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

24-Oct-14 World View -- Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts

Indonesia's president calls for a 'global maritime axis'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's deal with Boko Haram collapses as more girls are abducted


Boko Haram abducts 40 more girls (Sun News)
Boko Haram abducts 40 more girls (Sun News)

When Nigeria's government last week announced a ceasefire deal with the terrorist group Boko Haram that would return to their homes 230 schoolgirls that had been abducted in April, many people noted that announcement was being made from one side only, and was not being confirmed by Boko Haram leaders. ( "18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls")

It now turns out that the people who assumed that the government leaders were lying or mistaken were right. In a fresh attack on Tuesday on a different village, Boko Haram has abducted 40 more girls. Sun News Online (Nigeria)

Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts

Christophe de Margerie, 63, head of France's oil and gas giant Total (pronounced toe-TAL) SA was killed in a plane crash in Moscow on Monday evening. The corporate jet carrying Margerie collided with a snowplow on the runway as it was taking off in thick fog. Both French and Russians are investigating the crash to determine whether the cause was pilot error or negligence at the control tower.

De Margerie's death is considered a blow to Russia's economic interests because he was a very vocal supporter of Russia, and opposed European sanctions on Russia because of the latter's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Just hours before his death, he said the following in a speech:

"In general I’m against sanctions. I’ve repeated this many times. You heard that. And I’ve become not very popular in my country as I was often blamed for promoting our own interests. I don’t like sanctions as such because I think they are both unfair and counterproductive."

Total is currently participating in five large oil/gas projects in Russia, and theoretically they're now all in jeopardy, thanks to U.S. pressure, although analysts believe that Total will not completely abandon them.

For Russia's rulers, de Margerie seemed the embodiment of an ideal European partner and more: A French aristocrat and major oil CEO, anti-American in inclination, whose cooperation would force the European sanctions to collapse, and turn Russia's invasion of Ukraine into a total victory. His sudden tragic death is seen as a severe, devastating blow.

As a result, paranoid ultranationalists in Russia are seeing the death of de Margerie as a deliberate plot by opponents of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, presumably the United States. Russia Today and Russia/India Report and Jamestown

Indonesia's president calls for a 'global maritime axis'

Saying that Indonesia has been "neglecting our seas, oceans and bays," newly elected president Joko Widodo used his inaugural address to call for turning Indonesia into a "global maritime axis."

In view of Indonesia's naval buildup plans, in reaction to China's apparent plans to annex Indonesia's Natuna Islands by military force ( "21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands"), Joko's call may well be viewed as a challenge to China.

According to Joko, in his inaugural address earlier this week:

"The seas, the oceans and the bays are our future, and we have been neglected our seas, oceans and bays.

This is the time to return to Jalesveva Jayamahe [Sanskrit for 'In the sea we will triumph']. ...

To build Indonesia into a great, prosperous and peaceful country we must possess the soul of Cakrawati Samudra [Sanskrit for a maritime nation with a strong merchant navy].

As the captain of the ship, I invite all Indonesians on board to move toward a prosperous nation. To all fishermen, laborers, farmers, meatball sellers, drivers, all the professionals -- I call on you to work hand in hand because this is the historical moment for us to work, work and work."

Meatball sellers?

Although Joko did not mention China, he's expected to announce a new cabinet pot for coordinating maritime, natural resources and environmental affairs. Jakarta Globe

Wild Wall Street swings signal period of increased danger to investors

Wall Street pundits were thrilled on Thursday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 216 points, over 200 points for the third time in a week, after falling a similar amount in the preceding 6 days. These wild swings are also occurring for bond prices, oil prices and VIX (volatility index) prices. As I've been explaining, these wild swings signal a very dangerous time when a crash might be approaching. This would be the case if the amplitude of the swings continues to increase in the next few days, though not necessarily if the swings settle down. The S&P 500 price/earnings ratio (stock valuations) is at historic highs, indicating that the stock market is in a large bubble, and Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Oct-14 World View -- Plane crash killing France's Total SA president jeopardizes Russia's oil contracts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Oct-14 World View -- Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings

Turkey's military options in Syria are restricted by limited capability

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings


A Twitter user took this photo moments before the shooting.  He tweeted: 'Ok so we were on a tour at that war monument in Ottawa a few minutes ago, a few seconds later there was a shooting.' Is one of these guards the soldier who was killed? (@Evanem/Toronto Star)
A Twitter user took this photo moments before the shooting. He tweeted: 'Ok so we were on a tour at that war monument in Ottawa a few minutes ago, a few seconds later there was a shooting.' Is one of these guards the soldier who was killed? (@Evanem/Toronto Star)

A gunman shot and killed a soldier at a war memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday, then ran into the parliament building where he exchanged gunfire with police. At this writing on Wednesday evening ET, police are hunting for additional suspects. It's suspected, not confirmed, that it was a "lone wolf" attack inspired by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Canadians are known to have the feeling that this sort of thing happens elsewhere, not in Canada, so Canadians are in shock over these terrorist attacks. Much of Ottawa is still locked down, as are parliament buildings, military installations, and other potential targets all across the country. American military installations are also on high alert.

It was just a few hours earlier, on Tuesday, that Canada had raised its terror level in response to intelligence reports of "general chatter" from groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda.

And it was just two days earlier, on Monday, that a self-radicalized "lone wolf" Canadian man ran down two soldiers, killing one. It's believed that both the Monday and Wednesday perpetrators were Muslim converts. Both perpetrators had previously been identified by Canadian authorities as potential terrorists.

Last month, in mid-September, ISIS issued statements encouraging exactly this kind of lone wolf attack. One statement called for attacks against Egyptian security forces, who are "the guards of the Jews, the soldiers of [Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi], the new Pharaoh of Egypt":

"Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure."

A similar statement called for lone wolf attacks on other countries, including Australia, France, Canada, the United States, and others:

"If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State ... kill him in any manner or way however it may be."

Wednesday's attack is expected cause some level of panic among ordinary Canadians. According to one commentator, "Canada will be a different country on Thursday than it was on Wednesday." BBC and Globe and Mail (Toronto) and Willmiot (22-Sep) and Toronto Star

Egypt supports the anti-ISIS coalition in principle only

Egypt has politically expressed its complete commitment to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), saying that "the symbolism of a united coalition is very important," but has declared that it will not dispatch military forces to participate in its operations, nor participate in air strikes.

There are several reasons:

Egypt is taking a neutral stance against the al-Assad regime, while Saudi Arabia says that the al-Assad regime is illegitimate and must be removed. Memri

Turkey and Qatar officials meet to discuss Syria strategy

In an article last month ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war"), I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plus Bahrain versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West.

Although Turkey and the Arab countries on both sides are all nominally part of the anti-ISIS coalition, Turkey and Qatar have not been participating actively because they have completely different objectives from the other countries:

Qatar and Turkey are currently engaging in intense talks on "Issues of security cooperation between the two countries and enhancing coordination between ministries." It's not known whether major changes in policy are being discussed. Hurriyet (Ankara)

Turkey's military options in Syria are restricted by limited capability

Even if it wanted to, it's doubtful that Turkey could mount an effective cross-border operation against ISIS forces around Kobani or anywhere else for that matter. The first problem is that the army is very top heavy, and has not carried out any significant restructuring or reforms for over 50 years.

Also, Turkey's army is tied down on other fronts:

So, it's highly likely that Turkey's support for the US-led coalition will remain rhetorical, especially if there is no agreement regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's removal from power. Today's Zaman (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Oct-14 World View -- Canada in shock over Ottawa shootings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote

Violent rioting breaks out in Sierra Leone town over Ebola case

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote


Hong Kong students watch televised debate on Tuesday evening (Finance Asia)
Hong Kong students watch televised debate on Tuesday evening (Finance Asia)

Hong Kong residents were promised fully free and fair elections when Britain returned the British colony over to China in 1997. China has consistently stalled on the promise, triggering the protests of the last few weeks. These protests have been mostly peaceful, but there have been some clashes with police in the last few days.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader Leung Chun-ying (CY Leung) made a gaffe on Monday evening during remarks to reports. In attempting to explaining why free and fair elections would be a mistake, he said the following:

"If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month."

The implication, according to press reports, is that if poor people were allowed to vote, then Hong Kong would turn into a welfare state where poor people would gain more influence in politics.

This remark is certain to infuriate protesters, as one of their issues is that many Hong Kong families are poor because of deteriorating economic opportunities, and one of the developed world's largest wealth gaps. According to a protest leader, "It reflects the distrust the authorities have of the people, and it also reflects how the current political system is biased for the rich and against the poor." AFP and Diplomat and Finance Asia (Hong Kong)

Violent rioting breaks out in Sierra Leone town over Ebola case

Sierra Leone officials have imposed a curfew on an eastern town after two people were killed in clashes between rioting youth and the police. The clashes were triggered when a health authorities tried to take away a 90 year old grandmother suspected of having Ebola. A dispute erupted, resulting in gunfire and rioting.

As we wrote several days ago ( "19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk"), the Ebola crisis is interacting with other geopolitical issues, particularly causing instability wherever it appears. Things are probably going to get increasingly ugly in the next few months. Reuters and BBC

Health officials promote new ideas to curb Ebola deaths

If you live in Liberia or Sierra Leone and you go to a hospital because you think you might be coming down with Ebola, then there's a good chance that you'll be turned away because there are no more beds available. You'll have to return home, where your family will try to care for you, and may become infected themselves.

Health officials are hoping that Ebola survivors can play a crucial role in helping newly infected patients survive, thus bringing down the 50-70% death rate.

The blood of an Ebola survivor will have antibodies that can fight Ebola. Doctors can then take a sample of their blood and turn it into a treatment called serum - by removing the red blood cells but keeping the important antibodies - for other patients. Officials are saying that serum may be available in Liberia within weeks.

Survivors can become caregivers for newly infected patients, thus sparing the patients' family members from risking infection. It's believed that Ebola survivors are henceforth immune to the Ebola virus. However, some doctors say that this immunity is not 100% certain, since the Ebola virus may mutate into a different form that defeats the immunity.

One reason for the high death rate for Ebola is that patients become dehydrated from sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. It turns out that just drinking water is not an effective way for a dehydrated patient to rehydrate, and it just increases the volume of diarrhea.

For this reason, low-cost packets of electrolyte rehydration salts are being made available throughout Liberia and Sierra Leone. When mixed with water, these become an effective oral rehydration solution (ORS).

The problem with an ORS is that the patient has to drink about 5 liters (quarts) of the ORS per day, and the ORS tastes awful. For that reason, most ORS solutions are treated with glucose, to create a sweeter taste.

If a patient comes down with Ebola symptoms at home, taking an ORS right away, before the body becomes too dehydrated, is an effective way to increase the probability of survival. BBC and Pharmacy Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands

Reversing policies, Turkey and U.S. escalate involvement in Kobani

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands


Senoa Island, in the Natuna island chain
Senoa Island, in the Natuna island chain

Indonesia has tried to stay out of the fight that China was having with Vietnam and the Philippines over the former's annexation of the latter's territories. Indonesia could do that because, even though China was claiming Indonesia's Natuna Islands in its annexation of the entire South China Sea, China's navy was too far away from Indonesia to be of concern.

There's little doubt that China would like to annex Indonesia's Natuna Islands, whose waters are rich with fish and which is adjacent to the East Natuna gas field, one of the world's largest untapped reserves.

China's increased belligerence, and the substantial growth of its naval and air power in the South China Sea, have caused Indonesia to speed its naval buildup, although so far it's still far more modest than the buildup in Vietnam and the Philippines, and it has improved its relations with Japan and the United States.

In fact, the last few years have seen an "amphibious forces creep," a growth in naval capabilities of several south Asian countries, including Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. One major trigger for this buildup was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which exposed these countries as woefully unequipped to engage in disaster relief operations. Although much of the naval buildup has been labeled as being for humanitarian reasons, the last few years have seen a buildup of offensive naval forces to counter China's belligerence. The Diplomat and Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and Reuters (25-Aug)

Reversing policies, Turkey and U.S. escalate involvement in Kobani

Turkey's government on Monday may a surprise announcement that it will allow Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq travel through Turkey to Kobani, Syria, to fight against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL).

Note: Peshmerga = Kurdish militias in Iraq. PYD = Kurdish militias in Syria. PKK = Kurdish anti-government insurgents in Turkey.

On Sunday evening, the White House announced that it was air-dropping weapons to the Kurdish militias fighting in Kobani:

"So as you know, this evening, our time, overnight in Syria, the United States military delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the forces fighting against ISIL on the ground in Kobani. These supplies were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq, and they were focused on enabling forces -- including, of course, Kurdish forces in Syria -- to continue their fight against ISIL."

The U.S. announcement appears to be an escalation, though the White House that it's within the scope of previous announcements.

However, Turkey's announcement is a clear reversal of policy, as the government has recently said that it would provide no help whatsoever to the PYD, equating them to the terrorist PKK.

The two announcements appear to be a face-saving way for both sides to provide aid to the Kurdish militants in Kobani. The U.S. isn't shipping American weapons to Kobani; it's shipping weapons obtained from the Iraqi peshmerga. Turkey isn't allowing Turkish Kurds into Kobani; it's allowing Iraqi Kurds into Kobani. Hurriyet (Ankara) and White House

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Oct-14 World View -- Tensions grow with China over Indonesia's Natuna Islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Oct-14 World View -- Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel

China blames Hong Kong protests on 'external forces'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China blames Hong Kong protests on 'external forces'


Hong Kong protesters raise their hands in a symbolic show of peace and non-violence on Sunday (EPA)
Hong Kong protesters raise their hands in a symbolic show of peace and non-violence on Sunday (EPA)

China's hand-picked Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, is saying that the pro-democracy protests are "out of control," and that they're being supported by "external forces," echoing Chinese state media that "anti-China forces" such as the United States are manipulating the protesters.

A week ago, the protesters and the government were going to have talks to determine a political solution, and the demonstrators, who had previously numbered in the tens of thousands, had dwindled down to only a few hundred. It looked like the demonstrations would fizzle out completely.

However, then the talks broke down, and Leung announced that there was zero probability that China would back down and allow free, open elections in 2017. This brought thousands of protesters back out -- not as many as before, but still a sizeable number. Although the three weeks of protests have been mostly peaceful, there have been clashes with police for the last four nights, Protesters accused the police of using "deadly" force, with some demonstrators suffering head wounds, fractures and bruising, and others carried away on stretchers.

On Sunday night, Leung blamed infiltration of the protest movement by forces outside of Hong Kong:

"I shan’t go into details, but this is not entirely a domestic movement.

The Hong Kong government and the police force have exercised extreme tolerance and patience. That’s what we have done and what we will continue to do."

But he also vowed to "restore law and order in Hong Kong as soon as possible."

However, protesters claim that the protests are "purely by citizens, purely by those who live in Hong Kong." According to a protest leader:

"To make a statement that there are foreign powers infiltrating this movement right before the discussions, is evidence that [Leung] is hoping to crack down on the entire movement.

As the chief executive of Hong Kong, he should probably have solid evidence before making such a statement. He can't just say there is foreign infiltration and this is really irresponsible."

Despite the protests, talks between the government and protesters are set to resume on Tuesday.

More broadly, China's government is increasingly cracking down on dissent throughout China, what it calls "subversive ideas." In a memo, the Communist Party warned of "seven perils" that were taking root in the country, including the following five:

Australian/AFP and BBC and Nation Multimedia

Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel

In recent months, the price of a barrel of oil has fallen from about $110 down to $80-85. Global economies have been softening, reducing the demand for oil. And the supply of oil has been surging, with U.S. shale oil production ("fracking") and supplies from other countries growing.

Oil revenues have been a major source of foreign reserves for Russia, and the falling oil prices have affected Russia's economy. According to Russia's president Vladimir Putin:

"If oil prices remain at $80 per barrel, it will lead to production collapse. Budgets of all major oil-producing countries are based on the price of more than $80, close to $90 per barrel."

Russia is not the only economy suffering because of low oil prices. Many Mideast countries have hugely increased public spending after growing instability from the Arab spring. Venezuela and Iran similarly depend on high oil prices.

The U.S. economy is also affected. It's true that low oil prices translate into lower gas/petrol prices, but it's also true that much U.S. oil production becomes unprofitable as oil prices fall to $80.

This reality is affecting politics in 12 member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Smaller producers want Saudi Arabia to cut oil production, in order to force prices back up. But the Saudis are actually increasing oil production, because they want to try to put America's oil fracking production out of business. Ria Novosti (Moscow) and Guardian (London) and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Oct-14 World View -- Vladimir Putin: Global economy will collapse with oil at $80 per barrel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk

Ebola and the Clash of Civilizations world war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Ebola endgame

Today, the biggest threat to US security by far is China, which is preparing as rapidly as possible for a preemptive massive missile attack on American cities, aircraft carriers, and military installations. There are also terrorist threats to the U.S., but what we now call terrorism will simply dissolve and be subsumed into World War III. For example, the ISIS "terrorist" group will join with the Sunni component of the coming sectarian Sunni vs Shia war in the Mideast, while the Hezbollah "terrorist" group will join the Shia component. The Shia component will be allied with Iran, Russia and India, while the Sunni component will be allied with Pakistan and China. In that sense, what we now call terrorism is really just a side show to what will be a number of regional and global existential wars over the next 10-15 years. There's no guarantee that the United States will survive.

The above Generational Dynamics assessment, or something like it, might have been written at any time in the last few years.

But now there's major new factor that has to be considered: The Ebola pandemic. It's now clear that Ebola will play an important role in the world in the next few years, and will change the course of history. Ebola will spread in Africa beyond West Africa. It will spread first into war zones, such as Syria, and it will spread into densely packed slums in megacities. For that reason, it will a big part of the coming world war. I fully expect Ebola to have spread around the world by 2030, killing hundreds of millions of people.

Updating the Global Conflict Risk Assessment for Ebola

In 2004, I identified the "The six most dangerous regions in world" based on a Generational Dynamics analysis. My conclusion at the time was that a new world war would be started by a regional war in one of those six regions, or by a global financial crisis or by a global bird flu pandemic.

I incorporated those six region/items in a "Global Conflict Risk Assessment" graphic that I began posting on the Home Page of my web site. Its purpose was to encapsulate the current state of the world, and the likelihood of world conflict. The intention was that the graphic would be updated only rarely, as world events require. The original graphic, posted on October 1, 2004 was:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 1, 2004
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 1, 2004

Note that in 2004, I considered the most dangerous of all to be the Russian Caucasus, because of the recent Beslan massacre and because ... wait for it! ... Russia's president Vladimir Putin was showing extreme belligerence toward Ukraine. That was ten years ago. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

There have been seven changes in the ten years since then, the last one on January 1, 2013:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - January 1, 2013
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - January 1, 2013

If you'd like to review all the Conflict Risk Graphics in chronological order, along with brief explanations of why each risk level was assigned, see Global Conflict Risk Graphics

Today I'm updating the graphic for the first time since the beginning of 2013. The updated graphic is as follows:


Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 19, 2014
Global Conflict Risk Graphic - October 19, 2014

The two most significant changes is that two items have crossed over from "High Risk" to "Active":

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been under a great deal of criticism from politicians trying to deflect the blame from their own failings. One common criticism is that WHO did not react quickly enough after the first Ebola outbreak in Guinea, and didn't even realize the severity of the problem. In fact, WHO has conducted its own internal investigation, and found that "it botched attempts to stop the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, blaming factors including incompetent staff and a lack of information," and that they should have realized that "traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems," according to the AP

In fact, the Ebola crisis is the moment that the World Health Organization was created for. It was created by the survivors of World War II -- and it was also created by the survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic that killed tens of millions of people. The WHO should have reacted immediately on the Ebola breakout, and done everything possible to make sure that the mistakes of 1918 would not be repeated.

But anyone who understands generational theory knows that that's not how the world works. The survivors of a crisis, any crisis, spend their lives implementing institutions and measures to guarantee that the same crisis will not happen again, but once those survivors are gone, the generations of survivors that come after will simply believe that no such thing, in this case something like the 1918 epidemic, could ever happen again, because we're all smarter now and so those old-fashioned crises are no longer possible.

The critical generational event occurred in 1976, 58 years after the 1918 epidemic, when the "swine flu" panic occurred. The public became hysterical over the possibility of a new flu pandemic. Responding to public demands, the government prepared millions of doses of swine flu vaccine. The pandemic amounted to nothing, and the whole thing was a political fiasco.

So the 1976 swine flu fiasco served the purpose of discrediting anyone who worried about a new epidemic. This generational change in attitude continues today, and explains why WHO "botched" the Ebola investigation. (For further discussion of the 58-year hypothesis, see "The Iraq war may be related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki." from 2008.)

Ebola in West Africa

In fact, it's not clear to me that WHO could have stopped the Ebola pandemic even if they had been sufficiently alarmed when it started. In the previous section, we quoted WHO as blaming itself for not realizing that "traditional infectious disease containment methods wouldn't work in a region with porous borders and broken health systems." Those porous borders and broken health systems would have been the same whether WHO was alarmed or not.

There have been several outbreaks of Ebola, mostly in Zaire (now renamed to Congo). In those cases, the outbreaks were confined to a few small, remote villages, and the outbreaks were controlled by blocking travel into or out of the affected villages, and then letting the pandemic "burn itself out," in the words of one analyst I heard. This means that everyone in the village became infected. Most people died, but the ones who survived could rebuild their villages and be immune to Ebola for the rest of their lives.

Well, whether that kind of containment could have been accomplished when it first broke out in Guinea is not known to me, but it's certainly true that containment will not work now.

The mathematics of the published figures is irresistible. There are 10,000 infections now in West Africa, and the number of infections doubles every 3-4 weeks. That means that there will be millions of infections by Summer or Fall 2015. And there's nothing that can stop it from spreading beyond West Africa - Côte d'Ivoire is particularly vulnerable.

Furthermore, 50-70% of those infected die. This means that within a couple of years or so, more than half the population of West Africa will die of Ebola. The same will be true of other countries that the spread of Ebola reaches.

What about a vaccine? I have not heard anyone say that a vaccine will be available in less than a year or two in large quantities. Even if a vaccine were available today, could it be administered to, say, the population of Côte d'Ivoire in time to save it from the spread of Ebola? I would think not.

Ebola in megacities and dense slums


Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria

Lagos has a fairly sophisticated health system. When an Ebola patient arrived by plane in Lagos in July, there was a swift reaction. Through contact tracing, officials located some 900 people who were potentially exposed to the disease. There were finally 19 confirmed cases of Ebola and eight deaths, but the infection was stopped in Nigeria.

But now imagine someone with Ebola arriving on the train pictured above in Lagos, Nigeria, and visiting friends and family. Suppose he infected a couple of other people, and before anyone realized what was going on, people with whom he'd been in contact left town on the same train. This is not an unlikely scenario. How would that Ebola outbreak be contained?

Passengers aren't identified on a train the way they are on a plane. So contact tracing would be impossible. If there were 900 people potentially exposed, there would be no way to identify and find them, and they would go on infecting other people.

Once again, this is not an unlikely scenario. It's fairly certain to happen, and it's fairly certain to continue happening.

Megacities are particularly vulnerable, because there is public transportation and anonymity. The 20 largest megacities in the world, according to Demographia (PDF) are:

POPULATIONS OF WORLD'S 20 LARGEST MEGACITIES
----------------------------------------------------------------
|   1 | Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan                     | 37,555,000 |
|   2 | Jakarta (Jabotabek), Indonesia            | 29,959,000 |
|   3 | Delhi, DL-HR-UP, India                    | 24,134,000 |
|   4 | Seoul-Incheon, South Korea                | 22,992,000 |
|   5 | Manila, Philippines                       | 22,710,000 |
|   6 | Shanghai, SHG-ZJ-JS, China                | 22,650,000 |
|   7 | Karachi, Pakistan                         | 21,585,000 |
|   8 | New York, NY-NJ-CT, United States         | 20,661,000 |
|   9 | Mexico City, Mexico                       | 20,300,000 |
|  10 | Sao Paulo, Brazil                         | 20,273,000 |
|  11 | Beijing, BJ, China                        | 19,277,000 |
|  12 | Guangzhou-Foshan, GD, China               | 18,316,000 |
|  13 | Mumbai, MAH, India                        | 17,672,000 |
|  14 | Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, Japan                   | 17,234,000 |
|  15 | Moscow, Russia                            | 15,885,000 |
|  16 | Los Angeles, CA, United States            | 15,250,000 |
|  17 | Cairo, Egypt                              | 15,206,000 |
|  18 | Bangkok, Thailand                         | 14,910,000 |
|  19 | Kolkota, WB, India                        | 14,896,000 |
|  20 | Dhaka, Bangladesh                         | 14,816,000 |
----------------------------------------------------------------

However, what may be more important than total population is population density. The following table lists the most densely populated cities in the world, with a few United States cities added to the end of the table:

#PEOPLE/SQ MILE IN WORLD'S MOST DENSELY POPULATED CITIES
------------------------------------------------------------
|   1 | Dhaka, Bangladesh                         | 44,000 |
|   2 | Hyderabad, Pakistan                       | 40,700 |
|   3 | Mumbai, MAH, India                        | 32,300 |
|   4 | Kalyan, MAH, India                        | 30,300 |
|   5 | Chittagong, Bangladesh                    | 28,400 |
|   6 | Vijayawada. AP, India                     | 27,900 |
|   7 | Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong SAR           | 25,700 |
|   8 | Malegaon, HAM, India                      | 24,700 |
|   9 | Macau, China: Macau SAR                   | 23,700 |
|  10 | Aligarh, UP, India                        | 23,500 |
|  11 | Karachi, Pakistan                         | 22,800 |
|  12 | Ranchi, JHA, India                        | 21,200 |
|  13 | Surat, GUJ, India                         | 21,000 |
|  14 | Madurai, TN, India                        | 20,700 |
|  15 | Gwalior, MP, India                        | 20,700 |
|  16 | Asansol, WB, India                        | 20,500 |
|  17 | Salem, TN, India                          | 20,000 |
|  18 | Ahmedabad, GUJ, India                     | 19,800 |
|  18 | Rajkot, GUJ, India                        | 19,800 |
|  20 | Kathmandu, Nepal                          | 19,400 |
|  37 | Kinshasa, Congo (Dem. Rep.)               | 16,700 |
|  39 | Bogota, Colombia                          | 16,600 |
|  40 | Gaza, Palestine                           | 16,500 |
|  43 | Alexandria, Egypt                         | 15,600 |
|  55 | Kano, Nigeria                             | 15,000 |
|  81 | Lagos, Nigeria                            | 13,800 |
| 209 | Mexico City, Mexico                       |  9,800 |
| 564 | Leicester, United Kingdom                 |  4,700 |
| 794 | Los Angeles, CA, United States            |  2,400 |
| 808 | San Francisco-San Jose, CA, United States |  2,100 |
| 823 | Honolulu, HI, United States               |  1,900 |
| 823 | Las Vegas, NV, United States              |  1,900 |
| 829 | Miami, FL, United States                  |  1,800 |
| 830 | New York, NY-NJ-CT, United States         |  1,800 |
------------------------------------------------------------

Of course, a city doesn't have to be on either of these lists to be vulnerable. Even a small, densely populated neighborhood in an otherwise sparsely populated city could be vulnerable.

Either way, the point is that megacities and densely populated cities are going to be vulnerable to Ebola outbreaks, and many of these outbreaks will occur before it's all over.

Ebola in war zones

There have been a small number of Ebola cases in the United States so far, and what I've learned by watching them unfold is that controlling them requires the following:

None of these things will be possible in a war zone, where health services will have broken down, and where health workers will be vulnerable to gunfire and bombs. That means that once even a small Ebola outbreak occurs in war zone, there will generally be no way to keep it from spreading.

I've been writing for years about the coming Clash of Civilization world war where India, Russia and Iran will be our allies versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslims. Now we have to add the "Ebola factor," which will interact with everything else going on in the world. Ebola outbreaks will destabilize more regions of the world, leading to more wars, and war zones will be the perfect places where Ebola outbreaks can spread.

During the time of the Black Death plague of the 1340s, attacking armies would use catapults to hurl dead soldiers over the walls of walled cities, so that the citizens of those cities would also die of the plague. Maybe in the next few years, we'll be seeing some of those catapults again.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Oct-14 World View -- Forecasting the Ebola endgame and Global Risk thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls

Investors cheer as Wall Street gains 263 points on Friday

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls


Nigerians carrying 'Bring back our girls' banner (Reuters)
Nigerians carrying 'Bring back our girls' banner (Reuters)

Nigeria's government announced on Friday that they're reached a truce with the Boko Haram terrorist group, which has been terrorizing the entire northeast, as well as major cities up and down the country, for years. It's now the six month anniversary of the abduction of 219 schoolgirls on April 16.

In announcing the truce, Nigeria's Chief of Defense Staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh gave almost no details and took no questions. Another government official said that the deal would free the 219 abducted schoolgirls. He said that more talks would take place to work out exactly how the girls would be released.

However, multiple analysts in Nigeria are casting doubt on the credibility of the deal. For one thing, there's been no announcement from anyone in Boko Haram. Some analysts have even claimed that the Boko Haram militant who brokered the deal was an imposter, with no connection to the Boko Haram leadership.

According to one Nigerian columnist:

"I guess Nigerians are tired and, as such, any news that offers respite on this protracted war between Nigeria & #BokoHaram is always welcome. Sadly anybody that demised(sic) such good news becomes Nigeria’s enemy. But the leadership of #BH are said to be miffed that a nation of the profile and magnitude of Nigeria, with high level of intelligent people, is being easily encased in deceit and nobody seems to be asking tough questions.

What is most worrying here is, government at the highest level and the intelligence formations in #Nigeria has embraced this 'good news.' This shows lack of understanding of the reality that this is an ideology that can only be neutralized after long hard work that is yet to start.

It also appears that government is more interested in shadows and bubbles, than in substance and clear headed engagement with the #BokoHaram ideology."

The News (Nigeria) and BBC and AFP

Barrage of airstrikes stops ISIS advance on Kobani, Syria

An onslaught of dozens of airstrikes by U.S. warplanes in the last few days has halted the advance of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) on the Syrian town of Kobani, and permitted the Kurdish defenders of Kobani to drive back the ISIS in some, but not all, of Kobani. According to Kurdish officials, the Kurdish defenders were giving the coordinates of the ISIS militants to the U.S. to identify bombing targets.

As of last week, it seemed that ISIS was on the verge of overrunning the Kurds defending Kobani, which is on the border with Turkey, while Turkey's armed forces simply watched the slaughter from tanks in the hills overlooking Kobani. Turkey has been under heavy international criticism for doing nothing to stop the slaughter, but has demanded that the U.S. agree to attack targets assets of the Bashar al-Assad regime before Turkey will commit troops to Kobani.

Analysts, including U.S. administration analysts, are not claiming that this is the end of the battle of Kobani. ISIS has been sending in reinforcements, and they seem determined to overrun Kobani in order to humiliate the U.S. administration and its airstrike strategy. Reuters and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Investors cheer as Wall Street gains 263 points on Friday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 263.17 points on Friday, continuing a pattern of wild ups and downs during the last couple of weeks. Some analysts were euphoric, while others were just relieved. As I explained two days ago, these wild swings signal a very dangerous time when a crash might be approaching. This would be the case if the amplitude of the swings continues to increase in the next few days, though not necessarily if the swings settle down. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Oct-14 World View -- Nigerians skeptical of deal with Boko Haram to release abducted schoolgirls thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Oct-14 World View -- In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy

Venezuela scores anti-U.S. coup by winning Security Council seat

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy


Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

In a major humiliation to Turkey, the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday selected Spain instead of Turkey to hold a non-permanent Security Council seat in 2015. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had been lobbying hard for several months to win approval for the seat. Last month, Erdogan sucked up to several emerging market countries by promising to open up the five permanent member seats to other countries:

"The world is bigger than five. The fate of a country should not be in the hands of the US, France, Russia, China or the UK.

"A rotating system which would allow 193 member countries to be represented at the Council should be formed. There should be no notion of permanent membership; every country should have the chance to be represented."

There was even a posh party on Wednesday, the night before the vote.

But apparently all the sucking up did no good. The non-permanent seats are divided by groups or regions, and Turkey is in the "Western European and Others Group," and within that group, Turkey was competing with Spain and New Zealand for two seats. New Zealand won approval for one of the seats, and it was widely expected that Turkey would get the other seat. So it was a surprise to everyone when Turkey got only 60 votes in the General Assembly, and Spain won the seat with 132 votes in the secret ballot.

Turkey was apparently caught by surprise because of an intense lobbying effort by some of his former allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Egypt and Saudi Arabia led the anti-Turkey effort because of Erdogan's support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt and Saudi Arabia consider to be a terrorist organization.

But the main force behind the anti-Turkey vote was Turkey's Syria policy. Leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are fuming at Turkey's unwillingness to fully back the military coalition against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). One European diplomat was quoted as saying,

"I thought they [Turkey] would lose votes, but the scale of their loss is surprising to me, very much so. It seems that Turkey was killed by the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council]."

Turkey's Syria policy -- and its frequent calls to unseat Syria's president Bashar al-Assad -- pulled additional votes away from Turkey, including those of Syria and Iran. And Greece, Turkey's traditional enemy since ancient times, is also said to have lobbied against Turkey.

Since the voting was conducted by a secret ballot, it's not known whether the United States voted for or against Turkey. Business Insider and Newsweek and Middle East Eye

Venezuela scores anti-U.S. coup by winning Security Council seat

Venezuela was unopposed in its regional group, and received 181 votes in the 193-member General Assembly, more than enough to get a non-permanent Security Council seat in 2015, despite ten abstentions. Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro said:

"This is the victory of Hugo Chávez Frias. Chavez keeps winning battles in the world ... It's a day in which the world has supported our fatherland."

Venezuela is expected to back allies Iran, Syria and Russia, and to take other anti-American positions. Since Venezuela, Syria, Iran and Russia are all such paragons of human rights, I'm sure we can expect a much more moral U.N. Security Council next year. Foreign Policy and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Pakistan's Taliban leaders declare allegiance to ISIS

As we reported two weeks ago, the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) have decided to switch sides and support the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) instead the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) in Syria. ( "6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support")

On Monday, the TTP leaders went beyond support for ISIS by declaring full allegiance to ISIS, repudiating their previous pledges of allegiance to al-Qaeda. According to Shahidullah Shahid, now a former TTP leader:

"I declare allegiance to the Caliph of Muslims, Amirul Momineen Abu Bakar al Baghdadi al Qarshi al Hussaini. I will listen and follow his every instruction whatever the situation may have been. This allegiance is neither from the TTP or its chief, Mullah Fazlullah. This is only from me and five leaders."

This statement hastens the disintegration of both the TTP and al-Qaeda, and signals the increasing strength of ISIS. Dawn (Pakistan) and Tribune (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Oct-14 World View -- In humiliation, Turkey loses Security Council seat over Syria policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Oct-14 World View -- Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed

Wild stock market swings could signal coming Wall St plunge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Wild stock market swings could signal coming Wall St plunge


 A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange on Wednesday (Reuters)
A trader watches the screen at his terminal on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange on Wednesday (Reuters)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly fell over 450 points on Wednesday, before cutting losses and ending the day "only" 173 points down. Traders were influenced by a welter of bad data -- a retail sales index and a manufacturing index falling significantly more than economists had predicted.

European stocks fell to a ten month low, with index values falling 2-3% across the board. For the past few months, Europe has been increasingly in a deflationary spiral, with the inflation rate now below 0.1%.

Traders are also concerned that the Ebola crisis will harm the global economy.

Possibly more significant are the wild swings that have characterized the stock market during the last couple of weeks. Economist Robert Shiller, appearing on CNBC last week on Friday, said that he was concerned about the wild swings, and that they happened in 2008, 2007, and 1929, just prior to the crash. So if, for example, stocks gain 500 points tomorrow, then it would be cheered as good news, but in fact it would just be a large swing upwards. The next one might be a downward swing of 1000 points.

At the very least, the wild swings signal a time of danger. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings index is around 19, much higher than the historical average of 14, indicating a huge stock market bubble. A crash has to happen sooner or later, and it's possible that these wild swings are signaling that this is the time. Reuters and Bloomberg and Telegraph (London)

Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed

Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sought to restore public calm on Wednesday, as stocks on the Athens Stock Exchange plunged 6.25%. Socks have fallen 23.24% since January.

Even more significant, the yields (interest rates) on Greece's ten-year bonds spiked sharply upward to 7.73%. This means that if Greece wants to borrow money on the open market, Greece will have to pay 7.73% interest, which is not affordable.

Long-time readers will recall the drama of the various European bailout events of Greece in the 2010-2012 time frame. See, for example, "28-Nov-12 World View -- Europe's new charade in Greece's bailout announcement", in which Greece was given a new 44 billion euro bailout loan, and Samaras said:

"A very grey, a very dark period for Greece officially ended yesterday and it has ended for good. We Greeks were made for tough times, and when the going gets tough, it brings out the best in us."

Promises like this were never going to be kept, as I said repeatedly, and as pretty much everyone basically knew. Underneath the "tough times" rhetoric was a Pollyannaish assumption that Europe and the world would return to the "growth" of the mid-2000s decade credit and real estate bubbles, when anyone could borrow money to do anything. That was never going to happen again, but it was this fantastical assumption that led to the rosy predictions that Greece's dark days were over.

It was always just a matter of time before Greece's bailout would fail, and it appears that the time is now. Greece is facing both an economic crisis and a political crisis. The radical left-wing political party Syriza is becoming increasingly popular in the polls, with the result that the government may collapse in the next few months, forcing new elections, bringing far left communist politics back to the European political stage.

Syriza wants to renege on the bailout money that Greece owes to Europe. This would push Greece's government into bankruptcy, and push bond yields up well into double or even triple digits, making it almost impossible for Greece to borrow money. Kathimerini (Athens) and AP and Business Insider

The price of oil plummets along with stocks

The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell 5% on Wednesday to $81.84, well below the $100-120 range of the past few years. Two reasons are being given for the startling collapse in oil prices.

First, the supply of oil is surging. In the U.S., shale oil production ("fracking") has been growing rapidly. Non-OPEC countries have been exporting more oil. Canada has replaced Saudi Arabia as the largest source of imported oil to the U.S.

Second, the demand for oil is falling. Sluggish economies around the world mean less oil is needed, and even China's demand is softening.

Generational Dynamics predicts a global deflationary spiral, and the falling price of oil is part of that. Countries like Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia, which depend on income from oil sales, will be suffering economic woes that will translate into a general global slowdown. CNBC and Fortune and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Oct-14 World View -- Stocks plunge in Greece as its financial crisis is renewed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Oct-14 World View -- NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs

Turkey-France meeting signals new confusion in Turkey's Syria policy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs


Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein

In a seemingly bizarre twist to the history of America's 2003 ground invasion of Iraq, which was widely supported at the time, but widely despised later when weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) were not found, an extensive report by the New York Times reveals that Saddam Hussein did, in fact, have large quantities of WMDs, many left over from the past.

The irony, of course, is that the NY Times led the loony left to oppose the Iraq war, and was openly aiding and abetting the enemy, in a manner that I considered to be treasonous. (See, for example, "NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman shows ignorance and evasiveness about al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.)

The NY Times constantly printed misinformation designed to harm the United States and the Bush Administration. They predicted that President Bush's "surge" would fail, and events proved that they were historically wrong.

As I wrote several months ago ( "18-Jun-14 World View -- Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq"), if the Bush administration had not ordered the ground invasion, then Iran would have continued to believe that Saddam had WMDs, and would have aggressively begun its own WMD program.

Now the NY Times tells us that Saddam had WMDs after all, which means that the Iraq ground invasion was apparently fully justified.

The new concern is that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) may also find, or have already found, other caches of WMDs for their own use. NY Times

Turkey-France meeting signals new confusion in Turkey's Syria policy

On Sunday, the U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said that Turkey had "made a commitment that they will in the first instance allow the US and its partners to use Turkish bases and territory," meaning that U.S. warplanes on bombing runs into Syria could take off from and return to Turkey's Incirlik. On Monday, Turkish officials said that Rice was mistaken, and that no such agreement had been reached.

This is just the next in the unending series of blunders and missteps by the foreign policy team of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Susan Rice, who might ironically be called "the gang that can't shoot straight."

But in this case it also highlights the chaos in Turkey's own policy towards Syria, as Kobani appears to be close to falling to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), despite American-led airstrikes.

Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to meet with France's president François Hollande, as soon as the parties can arrange a suitable date, Hollande has expressed support for Erdogan's plan to establish a no-fly zone in Syria, directed at the air force of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Erdogan and Turkey have been internationally isolated over it Syria stance. America and Western countries have refused to support the no-fly zone because it would put the coalition in conflict with al-Assad's forces, and the U.S. has said that defeating ISIS is more important than defeating al-Assad. This is a clear disagreement between Turkey and the U.S., and it may now be the case that France is going to be on the side of Turkey.

Turkey may be opposed to the entire U.S. policy in Syria. Erdogan doesn't like ISIS, but if they're willing to fight al-Assad, he'd like to let them. Erdogan doesn't like the people who live in Kobani, because they're Kurds, and Turkish Kurds, in the form of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fought a 30-year insurgency in Turkey, though the insurgency is currently supposedly in the midst of a "peace process." In fact, Erdogan refers to both ISIS and the Kurds as being terrorists. So, really, Erdogan doesn't really care if ISIS overruns Kobani and massacres the Kurds or not.

Erdogan's statement of equivalence between ISIS and the PKK is being criticized by his political opponents within Turkey. A pro-Kuridish political opponent, Selahattin DemirtaS, is pointing out some chaotic contradictions in Erdogan's policies:

"If you think it [the PKK] is same as ISIS, why are you seeking a settlement [peace process]? Why is the state holding talks with the PKK? ISIS is no party to have negotiations with. If PKK is like that, you should not have held talks with it. How will you bring back people from the mountains with such an attitude? ...

You [Erdogan] said that Syria was Turkey's issue, as well as Gaza, Bosnia and Somali, and defended military action there; however, with [Kurdish] Kobani, you said otherwise. If Kobani is not Turkey's issue, then we [Kurds] are not living in Turkey. If this is your stance when my brothers are threatened by a group of rapists and barbarians [ISIS], then you are not our government."

In fact, the "peace process" with the PKK may be over anyway. There is growing fury among Kurds that Turkey is willing to permit a massacre of Kurds in Kobani. Turkey's Kurdish population rioted last week in cities across the country, and 35 people died in clashes with police. And on Tuesday, Turkey's warplanes bombed PKK bases in southeastern Turkey, on the Iraq border. These are Turkey's first bombing raids since the "peace process" began two years ago, and probably signal its demise.

It's possible that the fall of Kobani to ISIS will trigger widespread Kurdish riots in Turkey, forcing Erdogan to fight either ISIS in Syria or Kurds in Turkey. Cihan (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Today's Zaman (Ankara) and VOA

WHO: Within two months, there may be 10,000 new Ebola cases per week

The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to issue warnings to alert the world of the impending Ebola disaster. On Tuesday, a WHO official warned that by mid-December, there could be up to 10,000 new Ebola cases per week, up from 1,000 new cases per week currently.

This is consistent with previous projections that the number of cases has been growing exponentially, doubling every 2-3 weeks. The WHO official didn't bother to project that 10,000 figure forward, by pointing out that it will be 100,000 per week within a couple more months, and continue to grow.

Who also estimated that the death rate was 70%, up from previous estimates of 50% -- meaning that 70% of those who get infected are dying. This could mean that 60-70% of Liberia's population will be dead within a year or so, with the resulting global economic crises and probable wars, as we described yesterday. CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Oct-14 World View -- NY Times reveals Saddam Hussein had large quantities of WMDs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Oct-14 World View -- Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet

WHO: Ebola threatens the 'very survival' of countries

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet


Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott
Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott

Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott has been one of the world's most vocal critics for Russia's president Vladimir Putin over the downing of an airliner by Russians in East Ukraine using a missile system supplied by Russia. Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down in July, killing all 298 passengers and crew, 28 of whom were Australians. Abbott and Putin are expected to meet at the upcoming G20 meeting next month.

Abbott said the following on Monday:

"Look, I'm going to shirt-front Mr Putin - you bet I am. I'm going to be saying to Mr Putin, Australians were murdered and they were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment."

In Australian rules football, a "shirt-front" is a front-on charge designed to knock an opponent to the ground. Reuters and Sydney Morning Herald

WHO: Ebola threatens the 'very survival' of countries

Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), referred to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea and said:

"I have never seen a health event threaten the very survival of societies and governments in already very poor countries. I have never seen an infectious disease contribute so strongly to potential state failure."

As I've written several times in the past ( "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?"), Ebola is apparently going to continue to spread exponentially and run its course in Liberia. Within 6-9 months, probably 90% of the population will have been infected, and 50-70% of those people will not survive. So if those figures are true, and I believe they are, then Liberia will lose more than half its population by next summer. This will be a geopolitical crisis, and may trigger a war.

Will the same thing happen in the United States? No. Right now, every hospital and health care facility in the country is preparing for the say that someone walks in with symptoms of Ebola. There will certainly be cases -- perhaps dozens or even hundreds of cases. But America, like much of the rest of the world, is rapidly preparing and will be prepared.

However, as we've said repeatedly, Ebola will spread out of control to war zones, including Central African Republic, Darfur, South Sudan, Syria and Iraq. Adjacent countries will also be at risk, and that could mean that larger regions of Africa and the Mideast may be under attack from Ebola. Large megacities around the world are also at risk. However, note that the Hajj has ended, without any known cases of Ebola, as many people feared.

It appears that world will be a very different place a year from now. We can hope that, by then, some drug treatments will have started to become available, so that the spread can level off. VOA and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Oct-14 World View -- Australia's PM Tony Abbott promises to 'shirt-front' Vladimir Putin when they meet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Oct-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership

Large Mideast stock market bubbles appear to be crashing

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership


ISIS appears to be outshining the ancient leadership at al-Qaeda (Al-Arabiya)
ISIS appears to be outshining the ancient leadership at al-Qaeda (Al-Arabiya)

With the dramatic rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) in the past year, a generational competition is growing between ISIS, led by the youthful Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and headquartered in Syria, versus al-Qaeda, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri and other old geezers on the Afghanistan - Pakistan border:

The trend appears to be that ISIS is overtaking al-Qaeda, but whether that will continue is not certain. ISIS currently has a base of power only in Syria and Iraq, and not elsewhere. Just to take one possible scenario, the death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi could change everything, and cause ISIS and al-Qaeda to merge. Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) and Al Arabiya (June 2014)

Car bomb explodes in Mogadishu Somalia as China's embassy reopens

China's embassy in Somalia officially reopened Sunday in Somalia's capital city Mogadishu, on the same day that a car bomb exploded outside a popular Mogadishu cafe, killing 11 people. The bomb was believed to have been detonated by remote control, and the terrorist group al-Shabaab are believed to be the perpetrators.

On Saturday, Somalia's president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud said that al-Shabaab terrorism was coming to an end, and that his government will defeat the group "as a military force" before the end of the year. He said that its fighters are on the run from government forces and African Union forces.

Mohamoud is encouraging China to invest further in Somalia:

"China and Somalia had a very long relationship and a very historical and ancient one. And in modern times Somalia and China are friendly countries.

Today Somalia is a place that can be invested. There is a lot of opportunities. This is a very rich country in terms of maritime resources, in terms of agricultural resources, in terms of livestock, and in terms of very vibrant people who are entrepreneurs and business-minded.

We will give priority to those who pioneer to invest now in Somalia than those who come after five years from now. Those first comers are the real partners for us."

