaguni island, which is Japan's westernmost inhabited island, and is closer to Taiwan and China than it is to mainland Japan. It has a population of 1,500, down from about 15,000 at the end of World War II.

According to Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera:

"This is the first deployment since the US returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing. I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan's territory."

Building the base will extend Japanese monitoring to the Chinese mainland and allow it to track Chinese ships and aircraft circling the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Opinion among residents of Yonaguni island is split, with opponents fearing that the base will one day bring a military attack, and proponents hoping that the radar base will bring young soldiers and new money, and will breathe life into the wilting economy. Japan Times and Reuters and The Diplomat

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-14 World View -- Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-14 World View -- China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium

MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium


Farmer plants rice seedlings in southeast China's Fujian Province, a region heavily contaminated with cadmium.  (Xinhua)
Farmer plants rice seedlings in southeast China's Fujian Province, a region heavily contaminated with cadmium. (Xinhua)

A previously top secret report has emerged from China's Environmental Protection Ministry showing that 19.4% of China's farmland is contaminated with heavy metals, particularly cadmium, nickel and arsenic. The toxins come from factories and mining. Rice crops are particularly vulnerable, since rice paddies are flooded with water, so that the soil can be contaminated by a mine that's miles away. The report was released as a result of numerous scandals about tainted rice containing cadmium, which can cause kidney damage or cancer. Almost half the supplies of rice sold in Guangzhou, a major city, are contaminated with cadmium.

Chinese food traders have little regard for the dangers caused by tainted food. Investigations have shown that traders have been selling rice known to be cadmium-tainted to food processors. This is reminiscent of 2008, when some 54,000 babies fell ill and were hospitalized with kidney problems because of melamine added to milk powder to fool inspectors into thinking that it had more protein than it really had. (See "A generational view of China's growing melamine food disaster" from 2008.) AP and Shanghai Daily

Pro-Russian Ukraine activists refuse to stand down

Pro-Russian east Ukraine activists have refused to honor the international agreement that was signed on Thursday, saying that they weren't bound by any agreement that they were never asked to sign. As we reported several days ago, Russia's ambassador to the European Union said that any such agreement would be "betraying" the people of eastern Ukraine, and he's right -- activists are saying that Russia sold them out. They're refusing to vacate the buildings they had occupied until the Ukraine's interim government in Kiev is ousted. Russia is supporting this opposition. The White House has warned of "serious consequences" if Russia does not honor the agreement it signed.

Many commentators believe that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is looking for an excuse or just waiting until the time is right to order an invasion of east Ukraine. But he's had plenty of excuses up till now, and his 40,000 man army has been on Ukraine's border for weeks. He could have ordered an invasion at any time in the last few weeks, if he had wanted to.

It's at least as probable that Putin is looking for a way avoid invading, and to create a status quo under terms favorable to Russia. An invasion would not be quick, but would meet a great deal of local resistance. Russia's army would get bogged down in a protracted battle which, according to several analysts, Russia cannot afford. Under this interpretation, Russia's flip-flop was really an act of desperation, as he had ruled out an invasion, and he had no other viable choice. AP

MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'

MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) raised serious concerns late last year, as it was spreading in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. But now two new outbreaks, one in the Middle East and one in Malaysia, is causing new concerns that the virus may have mutated and can spread more easily.

There have been 238 confirmed cases of MERS up till now, with 92 leading to death, which is a high death rate. In the last week there are 20 cases in two distinct clusters, one in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one in Malaysia. It's known that both clusters were caused by a 54 year old man who traveled between Saudi Arabia and Singapore in mid-March, but did not become ill until April 4.

It was just such a "super-spreader" who caused the SARS virus to become an international crisis a decade ago. The fear is that the MERS virus has mutated enough to allow such a super-spreader to cause another international crisis. Arab News and Recombinomics and World Health Organization (WHO)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-14 World View -- China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Apr-14 World View -- Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine

Nigeria in shock from double attack by Boko Haram

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russian activists block Ukrainian soldiers in armored personnel carriers in east Ukraine on Wednesday (AFP)
Pro-Russian activists block Ukrainian soldiers in armored personnel carriers in east Ukraine on Wednesday (AFP)

In a nationally televised program on Thursday, Russia's president Vladimir Putin described southern and eastern Ukraine as Novorossiya, or New Russia, that had been part of the Russian Empire since the 18th century, until the 1920s when the European leadership decided "For God knows why," to give it to Ukraine. Putin said that he "hopes he won't have to send troops into Ukraine," but pointed out that the Duma (parliament) had given him the power to order an invasion of Crimea, if he chooses to do so. These statements were similar to the prelude to the Russian annexation of Crimean, which was justified by a historical narrative, and a statement by Putin that "we have no intention of annexing Crimea."

So it was a surprise a few hours later when Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced that an agreement had been reached between Russia, Ukraine and the West to deescalate the situation. In particular, the agreement called for protesters to leave illegally seized buildings. As we reported yesterday, Russia's ambassador to the European Union said that any such call would be "betraying" the people of eastern Ukraine.

Russia also backed down on the demand for "federalization," replacing it simply with a "constitutional process." There was no mention of being unaligned, which has been code word for the Russian demand that Ukraine not join Nato.

There are several possible reasons for Putin's flip-flop:

ABC News and Russia Today

Ukraine agreement leaves many questions unanswered

Here's the full published text of the Ukraine agreement:

"The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.

All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented."

The first steps that would have to be: "All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated." This would apply to eastern Ukraine cities, but it would also apply to anti-Russian "Maidan" protesters in Kiev, who are still blockading streets and occupying some buildings in the capital city. There could be some disagreements as to who has to go first.

The issue that originally triggered the months of protests and counter-protests was a desire by many in Ukraine to sign a trade agreement with the European Union, something that was bitterly opposed by Putin and Russia. The new agreement removes the demand that Ukraine be "unaligned," but it's not clear what would happen if Ukraine decided to sign the agreement after all, or to apply for membership in Nato.

As I always like to point out, major events are brought about not by politicians but by masses of people, generations of people, and politicians are irrelevant except insofar as they implement the policies demanded by the people. It's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that this is always true, even in a dictatorship. Whether the Ukraine agreement succeeds depends on how the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine and the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev deal with it. Indeed, the pro-Russian protesters may feel betrayed, as the Russian ambassador suggested. If they stand their ground, then Thursday's agreement will be totally meaningless.