Xinhua/Daily Times (Pakistan) and RBC Raxanreeb (Somalia) and CTV (Canada)

Large Mideast stock market bubbles appear to be crashing

Shares in the Dubai (United Arab Emirates or UAE) stock market plunged 6.5% on Sunday, while Saudi Arabia's shares also fell by 6.5%. Qatar's stock index fell 3%. Some Mideast stock markets have been in enormous bubbles this year, with Dubai up 47% year-to-date and Egypt up 41%, so it was only a matter of time before these bubbles burst. The only question was the timing and the triggering event. U.S. stocks had a "brutal" selloff on Friday of 1.2%. As of this writing at early morning Asian time, stocks in Japan, Australia and South Korea have fallen 0.5-0.8% in early morning trading.

Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and selloff. It has to happen sooner or later.

Americans today are very prone to panic, as shown by the widespread near-panic over the two cases of Ebola in Texas. This kind of panic is typical of moods during a generational Crisis era, and it's this mood that leads to new generational financial crises and generational crisis wars. This may or may not be the time that the stock market continues to fall. Bloomberg and Reuters and Zero Hedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Oct-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda and ISIS struggle for global jihadi terrorist leadership thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Oct-14 World View -- Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious

Concerns grow that terrorists might use Ebola as biological weapon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious


Kim Jong-un limping on July 8
Kim Jong-un limping on July 8

North Korea's child dictator, Kim Jong-un, has not been seen in public since September 3. On July 8 he was shown walking with a limp, and he's missed several major events since September 3. He's gained a great deal of weight since becoming dictator after his father's death in December 2011 and that may contribute to pain in his leg. North Korean officials have been excusing his absences by saying that he was relaxing and recovering from his "discomfort."

However, Kim's disappearance has begun to look a lot more serious, since he made no appearance on Friday at the 69th anniversary of the founding of the governing Worker's Party. This is one of the major political events of the year and he did not even make a symbolic appearance. When his father, Kim Jong-il, failed to attend the same event in 2008, it was following a stroke.

Rumors abound. One rumor is that he's so visibly ill, that it couldn't be hidden even in a symbolic appearance. Another rumor is that there's a coup in progress, and he's being held prisoner. Another rumor is that he's dead, and that his 27 year old sister is taking over (though one commentator said that it's unlikely that a 70 year old army general would be willing to take orders from a 27 year old girl).

However, other government sources say that "Kim Jong-un is in total control," although he hurt his leg taking part in a military drill, and is convalescing. Korea Herald (Seoul) and Japan Times

Israel's government concerned about legal threats after Gaza war

For the last 60 years, Israel has defeated its enemies on the battlefields, but over the last two decades, Israel has consistently lost the public opinion battle. Today, almost no European political leader openly supports Israel, and calls for anti-Israeli boycotts and sanctions are increasingly heard. Even more dangerous to Israel is the increasing willingness of international courts to consider launching legal proceedings for alleged war crimes. Israel has done well in these legal proceedings so far, but one major legal loss could have a "domino effect," the eventual scope of which cannot even be guessed.

Israel's military and legal authorities are keenly aware that when a war ends, there will be international investigations of alleged wrongdoings. For these reasons, military lawyers work with military commanders during operations. In the recent Gaza war, Hamas not violated every international law it could, it also did everything possible to try to force Israel to violate international laws -- by storing weapons under and launching attacks from civilian homes, mosques, schools and hospitals. Hamas even publicly threatened its own population not to vacate areas of impending attacks, in order to force Israel to choose between conducting military operations in a civilian-rich environment (thus probably increasing civilian casualties) and foregoing the attacks entirely. Israel Defense News

Concerns grow that terrorists might use Ebola as biological weapon

Experts are warning that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) or another terror group might decide to use Ebola as a biological weapon. It would be fairly easy. A terrorist could visit West Africa and become infected, or just leave with some infected bodily fluids. Then, before symptoms start to show, the terrorist could travel back to a target country, and then interact with as many people as possible to infect them.

However, a number of experts are skeptical that this approach will be used. An infected terrorist might accidentally infect others in his group or his family, for example. According to one expert: "For a suicide attack, strapping sticks of dynamite to your chest is far more effective." Daily Mail and Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Oct-14 World View -- Disappearance of North Korea's Kim Jong-un looks more and more serious thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Oct-14 World View -- Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers

The daily needs of a single Ebola patient

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The daily needs of a single Ebola patient


Health care workers in Liberia carry the body of an Ebola victim (EPA)
Health care workers in Liberia carry the body of an Ebola victim (EPA)

According to televised report appearing on al-Jazeera, caring for an Ebola patient uses up the following resources every day:

That doesn't include any medications.

It's estimated that there are currently at least 8,000 people sick with Ebola in West Africa. That number is expected to be well into the tens of thousands by the end of the year, and then to double every three weeks after that. Washington Post

U.N. envoy makes highly emotional appeal to Turkey to save Kobani

Steffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy to Syria, made a highly emotional appeal to Turkey on Friday to aid the Kurds in the Syrian border city of Kobani, under attack by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). Turkey is demanding that the U.S. change its strategy in Syria to attack the Bashar al-Assad regime, as well as ISIS fighters. ( "10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani")

De Mistura invoked the memory of the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, which is the subject of trials in the Hague to convict Serb leaders of war crimes. According to de Mistura:

"You remember Srebrenica? We do. We never forgot. And probably we never forgave ourselves for that.

If Kobani falls, there will be close to 400 kilometers of the Turkish border basically under control of ISIL out of 900. And what would be next? Other villages? Even Aleppo?

There are the images that we don’t want to see, we cannot see and I hope you will not be seeing of people beheaded, of the defenders and civilians."

De Mistura did not ask Turkey to send its own troops to defend Kobani. Instead, de Mistura asked Turkey to permit Kurdish fighters in Turkey to cross the border into Syria so that they can join the fight against ISIS. However, Turkey has previously indicated that no such request will be granted, because Turkey's Kurdish fighters would be members of the separatist terror group Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), with whom Turkey fought a decades long civil war. McClatchy

Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers

The United Nations Security Council is threatening the government of Central African Republic (CAR) with sanctions, because a Pakistani peacekeeper was killed on Thursday after an attack by "unknown perpetrators" in Bangui, CAR's capital city. According to a statement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "The secretary-general condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing and wounding of UN peacekeepers. Such acts against those who are working towards peace and security in the Central African Republic are entirely unacceptable. The perpetrators of the violence, which has also resulted in a number of civilians killed since the clashes in the capital began on 7 October, must also be brought to justice."

Several hours after Ban's denunciation on Friday, an armed group fired on U.N. peacekeepers, wounding six.

These attacks come amid a sudden increase in mob violence in Bangui, breaking a July 23 ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire was partially observed in Bangui, but CAR is a country the size of France, and fighting has continued in villages to the north and west.

This week, Bangui has seen its most significant violence in months, resulting in "many casualties." A Muslim man was lynched, decapitated and his body torched by anti-Balaka Christian fighters on Tuesday, and a Muslim Seleka fighters killed a taxi driver in revenge, sparking the latest violence. Gunfire and explosions rang out in Bangui on Thursday. In all, 25 people, excluding peacekeepers, have been wounded since the new round of fighting began.

CAR is in a generational crisis war, which will not end until it runs its course and reaches a climax.

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. The early stages of the new generational crisis war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge.

Recent reports indicate that both sides are regrouping for new fighting. The U.N. peacekeepers may be able to partially delay some of the fighting, but there won't be peace in CAR until the war has run its course. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Al Jazeera and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Oct-14 World View -- Renewed violence in Central African Republic despite peacekeepers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani

Iran blames Pakistan for terrorist attacks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani


Aftermath of US air strike on Kobani on Wednesday (Reuters)
Aftermath of US air strike on Kobani on Wednesday (Reuters)

A real geopolitical drama is in progress, as the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) attack on the Syrian city of Kobani, on the border with Turkey, may be close to victory. An ISIS victory would have potentially severe consequences for both America and Turkey. The battle of Kobani is being watched very closely around the Mideast, and an ISIS victory would expose the American airstrike strategy as a failure that exposed hundreds of thousands of civilian Kurds to slaughter. An ISIS victory would also create hundreds of thousands of new refugees adding to the hundreds of thousands who crossed the border into Turkey in the last three weeks. An ISIS victory might also trigger a renewal of Turkey's civil war versus the the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

So Turkey and America are playing a grand game of "chicken." In the classic American 1950s game, two teenagers get into cars at opposite ends of a long street, and drive towards each other. The first teenager to turn aside to avoid a collision is a "chicken," and the other teenager wins. If neither teenager turns aside, then there's a collision, resulting in deaths and/or injuries, but both sides have "won" because neither of them is a chicken.

In the current game of chicken over ISIS and Kobani, both America and Turkey are making demands of the other side to save Kobani from ISIS. If either side gives in and does something to save Kobani, then that side will be "chicken," and the other side will have won. If neither side does anything, and Kobani falls, possibly leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and refugees, then both America and Turkey will have "won."

It would be funny if the consequences weren't so serious. America tells Turkey to send ground troops to save Kobani. Turkey says that they won't, unless America also sends in ground troops.

As I understand Turkey's statements in the last few days, Turkey might be willing to send in ground troops alone, provided that America agrees to set up a no-fly zone in Syria, restricting Syria's air force.

Akin Unver, assistant professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, says that there are fundamental differences between Turkey's and America's strategies. In an interview on Al-Jazeera (my transcription):

"I think there's a fundamental difference in Washington's and Ankara's view on what ISIS is, and how best to counter ISIS. ...

For Washington, basically ISIS may be an unfortunate result of an Iraq war, but it has to be combatted.

For Ankara, ISIS is a product of Assad and Maliki's policies for a very long time, that Ankara was actually warning the world about. Ankara was basically asking for a Western coalition, a Western military coalition against Assad, as well as some diplomatic push for Maliki, so that radicalization in the form of ISIS wouldn't happen.

But when you think from the perspective of Ankara, all of these warnings are unheeded, so basically right now Ankara doesn't think that Washington sees the picture very clearly. So that's the bsic divergence. ...

But the logic, rationale and narrative is that we told Washington that ISIS or a similar organization would happen, because basically if you want to deal with ISIS, you first have to get rid of the fundamental causes that produce that kind of radicalization, and the number one culprit that Ankara can find is Assad. Maybe not remove Assad, but basically create a secure zone, or cordon sanitaire in northern Syria, so that Assad's forces will never be able to move in there. That's the only way that Ankara thinks they can resolve this issue."

I actually agree with this. I've been saying for almost two years that the actions of Syria's genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad and his slaughter and displacement of millions of innocent Sunni women and children would draw jihadists from all over the world, and that's exactly what's happened, resulting in the creation of ISIS. Turkey warned exactly the same thing, but it was ignored.

I've also pointed out for two years that the fault also lies with Russia, which has been supply al-Assad with unlimited amounts of heavy weapons to use in his campaign of extermination against Sunnis, making Russia's president Vladimir Putin a war criminal.

Syria is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s), an era in which civil wars are impossible, or fizzle quickly if they start. The Syrian civil war began in 2011, and fizzled within a year, turning into a proxy war between Russia and jihadist forces that became ISIS.

In an article by Akin Unver (quoted above), Unver says that Turkey is alarmed by Russia's support of al-Assad for another reason:

"In today's terms, Russia's annexation of Crimea is sufficiently alarming for Ankara, with the added dimension of Russian naval supremacy in the Black Sea. Turkey is now virtually defenseless there and has lost its deterrence or negotiation leverages against Moscow in a number of issues. The most immediate is the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) designations in the Black Sea, critical due to Shell, Exxon, and Chevron exploration operations on Turkey's northern coast.

If the US wants to recruit Turkey's support against ISIL, not only should it address the full spectrum of the causes that created ISIL in the first place, but also make longer-term commitments against a Russian backlash against Turkey in the Black Sea. Only by approaching Ukraine and ISIL as complementing grand strategy issues can Washington find the ally it seeks in Ankara, without any need to counterproductively move any bases out of Turkey or clumsily write-off Ankara's cooperation."

Turkey's issue with Russia in the Black Sea is totally ignored in almost all media discussions of Turkey's strategy in Syria. World War I and the Crimean War were the last two generational crisis wars of both Russia and Turkey, and they were on opposite sides in both wars. Washington Post and Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Al-Jazeera (Doha) and The National (UAE)

Russia makes farcical demand for Security Council resolution on Kobani

Turkey is saying that the anti-ISIS coalition will get Turkey's military support only if the coalition will target the Bashar al-Assad regime as well. Specifically, Turkey is demanding:

Russia's Foreign Ministry is making a farcical demand to submit the discussion on buffer zones in Syria to a vote in the United Nations Security Council (so that they can veto it). According to spokesman Alexander Lukashevich: "It is up to the UN Security Council to make decisions on these (buffer) zones. You remember the way it was in Iraq, Libya, and what it resulted in."

Russia has been using the UN Security County to humiliate the United States since 2010, by lying repeatedly and then vetoing any attempt to stop the genocide in Syria. Lukashevich mentioned Iraq and Libya, but didn't bother to mention Ukraine, where Russian soldiers invaded Crimea and annexed it to Russia, and then Russian soldiers invaded east Ukraine, leaving it an unstable mess, after shooting down an airliner. And Russia did all this without getting approval from the UN Security Council.

I don't know what decision the Obama administration will make in Syria, but I hope that it will just take the decision, without a farcical vote in the UN Security Council. BBC and Itar-Tass (Moscow)

Iran blames Pakistan for terrorist attacks

A car bomb attack on a police station in an Iran city on the border with Pakistan on Thursday morning killed a police officer, injuring others. The day before, three other police officers were killed in a separate terrorist attack. The Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-ul-Adl (Army of Justice) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks.

Iran is blaming Pakistan's government for the attacks. In an official statement by former IRGC commander MP Mohammad Esmail Kowsari:

"We wish that these acts of terror in the country, especially in border towns would end for good, but the main issue is that the Pakistani government does not secure its borders.

The Pakistani government has practically no control over the border areas and if they really cannot control it they better tell us so that we ourselves could take action."

This may be a veiled threat to send Iranian forces into Pakistan to pursue Jaish-ul-Adl, just as American forces entered Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden. Pakistan Today and Tasnim News (Iran) and AEI Iran Tracker

The continuing realignment of the Mideast

During the last six weeks, I've written several articles on the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war. Iran is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, and has a similar "generation gap," separating the survivors the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war from the younger generations that have grown up afterwards. This has resulted in schizophrenic Iranian policies, balancing the hardline attitudes of the Supreme Leader and other geezers who survived the Islamic Revolution versus the people in the younger generations, who like the West and don't hate Israel.

What decision will the American administration make with regard to Kobani? In particular, with America challenge al-Assad militarily?

It's impossible to predict individual political decisions, but it is possible to describe the long-term trends. And as I've been saying for almost ten years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, India, Russia and Iran will be our allies in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslims. Several long-time readers have written to me recently to say that they didn't believe these predictions ten years ago, but are now astonished to see them coming true.

So let's focus now on Kobani and Syria. The long-term trends indicate that America will hold its nose and side with Russia, Iran and al-Assad. In the immediate context, this probably means that America will NOT support Turkey's demands for a buffer area or no-fly zone in Syria.

However, I can find no long-term trend that provides a way to forecast what will happen to the people of Kobani. What America or Turkey will do is a purely political chaotic (in the sense of Chaos theory) decision, which can't be predicted. The Kurds in Kobani claim that they're holding off the ISIS fighters, and hope to win. Or maybe either Turkey or America will find a way to provide ground troops. Or maybe Kobani will fall, with all the repercussions outlined above. Right now, there is no way to predict.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey and America play a game of 'chicken' over ISIS and Kobani thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Oct-14 World View -- Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum


Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)
Turkish army tanks have been lined up on the Syrian border across from Kobani for a week (Hurriyet)

Kurds in cities across Turkey continue to express fury that Turkey is not intervening to save the Kurds living in Kobani, Syria, on the border with Turkey, from the approaching forces of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). It's possible that hundreds of thousands of Kurds are about to be slaughtered by ISIS, but Turkey's military has a row of tanks along the border, watching the increasingly intense battles and explosions as if they were in a movie theatre. Turkey won't even permit Kurds on the Turkish side of the border to cross over into Kobani to join the fight against ISIS.

Turkey is playing a very hard line. The U.S. and Nato really want Turkey to save Kobani, and are pouring on the pressure. But Turkey will not do so unless an objective of the war is that America's warplanes also start striking targets belonging to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. and Nato do not want to get into a war with al-Assad, and say that ISIS is the most important threat.

With regard to ISIS versus the Kurds, Turkey's conundrum is that it wants both sides to lose. There a millions of innocent Kurds in Kobani, but it's also the home of fighters from the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with whom the Turks fought a 30 year civil war. A few days ago, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "What ISIS is to us, the PKK is the same," a remark that infuriated the Kurds still further. In fact, many Kurds say that Turkey is on the side of ISIS and is funding and supporting it, because Turkey wants the Kurds exterminated.

The fall of Kobani appears to be close. American air strikes are slowing ISIS down, but they will not prevent an ISIS victory. An ISIS victory would mean many things to the Kurds -- hundreds of thousands more deaths, hundreds of thousands more refugees pouring into Turkey, and the loss of a city that many Kurds consider to be their capital. It will seen as a major American failure of the airstrike strategy. And it may trigger a revival of the civil war between the Turks and Kurds in Turkey. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and AP and Guardian (London)

Why do so many Chinese expect war?

I like to read and sometimes refer to the articles by the Lowy Institute for International Policy because it's in Australia, where they have a much more focused understanding of the issues in southeast Asia. They've done several articles on the threat from China, and the question of Australia's role in a possible war between the U.S. and China.

According to one article, referring to a Beijing professor of classical music:

"His students don't seem like fenqing ('angry youth'). They are in a musical conservatory, after all, not a military academy. Many have overseas connections. But they are also ambitious, emotional, fiercely nationalist and for them war – any war – would be a gratifying affirmation of their country's ascendance. Like the 2008 Olympic Games but with real explosions, not fireworks. These kids lap up PLA propaganda films like Silent Contest even as they dream of Juilliard. My professor friend worries they just haven't thought things through, that their various aspirations are totally misaligned."

This emotional, fierce nationalism in China is something I've been writing about for years. Fierce nationalism is most common in countries in generational Crisis eras, and so we see increased nationalism in America and in European countries. The survivors of World War II were all too aware of the dangers of fierce nationalism, and the many roles it played, including the rise of the Nazis, in bringing about the worst of the war. So now those survivors are gone, and fierce nationalism is the cool thing today, especially in China.

According to Lowy, they want wealth, power and respect for their country. It's relevant to Thucydides' explanation of the epochal Peloponnesian War: "It was the rise of Athens and the fear that this inspired in Sparta that made war inevitable." Historical analysis indicates that there's a 75% chance of war as China replaces America in the global pecking order.

Lowy finds the "strange revival of nationalism" to be a paradox of our age. War worship should totally contradict materialist aspirations, yet the two often go together. Perhaps some new citizens want the goodies of Western life without the full package of liberal rights and responsibilities.

As I've been saying for ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Clash of Civilizations war is coming with 100% certainty, with the two sides led by China and America. Lowy says, with understatement, "Such a conflict would be protracted. All agree it would be a long, costly war of exhaustion for all concerned." Actually, it would be a full-scale generational crisis war. Every nuclear weapon and missile will be used before it's over. Once the missiles run out, there will be huge armies fighting all over the world, fighting not only each other, but also famine, Ebola, Swine Flu, and Bird Flu. As much as half the world's population could be wiped out, leaving the other half to rebuild the world again. Lowy Institute and Lowy Institute (Feb 2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Oct-14 World View -- Kurdish riots continue as Turkey deals with the Kobani conundrum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Oct-14 World View -- Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani

Biden makes a third apology, this time to Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan sets conditions for saving Kobani from ISIS


Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kobani have been pouring into Turkey (Getty)
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Kobani have been pouring into Turkey (Getty)

As we've been reporting the last few days, the Syrian city of Kobani appears to be close to being overrun by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). The city is populated by Syrian Kurds, and a successful attack by ISIS would result in a massacre and tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees. Now, on Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a statement that I consider to be pretty remarkable:

"I am telling the West – dropping bombs from the air will not provide a solution. The terror will not be over ... unless there is cooperation for a ground operation.

Months have passed but no results have been achieved. Kobani is about to fall. We asked for three things: one, for a no-fly zone to be created; two, for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped."

I keep reading this statement over and over, and it appears to me to be almost a kind of extortion: "Meet my demands, and I'll save Kobani."

It's well known that Erdogan is very dissatisfied that the US-led air strikes in Syria have been attacking only ISIS targets, and that he would like the air strike to attack targets of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. So he's making the following demands:

Erdogan has said that ground troops will be required to save Kobani, and that Turkey would be willing to join in a coalition ground troop force with Western governments.

However, whether Erdogan likes it or not, Turkey is under tremendous international pressure to save Kobani. On Tuesday, prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed his government's willingness to join with a Western coalition to use ground troops in Syria to fight ISIS and the al-Assad regime.

According to a Turkish analyst, Turkey might be dragged into a quagmire:

"If Turkey engages in a ground assault against the Assad regime in Syria, then it might be dragged into a quagmire. I want to draw attention to the fault lines based on ethnic and sectarian divisions. We have divisions similar to those Middle Eastern countries which have been recently dragged into civil wars. The most appropriate option is for Turkey to join the air campaign against ISIS."

Hurriyet (Istanbul) and AP and Today's Zaman (Ankara)

Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani

Twelve people were killed in clashes with police, as Kurdish protesters in cities across Turkey took to the streets in violent riots to demand that Turkey protect the Kurds in Kobani who are under attack by ISIS. Curfews have been declared in five provinces. The protests were called for by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the biggest Kurdish party in Turkey. PKK is considered to be a terrorist organization by Turkey and by Western countries. In a 30-year civil war between the PKK and Turkey, some 30,000 people were killed. Now the PKK is accusing Turkey of siding with ISIS, in order to exterminate the Kurds in Kobani.

For its part, Turkey sees helping the Kurds in Kobani as being the same as helping the PKK. Turkey sees ISIS as less of a threat than the al-Assad regime and the Kurds, and fears that the Kobani crisis will revive the civil war. BBC and Today's Zaman (Istanbul)

Biden makes a third apology, this time to Saudi Arabia

As we've reported, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to apologize on Saturday to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying in a speech on Thursday that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had funded and armed the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and contributed to its rise. Biden was trying to pin the blame on Mideast states in order to defuse the scathing criticism from the Obama administration's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, whose new book blames administration policy for the rise of the ISIS. On Sunday, Biden apologized to the Foreign Affairs minister for United Arab Emirates (UAE). Now, on Tuesday, Biden call the Foreign Affairs minister of Saudi Arabia to apologize for the same remarks. CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Oct-14 World View -- Kurds protest violently in cities across Turkey over ISIS attack on Kobani thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Oct-14 World View -- U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters

Ebola expected to reach France and Britain within three weeks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters


An Apache helicopter flying over Iraq in 2008 (Army)
An Apache helicopter flying over Iraq in 2008 (Army)

The U.S. military has begun using Apache AH-64 attack helicopters to strike targets of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) in Iraq. In addition, the number 1,200 of US military personal on the ground in Iraq is expected to increase to 1,600 within the coming weeks, although the U.S. administration does not refer to these as "ground forces."

Up until now, U.S. bombing strikes were all performed by high-flying warplanes, out of reach of small arms fire and missiles from ISIS fighters. Military analysts have generally pointed out that warplane bombing and missile strikes have very limited effectiveness. Apache helicopters have the advantage that they can be much more effective in providing close air support for "ground troops," but unlike warplanes they're vulnerable to enemy small arms and missile fire. During the previous Iraq war, several Apaches were shot down by enemy fire. Defense News and ABC News

Thousands of villagers in Kashmir flee India-Pakistan clashes

Tens of thousands of villagers were fleeing their homes in Kashmir on Monday as Indian and Pakistani troops bombarded each other with gunfire and mortar shells over the international border known as the "Line of Control" (LoC), separating the Pakistani-government and Indian-government regions of Kashmir. Kashmir was a major battleground for the 1947 Partition war that following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of the bloodiest wars of the last century, and there have been two more wars fought across the LoC since then. Monday's fighting was the worst since a 2003 cease-fire agreement, and took place at a number of points along the LoC.

According to Pakistan's government, the fighting started when Indian forces resorted to "unprovoked firing" along the boundary.

An Indian statement blamed Pakistani forces for violating the ceasefire, and promised "effective retaliation." In a departure from past practice, India said they would neither speak to Pakistan, nor seek a flag meeting to lower tensions. AP and Dawn (Pakistan) and Indian Express

Ebola expected to reach France and Britain within three weeks

In Spain, a nurse's assistant contracted Ebola, after treating a Spanish missionary and Spanish priest who had returned from West Africa with Ebola. Scientists have used Ebola disease spread patterns and airline traffic data to predict a 75% chance the virus could be imported to France by October 24, and a 50% chance it could hit Britain by that date. Belgium has a 40% chance. The cases are expected to be the result of air travel from West Africa.

However, these are expected to be isolated cases that will be controlled by using techniques like "contact tracing," as I described a few days ago. ( "3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone")

However, West Africa is being overwhelmed by Ebola, and contact tracing is not possible. Some reports indicate that eastern Guinea and eastern Liberia, which had remained free of Ebola, are now seeing it spread to those regions. This means that it will probably next spread into Cote d'Ivoire.

Countries around the world are ramping up their preparations for Ebola coming to their countries. As I've said before, Ebola is most likely to spread out of control in large megacities and in war zones, such as Syria and Iraq. CNN and Reuters

Liberia and Sierra Leone introduce School by Radio

Schools in Liberia and Sierra Leone remain closed with no announced date for reopening. The purpose of closing the schools is to inhibit the spread of Ebola among schoolchildren, but closing the schools doesn't remove the danger, according to one community leader:

"Children are always playing outside. They're touching each other, they're hugging each other. Even if you say to them: don't touch, they're playing football. You see them every day doing such things, so it is about telling them and educating them."

The solution in both countries is to provide educational courses by radio. It's hoped that this will keep the kids indoors, and that they'll be able to continue their education. All Africa and SBS World News (Australia)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Oct-14 World View -- U.S. military expands war in Iraq with Apache Helicopters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support

Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong protests may be losing strength


Hong Kong protests - live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)
Hong Kong protests - live shot at 10 am Monday Hong Kong time (BBC)

Only a few hundred exhausted pro-democracy protesters were in the streets on Monday morning, the deadline for the Hong Kong government's ultimatum to clear the streets. The protesters have withdrawn from protest sites that formerly were blocking access to government buildings, schools and businesses, and the government has so far not ordered the police to clear the remaining protest sites.

The government strategy is to stand back and hope that the protests fizzle, and to avoid clashes and violence which might motivate thousands of protesters to return. Quartz

ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support

The leaders of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP), an umbrella group comprising some 100 jihadi groups in Pakistan, has decided to switch sides and support the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) instead the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) in Syria. According to TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah:

"We consider the fighters in Iraq and Syria as our brothers and are proud of their victories. We are their part and parcel in times of joy and sadness.

The Muslim nation has great expectations from the fighters in Iraq and Syria. We are with you in the hour of trial and will support you in all possible ways."

However, TTP itself has splintered, and a number of its member groups have split away, so it seems unlikely that TTP will be able to provide any help to ISIS. Conversely, ISIS has little organizational influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan or India, where the Taliban operate.

The more profound effect is that it continues the increasing generational change among the world's jihadists. Today's young jihadists, from the Caucasus to North Africa to Pakistan to Indonesia, are more drawn to ISIS because it appears to be winning, led by the youthful Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. This is in contrast to al-Qaeda’s ageing leaders, most of whom are holed up in the Pakistan - Afghan tribal belt to save themselves from drones, and who are more and more seen as tired, ineffective and uninspiring.

According to Fawaz Gerges, of the London School of Economics:

"The Islamic State's appeal extends beyond the Middle East. Their strategy is anchored on the simple premise that it is a winning horse. It has promised the entire ummah — the Muslim community — that it could deliver victory and salvation."

Thus, there have been reports of jihadi support for ISIS from Australia, India and Pakistan. China is also concerned about the influence of ISIS in its disaffected Muslim Uighur community, according to an article in the Beijing mouthpiece Global Times:

"They not only want to get training in terrorist techniques, but also to expand their connections in international terrorist organizations through actual combat to gain support for more terrorist activities in China."

Even if the TTP cannot provide any real support for ISIS, the TTP announcement is a worrisome development for Pakistan. The subject of sending Pakistani fighters to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS is a touchy subject for Pakistan's government in Islamabad, because Pakistani authorities have repeatedly denied that any such movements have ever taken place. However, Pakistan jihadi groups themselves have claimed that they've sent thousands of fighters to Syria and Iraq. India Times and The News (Pakistan) and The Diplomat and USA Today

Biden continues apologizing, this time to UAE

As we reported yesterday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden had to apologize on Saturday to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for saying in a speech on Thursday that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had funded and armed the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and contributed to its rise. Biden was trying to pin the blame on Mideast states in order to defuse the scathing criticism from the Obama administration's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, whose new book blames administration policy for the rise of the ISIS.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs for United Arab Emirates (UAE) hit back at Biden on Saturday:

"[These statements] are far from the truth, especially with relation to the UAE’s role in confronting extremism and terrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognizing the dangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terrorist groups. ...

[Biden had] ignored the steps and effective measures [taken by the UAE], which comes as part of a more comprehensive political stand against this plague."

So on Sunday Biden call General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and apologized to the UAE for any implications in his recent statements that were understood to mean that UAE has backed the growth of some of the terrorist organizations in the region. Biden added that the United States appreciates the UAE’s historic role in combating extremism and terrorism as well as its advanced position in this respect.

And so, right now, Leon Panetta's statements blaming the U.S. administration for the rise of ISIS still stand. Khaleej Times (Dubai) and The National (Abu Dhabi)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Oct-14 World View -- ISIS influence spreads in Asia, as Pakistan Taliban pledges support thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs

Joe Biden apologizes to Turkey's president Erdogan for ISIS remarks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs


Bloodied student protester on Friday (AP)
Bloodied student protester on Friday (AP)

Hong Kong's protesting students were bloodied on Friday by attacks by thugs thought to be from criminal gangs known as "triads." Protesters have accused the HK police of ignoring or even supporting the triad attacks on protesters, charges that the police vehemently deny. Some protesters are suggesting that the Beijing government is paying triad gangs to attack the protesters.

Triads are sometimes referred to as "the Chinese Mafia." They're families of organized crime gangs involved in armed robbery, racketeering, smuggling, narcotics trafficking, prostitution, gambling and even contract murder. Their roots go back 1000 years to Buddhist (White Lotus) secret societies that originally were political. But over the centuries they morphed into organized crime families. They were given the name "Triad" by the British because of a triangular symbol that they use. They are mainly centered in China, Hong Kong and Macao, but they've spread to other countries as well, including the United States. There are Triad members featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto.

Protesters are responding to threats by the Hong Kong government by promising to allow government buildings, schools and businesses to open on Monday, while allowing peaceful protests to continue. AFP and Reuters and Triads And Organized Crime In China

Joe Biden apologizes to Turkey's president Erdogan for ISIS remarks

The Obama administration continues to scramble to fend off scathing criticism by Obama's former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who blames administration policy for the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL). In his book, Panetta says:

"My fear, as I voiced to the President and others, was that if the country split apart or slid back into the violence that we'd seen in the years immediately following the U.S. invasion, it could become a new haven for terrorists to plot attacks against the U.S. Iraq's stability was not only in Iraq's interest but also in ours. I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq's military."

In a speech on Thursday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden attempted to deflect blame from the Obama administration by pointing to every country in the Mideast as culpable:

"What happened was, and the history will record this, what my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies, our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends and I have a great relationship with Erdogan, which I spent a lot of time with, the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad ... what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world. ...

So what do we have for the first time? Now, Saudi Arabia has stopped the funding going on ... The Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of the terrorist organizations. And the Turks, President Erdogan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right. We let too many people through. Now they are trying to seal their border."

This statement infuriated Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said:

"[Biden] will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions. ...

There might have been people traveling on tourist visa but no one with arms has ever crossed the Turkish border."

So Biden spoke by phone with Erdogan on Saturday, and apologized. According to a White House statement:

"The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria."

So does that amount to an admission that Panetta was right after all? Today's Zaman (Ankara) and CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong protesters fear more violence by China's 'Triad' gangs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Oct-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam'

Sweden to be first EU country to recognize State of Palestine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian regime accuses Turkey of 'Act of Aggression' in military vote


An explosion in Kobani, Syria, on Friday (Cihan)
An explosion in Kobani, Syria, on Friday (Cihan)

The recent vote by Turkey's parliament to allow the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria to fight terrorist groups has drawn strong criticism from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The intent, at the urging of the United States, was to allow Turkish troops to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). The vote was triggered by the ISIS attack on the Syrian border town of Kobani, a town with a Kurdish population hundreds of thousands of whom have been fleeing across the border into Turkey.

However, Turkey has not hid the fact that its main objective is not to fight ISIS but to fight the al-Assad regime. As a result, the al-Assad regime is criticizing the vote as an "act of aggression" that will threaten "international and regional peace and security." According to a Syrian Foreign Ministry statement:

"The public approach of the Turkish government represents an act of aggression on a country that is a member state of the United Nations. ...

The international community should take a serious, firm and responsible stance to put an end to Ankara's destructive approach, force it to abide by Security Council resolutions, stop its unlimited funding to armed, terrorist organizations, and stop interfering in Syrian affairs."

Meanwhile, Turkey's government is dealing with the dilemma of what to do about the city of Kobani, as ISIS forces close in and threaten to overrun it. The mixed emotions of Turkey's government are illustrated by the self-contradictory statement of Turkey's new prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu:

"We wouldn't want Kobani to fall. We'll do whatever we can to prevent this from happening. ...

Some are saying, 'Why aren't you protecting Kurds in Kobani?' If the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] enter Kobani and the Syrian Turkmens ask, 'Why aren't you saving us?' we would have to go there as well.

When the Arab citizens across from Reyhanli say, 'Why don't you save us as well?' we'd have to go there too."

In other words, if Turkey saved one group, then they'd have to save everyone else as well.

So will Turkish troops enter Kobani and stop ISIS from overrunning it? You sure can't tell from those statements. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and International Business Times

Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam'

Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has issued a statement to Muslim pilgrims attending the Hajj in Saudi Arabia, to condemn not only American Islam, but also al-Qaeda linked jihadists in Western Asia (Pakistan and Afghanistan):

"The deceitful enemy is fanning the flames of fire between Muslims to sideline the motivations behind resistance and fighting so it can place the Zionist regime and the minions of Arrogance [West], which are the true enemies, in a safe environment. Supporting takfiri terrorist groups and their lies in the countries of Western Asia is a result of this pernicious policy. This is a warning to all of us so that we must consider the matter of Muslim unity as our highest national and international priority.

The Palestinian nation must be hopeful more than ever before, fighters of jihad must perpetuate their jihad and efforts and pursue the perennially honorable path of the West Bank with strength. Muslim nations must demand their governments’ serious and real support of Palestine, and Muslim government must take step in this path honestly.

American Islam ... is an Islam that fans the flames of division between Muslims ... fights the Muslim brother instead of fighting Zionism and Arrogance ... It is not Islam."

This is really a fascinating statement on multiple levels.

There's a Sunni versus Shia divide growing the Mideast, largely driven by Iran's and Russia's support of Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad, who has killed and displaced millions of innocent Muslims in Syria. Khamenei does not acknowledge his own apostasy as a Muslim supporting the slaughter of millions of other Muslims.

Instead of acknowledging his own guilt is causing Muslims to fight one another, he absurdly blames it on the Zionist regime (Israel) and the "minions of Arrogance" (America). Arabs and Persians have been fighting one another for millennia. I wonder if he also blames that fighting on the Zionists and on the Americans? Somebody should ask him.

I assume that the condemnation of American Islam is to excuse jihadist attacks on America itself. He must be frustrated that American Muslims are loyal to America, and not to his threats of violence (just as German-Americans in WW II were loyal to America, not to the Nazis). He has his own problems in Iran, which is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s) and is going through a "generation gap," where the generations of young Iranians growing up after the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution generally like the West. ( "10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough")

He also condemns the "takfiri terrorist groups" in Western Asia. The word "takfiri" refers to someone guilty of apostasy which, as I described above, he's more guilty of than anyone. Here he's condemning the terrorist groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been attacking Shia Muslims in those countries, as well as targets within southeastern Iran itself. Khamenei allows himself to arrange for the slaughter of as many innocent Muslims as possible, while condemning only those who slaughter people that he likes.

So this man, who is doing all he can to promote hatred among Muslims for each other, says that "all of us so that we must consider the matter of Muslim unity as our highest national and international priority." What a senile hypocrite! AEI Iran Tracker

Sweden to be first EU country to recognize State of Palestine

Sweden, whose government took a sharp left turn after the September 15 elections, may become the first European Union country to formally recognize the State of Palestine. Incoming prime minister Stefan Löfven announced on Friday that he would submit the motion to his new cabinet. There are three EU countries -- Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- that already recognize the State of Palestine, but they have been doing so since before they joined the EU. Predictably, Swedish Palestinian groups cheered the move, while Jewish groups condemned it. The Local (Sweden) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Oct-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader condemns 'American Islam' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone

Turkey's parliament approves military operations in Syria and Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Beach sands become an unlikely business opportunity


Palm Island project in Dubai. These islands were created with some 385 million tons of sand. (Spiegel)
Palm Island project in Dubai. These islands were created with some 385 million tons of sand. (Spiegel)

The beaches of Cape Verde, Kenya, New Zealand, Jamaica, Morocco and other countries are changing from sandy resorts to masses of black dirt and stones. The reason is that sand miners are harvesting all the sand on these beaches, and selling it. It is used in the production of computer chips, plates and mobile phones. However, the biggest use is by far the construction industry. Global consumption of sand mining is estimated at 40 billion tons per year, with 30 billion tons of that used in concrete for the construction industry. Spiegel

Turkey's parliament approves military operations in Syria and Iraq

As we've been reporting, the attack by Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) on the border city of Kobani, Syria, has resulting in hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing into Turkey in just a few days, and this has caused Turkey to completely reverse its Syria policy that it's followed since 2011.

On Thursday, Turkey's parliament approved a motion allowing, first, the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq and Syria to fight terrorist groups, and second, to allow Nato troops and warplanes to base out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. The motion passed by 298 votes in favor, 98 against.

Despite the overwhelming vote, there was still vocal opposition. Turkish officials would prefer to be attacking Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and Turkey doesn't trust the Kurds, whom they would be supporting against ISIS. Besides ISIS, the authorization extends to another terrorist group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), which whom Turkey fought a civil war in the recent past.

Turkey's defense minister Ismet Yilmaz hastened to say that "immediate steps should not be expected." However, I would point out that events are moving quickly in the Mideast, with major changes almost every day, and now that the authorization motion has passed, the political pressure will be on to use the military. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone

Ebola is spreading at a "terrifying rate" in Sierra Leone, with five new infections every hour. In Liberia, the disease has reached every county in the country.

As I wrote last month ( "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?"), it's now likely that the pandemic will run its course in Liberia, and Sierra Leone as well, meaning that all people there will sooner or later become sick with the disease, and either survive or not.

There seems to be a fair amount of anxiety in America, sometimes approaching panic, now that there's an Ebola patient in Texas.

But there is plenty of evidence that countries with good medical infrastructures will be able to control any outbreaks of Ebola. In Nigeria, for example, the country in Africa with the largest population, someone with an Ebola infection arrived by plane in Lagos in July, eventually resulting in 19 confirmed cases of Ebola and eight deaths. Some 900 people who were potentially exposed to the original case and secondary cases were monitored for 21 days. The infection was stopped in Nigeria, and a similar process stopped the infection in Senegal.

The relevant methodology for controlling the spread of Ebola is "contact tracing," which means that potential contacts are located, and their contacts are located, and so forth, with the resulting people monitored for 21 days.

According to CDC Director Tom Frieden:

"Contact tracing is a core public health function. We always err on the side of identifying and tracking more contacts rather than less. Our approach in this type of case is to cast the net widely."

The real danger, not mentioned by Frieden, is that Ebola will spread into a war zone somewhere, where it's impossible to do contact tracing. For example, Ebola infections in Syria and Iraq would be very difficult or impossible to control. Guardian (London) and Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Oct-14 World View -- Five new Ebola patients become infected every hour in Sierra Leone thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria

Hong Kong protesters raise their demands

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria


Turkey's Parliament will vote on military action in Syria and Iraq
Turkey's Parliament will vote on military action in Syria and Iraq

Turkey's parliament expects to debate and vote on Thursday on the following motion:

"The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to ask permission from Parliament to send Turkish troops to foreign countries when necessary for cross-border interventions and to allow foreign troops in Turkey for the same purposes. ...

[The intent is to] defeat attacks directed at our country from all terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria."

There are two "terrorist groups" that are intended targets: the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL) the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the terrorists who have fought a civil war with Turkey

As I discussed in detail several days ago ( "30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria"), this represents a major reversal of policies that have been in effect since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

The motion quoted above has two parts, both of which represent major policy changes:

The motion is very controversial, but is expected to be approved. Today's Zaman (Ankara) and Hurriyet Daily News (Ankara)

Turkey's Suleiman Shah Tomb in Syria endangered by ISIS

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday insisted that the Suleiman Shah Tomb is not in danger of being attacked by ISIS forces.

The Suleiman Shah Tomb is a Turkish enclave situated in the Syria, in the town of Aleppo, guarded by Turkish soldiers. It's the burial place of the grandfather of the Osman 1, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. The tomb in Syria is the only Turkish territory outside of Turkey's borders. There is a concern that ISIS militants will attack the Turkish soldiers guarding the tomb and take them as hostages. Erdogan insisted that the tomb is not endangered by ISIS militants. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Today's Zaman (Ankara)

Hong Kong protesters raise their demands

Hong Kong officials are signaling that they'll allow the protesters to continue the "Occupy Central" protests to continue for days or even weeks, as long as they remain peaceful.

However, protesters are indicating that they're going to escalate the protests by occupying government buildings, something that will certainly trigger police action. The protesters are now making two demands:

Wednesday is the 45th anniversary of China's of Mao Zedong's Communist revolution, and Wednesday and Thursday are public holidays. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Oct-14 World View -- Turkey will vote Thursday on military action in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Oct-14 World View -- Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar

Taiwan officials split on reaction to Hong Kong protests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar


Russian 500 ruble note
Russian 500 ruble note

Apparently the European and American sanctions on Russia for the latters invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea are having some effect after all. The value of the ruble currency has fallen over 20% against the dollar this year. The ruble is now at the lowest point since it was restructured during Moscow's traumatic 1998 debt default.

This comes at a time when Russia's economy is suffering for other reasons, particularly the falling price of oil. Libya has massively increased production, and OPEC is producing more than forecast. Iraq, Nigeria, and Angola and Saudi Arabia have each boosted output. These increased supplies of oil have pushed the price of oil down to $97 per barrel on Tuesday, which reduces the price of all forms of energy, which is Russia's main export.

The fall in the ruble is causing Russia to consider adopting capital controls in order to stop the fall of the ruble. Possible capital controls could include taxes, tariffs, and legislation banning or regulating certain activities, such as owning foreign assets. Russia's Central Bank spent over $72 billion in the first three months of this year to prop up the ruble, as Russia's seizure of Crimea caused a huge currency selloff. Moscow Times and MarketWatch and Reuters

Taiwan officials split on reaction to Hong Kong protests

The size of the Hong Kong protests grew on Tuesday, although there was no violence by either the police or the protesters. Hong Kong's chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, "The central government will not rescind its decision." Both he and Beijing officials demanded that the protesters go home immediately, suggesting that their patience was ebbing. The biggest protests are expected on Wednesday and Thursday, since those are public holidays celebrating the 45th anniversary of Mao Zedong's Communist revolution.

Taiwanese officials are watching the events in Hong Kong closely for hints about how the Beijing government would treat Taiwan if its government came under direct control of China.

Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jou, of the Kuomingtang (KMT) political party, asked the mainland authorities and the demonstrators to show tolerance and self-restraint in handling the matter. Ma noted that as the mainland authorities have promised Hong Kong self-administration and a high degree of autonomy, the KMT believes that both Hong Kong and China stand to benefit if these promises are fulfilled.

The Kuomingtang (KMT) is the modern day incarnation of Chiang Kai-shek's original nationalist party that fought against Mao Zedong and lost, and fled to Hong Kong, then a British colony, and from there to Formosa (Taiwan) in 1949, at the conclusion of the civil war. The KMT position has always been that Taiwan is part of China, and that one day they'll be fully reunited.

Joseph Wu, the head of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said that the Hong Kong and China governments should be more open and receptive to the voices of the people and the wisdom of its citizens, and that the government should reassess its position.

The people of Taiwan watched the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing with horror, and it led to the Wild Lily student rebellion in 1990. By 2000, the student rebellion had morphed into the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which, in contrast to the KMT, was committed to Taiwan's complete independence from China. DPP has moderated that opinion in the face of military threats from Beijing.

With regard to the Hong Kong demonstrations, both political parties said that the outcome of the demonstrations would affect Taiwan's relations with China. Depending on the response by Chinese authorities, the DPP did not rule out a "drastic" change in policy. USA Today / AP and China Post (Taipei)

Polio cases surging in Pakistan to record-breaking levels

Pakistan's health officials have confirmed another 10 polio cases on Monday. Pakistan is now only 15 cases short of breaking its own 14-year-old record of 199 polio cases in the year 2000. This is a major setback for a country that as recently as 2005 saw just 28 cases, and seemed on track for polio eradication.

Most of the polio cases are in Pakistan's tribal area and northwest provinces, where the Taliban has the greatest strength. 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. In a recent day-long national campaign, over 16,000 children could not be vaccinated due to their parents' resistance. Many parents refuse vaccinations due to fear of Taliban who say that the polio medicine is a conspiracy by the West to sterile Muslims. The Taliban have attacked and killed health workers who provide the vaccines, as well has parents who permit their children to be vaccinated.

Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan are the three remaining countries where polio is endemic. The News (Islamabad) and IRIN (United Nations) and Business Standard (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Oct-14 World View -- Russia's ruble currency drops to record low against the dollar thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Oct-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria

Hong Kong police back off as demonstrations continue

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong police back off as demonstrations continue


Riot police use pepper spray in Hong Kong on Sunday (Slate)
Riot police use pepper spray in Hong Kong on Sunday (Slate)

The massive protests in Hong Kong have caught the world's attention, and the world is waiting breathlessly to see how long China's government in Beijing is going to put up with being humiliated by the protests.

Hong Kong has already been forced to cancel a big, glorious fireworks celebration on Wednesday, October 1, China's National Day, and the 65th anniversary of China's communist revolution. Instead, the protests will be bigger than ever on Wednesday and Thursday, since those are two public holidays.

For Beijing, the hopeful outcome is that the protests will just die off of their own accord. That's probably why the HK police, who fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters on Sunday evening, have backed off on Monday and allowed the protests to continue. The hopeful scenario is that the protesters will tire of protesting, and just go home.

Beijing's nightmare scenario is that the protests will grow, will continue to paralyze Hong Kong, and will continue to humiliate Beijing.

But the humiliation could be a lot worse if the rumors are true that China is considering use of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to break up the protests. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre shocked the world, and China has spent the last 25 years doing everything it can to try to get everyone to forget it ever happened, going so far as to make it a criminal offense for a Chinese citizen on the mainland to even talk about it. A new 2015 "Hong Kong massacre," in the world of Twitter and Facebook, would make both massacres world wide news again, completely reversing Xi Jinping's strategy of presenting a more positive Chinese face.

Nonetheless, nobody serious believes that Beijing is going to grant to Hong Kong the democratic freedoms that were promised in 1997, when Britain turned HK over to China. China has no pleasant choices in this situations, and most of the world really do not expect the demonstrations to end, except in new violence. Bloomberg and Global Times (Beijing)

Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria

Ever since the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011, Syrian refugees poured across the border into Turkey. Despite international pressure, Turkey refused to consider any military action in Syria, such as providing a refugee buffer zone within Syria, and more recently refused to participate in the American-led war against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS).

But now the crisis in Kobani, Syria, on the border with Turkey, is presenting an existential threat to Turkey, and Turkish officials are now talking about both a buffer zone and joining the anti-ISIS coalition.

There have been two major reasons why Turkey has eschewed any military intervention in Syria since 2011:

But the crisis in Kobani, in Syria on the border with Turkey, has been so bad that Turkey is now forced to reassess its decisions.

Kobani has been a Kurdish stronghold in Syria. ISIS fighters have been advancing on Kobani in recent weeks, despite the fact that coalition bombers tried to stop them. But the coalition bombings have been a failure, and it's now expected that Kobani will fall to ISIS within the next couple of days.

The effect on Turkey has been nothing short of explosive. During the last two weeks, more than 160,000 Kurdish refugees from Syria have poured across the border into Turkey.

Back in 2011, when refugees started crossing into Turkey, Turkish officials estimated that they would be able to handle about 100,000 refugees, and after that there would be major problems. Well, as of last month over 1.2 million Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey, and now 160,000 more refugees have joined them in the last few days.

In 2011, when there were only tens of thousands of refugees, then were kept in refugee camps near the border. But now these 1.5 million refugees have spread across Turkey, and are populating many cities and villages.

The effects have been mixed. Most of the refugees speak only Arabic, so there's a language problem with locals who speak only Turkish. In some villages they're helped and supported, but in other villages they're threatened, or even forced into slavery or human trafficking.

The Kobani crisis has been be a major shock to Turkish officials, who now realize that they have to take some military steps whether they like it or not. Turkey has already announced that it's reevaluating its decision to join the anti-ISIS coalition, and Turkey's foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Monday that "A safe zone inside Syria is essential to make life easier for the Syrian refugees." Turkish tanks have already taken up positions facing Syria. Spiegel and Journal of Turkish Weekly and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Sep-14 World View -- Kobani crisis causes Turkey to reverse policy on Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Sep-14 World View -- India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden

Pro-democracy protests bring Hong Kong to a standstill

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden


Narendra Modi in Madison Square Garden on Sunday (Reuters)
Narendra Modi in Madison Square Garden on Sunday (Reuters)

India's prime minister Narendra Modi received rock stars cheers from the 18,000 people, mostly Indian-Americans, in Madison Square Garden on Sunday, as well as the thousands more outside who had been unable to gain entrance.

Modi's one-hour speech drew cheers of "Modi! Modi! Modi!" and rock-star ovations. According to Modi:

"I got here selling tea... I am a very small man, a common man. I am small, so my heart lies in working for the common man. But I want to do big things for the little people."

At the heart of his speech, he was asking the wealthy and skilled persons of Indian origin to give back their talent and experience to India.

Promising that "I will make the India of your dreams... together we will serve Mother India," he highlighted his avowed (Hindutva) Hindu nationalism. Narendra Modi won a stunning and historic overwhelming victory in May of this year that surprised the world, but his Hindu nationalism has made him a controversial figure. Much of the controversy comes from his association with an incident of Hindutva violence of February 27, 2002, at a time when he was governor of Gujarat province. An attempt to molest a Muslim girl triggered several days of sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims, killing hundreds and displacing more than 150,000 people, of which the majority were Muslims, who have since been living in refugee camps in dire humanitarian conditions. Modi himself was cleared by a court of culpability, but he's blamed by Muslims and political opponents for not taking a more active role in ending the violence.

Because of the Gujarat incident, Modi was denied entry into the United States by President Bush's administration in 2005. That ban is still in effect, but he was granted a diplomatic visa for this week's visit to the United Nations. Times of India and Time

Saudi Arabia warns that Yemen coup could threaten global security

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Saud al-Faisal says that Yemen is facing "unprecedented challenges" threatening global security, after last weekend's government coup by the Houthi rebels from northern Yemen. The Houthis are members of the Zaydi branch of Shia Islam, and it's believed that Iran has funded the Houthis and provided weapons for their takeover. Southern Yemen is the headquarters of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and it's feared that the AQAP branch Ansar al-Sharia of Sunni jihadists are regrouping for a counterattack against the Houthis.

According to Prince Saud:

"Yemen faces accelerating and extremely dangerous conditions that require us all to look and propose the necessary solutions to confront these unprecedented challenges.

[Yemen’s violence] will no doubt extend to threaten stability and security on the regional and international arena that could prove difficult to put down regardless of the resources and efforts that may be exerted."

The broad news coverage of the war against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) has made the news from Yemen almost invisible. However, Prince Saud said that all forms of terrorism must be addressed:

"We face a very dangerous situation today. Terrorism has evolved from cells to armies and from threatening specific spots to nations. The war on terror requires serious and continuous work that may go on for years, and must not stop at partial victories against limited organizations. We must continue until all terrorist organizations are destroyed, wherever they may be."

Yemen Online and Arab Times Online

Pro-democracy protests bring Hong Kong to a standstill

China's Communist Party government in Beijing is facing a government crisis as tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens staged pro-democracy protests on Sunday, the fourth day of protests. These were the worst protests in Hong Kong in decades, bringing central Hong Kong to a standstill. Beijing is now faced with the choice of allowing the demonstrations to go on, which would encourage protests in mainland cities, versus a bloody crackdown on the protesters.

Tensions have already escalated sharply, as Hong Kong police in riot gear unleashed volleys of tear gas on protesters early Monday morning, and first rubber bullets into the air. This is the worst police violence since Britain gave up its Hong Kong colony in 1997, returning it to Chinese sovereignty.

There are "credible reports" that China has activated the Hong Kong garrison of its People's Liberation Army (PLA), putting 6,000 soldiers on alert. This would revive harsh memories of Beijing's Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. It's forbidden for anyone in mainland China to even talk about the 1989 massacre, but on June 4 of this year, over 100,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the massacre. A new Tiananmen-style massacre in Hong Kong in the next few days could have unintended consequences for Beijing. LA Times and BBC (4-Jun-2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Sep-14 World View -- India's rock star PM Narendra Modi draws mobs at Madison Square Garden thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Sep-14 World View -- Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo

Saudis prepare for MERS and Ebola at Hajj

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudis prepare for MERS and Ebola at Hajj


Hajj in Mecca, 1920 (Getty)
Hajj in Mecca, 1920 (Getty)

Saudis are preparing for a double-dose of danger at this year's Hajj on October 2-7, when millions of Muslims from around the world arrive for their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Hajj pilgrims will be asked to wear face masks this year to reduce the risks of spreading MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) or Ebola.

Both diseases have an incubation period of about 2-20 days, meaning that someone could be sick, spreading the disease, for several days without showing symptoms. Both diseases are spread by physical contact, with airborne contamination rare though not impossible. Health care workers are often the most vulnerable, since they become contaminated while treating infected patients.

The Saudi Ministry of Health last month banned Hajj visas for Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia — the three nations most affected by Ebola this year with at least 5,800 cases. Nigeria, a country with one of the highest concentration of Hajj pilgrims in the world, was left out of the ban, because the 20 Ebola cases have all been isolated. Pilgrims arriving at the airport near Mecca are being screened by the health ministry. Vox and The Health Site and BBC

Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo

Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Central African Republic president Catherine Samba-Panza asked the United Nations to modify its imposed arms embargo to permit the CAR army to have weapons, so that the army will be able help the U.N. peacekeepers.

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. The early stages of the new generational crisis war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge.

In December, the Security Council imposed an arms embargo on the Central African Republic and the African Union sent a peacekeeping mission, now at 6,000 troops, to attempt to quell the spreading violence. The United Nations took over the AU peacekeeping mission last week, and plans to double the force to 12,000 troops.

The violence originally began in the capital city Bangui, but has been spreading to towns and villages across the country. Thousands of people have been killed, and rapes and mutilations have been reported frequently. The conflict has uprooted or affected millions of people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized CAR's health crisis as "Grade 3" - its highest level. The country's health infrastructure has broken down, with 50-75% of the health facilities no longer able to offer basic services.

However, a generational crisis war is a force of nature, and cannot be stopped by a few peacekeeping forces than a tsunami can be stopped by a bucket brigade. Many of the villages across the vast country are far out of reach of a few thousand peacekeepers, and the people in these villages have little motivation to stop fighting, when they can get revenge killings by the other side in other villages.

My guess is that it's unlikely that the United Nations will vote to end the arms embargo, since it's pretty clear that any weapons entering CAR for any reason will, sooner or later, be used by either the Seleka or anti-balaka militias to further the slaughter. Reuters and World Health Organization (WHO)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Sep-14 World View -- Central African Republican government asks UN to lift arms embargo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Sep-14 World View -- WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies'

Britain votes joins countries at war against ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies'

The World Health Organization (WHO) plans on having to deal with only one Grade 3 humanitarian emergency every 2-4 years. Grade 3 is the highest level emergency, with "substantial public health consequences that requires a ... substantial international WHO response."

However, WHO now finds itself dealing with five Grade 3 emergencies at the same time:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the world is also experiencing several major, high level geopolitical crises:

Unfortunately, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is not surprising. Once World War II ended, the survivors made sure that nothing so horrible would ever happen to their children and grandchildren, and they succeeded. But they're disappearing fast, and the generations that grew up after the war are like teenagers driving drunk. And also unfortunately, this trend will continue until the world, once again, is in total war. World Health Organization (WHO)

Britain votes joins countries at war against ISIS

After a seven-hour debate in the House of Commons, the MPs voted overwhelmingly in favor of military action in Iraq by 524-43. All three parties supported the vote. Prime minister David Cameron did not request a vote on air strikes in Syria, because he believed that the vote would be defeated.

Here's a summary of all the countries participating in the war against ISIS:

Russia and Turkey are still talking it over. Daily Mail (London) and BBC and NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Sep-14 World View -- WHO must respond to 'unprecedented scale of humanitarian emergencies' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria

Russia's desperate relationship with China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria


Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)
Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu (Ria Novosti)

On Thursday, Russia's military completed a week of drills and exercises in the Far East, involving 100,000 servicemen, 1,500 tanks, 120 aircraft, 5,000 pieces of weaponry, and up to 70 ships, involving almost the entire Russian Pacific fleet.

Nominally, the purpose of Vostok 2014 is to prepare for war with the United States. And indeed, the Russia media has been doing everything possible to stir nationalistic anti-US hysteria, especially since the Ukraine war started:

In the midst of all this anti-US hysteria, it's not surprising that Vostok 2014 is being described as preparations for war with America. And yet, the assets deployed during this exercise were more consistent with preparing for a defense of the Far East, a region that America would be unlikely to invade if it wanted to invade Russia at all. The only state actor that against which such a defense is needed is China. Ria Novosti and BBC and Jamestown

Russia's desperate relationship with China

Russia has become increasingly isolated in world, thanks to its support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad and because of its invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. The West has imposed sanctions on Russia which, whatever their economic importance, have had huge symbolic importance. However, Russia has been able to count on China, which is also invading and annexing other countries' territories, for support in the United Nations Security Council, and for trade deals for energy and agricultural products.

However, beneath the smiles and handshakes, China and Russia have a very troubled relationship. The two countries almost went to war in the 1960s, but the biggest of their current problems is the danger of a Chinese "invasion" of Russia's Far East.

Russia's population in the Far East has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years, and could fall significantly lower. The population of Russia east of Lake Baikal dropped from 8 million to 6 million from 1998-2002, and has continued falling since then. But the three Chinese provinces just across the river are packed with people, with a total population of 110 million people. Furthermore, the Russian region has substantial deposits of gold, oil, natural gas, coal, timber, silver, platinum, lead and zinc, as well as rich fishing grounds and vast expanses of unpopulated land.

With its desperate political dependency on China, Russia has said little recently about the Chinese threat to the Far East. But they did in the past. In 2008, Russia's then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned that, "if we don’t step up the level of activity of our work [in the Russian Far East], then in the final analysis we can lose everything."

The Chinese agree. According to one Chinese analyst, "It’s a law of physics; a vacuum has to be filled. If there are no Russian people here, there will be Chinese people."

As a result, while paying lip service to closer relations with China, Russia is also developing close relations with China's enemies, especially India and Vietnam. ( "17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam")

Thus, although the Vostok 2014 military drills in the Far East are signal to the West that it's willing to take military action when necessary, Russia fears the long-term risks of war with China in the Far East. Consequently, Moscow wants to send a strong signal that it is willing to take far-reaching steps to defend Russian territory. Jamestown and The Diplomat (2010)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Sep-14 World View -- Russia holds massive Vostok 2014 military exercises amid anti-US hysteria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Sep-14 World View -- Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender

Nato reports a 'significant' Russian troop pullback from Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender


Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April
Schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April

Nigeria's military says that the the leader of Boko Haram has been killed, and that some 270 militants have surrendered to the army and are being questioned. It is hoped that this will be a turning point that will lead to the safe recovery of the almost 300 schoolgirls that were abducted in April.

When the girls were first abducted, weeks went by with no visible actions by the government or the military to recover the girls. Some reports claimed various government and military officials supported Boko Haram.

However, in the last two or three months, the military has become much more aggressive in pursuing and fighting the Boko Haram militants. Recently, the military reported that Nigerian troops conducted coordinated air and land operations in furtherance of efforts at containing the terrorists in the North East part of the country. The fighters who surrendered have promised to cooperate with security officials by providing information on the whereabouts of the abducted girls. Guardian News (Nigeria) and Tribune (Nigeria) and Daily Post (Nigeria)

Nato reports a 'significant' Russian troop pullback from Ukraine

According to Nato's Lt Col Jay Janzen on Wednesday:

"There has been a significant pullback of Russian conventional forces from inside Ukraine, but many thousands are still deployed in the vicinity of the border.

Some Russian troops remain inside Ukraine. It is difficult to determine the number, as pro-Russian separatists control several border crossings and troops are routinely moving back and forth across the border. Further, Russian special forces are operating in Ukraine, and they are difficult to detect."

It's been estimated that 20,000-40,000 Russian troops are near the border with Ukraine, and they could be sent in for a re-invasion at any time.

It used to be that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would respond to obvious lies by Russia's president Vladimir Putin and defense minister Sergei Lavrov by thanking them for being so helpful and cooperative. It made me want to vomit. However, that strategy has been abandoned. Obama was harshly critical of Russia in his speech on Wednesday to the United Nations General Assembly:

"Recently, Russia’s actions in Ukraine challenge this post-war order. Here are the facts. After the people of Ukraine mobilized popular protests and calls for reform, their corrupt president fled. Against the will of the government in Kyiv, Crimea was annexed. Russia poured arms into eastern Ukraine, fueling violent separatists and a conflict that has killed thousands. When a civilian airliner was shot down from areas that these proxies controlled, they refused to allow access to the crash for days. When Ukraine started to reassert control over its territory, Russia gave up the pretense of merely supporting the separatists, and moved troops across the border.

This is a vision of the world in which might makes right -- a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another, and civilized people are not allowed to recover the remains of their loved ones because of the truth that might be revealed. America stands for something different. We believe that right makes might -- that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future. And these are simple truths, but they must be defended."

Russia has always claimed that any Russian soldiers in Ukraine were purely "voluntary." This has always been a laughable claim, as if thousands of Russian citizens would leave their wives and families, travel to Ukraine at their own expense, and risk getting killed. It's also contradicted by reports that Russian soldiers were ordered into Ukraine.

However, I may have found a way that the Russian claim might contain a grain of truth. Here's a paragraph from an article from earlier this month:

About 190,000 members of the 760,000-strong Russian army are "volunteers," serving upon their own volition. They earn 18,000 rubles ($500) per month, a huge sum by Russian standards. They can be ordered into combat in Ukraine or anywhere else at any time, and there isn't even a contractual requirement that relatives be notified if volunteers are killed in the line of duty.

In other words, Russia's army has 570,000 conscripts and 190,000 volunteers, for a total of 760,000 soldiers. So perhaps the Russian soldiers that were ordered into Ukraine were from the volunteer force.

The United States has an all-volunteer army, so according to the Russian reasoning, there are no American soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. Why? Because they're all "volunteers."

By the way, I don't know if my readers can wrap their head around this concept, but I thought Obama's speech was pretty good. He sounded an awful lot like President George W Bush. (See "12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS"). The speech would have been better if he'd mentioned the threat from China. BBC and White House and Moscow Times (9/1)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Sep-14 World View -- Nigeria's army sees a turning point as Boko Haram fighters surrender thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Sep-14 World View -- Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control

CDC warns of possibly 1.4 million Ebola infections in West Africa

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control


The four Arab capitals claimed by Iran -- Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)
The four Arab capitals claimed by Iran -- Beirut (Top L), Sanaa (Top R), Baghdad (Bottom L), Damascus (Bottom R) (AlWeeam)

Iran-backed Shia Houthis celebrated with fireworks on Monday after signing a UN-brokered "peace agreement" that required the government to resign, replacing it with one that gives power to the Houthis. It's believed that they will follow the same path as Hezbollah in Lebanon -- using a power-sharing agreement combined with military power with weapons and money supplied by Iran to take majority control of Yemen's government.

Member of Iran parliament Ali Reza Zakani, who is close to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, bragged that Sanaa is fourth Arab capital in Iran's grasp, joining "the three Arab capitals who are already a subsidiary of the Iranian Islamic revolution," and part of "the greater jihad." He predicted that 14 out of 20 counties in Yemen would soon be under Houthi control. The other Arab capitals referenced by Zakani are Beirut Lebanon, Baghdad Iraq, and Damascus Syria.

Hezbollah gives Iran a presence in the Mediterranean, Iran itself has control of the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and control of Yemen gives Iran a stranglehold on the entrance to the Red Sea.

Analysts do not believe that the Houthi control of Sanaa is permanent. Sunni ethnic groups are expected to regroup and oppose the Houthis militarily. BBC and Al Arabiya and AlWeeam (Trans) and Daily Star (Beirut)

Qatar remains reluctant partner in coalition against ISIS in Syria

The barrage of airstrikes announced by President Barack Obama are directed primarily against the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) in Syria, without the permission of the Syrian regime, and with opposition by Russia. Previous airstrikes were directed at ISIS in Iraq, with permission of Iraq's government.

American warplanes bombing ISIS in Syria were joined by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). State news agencies of these four countries mentioned their participation, though usually only briefly and reluctantly.

Qatar was named by the US administration as the fifth participating Arab country, but apparently Qatar did not actually participate in the bombing. Qatar's official state news agency did not mention the strikes at all, while Qatar-based al-Jazeera prominently mentioned the airstrikes, and the other Arab countries' participation, but failed to mention Qatar's role. It's also being widely noted that Turkey is not participating, and is not even permitting its air bases to be used.

As readers are aware, I've been writing frequently about of the continuing realignment of the entire Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of ISIS. In this realignment, Turkey is aligned with Qatar and Hamas, versus Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Palestinian Authority. Turkey also has maintained cordial relations with ISIS, because ISIS held 49 Turkish diplomats as hostages until recently, and because ISIS is fighting Syria's Bashar al-Assad, Turkey's bitter enemy.

Radical Salafist groups in the Mideast are also supporters of ISIS, and Qatar is suspected of having a connection.

I have not heard any analyst say that ISIS can be defeated or even "managed" without "boots on the ground." Events in the Mideast are moving very quickly, and it's clear that many realignments have yet to occur, as the Mideast heads for a full-scale regional war, as predicted by Generational Dynamics. Daily Star (Beirut) and CNN

CDC warns of possibly 1.4 million Ebola infections in West Africa

The Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday warned of a worst-case scenario that the number of people in Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa infected with the Ebola virus could exceed 1.4 million by mid-January. However, the CDC also wishfully added that the number of cases could peak below that, if efforts to control the outbreak are ramped up.

These figures are consistent with the ones that I posted recently in "18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?" One thing that the CDC did not mention is that if there are 1.4 million infections by mid-January, then the number of infections will continue to grow exponentially beyond that point, until almost all of the 10 million people in these two countries have become infected. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Sep-14 World View -- Iran brags that Sanaa Yemen is the fourth Arab capital they control thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees

Yazidis, Mosul Christians hold Obama responsible for ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive Hong Kong student demonstrations challenge Beijing


Student demonstrations at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday (AP)
Student demonstrations at Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday (AP)

Thousands of college students in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, joined by hundreds of faculty members, boycotted classes Monday to protest Beijing's reneging on the 1997 agreement under which Hong Kong as a British colony reverted to Chinese control. The deal was known as "one country, two systems," meaning that Beijing would pursue Communism and Socialism, while Hong Kong would retain its democracy, its capitalist system, and its way of life. Hong Kong was promised free elections, but Beijing is pre-determining the 2017 election by allowing only three Beijing-approved candidates to run for office.

Separately, Beijing has also been clamping down on the use of the Cantonese version of the Chinese language, the native dialect of 50 million Chinese people. In Guangdong province in southern China, Beijing authorities are forbidding Cantonese in any television shows, requiring the Mandarin (Putonghua) version favored by Beijing. Hong Kong also speaks Cantonese, and it's feared that Beijing will impose similar requirements there. Cantonese and Mandarin are written using the same characters, but are spoken differently.

A recent poll of Cantonese speaker in Hong Kong found that 20% of them would like to leave Hong Kong and emigrate to other countries. Huge waves of emigration previously occurred after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and again when Hong Kong sovereignty transferred from Britain to China in 1997.

Activists in Macau, a former Portuguese colony with similar administrative status to Hong Kong, are planning to hold their own pro-democracy referendum, and are watching the Hong Kong demonstrations closely.

Taiwan is also closely watching the demonstrations in Hong Kong, especially the members of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Taiwan universities are scheduling lectures and other forms of support for the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Taiwan were closely linked after World War II, when Nationalists fighting Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution used Hong Kong as a transit point to escape to Formosa (Taiwan). AP and AFP and Deutsche-Welle and AFP

Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees

Turkey has been home to over 1.3 million Syrian refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, with 130,000 new refugees flooding in since Friday. The tsunami of refugees in the last few days has been from border towns and cities where militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) are going house to house, killing people, abducting girls, and enslaving others. Turkish officials say that they are prepared for a flood of additional refugees in the next few days. The fear is that ISIS will send suicide bombers across the border, along with the refugees. Sabah (Ankara) and Zaman (Istanbul)

Yazidis, Mosul Christians hold Obama responsible for ISIS

According to MEMRI, many Arab writers blame president Barack Obama for the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). Here is one column MEMRI quotes:

"The terrified Yazidi woman on Mount Sinjar counted her family members. The tally broke her heart. Those who did not arrive with her never would. She fled quickly and convinced herself that they had too. They never arrived. Her two sons and her daughter. Left to the mercy of ISIS. And this 'merciful' organization beheads the infidels, crucifies them, or buries them alive. Left to the mercy of the caliph. He likes his state clean and pure and will not tolerate toxic weeds in his garden.

"Who will the terrified Yazidi woman turn to? She won't call on [Arab League Secretary-General] Nabil Al-'Arabi, because his company [the Arab League] is known to be bankrupt. She won't call on [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon, because he has nothing [to offer her] but his own tears. She won't call on the Iraqi army, since it has already fallen to ISIS and given it the best of its weapons as a gift. She won't call on the Peshmerga, since their weapons are too meager for this campaign. There is but one element [she can turn to]. She spread her arms and said: 'Where is America? Where is Obama?' ...

The Yazidi woman is entitled to treat Barack Obama as a criminal. He quickly fled with his soldiers, leaving Iraq in the hands of the spiteful lovers of anonymous corpses and assassinations. He pretended to forget that his own country invaded Iraq, and that one of its witless administrators ordered to dismantle the Iraqi army. He ignored his moral responsibility. He spared American blood, leaving us [to drown] in lakes of blood."

Memri

Horse manure and climate change

Yesterday, I wrote that there's a historical precedent for the climate change debate, that predicts we'll all be underwater in a few decades. That historical precedent was the horse manure debate of over a century ago, that predicted that we'd all be under horse manure within a few decades.

A couple of web site readers have requested further information. Here's a summary:

During my lifetime, I've seen any number of hysterical environment disaster predictions. My favorite was the prediction in 1970 by far left-wing Ramparts Magazine that predicted that the oceans were becoming so polluted that by 1980 the world's oceans would be covered by a layer of algae. It didn't happen.

Like the horse manure crisis, the climate change crisis will be solved by new technologies that today are barely foreseen. These will include things like intelligent computers that will perform cleanup tasks that humans can't perform and microbiology technologies that will convert excess carbon dioxide back to harmless materials. Thousands of research labs around the world are motivated to identify such technologies, because any company finding one will patent it and make billions of dollars. No further motivation is needed. From Horse Power to Horsepower and The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 and Great Moments in Failed Predictions

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey braces for expected flood of hundreds of thousands more refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Sep-14 World View -- Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday

New climate change circus in progress

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels occupy Sanaa, then sign peace agreement


Houthi fighters in back of pickup truck on Sunday in Sanaa (AFP)
Houthi fighters in back of pickup truck on Sunday in Sanaa (AFP)

Yemen's Houthi (Ansarullah) anti-government militias took control of many government buildings in Sanaa, Yemen's capital city, on Sunday, and then agreed to a United Nations sponsored peace agreement to end the fighting. However, some reports indicate that the fighting is continuing as before.

The Houthi militias are believed to be receiving weapons and training from Iran. Yemen is also the base of the Sunni jihadist al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and southern Yemen is attempting to secede from Yemen.

The concern is that sectarian (Shia versus Sunni) violence will accelerate in Yemen, affecting the entire region. Gulf News and The National (UAE)

Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday

It's been a month since the Gaza war between Israel and Hamas ended with a ceasefire agreement, and part of the agreement was that peace talks would start in a month on the core issues. So indirect talks between Israel and Hamas are going to begin in Cairo on Tuesday. The talks are called "indirect" because Israel and Hamas don't actually talk to each other. They sit in separate rooms, and Egyptian mediators run back and forth between the rooms carrying messages.

Israel's demands are:

Hamas's demands are:

It seems unlikely that any of these demands will be granted. On the other hand, it should take about six months for Hamas to reconstruct its tunnels and restock its rockets, so we might expect a new Gaza war in six months. Gulf News and Jerusalem Post

New climate change circus in progress

Every couple of years, a new farcical climate change takes place, with pompous politicians saying that climate change is the biggest danger threatening mankind for now and forever.

On Sunday, the "People's Climate March" took place in New York City. Organizers claimed that it also took place in 2,000 locations worldwide, and that 310,000 people joined the march in New York.

I've written about these circuses many times. Let's summarize the climate change situation:

On Tuesday, the UN will host a climate summit in New York with 125 heads of state and government - the first such gathering since the unsuccessful climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, that ended in total farce. ( "Climate change conference winds down with search for villains" The new conference will end the same way, with all the politicians running to cover their butts and blame other people. BBC and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Sep-14 World View -- Israeli-Hamas peace talks to resume in Cairo on Tuesday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues

India launches 'Project Mausam' to counter China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues


Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)
Long queues of Kurdish refugees wait to cross border into Turkey on Saturday (Reuters)

In a new sign of the continuing realignment of the entire Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), Turkey opened the border on Saturday to 66,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing from ISIS. Thousands more are expected to enter Turkey on Sunday.

On the same day, a military operation by Turkey recovered and freed 49 hostages from Turkey's diplomatic corp. The hostages had been captured by ISIS when the latter overran the city of Mosul in June.

Turkey has announced that it will not join the US-led "coalition" to be fighting ISIS, and gave as one of the reasons that it didn't want to risk the lives of its hostages. Now that the hostages have been freed, it's still not expected that Turkey will join the "coalition," since Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a bitter enemy of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Turkey will not even permit American warplanes fighting ISIS to take off from its Incirlik air base, although Turkey will allow humanitarian and logistical operations from there.

Opening the border to 66,000 Kurdish refugees reflects the realignments that are going on in the Mideast. Until recently, Turks and Kurds fought a civil war that killed 40,000 people. The fact that Turkey is now accepting tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees is a sign of how allegiances are shifting in this region. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Zaman (Ankara) and BBC

India launches 'Project Mausam' to counter China's 'Maritime Silk Road'

When China's president Xi Jinping took office last year, he gave a number of speeches about "China's Dream," in which he called for China to shed its past as a secondary player, and become the world's top military and economic power. He visited Chinese military bases and told the troops to be ready for war at any time. He vowed that China will take every step necessary to gain control of the East China Sea and South China Sea regions, including areas that have been owned by other countries for centuries.

The "Silk Road" was a collection of trade routes that connected Europe and China in the Middle Ages, allowing China's silk to be traded for European goods. As part of that plan to implement "China's Dream," Xi proposed a new "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR) across Southeast Asia, shortly after he took office. The Chinese describe it in economic terms, as an initiative to further deepen China's reciprocal cooperation with neighboring countries, and promote their common development and prosperity, but it's also a military initiative to gain bases and influence from China, across the Indian Ocean, all the way to Africa.

Not to be outdone, India is proposing a competitive vision to the MSR, called "Project Mausam," described as "a transnational program is aimed at restoring India's ancient maritime routes and cultural links with republics in the region." I admit I'm having a bit of difficulty understanding this, so I'll just quote someone else's narrative:

"The project is considered [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi's government’s most significant foreign policy initiative designed to counter China. It is inspired by India’s historical role as the focal point for trade in the Indian Ocean. In pre-modern times, sailors used seasonal monsoons (mausam, means weather or season in many South Asian languages) to swiftly journey across the Indian Ocean. This trip usually involved starting from one of the edges of the ocean, around today’s Indonesia or east Africa, sailing to India, stopping, and allowing another crew to wait for another monsoon to sail to the other edge of the Indian Ocean, as different monsoon winds blew in different directions at different times of the year. Crews would frequently winter for months in India or at one of the edges of the ocean waiting for another season of monsoons. This allowed for significant cultural exchanges as diverse people from different places would often spend months at a time living in foreign countries (Islam is said to have entered Indonesia in this manner).

Project Mausam would allow India to reestablish its ties with its ancient trade partners and re-establish an “Indian Ocean world” along the littoral of the Indian Ocean. This world would stretch from east Africa, along the Arabian Peninsula, past southern Iran to the major countries of South Asia and thence to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia."

One India and The Diplomat

Russia sends massive new convoy across border into Ukraine

Russia has once again sent a massive convoy of hundreds of large, covered trucks across the border into Ukraine's sovereign territory, without permission and without any inspection. This time, the Russians didn't even announce the convoy in advance, but simply sent the trucks through the border. As in the previous convoys, there's no way to tell whether the trucks contain "humanitarian aid," as the Russians claim, or whether they contain weapons to support the Russian soldiers stationed in Ukraine. Deutsche-Welle and Ria Novosti

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Sep-14 World View -- Turkey admits 66,000 refugee Kurds from Syria as Mideast realignment continues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood

China's Alibaba IPO causes lightheaded investors to pop champagne corks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sierra Leone starts 3-day lockdown to battle Ebola


Empty street in Freetown during lockdown on Friday (Reuters)
Empty street in Freetown during lockdown on Friday (Reuters)

Streets in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, were deserted on Friday, the first day of a 3-day lockdown of the entire country. People were told in advance to stock up on food, so that they wouldn't have to leave their homes for 3 days. Muslims were told to pray on Friday, and Christians were told to pray on Sunday.

The plans are that nearly 30,000 health workers, volunteers and teachers aim to visit every household in the country to educate people about the disease and isolate the sick. There are 6 million people in the country, so that's 200 people per volunteer. Each volunteer is given a kit containing soap, stickers and flyers before leaving.

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the economy gets worse every day because of the Ebola crisis. Many families could not stock up on three days of food, and some people will starve. Investors are concerned that the lockdown will affect Sierra Leone's iron ore production.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) is condemning the plan, saying that it will no effect on the spread of Ebola.

Earlier this week, one 8-person team educating people on Ebola risks in a remote part of southeastern Guinea were killed and their bodies dumped in a village latrine. CNN and Reuters

Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood

Violence agreed on Friday in Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen, between Houthi militias from north of Sanaa versus Yemen's army backed by pro-government ethnic groups. Houthis have been camped out in Sanaa since mid-August, paralyzing government offices and businesses. The Houthis have been demanding a restoration of fuel subsidies that were cut in July, increasing gasoline prices by 60% or more. Violence has been increasing, and by Friday the airport was shut down, phone lines and internet services were down, and residents were forced to stay indoors.

Although the Yemen conflict is largely fought between ethnic groups, each side has powerful political supporters.

The Houthis are in the Zaidi branch of the Shia Muslim religion, and are in control of large swathes of territory in northern Yemen, along the border with Saudi Arabia. It's widely believed that Iran has been training and supplying arms to the Houthis, with a view to destabilizing both Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The most important militias opposed to the Houthis are those who are in the Sunni political group al-Islah, which is Yemen's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Much of the fighting in and around Sanaa involves al-Islah-allied militias, rather than Yemen's military.

However, more intriguing are the reports that the Houthis are being supported by the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted by his vice president, and now the current president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. Saleh is also a member of the Zaidi sect, while Hadi is a Sunni Muslim. Saleh was in power from 1992 until his ouster in 2012, and he and Hadi had a good relationship. But Saleh is extremely bitter about being overthrown and it's suspected that he wants to destabilize Hadi's government, and have him replaced by his son, Ahmed Ali Saleh. VOA and Middle East Eye and Daily Star (Beirut)

China's Alibaba IPO causes lightheaded investors to pop champagne corks

Here's how one news story began:

"Alibaba debuted as a publicly traded company Friday and swiftly climbed more than 40 percent in a mammoth IPO that offered eager investors seemingly unlimited potential for growth and a way to tap into the burgeoning Chinese middle class.

The sharp demand for shares sent the market value of the e-commerce giant soaring well beyond that of Amazon, eBay and even Facebook. The initial public offering was on track to be the world's largest, with the possibility of raising as much as $25 billion.

Jubilant CEO Jack Ma stood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as eight Alibaba customers, including an American cherry farmer and a Chinese Olympian, rang the opening bell."

We've now completely returned to the euphoric hysteria that preceded the 2007-2008 financial crisis. At that time, investors were going nuts over one IPO after another, one leveraged buyout after another. Each one was a sure thing, just like Alibaba, and I'm told that there are a lot more IPOs coming in the next few months.

There aren't any "real people" investing in Alibaba. The investors are almost all hedge funds and financial institutions. A hedge fund can borrow $10 million and use it to buy Alibaba stock, since it's "sure" to go up. That's how a combination debt bubble and stock market bubble are created. Different hedge funds borrow money and use it to buy stocks, pushing up the prices of the stocks, and in essence creating money backed by a chain of debt. The problem arises when one hedge fund loses money and can't repay its debts, causing a chain reaction that results in a financial crisis.

Stock market valuations are going farther and farther into the ozone bubble layers. The last time I mentioned the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio, just a couple of weeks ago, it was at 18.97, which is already astronomically high by historical standards. But now, according to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (September 19) has shot up to 19.36.

Do I have to remind you, Dear Reader, that it wasn't very long ago, in 1982, when the S&P 500 P/E ratio was below 6. It falls to that level every 30 years or so, and it's overdue to do so again. This would push the Dow Jones Industrial Average down to the 3000 level.

By the way, those hedge funds didn't really invest in the Alibaba company on Friday. Alibaba is described as "China's e-commerce powerhouse," bigger than eBay and Facebook combined. But the Chinese do not permit foreigners to own Chinese internet stocks. So they set up some kind of holding company in the Cayman Islands, with some kind of relationship to Alibaba. Investors who bought stock on Friday actually bought shares in that holding company. Even large investors have absolutely no say in how Alibaba is run, and China's regulators can pull the plug at any time. But apparently today's investors are so imbued with sheer stupidity that they bought the stock anyway, and pushed its opening price of $60 per share all the way up to $93 per share, within just a few hours. AP and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen violence may be proxy between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Sep-14 World View -- BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion

Thailand's PM suggests that only ugly people are safe in bikinis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand's PM suggests that only ugly people are safe in bikinis


Murdered British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23
Murdered British tourists David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who heads the military junta that overthrew Thailand's elected government in a coup in May, is apologizing for suggesting that only ugly people should wear bikinis.

The bodies of two British tourists, a young, good-looking male and female, were found bludgeoned on one of Thailand's scenic beaches. Prayuth said, "Can they be safe in bikinis, unless they are not beautiful?"

In response to the subsequent uproar, Prayuth said, I apologize that I have spoken too harshly ... I didn’t mean to criticize or look down on anyone. Today I can guarantee that Thailand is still safe ... I wanted to warn [the tourists] to be careful. I’m sorry that it hurt people." AP

BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion

BBC reporters in southern Russia were attacked by Russian security thugs after interviewing a woman whose brother, a professional Russian soldier, had been killed in action in Ukraine. The Russian thugs seriously wounded the cameraman and smashed his camera. The others were locked up while their equipment was damaged and all their reports erased. However, the reporters had already uploaded much of the material, including the interview with the dead soldier's sister before the Russian thugs attacked, so the BBC was able to air the interview after all.

In the interview, as aired on the BBC, the woman said her brother was a professional soldier who had been ordered into Ukraine, and was probably killed there. In her last phone contact with her brother, he said that he'd been ordered to go to southwest Ukraine, which presumably means that Russia is in the midst of a military buildup to attack Odessa and then annex southern Ukraine, as well as Moldova's Transnistria province.

Nato and several news organizations have shown the presence of large numbers of Russian troops in Ukraine. Russia simply claims that everyone else is lying, uses violence by thugs to intimidate reporters who collect such evidence, and uses an army of paid trolls to attack anyone on the internet who reports Russian activities.

Russia invaded Crimea, Ukraine's southern peninsula, earlier this year, and annexed it. They lied about the presence of Russian troops until the invasion and the annexation were over, and then acknowledged that they had been lying, even awarding medals to the Russian soldiers who conducted the invasion.

On Thursday, Ukraine's government reported that Russia's troops in Crimea have been massing on the Crimean border. If this story is true, and if the Russian woman's story is true that her dead brother had been ordered to southwest Ukraine, it would indicate that a new Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent, with plans to annex southern Ukraine. BBC and AFP and BBC and Pravda (Moscow)

Dozens of Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine from Chechnya

Dozens of Russian soldiers from Chechnya are fighting the Ukrainian army in Ukraine. These Chechens have produced a large number of videos that appear on the internet showing the fighting and dying in Ukraine. Other videos show Russian officers threatening Chechens who resist being sent to Ukraine. The influx of Chechens includes entire military units normally based in Chechnya, including two Motorized Rifle Brigades. The brigades are manned exclusively by contract soldiers, 10–20 percent of which are Chechens. Jamestown and Bloomberg

China's and India's leaders smile despite military confrontation

China's president Xi Jinping and India's prime minister Narendra Modi acted like friendly old pals in their meeting in New Delhi, and promised that the two countries would help each other with new economic initiatives. China pledged to invest $20 billion in a five year plan to reduce the trade imbalance that currently favors China by a large amount.

Xi promised to combine the "world's factory" with the "world's back office" in a Wednesday editorial that he wrote for The Hindu:

"As emerging markets, each with its own strengths, we need to become closer development partners who draw upon each other’s strengths and work together for common development. With rich experience in infrastructure building and manufacturing, China is ready to contribute to India’s development in these areas. India is advanced in IT and pharmaceutical industries, and Indian companies are welcome to seek business opportunities in the Chinese market. The combination of the “world’s factory” and the “world’s back office” will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market."

Xi also appreciatively quoted Modi's characterization that China and India are "two bodies, one spirit."

However, Modi also said that the boundary issues between China and India need to be resolved quickly:

"We need to resolve our boundary issue soon. A clarification on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) is very important. It has been pending for years, it is time to start it again.

Indeed, despite all the friendly talk between the two leaders, Chinese and Indian forces were confronting each other in the bitterly contested Kashmir/Jammu region. 600 soldiers crossed China's border into India in the early hours of Thursday morning, supported by helicopters. They were building a road that would be five km deep into Indian territory. There was no live fire between the two sides. IBNLive (India) and Times of India and The Hindu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Sep-14 World View -- BBC reporters attacked by Russian thugs after finding evidence of new Ukraine invasion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?

John Kerry's testimony before the Senate: 1971 and Today

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic?


A section of the Congo River, made to look like the Ebola virus
A section of the Congo River, made to look like the Ebola virus

Here's a question I received from a web site reader, commenting on yesterday's World View article, in which I concluded on the subject of Ebola with, "It seems likely that the pandemic will have to run its course, meaning that almost all people in Liberia will sooner or later become sick with the disease, and either survive or not":

"I find it difficult to square your comments about a generalized and all-encompassing infection rate with the news comments about the number of people who are reported infected. Your suggestion that "all" will get sick and survive or die is an Apocalypse unknown in modern times. If any western nation were to lose 25% of its population there would be a complete collapse of the nation (in my opinion). Now you suggest that the death rate would approach 50%. Should the infection spread beyond the sub-sahara region into North Africa with the Hajj approaching the infection would go worldwide. This would be a game changer and the perfect excuse for global war (in all of its forms) as countries would be "forced" to close their borders. Smoot-Hawley did not tickle the economies of the world as this would.

As the press is reporting the illness is striking people by the thousands and while it could strike thousands more this does not approach the millions to be infected by your reasoning. I am not sure how you develop the thought of everyone contracting the disease. Please write about how your develop your reasoning."

In the past few weeks and months, I've listened and read probably close to 1000 news reports and analyses on what's happening in Liberia, and I take note of what's said, and what's not said.

What's said over and over is:

What's not said is: "This will be brought under control soon."

So I reached the conclusion that I reached.

Say there are currently 1000 cases in Liberia. Ebola is expanding exponentially, with the number of cases in Liberia doubling every two weeks or so. Since 2**10=1024, then the number of cases after ten iterations (20 weeks) will be 1024*1000 which is over a million.

You suggest that I'm saying that it will be a worldwide epidemic, spread by the Hajj. I didn't say anything like that, and the Saudis are taking every possible precaution, and have the expertise and infrastructure to do so.

Factors that are specific to Liberia are lack of health care infrastructure, superstitions, illiteracy and lack of education, anti-Western hostility, and funeral rites. These are the main factors that caused the initial spread, and now there's an extremely fast exponential rate of growth caused by three more factors: Lack of enough Ebola clinics, deaths of many health workers, and isolation of Liberia from the rest of the world -- meaning that new Ebola patients are literally receiving no care whatsoever.

Things may change, but right now I don't see any of these factors in play in the U.S. or Europe or any developed nation. However, those factors may still apply in many underdeveloped places in the world, particularly megacities and slums, and so a global Ebola epidemic in specific isolated places may yet occur. Also, a war in any location can destroy the health care infrastructure, and allow a pandemic to spread.

Another web site reader referred me to the following very interesting article on the history of pandemics: How plagues really work

John Kerry's testimony before the Senate: 1971 and Today

Here's what John Kerry said, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971:

"I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country."

Now, here's what he said on Wednesday, testifying before the same committee:

"Because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women. And they believe women shouldn't have an education. They sell off girls to be sex slaves to jihadists. There is no negotiation with ISIL. There is nothing to negotiate. And they’re not offering anyone healthcare of any kind. They're not offering education of any kind.

For a whole philosophy or idea or cult, or whatever you want to call it, that frankly comes out of the stone age. They’re cold-blooded killers marauding across the Middle East making a mockery of a peaceful religion."

When you compare the two statements, the US Army comes out a lot worse than ISIL in John Kerry's view.

John Kerry has expressed nothing but contempt for the US Army his entire life. He reaffirmed his 1971 testimony when he appeared on the Imus show in 2006, and in that time frame he said that US soldiers are stupid.

For John Kerry to be U.S. Secretary of State is a travesty and an insult to all Americans. The only thing that qualifies him for this or any government job is that his boss shares his attitudes. Richmond.edu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Sep-14 World View -- Will Ebola become a worldwide pandemic? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam

U.S. to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to fight Ebola

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam


Picture from BrahMos press release
Picture from BrahMos press release

Talks for sale of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, to Vietnam are at an "advanced stage." Vietnam has already been deemed a "friendly country" by Russia and India, and acquisition of the BrahMos would be a significant strategic coup for Vietnam, to bolster its credible defense against China. Vietnam is ill-equipped to prevent China from annexing territories belonging to Vietnam and other countries bordering the South China Sea, and the supersonic missiles would allow Vietnam to threaten any naval assets that China may choose to use in the future against Vietnamese interests.

The BrahMos, developed jointly in a strategic partnership between Indian DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) and Russian NPO Mashinostroyeniya, is a stealth cruise missile with a range of 290 km and travels at a speed of Mach 2.8 to 3. Its developer claims that the missile cannot be intercepted for the next 20 years.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these alliances further support the ten-year-old prediction, based on generational analysis of the countries involved, that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war would pit China plus Pakistan plus the Sunni Muslim countries versus the U.S. plus India plus Russia plus Iran. In Asia, the alliance between India, Russia and Vietnam is growing, while in the Mideast, we see a realignment in progress that's allying the U.S. with Iran and Russia, versus the Sunni-jihadist Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). These realignments are continuing. Diplomat and BrahMos press release

Over 500 migrants drown in Mediterranean after boat was rammed

About 500 migrants, 400 adults and 100 children, traveling from Egypt to Malta drowned, after the boat carrying them collided with another boat. The migrants' boat may have been rammed and deliberately sunk by human traffickers, who were demanding that they give up their boat in exchange for a smaller boat. According to survivors, the traffickers were laughing after ramming and sinking the boat.

The number of migrants traveling from Africa to Europe has been surging exponentially this year, and this would be the biggest drowning incident so far. Last October there were two tragic shipwrecks last October in which more than 400 Eritrean, Somali and Syrian migrants drowned. ( "16-Oct-13 World View -- Sicily declares state of emergency as African migrants flood in")

The deaths of 400 migrants caused a scandal throughout Europe, and Italy began spending $13 million dollars per month on a program called "Mare Nostrum" (Our Sea) to rescue drowning migrants trying to reach Sicily. Many people believe that the exponential surge in migrants is an unintended consequence of the Mare Nostrum program, since a migrant can feel confident that he'll reach Europe one way or another.

Italy has been complaining bitterly that Europe should be paying a lot more of the $13 million monthly tab. The Europeans have agreed to a small expansion of its Frontex border agency into a "Frontex Plus" program, but for the most part, the Europeans are happy to sit back and just let Italy bear the entire cost. CNN and Guardian (London)

U.S. to send 3,000 troops to Liberia to fight Ebola

Most people are aware of the close relationship that the United States has had with the country of Liberia, resulting from the fact that it was founded by freed American slaves in the early 1800s. Since that time, America has provided aid and support to the country when necessary, and Liberia provided valuable resources, particularly rubber, in support of America's war effort in World War II.

With the Ebola virus spreading exponentially throughout Liberia, Liberia is facing an existential crisis, and so it's not surprising that the U.S. is going to help. Under the U.S. plan, 3,000 U.S. troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, to help with the transportation of supplies and other personnel. U.S. forces will construct 17 health care facilities of 100 beds each to isolate and treat victims. The U.S. mission will also set up a facility to train 500 health care workers per week.