By a coincidence of timing, we may know the answer within a few days. Sunday is Easter, and this is one of those rare years when the Western Easter coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Easter. If anything can motivate protesters in Kiev and eastern Ukraine to end their protests, it would be Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. So we may know by Monday whether the terms of the agreement will be met by the pro-Russian protesters in east Ukraine and the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev. Guardian

Nigeria in shock from double attack by Boko Haram

First there was Monday's massive attack on a bus station in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. ( "15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70")

Then on Tuesday, Boko Haram abducted over 100 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. This act is supposed to be consistent with the meaning in the Hausa language of Boko Haram: "Western education is forbidden." But stories are spreading that there's a much more carnal motive, and that Boko Haram are using the girls as sex slaves. There have been other terrorist attacks this week as well.

The girls have not yet been found, and excuses and statements by the government, the military and police are only infuriating the parents. Parents are beginning to ignore the police and form vigilante militias to find them.

In recent months, Boko Haram has changed, in that the terror has become indiscriminate. It used to be that Boko Haram bombed government installations and Christian churches, but now anyone and anything can be a target, with motives that are unclear. The country is roughly half Muslim and half Christian. For Muslims, it's clear that the violence is all due to Islamist extremists, but Christians do not believe that Islamists would kill fellow Muslims. The result is that the country's population is becoming more polarized along Christian/Muslim lines. Deutsche-Welle and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-14 World View -- Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Apr-14 World View -- Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing'

Ukraine's 'anti-terrorist operation' turns into a fiasco

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing'


Mohsen Rezaei was Iran's top commander during the 1980s war with Iraq
Mohsen Rezaei was Iran's top commander during the 1980s war with Iraq

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has previously declared the need to adopt a "resistance economy," to defeat the Western sanctions. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC (Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps) Commander Mohsen Rezaei discussed the "resistance economy":

"In my opinion, we have so far been successful in the Geneva negotiations, but these negotiations could have been done better. The wall of sanctions was not successful because we have been able to increase our oil exports. America cannot revert to the past because a lack of confidence has been created in it. Fortunately, the Ukrainian matter became a divine blessing for us, because America can no longer convince China and Russia. ...

Resistance economy means the people’s jihad and that the economy must be made resistant against the enemies’ shocks and pressures. ...

Resistance economy seeks to bring the Westerners and the Americans to their knees against sanctions, to the extent that they admit that sanctions were mistake."

AEI Iran Tracker

Ukraine's 'anti-terrorist operation' turns into a fiasco

The "anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's army to strike back at pro-Russian separatist activists in cities in eastern Ukraine is turning into a fiasco, a day after it was announced by Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov. Six of the Ukrainian army's armored personnel carriers (APCs) were captured by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, amid reports that Ukrainian soldiers switched sides to support the militants. The Ukrainian soldiers were obviously unhappy with being deployed against crowds of civilians.

Evidence is growing that Russian armed forces special agents are in east Ukraine, training the separatist militants with tactics -- takint over buildings, setting up blockades, fomenting protests. Speaking in London, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russia had sent "thinly disguised" armed groups into eastern Ukraine to spearhead the occupation of buildings.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato, but fears are growing that Russia does not plan to stop with annexing Ukraine. Latvia and Estonia are Nato members, and have large ethnic Russian communities. Nato announced that air patrols over the Baltic republics are to be increased, while Nato warships will deploy to the eastern Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. BBC and CNN

Russian ambassador signals coming invasion of east Ukraine


Vladimir Chizhov (BBC)
Vladimir Chizhov (BBC)

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's Ambassador to European Union, was interviewed on the BBC on Wednesday. With violent pro-Russian activists in east Ukraine taking over police stations, airfields and government buildings, he was asked why the Russian government does not tell them to stand down (my transcription):

"Well I think in the current situation situation there would be seen by people in eastern Ukraine as Russia betraying them, because they want to see their interests protected, and they want to see a federalization of the country. Our view, and my personal view, is the only way to save Ukraine as a single democratic country."

The "federalization of the country" means making eastern provinces independent republics, which would make them like Crimea, and then vulnerable to Russian annexation. Ukraine is already no longer a "single democratic country," having lost Ukraine to Russian annexation.

Chizhov was asked what would happen if separatists in Russia were occupying police stations and airports. Would Moscow stand by and let this happen?

"I don't think you should draw a comparison between a legitimate government like the one in Russia and self-proclaimed government that came to power as a result of an armed coup in Kiev."

So according to Chizhov, Kiev isn't allowed to do anything to stop the violence in east Ukraine because it's not a "legitimate" government, even though it's the only government. And Russia won't even ask the protesters to stop the violence, because that would be "betraying" them. Therefore, according to Russian logic, Kiev just has to let the violence continue.

What Chizhov didn't mention is that Russia's government isn't legitimate either. The December 2011 parliamentary elections and the May 2012 presidential election were so fraudulent that they triggered massive protests, which Russia's security services brutally suppressed. ( "8-May-12 World View -- Putin becomes president of Russia again, facing harsh new challenges")

Watching Chizhov on television, one can almost see the sleaze oozing out of every pore. But the bottom line is that Russia is fomenting a "civil war" in eastern Ukraine, and apparently is preparing to invade in order to "protect" the ethnic Russians.

Pakistan Taliban refuses to extend ceasefire, wants 'peace talks' anyway

The one-month ceasefire that the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) declared has now expired, and on Wednesday announced that it will not be extended. However, the TTP wants to continue the "peace talks" with complete "sincerity and seriousness" which, I assume, means that TTP will keep on blowing up crowded marketplaces and mosques while it pretends to want peace.

It recently emerged that the TTP agreed to the one-month ceasefire in the first place only because prime minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to release 19 Taliban militants from jail. Sharif secretly kept this process last month, though the secret was revealed recently. Apparently the TTP is willing to agree to a ceasefire only as long as murderers are being let out of jail.

In a more bizarre development, two factions of the TTP in Pakistan's tribal area have been fighting each other for control, and have shed a lot of blood doing so. So the TTP leadership has appealed to the Afghanistan Taliban to send a delegation to Pakistan to act as mediators between the two warring factions, and end the fighting. The Express Tribune (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-14 World View -- Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Apr-14 World View -- East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back

Mali separatists appeal to Russia for support on independence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back


Ukrainian troops receive munitions at a field in east Ukraine on Tuesday (CNN)
Ukrainian troops receive munitions at a field in east Ukraine on Tuesday (CNN)

A day later than originally threatened, Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov announced the beginning of an "anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's army to strike back at pro-Russian separatist activists in cities in eastern Ukraine. Later, Turchynov said the airbase at Kramatorsk had been "liberated" from "terrorists."

This clash could go either way, but based on what I've read, I personally don't feel that there's yet enough "social fuel" in this population for this to spiral into something major.