The Ebola crisis threatens to wipe out ten years of rebuilding Liberia following the bloody civil war that ended in 2003. Liberia's society is split between indigenous tribes -- the people who lived there before the freed slaves arrived -- and the freed slaves who settled there. Although making up only about 5% of the population, the freed slaves and their descendants, known as "Americo-Liberians," were a dominant minority and ruled Liberia following independence, until the civil war began in the 1960s. The society that sent freed slaves to Liberia in the 1800s selected the ones with the strongest Protestant Christian beliefs, and the ruling Americo-Liberian minority considered themselves and their religion to be superior to the religions of the indigenous tribes, whether animist or Muslim. Ironically, the freed slaves themselves became slavemasters to the indigenous people, continuing into the 1900s. The war ended, but tensions between the settlers and the tribes continue. The civil war that ended in 2003 left the country destitute, and now it's facing destitution again from Ebola.

Some people are criticizing the American action to be too little, too late. Based on the reports that have been coming out of Liberia in the last few months, it's quite possible that even 3,000 American troops cannot stop the rapid spread of the disease. It seems likely that the pandemic will have to run its course, meaning that almost all people in Liberia will sooner or later become sick for the disease, and either survive or not. The survivors should then be immune from further illness from Ebola. VOA and White House and Liberian National History Project

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Sep-14 World View -- Russia, India to sell supersonic cruise missile to Vietnam thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Sep-14 World View -- Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches

The center of international piracy moves from Somalia to Singapore

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches


Camel traders can become infected with MERS by contact with camels (BBC)
Camel traders can become infected with MERS by contact with camels (BBC)

With millions of Muslims from around the world about to arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage on October 2-7, Saudi officials are pushing hard to prevent an outbreak of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). There is particular sensitivity this year, as the Ebola virus spreads out of control in Western Africa. Crowded Hajj events are the perfect venues for one infected person to spread MERS to several other people, causing a chain reaction.

Since the first cases of MERS were identified in 2012, there have been 855 cases and 333 deaths, with a 40% death rate. However, MERS apparently is more difficult to spread than Ebola, as most of the MERS deaths have been health care workers, or others who caught it in hospitals.

The "reservoir" for the MERS virus appears to be camels. Camels carry the virus but are not sickened by it, and can pass the virus to humans, who DO become sickened by it.

Saudi officials have for several months been on a massive education campaign, particularly targeting thousands of health care workers. Saudi health officials say they have beefed up their response to the outbreak, with better infection control in hospitals and improved surveillance systems such as a new Command and Control Centre in Jeddah, which can coordinate swift isolation and treatment of new cases to prevent spread. Arab News and BBC

Pakistan's umbrella Taliban group appears to be disintegrating

On Monday, the Baitullah Mehsud faction of the Pakistan Taliban umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) became the fourth faction recently to announce its separation from TTP. The apparent disintegration of TTP isn't necessarily good news, as it means that the individual ethnic terrorist groups within TTP are going to continue individually. Factional fighting within the TTP began in November 2011, when an American drone strike killed TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. In an attempt to reunite the factions, the TTP pulled off a spectacular attack on Karachi airport in June of this year, claiming that was revenge for the drone strike that killed Mehsud. However, that attack backfired since, for the first time, Pakistan's army finally launched an operation, known as Zarb-e-Azb, on North Waziristan in Pakistan's tribal area to "clean out" the Taliban's hideouts and weapons stores.

The new faction has declared extortion, abduction for ransom, and bombing public places as Haram (any act that is forbidden by Allah). "One of the reason we have given up on the larger group is that conspirators have infiltrated it," according to a spokesman.

It was just three weeks ago that another group of factions broke off from TTP, and called itself Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom). The leader, Maulana Qasim Omar Khorasani, had been strongly opposed by the "peace talks," earlier this year, between TTP and Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif. In a statement last February leading up to the split, a spokesman said:

"Some of our leaders have become prey to compromises and have agreed to conduct dialogue only to get the tribal areas liberated. It is very clear that Shariah can never be attained through talks. Even if the Government makes a concession, it will only be limited to the tribal areas. In the past, we used to participate in jihad [Holy war] from the platform of Tehrik-e-Taliban. But from now onwards, we will carry out attacks independently. The Mujahideen associated with the TTP are our brothers, but if they opt for a ceasefire with the Government, we shall not be bound by their agreement, nor are we willing to accept such a ceasefire."

Following the split, a spokesman claimed, "It was lack of leadership quality that TTP had been involved in bloody clashes that have taken lives of known Mujahideen. The leadership had no policy to deal with this situation." Samaa TV (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

The center of international piracy moves from Somalia to Singapore

The changing nature of piracy has changed it from a multi-million dollar industry pursued by Somali warlords off the horn of Africa to a billion dollar industry pursued by commercial pirates in the seas of the Singapore Strait and Strait of Malacca.

Five years ago, pirate attacks off the horn of Africa had become fairly common. Pirates would board ships and hold the crews for multi-million dollar ransoms. But thanks to a multinational military effort and merchant crew training, the number of such attacks was reduced to 13 last year from 197 in 2009.

But the sheer number of merchant ships at sea, roughly 55,000, makes a similar approach impossible with the pirates of southern Asia. These pirates almost never seize hostages. Instead, they board the ship, tie up the crew, smash the communications and navigation equipment, and then get down to work -- stealing the cargo, which is usually gas or oil. The pirates bring their own tankers and siphon the oil or gas to their own ship. A typical haul for a few hours work is half a million dollars. CNBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Sep-14 World View -- Saudis push to avoid MERS outbreak as Hajj approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Sep-14 World View -- US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases

ISIS recruiting women from America and Britain

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases


Photo taken by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet dangerously harassing the surveillance plane last month(DOD)
Photo taken by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet dangerously harassing the surveillance plane last month(DOD)

The US and Malaysia are in discussions to permit US surveillance flights in the South China Sea to fly out of East Malaysian air bases, on the southern rim of the South China Sea. This is certain to further infuriate the Chinese, who blame the US for being "troublemakers," as China annexes other countries' territories in the same way that the Nazis annexed territories in Europe.

China has been pursuing a military "salami slicing strategy" to annex South China Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

Because of China's annexations, China's relations with Vietnam and the Philippines have become increasingly hostile. China's relations with Malaysia have remained friendly, mainly because the Malaysians don't want to get the Chinese angry, even as China is preparing to annex Malaysian territory. (See "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal")

Speaking on September 8, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ADM Jonathan W. Greenert said:

"[R]ecently, the Malaysians have offered us to fly detachments of P-8s out of East Malaysia. You can see the closeness to the South China Sea. So we have opportunities and we ought to continue to nurture them."

According to Greenert, the offer is made in appreciation for American help during the search for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) that disappeared on March 8, and has never been found. A staging site in East Malaysia would enable the Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft easier access for operating over the South China Sea and shipping lanes such as the Strait of Malacca and the Sunda Strait, through which much of the world’s commerce passes.

Malaysia's defense minister denies that any such permission has been granted, but apparently the discussions have been going on for some time.

This comes at a time when China is increasingly harassing US surveillance planes flying over international waters in the South China Sea. Recently, a Chinese jet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident is reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor crashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern China coast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days. Sea Power Magazine and Malaysia Chronicle

African jihadist group pledges loyalty to ISIS

A new African jihadist group has broken off from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and pledged loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS).

The splinter group is called 'Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria', and AQIM central region commander Khaled Abu Suleimane, whose real name is Gouri Abdelmalek, claimed leadership of the new group, and said in a statement:

"You have in the Islamic Maghreb men if you order them they will obey you. The Maghreb has deviated from the true path."

This is the latest blow to al-Qaeda in the rise of ISIS at the expense of al-Qaeda, thanks to a generational split between the two organizations, pitting the drawing power of old geezers like Ayman al-Zawahiri running al-Qaeda versus the youthful al-Baghdadi running ISIS. Even worse for al-Qaeda, the organization hasn't been able to pull off anything anywhere near as spectacular as the 9/11/2001 attacks. But ISIS has been spectacular in a different way, taking over large areas in Syria and Iraq and decapitating Western journalists, the things that create erotic fantasies in would-be jihadists and their jihadist-girlfriends. Reuters and Al Jazeera

ISIS recruiting women from America and Britain

The Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with its large community of immigrants from Somalia, has been a source of several dozen recruits for the al-Qaeda linked Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab. In particular, Minneapolis jihadists were involved in the horrific three-day attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi Kenya, in September of last year.

Now US law enforcement is investigating what may be a new trend -- teenage girls from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who are flying to Syria to join the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). They may join ISIS with dreams of marrying a big, strong jihadist, but monitoring of extremists' social media accounts and other writings shows that male jihadis regard women counterparts as little more than mating partners. According to one analyst, "ISIS is recruiting these women in order to be baby factories. They are seeing the establishment of an Islamic state and now they need to populate the state."

ISIS is also recruiting Muslim girls and women in Europe, particularly from Britain and France. Researchers are discovering that many of them are being used to run "brothels" to hold Iraqi girls captured by the ISIS militias, to be used by the ISIS militia terrorists as they please. Reuters and Huffington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Sep-14 World View -- US surveillance aircraft may have access to Malaysian air bases thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics

Russian Orthodox fanatic considers Vladimir Putin to be united with God

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia sends massive new 'humanitarian convoy' into Ukraine


Massive Russian truck convoy with unknown contents arrives in Russian-held territory in east Ukraine, with no permission and no inspections (Ria Novosti)
Massive Russian truck convoy with unknown contents arrives in Russian-held territory in east Ukraine, with no permission and no inspections (Ria Novosti)

Without asking for permission or permitting inspections, Russia on Saturday sent a huge convoy of 220 trucks across the border of Ukraine, into the region of east Ukraine controlled by Russian army and pro-Russian anti-government forces. Ukraine officials are calling it "a direct invasion." Russia is calling it "humanitarian aid," but it could just as well be heavy weapons or even hundreds of Russian soldiers, reminiscent of the story of the Trojan Horse. Ria Novosti and Deutsche Welle

Russian Orthodox fanatic considers Vladimir Putin to be united with God

Every religion has its religious fanatics, and one of the leading fanatics in the Russian Orthodox religion is Dmitry Tsorionov, who uses "Enteo" as a pseudonym. According to Tsorionov in a recent lecture in Moscow:

"A divine light at the moment when [Putin] left his baptism transfixed his essence, restoring the destroyed depths of his being, and giving him an anthological ability to acquire celestial energy. ...

Without a doubt he does good deeds, and for this God gives him grace. He strengthens his presence in Vladimir Putin, and Vladimir Putin becomes a living temple. God has been placed inside this little Vladimir Putin. This is a fact."

Supposedly, Tsorionov statements are drawn from the theology of the Byzantine Empire and the "godliness" of the emperor. But his bizarre statements may be more political than religious. He's anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, and opposes teaching evolution in schools, saying that the universe was created 7,521 years ago, on the first of March, a Sunday. He's part of a growing group of ultra-conservatives who oppose any Western influence, even Apple Corp.'s logo, complaining that the half-bitten apple promotes original sin. These groups are occasionally violent against homosexuals and other politically incorrect groups.


Alina Kabaeva, Putin's alleged long-time mistress (pravda.ru)
Alina Kabaeva, Putin's alleged long-time mistress (pravda.ru)

According to Tsorionov:

"We kill tens of millions of our children. We betray our wives. We don’t go to Church. We smoke hashish. Meanwhile, Vladimir Vladimirovich, the boss, is praying seriously for us all. Of course we are not worthy."

Perhaps Tsorionov is ignoring the years of reports about his mistress, 2004 Olympics award-winning rhythmical gymnast Alina Kabaeva. RFERL and Ria Novosti (8/2013)

ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics

A new internet video from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) begins with a clip from Britain's prime minister David Cameron saying:

"We have to stick to the very clear foreign policy and the very clear strategy we have, which is to work with the new Iraqi government to help make sure the Kurds get the arms they need to fight off these brutal, extremist militants, to work with our allies, and as I've said to use everything we have — our aid, our diplomacy, and our military prowess — to make sure that with our allies we do everything we can to put pressure on Islamic State, the supporting organization..."

Next, the video shows the ISIS executioner, saying the following:

"This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the brutal air force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

Your evil alliance with America, which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam, will only accelerate your destruction, and playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war."

Cameron called an emergency meeting of his government early Sunday morning to discuss how to deal with the crisis.

Britain recently raised its national terror threat level to "severe," meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely," though not necessarily imminent. The announcement of this change referred to the approximately 500 British citizens that have traveled to fight in Syria, with 200 already having returned home.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, most of the world is deep into a generational Crisis era, with 69 years having passed since the end of World War II. During this era, the population reacts in a somewhat panicky manner to what are called "regeneracy events." These events appear to pose an existential threat to a country or its way of life, and they regenerate civic unity behind the leader and his call for military action.

We've seen this fairly dramatically in the last few weeks, when polls have shown a big swing among Americans from not favoring military action against ISIS to almost 2/3rds of Americans saying that military action against ISIS is in the nation's interest. This is an example of how quickly a regeneracy event can change public opinion during a generational Crisis era.

In the last few days, since President Obama's televised speech on Wednesday, Britain has been among those countries showing reluctance to join America's "coalition of the willing" to fight ISIS. So it will be interesting to watch closely in the next few days to see if public opinion in Britain shifts the way it did in America, and whether Cameron will announce that Britain will join America's conflict with Syria.

On Saturday evening, Cameron said the murder was "despicable and appalling," and added:

"It is an act of pure evil. My heart goes out to the family of David Haines who have shown extraordinary courage and fortitude throughout this ordeal. We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes."

That's already a pretty strong threat, and suggests that some kind of military response from Britain is coming.

A related question is this: Why did ISIS do this? What do they have to gain? It almost looks like they WANT Britain to join the U.S. in fighting ISIS.

I certainly am no mind reader, particularly of ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, but this action is quite consistent with two decades of jihadist terrorist attacks. As I've written many times, al-Qaeda has been using Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution as a model. The goal of al-Qaeda has been to trigger an uprising that would repeat that revolution in another country, putting al-Qaeda in control. In my view, ISIS is following the same strategy: by bringing airstrikes from America and Britain into Syria and Iraq, al-Baghdadi hopes to trigger an anti-Western uprising that will defeat Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and put al-Baghdadi and his "Islamic State" in power. NY News and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS execution of Britain's David Haines may change US/UK military dynamics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Sep-14 World View -- Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel to investigate its own possible war crimes in Gaza war


Silhouettes of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, July 12, 2014 (DPA)
Silhouettes of Israeli soldiers in Gaza, July 12, 2014 (DPA)

Israel's Defense Force (IDF) has launched criminal problems over several incidents involving it soldiers during the Gaza war. In a July 16 incident, Israeli forces fired on a beach in Gaza City, killing four children who were playing there. Just over a week later, a UN school in the northern city of Beit Hanun was shelled by the Israelis, killing at least 15 people.

This will be part of an overall review by IDF. There will be 12 main review teams, each headed by a high-level IDF officer. Among the issues being reviewed are: the use of firepower during the operation; the maneuvering of ground forces; the IDF's readiness to deal with the tunnel threat; the decision to amass forces at a staging ground despite it being within range of mortar fire; the use of obsolete armored personnel carriers in fighting; intelligence; air defense; and coordination between the air, ground and naval forces.

Pro-Hamas activists are condemning the investigations as a "masquerade" that will lead to a "whitewash."

Another motive attributed to Israel is to head off an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Generally speaking, the ICC can gain jurisdiction over war crimes cases only if the country involved is unwilling or unable to investigate itself. Deutsche Welle and Israel Hayom

Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court

Senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh is pressuring Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah), to sign a document that would give the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes by Israel in the recent Gaza war. In a press statement, Haniyeh said:

"The Palestinian factions and Palestinian community all agree on the need for Abbas to go to the ICC and sign the Rome Statute in order to prosecute the leaders of the Zionist enemy for their crimes committed against the Palestinian people. ...

Hamas signed the document urging Abbas to sign the Rome Statute, and the signing of this is the right of all the victims. Stalling the signing of the Statute is considered a concession of their rights and offensive to the Palestinian people and their struggle."

Haniyeh's remarks come as pro-Hamas officials and activists express puzzlement and outrage that Abbas in August explicity refused to sign the document that would give ICC jurisdiction over Israel's alleged war crimes. Abbas is the head of the Hamas-Fatah unity government, and so his approval is required before the ICC can act on any document provided by the Palestinians.

Various reports give several possible reasons for Abbas's refusal:

Another reason is related to the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war that we've written about in several articles. There is a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus PA/Fatah versus Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey. To put it bluntly, Abbas considers Hamas to be his enemy, and does not want to empower Hamas in a way that would happen if Abbas enabled an ICC war crime investigation of Israel. Ma'aN News (Bethlehem) and Middle East Eye and Middle East Monitor and Israel National News

Little visible support for American coalition to fight ISIS

The plans announced in President Obama's Wednesday speech to form a "coalition of the willing" to fight the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) have been running into some roadblocks.

Turkey made a surprise announcement on Thursday that it would not be participating, and would not allow American warplanes to use its air bases. Turkey has internal political considerations, and ISIS is holding 49 Turkish diplomats as hostages.

Arab states, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are reluctant to participate because they would face retaliation by jihadist terrorist groups. Nato allies Britain and Germany are also reluctant, and France is completely ruling out participation. Politicians in many countries note that President Obama has reneged on commitments before, and so many of these countries are reluctant to commit their own resources when it's not clear that Obama is fully committed.

It's possible that some of these countries will provide "quiet cooperation," but right now it looks like America will be the only country performing air strikes, and no country except Iraq will provide combat troops. I have not heard any analyst indicate that the project will be successful without substantially more cooperation, and right now there are few signs that that cooperation is coming. It's possible that officials in some countries will change their minds once the operation begins. CNN and Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Sep-14 World View -- Palestinians divided over taking Israel to International Criminal Court thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President George W. Obama presents his ISIS strategy


What's the name of this President? I forget.  (WashingtonsBlog.com)
What's the name of this President? I forget. (WashingtonsBlog.com)

It was very hard to escape the impression, listening to President Obama's speech on Wednesday evening, that he would rather have all his teeth pulled out than have to give that speech, which could have been given by President George W. Bush, if he had had two more terms. President Obama's entire foreign policy has always been to ask what President Bush would do and then do the opposite, but the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) has forced him in the past few weeks to sound more and more like his predecessor.

His attempts to be the non-Bush were comical. Here's how he struggled to distinguish what he's doing from what Bush did:

"But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order."

So this is not a war -- that's a Bush thing. This is counterterrorism -- that's an Obama thing, and it's different.

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized this when he was asked in an interview whether we were at war:

"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity.

I don't think people need to get into war fever on this. I think they have to view it as a heightened level of counter terrorist activity...but it's not dissimilar to what we've been doing the last few years with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Yemen and elsewhere."

I try to write about President Obama on as few days as I can get away with, because I criticize him, and then people criticize me for criticizing him. But I just never have the feeling that Obama lives on this planet, or has any idea what's going on on this planet. It's just one bizarre thing after another. I'll come back to the comparisons with Yemen and Somalia below. But we're not at war? Are you kidding me? Wasn't it just last week that Vice President Joe Biden said we'd follow ISIS to "the gates of hell"?

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. The corollary to this principle, which I've discussed many times since President Obama took office in 2009, is that going beyond pure rhetoric and politics, there will be little effective difference between Obama's presidency and President George W. Bush's hypothetical third and fourth terms, if such had taken place.

Indeed, Obama frequently said that the world would change on January 20, 2009, as soon as he was inaugurated as President. His goal was to heal the world with his mere presence -- cure global warming, provide universal health care, close Guantanamo, leave Iraq in peace, bring a two-state solution to Palestinians and Israelis, beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, restore the stock market bubble, and dismantle President Bush's war against terror. Nothing would be beyond his reach. And yet, it would be hard to find any real effective difference with how any of these policies would have unfolded in additional Bush administrations.

President Obama and John Kerry have had one foreign policy debacle after another. Now they're starting on something new, the conflict with ISIS, and they're playing with words. We can hope that this won't be yet another debacle, but this is a very bad omen. White House and CBS News

Obama pledges 'to degrade and ultimately destroy' ISIS

President Obama began his Wednesday night speech with:

"My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL."

What can he possibly mean by "destroy"? I can't think of a single example of a terrorist group being "destroyed," and he certainly provided no such examples. Let's make a list of the comparisons that he and Kerry did make in the excerpts quoted above:

One of Obama's big problems is that he keeps making ridiculous promises that he would know can't be kept if he understood what was going on in the world. The worst one was the chemical weapons "red line" in Syria that would trigger an American military response. Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons to this day, targeting innocent women and children with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas.

So now Obama has committed to "destroying" ISIS. How the hell is he going to do that?

And here's one more thing from his speech:

"Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

What's he talking about? Is he really going to take action against ISIS in Syria, when he refused to take action after Bashar al-Assad killed hundreds of people with Sarin gas?

When Obama was campaigning in 2008, he promised that as soon as took office then the earth would heal and the tides would recede. Obama is still making ridiculous promises. He just can't stop himself. Let's hope this doesn't end up as another debacle. White House

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

The CIA now estimates that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters. The CIA previously put the number at 10,000, and is now revising it upward by a factor of 2-3. The Hill

Iran faces a double threat from ISIS

Iran is a Shia Muslim state, but Iran's southeast province, on the border with Pakistan, is Balochistan, which has a Sunni majority population. The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is presenting a serious internal threat to Iran. Just as would-be jihadists from around the world are heading for Syria to train with ISIS, the same is true of would-be jihadists from Balochistan, fueled by a combination of extreme poverty and decades-long resentment by the local Sunni population against the policies of the Shia-dominated central government in Tehran. I've reported several times about Jundullah, a terrorist group that has perpetrated major attacks on Shia mosques and Revolutionary Guard stations in southeastern Iran. Jundullah's successor in Balochistan is Jaysh al-Adl (Army of Justice), and it's feared that ISIS and Jaysh al-Adl will link up with disaffected citizens of Balochistan, and threaten the Tehran government.

That's ISIS's internal threat to Iran. The external threat is to Iran's two closest allies in the region, the governments of Syria and Iraq. In particular, it's feared that the conflict in Iraq will spill over onto Iran's soil, and some unconfirmed reports indicate that's already happened. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Sep-14 World View -- Scotland's independence referendum is encouraging Catalonia's separatists

China's Uighur migrants attempt to reach Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's Uighur migrants attempt to reach Turkey


Uighur protests in China (AFP)
Uighur protests in China (AFP)

The mostly Sunni Muslim ethnic Uighurs in China's northwest Xinjiang province have, for over 20 years, been using various migration routes to escape violence from Chinese officials. The original migration was triggered by the April 1990 "Baren uprising," a confrontation with China's army that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Uighurs and Chinese troops in a five-day conflict. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, many Uighurs fled to the newly independent Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The Uighur language is "Turkic," mutually intelligible with Uzbek and similar to Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Turkmen.

After the late 1990s, China succeeded in closing the door to migrant Uighurs in Central Asian countries, and instead the migrants began traveling to Southeast Asia. Some joined the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ended up being captured by American forces and shipped to Guantanamo.

After the extremely violent confrontations between Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang in July, 2009 ( "China's Xinjiang province is scene of violent anti-government protests"), a new flood of Uighurs migrated to Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and Malaysia. However, China has also been successful in closing these escape routes, and it's believed that "China's 9-11" in Kunming was perpetrated in retaliation. ( "2-Mar-14 World View -- Knife-wielding mob of probable Xinjiang terrorists kill 28 in southern China")

Dissaffected Uighur dissidents are now attempting to reach Turkey, which would not only provide refuge, but also offer Uighurs employment opportunities and support networks, where they may engage in anti-Chinese advocacy activities. Jamestown

Britain in chaos as Scotland will vote on independence

Talk of an independent Scotland began some ten years ago, but now with the independence referendum vote scheduled for September 18 next week, Britain's politics are becoming chaotic. Until last week, it was believed by most people that the referendum would fail, and so not too many people seem to have worried about it. But a poll over the weekend showed a sizeable shift into the "yes" column, causing London to go into a panic and start making numerous promises to the Scots to convince them to vote "no."

If Scotland votes "yes," then there are many unknowns. What currency will Scotland use? Will Scotland be part of the European Union? Will the United Kingdom lose its veto in the U.N. Security Council? How will military and other assets be split between the two countries? BBC

Next in line: Catalonia may want independence from Spain

Scotland's vote for independence is already energizing separatist movements all over the world, and that's particularly true in Spain, where activists in the Catalonia region are seeking independence, with a referendum scheduled for a month from now, on November 9. The Spanish government considers the referendum to be illegal, but it's going ahead anyway.

Catalonia had special rights throughout the Middle Ages, and only lost those rights with the War of the Spanish Succession that ended with the surrender of the people of Barcelona to the French on September 11, 1714. Thursday is "Catalan National Day," commemorating the defeat exactly 300 years ago.

During the rule of longtime dictator Francisco Franco, Catalonia's independence movement was illegal and even the Catalan language was banned. But in 1978, just three years after Franco's death, the Kingdom of Spain passed a democratic constitution granting the country's 17 regions autonomy. Catalonia and the other regions then got their own constitutions which guaranteed self-government. Since 1980, Catalans have been electing their own parliament, have had their own police force and have taught their children in the Catalan language.

In the early 2000s, Spain had one of the worst real estate bubbles of any country in the world. When the bubble crashed, the economy plummeted, and unemployment today is above 25%. When Catalan public protests began, Madrid placed restrictions on Catalonia in 2010, even on the Catalan language, giving further impetus to the independence movement.

The Scottish and Catalan independence movements may turn out to be linked. If Scotland joins the European Union, then Catalonia will probably do the same. But the reverse is also true. A lot of European governments are opposed to both separatist movements, and these governments will oppose both countries' attempts to join the EU. Spiegel and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Sep-14 World View -- Scotland's independence referendum is encouraging Catalonia's separatists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen faces both Shia Houthi protesters and Sunni AQAP jihadists

Protests in Sanaa are tied to gasoline subsidies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Yemen fighting Houthi rebels in capital city Sanaa


Yemen soldiers (Yemen Times)
Yemen soldiers (Yemen Times)

Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, is also one of the most troubled. Yemen is fighting multiple wars at once.

The latest crisis is that four ethnic Houthis were shot and killed in the capital city Sanaa. They were part of a large group of Houthis who who have been camped out since mid-August. There have been several conflicts with the police. On Tuesday, the Houthis tried to force their way into the prime minister's office. The security forces who responded claim that they were not responsible for the protesters' deaths because they didn't shoot at the protesters, but shot in the air.

The protests were triggered by deep cuts in fuel subsidies in July imposed by Yemen's president Abdrabu Mansour Hadi, raising the price of gasoline by 60% and diesel by 95%. The cuts in fuel subsidies were demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in return for extending a $552.9 million credit line to Yemen.

Because of widespread public unrest, particularly anti-government rallies by Houthi rebels, Hadi last week ordered a 12% rollback in the subsidies. However, the Houthis are refusing to accept the partial rollback, and are demanding that the subsidies be fully restored.

The Houthis are in the Zaidi branch of the Shia Muslim religion, and are in control of large swathes of territory in northern Yemen, along the border with Saudi Arabia. They're considered a threat to both the Yemen government in Sanaa and the Saudi Arabia government in Riyadh. It's believed that Iran is funding them and supplying them with weapons, in an attempt to destabilize both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. SABA (Yemen) and Platts and Al Jazeera

Three Yemen soldiers killed by AQAP suicide bombers

While Yemen is fighting Shia Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, they're facing Sunni jihadists in southern Yemen, in the form of Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP has taken control of a large region and set up terrorist training camps. Before the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), AQAP was considered the most dangerous branch of al-Qaeda to the United States. AQAP was responsible for several attempted terrorist attacks on the United States, including the underwear bomb that was used in the failed Christmas day bombing in 2009. One component of AQAP, Ansar al-Sharia, operates in both Yemen and Libya, and is believed responsible for the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber reached an army checkpoint in Yemen, leading to a gunfight. A second suicide bomber sped towards the same checkpoint and detonated his explosives, killing the soldiers. It's estimated that in 2014 so far, AQAP attacks have killed 387 soldiers and injured hundreds more. Atrocities by militants reached a pinnacle in August this year as 14 off-duty soldiers travelling on a civilian bus were kidnapped and executed by AQAP militants, four of whom were beheaded. Yemen Times and Al-Ahram (Cairo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Sep-14 World View -- Yemen faces both Shia Houthi protesters and Sunni AQAP jihadists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Sep-14 World View -- Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk

France's scapegoat 'Rogue trader' Jerome Kerviel is freed from prison

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's scapegoat 'Rogue trader' Jerome Kerviel is freed from prison


Jerome Kerviel (AFP)
Jerome Kerviel (AFP)

The "rogue trader" Jérôme Kerviel was released from French prison on Monday, after serving part of a three-year sentence from his 2010 conviction on charges of breach of trust, forgery and entering false data. He'll serve out the rest of his sentence under partial house arrest. Kerviel worked at Sociéte Générale's as a trader. He placed fraudulent trades for months and made huge sums of money for the bank. Then his luck ran out, and his fraudulent trades failed, and he cost the bank $7.2 billion. Kerviel acted only on behalf of SocGen, and never tried to make any money himself.

What's so outrageous about this situation is that Kerviel is pretty much the only person who's ever been prosecuted for causing the financial crisis. As I've been writing for years, the evidence is unambiguous that individual "financial engineers" at Citibank, JP Morgan and other banks purposely created tens of trillions of dollars of synthetic subprime mortgage backed securities and sold them, knowing that they were fraudulent. Millions of people have lost their homes, or gone bankrupt, or had their cars repossessed because of the financial crisis, and no one is prosecuted except Kerviel.

An example of the fraud that was committed was exposed in 2010 by the Senate's Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, as I described in "Financial Crisis Inquiry hearings provide 'smoking gun' evidence of widespread criminal fraud". According to the testimony at the hearing, what Citibank did was as follows in simple terms: The financial engineers took a collection of subprime-backed B rated securities, applied a "slicing and dicing" process, and converted them into an equivalent value of AAA-rated securities. This is mathematically impossible, and as the Senate hearing showed, this was "smoking gun" proof of fraud.

These financial engineers were so-called because they were Gen-Xers who had gotten Masters degrees in financial engineering in the 1990s. They knew exactly what they were doing when they created and sold these fraudulent securities. Their Boomer CEO bosses could not possibly have understood the math that was used to create these fraudulent securities, but they must have known that the process of transforming B-rated securities to AAA-rated securities was impossible, and had to be illegal.

The model for handling this situation occurred in the late 1980s, when the Savings and Loan scandal occurred. The Bush 41 administration prosecuted thousands of people, sending many to jail.

But Attorney General Eric Holder has not prosecuted a single individual. Holder is always whining that no one respects him, and he whines because he was treated unfairly when he was held in Contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents. And yet, this jerk has not prosecuted a single individual for the financial crisis since he took office in 2008. Why? Either it's because he's totally incompetent, or it's because these bankers have contributed millions of dollars to Obama administration campaigns or organizations endorsed by the Obama administration, and not prosecuting is payoff.

But at least the French sent Kerviel, who never made a penny for himself, to jail. As I always like to say whenever I write about Kerviel, it's good to know that we're all safe today, because the person who caused the financial crisis has been identified, and is no longer at large.

Or perhaps we're not so safe. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (September 5) morning was 18.97 -- almost 19 -- which is astronomically high by historical standards. This means that the stock market is still in an enormous bubble, and the financial crisis is going to get much worse. Deutsche Welle and AFP

Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk

In recent days we've been discussing the realignment of the Mideast following the Gaza war and the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). These crises, along with the conflict in Ukraine, intersect in Russia's southern provinces in the North Caucasus. The population of Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and the other Caucasus provinces are largely Muslim, and have strong jihadist presences that are kept under title control by Russia's army.

The ISIS crisis and the Ukraine crisis intersect in the North Caucasus, because ISIS is posing a greater threat to the region, while Russia is drawing soldiers out of the region to fight in east Ukraine. For years, the best combat-ready Russian forces were concentrated in the North Caucasus to fight first Chechnya's pro-independence movement and later the insurgency that spread across the entire region. As Russia is increasingly drawn into the conflict with Ukraine, Moscow is forced to relocate its best prepared military units from the North Caucasus to Ukraine. Some observers regard this as a potential "window of opportunity" for the North Caucasian militants.

At the same time, ISIS is posing a direct threat the Caucasus. Thousands of young Muslim men have gone to Syria to join ISIS and become jihadists, including many from the Caucasus. Citizens of Russia do not require visas to visit Turkey, and there are daily flights from North Caucasus locations to Istanbul. From there, would-be jihadists have no trouble traveling to the porous border with Syria and crossing over.

A video recently posted by ISIS on the internet threatens Russia, and Russia's president Vladimir Putin in particular:

"Vladimir Putin, these are the Russian planes that you sent to Bashar. Allah willing, we will take them back to your own turf, and liberate Chechnya and the Caucasus, Allah willing. The Islamic State is here to stay. It is spreading and has become a caliphate. Your throne is being threatened by us. Allah will grant us success. You can see the evidence for that in the Levant. There are consecutive conquests here. We are coming, Allah willing. Allah Akbar."

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-appointed governor of the province of Chechnya, immediately released a statement with a counter-threat on Instagram:

"Taking all responsibility, I declare that those who have voiced a threat against Russia or who have mentioned the name of our president Vladimir Putin will be destroyed right where they made their statement. We will not wait for them to get behind the steering wheel of a plane. They will go where his fellow terrorists are rotting."

In the immediate future, the primary danger for Russian rule in the North Caucasus comes from widespread discontent for economic reasons. In the approach to the Sochi Olympics games earlier this year, Russia had been pouring billions of extra dollars into the North Caucasus to build infrastructure, and to reduce public discontent. But now that source of funds has dried up, and the people in the North Caucasus are bearing the brunt of the European sanctions that have been imposed because of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Jamestown and Ria Novosti and Memri and Jamestown

WHO: Ebola virus is spreading 'exponentially' in Liberia

Whenever an Ebola treatment center opens in Liberia, all the beds are taken immediately. Patients fill taxis going from place to place, hoping to find medical care. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that more than 3,600 people have been infected with Ebola, and 2,000 have died, but as many as 20,000 will be infected. Health care workers have been hit especially hard -- 79 of them have died. "Transmission of the Ebola virus in Liberia is already intense and the number of new cases is increasing exponentially," according to WHO.

Well, if that's really true then a lot more than 20,000 will be infected. Liberia has a population of 4.4 million people, and at the current rate of exponential transmission, 20,000 infections will be reached in just a few more weeks, with a lot more to come. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Sep-14 World View -- Ukraine conflict and rise of ISIS put Russia's Caucasus at risk thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Sep-14 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government

Russia threatens Nato with a new nuclear military doctrine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia consolidates gains in Ukraine with ceasefire plan


U.S. 173 airborne brigade soldiers leave a C-17 aircraft during the 'Steadfast Javelin II' military exercise in the former Soviet state of Latvia on Saturday (Reuters/MoscowTimes)
U.S. 173 airborne brigade soldiers leave a C-17 aircraft during the 'Steadfast Javelin II' military exercise in the former Soviet state of Latvia on Saturday (Reuters/MoscowTimes)

Weeks after Russia sent thousands of troops, hundreds of tanks, and other heavy weapons to join the anti-government militias in Ukraine, Russia appears to be consolidating its gains from the invasion by arranging for a ceasefire on Friday between Ukraine's government and the anti-government militias.

The ceasefire may or may not be holding, depending on what reports you read. Apparently the strategic port of Mariupol is still under at least sporadic attack by the Russians. If the Russian troops are successful in capturing Mariupol, then then can push through and link up with Russia troops already in the peninsula of Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in March.

There are no analysts that I heard who believe that the conflict is finally over. By means of "stealth invasion tactics," the Russian troops have leveraged local anti-government militias first to annex Crimea, and then to freeze Russian control of much of eastern and southern Ukraine, referred to by the Russians as "Novorossiya" (New Russia). Even if the current ceasefire holds for a few days, there seems little doubt that Russian troops will eventually push on to Crimea, and then on to the port of Odessa, to link up with the secessionist Transnistria province of Moldova. France 24 and Bloomberg

Russia threatens Nato with a new nuclear military doctrine

According to Mark Galeotti, an expert in Russian military and security affairs at New York University, Russia's success in invading Ukraine comes from a military doctrine called "non-linear hybrid war" -- using highly trained and well equipped troops working in unison with local militant groups to destabilize territories. He expects Russia's next military doctrine revision to "place greater emphasis on intervention forces: the thought that 1,000 to 3,000 troops in the right place and in the right political environment, as we see in Ukraine, can make a big difference."

Although Nato has indicated that it will not use military force to oppose Russian forces in Ukraine, the invasion has energized Nato enough so that Russia is also revise its military doctrine to envision nuclear war with Nato, according to Russian sources. The doctrine may list Nato not only as the primary threat to Russia, but detail the scenarios in which preemptive nuclear strikes against the alliance would be on the table. Moscow Times

Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government

A bitterly angry Palestinian Authority (PA/Fatah) president Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to terminate the "Palestinian unity agreement" that Fatah signed with Hamas on April 23. Abbas is quoted as saying:

"I don't trust Hamas much because they change their words all the time. There must be a unified Palestinian Authority. ...

You [Hamas] are smuggling weapons, explosives and money to the (West) Bank - and not to fight Israel, but to hold a coup against the (Palestinian) Authority.

Hamas has been trying to cause the Palestinian Authority to fail since the day it was formed."

During the last week we've been highlighting the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia plus PA/Fatah versus the Hamas plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West. So it's not surprising at all that the Hamas - Fatah unity government is collapsing.

Part of the "peace agreement" that ended the Gaza war was to give the unity government control of Gaza. However, Abbas is accusing Hamas of running a "shadow government" that shuts out the unity government:

"We will not accept the situation with Hamas continuing as it is at the moment.

We won't accept a partnership with them if the situation continues like this in Gaza where there is a shadow government ... running the territory.

The national consensus [unity] government cannot do anything on the ground."

Abbas was also bitterly angry at the way Fatah members were treated during the war: "Hamas conducted atrocities during the war in Gaza, also at its end when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew placed on them."

Mahmoud Abbas, born 1935, is the last of the major Mideast leaders who lived through and survived the genocidal 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Like all survivors of generational crisis wars, he has devoted much of his life to try to make sure that nothing so horrible would happen to his children and grandchildren. As the leader of the Palestinian Authority, he is trying to find a way to prevent the new war that he senses is coming. If he fails, and he will, it will be the biggest personal failure of his lifetime. al-Jazeera and Deutsche Welle and Israel National News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Sep-14 World View -- Mahmoud Abbas threatens to end the 'Palestinian unity' government thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Sep-14 World View -- Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah

Ebola pandemic may mean the end of the 'Africa Rising' dream

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah


Screen grab from TV show showing potential Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel
Screen grab from TV show showing potential Hezbollah rocket fire on Israel

In a series of articles in the last week, we've been highlighting the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war and the effect of the rise of ISIS on Saudi Arabia as well as rise of ISIS on India. I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudia Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West.

The terror group Hezbollah, which is funded and controlled by Iran, is not facing the same kind of schizophrenia that its puppetmaster Iran is experiencing. Iran's attitudes towards Israel are greatly split along generational lines, where the older generations talk about destroying Israel, and the younger generations like the West and don't have anything particular against Israel.

The same cannot be said for Lebanon's Hezbollah. I've seen no signs that there's any split at all in Hezbollah's attitude towards Israel, which is a desire for its destruction.

The new story that, just a few days after the end of the Gaza war, Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) are preparing for a "very violent" war with Hezbollah highlights the situation.

In Israel's 2006 war, Hezbollah's rockets did not reach far into Israel, and they were poorly aimed. The same was true of Hamas's rockets in the Gaza war. But today Hezbollah has an estimated 100,000 rockets and missiles, many with precision guidance systems and large warheads, able to target all of Israel.

In the 2006 war, Israel targeted Lebanon's infrastructure, in order to inhibit the transportation of weapons. In a new war, Israel would target homes in villages across Lebanon from which Hezbollah is launching rockets into Israel. Israel received a great deal of international condemnation for those actions in the Gaza war, and they would be stepped up in a new war with Hezbollah. In addition, it's believed that Hezbollah has build tunnels that travel from homes in Lebanon deep into Israel, and these tunnels would be targeted.

There's a real question whether Hezbollah's puppetmaster, Iran, would hold Hezbollah back from this war. Despite anti-Zionist rhetoric, Iran has little to gain from a Hezbollah attack on Israel, and Israel could retaliate by carrying out its long-time threat to bomb Iran's nuclear installations. Times of Israel

Sierra Leone announces three-day Ebola lockdown across entire country

For the three days of September 19-21, people will be forbidden from leaving their home, in an attempt to stop the spread of Ebola. During this period 21,000 volunteers, including police and military personnel, will fan out across the nation to talk with people about how to protect themselves from the disease, as well as identify Ebola cases.

The idea is that people who are infected with Ebola will have three days to develop symptoms, and so will not then go out and accidentally infect others. Funerals have been a particularly important source of transmission, and in fact the current outbreak has been traced to a dozen individuals who attended the same funeral of an Ebola patient in Guinea in March. A dead Ebola patient is particularly infectious, and relatives touch victims during traditional funeral rites in west Africa, resulting in a rapid spread. Now, with the number of Ebola deaths surging, the number of funerals is also surging, and it's hoped that the three day lockdown, combined with education by the 21,000 volunteers, will prevent accidental transmission at funerals and by other means.

However, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) is saying that the idea is folly. According an MSF statement:

"Large scale coercive measures like forced quarantines and lockdowns are driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers. This is leading to the concealment of cases and is pushing the sick away from health systems."

Objections are also being raised to the use of 21,000 volunteers, most of whom would lack the high levels of expertise required to diagnose and deal with Ebola cases. According to MSF, "It will be extremely difficult for health workers to accurately identify cases through door-to-door screenings as this requires a certain level of expertise. And when cases are identified, there will not be enough Ebola management centers to care for them." Guardian (London) and CNN

Ebola pandemic may mean the end of the 'Africa Rising' dream

After decades of war that were so brutal that Liberia's president Charles Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, West Africa finally seemed to be booming. Investment in had been booming, and the middle-class burgeoning. Democracy seemed to have taken root. The "Africa Rising" narrative seemed to be coming true.

But the Ebola pandemic has changed all that. There have been nearly 4,000 Ebola cases so far, cases are increasing exponentially and there is a potentially vulnerable population in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in excess of 20 million. There have been over 2,000 deaths.

Health services throughout the region are completely overwhelmed. And the various lockdowns and quarantines are making matters worse. Airlines have canceled flights to and from the region, making it impossible to fly in health workers. Even simple things like rubber gloves are in short supply because transporting supplies to different regions is becoming impossible. The shortage of these supplies means that health workers are more vulnerable, and the shortage of health workers means that little can be done for Ebola patients except to just let them die.

That's true for more than just Ebola cases. This is malaria season in West Africa. A person infected with malaria will be afraid to go to a hospital filled with Ebola victims, and health workers will be afraid to treat the malaria victim, who might have Ebola instead. So malaria victims will just be permitted to die, like Ebola victims. Even women just giving birth may die for lack of medical care.

The economic consequences are severe. The epidemic is causing labor shortages that are endangering harvests and pushing up food prices.

Ebola was first encountered in 1976, named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), where the first known outbreak occurred. That outbreak, and outbreaks since then, have all occurred in small villages and rural areas, where health workers were able to contain them quickly. The world has had no experience dealing with an Ebola outbreak in large, crowded cities.

The fear is growing that this Ebola outbreak will never be contained, and that it will just have to run its course, until every person in West Africa is exposed, and either dies or doesn't die as a result. The fear is also growing that the epidemic will spread to other countries, in some cases with the same result. Independent (South Africa) and BBC and Economist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Sep-14 World View -- Israel preparing for 'very violent' war with Hezbollah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Sep-14 World View -- Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq

India to release 250,000 prisoners awaiting trial

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

BBC's great event 'problems of the world' ignores China


A man with a sign saying THE END IS AT HAND talks to the crowd at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London on 11 June 1972 (BBC)
A man with a sign saying THE END IS AT HAND talks to the crowd at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park, London on 11 June 1972 (BBC)

With the world as fragile as it is, some people are suggesting that 2014 could be a pivotal year when some "great event" might occur that would determine whether the 21st century would bring peace and prosperity or war and poverty.

The BBC has posted a summary of the major crises of the world. In brief, here's their list:

No mention of China, its continuing annexation of territories belonging to other countries, and its massive preparation of missiles systems with no other purpose than a pre-emptive attack on the United States. BBC

India to release 250,000 prisoners awaiting trial

India's Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of about 250,000 prisoners who have been in jail sometimes for years, but who haven't had trials because the courts are overcrowded. These "undertrial" prisoners make up some two-thirds of the country's four million prisoners. The court order will apply to prisoners who have been awaiting trials, and who have already served at least half of the maximum sentence that they would receive if they ever reached trial. Calcutta Telegraph and AFP

Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq


Map of ISIS advances in Iraq (Debka)
Map of ISIS advances in Iraq (Debka)

According to a detailed analysis in Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is highly contemptuous of the U.S. bombing raids on ISIS, because they pose no real military threat. Instead of targeting main ISIS centers and bases, they target scattered armored vehicles and isolated positions. In fact, U.S. air activity in Iraq is diminishing by stages, while ISIS strengthens its grip on captured locations in Iraq.

According to this analysis, while the U.S. is bombing unimportant targets, the ISIS advance will travel along two paths simultaneously, along the Euphrates and Tigris river basins respectively, and link up in Mahmudiya, where the two rivers run in closest proximity. Ths would give ISIS a dominant military position over the Shiite provinces south of Baghdad and in relation to Saudi Arabia to the south and Jordan and Israel to the west. If successful, this would connect ISIS's northern Syria and western Iraqi strongholds -- the cradle of civilization -- without having run into a single Iraqi or Kurdish soldier to impede their progress – or being bombed by U.S. warplanes. Debka

Full text of Ayman al-Zawahiri message

In yesterday's World View column, ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India, I posted a couple of paragraphs from the statement by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The full statement can be found here (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Sep-14 World View -- Debka: ISIS is targeting the Euphrates and Tigris river basins in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India

China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS and Mideast realignment energize Islamic terrorism in India


Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai's 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008
Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel during Mumbai's 26/11 terrorist attack in 2008

In the past few days, we're discussed the Mideast realignment following the Gaza war and the effect of ISIS on the Mideast realignment. However, the meteoric rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is firing the excitement and imagination of young Muslim men around that world, giving ISIS an effect that goes well beyond the Mideast.

Islam has grown organically within India, unlike other countries, and has over centuries evolved elaborate cultures of accommodation with Hinduism and other faiths. India's last generational crisis wars -- the 1947 Partition war between Western India and Pakistan, and the 1971 crisis war between Eastern India and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) -- were both particularly bloody, and pitted Hindus against Muslims, leaving even the Muslim survivors living in India with little desire for more violence through terrorist attacks. What Islamic terrorism has occurred has mostly come from external sources, namely terrorist militias in Pakistan, often funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency.

But now two important developments, both attributable to the rise of ISIS, indicate that internal forms of Islamic terrorism are likely to increase in India.

First, ISIS is directly energizing Islamic terrorism in India. Estimates vary from several dozen to several hundred of the number of Indians that have gone to the Mideast and are suspected of having joined ISIS. A breakaway faction of the Indian Mujahiddeen has declared its intention to fly the ISIS flag over South Asia. And the formerly moderate India militia Jamaat-e-Islami recently issued a statement:

"It is very necessary to welcome the announcement of the establishment of Islamic Caliphate by the ISIS because Islamic caliphate is the aspiration of every Muslim and there has never been a disagreement on the issue among the Muslims in any period of history."