However, a victory by Kiev or even a stalemate may not be acceptable to Russia, who are thought to have been promoting chaos in Ukraine to have an excuse to invade.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the sharp escalation of the conflict in Ukraine puts the country on the brink of civil war. Putin may be looking for an opportunity to launch a short, sharp attack to take control of east Ukraine too quickly for anyone to react. BBC and Voice of Russia

Russia and Europe's far right become political allies through anti-Americanism

In past decades, Russia was usually allied with far left Communists and Socialists in Europe, but in this generational Crisis era, Russia is increasingly finding European allies among far right and right-wing populists. (The phrase "far right" has a different meaning in Europe and in America.) With the European Parliament elections approaching, some of these parties are increasingly open about their desire to act as an advocate for Russia in Brussels.

These parties are natural allies of Russia because of their common skepticism of immigration and concerns about Islamic extremism. But the broadest foundation for cooperation is their joint anti-Americanism, and their opposition to the European Union's close ties with the United States. According to one right-wing politician:

"Instead of playing the stooge of the US in the encirclement of Russia, Brussels must finally be able to build positive relations with Moscow and show understanding of Russian interests."

It's thought that Russia's objective is to destabilize and weaken the European political scene, and weaken the European-American alliance. Spiegel

Mali separatists appeal to Russia for support on independence

Following the secession of Crimea from Ukraine, the Russians are becoming the go-to guys for any secessionist group in other countries.

In April, 2012, the Tuareg ethnic group declared that northern Mali was seceding from Mali, and the new country would have the name Azawad. The governing party would be called the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA). ( "7-Apr-12 World View -- Tuareg rebels declare independent state of Azawad in northern Mali") This led to an invasion in the north by al-Qaeda linked militants, followed by the introduction of a French peacekeeping force in January, 2013.

MNLA officials made a recent visit to Russia:

"[The goal was to spread] the message of the people of Azawad everywhere, particularly in the countries that are members of the UN Security Council, some of which have veto power. ...

All the causes of the conflict were explained to the government of the Russian Federation. The political, social and cultural reasons for the recurring revolts and the suffering of the people of Azawad were discussed at length. The president of the MNLA's leadership, Mr. Bilal Ag Acharif, clearly expressed the necessity and the urgency of finding a solution to this never-ending conflict through a political dialogue. He reaffirmed the availability of the MNLA to operate by means of political negotiations provided that they are based on the sincere and frank willingness of all the parties."

Russia has its own secessionist issues, with some activists in Russia's North Caucasus provinces wanting to form a separate Islamic state. Russia's foreign ministry reaffirmed to the MNLA the availability of the Russian Federal government to help the different parties to find a just, equitable and durable solution for the crisis. Memri

Israel claims secret talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait about Iran

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that Israel is holding secret talks with some Arab states to establish diplomatic ties based on a common fear of Iran. He specifically named Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, neither of which recognize Israel. Israel has signed peace deals with only two of its Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. According to Lieberman,

"For the first time there is an understanding there that the real threat is not Israel, the Jews or Zionism. It is Iran, global jihad, (Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group) Hezbollah and al Qaeda. There are contacts, there are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months it will no longer be secret, it will be conducted openly."

However, both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait deny that any such talks are taking place or have ever taken place. According to Kuwait's foreign ministry:

"These claims are baseless. There are no meetings, official or unofficial contacts, public or secret."

A similar statement was issued by the Saudis. Reuters and Anadolu (Turkey)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-14 World View -- East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70

European Central Bank to adopt negative interest rates

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70


Aftermath of terrorist explosion at bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday (BBC)
Aftermath of terrorist explosion at bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday (BBC)

Nigeria's terrorist group Boko Haram is being blamed for a massive explosion at a bus station during rush hour on Monday in Abuja, the country's capital city. More than 70 people were killed, and hundreds injured.

Boko Haram has conducted to many terrorist attacks in northeastern Nigeria that they're almost being ignored (except, of course, by the people directly affected). 1500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed this year, and 135 people were killed on Wednesday and Thursday of last week alone. These attacks have received little or no international notice, and even in Nigeria they were considered so remote they could be ignored in Abuja, where there hadn't been a terrorist attack in two years.

In the past, Nigeria's government has been largely ineffective in containing Boko Haram, and there have been suggestions that some in the army are either complicit or supporting. Monday's attack may force a change. BBC

European Central Bank to adopt negative interest rates

The Fed's policy of quantitative easy, which has "printed" tens of billions of dollars of new money every month and injected it into the banking system, is now going to be copied by the European Central Bank, according to reports. For almost two years, the euro zone has been in a deflationary spiral, with the inflation rate falling, and with Slovakia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus already in actual deflation.

On Saturday, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said:

"The strengthening of the exchange rate requires further monetary stimulus. That’s an important dimension for our price stability."

This Delphic remark is being interpreted by experts as indicating that the ECB will soon begin "printing" money and pursuing a policy of quantitative easing. Draghi may also lower interest rates, and some reports indicate that he will implement negative interest rates. Irish Times and CNBC

Standoff continues in eastern Ukraine

The government of Ukraine in Kiev allowed its own deadline to pass on Monday morning without taking any action against the pro-Russian protesters occupying buildings in cities across eastern Ukraine. Russia continues to have tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border, and many fear that Russia will invade and annex eastern Ukraine, just as it annexed Crimea. However, a number of analysts are pointing out that eastern Ukraine is very different from Crimea. In Crimea, the ethnic Russian population overwhelmingly favored being part of Russia. But in eastern Ukraine, polls have shown that many ethnic Russians are strongly opposed to a Russian annexation, and there's a possibility that if the Russians invade eastern Ukraine, then they'll be fighting not only Ukraine's army, but also many civilians. For that reason, Russia's president Vladimir Putin will be very reluctant to order an invasion, according to these analysts. However, if violence in east Ukraine continues to escalate, then Kiev and Moscow may be forced to intervene militarily. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum

Syrian army defector explains why Assad regime uses chlorine chemical weapons

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian army defector explains why Assad regime uses chlorine chemical weapons


Brig-Gen Zaher al Saket, Syrian army defector
Brig-Gen Zaher al Saket, Syrian army defector

As we reported yesterday, there was a new poison gas attack on a rebel-held, apparently by Syrian government warplanes. It's assumed that the poison gas attack was under the orders of Syria's genocidal monster president, Bashar al-Assad, but the al-Assad regime blames the attack on rebels.

Zaher al Saket was a Brigadier General in al-Assad's army until he defected last year. He explains why chlorine gas was used, and how only the Syrian regime has the ability to use chemical weapons, in an interview on Sunday with al-Jazeera (my transcription):

"I was given the order by my immediate commander to use chemical weapons in August of last year. These weapons are very toxic, but not deadly. I exchanged these weapons. I gave my officers non-effective elements of these weapons. They used them because they thought they are deadly.