An unknown is what effect ISIS is having on the Pakistan, and ISI's funding of anti-India militias, particularly in Kashmir and Jammu. ISIS may energize ISI as well to increase funding to homegrown Indian jihadist groups like Indian Mujhideen, or to encourage these jihadist groups to enter the ISIS fold. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and One India

ISIS and al-Qaeda have generational struggle, and the prize is India

The second new development attributable to ISIS is that al-Qaeda has apparently been energized to take a new look at establishing a branch in India.

The rise of ISIS has led to a generational split within the global jihadist community. When ISIS's young leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself a new "caliph," and demanded that the entire Muslim world bow down to him, the response has been sporadic. While young Muslims may be drawn to the thrill of decapitating Western journalists, older jihadists are tied by loyalty oaths to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and are even more repulsed by the ISIS's recent massacre of hundreds of Sunni tribesmen in Syria. Others simply question the religious legitimacy of al-Baghdadi's self-anointed caliphate.

So, some people see al-Zawahiri's new message as opportunistic, and others see it as desperate. His statement emerged in a video late on Wednesday:

"A new branch of al-Qaeda was established and is Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian subcontinent, seeking to raise the flag of jihad, return the Islamic rule, and empowering the Shariah of Allah across the Indian subcontinent. [It will defend the] vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent, in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat, and Kashmir [and] your brothers in Qaedat al-Jihad did not forget you and that they are doing what they can to rescue you from injustice, oppression, persecution, and suffering.

This entity was not established today, but it is the fruit of a blessed effort for more than two years to gather the mujahideen in the Indian subcontinent into a single entity to be with the main group, Qaedat al-Jihad, from the soldiers of the Islamic Emirate and its triumphant emir, Allah permitting, Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid.

It is an entity that was formed to promulgate the call of the reviving Imam Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, to call the Ummah to unite round the word of Tawhid (monotheism), to wage jihad against its enemies, to liberate its land, to restore its sovereignty, and to revive its Caliphate."

The leader of the new group, Umar, said in an audio recording released with the video, that Jews and Hindus, whom he referred to as "apostates of India", "will watch your destruction by your own eyes." Fighters will "storm your barricades with cars packed with gunpowder," Umar said, decrying what he called the region's "injustice toward Muslims."

Whether the old geezers at al-Qaeda can attract young Muslims in India is far from clear. The realignment of the Mideast goes far beyond the Mideast, and it seems likely that ISIS will be more successful in India than al-Qaeda will. Pune Mirror (India) and Foreign Policy

China to increase harassment of U.S. surveillance planes

As we recently reported, a Chinese jet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident is reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor crashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern China coast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days.

It's been assumed that these were the acts of rogue Chinese pilots, but now it appears that they were ordered from above, and that the harassment is likely to become even more aggressive and dangerous. According to China's Rear Admiral Zhang Zhaozhong:

"We didn't give them enough pressure (before). A knife at the throat is the only deterrence. From now on, we must fly even closer to U.S. surveillance aircraft."

It's believed that China is trying to prevent the U.S. from learning anything about their submarine fleet. China is continuing to build submarines capable of launching nuclear missiles with a range of over 4,000 nautical miles, and already has 70 such submarines. China has been for years on an aggressive program to develop as much military capability as possible, including a variety of missiles with no other purpose than to target American cities, aircraft carriers, and military bases. The submarine fleet would permit China to launch simultaneous nuclear attacks on hundreds of cities across the United States. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and al-Qaeda in a generational struggle for India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and Saudi Arabia in the Mideast realignment

ISIS and the resurgence of Saudi Wahhabism

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia cracks down on terrorists linked to ISIS


ISIS terrorists marching, carrying the ISIS black flag (AP)
ISIS terrorists marching, carrying the ISIS black flag (AP)

In yesterday's posting ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war"), I used a Generational Dynamics analysis to outline how the Mideast is realigning itself around a growing fault line separating Israel plus Egypt plus Saudia Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus Turkey, with vitriolicly anti-American Iran increasingly aligning itself with America and the West. More needs to be said about the rise Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), and its place in the Mideast realignment.

It probably wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that leaders in Saudi Arabia are becoming panicky about the rise of ISIS. It's estimated that 2,500 Saudis have joined ISIS, a number surpassed among Arab nations only by Tunisia, with 3,000. Saudi media are reporting almost daily on the discovery of signs of support for Isis – most recently in slogans scrawled on the walls of schools in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital city. It's believed that ISIS has received funding from Saudi sponsors in the past, fighting Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia itself is split between supporters and non-supporters of ISIS.

However, the Saudi government has been very publicly and very firmly cracking down on ISIS recently. Last week, the Saudis announced the arrest of 88 people, days after an imam was jailed for glorifying al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Saudi Arabia's King, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is becoming increasingly exuberant in warning the West about ISIS. In a statement at a recent gathering, he warned about the "evil" of terrorism:

"If we ignore them [terrorists], I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month. Terrorist knows no borders and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East."

In the continuing realignment of the Middle East, it seems increasingly likely that ISIS will play an important part. The conundrum is that ISIS is a bitter enemy of Iran, but it's also an enemy of the Saudi Arabian government. Whether the solution to the conundrum will be a war within Saudi Arabia itself remains to be seen. Asharq Al-Awsat (Riyadh) and Guardian (London) and Canadian Broadcasting

ISIS and the resurgence of Saudi Wahhabism

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Saudi Arabia is part of an interesting group of countries -- countries that, like Mexico, Morocco, Turkey and Russia, had a generational crisis war in the 1920s, but none since.

Saudi Arabia's last generational crisis war occurred in the 1920s between the Al Sauds tribes and the Wahhabi tribes. The two groups had (have) different interpretations of Islam, and Wahhabism may be thought of as a separate branch of Sunni Islam, following an austere interpretation (many Muslim scholars would say "misinterpretation") of the Koran. The more moderate Al Sauds defeated Wahhabi tribesmen in the 1920s and transformed Wahhabism into a socially conservative pillar of support for what soon became the country of Saudi Arabia in 1932.

However, the fault line between the Al Sauds and the Wahhabis never disappeared, and it's not surprising that violence along this fault line began to increase three generations later in the late 1970s, particularly with the Wahhabi seizure of the Grand Mosque at Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

There's little doubt that either this revolt or some subsequent revolt would have led to a full-fledged renewal of the war between the Al Sauds and the Wahhabis by now, if it weren't for Saudi Arabia's oil wealth, which permits it to spend large amounts of money to head off discontent.

ISIS's leader, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, has deliberately and intentionally adopted the Wahhabi doctrine as his own, according to Saudi scholar Fouad Ibrahim:

"Through its intentional adoption of this Wahhabist language, ISIS is knowingly lighting the fuse to a bigger regional explosion -- one that has a very real possibility of being ignited, and if it should succeed, will change the Middle East decisively."

In the past, when violence was threatened against Saudi Arabia's leadership, it was almost always completely internal violence. ISIS is a much more serious threat to Saudi Arabia, because it's an EXTERNAL threat. And since ISIS already has plenty of wealth, Saudi Arabia cannot buy off ISIS with oil money. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) and Guardian (London) and Huffington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Sep-14 World View -- ISIS and Saudi Arabia in the Mideast realignment thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war

Doctors Without Borders: We're losing the battle against Ebola

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

1950s FBI trained Alaskans to prepare for a Soviet invasion


Nome, Alaska (Reuters)
Nome, Alaska (Reuters)

Declassified documents reveal that in the 1950s the FBI trained Alaskan residents to become agents behind enemy lines if the Soviets invaded. The US government feared that the Soviet Union was planning an intervention and occupation of Alaska. The US military believed that the Soviet invasion would be airborne, with bombing preceding dropping of paratroopers to Alaska's major inhabited localities, namely Anchorage, Fairbanks, Nome and Seward. Russia Today and Proposed Plan for Intelligence Coverage in Alaska in the Event of an Invasion (FBI, 1954) (PDF)

Egypt, Saudis, Palestinian Authority develop a new 'peace initiative'

In the wake of the Gaza war, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, and officials from other Arab nations are developing an initiative to bring peace to the Mideast by "ending the occupation" within a "definite timetable."

The initiative comprises three phases:

According to an Egyptian government editorial:

"This is a unique juncture, and with the steady [worsening] of the situation in Gaza and Israel's war crimes against the Palestinian people, we can no longer content ourselves with trying to find [temporary] arrangements while being certain that the conflict will erupt again. Like President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi stressed, there is a real chance to end the Gaza crisis and solve the Palestinian problem... The international community should not pass up this chance, which was born of the ruin, destruction, killing, and violent battles. The parties to the conflict must sympathize with the suffering of their peoples and make brave choices for peace... If this chance, as well as Egypt's support for the efforts [to attain] a permanent solution to the Palestinian problem, are not utilized, then all signs indicate that the future will be worse. If there is no just and real peace, the alternative is extremism and terrorism at the hands of ISIS and its ilk. Israel is not distant from the rest of the world, and therefore terrorism will not only target it, but the rest of the world as well, starting with Europe and America."

Memri

Poll shows that Hamas's popularity surged after Gaza war

A new poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) shows that the Gaza war was an enormous political victory for Hamas, with a great increase in its popularity and support for its approach to armed resistance. At the same time, there was a major decline in the popularity of the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas. Similar changes occurred in previous wars between Hamas and Israel, but this time the changes in popularity were unprecedented in size.

According to the poll findings:

The logic of this poll is that it clearly contradicts the intention of the new "peace initiative" by Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and the Saudis, as described above. According to the PCPSR, Hamas's renewed popularity "might be temporary and things might revert in the next several months to where they were before the war."

The clear implication of this is that there will be another war in the "next several months," because Hamas is going to want to maintain its popularity and remain in power. Hamas has absolutely no motivation whatsoever to accede to a "peace agreement," and all Hamas has to do to start a new war with Israel is to launch a few rockets. Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research

The continuing realignment of the Mideast

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal was quoted as saying that "only peace will ensure Israel's endurance as a state."

He's right about that, but the problem is that there isn't going to be peace. As I wrote in May, 2003, and repeated dozens of time since then, there will be a major new war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Writing about this new peace initiative by Egypt, the PA and Saudi Arabia almost gives me a headache because we've gone down this road so many times before. It's suggestive of that old joke defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different outcomes.

One thing that's becoming increasingly clear, however, is that it's not going to be a war between Jews and ALL Arabs. The fault line between Israel plus Egypt plus Saudi Arabia versus the Palestinians plus Qatar plus (non-Arab) Turkey is becoming wider every day. This indicates that the Israelis will have allies among the Arabs, and that Arabs will be fighting each other, as well as the Israelis.

The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) could not have been predicted, but what was predicted was the war outlined above, and that the Syria civil war would end. This has happened in a remarkable way, as the Syria civil war has long since morphed into a proxy war involving Syria, various al-Qaeda militias, ISIS, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and soon the U.S. It's my personal opinion that the "Nation of IS" will not last as long as many people fear or expect, but at the very least we can expect to see ISIS subsumed into the larger regional war, almost certainly on the side of the Palestinians and Qatar.

I've left Iran mostly out of the above discussion because it continues its schizophrenic path. Several long-time readers have written to me recently saying that they never believed that Iran would become our ally, as I've predicted many times in the last ten years, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, and now they're totally astonished to see this prediction come true right before our eyes.

In fact, even the editors of the New York Times appear to be completely astonished by this development, as indicated in this article:

"The fight in northern Iraq appeared to be the first time U.S. warplanes and militias backed by Iran had worked with a common purpose on a battlefield against militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, even though the Obama administration said there was no direct coordination with the militias.

Should such military actions continue, they could mark a dramatic shift for the United States and Iran, which have long vied for control in Iraq. They could also align the interests of the Americans with their longtime sworn enemies in the Shiite militias, whose fighters killed many U.S. soldiers during the long occupation of Iraq. ...

[In] a worst case scenario, more Sunnis could align with ISIS fighters."

This realignment, which was predicted by Generational Dynamics, is how the Mideast is going.

Iran, which is in a generational Awakening era, with one generation having passed since the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war, is pursuing a schizophrenic policy characterized by a major generational split between the Revolution survivors, who can't shake off their old policies and are still fighting the last war, versus the younger generations who grew up afterwards, who like the West, and don't particularly dislike Israel. Right now the old geezers are still setting national policy, but when forced to choose, the younger generations will win out, and they will be aligned with the West. New York Times

Obama orders 350 more troops into Iraq

President Obama has ordered 350 additional troops into Iraq, "to provide the necessary security for U.S. personnel and facilities." The administration has authorized 775 troops since mid-June, so this new order brings the total up to 1,125. The order came a few hours after ISIS published another video on Tuesday showing the group had beheaded another American journalist, freelancer Steven Joel Sotloff. The Hill

Doctors Without Borders: We're losing the battle against Ebola

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) has treated more than 1,000 Ebola patients in West Africa since March, and is completely overwhelmed. According to MSF president Joanne Liu:

"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered."

She says that infectious bodies are rotting in the street, and that Liberia had to build a new crematorium instead of new Ebola care centers. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Sep-14 World View -- India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China

Russian lawyers: 'Stealth invasion' of Ukraine is legal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's David Cameron announces new anti-terrorism measures


David Cameron in House of Commons (Reuters)
David Cameron in House of Commons (Reuters)

Having raised UK's terror threat level last week to "severe," meaning that a terrorist attack is "highly likely," but not necessarily imminent, Britain's prime minister David Cameron on Monday announced a new set of anti-terrorism measures.

The new measures are targeting a specific issue: Would-be jihadists going to Syria to join the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) for training, and them coming back to the UK to use those skills in terrorist attacks. According to published statistics, approximately 500 British citizens have traveled to fight in Syria, and 200 of them have already returned home.

The first measure pertains to suspected citizens traveling abroad. It will give police the power to temporarily confiscate a passport, in order to prevent the suspect from leaving the country.

The second measure applies when a suspected citizen returns. Police will have the power to exclude British citizen suspects from reentering the country. If the citizen is allowed into the country, the legislation will give police new powers to track suspected jihadists and to take advantage of "enhanced relocation powers." Suspected terrorists will required to undergo "de-radicalization programs."

Consideration was given to the power to revoke a suspect's UK citizenship, but unless the suspect had a dual citizenship, such a power would leave the subject stateless, in violation of international law.

In addition, airlines will be forced to hand over more information about passengers travelling to and from conflict zones. BBC and CNN

Russian lawyers: 'Stealth invasion' of Ukraine is legal

Russia's government is hearing complaints from the liberal media to explain why a group of Russian paratroopers, captured by the Ukrainian army, were deployed to Ukraine by Russia's president Vladimir Putin without authorization of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia's parliament.

Soldiers' mothers are complaining loudly that their sons are coming home from Ukraine as "cargo 200" -- as dead servicemen shipped home are referred to in Russia, based on the standard weight of a coffin -- without telling their families that they were deployed to Ukraine in the first place.

However, apparently Putin can do pretty much anything he wants under Russian law, thanks to a "universal mandate" that the Federation Council issued to the president in 2009, allowing him to invade any other country without further approval.

About 190,000 members of the 760,000-strong Russian army are "volunteers," serving upon their own volition. They earn 18,000 rubles ($500) per month, a huge sum by Russian standards. They can be ordered into combat in Ukraine or anywhere else at any time, and there isn't even a contractual requirement that relatives be notified if volunteers are killed in the line of duty.

The Russian government is disavowing soldiers who are being killed in Ukraine, according to Russian activists. Numerous reporters, both Western and Russian, have investigated what appear to be freshly dug, unmarked graves of soldiers. All online accounts of the men who were buried there have been removed from the Internet, as have photos of the soldiers that their families placed on their graves. When Russian journalists traveled there, the BBC reported that men told them they would "never be found" unless they left.

But for Putin, it's all perfectly legal. Moscow Times and Washington Post and Telegraph (London)

India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China

India's prime minister Narendra Modi met with Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Monday, supposedly to improve economic ties, but it was clear that the threats posed by China were high on the agenda. Their joint statement said, "The two prime ministers reaffirmed the importance of defense relations between Japan and India in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them."

Abe and Modi agreed to hold regular joint naval exercises with the United States, and to increase Japanese military exports to India. This agreement was particularly significant in view of Abe's recent reinterpretation of Japan's pacifist constitution, which permits military action only for Japan's self-defense. Abe has reinterpreted this to mean "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, such as the United States or India, even if the ally is being attack but Japan is not. It will also permit the Japan to rescue Japanese civilians in remote locations.

According to a Defense Ministry statement on Monday:

"The recent approval of the exercise of the right to collective self-defense means that it could become possible, depending on the situation, for the MSDF [Maritime Self-Defense Force] and the Indian Navy to jointly patrol the sea lanes."

In a press conference, Modi took a swipe at China:

"The 18th century situation of expansionism is now visible. Such expansionism would never benefit humanity in the 21st century. ...

The world knows the 21st century is Asia's century. But its shape and quality are not yet clear. This will be decided by how Japan and India work together. I think our relationship is moving to a new level."

Australian and Reuters and Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Sep-14 World View -- India, Japan leaders meet to counter rise of China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Sep-14 World View -- Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements

Pakistan's army issues a veiled threat to politicians

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukrainian naval vessel attack from shore by anti-government militias


Gloating Vladimir Putin calls for 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine (AP)
Gloating Vladimir Putin calls for 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine (AP)

Anti-government militias in eastern Ukraine, supported by thousands of Russian soldiers (supposedly "on vacation"), along with Russian weapons and armor, fired from the shore on a Ukrainian ship off the coast of Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov, damaging it. The Russian militia leader Igor Strelkov bragged, "The militia have dealt the enemy their first naval defeat." Strelkov is the same Russian leader who bragged about shooting down the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane with a Russian-supplied Buk missile system, before he realized it wasn't a warplane.

Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol continue to brace themselves for an expected full-scale attack by Russian forces on the city. It's feared that Russian troops will join with troops already in Crimea, continue all the way to Odessa, and connect with separatist Moldovans in Transnistria in eastern Moldova.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin continued his pattern of threatening statements by demanding on Sunday that "Novorossia" be granted statehood. Novorossia is the anti-Ukraine word for eastern and southern Ukraine. On Friday, Putin said, "[I]t's best not to mess with us. ... I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

The Russian invasion and threats come as European leaders are in Brussels commemorating the 75th anniversary of Hitler's invasion of Poland. According to Britain's prime minister David Cameron, ""We know from European history the danger of the territorial integrity of a nation state being threatened and undermined in this way." VOA and Moscow Times and Reuters

Pakistan's army issues a veiled threat to politicians

Pakistan's opposition party politician Imran Khan, the former cricket superstar turned anti-American politician, called for continued riots and demonstrations, as did Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, another opposition party politician. But after a violent Saturday evening, when hundreds were injured, Sunday's protests were relatively quiet and non-violent, although many Islooites (residents of Islamabad) stayed indoor for fear of their safety. The objective of the riots is to force the resignation of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who won a landslide election last year in May.

There is increasing fear that the army is planning to take control of the government through a coup. There was an emergency meeting of army commanders on Sunday afternoon. The army issued a statement after the meeting affirming their support for democracy, but indicating that they wouldn't tolerate anything that risks the security of the state:

"While reaffirming support to democracy, the conference reviewed with serious concern, the existing political crisis and the violent turn it has taken, resulting in large scale injuries and loss of lives. Further use of force will only aggravate the problem.

It was once again reiterated that the situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means.

Army remains committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state and will never fall short of meeting national aspirations."

Imran Khan and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri are widely believed to have overreached themselves, but many feel that the government and the army have also acted poorly. The News (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and BBC and Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations

Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements

Israel is changing the status of 400 hectares of West Bank land so that it will be eligible for building Jewish settler homes. The land had previously been listed as survey land, a designation that prevented settlement building. The action infuriated officials in the Palestinian Authority. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said:

"The Israeli government is committing various crimes against the Palestinian people and their occupied land. The international community should hold Israel accountable as soon as possible for its crimes and raids against our people in Gaza and the ongoing Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and east Jerusalem."

Jerusalem Post and Deutsche Welle

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Sep-14 World View -- Israel infuriates Palestinians by claiming West Bank land for settlements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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31-Aug-14 World View -- Coup possible in Pakistan after night of violence

Russian troops threaten Ukraine's entire coastline

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong threatened with riots as China reneges on democracy


On 1 July tens of thousands marched against candidate restrictions in the territory.  Tens of thousands held pro-Beijing rallies on August 17. (AP)
On 1 July tens of thousands marched against candidate restrictions in the territory. Tens of thousands held pro-Beijing rallies on August 17. (AP)

Tens of thousands of activists in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement are threatening an "Occupy Central" civil disobedience protest on Sunday. Threatened actions could include a boycott of university classes, wildcat street protests, strikes and a mass refusal to pay taxes.

They are objecting to China's apparent reneging on the 1997 agreement under which Hong Kong as a British colony reverted to Chinese control. The deal was known as "one country, two systems," meaning that Beijing would pursue Communism and Socialism, while Hong Kong would retain its democracy, its capitalist system, and its way of life. According to the agreement, this policy would be in effect for 50 years, until 2047.

However, now China is demanding that the schedule 2017 elections be tightly controlled. They will be "free" elections, but the only candidates who will be permitted to be run have to be approved a "nominating committee" completely controlled by Beijing. The city's population is split between the pro and anti-Beijing protesters, which could result in violence. Thousands of police are expected to be on hand on Sunday.

China says that it has "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong, and that any attempt to implement "international standards" of democracy would only cause economic and social chaos, without bringing any benefit to the interests of the Hong Kong people. Reuters and BBC and Xinhua (Beijing)

Coup possible in Pakistan after night of violence

Hundreds of people were injured in Islamabad on Saturday, as tens of thousands of supporters of political opposition leaders Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri continued the protest that began several weeks ago. ( "20-Aug-14 World View -- Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest")

The protesters began by storming Pakistan's parliament building, and then changed directions towards the house of prime minister Nawaz Sharif. At tis point, the police turned against the protesters, with the result of the worst violence in Pakistan's 67 year history.

It's suspected, though not proven, that army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif is supporting the demonstrations. The army chief has publicly taken a central role in the political crisis by offering to mediate, and the army chief is known to be furious at the prime minister for the latter's prosecution of former prime minister Pervez Musharraf for "high treason." Musharaff was an army general who became prime minister in 1999 by means of a coup that deposed and exiled the current prime minister Nawaz Sharif. After Musharaff stepped down, Sharif became prime minister again and imprisoned Musharaff, who is still under house arrest.

Saturday's riots raise concerns that Nawaz Sharif will now be forced to step down again, and the army will once again be in control of Pakistan's government, in what would essentially be an army coup. BBC and Dawn (Pakistan) and Guardian (London) and BBC

Russian troops threaten Ukraine's entire coastline


Ukraine - thousands of Russian troops have crossed the border and appear poised for an attack on the port city of Mariupol.  It's feared that Russian troops will join with troops already in Crimea, continue all the way to Odessa, and connect with separatist Moldovans in Transnistria in eastern Moldova
Ukraine - thousands of Russian troops have crossed the border and appear poised for an attack on the port city of Mariupol. It's feared that Russian troops will join with troops already in Crimea, continue all the way to Odessa, and connect with separatist Moldovans in Transnistria in eastern Moldova

Ukraine's army is bracing itself for an assault by Russian forces on the coastal port city of Mariupol. Russian separatist forces in Ukraine, bolstered by an invasion of thousands of Russian soldiers that have crossed the border from Russia, are established about halfway between Mariupol and the Russian border. Ukrainian forces are are reinforcing checkpoints and digging trenches in anticipation of an attack.

With thousands of Russian troops already taking part, European leaders are warning about an escalation. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko calls it a "full-scale invasion."

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite said, "Russia is at war against Ukraine and that is against a country which wants to be part of Europe. Russia is practically in war against Europe." European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says that the situation "has worsened considerably," and added:

"We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return. If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come."

However, Russia's president Vladimir Putin appeared to be mocking and threatening Europe with these comments on Friday when he said:

"Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts. We don't want that and don't plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

Russia's partners ... should understand it's best not to mess with us. Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."

Putin's message is simple: Russian forces have already attacked and annexed Crimea, Russian forces are preparing to launch an attack on Mariupol, and Russian forces will continue to whatever he wants them to do, and no one will stop them.

Barroso's comment about a "point of no return" is quite real. Putin is crossing one red line after another, and keeps getting away with it. But if he keeps doing that, then at some point he's going trigger what in generational theory is called a "regeneracy," a kind of panic that causes the population to put politics aside and unite, usually behind a military leader. A financial panic is similar. The panic is triggered because of a sudden fear that the society or its way of life is facing an existential threat that must be conquered.

This kind of panic could not have happened during the 1980s or 1990s, because survivors of World War II were still running the world, and when survivors of the previous generational crisis war are still in charge, then the society is resilient to this panic. But as the WW II survivors disappear, the society becomes less resilient, and the right kind of event can trigger a panic and a war. That will be the "point of no return" that Barroso is referring to.

I used to think that it would be China or the Mideast that would trigger the next world war. But as Putin crosses one red line after another in Ukraine and Syria as the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, it may well be that Putin is the one that history will blame for starting World War III. CNN and BBC and Reuters

Colleges preparing to screen incoming students for Ebola

Thousands of college students from West Africa, especially the countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, where the Ebola pandemic is out of control in some areas, may be subjected to screening for Ebola when they arrive at their colleges in the next couple of weeks. The odds any arriving students having Ebola, or of infecting anyone else, are almost nonexistent, but the screening process is considered a necessary precaution. "Parents are comforted to know that there is a screening process, that we are alert for it, that we are prepared for it," according to one college official. AP and Boston Public Health Commission (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Aug-14 World View -- Coup possible in Pakistan after night of violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Aug-14 World View -- Al-Shabaab wants jihadists from UK, Germany and Minnesota

UK raises terror threat level, citing British citizen terrorists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UK raises terror threat level, citing British citizen terrorists


Aftermath of 3-day Sept 2013 al-Shabaab terror attack on Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya.  Two of the terrorists were from the Somali community in Minneapolis
Aftermath of 3-day Sept 2013 al-Shabaab terror attack on Westgate Mall, Nairobi, Kenya. Two of the terrorists were from the Somali community in Minneapolis

Saying that approximately 500 British citizens have traveled to fight in Syria, 200 of which have already returned home, Britain's prime minister David Cameron announced that the UK was increasing its terror threat level to "severe," meaning that a terror attack is "highly likely," but not necessarily imminent.

The announcement may have been triggered by a recent online video that depicted the gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley. The video was posted by the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), and the person carrying out the gruesome beheading is a jihadist speaking with a British accent. Cameron said Britons were "shocked and sickened" by the idea that Foley may have been killed by someone who is British. LA Times and Daily Mail (London)

Al-Shabaab wants jihadists from UK, Germany and Minnesota

In a recent video posted by the al-Qaeda linked Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, and English speaker asks Muslims living in the West to give up their comfortable lives and join the jihad:

"Those who are living in the U.S., especially Minnesota, Great Britain, Germany, and many parts of the kufr [unbelief] world – you have a decision to make today. This decision [is] a decision that makes you successful in this dunya [life] and the hereafter, a decision that will have a great effect on your children and your grandchildren. This decision is hijra [emigration] fi sabilillah [for Allah's sake] to the lands of Muslims, such as Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many places in the Muslim world.

If you chose to not make this decision and not answer the call of Allah, know that there is clear evidence against you in the Day of Judgment, in the court of Allah the Exalted. For what are you still living in dar al-kufr [abode of unbelief] for? Is it the schools, the jobs, and the nice settlements you have? ... Know that this was only temporary and the hereafter is internal [sic. eternal]. So save your own souls from the great punishment of Allah the Exalted and make hijra fi sabilillah."

The al-Shabaab video was probably triggered by the announcement of the death of an American named Douglas McArthur McCain in Syria, while fighting for ISIS. He was one of a number of jihadists who were recruited from Minnesota, which has the country's largest community of Somalis. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis is sometimes called "Little Mogadishu."

The first wave of Somali refugees came to America in 1991 and were relocated to Minneapolis, where there was a need for workers. The refugees were so successful that their relatives soon followed, and today there are 40-80 thousand Somalis living in the region, including many that were born there and are American citizens.

Al-Shabaab received increased international attention and prominence last year as a result of the horrific three-day terror attack on the Westlake Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. It's recognized that the attack was extremely well-planned and executed, indicating a degree of high sophistication that was previously not recognized in al-Shabaab. Furthermore, two of the Westlake Mall terrorists were American citizens, from "Little Mogadishu" in Minneapolis. (See "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears") A number of Somalis are known to have gone to Somalia for terrorist training, and returned to the United States, where they can enter freely because they're American citizens. As a precaution, the Mall of America in Minnesota, the largest Mall in the United States, capable of holding almost 10,000 people, has been holding "lockdown drills" since 2009. Memri and CBS News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Aug-14 World View -- Al-Shabaab wants jihadists from UK, Germany and Minnesota thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Aug-14 World View -- Russia widens its invasion of Ukraine

Canada's Nato delegation provides geography lesson to Russia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia widens its invasion of Ukraine


Nato satellite imagery showing Russian military convoy well inside Ukraine territory
Nato satellite imagery showing Russian military convoy well inside Ukraine territory

Troops, tanks and weapons from Russia's army are pouring into Ukraine in support of anti-government militias in a new war front in the country's southeast. The initial Russian invasion conquered and annexed the peninsula of Crimea, which is insulated and extends south into the Black Sea. The annexation of Crimea has caused Russia economic problems, because there's no easy way to send supplies to Crimea. The apparent purpose of the new war front is apparently to annex addition Ukrainian sovereign territory in order to have control of a land bridge from Russia to Crimea. Having gone through many months of lies and evasions by Russian politicians and trolls, we can assume it's unlikely that Russia stop there.

Ukrainian anti-government militia leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko admits that there are 3-4,000 Russian citizens, including many soldiers, that have joined his militias in Ukraine. However, it's OK because they're "volunteers," according to Zakharchenko "There is no secret that among the volunteers from Russia there are many military men. They are fighting together with us because they understand that it’s their duty."

This is kind of nonsense that we're hearing from the Russian politicians, diplomats and trolls. It's as if a few thousand American soldiers drove columns of tanks and armored vehicles 50 miles south into Mexico and started killing people, but the Pentagon said, "It's OK. We didn't send them -- they're just volunteers."

According to Nato's Brigadier General Niko Tak:

"Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine. The satellite images released today provide additional evidence that Russian combat soldiers, equipped with sophisticated heavy weaponry, are operating inside Ukraine's sovereign territory.

These latest images provide concrete examples of Russian activity inside Ukraine, but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall scope of Russian troop and weapons movements.

We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defense systems, artillery, tanks, and armored personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. The presence of these weapons along with substantial numbers of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine make the situation increasingly grave."

Ukraine's government is calling it a "full-scale invasion," but Nato and the U.S. are calling it an "incursion," since calling it an "invasion" would imply a state of war.

In a press conference, President Barack Obama said:

"I just spoke with Chancellor Merkel of Germany on the situation in Ukraine. We agree, if there was ever any doubt, that Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine. The violence is encouraged by Russia. The separatists are trained by Russia. They are armed by Russia. They are funded by Russia.

Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. And the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see. ...

I consider the actions that we've seen in the last week a continuation of what's been taking place for months now. As I said in my opening statement, there is no doubt that this is not a homegrown, indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia.

Throughout this process, we've seen deep Russian involvement in everything that they've done. I think in part because of the progress that you had seen by the Ukrainians around Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia determined that it had to be a little more overt in what it had already been doing, but it's not really a shift."

BBC and Russia Today and Nato and Washington Post

Canada's Nato delegation provides geography lesson to Russia


Canada's map of Russia and Ukraine for the Russians, because geography can be tough.
Canada's map of Russia and Ukraine for the Russians, because geography can be tough.

Ukraine's security service arrested 10 Russian soldiers who had crossed the border and were about 20 miles into Ukraine. Russian politicians, trolls and diplomats have been claiming that the Russian soldiers had crossed the border into Ukraine "by accident."

Canada's Nato delegation felt bad for the Russians, and wanted to help them out, as kind of an educational thing. To help the Russians, they tweeted:

"Geography can be tough. Here’s a guide for Russian soldiers who keep getting lost & 'accidentally' entering."

and provided the helpful map shown above. Business Insider

Sister of Boston Marathon bomber arrested for bomb threat

The sister of 2013 Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested in New York City on Wednesday, for threatening to blow up her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. Ailina Tsarnaeva alleged phoned the ex-girlfriend and said, "Leave us alone. I know people who can put a bomb on you." The ex-girlfriend called police.

Nothing about ideology here. Just female hormones. New York Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Aug-14 World View -- Russia widens its invasion of Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Aug-14 World View -- Europe tries to deal with increasing flood of migrants from Africa

United Nations accuses Syria of continuing use of chemical weapons

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe tries to deal with increasing flood of migrants from Africa


Migrants rescued at sea by Italy's 'Mare Nostrum' program (AP)
Migrants rescued at sea by Italy's 'Mare Nostrum' program (AP)

The number of migrants leaving Africa on unsafe smugglers' boats hoping to reach Europe has been surging this year. This year, 110,000 people have been rescued from drowning on the unsafe trip, hoping to reach the southern tip of Sicily. That figure is up from 42,000 in all of 2013. Some 1900 others have died this year during the perilous crossing. The numbers have surged this year because of the unrest in Syria and Libya. Last weekend, an Italian navy patrol boat found 73 migrants on board a rubber dinghy, along with 18 dead bodies.

There were two tragic shipwrecks last October in which more than 400 Eritrean, Somali and Syrian migrants drowned. ( "16-Oct-13 World View -- Sicily declares state of emergency as African migrants flood in")

After that, Italy began spending $13 million dollars per month on a program called "Mare Nostrum" to rescue drowning migrants trying to reach Sicily. The Italian program has had the undesirable consequence of motivating more migrants to risk making the trip, since they have a good chance of being rescued by the Italians in case of mishap.

In fact, critics are complaining that Italy's rescue program is making the problem worse. These are presumably no the same critics who, last October, were condemning Italy for doing nothing to keep migrants from drowning.

Italy has been demanding that the EU do more to help out, since most of the migrants want to settle in northern Europe, not in Italy. Unsurprisingly, northern European countries are not rushing to spend their own money on illegal migrants, since they can just leave Italy stuck with the entire bill, and because paying to save drowning migrants is politically unpopular.

Still, the European Commission agreed Wednesday to expand its Frontex border agency into a program called "Frontex Plus," which will take some of the load from Italy. EU member states will be encouraged to contribute planes, ships and personnel to the program, scheduled for launch in November. Euro News and AP and Daily Mail (London)

United Nations accuses Syria of continuing use of chemical weapons

A new report by the U.N. Human Rights Council's independent commission of inquiry on Syria accuses the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad of multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the use of chemical weapons.

Both Syria's government and the opposing unnamed "non-state armed groups," presumably referring to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), or one of its predecessors, of massacres and war crimes.

However, the U.N. report singles out the al-Assad regime for the continuing use of chemical weapons:

"Government forces continued to perpetrate massacres and conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance amounting to crimes against humanity. Government forces have committed gross violations of human rights and the war crimes of murder, hostage-taking, torture, rape and sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities and targeting civilians.

Government forces disregarded the special protection accorded to hospitals and medical and humanitarian personnel. Indiscriminate and disproportionate aerial bombardment and shelling led to mass civilian casualties and spread terror. Government forces used chlorine gas, an illegal weapon. ...

116. Witnesses saw helicopters drop barrel bombs and smelled a scent akin to domestic chlorine immediately following impact. Accounts of victims, and of medical personnel involved in administering treatment, provide descriptions of symptoms compatible with exposure to chemical agents, namely vomiting, eye a nd skin irritation, choking and other respiratory problems.

117. Chlorine gas is a chemical weapon as defined in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, of 1992. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited in all circumstances under customary international humanitarian law and is a w ar crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."

As we've pointed out in the past, the policy of Russia's president Vladimir Putin to continue to provide masses of heavy weapons for the al-Assad regime to use against innocent civilians makes Vladimir Putin a war criminal as well.

Bashar al-Assad is a genocidal monster, the Adolf Hitler of the present day, though on a smaller scale. Al-Assad's actions, starting in 2011 against innocent protesters, including women and children, has turned Syria into a global "jihadist magnet," and has led to the creation of ISIS. If ISIS is now a danger to the al-Assad regime, then al-Assad has no one to blame but himself, although the rest of us have to suffer as well.

Nonetheless, with the U.S. now planning to target ISIS in Syria, al-Assad is now our good buddy and ally of the United States, in the fight against ISIS. U.N. report and Full Report PDF

Israel's army exchanges fire with Syria's al-Nusra front

Forces from the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) militias in southern Syria apparently overran Syrian regime forces and took control of the town of Quneitra, on the border with the Golan Heights, as well as the Quneitra border crossing into Israel. Mortar shells, apparently fired by al-Nusra, landed in Israeli territory, wounding one Israeli and damaging several vehicles.

Al-Nusra began as a rebel militia fighting against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and later joined al-Qaeda. It's frequently fought against ISIS to gain territory, as often as it's fought the al-Assad regime. What appears to be happening is that the al-Nusra is gaining ground in southeastern Syria, defeating both ISIS and the Syrian regime.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) responded to the cross-border fire with artillery fire of its own. However, Israel has no intention to get involved in fighting over Quneitra, according to Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israelis National Security Council. According to Amidror, Israel will not get involved unless one of three red lines is crossed:

According to Amidror, "From our point of view there is a very clear red line, and this is the border. We should not interfere on the other side of the border to save [either] one of the two sides." Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Aug-14 World View -- Europe tries to deal with increasing flood of migrants from Africa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Aug-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas agree to 'long-term' truce in Gaza war

Egypt denies militarily intervening in Libya

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Islamic 'halal' tourism surges in Turkey


Adenya Islamic Hotel & Resort in Avsallar, Turkey
Adenya Islamic Hotel & Resort in Avsallar, Turkey

There are currently 75 hotels in Turkey, up from 5 in 2002, deliberately identifying themselves as "Islamic hotels" for "halal vacations." Demand for such hotels is soaring, and Muslims from around the world are coming to Turkey as the most Islamic-friendly destination in Europe.

These hotels strictly forbid alcohol and pork, and serve only halal (Islamic) meals. Families can have meals together, but the hotels emphasize segregation of men and women. Women have separate beaches, separate pools, and separate prayer rooms. According to one woman, "You don't have to worry about people taking photographs of you and ending up on Facebook or wherever. So you can be completely relaxed."

The halal tourism sector was worth 103 billion euros in 2013, representing around 13 percent of global travel expenditures. Zaman (Istanbul) and BBC

Israel and Hamas agree to 'long-term' truce in Gaza war

There are massive celebrations on the streets of Gaza on Tuesday, as leaders of Hamas declared "victory" over Israel in the recent war, claiming that Israel was forced to agree to a ceasefire since Hamas rockets could strike anywhere in Israel, and could force Israel's airport in Tel Aviv to shut down.

A number of Israeli politicians agreed, in that Hamas has not been demilitarized, which was supposedly Israel's major objective in the war. According to MK Eli Yishai:

"This will be time for Hamas to resupply itself with weaponry to use against Israel. Not demilitarizing Gaza will bring Israel to another round of fighting that will be even worse."

The terms of the cease-fire agreement are as follows:

One commentator on BBC pointed out that anyone in Gaza can build a rocket in his basement and launch it towards Israel, bringing retaliation from Israel.

Something that both sides insisted from the start of the war was that there would be no return to the status quo ante, and yet that's pretty much what has happened. Israel's concessions are largely largely symbolic, and can easily be reversed at any time, at the first sign of a terrorist act in Egypt's Sinai or in the West Bank. And Gaza can launch a new barrage of rockets at any time.

From the point of view of international geopolitics, Israel has been the target of an enormous amount of hostility because of the thousands of deaths in the Gaza Strip.

However, Hamas has also suffered internationally because of the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), and the comparison of Hamas to ISIS. Last week, Hamas publicly beheaded several Palestinians who were alleged to be "collaborators" with Israel, which is exactly the kind of atrocity that ISIS has been conducting. And Hamas is committed to wiping out Israel in the same way that ISIS is committed to exterminating Yazidis and Christians in Iraq.

Politically, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost popularity as it's become clear that Israel was not meeting its objectives in the Gaza war, and may not even have had any clear objectives in the first place. Hamas was becoming very unpopular before the war began, but has become much more popular as a result of the war. They may lose those gains as soon as people realize that the Gaza war ended, with massive losses to the people and infrastructure of Gaza, but nothing has really changed.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major war between Arabs and Jews, re-fighting the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Jerusalem Post and AP and Reuters

Egypt denies militarily intervening in Libya

Egypt is vehemently denying that Egypt intervened militarily in Libya. The denial follows reports Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were responsible for the mysterious warplanes that bombed Islamist militias in Libya last week. According to Egypt's foreign ministry:

"What is being circulated in the media regarding military intervention in Libya are rumors. [Egypt supports] Libyan legitimacy and the needs and training of the Libyan armed forces."

However, this very carefully worded statement actually does not contradict the reports, which stated that UAE warplanes bombed Libya, while Egypt provided the airports and landing facilities that made the bombings possible.

UAE's aggressive behavior has been a big surprise to many outside the region. In fact, the UAE has emerged as the most assertive of the Arab Gulf monarchies, without the reticence of Saudi Arabia.

In some ways, the conflict in Libya is becoming a proxy war between UAE and Qatar. In 2011, both UAE and Qatar backed militias that opposed Muammar Gaddafi, but the two countries backed different militias. The UAE supported the more secular militias, especially the ones in Zintan in western Libya. Qatar, on the other hand, supported the Islamist brigades, especially in Misrata. These militias were all united against Gaddafi in 2011, but today they're fighting each other, and the UAE and Qatar are respectively supporting the same ones they supported in 2011. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and The Hindu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Aug-14 World View -- Israel and Hamas agree to 'long-term' truce in Gaza war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Aug-14 World View -- Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enter the war in Libya

Frightened Syrian leadership asks for American help with ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enter the war in Libya


Until a few weeks ago, this was the main concourse in the main airport in Tripoli, Libya
Until a few weeks ago, this was the main concourse in the main airport in Tripoli, Libya

As we reported last week, warplanes bombed militia bases in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, in the early morning hours of last Monday. The problem was that nobody knew whose warplanes they were, since Libyan warplanes don't have the sophisticated night vision or laser-guided technologies necessary to carry these precisions night-time strikes. The mystery deepened on Saturday, when the warplane strikes were repeated.

Now the mystery has been solved. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates secretly teamed to launch airstrikes against Islamist militias, led by ultraconservative Islamist Salah Badi, from the coastal city of Misrata. They're opposed by secular militias, former supporters of Muammar Gaddafi, mainly from the town of Zintan and led by former renegade colonel Khalifa Hifter.

The war in Libya is between militias along a major growing fault line that was exposed by the Gaza war of Israel versus Hamas. Hamas and the Islamists, including the Islamists in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, are aligned with Turkey and Qatar. The secularists, including the Libyan secularists and president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, are on the other side of this fault line, aligned with UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Qatar and UAE have been supplying weapons to the opposing sides, the Islamists and secularists, respectively, in Libya, making it something of a proxy war. The warplane strikes used the UAE air force, considered to be one of the most sophisticated in the region, with logistics support from Egypt. However, the direct involvement of UAE and Egypt is a major escalation in the Libyan war because it changes it from a proxy war to a direct war. National Post/NYT and Gulf News

The Obama Administration and the Mideast

From the point of view of politics, the most important paragraph was the following, reported by the New York Times:

"The United States, the officials said, was caught by surprise: Egypt and the Emirates [UAE], both close allies and military partners, acted without informing Washington or seeking its consent, leaving the Obama administration on the sidelines. Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to U.S. diplomats, the officials said."

Even a few weeks ago, anyone bombing Libya would have coordinated with or at least notified the United States. But the bumbling, farcical foreign policy of President Barack Obama and his clownish Secretary of State John Kerry has made the Obama administration untrustworthy and irrelevant.

Probably the last straw for anyone occurred during the early days of Gaza war. Kerry went to a "peace conference" in Geneva, where he met with Hamas's allies, Qatar and Turkey, and drew up a "peace proposal" which was no more than a list of Hamas's demands. He then sent this proposal for comment to Israel and Egypt, who found it absolutely appalling.

This comes after years of overt hostility to Israel and to the secularists in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and overt friendliness to the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, including veiled support for Hamas. The first major step in that direction, from the view of the Mideast, was throwing Egypt's long-time leader and ally Hosni Mubarak under the bus in 2011, particularly infuriating the Saudis, who simply do not trust Obama on any issue any more. The New York Times referred to Egypt and the UAE as "close allies and military partners," but that's wishful thinking.

There's been a lot of talk recently that President Obama seems "detached," plays golf all the time, doesn't enjoy his job, doesn't like governing. This is not surprising.

I'm going to retell something I've mentioned several times. When Obama was campaigning in 2008, he said a number of things that were truly crazy, the most famous of which was that when he was elected the earth would heal and the tides would recede. I thought statements like that were amusing, because they were the sorts of ridiculous empty promises that any politician would make during a campaign.

But I remember how truly shocked I was, after the election, when he kept saying the same things. It was then that I realized that he actually believed what he'd been promising, and I said to myself that he and the nation were in trouble.

It's hard to overestimate how disastrous Obama's experience has been to him personally. After 20 years of listening to Reverend Jeremiah Wright scream, "God Damn America! God Damn America! God Damn America!", Obama really believed that America was the source of all evil in the world, and that he could heal the world by apologizing and making things right. He also expected to become a national hero by implementing universal health care. According to some reports, he was expecting, as late as a few days before the Obamacare launch in 2013, that he would be hearing calls for him to run for a third term.

What has happened goes well beyond an ideological failure. This is a disastrous personal failure for the president. Obamacare has been a disaster, with the worst yet to come, and he knows it. Every foreign policy initiative has been a disaster or near-disaster, as the Libyan situation shows. And now, the worst disaster of all: Obama is being dragged back into the war in Iraq.

It's not surprising that he spends as much time as he can on the golf course, and openly couldn't care less what people think of his doing so. He's governing in a world that's completely foreign to him, where everything he's ever believed is turning out to be completely wrong and upside down. It's hard to identify a single policy area where Obama was not "wrong." So it's not surprising that he's "detaching" himself from his job. The golf course is the only place that makes sense, where he can escape from the intense depression and confusion that he must be suffering.

I recall that president George W. Bush said that prior to 9/11 he had no idea what he was going to do as president, and he was confused about how he was supposed to lead the nation. But after 9/11, he suddenly knew why God had made him president. He was going to lead the nation through this time of peril. His confusion had turned to certainty, and pursuit of a clear direction.

President Obama has gone through the opposite experience. He became president knowing exactly what he had to do and how he would do it. But every policy has turned back to indirection and confusion. Obama still has two and one-half years as president, and so far he's doubled down on many bad decisions that he's made. If he keeps doing so, he's going to make things a lot worse, for himself and the nation. National Post/NYT and Salon

Democratic Republic of Congo becomes 5th country with confirmed Ebola

The Ebola virus has been confirmed in two patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However, this is a completely different strain from the Ebola virus that's out of control in West Africa, as if it were a completely different disease. Ebola was first identified in DRC near the Ebola river in 1976, and this has been the seventh outbreak since then. DRC has gained a lot of experience in dealing with Ebola during the last six outbreaks, and it's not expected that the DRC outbreak will spiral out of control. Guardian (London)

Frightened Syrian leadership asks for American help with ISIS

This story would be hilarious, if it weren't for the number of people who are being tortured or killed.