When they started to investigate the matter, I decided to defect. In order to use the chemical weapons, you need to have the real effective elements, and the platform to use them.

The Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Battalions don't have the tools. They don't have any artillery. They don't have any missiles.

Why has the regime resorted to using chlorine mixed with cyanide in the latest chemical attacks? Because they can't be easily discovered, even if the monitoring mission arrives 48 hours later. That's why only those who have been affected is the only evidence."

Al-Zaket gave an interview last year when he defected:

Zaker Al-Saket: "There are three types of chemical weapons: harassing chemical agents, incapacitating agents, and lethal agents. When the demonstrations started, the regime used harassing agents, like any country in the world using tear gas to disperse demonstrations. As for incapacitating and lethal chemical agents - the regime used incapacitating agents at first, but when the world remained silent about this, and the regime thought that the international community did not care, it used lethal [chemical] weapons in more than 13 locations. The last incident was in Utaybah. The regime used sarin gas on three occasions, and I am increasingly afraid that they will use agents more powerful than sarin. They have VX gas and mustard gas, also known as iprit. ...

The regime's accusation that the opposition has used chemical weapons is the most compelling proof that the regime itself has used them, because the opposition does not have the means to use chemical weapons. The means of using chemical weapons are known to the whole world: airplanes, missiles, helicopters, and artillery. Worst still, this regime has binary chemical weapons. The world must understand that there are binary chemical weapons in Syria, and [Bashar Al-Assad] will use them against his people, because he is the Nero of our age."

As we described yesterday, the United Nations inspection team wrote a report proving that al-Assad was guilty of last August's sarin attack. The team did not specifically blame al-Assad, because they were not permitted to do so, but the report contained technical data that proved to outside experts that the rockets were launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit. Memri (4/29/2013)

Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum

In three cities in east Ukraine, Ukrainian security forces are exchanging fire with pro-Russian protesters, who may be Russian-paid militants, causing several casualties. Ukraine's government in Kiev has issued an ultimatum to the pro-Russian protesters to stand down by Monday morning (by 11 pm ET Sunday), or face a "large-scale anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's armed forces. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said, "We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of Ukraine." This is assumed to mean that Turchynov will act to prevent Russia from annexing eastern Ukraine as it's already annexed Crimea.

Russia and the U.S. are blaming each other for the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine.

According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, it's the responsibility of the United States and other Western nations to "stop the civil war":

"The Kiev authorities, who self-proclaimed themselves as a result of a coup, have embarked on the violent military suppression of the protests. Blood has already been spilled as the result of such actions in the South East. ...

It depends on the West now to stop the civil war in Ukraine. ...

The western sponsors of the Maidan [Kiev] government, especially those who witnessed the Agreement [of 21 February] and are backed by the US, have to curb their out of control wards, they have to make them break away from the neo-Nazis and other extremists."

According to a statement issued by the U.S. State Dept. on Sunday:

"Russia continues to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine. The Russian propaganda machine continues to promote hate speech and incite violence by creating a false threat in Ukraine that does not exist. We would not be seeing the violence and sad events that we've witnessed this weekend without this relentless stream of disinformation and Russian provocateurs fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine. Here are 10 more false claims Russia is using to justify intervention in Ukraine, with the facts that these assertions ignore or distort."

The statement goes on to describe proof that Russian agents are active in Ukraine, that Russian internet sites are open recruiting Russian citizens to travel to Ukraine to incite violence, and that in fact there is no spiraling civil war in Ukraine, and there wouldn't be any conflict at all if it hadn't been for Russian provocations. The statement goes on to point out that there are 35,000-40,000 Russian troops massed along the border with Ukraine, in addition to approximately 25,000 troops currently in Crimea. AP and U.S. State Dept. and Russia Today

Abdullah Abdullah leads in Afghanistan vote count

In last weekend's Afghanistan election, results based on 10% of votes from 26 out of 34 provinces showed Abdullah Abdullah with 41.9% and Western-leaning academic Ashraf Ghani second with 37.6%. A third candidate, Zalmay Rassoul, backed by two of Karzai's brothers, trailed far behind with 9.8%.

Correction: Yesterday's report said that Abdullah is Hazara. Actually, he's mixed Tajik and Pashtun. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-14 World View -- The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance

New poison gas attack reported in Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New poison gas attack reported in Syria


Frame from amateur video showing a crying baby after poison gas attack (AP)
Frame from amateur video showing a crying baby after poison gas attack (AP)

Reports from both the Syrian government and rebel forces claim that a poison gas attack occurred late Friday in a central rebel-held village of Syria, killing two people and injuring more than 100. The poison gas, which is thought to be chlorine, was apparently launched during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. The rebel groups are blaming the Syrian government, while the Syrian government is blaming the al-Qaeda al-Nusra front.

In August of last year, there was a major sarin gas attack near the capital, Damascus, killing hundreds of people. The United Nations Security Council authorized a U.N. inspection team to visit the site, but was forbidden to draw any conclusions about who was responsible. This was at the insistence of the Russians, who wanted to protect the genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad of proof of guilt. However, the the United Nations forensic team found a very clever way to defeat the Russians. 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 show that the rockets must have been launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit. So they were very cleverly able to prove al-Assad's guilt without having to say so!

The al-Assad regime agreed to remove and destroy its chemical weapons stock, but Syria's government missed a Dec. 31 deadline to remove the most dangerous chemicals in its stockpile and a Feb. 5 deadline to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. It's widely believed, though unproven, that al-Assad is hiding other stores of chemical weapons. AP and AFP

The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance

There has always been a big difference in behavior between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, largely because of generational differences.

The Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns, which spread from southern Afghanistan, across the border through Pakistan's tribal area, into northwestern Pakistan. I first wrote about the Afghan Taliban's behavior when I discussed the world's worst suicide bombers. According to figures published by the Jamestown foundation, in 2007 Afghan Taliban suicide bombers almost always managed to kill only themselves, or at most one other person. This is an enormous contrast to the Pakistani Taliban, who have killed literally thousands of people in suicide bombings in recent years.

The difference between the two is a result of history. Pakistan's last generational crisis war was the war between Hindus and Muslims in 1947 that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and the creation of the states of India and Pakistan. That was one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, but most of its generations of survivors have now disappeared, and the younger generations know only of the heroics, but none of the horrors.

By contrast, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the relatively recent bloody Afghan civil war of 1991-96. In 2007, 11 years after that war ended, the bloody horrors were still fresh in all the survivors' minds, and there was no motivation to inflict more horrors on themselves or others by blowing up innocent civilians in a mosque or marketplace. The result is that the bloodiest Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have come not from Afghan Taliban but from Pakistani Taliban crossing the border.