The forces of the regime of Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad are losing ground to the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), and they're asking for help from us, of all people. They want us to bomb ISIS targets in Syria, just as we've bombed ISIS targets in Iraq -- but only if we ask the al-Assad regime's permission for each target. You have my permission, Dear Reader, to enjoy a little bit of Schadenfreude. But only a little bit, because there are people being tortured and killed, many by the genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad, who's actions are responsible for the rise of ISIS. AFP

Nigerian troops apparently flee from Boko Haram into Cameroon

Some 480 Nigerian soldiers crossed the border into Cameroon after fierce fighting with Boko Haram militants.

The Nigerian government and army have been under extremely heavy criticism since April, when Boko Haram abducted over 200 schoolgirls, and the government and army seemed paralyzed for weeks, doing nothing about it. The girls have still not been recovered.

There have been numerous reports and rumors of Nigerian troops either supporting Boko Haram or afraid to engage Boko Haram. There have been reports that the Boko Haram militants are better equipped than Nigerian army troops.

So this time, the Nigerian government says that the 480 Nigerian soldiers were not just fleeing, but were engaging in a "tactical maneuver." The Nigerian defense ministry said that the soldiers were "charging through the borders [of Cameroon] in a tactical maneuver" after a sustained battle. Whether that explanation will be believed remains to be seen. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Aug-14 World View -- Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enter the war in Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Aug-14 World View -- AQAP announces support for ISIS

Violence flares on India/Pakistan border in Kashmir

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence flares on India/Pakistan border in Kashmir


Demonstrations by Kashmiri separatists (AP)
Demonstrations by Kashmiri separatists (AP)

Two Indian soldiers and four militants were killed on Saturday, when terrorists from the Pakistan side of the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) crossed the border into the Indian side and opened fire on India's Border Security Force (BSF).

India is blaming Pakistan for the incident, and claiming that Pakistani forces started firing across the border at Indian border posts, in order to provide cover so that the militants could sneak across the border.

Jammu and Kashmir were the epicenter of the 1947 war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India, one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century. Since then, there have been frequent battles and skirmishes along the Line of Control separating the region of J&K governed by Pakistan from the region governed by India.

Terrorist activity reached a peak in the 1990s when the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) fought a full-scale jihad against India in J&K. LeT was funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, before the Pakistan government banned LeT in 2002. However, LeT was still responsible for the horrific '11/26' three-day, 60 hour terrorist attack in Mumbai in November, 2008. That attack almost led to war between India and Pakistan, as India threatened to send its army to pursue LeT on Pakistani soil. War was avoided only by hard on-site negotiations by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. LeT continues to operate in J&K, and India believes that Pakistan's ISI continues to fund and support its activities.

Violence in J&K has been reduced in recent years, but it's feared that tensions are rising again, with the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister. Hindustan Times and BBC and Dawn (Pakistan)

Narendra Modi increases tensions in Jammu and Kashmir

Tensions and unrest have increased in J&K since the election of self-described Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi in May as prime minister. ( "24-Aug-14 World View -- Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India")

Modi has called for the repeal of "Article 370" in India's constitution, which guarantees a special status for J&K, and gives the province self-governance in many areas, but excluding defense and foreign affairs. Article 370 was part of the agreement in 1947 that allowed India to control its part of J&K. Proponents of the repeal say that citizens of J&K should have exactly the same rights and obligations as every other citizen of India, while opponents say that if J&K loses its self-governance, then it will cause anti-government demonstrations.

The India and Pakistan governments have held regular talks on the J&K problem, with a view to reducing the amount of violence. These talks were always pretty tense, but Modi canceled them completely last week, when a Pakistani government official traveled to Kashmir to meet with the leaders of Hurriyet Conference, an activist group promoting the separation of J&K from India. According to Hurriyet leaders, the people of J&K should have the right to self-determination, and Pakistan is the only country that fully supports their cause.

Generational Dynamics predicts that Hindus and Muslims will re-fight the bloody war that followed Partition in 1947, and that Jammu and Kashmir will once again be a flash point. Kashmir Media and Times of India and Dawn (Pakistan)

AQAP announces support for ISIS

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), headquartered in Yemen, has issued a statement of support for the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS):

"We announce solidarity with our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade. Their blood and injuries are ours and we will surely support them. We assert to the Islamic Nation [all Muslims worldwide] that we stand by the side of our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the American and Iranian conspiracy and their agents of the apostate Gulf rulers."

A union between ISIS and AQAP has been feared by analysts, because it would make the highly sophisticated bomb-making capabilities of AQAP available to ISIS, and to the thousands of young European and American men with clean passports who have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS.

The AQAP statement provides some hard-learned lessons to the ISIS terrorists:

"Based on our experience with drones, we advise our brothers in Iraq to be cautious about spies among them because they are a key factor in setting goals; be cautious about dealing with cell phones and internet networks; do not gather in large numbers or move in large convoys; spread in farms or hide under trees in the case of loud humming of warplanes; and dig sophisticated trenches because they reduce the impact of shelling."

However, this expression of brotherly love may run into serious political difficulties. AQAP is, as the name implies, a branch of al-Qaeda, and in fact is the leading branch of al-Qaeda these days. But ISIS is NOT a branch of al-Qaeda, and has severed connections with al-Qaeda. This has split the AQAP leadership in Yemen between those who support and those who oppose a liaison with ISIS. However, even with no formal relationship, there is already evidence that the two groups are sharing advice and providing training to each other. Yemen Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Aug-14 World View -- AQAP announces support for ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Aug-14 World View -- Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India

Philippines to defy China by offering South China Sea sightseeing cruise tours

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's mysterious 227-truck convoy returns from Ukraine


The massive convoy travels in Ukraine towards Luhansk on Friday (AP)
The massive convoy travels in Ukraine towards Luhansk on Friday (AP)

What was Russia's president Vladimir Putin really up to? His massive 227-truck "humanitarian aid convoy" crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine on Friday, without Ukraine's permission, and traveled to the anti-Ukraine separatist stronghold of Luhansk. Then the big white trucks left on Saturday, traveling back across the border to Russia.

Putin says that it was just humanitarian aid. Westerners point out that only 35 of the 227 trucks were inspected, and some of the rest may have been military supplies for the anti-Ukraine militias.

No one knows for sure, but Nina Khrushcheva, the granddaughter of 1960s Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev, and associate professor of international affairs at the New School, was interviewed on al-Jazeera and said that it was a public relations coup for Putin. Here are some excerpts (my transcription):

"We don't know if [military equipment] was moved this time or some other time, because it's been documented that military equipment has been moving back and forth. So it may not be the case this time around, and military equipment is probably not associated with this convoy.

Because I do believe that the white trucks are going to be white trucks, exactly what Putin says they're intended for -- humanitarian aid. This is public relations campaign. He'll say he's helping the Ukrainians, those who are in humanitarian distress, while [Ukrainian president Petro] Poroshenko is shelling his own citizens, and actually causing the humanitarian disaster, according to Putin. That's the narrative -- he'll say 'the West is out to get us,' which is what he always says in response to every accusation."

Ukrainian forces have been gaining ground on the anti-Ukrainian separatist militias. According to Khrushcheva, even if the convoy contained nothing but humanitarian aid, it still had a political value: "Even if the convoy was just humanitarian aid, the fighting will have to stop, there will be a ceasefire, so the separatists, the rebels, will have time to regroup." BBC and Reuters and Ria Novosti

Philippines to defy China by offering South China Sea sightseeing cruise tours

The South China Sea saga is taking a bizarre twist.

China has been pursuing a "salami slicing strategy" to annex South China Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

The chief of staff of the Philippines Armed Forces is planning to offer a sightseeing cruise service that will take tourists right through the islets, shoals and fishing grounds that China is annexing.

China is already offering a sightseeing cruise that takes tourists around the islands that China is annexing. However, China's military is opposing the Philippines' cruise service, saying that it would violate Chinese sovereignty and may trigger conflict. The Diplomat and Want China Times (Taiwan)

Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India

The recent election of Narendra Modi, a self-described Hindu nationalist, as India's prime minister is giving rise to controversies about Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The most recently controversy was sparked last week by Mohan Bhagwat, head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist activist group, supporting Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), when Bhagwat said:

"Hindutva is the identity of our nation.

Hindustan is a country of Hindus.

The entire world recognizes Indians as Hindus, therefore India is a Hindu state. The cultural identity of all Indians is Hindutva and the present inhabitants of the country are descendants of this great culture."

He added that the world has now realized that Hindutva has been the only basis to keep India united since ancient days despite having plenty of diversities.

Modi's political opponents are furious. According to Digvijaya Singh of the opposition Congress Party,

"I thought we had one Hitler in [the] making but it seems now we have Two! God save India! ...

A question to Mohan Bhagwat - Is Hindutva a religious identity? What is its relationship with Sanatan Dharma? Is a person who believes in Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism or any other religion also a Hindu? Would Mohan Bhagwat please clarify?"

While Modi hasn't publicly supported Bhagwat's endorsement of an all-Hindutva India, he hasn't disagreed with it either. Hindu nationalism is controversial in India because opponents associate it with "Hindutva violence," originally targeting British colonizers, but recently targeting Muslims. Modi himself became associated with Hindutva violence in 2002, when he appeared to be complicit in violence against Muslims. Hostility between the Hindu and Muslim populations has been a growing trend since the 1970s, and Modi has become extremely popular, either despite or because of his Hindutva connection.

While campaigning for the election several months ago, Modi made several statements targeting immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants. He particularly said:

"I want to warn from here, brothers and sisters write down, that after May 16, I will send these Bangladeshis [immigrants] beyond the border with their bags and baggages."

Modi was elected on May 16, but did not repeat his threats against the Bangladeshis. The Hindu and New Delhi TV and The Hindu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Aug-14 World View -- Narendra Modi and rise of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) in India thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Aug-14 World View -- Who's to blame for the rise of ISIS?

In major escalation, Russia moves trucks, troops, artillery into Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chinese fighter jet buzzes U.S. surveillance plane in international waters


Photo taken on Tuesday by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet conducting a 'dangerous intercept' of the surveillance plane (DOD)
Photo taken on Tuesday by surveillance plane of Chinese J-11 fighter jet conducting a 'dangerous intercept' of the surveillance plane (DOD)

The Obama administration is launching a protest to China, after a Chinese fighter plane made three passes dangerously near a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters.

The incident is reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor crashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft off the southern China coast. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days.

In the current incident, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet, a version of the Russian SU-27, made three passes dangerously near the U.S. plane, and zoomed directly in front of the Navy plane at a 90-degree angle to reveal its belly, which was packed with weaponry, according to a Pentagon spokesman. At one point the Chinese warplane flew alongside the Navy aircraft, putting their wingtips as close as 30 feet apart. The encounter ended with the Chinese pilot doing a barrel roll over the top of the U.S. plane. Stars and Stripes and Washington Free Beacon

Who's to blame for the rise of ISIS?

Politicians in Washington are scrambling to explain why they didn't foresee the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). Apparently the White House talking points are that when President Obama referred in January to ISIS as "a JV [junior varsity] team," it's because no one could foresee what would happen in the eight months since then.

In 2011, when Syria's Alawite/Shia president Bashar al-Assad started exterminating innocent Sunni women and children, it was obvious to me and everyone that something was going to happen. As time went on, al-Assad turned Syria into a global "jihadist magnet," drawing jihadists and would-be jihadists from around the world. I wrote about that constantly, and how dangerous it was. No matter how obvious, Washington is filled with highly paid analysts and experts and politicians who apparently were incapable of seeing that coming.

Navi Pillay, the U.N.'s High commissioner for human rights, says that it was pretty obvious to her as well. On Friday, she strongly criticized the Security Council for allowing the situation in Syria to "metastasize" out of control:

"Short term geopolitical considerations and national interests, narrowly defined, have repeatedly taken precedence over intolerable human suffering and grave breaches of and long term threats to international peace and security. I firmly believe that greater responsiveness by this council would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. ...

[Syria's conflict] is metastasizing outwards in an uncontrollable process whose eventual limits we cannot predict."

This remark was clearly intended to condemn Russia, not only for vetoing any attempt to even criticize al-Assad for trying to exterminate Sunnis, but even to provide a continuing supply of heavy weapons so that he can do the job more thoroughly. She stated the consequences of the Security Council's inaction, and she used a phrase that's worth remembering: Syria's conflict "is metastasizing outwards in an uncontrollable process whose eventual limits we cannot predict."

So now panic is setting in the White House -- panic that they're going to be blamed for doing nothing. The White House said on Friday that the U.S. would do "whatever it takes" to stop ISIS. They were talking about using air strikes to defeat ISIS, as they've been doing in Iraq for several weeks. But every analyst I heard said that ISIS would never be defeated with air power alone, and ISIS would never be defeated unless it were attacked in Syria, as well as Iraq.

So the White House sees itself being dragged back into an Iraq war, but this time involving Syria as well. The White House sees this as politically damaging to them.

The White House refused to exclude air strikes in Syria as well, raising the possibility of partnering up with the genocidal monster Bashar al-Assad to fight ISIS. Several analysts have pointed out that the Syrian regime has very sophisticated anti-aircraft capabilities, and there's a real risk that an American warplane would be shot down.

The larger picture is that in this generational Crisis era, there's a kind of "ping-pong escalation" going on. Each entity does something to raise the stakes, and then the other side has to go even farther. The is the "regeneracy" process described by generational theory. There is no realistic scenario that I'm aware of that would defeat ISIS without a full-scale war in Iraq and Syria. "Whatever it takes" is going to be a very great deal indeed.

The same kind of ping-pong escalation is going on in the Gaza war. Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Hamas "would pay a heavy price" for the death of a four year old Israeli boy on Thursday, killed by a Hamas rocket from Gaza. An Israeli air strike on Thursday killed three top Hamas military advisers. Hamas promised revenge, even against its own people -- Hamas killed 18 Palestinian "collaborators" in Gaza.

There's little doubt where all this is going -- full-scale war in the Mideast. What a lot of politicians are worried about today is who is going to get the blame. Guardian (London)

In major escalation, Russia moves trucks, troops, artillery into Ukraine

Nato is reporting that Russian troops have moved artillery across the border into eastern Ukraine and are firing on the Ukrainian military from inside Ukraine's borders. This is a major escalation by Russia, and threatens a larger war between Ukraine and Russia. It's been known for some time that Russia has been surreptitiously supplying to the pro-Russian separatist militias heavy weapons, including the surface-to-air missiles that the separatists used to shoot down the Malaysian Airlines flight 17 passenger plane.

At the same time, Russia's massive 280-truck "humanitarian convoy" moved across the border from Russia into Ukraine, without the permission of the Ukraine government. The convoy was supposed to be coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who would take responsibility for overseeing the distribution of aid, but the convoy no longer has any connection with the ICRC. Ukraine's government is calling this a "direct invasion."

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued the strongest condemnation yet of Russia's actions:

"I condemn the entry of a Russian so-called humanitarian convoy into Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian authorities and without any involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is a blatant breach of Russia’s international commitments, including those made recently in Berlin and Geneva, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia. It can only deepen the crisis in the region, which Russia itself has created and has continued to fuel. The disregard of international humanitarian principles raises further questions about whether the true purpose of the aid convoy is to support civilians or to resupply armed separatists.

These developments are even more worrying as they coincide with a major escalation in Russian military involvement in Eastern Ukraine since mid-August, including the use of Russian forces. In addition, Russian artillery support – both cross-border and from within Ukraine – is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces. We have also seen transfers of large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery to separatist groups in Eastern Ukraine. Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine."

Rassmussen added that, "Instead of de-escalating the situation, Russia continues to escalate it."

Russia responded in the U.N. Security Council by criticizing Lithuania, a temporary member. for having requested an emergency meeting to discuss Ukraine, and for systematically opposing Russian initiatives. According to Russia's U.N. ambassador Vitaly Churkin:

"At times it seems there is no clear chain of command in Kiev, because some assurances are given (to Russia) at a very high level and then others do not give the orders which are required ... by the border police to let the (aid) trucks in. That game could not continue indefinitely."

"We waited long enough and it was time to move," he added. "And this is what we did."

Washinton Post and Nato News and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Aug-14 World View -- Who's to blame for the rise of ISIS? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Aug-14 World View -- Hamas says it didn't intend to start the Gaza War

Tunisia and Egypt cancel passenger flights to Libya

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hamas says it didn't intend to start the Gaza War

The current Gaza war was triggered by events following the abduction of three Israeli teenagers on June 10. They were the subject of an extensive manhunt throughout the West Bank, during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly members of Hamas, were arrested. Israel was shocked three weeks later, when the teens were found dead in a pit in the West Bank. 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." The abduction of the three teens started a spiral of violence that led to the current Gaza war, with no end in sight.

Now a Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, is confirming that Hamas was responsible for the kidnappings, but said that there was no intention to start a war. Here's Memri's translation of what he said:

"In all honesty, we in the Islamic resistance movement did not intend to start a large-scale war at this time. We know that the enemy was not ready to start a large-scale war either. But Allah decided that this large-scale war would rage, in order to achieve things in accordance with the will of Allah.

We wanted Gaza to serve as a strategic pillar, and to continue to amass strength in order to support the resistance all over Palestine. We wanted to activate the resistance throughout the land of Palestine: in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. ...

Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders. The activity of the people has broadened to include all the occupied land, reaching its peak in the heroic operation, carried out by the Al-Qassam Brigades, in which three settlers were captured in Hebron.

There has been a lot of confusion regarding this operation. Some said that this was a conspiracy of the occupation. That's not true. Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers, who were on a hunger strike. The occupation wanted us to watch them die and to do nothing. The mujahideen captured these settlers in order to have a swap deal.

Then Israel wanted to strike a harsh blow to the resistance in the West Bank and Gaza, in order to shock the mujahideen and deter them from engaging in Jihad against the occupation. So it began to bombard Gaza, and to conduct arrests and wreak devastation in the West Bank.

But in these bombings, they killed six mujahideen. Thus, the fighting escalated. The mujahideen retaliated with missile strikes in the heart of the occupying entity. They were forced to escalate the fighting, and thus, an all-out war began.

So, according to al-Arouri, Hamas didn't want to start a war. They want to start an "intifida," like the ones that began in 1987 and 2000. They were characterized by Palestinians rioting, and throwing rocks at Israeli police, and an occasional terrorist act. But there was no full-fledged war, because there were Israeli and Palestinian leaders who were committed to avoiding a war.

This situation is exactly what generational theory is all about.

Everybody -- politicians, analysts, journalists, etc. -- remember the 1990s, and think that the 1990s was "normal," and that anything we do will work the same way as in the "normal" times. The belief is completely wrong. During the 1990s, the world was being run by people who had survived World War II and been traumatized by the war, and vowed never to let anything like that happen again. Today, those survivors are gone.

Here's what I wrote in May, 2003, in "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?":

"We are now in the early stages of replaying the extremely violent, bloody wars between the Jews and the Palestinians that took place between them from 1936 to 1949. So far the war has been little more than a series of skirmishes, as it was in the late 1930s. The full-fledged violent, bloody war is awaiting a generational change.

There's an incredible irony going on in the Mideast today, in that the leaders of two opposing sides are, respectively, Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat.

These two men hate each other, but they're the ones cooperating with each other (consciously or not) to prevent a major Mideast conflagration. Both of them remember the wars of the 1940s, and neither of them wants to see anything like that happen again. And it won't happen again, as long as both of these men are in charge.

The disappearance of these two men will be part of an overall generational change in the Mideast that will lead to a major conflagration within a few years. It's possible that the disappearance of Arafat alone will trigger a war, just as the election of Lincoln ignited the American Civil War. (It's currently American policy to get rid of Arafat. My response is this: Be careful what you wish for.)"

So in the current situation, we have Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri saying that all they had wanted to do was repeat the "intifidas" of 1987 and 2000. Well, that's not how it works any more, because we're in a different generational era -- a generational Crisis era, quite unlike the generational Unraveling era of the 1990s, when the mood was to avoid conflict if at all possible.

Today, the mood of the Palestinians and the Israelis is completely different. Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat are gone, and the leaders on both sides have no fear of violence, and no appreciation of what's coming.

It's worth noting that there's still one leader who is a survivor of the 1940s war between Jews and Arabs, and that person is Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. It's no coincidence that this leader has for years tried both to negotiate peace with the Israelis and to keep Hamas under control. He's failed in both endeavors because he's dealing with much younger leaders who have no fear of violence.

Most people assume that the 2000s are like the 1990s, the 90s are like the 80s, the 80s are like the 70s, and so forth. If you believe that, then you're wrong.

History is not similar from one decade to the next. History is driven by huge generational tsunamis that last for decades and even centuries. These tsunamis dictate what events are going to occur, and the politicians have little control over more than a few details.

World War II launched a huge tsunami that's been traveling towards us for decades, and is reaching us now. That's why there are trouble spots in one country after another, in Africa, the Mideast, in Europe and in Asia. And every day there are fewer and fewer people around like Mahmoud Abbas who remember what it was like and want to prevent it from happening again. It's only a matter of time before one of these trouble spots explodes into full-scale war, and such an explosion becomes more and more likely every day, as the WW II survivors disappear. Memri and Reuters

Tunisia and Egypt cancel passenger flights to Libya

As we reported yesterday, warplanes bombed militia bases in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya, in the early morning hours of Monday. The problem is, it's not known whose warplanes they were. The laser-guided technology was too sophisticated for any Libyan warplanes, and France, Italy, Egypt, the U.S. and Nato have all vehemently denied having anything to do with it. There are even concerns that the warplanes will be part of an external invasion of Libya.

Now on Thursday Tunisia and Egypt are halting passenger airline flights to and from Libya for security reasons. Egypt has canceled flights between Cairo and Libya, although flights between Alexandria and Libya would continue. AP and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Aug-14 World View -- Hamas says it didn't intend to start the Gaza War thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Aug-14 World View -- Australian MP Clive Palmer shocks country with anti-China rant

Invasion of Libya feared following mysterious bombing of Tripoli

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Riots in Liberia after Ebola slum is blockaded


A health worker disinfects a corpse in an Ebola isolation ward, once a primary school, in Monrovia (National Geographic)
A health worker disinfects a corpse in an Ebola isolation ward, once a primary school, in Monrovia (National Geographic)

Liberian police and soldiers exchanged fire with residents of the densely populated West Point seaside slum, in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, after security forces blocked roads leading in and out of the slum and a coast guard boat patrolled the waters offshore. Security forces also blocked off the Waterside Market, one of Monrovia's key market places, due to its proximity to the slum.

It's feared that Ebola is spreading rapidly out of control within the slum, after looters attacked an Ebola clinic last week, stealing supplies and blood-stained sheets and mattresses, permitting 37 Ebola patients to leave the clinic. There are 50-75,000 residents trapped within the West Point area.

Barricading an area to prevent people from leaving and spreading disease is sometimes called a cordon sanitaire.

During the Black Death bubonic plague epidemic, which spread through Italy in late 1347, victims of the plague would be sealed in their houses, locked and bolted from the outside. They could receive food only by lowering a basket from an upper window, allowing someone to put food into it.

During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, many families would lock themselves in their own homes to avoid getting exposed.

It's doubtful that Monrovia's cordon sanitaire will prevent the further spread of Ebola. Many health officials are concerned that it's already too late to stop Ebola in Liberia, and that the disease won't be stopped until it's fully run its course. News24 (South Africa) and Daily Mail (London) and Temple University and New Republic

Australian MP Clive Palmer shocks country with anti-China rant

MP and business mogul Clive Palmer has shocked Australia with some rather raw remarks about the Chinese. He was appearing on a TV talk show, and was asked about a corruption charge by a Chinese company. He said, "It's not true, it's false," and said the Chinese wanted to take over Australian ports and control Australian resources, and added:

"I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it."

He startled the audience by calling the Chinese "mongrels," and said,

"I’m saying that because they’re communist, because they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country."

Later, he tweeted a clarification: "My #qanda comments not intended to refer to Chinese people but to Chinese company which is taking Australian resources & not paying#auspol."

The Chinese embassy said Palmer’s words were "full of of ignorance and prejudice," and added,

"We believe that a sound China-Australian relationship serves the fundamental interests of both countries. It is and always will be supported by the two peoples."

Australian politicians called the remarks "hugely damaging" to Australia and to Australia-China relations. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described the rant as "offensive, unnecessary and unacceptable for a member of Parliament."

No one is defending the "mongrel" characterization, but many people, including me, have repeatedly pointed out that China is openly preparing for a pre-emptive attack and war with America, and therefore with America's allies including Australia.

Colleague Senator Jacqui Lambie defended Palmer, saying, that she "strongly supports" Palmer's "general point ... about communist China's military capacity and threat to Australia." She added,

"If there’s one thing I’ve learnt after serving my country in the Australian defense force for 11 years and listening closely to our veterans, it’s this: the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

If anybody thinks that we should have a national security and defense policy, which ignores the threat of a Chinese communist invasion – you’re delusional and got rocks in your head."

Sydney Morning Herald and Guardian (London)

Invasion of Libya feared following mysterious bombing of Tripoli

In the early hours of Monday morning, air strikes bombed militia bases in Tripoli, the capital city of Libya. The bombed the militia base that had been used to launch bombs on the nearby Tripoli airport.

The problem is: Nobody seems to know whose war planes they are. They were precision laser-guided strikes in the middle of the night, and Libya doesn't have warplanes with that technology or which can operate at night. Renegade former army general Khalifa Hifter (or Hafter) is far away in the eastern part of the country, and his war planes can't refuel in the air. Nonetheless, it's suspected that he's somehow behind the attacks.

There's no doubt that the air strikes took place, and the fear is that some third party was behind the strikes. Italy and France have quickly and vehemently denied that they were involved. It's possible that the war planes were from Algeria or Egypt. Nato, which monitors Libyan air space, will probably know. The fear is that, whoever it was, there's more to come, and that there may be an invasion coming. Middle East Eye

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Aug-14 World View -- Australian MP Clive Palmer shocks country with anti-China rant thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Aug-14 World View -- Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest

34 people killed in Central African Republic

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest


Imran Khan supporters climb on container barricades to reach the 'Red Zone' and the parliament house (Radio Free Asia)
Imran Khan supporters climb on container barricades to reach the 'Red Zone' and the parliament house (Radio Free Asia)

Pakistani opposition leaders Imran Khan and Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri attempted to force prime minister Nawaz Sharif to resign by leading tens of thousands of anti-government protesters to shut down Islamabad, the capital city. The police had attempted to block the protesters by erecting huge walls of shipping containers, but protesters crossed past them anyway, to enter the "Red Zone" and reach the parliament. Sharif had ordered the police not to shoot, in order to prevent violence, but when the protesters reached the Parliament building, Sharif called out the army.

Khan has been and continues to be a very divisive figure in Pakistan politics. He launched the march on Monday evening by calling for "civil disobedience" and taunted the prime minister by saying:

"Nawaz Sharif, you need to stop hiding behind the police and army. Face me like a man, and become a real tiger instead of circus tiger."

Actually, it's not clear who's heading up the circus. The Pakistan stories and editorials that I've reviewed are extremely critical of Khan. One called Khan a "confused" politician who led a "failed march," and said that "having abused his democratic rights, whipped up a crowd into a frenzy for blood, and after breaking faith over his written assurance to not enter the Red Zone, if protestors are arrested or violence occurs, the responsibility lies entirely on Imran’s head."

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz, turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American. He's claimed that the terrorist attacks in Pakistan were caused by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists, and last year he got his followers to blockade the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan. This route was heavily used by Nato forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and Nato bases in Afghanistan, and is an essential part of the plan to move American and Nato forces out of Afghanistan by the end of the year. The blockade finally ended in February.

Sharif won the vote last year in an election that was widely described as fair. It was the first election in Pakistan's history that would lead to first peaceful transition from one civilian government to another, with the highest election turnout in decades.

However, there's a question whether Sharif will remain in office for his full five-year term. The army has ruled Pakistan for about half of its 65 year history, and in recent months there have been rumors of a new army coup, as the army has been getting impatient with civilian rule. By having to call out the army to quell Khan's protest, Sharif has had to give up some power. According to one unnamed government source, "The military does not intend to carry out a coup but ... if the government wants to get through its many problems and the four remaining years of its term, it has to share space with the army," meaning that Sharif will have to focus narrowly on domestic political affairs, and leave security and strategic policy to the army. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Pak Observer and Reuters

34 people killed in Central African Republic


 Sister Marie-Clémentine Anuarite Nengapeta, hanging in the Catholic mission in Grimari, C.A.R. (Maverick)
Sister Marie-Clémentine Anuarite Nengapeta, hanging in the Catholic mission in Grimari, C.A.R. (Maverick)

Although the Central African Republic has been out of the news lately, thanks to the crises in Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine, the generational crisis war that we've described in the past is continuing with full force. Last week, fighters from Seleka, along with some herders and some Fulani, attacked villages located about 220 miles north of the capital city, Bangui, killing about 34 people. The villages lie along the informal border between the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian south. In response, the opposing "anti-balaka" militias carried out their own wave of sectarian killings, pushing thousands of Muslims northwards.

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 new war began last year when Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities. French Foreign Legion troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge. Thousands of French and African Union peacekeeping forces have succeeded in bring the fighting under control in Bangui, but its spread north and east to villages far beyond the grasp of the peacekeeping troops. As we've said repeatedly, whether it's in the headlines or not, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until it's run its course. Reuters and Daily Maverick (South Africa)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Aug-14 World View -- Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Aug-14 World View -- Israel, Hamas extend Gaza truce another 24 hours to negotiate deal

Kenya will block West African passengers from entering country

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel, Hamas extend Gaza truce another 24 hours to negotiate deal


Hamas inspects the home of Hussam Kawasme, which was demolished by Israeli bombs.  Kawasme is a suspect in the June West Bank killing of three Israeli teens.  That killing triggered the Gaza war.  (AFP)
Hamas inspects the home of Hussam Kawasme, which was demolished by Israeli bombs. Kawasme is a suspect in the June West Bank killing of three Israeli teens. That killing triggered the Gaza war. (AFP)

Just before Monday midnight, when the latest Hamas-Israel Gaza truce was due to expire, the two sides agreed to extend the truce another 24 hours to continue negotiating a draft deal being discussed in Cairo.

According to Debka, the provisions of the draft deal include these terms:

However, any such deal will have to be approved by Israel's cabinet, which is very far from certain. Daily Mail (London) and Debka

Hamas cracks down on political enemies in Gaza

Reports have indicated that a major objective of both Egypt and Israel in a potential peace settlement of the Gaza war is that Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA or Fatah) would play a major role, either replacing Hamas as the governing authority in Gaza, or at least serving as guards at an open Rafah border crossing connecting Gaza to Egypt. However, these proposals are an existential threat to Hamas as a political and military organization, so there's never been any serious chance that they would accept either of them.

The Palestinian factions Hamas and PA/Fatah have been bitter enemies since Hamas defeated Fatah in a 2008 war that wrested complete control of Gaza from Fatah. Theoretically, Fatah and Hamas have reconciled and are part of a "unity government," but unity has always been a fantasy, and the Gaza war has split them further.

Hamas has been cracking down on political opponents in Gaza for some time, especially Fatah. But now on Monday, Hamas has placed dozens of Fatah activists under house arrest, and has shot several in the legs for not staying indoors. Hamas leaders claim that they had nothing to do with the actions, and suggested that some Hamas activists had been acting on their own. This illustrates a major problem with the peace negotiations in Cairo -- Hamas does not have control of Gaza, or even its own activists, so it's not capable of making valid commitments.

Separately, reports indicate Israel's security services uncovered a Hamas plot to violently overthrow the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, coupled with large-scale terrorist attacks on Israel. The report claims that the plot was orchestrated from Istanbul, with the knowledge of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AP and Debka

The 'Sadat Gambit' in the 1973 Yom Kippur war

According to a Sunday analysis by Kforce Government Solutions, Israel's prime minister is determined to avoid a repeat of a trap set by Egypt's president Anwar Sadat in the 1973 Yom Kippur war with Israel:

"Egyptian authorities indicated that today's negotiations would represent Egypt's final effort to mediate a lasting ceasefire. All parties appear interested in observing the ceasefire a day at a time, even in the absence of an omnibus agreement.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that Israel will not compromise on the security requirement that the Gaza Strip must be demilitarized. He also said that Hamas will not be permitted to obtain a political victory from its military defeat. If Hamas resumes rocket attacks upon the expiration of the ceasefire, Netanyahu promised massive retaliation.

What Netanyahu refers to is the Sadat Gambit that motivated the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Egyptian President Sadat knew that Egyptian forces could not defeat Israel in a war. The military objective was to gain enough territory to provide Egypt with leverage in the peace talks. In other words, lose the war to win the peace. It worked. Egypt did not with the war, but eventually became the second largest recipient of US military aid, second only to Israel.

The Palestinians, according to Netanyahu, tried a scaled back version of the Sadat Gambit, but failed because they were unable to cause significant casualties in Israel. The Gambit works when the side using it achieves sufficient, real battlefield success to afford it leverage in peace talks. The Palestinians fell short of attaining leverage because their rockets performed so poorly and so many Palestinians died.

The Israelis understand that ploy and will deny it to Hamas. The key point is that Hamas is continuing to fold. It is now willing to settle for a partial lifting of the Israeli blockade and to defer discussion of a seaport in Gaza, as long as Israel allows funds to be transferred by the Palestinian Authority to Hamas to enable it to pay the bills.

Another way in which Hamas has sustained a setback is that the Palestinian Authority appears to be asserting more authority over the negotiations, mostly because of Hamas legendary inability to govern and because the Authority has money and Hamas is broke.

One or other of the Palestinian groups may be expected to launch rockets by Tuesday, as a show of defiance. Israel will respond asymmetrically. The fighting is not finished."

KGS NightWatch and Boca Raton News - Oct 9, 1973

Kenya will block West African passengers from entering country

In a new blow to the economy of West Africa, Kenya said on Monday it will block passengers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea from entering Kenya, for fear that they might be carrying the Ebola virus. This is further isolating the region, threatening shortages of food and other supplies. The World Bank and the African Development Bank are planning to provide as much as $260 million in emergency aid.

As we reported yesterday, fears have increased that the spread of Ebola is out of control after looters attacked an Ebola clinic in the densely crowded West Point district of Monrovia, the capital city. The looters stole blood-stained sheets and mattresses, putting into danger anyone who comes into contact with those items. 17 Ebola patients left the clinic after the attack.

Reports yesterday indicated that authorities had found the 17 escaped Ebola patients, and moved them to a central Monrovia hospital. However, later reports indicate that the escaped patients have not been found. Also, the Monrovia police have been unable to enter the clinic, for fear of becoming infected. Once they've received shipments of protective equipment and suits, they'll be able to deploy to West Point. Zegabi (Kenya) and Bloomberg and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Aug-14 World View -- Israel, Hamas extend Gaza truce another 24 hours to negotiate deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Aug-14 World View -- Activists call for U.S. and Britain to partner with al-Assad against ISIS

Attack on Ebola clinic in Liberia raises fears of out of control spread

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kurds battle ISIS for strategic Mosul Dam in Iraq


Mosul hydroelectric dam
Mosul hydroelectric dam

Kurdish Peshmerga forces say that they are close to taking control of Iraq's strategic Mosul Dam back from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). The Kurds were aided by about two dozen U.S. airstrikes on ISIS forces, mainly targeting American armed vehicles and armored personnel carriers that ISIS had captured from store houses when the Iraq army retreated from Mosul.

In the hands of ISIS, the dam is considered as a "weapon of mass destruction." If the dam had been blown by ISIS, then the city of Mosul would have been flooded with water 20-30 meters deep, and Baghdad would have been flooded with water 5 meters deep three days later. ISIS would not have been motivated to blow the dam, since Mosul is ISIS's headquarters. But the fear was that if ISIS was close to defeat, then they would blow the dam as an act of revenge. And so recapturing the dam has been a major objective. BBC and VOA

Activists call for U.S. and Britain to partner with al-Assad against ISIS

With airstrikes having some success against ISIS in Iraq, people in the U.S. and Britain are calling for similar treatment against ISIS in Syria. There are two variations to these calls: One variation calls for supplying weapons to the "moderate" opposition to president Bashar al-Assad, and the other variation calls for a full-fledged partnership with al-Assad in defeating ISIS.

Partnering with al-Assad against ISIS would certainly be an amazing historical twist, since genocidal monster al-Assad actually created ISIS.

I've been writing about the situation in Syria since the war started three years ago, and I've repeatedly indicated what disaster it is that the Alawite/Shia president, Bashar al-Assad, is conducting genocide against innocent Sunni protesters. And al-Assad was and is being helped by unlimited amounts of heavy weapons provided by Russia, making Vladimir Putin a war criminal, along with al-Assad. Al-Assad has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia's heavy weapons, he's killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he's killed dozens with sarin gas, and he's killed countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas. In addition, he's used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on tens of thousands of prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale, and does with complete impunity, and in fact with encouragement and support from Russia and Iran.

I've been writing about all these acts since the war began, and each time I've described how the devastating consequences to the region and world have continued to grow.

In the beginning, in 2011, I was writing that al-Assad was turning peaceful protests into a full-fledged civil war. Syria is in a generational Awakening era, so this civil war would never have developed if al-Assad hadn't forced it. Furthermore, the civil war would have fizzled quickly if either al-Assad had stepped down, or if Russia had stopped supplying him with weapons.

By 2012, I was writing about how al-Qaeda linked jihadists from other countries were coming to Syria to join the fight against al-Assad. By 2013, young men from Sunni Muslim countries from Pakistan to Algeria to Chechnya were coming to Syria to join the anti-Assad groups. Jihadist anti-Assad groups were formed, most notably Jabhat al-Nusra (Islamic Front), which was linked to al-Qaeda and which also linked up with the dormant al-Qaeda in Iraq.

But another group, which became today's ISIS, broke away from al-Qaeda, subsumed al-Qaeda in Iraq, and began fighting both al-Assad and al-Nusra. By 2014, it became increasingly popular with many would-be jihadists around the world, and now there have been thousands of young men from Europe and America that have gone to Syria to develop terrorist skills. These young men are American/European citizens with clean passports, so they represent the greatest Western terrorist threat today.

From the beginning, al-Assad was claiming that he wasn't exterminating innocent Sunni civilians. He claimed that he was fighting al-Qaeda terrorists. If there ever was an example of self-fulfilling prophecy, this is it. When he was just murdering innocent protesters, there were no al-Qaeda terrorists to speak of. Al-Assad created Jabhat al-Nusra and then ISIS by turning Syria into a global "jihadist magnet." The result is ISIS is an enormous danger to the region and to the entire world.

It's not exactly without historical precedent for America to partner with a genocidal monster. Josef Stalin was a genocidal monster who starved, executed and slaughter tens of millions of Russian people, but we partnered with him anyway in World War II, because he was the lesser of two evils -- Adolf Hitler was a WORSE genocidal monster.

It's far from clear that ISIS can be defeated. Hitler was defeated in the climax of a generational crisis war during a generational crisis era. But Syria is in a generational Awakening era. This means that some level of violence will continue, even if ISIS is defeated, and so al-Assad and Putin will continue with their program of genocide. The only things that could have prevented this situation would have been if al-Assad has been forced to step down during the beginning, or if Putin had stopped supplying weapons. As things stand now, there's no hope. Asharq Al Awsat (Riyadh) and USA Today and Russia Today and Al Jazeera

Attack on Ebola clinic in Liberia raises fears of out of control spread

Concern that the spread of the Ebola virus in Liberia is out of control increased on Sunday, after looters attacked an Ebola clinic, stealing supplies, as well as blood-stained mattresses and sheets. The attack took place in the West Point district of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. West Point is an extremely crowded slum area, so the blood-stained bedding presents a real threat of causing Ebola to spread around the city. 17 Ebola patients left the clinic after the attack, though authorities have found them and moved them to a central Monrovia hospital.

In discussing the possibility of an out of control pandemic, authorities are beginning to make distinctions between West Africa, especially Liberia, and Western countries. In the United States and Europe, for example, there are plenty of isolation units and the public understands the kinds of medical precautions that have to be taken. And Ebola is not airborne, but is contracted by touching the fluids of an infected person.

But none of that is true in Liberia. Ignorance about the virus is extremely high, and people are reluctant to cooperate with health workers. Many in the public are suspicious of foreign health workers and believe that it's the health workers that are bringing Ebola to their villages. Many villages follow ancient burial rituals, without understanding that an Ebola corpse is extremely contagious. Clinics and hospitals are crammed full of patients. There's a shortage of even the most basic supplies, such as rubber gloves. Western health and aid workers are fleeing the country, for fear of becoming infected and dying, so there's a massive shortage of doctors and other health workers.

So it's feared that in Liberia, and possibly in Sierra Leone and Guinea as well, Ebola really is out of control, and will not be stopped for many months, until it's completely run its course. That would mean that sooner or later, everyone in Liberia would be exposed to the virus. About 50-60% will die, and the rest will live, and will be immune after that. BBC and Russia Today and Foreign Policy and Times of India/NYT

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Aug-14 World View -- Activists call for U.S. and Britain to partner with al-Assad against ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Aug-14 World View -- Erdogan turns Turkey even more against Israel and Egypt

Turkey allies with Hamas, Qatar and ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey will send new flotilla to break Israel's blockade of Gaza


Turkey's IHH to send a new flotilla to try to break Israel's blockade of Gaza
Turkey's IHH to send a new flotilla to try to break Israel's blockade of Gaza

Turkey broke off diplomatic relations with Israel after the deaths of nine Turkish citizens on May 31, 2010, in a confrontation between Israel's navy and the boat Mavi Marmara in a flotilla headed for Gaza in violation of Israel's Gaza blockade. Since then, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted find a way to meet the demands of Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to restore relations. He's apologized to Erdogan for the incident, and he's negotiated monetary payments to the families of the victims. But Erdogan's third demand, fully ending the blockade of Gaza, has not been met.

The 2010 flotilla was sponsored not by Turkey, but by a Turkish aid group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH). Now the IHH has issued a statement saying that activists from 12 countries met in Istanbul and will send a new flotilla "in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza." Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and Jerusalem Post

Gaza war further splits Israel's relations with Turkey and U.S.

Relations between president Barack Obama and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have always been extremely frosty, but never more so since the start of the Gaza war. In the past, Obama has demanded that Israel stop building settlements, and unilaterally accept a return to Israel's 1948 borders. According to reports, White House officials view Netanyahu as "reckless and untrustworthy," and Israeli officials regard the Obama administration as "weak and naive." Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry submitted a proposed ceasefire agreement, based on private discussions with Hamas's allies, Qatar and Turkey, that gave Hamas everything it wanted. Since then, Israel has shut the U.S. completely out of peace negotiations, and Egypt has assumed the role that the U.S. used to have as chief mediator.

Israel is particularly disturbed by the Obama administration's increasingly close ties with Iran, whom the Israelis consider to be an existential threat because of potential nuclear weapon development. Israel is forming increasingly close alliances with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority, while Hamas has close relations with Qatar and Turkey.

Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has always had a fairly hostile attitude towards Israel, but it became extremely vitriolic following the 2010 flotilla incident. Erdogan has equated Zionism with racism, and compared Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler.

This attitude has spread to the public. Turkish Jews and Jewish tourists are experiencing increasing anti-Semitism. According to one businessman, Turks swear at Jews in the street, and one hotel warned in response to an e-mail message requesting to book a room that "for your further safety concerns it is our duty to inform you that the Palestine embassy is our next door neighbor and we do not have private security within the hotel." Jewish tourists are being warned not to visit Turkey.

Erdogan has been prime minister of Turkey since 2003, having been elected for three terms. Last month, Erdogan won election as president of Turkey. Ironically, the president has been little more than a figurehead in the past, but Erdogan plans to expand the powers of the president so he's more powerful than the prime minister in the future. He'll be sworn in as president on August 28. Zaman (Istanbul) and Fox News and Algemeiner and Debka

Turkey gets closer to ISIS and Qatar and splits further with Egypt


Map showing Egypt's el-Sisi's trip from Russia to Egypt, avoiding Turkey's and Ukraine's air space (Hurriyet)
Map showing Egypt's el-Sisi's trip from Russia to Egypt, avoiding Turkey's and Ukraine's air space (Hurriyet)

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi returned from a visit in Sochi with Russia's president Vladimir Putin. Relations between Egypt and Turkey have gotten so bad, the al-Sisi felt that it was unsafe to travel over Turkey's airspace. His plane also avoided Ukraine's air space, because of the recent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. So al-Sisi's plane took a hugely circuitous route from Sochi to Egypt, graphically illustrating how much distance there is between al-Sisi and Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan is angry that al-Sisi last year ousted Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government, and then violently cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood movement, declaring it a terrorist organization, and killing or jailing thousands of its members. Erdogan's own AKP party is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas is an offshoot of MB, leaving him absolutely furious at the current Gaza war. Erdogan has even furiously blamed Israel for the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, presumably because it's more politically correct to criticize Israel than to criticize Egypt.

Turkey, Qatar and Hamas are strengthening their alliance versus Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Saudi Arabia. However, Turkey is also developing cordial relations with the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). This is partly because ISIS is fighting against Turkey's enemy, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Another reason is that ISIS is holding as hostages 49 Turkish diplomats, including Turkey's consul general in Mosul, whose consulate serves as ISIS's headquarters.

Summary: Turkey + ISIS + Qatar + Hamas VERSUS Egypt + Saudia Arabia + Palestinian Authority + Israel.

Iran is playing a schizophrenic role in all this. Iran is Turkey's enemy with regard to Syria's Bashar al-Assad and ISIS, but Iran is Turkey's ally, along with Hamas, in the Gaza war. As I've written many times, when Iran is forced to choose sides in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, they will be allied with the west. This is not simply because Mideast alliances, however. It's because Iran is closely allied with India and Russia, and they will be enemies of China and Pakistan. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA and War on the Rocks

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Aug-14 World View -- Erdogan turns Turkey even more against Israel and Egypt thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Aug-14 World View -- West Africa at significant economic risk as Ebola panic intensifies

Ukraine says it partially destroyed Russian military convoy crossing border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

West Africa at significant economic risk as Ebola panic intensifies


Nigerian doctors treating an Ebola patient
Nigerian doctors treating an Ebola patient

The Ebola panic is almost reaching the point where West Africa is being quarantined and cut off from the rest of the world, with travel bans increasing. Airlines are suspending flights to some West African cities. The Ebola crisis could also create shortages of food, fuel and other supplies because the nearest big port, Abidjan in Ivory Coast, has announced a ban on all ships from the Ebola-affected countries Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three hardest hit countries. Cross-border markets have been shut down and several major mining companies have scaled back their operations or postponed expansion plans.

With estimates of more than 1,060 deaths and 1,975 infected, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is already the deadliest ever. And the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the size of the epidemic may be "vastly underestimated," as there are rumors of entire villages being wiped out, and some infected people simply afraid to notify the authorities of their illness. One health worker was quoted as saying, "If you have people fly in to your village looking like Martians [because of the non-contamination suits], and everyone is getting sick, it's not hard to believe that the Martians are making you sick."

These panicked reactions are not only devastating the economies of West African countries, they're also making the problem of stabilizing the Ebola epidemic more difficult. According to WHO,

"WHO is disappointed when airlines stop flying to West Africa. Hard to save lives if we and other health workers cannot get in."

Nigeria has had eleven cases of Ebola and one death, but panic is spreading rapidly, particularly in the crowded city of Lagos, where it's feared that Ebola may be passed from person to person faster than authorities can stop it. The crisis is exacerbated by a strike by 16,000 of the country's doctors for better working conditions. Nigeria's president Goodluck Jonathan on Friday fired the striking doctors, for striking during a medical emergency.

Nigeria is already facing severe disruptions because of the Boko Haram terrorist group. One government official estimates that "3 million Nigerians are facing 'serious humanitarian challenges' because a breadwinner has been killed in the turmoil or they are too scared to plant the crops."