It's now seven years later, and the first generation of children growing up after Afghanistan's civil war are coming of age. Even so, there still are apparently not enough Afghan Taliban willing to blow people up, as shown by the failure of the Taliban to disrupt last weekend's presidential election with any major terrorist attacks, despite promises to do so.

Leaders of Taliban militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan have been meeting to try to work together. This attempted alliance is in its early stages, and the generational differences will continue to provide obstacles, but they are spurred on by the withdrawal this year of American and Nato forces. In one way or another, they should be expected to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal.

We've reported several times on the ongoing "peace talks" between the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan's government. One of the Taliban's motivations for these talks is to keep Pakistan's military from carrying out its threat to destroy militant bases in the tribal area that the militants use for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Reuters

The presidential runoff in Afghanistan

A major issue in Afghanistan's presidential elections, both for Afghanistan and for the United States, is the pending "bilateral security agreement" (BSA), which will provide the legal backing to allow a contingent of American forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014. Current president Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the BSA, after previously promising to do so, and has left the decision to his successor. However, all three of the major runoff candidates have said they will sign the BSA if they win the election.

The three runoff candidates are described by one analyst as follows:

Ghani and Rassoul are Pashtuns, while Abdullah is a Hazara. The Hazaras and the Pashtuns were bitter enemies during the 1990s civil war, so a victory by Abdullah could mean trouble in the form of increased terrorist activity by the Pashtun Taliban. Correction: Abdullah is mixed Tajik and Pashtun. (Correction added 13-Apr) Defense One

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-14 World View -- The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-14 World View -- Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China

NATO says that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

NATO says that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine


Russian Su-33 'Flanker' military jets at Yeysk air base near the Ukrainian border -- released by Nato (Digital Globe)
Russian Su-33 'Flanker' military jets at Yeysk air base near the Ukrainian border -- released by Nato (Digital Globe)

NATO has released satellite photos, taken between March 22 and April 2, that show the extent of Russia's military mobilization on its border with Ukraine -- including fighter jets, tanks, artillery and thousands of soldiers who are prepared to invade within 12 hours if called upon. Nato estimates that there are 40,000 troops massed at various locations along the Ukrainian border, at more than 100 different site.

Russia is claiming that the photos are doctored or are old photos, which Nato says is "categorically false." According to Russia's foreign ministry:

The US and Ukraine have no reason to worry. Russia has said several times that it is not conducting any unusual or unplanned military activity on its territory near the Ukrainian border. ...

Everyday activity by Russian forces on its national territory does not threaten the security of the United States of America or other OSCE member states.

The attempts to accuse Russia of building up armed forces are groundless."

CNN and Ria Novosti

Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China

Indonesia is joining Vietnam, the Philippines and other regional countries to increase their military capabilities in preparation for an invitable military conflict with China. China has been adopting a "Lebensraum" policy of claiming all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. According to China, these countries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorial seas, while China has the right to annex everything in sight. China has already used its vast military power to forcibly annex territories belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and has militarily threatened islands belonging to Malaysia. (See "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal")

China has also claimed regions belonging to Indonesia, but Indonesian officials have avoided talking about it, for fear of upsetting the Chinese. But now Indonesia is beefing up its its military base on the Riau Islands, which borders the South China Sea, to accommodate larger fighter aircraft. China has particularly claimed the Natuna Seas, which are strategically located at the southern tip of Malacca Strait, and which are thought to contain 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

According to an Indonesian military official:

"China has claimed Natuna waters as their territorial waters. This arbitrary claim is related to the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands between China and the Philippines. This dispute will have a large impact on the security of Natuna waters."

Indonesia's government is playing down the dispute, but much of the upgrade work on the airbase has already been completed. Jakarta's strategy is to develop a "Minimum Essential Force" (MEF), which is the minimum scale of military capabilities that Indonesia should seek to deploy in response to a strategic threat. Janes Military Capabilities and The Diplomat and Jakarta Globe (3/13)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-14 World View -- Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-14 World View -- France says Central African Republic has totally collapsed

Israel imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rwandans leave Catholic churches for evangelical churches


Sunday Evangelical restoration service in Kigali Rwanda on Sunday (AFP)
Sunday Evangelical restoration service in Kigali Rwanda on Sunday (AFP)

This week, Rwanda and the United Nations are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when majority Hutus tortured, burnt, raped, mutilated and killed over 800,000 of the minority Tutsis over a six month period. The commemoration speeches have been assigning blame, most often to the former colonial powers, France and Belgium. The criticisms of France were so harsh, that France chose not to send a representative to Rwanda for the ceremony.

Rwanda is 50% Catholic and 40% Protestant, but those percentages may be changing because many Rwandans blame the Catholic Church and the Vatican for complicity in the genocide, and are abandoning the Catholic Churches for new evangelical churches that have arisen since the genocide. The new evangelical religions were brought back to Rwanda by refugees returning from Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, where they were already established.

On Monday, the representative of Rwanda to the commemoration ceremony accused members of the Catholic Church of "covering up their criminal actions" during the genocide. In particular, Rwanda is still dotted with the ruins of Catholic churches where the Tutsi sought shelter, but were massacred by the Hutus within the church, sometimes with members of the clergy acting in complicity with the killers. AFP and 7sur7(Trans)(Belgium)

UN Security Council approves 11,800 peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved the creation of a peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic. There are already 2,000 French troops and 6,500 African Union troops in CAR. The troops will be deployed on September 15. Violence between Christians and Muslims has been increasing, leading officials to fear a repeat of the bloody Rwanda genocide in 1994. CNN

France's Ambassador: Central African Republic has totally collapsed

Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to U.N. was interviewed on the BBC on Thursday, after the Security Council approval of deploying troops to the Central African Republic. In CAR, the Muslim Seleka militias were committing atrocities last year. The French troops disarmed the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum" and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge. Araud was asked why the deployment is being delayed until September 15, in view of all the atrocities that are occurring, and will continue to occur. He responded that the country has collapsed and will to be rebuilt, which will take a long time, possible years (my transcription):

"Unfortunately, you know, we are facing a very challenging situation, which means that I should say, even if we have 12,000 soldiers, I'm not sure that actually the atrocities will cease.

What does it mean? It means that law and order have totally collapsed in this country. There is no police, no gendarmes, no prisons. We are not facing any sort of identifiable enemy. We are facing thugs. We are facing bandits, who are killing, raping and looting. So what we have to do is -- it's long term efforts -- which means to restore, rebuild a state, and an administration in the country.