Now the Ebola panic is putting the entire country's economy at risk, according to the Moody's ratings agency:

"If a significant outbreak emerges in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, the consequences for the West African oil and gas industry would be considerable. Any material decline in production would quickly translate into economic and fiscal deterioration."

Globe and Mail and Sky News and Vice News and Barrons

Ukraine says it partially destroyed Russian military convoy crossing border

As we reported yesterday, a convoy of Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers crossed the border on Thursday evening from Russia, through a hole in the barbed wire fence separating the countries, into Ukraine. This was seen and photographed by Moscow correspondents of two London papers, the Guardian and the Telegraph.

On Friday, Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko bragged that his forces had destroyed part of that military convoy. There were several different Russian responses in different reports:

It's just too funny. The Guardian correspondent again travelled to the site, and found the dirt road to be well-traveled. He also witnessed at least 50 armored personnel carriers in the region, headed toward toward the border.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters that Russia made an "incursion" into Ukraine and that Nato sees a continuous flow of Russian weapons into the country.

An interesting interpretation was heard by an analyst from Teneo Intelligence that I heard quoted on CNBC:

"The multiple crossings at Izvarino [border crossing] in daylight and within sight of the international press suggest that they wanted to be seen, most likely to test the reaction of the international community. ... The Russian separatists control several border crossings with no media presence. These could have used by military vehicles instead."

The implication is that Russia wanted the military convoy to be seen and attacked, possibly to provide an excuse for a Russian invasion. The truth is that nobody knows what the Russians are planning, but the increasing military activity near the Ukrainian border is causing many to believe that, with the pro-Russian separatists close to losing to the Ukrainian army, the Russians will take some military action to protect them.

Meanwhile, Russia's 280-truck "humanitarian convoy" remains parked near the Ukrainian border, and anything is possible this weekend. Guardian (London) and Bloomberg and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Aug-14 World View -- West Africa at significant economic risk as Ebola panic intensifies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Aug-14 World View -- Russia threatens to invade Ukraine from East and West

China's bank lending falls 64% in July

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's sophisticated disinformation campaign over Ukraine


Screen grab of Buk missile system in Ukraine.  Separatist leaders initially bragged that they had the Buk system and had shot down MH17, and then later denied ever having said that.  (Ukraine Security Service)
Screen grab of Buk missile system in Ukraine. Separatist leaders initially bragged that they had the Buk system and had shot down MH17, and then later denied ever having said that. (Ukraine Security Service)

Russia employs a sophisticated disinformation campaign to obscure facts when it violates international law. There is no more dramatic example of this than Russia's reaction to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 last month. It was, and is, almost universally believed that it was shot down with a Russian-supplied Buk surface-to-air missile system by pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine who believed that it was a Ukrainian air force warplane.

However, that narrative was unacceptable to Russia because it made the pro-Russian separatists look bad, and because it implied indirect culpability of the Russian armed forces, who are not supposed to be supplying ANY weapons to Ukrainian separatists, particularly highly advance surface-to-air missiles.

There followed a blast of Russian propaganda, attempting to confuse the issue and pin the blame elsewhere. The claims by Russia controlled media included:

Russia denied that troops had been sent to Crimea, although they had been sent and they had played in role in fixing the referendum that Russia used to justify annexation of Crimea. Russia has denied sending weapons and troops to separatists in east Ukraine, when there has been plenty of evidence that they had, including broadcast interviews with separatist leaders bragging that they had come from Russia. Russia has obscured its own military actions in east Ukraine by accusing the Kiev government of being "neo-Nazis" and "Fascists."

What's really remarkable is that the Russian people seem to completely believe anything that Vladimir Putin and the Russian-controlled media tell them. Putin himself has astronomical public approval ratings.

Putin has been increasingly cracking down on Russia's press. There have been several well publicized resignations from Russia Today in the last few months by people who said that they could no longer continue lying for the Kremlin.

In writing articles about Russia, I've noticed a big problem these days with Russian media. I used to be able to reference Russia Today and sometimes even Ria Novosti, but in the last few months they've become completely uncritical mouthpieces for Putin, in the same category as Xinhua for China and PressTv for Iran. So there's no longer any mainstream Russian media I can really count on. Moscow Times and Jamestown and Sydney Morning Herald

Russia uses an army of trolls on social media

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

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

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

Russian military convoy crosses border into Ukraine

A column of 23 armored personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, crossed the border into Ukraine late Thursday evening. The border between Russia and east Ukraine is long and porous, and so usually these military convoys pass back and forth undetected, allowing the Kremlin to lie about them. But in this case, this military convoy (different from the well-publicized 280-truck humanitarian convoy also approaching the border) was photographed by the Moscow correspondent of the Guardian.

The military convoy paused by the side of the road until nightfall, and then crossed into Ukraine on a dirt road passing through a gap in a barbed wire fence demarcating the border. According to the Guardian, this is incontrovertible evidence of Russian troops inside Ukraine's borders, despite Russia's repeated denials and disinformation.

At the same time, Russia has been increasing its military presence near the border with Ukraine, with an estimated 20,000 Russian troops currently deployed. Russian residents near the Ukraine border report seeing tanks and armored personnel carriers cross into Ukraine regularly. Guardian (London) and Business Insider and Reuters

Russia's humanitarian convoy appears poised to enter Ukraine without consent

The 280 vehicle "humanitarian convoy" that we've previously described ( "13-Aug-14 World View -- Mammoth Russian truck convoy heads for confrontation at Ukraine border") continued to approach Ukraine's border on Thursday.

During a one-day pause on Wednesday, the humanitarian convoy was joined by helicopters, surface-to-air missile systems, and possible anti-aircraft weapons systems, according to reporters who had viewed the convoy.

Supposedly, the convoy is supposed to arrive at the Ukraine border, and allow every truck to be inspected by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC would then take control of the convoy and oversee the distribution of aid. However, the ICRC reports that it's not being permitted to inspect the trucks, even though it's traveling under an ICRC flag. According to an ICRC spokesman:

"At the moment it is not an International Red Cross convoy, inasmuch as we haven't had sight of the material, we haven't had certain information regarding the content, and the volume of aid that it contains."

The travel route of the convoy is unclear. The convoy suddenly changed routes on Thursday to avoid a Ukraine-controlled checkpoint and enter Ukraine at a checkpoint controlled by the pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine.

It now seems likely that the convoy will cross the border and spread out to be used as a shield to protect the pro-Russian militias, who are currently losing to Ukraine's army. Business Insider and BBC

Ukraine fears Russian invasion of Odessa from the west

Ukraine border guards in Ukraine's west, along the border with Moldova's Transnistria, have reported instances of reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Transnistria violating Ukrainian air space.

Moldova’s Transnistria region is de facto under the control of Russian military forces. According to official figures, which are believed to be underestimates, the Russian military in Transnistria consist of some 1,500 troops of the Operational Group of Russian Forces (Operativnaya Gruppa Rossiyskih Voysk—OGRV), which are augmented by over 400 Russian "peacekeepers." These troops conducted a training exercise on the west Ukraine border earlier this year. When combined with local volunteers, it's likely that Russia could amass, in a matter of hours, at least 10,000-12,000 combat-ready military personnel.

Ukraine is concerned that this force is poised to invade Ukraine from the west in order to overrun the Odessa, Ukraine's only remaining sea port after Crimea was annexed. Like Crimea and east Ukraine, the Odessa sea port in southwest Ukraine is another region in Ukraine where Russia has expressed an interest in "protecting" Russian speakers. In executing this invasion, Russia could also use the 2,000-strong Cossack force that is subordinated to the Transnistrian KGB for initial infiltration of Odessa region, posing as "opolchenye" (people’s militia). Jamestown and Ria Novosti

China's bank lending falls 64% in July

China's banks made $62.53 billion in new loans in July, down 64% from June, while total social financial fell 86%. The People's Bank of China (PBOC) sought to reassure markets that the data was distorted by a lending binge in June. However, demand for loans has been weakening, and Russia's enormous housing bubble, far bigger than America's housing bubble of eight years ago, appears to be bursting. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Aug-14 World View -- Russia threatens to invade Ukraine from East and West thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Aug-14 World View -- Western countries struggle with whether to send troops to Iraq

Iraq is repeating the events of the 1930s

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Western countries struggle with whether to send troops to Iraq

The Obama administration flip-flopped on Wednesday on whether to send troops to Mount Sinjar in Iraq to save tens of thousands of members of the ancient Yadizi sect, who had been trapped there by terrorist militias from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL) and who had threatened to exterminate them. At first, the US said that 130 troops would be landing on Mount Sinjar to aid the evacuation, but then late in the day said that troops would not be necessary, since the air strikes had been successful. This may be the same kind of flip-flop as we saw last year in Syria.

The political problem is clear. Many Western politicians supported the ground invasion of Iraq when it occurred in 2003, as it was almost universally believed that Saddam Hussein still had weapons of mass destruction, having previously used them against the Kurds and the Iranians. Then when the war was won but became unpopular anyway, these politicians flip-flopped and decided that it was a dumb war, and shouldn't have occurred. So now they're in danger of having to flip-flop again, and get dragged kicking and screaming into some kind of military action in Iraq. Based on our experience in Vietnam, the most likely result of this is that we'll be dragged into this war step by step.

Britain's prime minister David Cameron said that Britain will be sending ammunition to the Kurds, and added that, "The first thing is to deal with this desperate humanitarian situation with people who are exposed, starving and dying of thirst ... getting them to a place of safety." Presumably these plans will have to be adjusted as well, in light of America's change of plans.

France is going farther than Britain, and has already begun sending weapons to the Kurds. The office of France's president François Hollande said in a statement, "To meet the urgent needs voiced by the Kurdish regional authorities, the head of state (Hollande) decided in liaison with Baghdad to ship arms in the coming hours."

Possibly the strongest statement was issued by Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott:

"There is a darkening situation in the Middle East, in particular northern Iraq. There is a continuing humanitarian catastrophe in and around Mount Sinjar.

The murderous hordes of ISIL, now the Islamic State are on the march. ...

[Australia will] provide what assistance we reasonably can to protect the people who are at risk not just from the elements, from starvation, from dehydration, from exposure on Mount Sinjar - but also who are at risk from ISIL forces.

We have seen over the last few months murderous intent ... towards everyone who does not submit. Plainly, as President Obama has pointed out, this is potential genocide.

“We should do what we can to protect people from potential genocide ... No one wants to stand aside in the face of a potential genocide."

Asked if that could include military action, Abbott said, "We certainly don’t rule that out." USA Today and Belfast Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald and France 24

Iraq is repeating the events of the 1930s

The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL) has been spectacular, and their gruesome brutality has become legendary. But still there are reasons to suspect that ISIS's victory may be short-lived. Some of the issues facing ISIS are:

In 2007, I wrote "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", and wrote at length about how the politicians and the mainstream media, many of whom were openly siding with al-Qaeda in Iraq against President Bush and the American troops in Iraq, were completely wrong, and that Iraqi Sunnis joining with the Shias in opposition to al-Qaeda in Iraq. As it turned out, these politicians and media sources were completely wrong, and disgraced themselves by opposing American soldiers in Iraq.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the key to understanding that is to look at Iraq's two generational crisis wars of the last century: The Great Iraqi Revolution of 1920, and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988. In both of these crisis wars, Iraqi Sunnis and Shias put aside their differences and joined together to fight against outside enemies. For Iraqis, their Iraqi nationalism is more important than sectarian differences. They joined together once again in 2007, when they faced a major external enemy.

History does not support the view that ISIS will succeed in permanently biting off the Sunni portion of Iraq as part of its Islamic State. History supports the view that at some point, perhaps this year, perhaps next year or the year after, after the euphoria of victory has worn off, Iraqi Sunnis will eject ISIS.

Another lesson we can learn about Iraq today is to look at what happened in the 1930s. Iraq today is one generation past the end of the Iran/Iraq crisis war, and Iraq in the 1930s was almost one generation past the end of the Great Iraqi Revolution. In my 2007 article, I quoted at length the Library of Congress (LOC) article on the history of Iraq. Here is a brief excerpt from that quote:

"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. ...

The arbitrary borders that divided Iraq and the other Arab lands of the old Ottoman Empire caused severe economic dislocations, frequent border disputes, and a debilitating ideological conflict. The cities of Mosul in the north and Basra in the south, separated from their traditional trading partners in Syria and in Iran, suffered severe commercial dislocations that led to economic depression. In the south, the British- created border (drawn through the desert on the understanding that the region was largely uninhabited) impeded migration patterns and led to great tribal unrest. Also in the south, uncertainty surrounding Iraq's new borders with Kuwait, with Saudi Arabia, and especially with Iran led to frequent border skirmishes. The new boundaries also contributed to the growth of competing nationalisms; Iraqi versus pan-Arab loyalties would severely strain Iraqi politics during the 1950s and the 1960s, when Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser held emotional sway over the Iraqi masses.

Ethnic groups such as the Kurds and the Assyrians, who had hoped for their own autonomous states, rebelled against inclusion within the Iraqi state."

What all this shows is that Iraqi Sunnis and Shias unite when facing a foreign enemy, but at other times are in total political chaos. By changing a few of the words, the LOC history could have applied to much of the last ten years.

Incidentally, the same cannot be said when you mix in the Kurds. To the Sunnis and Shias, the Kurds were enemies in these crisis wars, and bitter feelings run very deep because Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds.

People sometimes think it strange to make these historical comparisons. "Who remembers all that stuff from the 1930s," you may be thinking. But in fact almost every person reading this article has some knowledge of America's 1930s Great Depression, having been told by parents or grandparents. The same is true of the Iraqi people, except that their knowledge is about the 1930s in Iraq, the material in the LOC history above. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these generational histories are highly localized, and understanding a country's generational history tells a great deal about how they're going to behave today.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Aug-14 World View -- Western countries struggle with whether to send troops to Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Aug-14 World View -- Mammoth Russian truck convoy heads for confrontation at Ukraine border

U.S. sends 130 more troops to Iraq as advisors

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mammoth Russian truck convoy heads for confrontation at Ukraine border


Convoy of Russian trucks headed for Ukraine on Tuesday (Reuters)
Convoy of Russian trucks headed for Ukraine on Tuesday (Reuters)

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Russia and Ukraine had reached agreement that a huge truck convoy will be permitted to cross the border from Russia into Ukraine, and then proceed to distribute humanitarian aid in areas of east Ukraine inhabited by a mostly Russian-speaking population.

According to Lavrov, the truck convoy will arrive at the Ukraine border in a couple days, at which time they will take on representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who will oversee the aid distribution. However, the ICRC has not said that it agrees to participate in this operation.

The convoy is mammoth, several miles long. According to Lavrov, there are 280 trucks. The convoy will be comprised of 262 vehicles, including 198 truck with material means and electricity generators with an overall weigh of 1,809.9 tonnes. The humanitarian aid includes: 69 electricity generator, 400 tonnes of cereals, 340 tonnes of canned meat, 30 tonnes of salt, 100 tonnes of sugar, 60 tonnes of canned milk, 0.8 tonnes of tea, 679.5 tonnes of bottled water, 62.4 tonnes of baby foods, 54 tonnes of medical equipment, and 12,300 sleeping bags.

The Russians are deeply distrusted by the West and by Ukraine, thanks to their illegal annexation of Crimea, and their thousands of invasion-ready troops, tanks and warplanes massed near the Ukraine border. The fear is that this mammoth truck convoy is like the mythical "Trojan Horse," carrying soldiers and weapons to armed anti-government militias in east Ukraine. Reuters and Itar-Tass (Moscow) and PRI

Indirect Hamas-Israeli negotiations for Gaza war continue in Cairo

With the latest 3-day ceasefire scheduled to expire at midnight on Wednesday, officials from Hamas and Israel are in Cairo to decide on terms that might allow the ceasefire to be extended. The negotiations are being called "indirect," because Hamas and Israeli representatives are in different rooms, and are not talking to each other. Hamas does not recognize the nation of Israel, and Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization. Instead, Egyptian representatives talk alternately to the Hamas and Israeli representatives, and carry messages and proposals back and forth between the two rooms.

According to leaks, no progress is being made on the major issues. Hamas will not agree to military disarmament, as Israel is demanding. And Israel will not agree to build an airport and seaport, and offer safe passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as Hamas is demanding.

However, the leaked reports suggest that some progress may have been made. In particular, the Israelis and Palestinians have agreed on the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided that 1000 Palestinian Authority police officers are deployed at the terminal.

As I've written several times in the past, there's only one big thing that the two sides agree to: No return to the status quo ante. Israel will not tolerate a ceasefire if it means a continuing stream of rocket launches from Gaza into Israel. And if Hamas cannot get some major concession, such as the opening of all six border crossings from Gaza into Egypt and Israel, then then all the destruction that Gazans have suffered in the last few weeks will be lost. The logic of this situation indicates that the war will continue.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major war between Arabs and Jews, re-fighting the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Arab News and Jerusalem Post

U.S. sends 130 more troops to Iraq as advisors

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Tuesday that 130 additional troops were being deployed in Iraq to act as advisors. According to Hagel:

"This is not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation. We're not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat mission dimensions that we once were in in Iraq."

CNN and ABC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Aug-14 World View -- Mammoth Russian truck convoy heads for confrontation at Ukraine border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Aug-14 World View -- Russia to send 'non-military' aid truck convoy into eastern Ukraine

U.S. sending weapons directly to Kurds in Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia to send 'non-military' aid truck convoy into eastern Ukraine

Russia says that it will send a truck convoy with humanitarian aid across the border into east Ukraine, into the region around Donetsk, which is currently being held by pro-Russian separatist militias. The announcement said that the convoy will be non-military, and that the aid will be provided in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC responded cautiously, saying, "[P]rior to the beginning of the operation, the ICRC should receive without undue delay from the authorities of the Russian Federation all necessary details concerning the aid, including the volume and type of items, and requirements for transport and storage."

The Ukraine government in Kiev has surrounded the pro-Russian militias in Donetsk, cutting off travel and supplies, with analyst opinions mixed about whether Kiev is close to defeating them. Thousands of people are believed to be short of water, electricity and medical aid due to the fighting. It's feared that Russia will use the humanitarian convoy as a pretext for military action to support the pro-Russian militias. Reuters and Ria Novosti (Moscow) and Itar-Tass (Moscow)

Hamas restricts foreign media reporting after NDTV shows rocket launch

On Sunday, Hamas announced that it will severely restrict reporting of the Gaza war by foreign journalists, possibly in retaliation for the airing a week ago of a video of the assembly and launch of a rocket from a heavily populated area of Gaza. ( "10-Aug-14 World View -- New Delhi TV accidentally gets video of Hamas rocket launch in Gaza")

Hamas has been harassing reporters since the beginning of the war, and has threatened reporters with retaliation for publishing news that was not favorable to Hamas. On Sunday, Paul T. Jørgensen of Norway's TV2 reported that:

"[S]everal foreign journalists have been kicked out of Gaza because Hamas does not like what they wrote or said.

We have received strict orders that if we record that Hamas fires rockets or that they shoot, we will face serious problems and be expelled from Gaza."

The Foreign Press Association on Monday denounced the new Hamas restrictions in a statement:

"The FPA protests in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.

The international media are not advocacy organizations and cannot be prevented from reporting by means of threats or pressure, thereby denying their readers and viewers an objective picture from the ground.

In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.

We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a "vetting" procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists. Such a procedure is vehemently opposed by the FPA."

According to the new rules, announced on Sunday, Hamas will require foreign journalists covering Gaza to provide information about Palestinian translators and fixers, as well as the address where they are staying. Camera.org and Jerusalem Post and Foreign Press Association

U.S. sending weapons directly to Kurds in Iraq

The U.S. is sending weapons directly to the Kurds in Iraq, to help the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fight militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). ISIS hopelessly outguns the Peshmerga, since they have advanced American-made Humvees and other heavy weapons that were acquired from warehouses when ISIS captured the city of Mosul. The intention is that the U.S. weapons shipments will even things out a little, though the light arms being shipped are still no match for Humvees and tanks.

Army Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr. on Monday said that nothing that America is doing, including airstrikes, is expected to have much effect on ISIS:

"I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking, the momentum of the threat.

They’re very well-organized, They are very well-equipped. They coordinate their operations. And they have thus far shown the ability to attack on multiple axes. This is not insignificant."

It's beginning to look like we're using what what might be called the "Vietnam strategy" for entering Iraq.

What I mean by that is that George Bush #1 took a firm decision, and fought Iraq to extract it from Kuwait. Bill Clinton took a firm decision, and bombed the hell of Iraq to protect the Kurds and prevent development of weapons of mass destruction. George Bush #2 took a firm decision, and invaded Iraq to get rid of Iraq's reported weapons of mass destruction.

However, no firm decisions are being made now with respect to Iraq, and we're being pulled into Iraq more and more in a reactive mode, one step at a time. This is how Presidents Kennedy and Johnson got us into the Vietnam War, and we appear to be repeating that strategy. Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Aug-14 World View -- Russia to send 'non-military' aid truck convoy into eastern Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Aug-14 World View -- Iraq's PM al-Maliki orders troops and tanks into Baghdad

Belarus to be the big winner in Russia's food import ban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China rebukes John Kerry's South China Sea 'freeze' proposal

At a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China firmly rejected a proposal by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to "freeze" all activity in the South China Sea. According to the proposal, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other nations would freeze all activity that raises tension in the South China Sea.

China has been pursuing a "salami slicing strategy" to annex South China Sea territories belonging to other countries. China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

An unnamed senior U.S. official said ASEAN countries' concern over China's maritime actions was at an "all-time high" based on private conversations, although their public statements were more guarded to avoid antagonizing China.

China's foreign minister Wang Yi blamed the United States for stirring up trouble:

"Someone has been exaggerating or even playing up the so-called tension in the South China Sea. We do not agree with such a practice. We have already found a method to solve this issue between China and Asean countries. The South China Sea has become stabilized now. No other issues have risen recently."

I don't have the vaguest clue what "method" Wang is referring to. Well, actually, I guess it's China's standard method: China tells its neighbor to do as commanded, or face being killed militarily. That stabilizes the situation.

Yi said that China will continue to exercise restraint, but will respond to provocations unequivocally and resolutely. He added that safeguarding its sovereignty over the South China Sea is unshakable.

As usual, John Kerry was in his own dream bubble, and claimed that the ASEAN meeting was a setback for China, because the final statement called for stepped-up talks with China. Kerry said that the communique's language "goes far enough" despite China's rebuff of the freeze proposal. Xinhua and Eleven (Myanmar/Burma) and VOA

Belarus to be the big winner in Russia's food import ban

Last week, Russia retaliated against western sanctions with a sweeping ban on food imports -- meat and poultry, seafood, milk and dairy products including cheese, fruit, vegetables and vegetable oil-based products -- from countries that have imposed their own sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea, including the U.S., European Union, Australia and Norway.

Belarus is planning to help the Russian people. According to a Belarus official: "We can make up for many Western-made food products. We can supply a variety of cheeses. ... we can replace Polish apples and Dutch potatoes, we have them all."

However, Belarus already has a record of reselling European goods to Russia with a Belarusian label, in order to avoid Russian import duties on European goods. This underground activity is expected to expand substantially under the European food import ban. Moscow Times

Iraq's PM al-Maliki orders troops and tanks into Baghdad

Security forces, tanks and Shia militia have surged into the streets of Baghdad, after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki gave a surprise nationally televised speech accusing President Fuad Masum, a Kurd, of attempting a coup to prevent him from running for a third term. Al-Maliki has been under tremendous international pressure to step down, because he's been a divisive figure in his harsh treatment of Sunnis since the withdrawal of American forces in December 2011. Even some of his allies recently have called for him to step down.

The exact reasons why al-Maliki called the troops and security forces into Baghdad are unclear, but the move is being declared as "ominous." At least, the troops are intended to be intimidating, but they may also mean that al-Maliki is going to declare martial law in case he fails. Several days ago, he said that any attempt to form a government without him would open the "gates of hell" in Iraq.

The increasing political chaos in Iraq comes just days after President Obama announced a campaign of air strikes in Iraq, possibly to continue for months, to prevent genocide of tens of thousands of minorities and to aid the Kurdish Peshmerga militias from attacks by ISIS. Obama has vowed that there will be no American "boots on the ground," but a number of analysts on Sunday expressed skepticism that he would be able to keep that promise. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and CNN and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Aug-14 World View -- Iraq's PM al-Maliki orders troops and tanks into Baghdad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Aug-14 World View -- New Delhi TV accidentally gets video of Hamas rocket launch in Gaza

'Salami slicing tactics' by Russia and China risk wider war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Georgia / Armenia ethnic hatreds spiral after church incident


Surb Etchmiadzin Armenian Church in Tbilisi, Georgia
Surb Etchmiadzin Armenian Church in Tbilisi, Georgia

Long-standing conflicts between Georgia and Armenia were inflamed two weeks ago over a parking incident, when a Georgian woman's complaint -- that her car was blocked by an Armenian clergyman's car -- turned into an ethnically and racially charged clash involving some 50 people. The clash occurred at the Surb Etchmiadzin Armenian Church, located in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The Georgian Orthodox Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church are among the most ancient in the world, going back to the dawn of Christianity, and have played a part in the formation of their respective nations, so it's not surprising that the Churches easily become involved in ethnic hatreds. The countries fought a major border war in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I, and discords have been particularly severe since 1989, when a Georgian cathedral in Tbilisi was built on land that the Armenians claim was an Armenian cemetery. In the latest incident, an investigation concluded that the parking incident was a purely personal matter, and had not risen to the level of hate crime. Asbarez (Armenia) and Jamestown

'Salami slicing tactics' by Russia and China risk wider war

Both Russia and China have been practicing a "salami slicing strategy" to annex territories belonging to other countries. Russia has already annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, and is threatening to annex eastern Ukraine and Moldova's Transnistria region.

China has annexed several islands and shoals in the South China Sea belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and is threatening to annex other territories belonging to Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan.

In each case, the aggressor nation is counting on the fact that the annexation action is sufficiently small, that it can count on the West's weakness to do nothing about it. In the long run, the purpose of the strategy is annex larger and larger regions, based on the assumption that the West will just look on helplessly.

This assumption, however, is based on a misreading of how democratic politics interacts with security dynamics. Aggressors perceive -- correctly, in the short run -- that pluralism renders democracies risk-averse. Citizens tend to be apathetic towards distant events which appear to have little relevance to their lives. For democratic leaders, the political costs of firm action thus tend to prevent firm strategy. Initial successes in the salami slicing strategy encourage aggressor leaders to confuse apathy among democratic publics with an unwillingness to react to perceived security threats.

However, democratic public opinion can shift very quickly. Incorrect assumptions and initial successes may lead an aggressor to walk blindly into actions which, retrospectively, turn out to have crossed a line that's too threatening for the democratic public to ignore.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines 17 (MH17) illustrates how things can go wrong. The shootdown didn't lead to a wider war, but it might have. The salami slicing tactics might, at any time, have an unexpected consequence that spirals into full scale war. Lowy Interpreter

New Delhi TV accidentally gets video of Hamas rocket launch in Gaza

On the day before the beginning of last week's ceasefire in the Gaza war, a team of reporters from New Delhi TV (NDTV) in Gaza noticed a mysterious tent with a blue canopy that popped up just outside their hotel window. They surmised that the three men around the tent were constructing a rocket to be launched into Israel. They filmed the entire activity, from setup to launch. The launch was in a heavily populated area in Gaza city, and the activity put in danger the reporters themselves, as well as anyone living in the area, from Israeli missile retaliation. The reporters noted that there were several open areas nearby, so putting the launch site into a heavily populated area unnecessarily risked the lives of innocent Palestinians. The reporters decided that the story was too important not to air, even though they risked retaliation from Hamas. They also received severe condemnation from other journalists and officials who accused them of helping Israel. New Delhi TV and YouTube

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Aug-14 World View -- New Delhi TV accidentally gets video of Hamas rocket launch in Gaza thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Aug-14 World View -- Hamas is at war with Egypt more than Israel

Obama is dragged kicking and screaming back towards the Truman Doctrine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hamas's war with Israel -- and with Egypt


Daniel Nisman, Levantine Group
Daniel Nisman, Levantine Group

The ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas ended at 8 am local time on Friday morning, and Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at targets in Israel a short time later. Israel walked out of the peace talks in Egypt, and re-launched its air attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza. So the Gaza war is back in full force.

Daniel Nisman, the president of Levantine Group, a Mideast analyst group, gave a very interesting interview on al-Jazeera on Friday morning. Here are some excerpts (my transcription).

"The [peace] talks are ... complicated. First, Israel is not talking to Hamas. Israel talks to Egypt, and Egypt talks to Hamas. [It] looks like the rocket fire that we saw this morning promptly after the ceasefire ended was actually sort of Hamas's negotiating tactics, to leverage their position. ...

Egypt's been in an open conflict with the regional Muslim Brotherhood movement, which extends also to Turkey and to Qatar. So if you look at Hamas, Hamas is basically the only Muslim Brotherhood branch with its own military, so you can see for yourself how Egypt would relate to that.

There's no question in my mind -- and I don't think any one in Israel -- that as soon as the current government came to power [in Egypt], they sought to weaken Hamas using any means necessary, and even if that means have Israel do its doing work while absorbing the international criticism.

I would say that it was really Egypt that pushed Hamas into a corner by shutting off the [Rafah border crossing] and destroying all those tunnels [under the fence between Gaza and Egypt]. That ... put Hamas into a corner with no choice but to fight its way out, and that's what it's doing right now in the current conflict. This conflict is actually as much of a fight between Hamas and Egypt, as it is a fight between Hamas and Israel.

Which is why you see that some of these negotiations in Cairo broke down even before Israel could even step in to the picture. There's still a lot of bad blood between the Egyptian side and Hamas side. There's a lot of insulting going on, and it's clear to many that Egypt will not let this conflict finish with Hamas in power. Egypt wants to finish this conflict with the Palestinian Authority sitting across from the Rafah border. They've got a very, very big Suez Canal expansion project, and they don't want Hamas to have any demands like expanding a seaport, building a seaport which could allow weapons to flow from Gaza into the Sinai peninsula.

So this policy towards weakening Hamas I think has been a big reason why the conflict has persisted as long as it has, because Egypt and Israel -- Egypt even more than Israel -- has an interest in weakening Hamas, seeing it as an extension of its own Muslim Brotherhood adversary."

Hamas has been increasingly demanding a seaport where supplies can flow in and out of Gaza, without being under control of either Israel and Egypt, as the border crossings would be. And once a seaport were open to international shipping, it would be almost impossible to close it again. However, Nisman makes the point that Egypt, even more than Israel, will prevent any such seaport from being built.

Analysts express alarm at ISIS control of Mosul Dam

The Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) apparently has control of the Mosul dam, the largest dam in Iraq. This gives ISIS control of much of Iraq's electrical power.

However, many analysts are beginning to describe the dam as a "weapon of mass destruction." According to some reports, if ISIS blows the dam, then Mosul will be flooded with water 20-30 meters deep. The water will continue downstream, flooding many other villages. In three days, it will reach Baghdad, and flood it with water 5 meters deep. Millions of people would be killed.

There are other concerns as well, according to a 2007 report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Mosul dam is not built on solid ground. It's built on porous material that requires constant maintenance. If ISIS does not continue that maintenance, then the dam will collapse anyway. However, that event would be at least six months away, according to one analyst I heard. Gulf News and ABC News

Can Obama's air strikes save the Kurdish Peshmerga?

The Kurdish Peshmerga militias have a reputation for being fierce fighters, but they've performed poorly against ISIS in the past few weeks. Peter Galbraith, a Washington analyst, was interviewed on the BBC on Friday, and gave four reasons why the Peshmerga have done poorly:

Other analysts have said that the days of the fierce Peshmerga fighters are over. All the fierce fighters from the 1990s are now in politics or the oil business.

Reports indicate that the Obama administration has authorized airstrikes to help the Peshmerga, but some analysts are saying that won't be enough without at least supplying the Peshmerga with weapons. Newsweek

Obama is dragged kicking and screaming back towards the Truman Doctrine

As I've written many times, President Obama has been the first president since the end of World War II to repudiate the Truman Doctrine. As I wrote in 2006, President Harry Truman's Truman Doctrine of 1947 made America "policeman of the world," because the cost of a small military action was always better than a repeat of something as enormous as World War II.

President Obama's policy, as I understand it, has always been no military action at all if it can be avoided in any way. As problems have mounted in the Mideast, Obama has been forced to revise his doctrine. In recent weeks, I've heard analysts describe his doctrine as permitting military action if two conditions are satisfied:

This is already closer to the Truman Doctrine than Obama has been in the past, but it's still not there. The NY City police force has to fight crime every day all the time. A police action is taken if its important to the entire city, not just important to the police force.

The Truman Doctrine is not limited to military actions that directly benefit the United States. The criterion is whether it's important to the world.

Of course, the two are sometimes hard to distinguish. Obama supposedly rejected military action in 2011 to stop the genocide of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad because it was not essential for American security. However, that failure may have led to the rise of ISIS, which IS a threat to America's security.

On Thursday evening, Obama announced limited military action in Iraq, which he justified as follows:

"I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain."

So there are three criteria:

Once again, this isn't exactly the set of criteria that a NY City police force would use.

Obama added the following in his speech:

"I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces."

So having stated three criteria for military action, Obama quickly rushes to back away from them.

Analysts repeatedly describe ISIS as: extremely wealthy, extremely well organized, and extremely well-armed -- because they've captured huge troves of weapons including armored vehicles that can roll over Iraqi army troops.

Obama continues to learn bitter lessons that have repeatedly shown that his naïve view of the world is wrong. His last paragraph indicates that he still has little idea what's going on in the world, and that he still has a lot to learn. Sooner or later, however, events will force him (and us) to regret that he repudiated the Truman Doctrine in the first place. White House

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Aug-14 World View -- Hamas is at war with Egypt more than Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Aug-14 World View -- U.S. military returns to Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing

Concerns grow over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. military returns to Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing


Iraqi Christians who fled the city of Qaraqosh and are now sitting in Saint Joseph Church in Erbil (BBC)
Iraqi Christians who fled the city of Qaraqosh and are now sitting in Saint Joseph Church in Erbil (BBC)

President Obama on Thursday evening announced "targeted air strikes" in Iraq, to protect American soldiers in Iraq, and to prevent militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) from committing genocide on 140,000 Christians and Yazidis in Iraq.

Almost three years ago, President Obama pulled all troops out of Iraq, saying, "We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq." However, with inaction by the United States in the three years since the war in Syria began, we've seen the genocidal actions Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, aided by an unlimited supply of heavy weapons from Russia, attempt to exterminate all Sunnis in Syria, turning Syria into a "jihadist magnet," drawing jihadists and jihadist trainees from around the world, including America and Europe. In the last few months, the jihadist opposition to al-Assad has metastasized into ISIS, a powerful jihadist army that's now in control of large swaths not only of Syria, but also of Iraq.

President Obama came into office with no foreign policy doctrine except to do the opposite of anything the President George Bush did, claiming that an "apology tour" and diplomacy would bring peace to the world. Obama has learned many, many harsh lessons since then, and the complete collapse of his Iraq policy, at the same time that his Afghanistan policy is threatened with collapse, is probably the most bitter lesson so far, with more to come.

President Obama has been practically paralyzed with fear of adverse consequences of military actions, but is now forced against his will to send the military back into Iraq because of the crisis is rapidly worsening in a way that he said was impossible when the US troops were withdrawn.

Major components of the worsening crisis are as follows:

The Obama administration says that there will be no "boots on the ground," a statement that ignored the hundreds of advisors that are already there. Analysts are mixed as to whether it will be necessary to introduce combat troops in the future. Washington Post and BBC

Concerns grow over possible Russian invasion of Ukraine

On Thursday, Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and promised "unwavering" support for "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine." This claim is not particularly credible, since Russia has already annexed Ukraine's peninsula of Crimea, and the annexation is rarely even mentioned.

Rasmussen blamed Russia for continuing to destabilize Ukraine, having "massed large forces on the Ukrainian border ... to use any pretext to intervene any further." According to Rasmussen:

"So I call on Russia to step back from the brink. Step back from the border. Do not use peacekeeping as an excuse for war-making. I urge Russia to follow the genuine path to peace. To stop its support for separatists. To pull back its troops from Ukraine's border. And to engage in a sincere dialogue for a peaceful solution."

Nato's support for Ukraine is strong, and to prove it, Nato announced that it will hold a meeting next month. I assume that if Russia invades Ukraine, then Nato will retaliate by holding further meetings. Nato News

Russia imposes its own sanctions, to counter Western sanctions

Russia retaliated against western sanctions with a sweeping ban on food imports -- meat and poultry, seafood, milk and dairy products including cheese, fruit, vegetables and vegetable oil-based products -- from countries that have imposed their own sanctions on Russia for the annexation of Crimea, including the U.S., European Union, Australia and Norway. However, it may be that Russia's sanctions will punish Russia more than the West. Russia imports 40% of the food it consumes. It's likely that Russia does not have the know-how or infrastructure to keep and distribute fruit and vegetables during the long winter, while the Russian fish and sea food industry as well as the Russian dairy industry are too underdeveloped to effectively take over the market freed from Western producers. However, Russia hopes to cover the emerging gap by importing more from Brazil, Israel, Turkey, China and other Asian nations. Jamestown and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Aug-14 World View -- U.S. military returns to Iraq, almost three years after withdrawing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Aug-14 World View -- Russia appears poised to invade Ukraine, threatening war

Panic over Ebola grows as Nigeria declares state of emergency

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS targets 40,000 Yazidis for extermination on a mountaintop


An Iraqi Yazidi Family (Guardian)
An Iraqi Yazidi Family (Guardian)

Militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) have vowed to exterminate Christians, Kurds and Shia Muslims, and have taken action to do so. But now ISIS is particularly targeting 40,000 people of the ancient Yazidi sect who fled to the top of Mount Sinjar to escape them, and are now trapped on the mountain, surrounded by ISIS terrorists. Yazidis are ethnic Kurds who follow a monotheistic religion dating back to 600 BC. Over time they have incorporated aspects of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism into their beliefs. Much of the faith remains shrouded in mystery, with outsiders not allowed to convert and believers not willing to share details of their rituals. The 40,000 on Mount Sinjar have no food and little water. An international effort may be mounted to try to save the trapped Yazidis, at least by airdropping food. CS Monitor and Guardian

Russia appears poised to invade Ukraine, threatening war

Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday that he's just received information that the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is "higher than it was several days ago." This comes after several days when Russia has been massing tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine's eastern border.

Russia's armed forces have been helping the separatists all along, providing weapons and special forces troops, and bombarding Ukrainian army troops from within Russia.

Some reports indicate that the pro-Russian rebel militias in eastern Ukraine are losing ground to the government forces, and may be close to defeat. The suspicion is that Russian troops will invade to prevent the defeat of the pro-Russian rebel militias, though this is very high risk because it would essentially be a declaration of war against Ukraine's government. Another possibility is that the Russian troops are planning to invade in order to provide a corridor for the pro-Russian militias to retreat to Russia. RFE/RL

Panic over Ebola grows as Nigeria declares state of emergency

Officials are declaring a state of emergency in Nigeria after five more people were diagnosed with the Ebola virus, and one more person died. A Liberian man who flew into Lagos last week died from Ebola two days after arriving, and all of the additional cases are people who had direct contact with that one man. Authorities are rushing to obtain isolation tents in anticipation of more infections.

The Ebola virus is not airborne, but spreads only through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, so panic over concern of a worldwide epidemic is completely unwarranted.

But Lagos has 21 million people, and it's feared that the Ebola virus could spread through contacts among health workers, family members, and even prostitutes. Also, Nigeria and other west African countries have a special problem that other countries don't have: Many Africans believe that it's health workers from Western countries that have brought Ebola to Africa, and are causing it to spread.

There is an experimental drug that has apparently helped two American missionaries that contracted Ebola. There is very little of this drug available, but there is a brewing political issue that some people are blaming America for using this drug only with white Americans, not with Africans. AP and ABC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Aug-14 World View -- Russia appears poised to invade Ukraine, threatening war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Aug-14 World View -- Cyclic anti-Semitism surges in Europe

The Jews and the Spanish Inquisition

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Anti-Semitic mobs surface in European countries


Number of anti-Semitic attacks since the 1980s (Kantor Center, Tel-Aviv University)
Number of anti-Semitic attacks since the 1980s (Kantor Center, Tel-Aviv University)

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been scathing in his recent criticism of Israel, but at the same time he's taken note recent spike in anti-Semitic incidents, especially in Europe. According to a statement from Ban:

"[Ban] deplores the recent upsurge in anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in Europe, in connection with protests concerning the escalation of violence in Gaza.

The Secretary-General emphasizes that the conflict in the Middle East must not constitute a pretext for prejudice that could affect social peace and harmony anywhere."

In Paris, a pro-Palestinian protest turned ugly when several Jewish shops were burned, and demonstrators chanted, "Death to Jews" and "Gas the Jews" and "Hitler was right!" 1930s attitudes are returning in Germany. An analysis of anti-Jew hate mail in Germany found that most of it originated with "well-educated Germans, including university professors." In Europe, violent mobs are attacking synagogues, painting swastikas on Jewish buildings, and chanting anti-Jewish slogans is becoming increasingly common. Occasionally, an activist will make a distinction between being anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish, but there's little doubt that many of the mobs today are anti-Jewish.

The figures show that there was a big spike in anti-Semitism during the 2009 war between Israel and Gaza, and a new spike today with the Gaza war. But prior to the 1990s, there were relatively few anti-Semitic attacks, but the number has been growing steadily since then, and accelerated after the year 2000.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is no surprise at all. The people in the Silent Generation, who grew up during World War II, were in charge through the 1980s. The Boomers, who grew up after the war, starting taking charge in the 1990s, and Generation-X rose to leadership positions in the 2000s. The Silents well remember the lessons of World War II, and the incredible horrors that followed from the Holocaust. But the Silents are almost gone now, and the Boomers and Gen-Xers are far removed from WW II, knowing little about it except that their grandfathers went off to war somewhere in Europe or Asia. Vox.com and Israel National News and Globe and Mail

The cyclic resurgence of anti-Semitism

Much anti-Semitic material appears in Spanish newspapers such as El Mundo, and I'd like to quote an anti-Semitic rant called "The Chosen Ones?" by a Antonio Gala, a Spanish novelist:

"The Hebrew people, tested since antiquity by ups and downs and the intimate dealings with their God, could have done much good for humanity: due to their prudence, their wisdom and endurance, their apparent religious fidelity and their proven administration of money.

What is happening is that suddenly humanity is sick and tired of them: a phenomenon that has been repeated throughout their history, as if they were not made to coexist with others.

This is how it is and will remain, as it always has been. No matter what the Jews call their civil or military leaders, they end up creating problems for everyone: it is ancient history. Now you must suffer their abuses in Gaza, and review it all with an apparent injustice. They are never clear."

There is, in fact, a grain of truth in this excerpt: Jews are the targets of anti-Semitic attacks on a cyclic basis, and have been for centuries.

There's a tendency to look for reasons why the Jews are unique in this regard. Perhaps it's because the Jews always cluster together in the same neighborhoods, even when they aren't forced into ghettos. Or perhaps it's because the Jewish religion has been designed, over the millennia, to be able to survive with no homeland, even though they've had a homeland for a few brief decades since 1948. Or perhaps it's because people consider them to be snooty for referring to themselves as "The Chosen Ones," as if God cares about no one but them.

But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, they aren't unique. The Holocaust was a unique event, to be sure, but that was just one component of World War II. If you look at the years from 1914 to 1945, then you have Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians slaughtering each other in the most brutal, bloody, and horrific massacres possible, so Christians are by no means excused. In fact, even the 1994 Rwanda genocide was Christian versus Christian.

Since the 1980s, it's been mostly the Muslims' turn at slaughter, and it's been getting worse every year. Today you have bloody massacres of Muslims killing each other in many countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Yemen, Libya, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China's Xinjiang province. The mutual genocide is highly racist and secular, as Sunnis kill Shias, Shias kill Sunnis, and Sunnis kill Sufis. The growing mutual slaughter of the Muslims is clearly headed for a massive, bloody crisis that will be devastating for everyone.

A few days ago, I was watching some of the commemorations being held on the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. I heard one politician intone, "Thank God we've solved all the problems of the world wars, and we understand what to do. Today, a war in Europe is completely unthinkable, and we owe that to the lessons that we've learned."

Well, this politician's slogan should be, "Don't know much about history." War was completely unthinkable prior to World War I as well. That was the time of "La Belle Époque," when everything was beautiful. War was not only unthinkable, it was thought to be impossible. In fact, many wars are unthinkable until they start, and then they suddenly become "thinkable." (For more on why World War I was unthinkable, see "The gathering storm in the Caucasus." from 2008.)

The growing anti-Semitism in Europe is more than just a simple social phenomenon. It's a sign that the old WW II fault lines are splitting open again. Another sign is the growing tensions in Ukraine, and the tensions between Greece and Germany during the financial crisis, which is far from over. Gatestone and El Mundo

The Jews and the Spanish Inquisition

I want to illustrate the cyclical nature of anti-Semitic attacks by returning to a Generational Dynamics analysis I've written about before, covering medieval Spain from the 1390s to 1492.

The 1390s civil war in Spain was marked by especially violent anti-Jewish pogroms that were triggered by a serious financial crisis for which the wealthy Jews were blamed. Almost every crisis war ends with some sort of imposed compromise that unravels some 80 years later, leading to the next crisis war.

The compromise that ended the 1390s civil war was an interesting one: The Jews would convert to Catholicism, or else would be expelled. During the next few decades, over half of the 200,000 Jews on the peninsula formally converted to Catholicism.

Compromises of this sort only work for so long, but the failure of this compromise was especially ironic. The Conversos, as the converted Jews were called, were now officially Christian, bringing them further wealth and status. A large part of the Castilian upper class consisted of Jews and Conversos, naturally generating a great deal of class jealousy among the lower classes. It's typical for riots and demonstrations to occur during a generational Awakening era, midway between two crisis wars, and that's what happened here. The riots against the Conversos began in 1449, and became increasingly worse as the old compromise began to unravel. Thus, an old fault line between the Catholics and the Jews was replaced by a new fault line between the old line Catholics and the Converso Catholics.

Those who remember America's most recent Awakening era in the 1960s and 70s will remember the fiery rhetoric that demonstrators used in the antiwar movement at that time. Johns Hopkins University professor David Nirenberg found that the "anti-Converso movement" rhetoric of 1449 and beyond was just as heated: "The converts and their descendants were now seen as insincere Christians, as clandestine Jews, or even as hybrid monsters, neither Jew nor Christian. They had converted merely to gain power over Christians. Their secret desire was to degrade, even poison, Christian men and to have sex with Christian women: daughters, wives, even nuns."

This is exactly what Generational Dynamics is all about. The generation of kids who grew up during the 1390s pogroms became risk-averse adults who were willing to look for compromises to avoid new bloody violence. Thus, there were anti-Converso riots during the 1450s and after, but that risk averse generation that grew up in the 1390s were still around to contain the problem, and look for compromises, to keep things from getting too far out of hand, despite the heated rhetoric. When that generation died, no one was left to look for compromises, and new pogroms began in the 1480s.

As the old compromise unraveled completely, the riots against the Conversos got worse, and a common charge against the Conversos was that they were "false Christians." The most common charge against Conversos was that of "Judaizing," that is, of falsely pretending conversion and secretly practicing Jewish rites.