[[Question: There are some who say that the French strategy at the beginning, when the troops there targeting Seleka, were the wrong ones. They should have been there to try and stabilize both sides in the conflict, instead of targeting one group.]]

In the beginning, when we arrived in the 5th of December, the two nights before our arrival hundreds of people were killed by the Seleka. And on the other side, there was no anti-balaka, you know. So the absolute urgency in December was to disarm the Seleka, which had committed these atrocities.

What happened was when we had disarmed the Selekas, suddenly the anti-balakas which were not there suddenly rushed into the vacuum, so after that, we had to shift our positions to disarm the anti-balaka, and that's what we have been doing.

But there's a difference. The Seleka are armed groups which are organized, which were possible to disarm and contain. While anti-balakas basically are civilians - it's very difficult to disarm them.

[[Question: Do you believe that this peacekeeping force is the solution to stabilizing the CAR. We're looking a country that has no proper administration, a country that has no proper army, so to speak. Is this the solution?]]

You know, there is no army -- it's not "so to speak" -- there is no army, there is no police, there are no gendarmes. The country has totally collapsed. On one side, the peacekeeping operation will restore a modicum of law and order, but again, I'm pretty aware that there will be still crimes after the force is deployed.

We are engaging to a long term endeavor, which is to rebuild CAR, to rebuild prisons, police, gendarmerie, and to rebuild an administration. So frankly it will be long. And CAR will need everybody - the UN agencies, but also the bilateral donors, like France or the U.S. There is no quick peace."

The timeline is interesting to me. The French forces arrived on December 5, and it was just a week later, on December 12, that I wrote Christian revenge attacks on Muslims increase in CAR, and I speculated, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that the conflict was spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war.

Israel imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority

As the Mideast "peace talks" have been collapsing, Israel and the Palestinians have been taking tit-for-tat retaliation steps against each other. The Israelis blocked the scheduled release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinians have applied to join 15 international organizations as the state of Palestine.

On Thursday, Israel imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. Israel will withhold taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians, and limit their access to bank deposits in Israel. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has condemned the move as "Israeli hijacking" and "theft." BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-14 World View -- France says Central African Republic has totally collapsed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-14 World View -- New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires

'Heartbleed Bug' requires all users to change their passwords

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires


Bombed marketplace in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday (The News)
Bombed marketplace in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday (The News)

A powerful explosion in a fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, killed at least 24 people and injured hundreds. It's believed that the bomb was stored in a wooden fruit crate and was detonated when the fruit crate was delivered to the market.

A Taliban linked terrorist group, United Baloch Army (UBA) claimed responsibility for the bombing, giving as reasons revenge against government security forces, and demanding a separate state for Balochistan.

However, Pakistan's Interior Ministry is denying that UBA was responsible for the bombing, and is saying that it was the consequence of a disagreement among factions of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP). Last month, TTP announced a unilateral ceasefire, in order to give peace talks with the government a chance. ( "11-Mar-14 World View -- Terrorist bombings continue in Pakistan despite so-called 'cease-fire'")

That one-month ceasefire expires on April 10, and there is bitter disagreement among the leadership of various TTP groups about whether the ceasefire period should be extended. It's believed that the bombing attack is related to that disagreement. However, a TTP spokesman said that the TTP had nothing to do with the bombing.

Like the Mideast peace talks, the Taliban peace talks are considered something of a joke by observers. TTP originally demanded that three conditions be met before any peace talks can begin: TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be withdrawn from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the entire country. Finally, the TTP agreed to the one-month ceasefire, but it only recently emerged it turned out that this commitment was made because prime minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to release 19 Taliban militants from jail. Sharif secretly kept this process last month, though the secret was revealed last week.

If it weren't so serious, it would be amusing that both the Mideast "peace talks" and the Pakistan "peace talks" were both considered a joke, are both about to expire, and were both based on a promise to release convicted militants from jail. Daily Times (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan)

John Kerry's 'Poof' speech infuriates the Israelis

As I reported yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel in a Senate hearing for the collapse of the Mideast "peace talks" that he had set up last year in July. I quoted the official transcript on the State Dept. web site, but apparently there was an additional statement that didn't make it onto the web site.

Kerry said that the Mideast "peace talks" collapsed when Israel refused to release the fourth batch of prisoners who had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. And then, according to Kerry, Israel moved ahead with plans to approve 700 West Bank settlements.

"And, poof! That was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are."

Kerry was implying that, until that moment, the "peace talks" were on track, or close to being on track, but "poof!", Israel threw it all away.

This particular remark is infuriating Israelis, who point out that the Palestinians had broken a number of commitments, and had refused to commit to continuing the peace talks before applying to 15 United Nations agencies.

At any rate, as I've written many times, the "peace talks" that Kerry set up were never more than a theatrical show, considered a joke in the Mideast, and now Kerry is painting himself as a victim, as if to say, "I worked soooooooooooooo hard to set up these peace talks, but the two of you, especially Israel, just won't listen to me and do what I say." Jerusalem Post and Commentary

Palestinians develop political plans to defeat Israel

There are still military resistance groups among the Palestinians, but Palestinian leaders don't have faith in them because they don't appear to have serious, workable plans to change the status quo with respect to Israel. Instead, Palestinian leaders are pursuing two nonviolent resistance plans to defeat the Israelis:

Leaders of both Fatah and Hamas have praised both movements, but some, include Mahmoud Abbas, oppose the idea of boycotting the state of Israel, because it generates sympathy for Israel.

The total collapse of the peace negotiations, which many people now expect, will boost the anti-wall and BDS resistance movements, and without the distraction of the negotiations, these movements may be a lot more successful. Al-Monitor

'Heartbleed Bug' requires all users to change their passwords

Security experts are warning that a newly discovered security vulnerability exposes almost all web sites to compromise by a hacker. The bug was accidentally put into the popular OpenSSL (Open source Secure Socket Library) software library that's used to encrypt secure conversations between user browsers and web sites. The library is widely used within web servers for e-mail, banking and other web sites, but the bug permits a hacker to steal usernames and passwords of logged on users. The bug has been around since December 2011, but was only recently discovered, and was announced on Monday. Once discovered it was easy to fix, and most major web sites have fixed the bugs by now.

However, the real question is whether any hackers discovered the bug before it was announced and fixed, and have been harvesting usernames and passwords for weeks or months. This is not a far-fetched scenario, since there are teams of hackers in China, Russia and eastern Europe who work full time to discover vulnerabilities like this. For these reason, security experts are strongly recommending that all users change their passwords on all the sites they visit, starting with the most important sites.

The bug was discovered in a specific function in the OpenSSL software called the "heartbeat" function. This function causes your browser to exchange information with a web site every few seconds, in order to verify that the connection still works. The bug is that the server leaves the heartbeat information in unencrypted form in server memory for a brief period of time, and during this period a hacker could download it. For this reason, it's called the "Heartbleed Bug." CNet and Heartbleed.com

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-14 World View -- New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates

Ebola continues to 'evolve rapidly' in Guinea and Liberia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates

Violence is escalating in large cities in east Ukraine, along the border with Russia, where pro-Russian protesters have stormed and looted government buildings, demanding secession from Ukraine to become part of the Russian federation. According to Ukraine's Security Service, separatists armed with explosives and other weapons were holding 60 people hostage.

Russia blamed the increasing violence on American mercenaries:

We are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the [Ukrainian] special task police unit Sokol. Organizers and participants of such incitement are assuming a huge responsibility for threatening upon the rights, freedoms and lives of Ukrainian citizens as well as the stability of Ukraine."

Russia is also accusing Ukraine's government in Kiev of trying to start a civil war.

It turns out that Greystone used to be an affiliate of Blackwater and may or may not have provided security services in Russia or Ukraine. Reports of Greystone working in Ukraine are unconfirmed.

Secretary of State John Kerry, testifying before the Senate on Tuesday, called the situation by Russia to "create a contrived crisis":

"And everything that we’ve seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they’ve been sent there determined to create chaos. And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly. And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative.

Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing. No one should be fooled, and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea. It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours. Some have even been arrested and exposed. And equally as clear must be the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st-century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th-century behavior. We have stated again and again that our preference – and the preference of our friends and allies – is de-escalation and a diplomatic solution. But Russia should not for a single solitary second mistake the expression of that preference as an unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop any violation of the international order."

What's interesting about this statement is the sharply escalating rhetoric on the American side. For months, Kerry has been following Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov around like a little puppy begging for a bone, and has been fooled every time. So the administration is now changing to a new hardline approach, with the old "reset button" approach completely abandoned.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this illustrates how nationalism is increasing in this generational Crisis era, even in the United States. It's a small incremental increase to be sure, but it's a part of a continuing trend of increasing nationalism in countries around the world. Russia Today and ABC News and Dept. of State

Ebola continues to 'evolve rapidly' in Guinea and Liberia

The World Health Organization (WHO) is describing this as one of the most challenging situations they've ever faced. Ebola continues to spread rapidly in Guinea and Liberia, with 178 suspected cases, 106 confirmed, resulting in 111 deaths in the two countries. Spread of the virus has was given a boost when it spread last week to Conakry, the overcrowded capital city of Guinea. From there, it's spread to widely dispersed regions, and can't be contained. Cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana, but none has been confirmed. There has been some panic as, on Friday, an angry mob attacked an Ebola treatment center in Conakry, accusing the staff from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) of bringing the disease to the town and spreading it. WHO is advising people to stay calm, though is warning that controlling the outbreak could take months. CNN

Kerry blames Israel, but hopes Mideast peace talks will continue

Speaking before the Senate, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Mideast "peace talks" collapsed when Israel refused to release the fourth batch of prisoners who had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. However, he still hoped that negotiations would continue. "It is stopped. Recognize reality!" said Republican Sen. John McCain. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-14 World View -- Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy

Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy


Narendra Modi (AP)
Narendra Modi (AP)

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win India's parliamentary elections, the first round of which began on Monday. India is the largest democracy in the world, and so national elections are held in separate regions over a five-week period.

Self-described Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) Narendra Modi is the head of BJP, and he's promising a substantially more aggressive foreign policy for India, including a promise to get tougher in territorial disputes with China. He's the "hope and change" candidate for this election, and he's expected to become the next prime minister.

Modi is also promising to review India's "no first use" policy for nuclear weapons. The no first use policy was adopted with reference to India's arch-enemy Pakistan, and the previous administration has promised that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a war. However, Pakistan does NOT have a no first use policy, and so Modi is promising to review India's.

India's last generational crisis war was the war between Hindus and Muslims that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and the creation of the states of Pakistan and India in 1947. This action precipitated among the worst and bloodiest wars of the 20th century, as Hindus from the new Pakistan state migrated to the India side of the partition, and Muslims from the India side migrated to Pakistan, butchering and slaughtering each other along the way.

India's current prime minister is Manmohan Singh, born in 1932. Although he's a Sikh, he and his family witnessed the massive slaughter of the Partition war, as his family migrated from Pakistan to India at the time. Like many people who survive a generational crisis war, Singh has devoted his life to making sure that nothing like that ever happens again, and he's been remarkably conciliatory towards Pakistan and China since he became prime minister in 2004.

If Narendra Modi, born in 1950 after the Partition war, becomes prime minister, it will mark a significant generational change. Modi's Hindu nationalism is already strongly asserting itself, and it's made him very popular. If he wins, we can expect to see relations with China and Pakistan become considerably more confrontational. Times of India

Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

A boisterous protest by hundreds of students blocking the parliament building in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is now entering its third week. The demonstrators are protesting a proposed trade pact with China. Supporters of the pact say that it will bring new jobs to Taiwan, while opponents say that Taiwan will lose jobs to China.

The protests are opening old wounds that haven't healed since the bloody Communist Revolution civil war, when Mao Zedong's forced the Nationalist (KMT) forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, to flee to Formosa (Taiwan), passing through Hong Kong, in 1949. China still considers Taiwan to be a province of China, but whether Taiwan will declare independence has been a highly emotional issue since 1949. Taiwan's independence movement took a big stride forward in 1989, when Taiwan's population watched in horror as China's security forces brutally massacred and killed thousands of innocently protesting students in the Tiananmen Square massacre. This triggered a Taiwan student movement called "the Wild Lily rebellion," and led to the creation of a new political party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which explicitly favors independence. (See "Taiwan's Wild Election Battle" from 2004.)

DPP has been in power in Japan for about half of the last 15 years, and whenever they're in power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing totally freaks out, issuing one threat after another, saying that it Taiwan makes even one tiny step in the direction of independence, the China will declare war.

However, the KMT have been in power in Taiwan for the last five years, and relations between Taiwan and China have been relatively calm. Ironically, as I reported last month, China's new president Xi Jinping is redirecting China's ideological culture towards Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalism, and away from Mao Zedong's Marxist ideology, for fear that a new peasant revolution would throw the current CCP out in the street.

Xi Jinping also said, last year, that the situation with Taiwan could not go on much longer, with the implication that China was preparing to use military force to take control of Taiwan. It may have been that remark that triggered the anxieties that led to the current round of protests among those who are bitterly opposed to reunification with China. Reuters and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-14 World View -- Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Apr-14 World View -- President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare

Pro-Russians riot in cities across eastern Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pro-Russians riot in cities across eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russian protester breaks a window of a government building in Donetsk on Sunday (BBC)
Pro-Russian protester breaks a window of a government building in Donetsk on Sunday (BBC)

In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters on Sunday stormed government buildings, clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence similar to the one that led Russia to annex Crimea.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has "no intention" of invading eastern Ukraine, despite the tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border, all active, well-trained, well-supplied with food and spare parts. However, Putin has also said that Russia WOULD invade eastern Ukraine if it became necessary to protect ethnic Russians.

Thus, Sunday's riots and protests are exactly the excuse that Putin needs to go ahead with the invasion. We'll have to see if he avails himself of that excuse. Itar-Tass and BBC

President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare

President Obama was visibly gloating this past week when he declared that 7.1 million people had "signed up for" Obamacare. He claimed to have no information on how many of those had even made a single payment, or how many were subsidized, or how many of these were for free Medicaid. He declared that "Obamacare is here to stay!"

When I first wrote about the "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity" in 2009, I said that this plan would never be implemented because it would destroy markets and be economically disastrous. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls which were not as disastrous for the markets as Obama's health plan, but still wrecked the economy for close to a decade. I've repeated that many times since then, and I'm going to repeat it today: Obama's health plan will never be implemented.

Obama's health plan called for employer mandates, individual mandates, a working federal health care marketplace, and integration of all health records in the country into the IRS's data bases. None of these things has been implemented yet, and most will probably never be implemented. In just this past week alone, close Obama advisor Robert Gibbs sent out a trial balloon, saying in a speech that the employer mandate will be killed completely:

"I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go."

Gibbs has a good sense of humor. The employer mandate is an essential core component of the law, not a small part of the law.

So the markets have been all but destroyed by Obamacare. The 7.1 million signups that Obama was gloating about are irrelevant to the markets. It's his economic philosophy that it's all right for a business to lose money, because they can make it up in volume.

Suppose President Nixon had announced something like, "Citizens, please sign up for NixonCarePriceControls, and if you sign up, you can buy as much Coca-Cola you want for just a penny a bottle." Then we can assume that many millions would sign up for NixonCarePriceControls, even more than 7.1 million. The problem is that the Coca-Cola company would go out of business. That in fact is what happened to many businesses. The one that I've always remembered was that chicken farmers were killing chickens, rather than bringing them to market, because chickens were price-controlled, while chicken feed was a commodity and could not be controlled, so it cost more to grow a chicken than the farmer could get under NixonCarePriceControls.

So the fact that 7.1 million signed up for unsustainably cheap insurance may be a victory to President Obama, but it's a disaster for the economy. The only thing that would have been worse is if 10 or 15 million people had signed up.

You'd think that an economist would have to be particularly incompetent and stupid to know nothing about an event as recent as Nixon's price controls, but incompetence and stupidity are available in abundance these days.

The public loved President Nixon's wage-price controls when they were first announced, but then the shortages started occurring -- gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans, and numerous other products. Nixon did everything he could to save the controls, granting special exemptions and perks to favored people, announcing frequent rule changes to resolve each new problem as it arose, and so forth.

Nixon's wage-price controls were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%. That didn't happen. Instead, the economy was so screwed up with shortages and misallocations that the inflation rate rose to 12%.

In other words, Nixon's wage-price controls destroyed the economy, and not only accomplished nothing, but were much worse than nothing.

Now we have the same thing with Obamacare. It's hard to know what's going on with all the confusion and chaos, with Obama changing the rules every week and refusing to release any figures that he considers unfavorable. But apparently, the number of uninsured people today is comparable to the number of uninsured people before all this started. So nothing has been accomplished.

Obama has lied repeatedly and often. He's bribed cronies with perks, and extorted political enemies. Even among his ardent supporters, you'd have to be crazy to believe anything he says. He'll say one thing on Monday, and the reverse himself the next day and screw the country.

Insurance costs have significantly increased, people have lost their health insurance policies, people have lost their doctors, even people who have signed up are often not sure whether their next visit to the emergency room will be insured.

There's also a constitutional crisis on the agenda. Obama has simply ignored the constitution and changed his own Obamacare law repeatedly to suit his whims. That violates the constitution, and at some point in the next year or so, the Supreme Court is going to have its say, creating a legal and constitution disaster comparable to the HealthCare.gov IT disaster. There's apparently no law and no constitutional provision that Obama is unwilling to violate.

And the worst is yet to come, because there's a huge bill to be paid. Those 7.1 million people, as an aggregate, will incur far more medical costs than they will pay for in premiums. This means that when the bill comes due in the next few months, the insurance companies will have to be bailed out (which is apparently permitted by the Obamacare bill), and they'll have to substantially increase insurance premiums for next year. And so far, Obamacare has simply wasted something like a trillion dollars. (See "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed" from last year.)

And for what? What the hell was it all for? Obama announced "Mission Accomplished!", but what exactly was accomplished? What has Obamacare accomplished except to feed Obama's ego?

This brings up an important difference between Obamacare and NixonCarePriceControls. Nixon was a member of the G.I. Generation, and had fought in and survived World War II. Like most WW II survivors, he was willing to put the good of the country ahead of his own ego, because he understood how dangerous the alternative is. So when it became clear that Nixon's wage-price controls were a disaster, he ended them. It was the right thing to do, and it was for the good of the country. (Paragraph corrected. 8-Apr)

Obama is in Generation-X, whose people typically put their egos at the highest importance level, and put the good of the country about 50th down on the list. Obama is following the standard generational Nomad archetype. (See "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X" from 2008.) Obama is determined that to save something called "Obamacare" for his legacy, no matter how disastrous it is for the country. And that's just something the rest of us will have to suffer for. BenefitsPro and Forbes and Nixon's Wage and Price Freeze

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-14 World View -- President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Apr-14 World View -- U.S. fails to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan

U.N. leaders realizing Central African Republic genocide is unstoppable

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. fails to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan


Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Saturday
Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Saturday

Russia's effortless annexation of Crimea has raised concerns in countries throughout Asia that the U.S. will not honor its commitment to defend them against attacks from other countries, such as China. When America became policeman of the world after WW II, thanks to the Truman Doctrine in 1947, the deal was that other countries could focus on economic growth and not worry about military spending, because America would rescue them if necessary. But after America took no action in Crimea or Syria, and the Obama administration appears to have completely abandoned the Truman Doctrine for the first time, many countries are understandably nervous that now they're completely on their own.

According to one analyst:

"The hard question, particularly when leaders in this region look at what is gone on in Syria, what's gone on in Ukraine, the president drawing red lines and not actually backing up its words, there are questions, legitimate questions particularly I would say in Japan