This is what gave rise to the Spanish Inquisition. The idea was to have an official body empowered to determine whether those who had claimed to convert to Catholicism had really converted. As new pogroms began in the 1470s and 1480s, the Inquisition was particularly targeted to find the "Judaizers." At first, the Inquisition was directed specifically at Conversos, but later was extended to unconverted Jews. Thousands of Conversos and Jews were executed under the Inquisition, and entire Jewish communities were eliminated.

The new crisis war reached its climax in the year 1492, when three different things happened that affected Spain for the next century:

With regard to the last point, Muslims had crossed over to southern Spain from Africa as early as the 700s, and had conquered almost all of Spain. The Catholics had dreamed of reconquering Spain from the Muslims for centuries. The Reconquest was finally completed in 1492.

To summarize: The great compromise that settled the Spanish pogroms of the 1390s was that the Jews would convert to Catholicism. That compromise worked fine for a while, then began to unravel, and eventually became one of the issues in the next great crisis war.

The great compromise that settled the Holocaust of World War II was the creation of the state of Israel, which was supposed to settle the Jewish problem once and for all. That compromise worked fine for a while, but in the decades that followed, it began to unravel. What the next world war will do to Israel can't be predicted, but what can be predicted is that Israel will be a major issue in that war. (Two paragraphs added. 6-Aug)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Aug-14 World View -- Cyclic anti-Semitism surges in Europe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Aug-14 World View -- Syria war spills into Lebanon, as ISIS attacks town of Arsal

China reasserts its sovereignty over the South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel and Hamas agree to a 3-day Gaza humanitarian ceasefire

Both Israel and Hamas have agreed to begin a 3-day humanitarian ceasefire to begin on Tuesday morning at 8 am local time. However, expectations are extremely low, because there have been several attempts at ceasefire in the past, and they all failed fairly quickly. The ceasefire proposal was put forth by Egypt, and it's apparently identical to the ceasefire proposal that Egypt proposed three weeks ago.

An Israeli spokesman said:

"Israel will cease all military operations against terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Israel will honor the cease-fire and will be watching to see if Hamas does to."

A Palestinian spokesman said:

"It's clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a cease-fire. It's going to be tough negotiations because Israel has demands, too."

As I've written several times in the last weeks, Israel and Hamas agree on little except one thing: Neither wants to return to the status quo ante. This means that Israel will not agree to a permanent ceasefire unless Hamas and other Gaza factions are demilitarized, and Hamas will not agree to a ceasefire unless the "siege" is ended, meaning that people and goods can flow freely in and out of Gaza. USA Today

Syria war spills into Lebanon, as ISIS attacks town of Arsal

Militias from the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS), which have gained control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, joined with some militias from al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra to attempt to take control of Lebanon by attacking the town of Arsal in northern Lebanon. Thousands of families have been forced to flee from their homes, as the battle raged between the ISIS militants and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). ISIS terrorists had been hiding out in the mountains surrounding Arsal after combined forces of the Syrian regime and Hezbollah drove them from border villages in Syria. Reports indicate that ISIS is preparing a military strategy to take over the region by repeating its successes in Iraq, where in the past few days it had scored a major victory by capturing Iraq's biggest hydroelectric dam.

Lebanon's population is about 40% Christian, 27% Sunni Muslim and 27% Shia Muslim, and Lebanon itself has been split along religious lines whether to support the Alawite/Shia regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad or his Sunni enemies. In the past, these religious differences have split the army, whose soldiers are drawn from the entire population, but the ISIS invasion of northern Lebanon appears to have united the army, at least for the time being, to join with Hezbollah to fight the invaders. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al Monitor and Daily Star (Beirut)

China reasserts its sovereignty over the South China Sea

China is aggressively asserting 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, and refuses to participate in any United Nations mediation efforts. The South China Sea is believed to contain big oil and gas deposits, and rich fishing grounds. China has been using a "salami-slicing" technique of annexing one portion after another.

The Philippines is proposing a freeze on activity in the South China Sea, in order to prevent a dispute that might lead to a military confrontation. However, a high government official in Beijing has rejected the proposal, saying:

"The Spratly Islands are China's intrinsic territory, and what China does or doesn't do is up to the Chinese government. Nobody can change the government's position. ...

Why is it that when other countries wantonly build airports, nobody says a word? But China has only this year started small and necessary construction, to raise living conditions on the islands - and so many people raise doubts."

I guess the answer to this question is that when other countries wantonly build airports, they do so on their own territory, rather than on someone else's territory. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Aug-14 World View -- Syria war spills into Lebanon, as ISIS attacks town of Arsal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Aug-14 World View -- Iran trapped in a quagmire supporting both Syria and Iraq

Israel faces harsh international criticism over shelling of UN shelter

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS captures Iraq's biggest hydroelectric dam, driving back Kurds


Mosul hydroelectric dam
Mosul hydroelectric dam

Terrorists with the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) defeated Kurdish Peshmerga (militia) forces and took control of Iraq's biggest hydroelectric dam, located near Mosul. This gives ISIS control of the water supply and electricity of much of northern Iraq, and also the ability to flood major cities, threatening Baghdad. Earlier, ISIS militants successful.y captured an oil field and nearby villages, after fighting with Kurdish forces who had control of the area. Many analysts continue to remain skeptical of ISIS's long-term ability to control the huge swath of land it's captured in a series of lightning raids, but so far ISIS has not only held on to its gains, but continues to increase them. Al Arabiya and CNN

Iran trapped in a quagmire supporting both Syria and Iraq

During the last three years, Iran has invested a significant portion of its military resources supporting the regime of president Bashar al-Assad of Syria, supplying Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), weapons and money both to Syria's regime and to Hezbollah militia from Lebanon who are supporting al-Assad in Syria. However, Iran has been caught by surprise by a major threat on its own doorstep, the rapid rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS). ISIS is a Sunni Muslim terrorist organization with an objective of exterminating all Shia Muslims. ISIS is threatening Iran's allies in Iraq, as well as significant Shia religious sites in Iraq that Iran is committed to defending. Iran is known to be supplying weapons to Iraq's government. Iran has denied sending troops into Iraq, but some recent funerals of IRGC fighters killed in Iraq indicates the presence of at least a small number of Iranian troops. In addition, some Hezbollah forces that had been fighting in Syria, as well as Iraqi forces that had been defending al-Assad in Syria, have been redeployed to Iraq. Some reports indicate that ISIS in Syria has begun to engage the Syria army much more forcefully than in the past.

The result is that Iran finds that it's fallen deep into a quagmire (a term that Americans will recall from past wars). What was a relatively breezy level of military support for al-Assad in Syria has now turned into a two-front war facing an enemy that's threatening Syria's Alawite/Shia regime, Iraq's Shia government, and Iran itself. Reuters and Al Arabiya

Israel faces harsh international criticism over shelling of UN shelter

On Sunday, Israel faced international criticism, including harsh criticism from the United States and United Nations, after an Israeli shell killed ten Palestinians just outside a United Nations school sheltering 3000 people who had fled there from earlier violence. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon expressed "shock and disbelief" that this had happened three times in the last week, and said:

"The Israel Defense Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites. This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act."

U.S. State Dept. spokesman Jen Psaki said, "The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed."

Israel says that it's investigating what happened. Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Al Ahram (Cairo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Aug-14 World View -- Iran trapped in a quagmire supporting both Syria and Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Aug-14 World View -- Congress reacts to photos of Assad's torture victims in Syria

Israel confirms the death of the abducted soldier

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Congress reacts to photos of Assad's torture victims in Syria


Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object.  There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses
Emaciated man showing wounds from repeated beatings by rod-like object. There are 55,000 photos like this, showing 11,000 corpses

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday viewed a presentation by a defecting forensic photographer from regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. This was the same forensic photographer, nicknamed "Caesar," that we wrote about in January ( "22-Jan-14 World View -- Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria"). Wearing dark glasses and a hood to hide his identity, he told Congress what he had seen in Damascus. He described maimed bodies, people with eyes gouged out and skeletal remains, a litany of horrors that defy the imagination -- backed up by 55,000 photos that he had smuggled out over a two year period. They were similar to the images found in Nazi death camps after World War II, and show that al-Assad is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The validity of the photos was verified by three top war crimes prosecutors. And this was only the tip of the iceberg, as these 55,000 photos came from just one location out of many locations where this torture took place. This one photographer photographed almost 20 bodies every day, suggesting that there was "torture for pleasure" on a massive scale.

The al-Assad regime has used sarin gas on its own population, with impunity. The regime has continued to use chemical weapons. Regime helicopters drop huge barrel bombs onto civilian neighborhoods. The barrel bombs may 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.

Al-Assad is supported by Russia's president Vladimir Putin, who is a war criminal for providing unlimited supplies of heavy weapons to al-Assad to continue his genocide. Al Monitor and House Foreign Affairs Committee and Report on validity of Assad torture photos

Israel confirms the death of the abducted soldier

Although the death of the abducted soldier, Hadar Goldin, is a tragedy for his fiancée and his family, it's a big relief to Israel's army in the sense that Hamas can no longer use Goldin for either political or military leverage. According to Israel's army, Goldin was abducted on Friday during operations to destroy an underground tunnel that ran under the border from Gaza to Israel, and extended a full two kilometers into Israel's territory. On the Gaza side, the tunnel began in an open area surrounded by homes. Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Aug-14 World View -- Congress reacts to photos of Assad's torture victims in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Aug-14 World View -- Gaza ceasefire collapses with 'game changer' abduction

Tunisia closes border to foreigners fleeing Libya

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Africans launch aid program as alarm increases over Ebola


Health workers wearing suits to protect themselves from Ebola (EPA)
Health workers wearing suits to protect themselves from Ebola (EPA)

Countries are closing borders in western Africa to try to stop the spread of the worst epidemic of the Ebola virus in history. The U.S. Peace Corps and other aid groups are evacuating their personnel. The World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a $100 million response plan, and the United States is providing material and technical support to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. WHO chief Margaret Chan told a meeting of presidents of western African countries, "The demands created by Ebola in West Africa outstrip your capacities to respond." Reuters

Gaza ceasefire collapses with 'game changer' abduction

In yesterday's World View, I wrote that it didn't appear that Hamas had agreed that it was OK for Israel to continue destroying tunnels during the ceasefire, since it wasn't mentioned in the ceasefire announcement. And yes, that's exactly what happened. Apparently the negotiating geniuses John Kerry and Ban Ki-moon didn't bother to get agreement on this point, and left Israel to assume that they could continue destroying tunnels, and left Hamas to to assume that they couldn't.

Anyway, the ceasefire has been a disaster. Israel's army kept destroying tunnels. Suicide bombers popped out of one hidden tunnels, and killed two soldiers. Then, a team popped out of another tunnel, grabbed an Israeli soldier, Hadar Goldin, and dragged him back into the tunnel. The ceasefire ended in 90 minutes.

A kidnapped soldier is Israel's worst nightmare. Reports indicate that the army plans to "flatten" the entire area where the soldier might be held, even if it risks the soldier's life. In fact, Hamas is denying that it abducted anyone, and suggests that the soldier is dead, which is what some Israelis would prefer to an abduction.

So it's being called a "game-changer," with good reason. First, any kind of negotiations are now impossible, since Hamas would use the kidnapped soldier as a bargaining chip, which would be intolerable to Israel. Second, the already growing nationalism of Israel's (Jewish) population is soaring again, and the segment of the population that wants to see Israel's army crush Hamas is also growing. Third, this is an enormous psychological and political victory for Hamas, which Palestinians are celebrating, and leads many Palestinians to believe that Hamas has the upper hand and will win the war.

I wrote yesterday that the Palestinians and the Israelis agree on one thing: No return to the status quo ante. That was true yesterday, and even more true today. BBC

Mainstream analysts suddenly realize that this time it's different

For the last few weeks I've been reading analyst reports predicting a ceasefire within a few days, just as there was in the 2008-9 and 2012 Gaza wars. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the difference between those wars and the current one is that the younger generations in both Gaza and Israel are less willing to compromise. It's been 66 years since the genocidal 1948 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, so there are almost no survivors left who remember the horrors of the 1948 war. On a purely statistical basis, most new crisis wars begin about 58 years after the end of the previous crisis war, and each additional year makes a new crisis war more likely. 66 years is a statistically high interval.

Mainstream analysts are pointing to several significant reasons why "this time it's different." One of the main ones is that this is no longer a war between Israel and Hamas. Instead it's a proxy war that's split the nations of the Mideast down the middle. Turkey, Qatar, Iran and Hezbollah are solid supporters of Hamas, while Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are supporters of Israel. In the past, Egypt served as a mediator that both sides trusted, but no such mediator exists today.

As I've written many times in the last decade, Arabs and Jews are headed for a new genocidal crisis war, refighting the 1948 war, with a result that may not be favorable to Israel. It might spiral out of the current war, or it might happen in one year, two years or three years. At this moment, it's beginning to look more and more like the time is now. CNN and PRI

Tunisia closes border to foreigners fleeing Libya

As the civil war violence in Tripoli, Libya, continues, thousands of foreign nationals living in and around Tripoli are trying to escape through Tunisia. But Tunisia has now closed the border, following an attempt to storm the border by "a massive number of people of different nationalities," according to Tunisian authorities, who said that there were "suspicious elements," including a large number of Egyptians without visas. In an attempt to restore order at one border crossing, Tunisian border guards fired into the air. Libyan guards on the other side of the border, thinking the Tunisians were firing at them, shot back, wounding the Tunisian head of security. Libya Herald and Khaleej Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Aug-14 World View -- Gaza ceasefire collapses with 'game changer' abduction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Aug-14 World View -- The Gaza ceasefire: Things to watch for

The Rafah crossing becomes a major issue in the Gaza war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gaza ceasefire: Things to watch for


Hamas tunnel
Hamas tunnel

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon jointly announced on Thursday a 3-day ceasefire in the Gaza war, to begin on Friday morning. The ceasefire will allow time to provide humanitarian aid to Gazans.

Israeli and Palestinian delegations will go immediately to Cairo Egypt, with the aim of reaching "a durable ceasefire."

As I wrote yesterday, Israel and Hamas agree on very little, but one thing that they both agree on is that neither side will accept an agreement that restores the status quo ante. This observation leads to a number of issues and questions:

During the ceasefire, Israel's troops will remain in place in Gaza, according to the ceasefire announcement. However, the ceasefire statement left open the question of whether the Israeli army would continue military operations to destroy the Hamas tunnel network during the ceasefire. Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu stated clearly, prior to the ceasefire announcement, that the army would continue these military operations "with or without a ceasefire." It's unclear whether Hamas was aware of these terms when they agreed to the ceasefire. It's also unclear what Hamas's reaction would be in case a Palestinian is accidentally killed during these military operations.

The ceasefire announcement came several hours after Israel announced that it was calling up 16,000 more army reservists. It's unclear what role they'll have now.

The "durable ceasefire" negotiations will begin as soon as all the parties arrive in Cairo. It's known that an Israeli delegation, a Palestinian delegation, the U.S. and Egypt will take part in the negotiations. BBC and Jerusalem Post

Questions about the Palestinian delegation to the ceasefire talks

It's not entirely clear what the makeup of the Palestinian delegation will be. The U.S. and Israel insist that Hamas, which is viewed as a terrorist group, must not be given the same status as the other parties, and so the U.S. and Israel will not sit at the same table as Hamas. However, recall that the Palestinians recently agreed to a "unity government," joining the Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO/Fatah) and Hamas into a single government. The plan is for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to represent the unity government, including Hamas, as well as other Palestinian factions, such as Islamic Jihad. It will be interesting to see how that goes.

Israel's committed military objectives are to totally disarm Hamas by destroying all the rockets and tunnels. Since those objectives will not be reached, will Israel agree to extending the ceasefire beyond 3 days, if it even lasts that long?

And suppose by some miracle Israel succeeded in destroying every single rocket and every single tunnel. What would prevent Hamas from reconstructing them in the event of a permanent ceasefire? Reuters

The Rafah crossing becomes a major issue in the Gaza war

Hamas's committed objective is to get the "siege" lifted, which would permit people and goods to flow freely out of Gaza. There are a few border crossings into Israel, but the most important aspect of this objective is opening the Rafah border crossing that connects Egypt and Gaza. If Hamas agrees to a ceasefire without getting the Rafah crossing opened, then Hamas will almost certainly not survive with Gaza. So Hamas needs the Rafah crossing open just for its own survival.

The Rafah crossing was closed in July of last year following an attack on Egyptian security forces by Islamists linked to Hamas. Since then it's been closed almost permanently. Even during the current war, Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed, except to evacuate wounded Palestinians and to allow the importation of food and medicines.

In fact, opening the Rafah crossing is a matter of considerable debate within Egypt itself. Many Egyptians are sympathetic with the plight of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, and would like to see their difficulties alleviated. Other Egyptians note that Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which is considered a terrorist organization in Egypt, and fear that opening the Rafah crossing would give a boost to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to one Egyptian columnist:

"As far as Hamas is concerned, opening the crossing – as a trade and economic route and not just for humanitarian purposes – is the only way to fundamentally change the existing situation. It is the last chance to ensure Hamas's control of the Strip. This is evident from the fact that agreeing to open the crossing is the only thing that could ensure an immediate end to all military action, even though opening it for commercial reasons has nothing to do with the struggle against Israel or the liberation of occupied lands in the [Gaza] Strip. This is a move related to something far more important as far as [Hamas] is concerned: its continued control over 'the liberated Gaza emirate'!

Opening the crossing for commercial purposes does not align with Egypt's interests and strongly undermines its policy and national security needs, especially in the long term. Operating the crossing with Hamas on the other side means a full recognition of its rule in Gaza. This is Hamas's ultimate goal. If Egypt agrees to it, then it essentially agrees to a new country on its border – a country of 1.7 million people who suffer unemployment and are rife with ideas of jihad and takfir; a country ruled by an armed movement with regional alliances and political goals that totally contradict the basic foundations of Egyptian security. These foundations are based on respecting the peace agreement with Israel and spurring it to agree to a solution for its conflict with the Palestinians via peaceful negotiations, and in accordance with the principle of land for peace and the Two State Solution."

Those dreamers who fantasize that this ceasefire arrangement will last more than a couple of hours or a couple of days are hoping that some deal can be made where the Rafah crossing is opened and is guarded by Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah. Memri and Guardian (London-7/17)

Report: Hamas planned massive attack through tunnels on Israeli citizens

There are unconfirmed reports that Hamas was planning a massive assault on civilians in southern Israel on Rosh Hashanah in late September. The plan was that 200 Hamas fighters would pour through the dozens of tunnels that Hamas has dug under the border between Gaza and Israel, and attack numerous Israeli communities, killing and kidnapping as many civilians as possible. According to the reports, they would have IDF (Israeli Defense Force) uniforms, causing further confusion. It's possible that Hezbollah might have joined in. The current unplanned war with Hamas inadvertently thwarted these plans, allowing the destruction of the tunnels, which made such an attack a possibility. Jewish Press

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Aug-14 World View -- The Gaza ceasefire: Things to watch for thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Aug-2014) Permanent Link
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31-Jul-14 World View -- The Gaza war becomes existential for both sides

Russia replaces America's influence in Central Asia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Gaza war becomes existential for both sides


Screen grab from Hamas video showing Hamas fighters kicking Israeli soldier
Screen grab from Hamas video showing Hamas fighters kicking Israeli soldier

Israel received almost worldwide condemnation on Wednesday for air strikes on a crowded Gaza marketplace and on a United Nations shelter, killing or wounding over 100 innocent civilians, including women and children.

On the other hand, Hamas released a taunting video of how they used one of their tunnels under the border fence between Gaza and Israel on Monday to surprise and kill five Israeli soldiers.

And yet, there is one thing that Hamas and the Israelis agree on: They don't want to go back to the status quo ante.

Israelis are now aware of a massive tunnel complex under Gaza, much more sophisticated than they'd previously estimated. Every (Jewish) Israeli citizen is aware of the danger that this poses, and the left and right are united in support of the army in continuing its ground operations and air strikes on Gaza with the objective of destroying the rockets and destroying the entire tunnel complex. Polls indicate that Israelis will not agree to a ceasefire unless all army meets its objectives.

Palestinians are aware that if they agree to a ceasefire now, before the "siege" is lifted, then the war will have gained them nothing. That means that the annihilation of hundreds of civilians, the destruction of hundreds of homes, businesses and hospitals, the devastation of Gaza's infrastructure -- all of that will have been for nothing. Polls indicate that Palestinians will not agree to a ceasefire unless the "siege" (blockade) is lifted, meaning that people and goods can flow freely in and out of Gaza.

Thus, in a sense, this war has become "existential" for both sides. Neither side can back down, which logically implies that the war will continue for some time to come, to the point of exhaustion. Perhaps someone can figure out a compromise -- say 90% of the tunnels are destroyed, and some symbolic steps are taken to weaken the blockade. Or perhaps Israel will re-occupy Gaza, reversing the decision it made in 2005. Daily Mail (London) and AP and Al Arabiya and Jerusalem Post

Russia replaces America's influence in Central Asia

American influence played a big role in Central Asia in the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and grew even larger after 2001 when the Afghanistan war began. But now, American influence is falling rapidly, as the U.S. withdraws troops from Afghanistan and, at the same time, sharply reduces aid to Central Asian countries for such things as anti-drug programs. There's probably no greater symbol of this loss of influence than Manas International Airport in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. A couple of years ago, you would typically see dozens of US C-17 transports, carrying troops and equipment to and from Afghanistan. Today, the US is gone, and the airport is almost deserted. Kyrgyzstan used to be a country of major strategic importance, as it leveraged Russia and America against each other, but now the country in clearly in Russia's orbit.

The change is highlighted by "Enduring Brotherhood 2014," joint peacekeeping military exercises now taking place in Kyrgyzstan by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military cooperative of six countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. 700 troops are taking part in the exercises, kicked off after a four-day drill by CSTO's Collective Rapid Deployment Force. Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA - New Delhi) and Jamestown and Central Asia Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jul-14 World View -- The Gaza war becomes existential for both sides thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Jul-14 World View -- Uighurs launch massive knife-wielding terrorist attack in China

China's secret weapon in the South China Sea: 50,000 fishing boats

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's secret weapon in the South China Sea: 50,000 fishing boats


Chinese fishing boats
Chinese fishing boats

As China moves into the South China Sea, annexing islands and territories that have historically belonged to other nations, and threatening anyone who tries to stop them with war, China is using, as strategic asset, 50,000 fishing boats -- from privately owned craft to commercial trawlers. Each of these boats is equipped with a satellite navigation system that gives the captain a direct link to the Chinese coast guard. In case of bad weather, or a Philippine or Vietnamese boat in waters annexed by China, he can signal the coast guard for military help. China is encouraging boat owners to fish in disputed areas historically belonging to other nations, in order to establish a claim. The reason given for Chinese assertiveness is that China's per-capita fish consumption is 35.1 kg, nearly double the global average of 18.9 kg. The UN projects that by 2030 China’s fish consumption will increase more than 60% from 2008 levels, to 57.4 million tonnes (63.3 million tons) -- more than a third of the global total.

China is aggressively asserting 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, and refuses to participate in any United Nations mediation efforts. Reuters and Quartz

Uighurs launch massive knife-wielding terrorist attack in China

Dozens of knife-wielding "thugs," presumed to be Muslim Uighur separatists, conducted a "premeditated and carefully planned" attack on a government building and police station in Ailixihu, a town in China's restive northwest Xinjing province. The terrorists killed dozens of Han and Uighur civilians and destroyed 31 vehicles, presumably because of their association with the local branch of the hated Beijing government. The police killed "dozens" of the attackers.

The attack occurred on Monday, but was kept secret by Chinese authorities, who issued the following censorship instructions to the media:

"Without exception, all media must refrain from reporting on the violent terror incident in Shache County, Xinjiang."

Any news of the incident was scrubbed from the internet as soon as it was posted. However, news began to leak out to international media on Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday evening, Xinhua published a story.

There have been increasing numbers of terrorist acts by Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province. Chinese authorities have been doing everything possible to suppress any practice of the Muslim religion, even going so far, a month ago, of issuing orders that Uighurs are not permitted to take part in traditional fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, which ran this year from Saturday, June 28th through the evening of Monday, July 28. Uighurs were prevented from fasting in schools and public offices, and inspections were to be made on Uighur residences. The attack came on the last day of Ramadan. McClatchy and China Digital Times

China says that some Uighurs are in Syria for jihadist training

Wu Sike, China's special envoy for the Middle East, says that China is extremely worried because Uighur jihadists from Xinjiang province have gone to the Middle East for training, and may have joined the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) in order to join the fight in Syria or Iraq.

According to Wu:

"Several hot spot issues in the Middle East have provided living space for terrorist groups, in particular the crisis in Syria has turned this country into a training ground for extremists from many countries.

These extremists come from Islamic countries, Europe, North America and China. After being immersed in extremist ideas, when they return home they will pose a severe challenge and security risk to those countries. They won't necessarily all return (to China). Some will remain to participate in the conflict, perhaps crossing into Iraq. ...

China is a victim of extremist, terrorist activities, and our support for fighting terrorism in this region is beneficial to us too. As a result China and those countries are in a closely knit community of shared interests."

People Daily and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jul-14 World View -- Uighurs launch massive knife-wielding terrorist attack in China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Jul-14 World View -- Huge fuel depot fire threatens Tripoli Libya with explosion

Kerry shuts Egypt and Palestinian Authority out of Gaza 'peace plan'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Huge fuel depot fire threatens Tripoli Libya with explosion


Black smoke rises about Tripoli fuel depot fire (AFP)
Black smoke rises about Tripoli fuel depot fire (AFP)

A huge fuel depot near the airport in Libya's capital Tripoli is burning out of control and spreading. The tanks contains some 20 million gallons of petrol and fuel. If the fire is not brought under control, it could ignite liquid gas nearby, triggering a much larger explosion, and causing a humanitarian and environmental disaster. Densely populated Tripoli is being evacuated within a 3-km radius of the airport. Authorities are asking for international assistance in fighting the fire.

The fuel depot fire is the result of the growing tribal warfare in Libya that we described yesterday. It's believed that the Islamist militias, centered in Misurata, launched missiles into fuel depot in order to trigger the fire and explosion. Anti-Islamist militias, centered in Zintan, that had been fighting the Islamists had been defending the airport.

With anarchy spreading, many foreigners in Libya are fleeing the country. On Monday, the Netherlands, Philippines, Austria, China and India became the next countries to evacuate their citizens and embassy staff. The United States, Britain, United Nations, and Turkey have already closed their embassies. AFP and Al-Jazeera

Liberia closes national borders to prevent spread of Ebola virus

Liberia is closing all its borders, and is instituting a new travel policy to inspect and test all outgoing and incoming passengers, in the hope of slowing the spread of Ebola. Ebola has already killed 660 people across the region, since the outbreak began in February.

This is the worst Ebola outbreak in history, not only because of the numbers killed, but also because of its geographic spread. Some officials in Doctors without Borders are expressing the fear that the number of Ebola patients identified so far are "just the tip of the iceberg." There are many villages in western Africa that are not easily accessible, and there have been stories, perhaps only rumors, of entire villages disappearing because of Ebola. It's possible, though not certain, that Ebola is far more widespread than is currently known. Ebola is not airborne, but it's spread through physical contact Reuters

Kerry shuts Egypt and Palestinian Authority out of Gaza 'peace plan'

Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO) officials are furious at an apparent attempt by US Secretary of State John Kerry, whether by clumsiness or by intention, to shut Egypt and the PLO out of a Gaza "peace conference" held in Paris on Saturday, and a related proposed "peace agreement." The Paris conference was attended by Kerry and representatives of Turkey and Qatar, as well as France, Germany, Britain and Italy. But Israel, Egypt and the PLO were not invited.

Turkey and Qatar are allies of Hamas. Israeli officials say that Kerry's proposed "peace agreement," which has not been officially released to the public, meets all the demands and talking points of Hamas (ending the "siege"), but does not address any of the security concerns of Israel (disarming Hamas). The implication was not that Kerry is malevolent, but that he doesn't understand the issues.

Even worse, Kerry's plan undermined a peace plan that had previously been offered by Egypt, and was agreed by Israel and the PLO.

According to a statement by a furious Palestinian Authority official:

"Kerry proposed his initiative after we were very close to a comprehensive agreement guaranteeing the lifting of the siege on Gaza and obtaining all the Palestinian demands. If the issue was lifting the siege, abolishing the buffer zones, opening the crossings, and expanding the fishing zones, we could have obtained this on Wednesday [July 23]. An announcement of [this achievement] was ready for publication – but (Hamas political bureau head Khaled) Mashaal called a press conference and destroyed the [PLO] initiative."

Noting that Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has declared a terrorist organization, another PLO official said:

"The Palestinian leadership and people promote every Arab, regional, or international effort to stop Israel's war, stop the bloodletting, and defend the Palestinian people in the [Gaza Strip] – while the conference and the forces participating in it prove that it was not innocent and does not strive to stop Israel's shedding of Palestinian blood. Its objective was to circumvent the Egyptian initiative and Egypt's role, and to plan to return to shaping the region according to the American vision and according to the U.S.-Israeli plan that will restore the Muslim Brotherhood to their status."

It seems that every three or four weeks it's necessary to talk about yet one more foreign policy debacle by John Kerry, who gives every sign of not having the vaguest clue what's going on in the world. Kerry 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 lurches from one foreign policy debacle to the next. His boss, President Obama, does no better, allowing the US to suffer one humiliation after another.

It's worth repeating that this isn't just a matter of "there's nothing that Obama can do." This is all happening because of a major policy reversal by the Obama administration. America has been "policeman of the world," 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. The analogy is the New York City police. They don't have to declare all out war to fight crime. But if they simply stopped policing and told all the criminals that they would negotiate an end to crime, then crime would soar. By repudiating the Truman Doctrine, the Policeman of the World has said it would stop policing, with the result of one foreign policy debacle after another. Washington Post and Memri and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and France 24

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jul-14 World View -- Huge fuel depot fire threatens Tripoli Libya with explosion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Jul-14 World View -- Embassies in Tripoli evacuated, as Libya sinks into tribal war

United Arab Emirates to launch a space program to reach Mars

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Embassies in Tripoli evacuated, as Libya sinks into tribal war


Black plumes of smoke rise from the fighting in Benghazi (Reuters)
Black plumes of smoke rise from the fighting in Benghazi (Reuters)

The United States, Britain, Turkey, and other countries are closing their embassies in Tripoli, Libya, and asking their employees to flee as quickly as possible to the safety of neighboring Tunisia. Libya's government, such as it is, appears to have completely lost control of the country, and tribal battles are becoming more violent, especially in Tripoli and Benghazi. Over 150 people have died in clashes in and around the two cities during the last two weeks. This is the deadliest violence in Libya since the 2011 Libyan war.

Three years after the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, the country is becoming polarized between two main militia factions.

In the chaos that followed the end of the war, the Islamist militias centered in the city of Misurata led an effort to eliminate all politicians who had supported Gaddafi. This resulted in the political elimination of many moderate politicians, leaving the Islamists in charge.

Until two months ago, Islamist militias linked to the Muslim Brotherhood were in control of Tripoli, Benghazi, and other cities. These included the Misurata militias, and other militias that joined as allies. One of these is Ansar al-Sharia, operating in Benghazi, which is believed responsible for the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The political wing of the Islamist militias is the Justice and Construction Party, which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and controls the parliament, known as the General National Congress (GNC).

In May, an anti-Islamist military action was launched by other militias that opposed the Islamist militias. These militias, sometimes called "nationalist militias," are headed by 71 year old Khalifa Hifter (or Hafter). Hifter was an ally of Muammar Gaddafi in the 1969 Libyan revolution, but he turned against Gaddafi in the 1980s, and fled to the U.S. where he apparently became a citizen living in Virginia. He returned to Libya after the 2011 war, and is now leading the military operation to overthrow the Islamists.

Hifter leads the Libyan National Army, and is backed by many former military officers as well as militias tied to the cities of Benghazi, Tobruk and Ajdabiya in the east and Zintan in the west. Reuters and LA Times

Generational timeline for Libya


Libya, showing the three historic divisions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica
Libya, showing the three historic divisions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica

Developing a generational timeline for Libya has been a very difficult task because of the paucity of information about the tribal wars that occurred during Libya's colonial period. However, during the 2011 Libyan war, correspondence with several web site readers led to the conclusion that Libya's last generational crisis war began in 1911 when the Italians defeated the Ottoman empire in Tripolitania. In the 1920s, there were a series of extremely bloody, brutal massacres of Libyan tribes, first in Cyrenaica, and then in Fezzan, wiping out a large percentage of the Libyan population. This analysis has to be tempered by the observation that Libya is a large country with many tribes, and some portions of the country may be on separate generational timelines. However, for the populated northern regions, the last generational crisis war appears to have been the Italian conquests, climaxing in 1934.

This analysis implies that Libya is deep into a generational crisis era. As we pointed out at the conclusion of the 2011 war, it's highly likely that the war will be resumed, and some of the tribal wars of the 1930s will probably be re-fought. Fighting between the two major groups of militias has been steadily increasing since May, and it's possible that we're seeing the start of that now.

United Arab Emirates to launch a space program to reach Mars

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is developing a space program with the intention of eventually landing human beings on Mars. It's felt that the space program could also inspire thousands of Emiratis to pursue careers in the space industry, opening the door to new research bodies and university courses in aerospace engineering, resulting in "millions of young scientists and engineers." The National (UAE)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jul-14 World View -- Embassies in Tripoli evacuated, as Libya sinks into tribal war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Jul-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader wants to annihilate Israel, but not Jews

Israel extends the Gaza ceasefire by 24 hours, but Hamas does not

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's Supreme Leader wants to annihilate Israel, but not Jews


Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei

It's not unusual for Iran to call for the annihilation of Israel, and this week was no different, especially in the context of the war in Gaza. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, gave a speech on Friday, Qods Day (Jerusalem Day), an annual event by Iran to oppose Israel's control of Jerusalem. His speech called for an end to Israel:

"These crimes [of Israel in Gaza] defy imagination. They are the essence of [Israel's] wolf-like and child-killer regime, for which the only solution is its annihilation and liquidation. Of course, until that time [when this happens], the determined and armed Palestinian resistance, and its spread to the West Bank, are the only way to deal with that bestial regime. ...

As the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini [Khamenei's predecessor] said, Israel must be liquidated. [But] the annihilation of Israel as the only way to a real solution does not mean the annihilation of the Jews in the region. In order [to carry out] this logical operation [of annihilating Israel] there is a practical apparatus that the Islamic Republic [of Iran] is presenting to the international community. Based on this apparatus, which is acceptable to the nations [of the world], people living in the region, and belonging to it, will be polled to find out what regime they prefer. In this way, the occupying and forged regime [of Israel] will be annihilated. Of course, until that heartless and child-killer regime is destroyed, the forceful struggle, and determined and armed resistance, are the [only] path to solving [the problem of] this destructive regime...

Therefore, it is my belief that the West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Anyone who cares about the fate of Palestine, and who is capable of doing something, should provide arms to the people [of the West Bank] too..."

I can't recall ever seeing this sharp distinction between the "wolf-like" Israeli regime, which is to be annihilated, and the Jewish people, who will NOT be annihilated, and will even be permitted to live in the region. He's actually recommending that all the people in the region participate in a referendum to decide who will govern them. This sharp distinction may represent a change in Iran's Islamic hardline policies.

Before commenting more on this, I'd first like to quote another Iranian Qods Day speaker, a military commander named Ali Fazli who says that the Palestinians in Gaza are partners in the resistance against Israel:

"The people of Gaza are undoubtedly Shi'ite... because the people of Gaza could not have stood against the Zionist regime and sacrificed itself for two weeks with resistance alone. The blood spilled in Gaza and Palestine for the defense of all of Islam connects the Shia and the Sunna, and therefore the resistance front should unite and preserve its unity against the arrogance."

There are frequently many bizarre statements coming out of Iran, but this has to be one of the most bizarre of all time. In no way are the people of Gaza "undoubtedly Shi'ite." To the contrary, Gaza is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with a tiny minority of Shia Muslims. Furthermore, there have been outbreaks of sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni groups in Gaza, and Shias have complained about the violence against them. Memri and Al Monitor

Influence of the Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war today

When you're commenting on Iran, as I have been for many years, you have to understand that Iran is in the midst of a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, and that there's a cavernous "generation gap" separating the attitudes of the old geezers, the survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war, and the attitudes of the people in the younger generations that grew up after the war.

Iran's population was enormously unified by the Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war, and that's the social climate that the geezers, like Khamenei, would like to bring about again. A signal event in 1979 was the takeover of the American embassy in Iran, and Iran's senior leaders look for ways to repeat that event in one way or another, to bring about renewed unity today, something that's impossible in a generational Awakening era.

So what you have in Iran is a senior leadership holding fantastical beliefs that are totally out of touch with reality.

The principal fantastical belief, which I've written about a number of times over the years, is Khamenei's fantasy of gaining hegemony over the entire Arabian peninsula, and governing the Muslim world in the same way that the Ottoman Empire governed prior to its destruction. We've pointed out that this fantasy can never be realized because the Sunni Arab population will never agree to be governed by the Shia Persian Iranians.

The bizarre excerpts from the two Qods Day speeches that I quoted above are manifestations of these fantasies. In the view of Iran's geezers, Sunnis, Shias and Jews will be all alike, and will all be governed by a new Persian empire, just like the old Ottoman Empire. The only thing standing in the way of a new Persian Empire is the "wolf-like" Zionist regime, which must be annihilated, and rest settled by a referendum.

What's new in Khamenei's speech this time is the sharp distinction between Israel and Jews, where one is to be annihilated and the other not. However, with or without this distinction, the whole thing is a bizarre fantasy on the part of the senior Iranian leadership.

A brief note on Iran's nuclear issue

When I write about the attitudes and beliefs of senior Iranian leadership coming out of the Great Islamic Revolution and the Iran/Iraq war, it's worthwhile to add a brief note on the nuclear issue.

There is no doubt in my mind that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Iran was attacked with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in 1988 by Iraq, and Iran would already have developed nuclear weapons if Saddam Hussein hadn't been expelled by the Iraq war in 2003. Iran sees itself surround by potential enemies, Pakistan and Israel, both having nuclear weapons. For Iran, developing nuclear weapons is an existential issue.

However, as I've described before, Iran takes an enormous amount of pride in not having invaded other countries, even though other countries have invaded Iran. If you look back at Iran's major wars of the last century -- the Constitutional Revolution of the 1900s decade, the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, Iran never attacked anyone else. This is now part of Iran's DNA, and even the top leadership would be repulsed by the idea of a preemptive attack on Israel.

So my conclusion is that Iran will develop nuclear weapons as a defensive measure, but has no plans at all to use them on Israel, which is what is widely believed. In fact, even the Qods Day speeches quoted above emphasize this fact. Khamenei is calling for the destruction of the Israeli regime, not the destruction of Jews, and certainly not the destruction of all the Muslims who also live in and around Israel.

Israel extends the Gaza ceasefire by 24 hours, but Hamas does not

Hamas has given Israel a new major credibility boost by refusing to extend Saturday's 12 hour truce by 24 hours, to Sunday midnight GMT, while Israel has done so unilaterally. In fact, reports indicate that Gaza was shooting rockets at Tel Aviv within 3 minutes after the 12-hour ceasefire.

Although Israel is observing a unilateral ceasefire, it is continuing military operations against the tunnels on the border between Gaza and Israel, since these tunnels are used by Hamas to enter Israel for terrorist operations. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jul-14 World View -- Iran's Supreme Leader wants to annihilate Israel, but not Jews thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Jul-14 World View -- Israel rejects 7-day ceasefire, agrees to 12-hour ceasefire

Ebola victim escapes from hospital, putting Freetown at risk

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel rejects 7-day ceasefire, agrees to 12-hour ceasefire

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been running around from country to country in the Mideast trying to sell a 7-day "give peace a chance" plan. The plan has already been rejected by both Hamas and Israel. The details of the plan were not published, but the issues are being widely discussed:

Israel did not want Kerry to leave the Mideast empty-handed, so it agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire on Saturday.

Both Hamas and Israel have taken very hard positions. The logic of the situation is that neither side can agree to a cease-fire without the humiliation of backing down, so it appears most likely that this war will continue until Israel can claim to have achieved its objectives -- destroy the tunnels and destroy the rockets. Israel probably has one or two more weeks to do that. Jerusalem Post and Debka

Ebola victim escapes from hospital, putting Freetown at risk

The deadly Ebola virus continues to spread rapidly in western Africa. Since February, there have been 1,093 Ebola cases to date in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, including 660 who have died. Sierra Leone officials are extremely concerned that a woman with Ebola in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone, densely populated with about 1 million inhabitants, escaped from the isolation ward of a hospital, when her family stormed the hospital and forcibly removed her. Ebola is not airborne, but it's spread through physical contact, and it's feared that this woman might start a chain reaction that spreads the disease rapidly through Freetown.

Another possible emergency situation is occurring in Lagos, the most populous city in Nigeria with 5 million people. On Tuesday, a 40-year-old man from Liberia arrived by plane in Lagos, and passed out in the airport. He was taken to a hospital and diagnosed with Ebola. He died on Thursday. It's feared that he might have infected other people on the plane, and those people might be roaming Lagos affecting other people. An infected person may not show any symptoms for up to two weeks, but can still infect other people before showing symptoms. Reuters and Nigeria Guardian News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jul-14 World View -- Israel rejects 7-day ceasefire, agrees to 12-hour ceasefire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Jul-14 World View -- Can Hamas survive the Gaza war?

UN official says that Mideast will be 'shocked' into peace

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN official says that Mideast will be 'shocked' into peace


Aftermath of missile strike in Gaza (CNN)
Aftermath of missile strike in Gaza (CNN)

Jeffrey Feldman, the United Nations Undersecretary for Political Affairs, was interviewed on the BBC on Thursday, and asked why this iteration of the war between the Israelis and Hamas should be any different that the last ones, in 2008 and 2012.

He was asked:

"When the world thinks about just the two most recent bouts of violence -- major violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in 2008 and 2012, essentially the dispute was exactly the same as this - which was - Israel was saying, "We simply can't put up with rockets being fired onto our territory," and Hamas was saying, "We want the blockade of Gaza lifted."

The two sides are saying exactly the same thing again now. When we finally do get to a ceasefire, which undoubtedly we will at some point - what's to make you or anybody else think that we simply won't be back here again in a couple of years time?"

His response:

"That's definitely a risk.

And I go back to the Security Council resolution that we passed back in January 2009, in one of th earlier episodes of violence that you've referred to. Because that security council resolution put obligations on the parties to do certain things -- to address the very issues you raise.

It's intolerable for both the Palestinians and the Israelis that the situation that existed before this current round of violence started continues. The situation doesn't simply repeat itself, but it seems to get worse with every time the repetition comes in. That shock is what I hope we can use in order to get the Israelis and Palestinians awake to address the underlying issues of security, of access, of trade and transport and movement."

So Feldman acknowledges that the situation is getting worse each time, but comes to the truly incredible solution that this is going to "shock" the Israelis and Hamas into an agreement, presumably that Israel will end the blockade, and Hamas will stop shooting rockets. How can someone who claims to be an "expert" know so little about history as to reach this inane conclusion?

I'm always reminded about the 2005-8 time frame, and the number of people that I told, I exhorted, not to buy real estate, because there was a big real estate bubble, and they would lose everything. Many went ahead, and lost everything, and then were furious at me because of human perversity. I understood that they weren't mad at me -- they were mad at themselves for having been so stupid.

For the past few years, when I talk about China's increasingly bellicose and obvious preparations for preemptive war with the United States, I've found that many people don't even want to think about it in any way. It's not that they have even a minimally informed opinion, but they consider it as impossible as, say, the bursting of a real estate bubble. (v. Churchill)

I'm finding exactly the same sort of attitude today with respect to the war between the Israelis and Hamas. It's possible, even likely, that Israel will "win" this war. But will the Palestinians be so "shocked" by this that they'll give up their demands for the "right of return" and the elimination of Israel?

As Feldman says, the trend has been in the opposite direction. Things are getting worse during each repetition. That's the trend. When a trend exists, if you're going to argue that the trend won't continue, then you need at least to provide a rational explanation why you believe that. But Feldman is predicting that the trend will fall off a cliff, and he's providing no explanation whatsoever except wishful thinking. And remember, this is from a so-called "expert."

What's changed in the Mideast between 2008 and now? What's changed is that each year more combative people from younger generations replace more compromising people in key positions from older generations, especially generations that survived the incredible horrors of the 1948 war. That's what Generational Dynamics is all about, it never ceases to amaze that that no matter how utterly obvious these generational predictions and analyses are, and no matter how many times the generational predictions turn out to be right, over and over and over, while the ideologues on all sides turn out to be wrong, there are many people who simply cannot wrap their heads around the possibility that these predictions will actually occur -- until they do occur, and there's no choice. It's just human nature for people to stick their heads in the sand, as ostriches allegedly do. But humans are much more ostrich-like than ostriches. Spiegel

Can Hamas survive the Gaza war?

Hamas has been facing a great deal of international criticism for using Palestinian children as "human shields," putting rockets and missiles in schools and hospitals. A couple of days ago, we quoted Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi absurdly characterizing such charges as "racism."

On Thursday, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was asked on the BBC to further provide an explanation:

INTERVIEWER: How can any idea of resistance justify putting rockets in a school building?

MESHAAL: Frankly speaking, this is a lie. Let Israelis show where the rocket launchers are in Gaza.

INTERVIEWER: This is not something that has come form Israel. This is the UN Relief and Works Agency.

MESHALL: This is not true. Rocket launchers in Gaza belong to the resistance. They are underground, and Israel is unable to reach them. This is why it pretends they are in civilian areas.

So we have a perfectly reasonable question, and we have two bizarre answers from two Palestinian representatives. It's a sign of desperation that Hamas has not been able to come up with satisfactory narrative to the "human shield" question.

The repeated lying is a sign of desperation, and in fact, Hamas may be so desperate that it's not certain that it will survive this war, no matter who "wins." This is another thing that's changed in the Mideast since the previous wars. Hamas used to have strong support from Syria and Egypt. But the Syrian genocide has caused a rift, while the Egyptian military coup against the Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohammed Morsi has turned Hamas from a friend of Egypt to an enemy. Add to that, the Gaza economy is on the ropes, and there are numerous reports that the Hamas government cannot even pay its own employees. Finally, it's worth repeating that the median age in Gaza is 18, which means that, to a large extent, it's the newer militias that are de facto in charge, with the aging Hamas bureaucracy becoming less relevant. So, it's not unreasonable to consider that Hamas will not survive the Gaza war, no matter what its outcome.

As we've described recently ( "22-Jul-14 World View -- Gaza war splits Arab states into competing alliances"), Hamas still has some powerful supporters -- namely, Qatar, Turkey and Iran.

But Israel also has extremely powerful Arab allies -- Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Reports are emerging that these countries are fully committed to helping Israel defeat Hamas. Egypt's peace initiative last week was specifically designed so that Israel could accept it, while Hamas would have to reject it. The Saudis are using economic pressure in Europe to be evenhanded about condemning "criminal" acts by Hamas and Israel, and to go along with Israel's demand that Hamas be "demilitarized," in order for peace to be permanent. These actions provide political cover for Israel in the international arena, despite the huge numbers of Palestinian casualties, and permit Israel to continue its military campaign unhindered by complaints from the Obama administration and John Kerry.

What Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are planning for is the destruction of the Hamas government and its military capabilities, replacing it with a new government headed by a (hopefully) more moderate Palestinian Authority. For this plan to succeed, Israel's military attack on Gaza would have to become even more forceful and potent than it already is, in order to clean up the Hamas military structure as rapidly as possible.

Well, this would be a breathtaking development, assuming that these reports are true. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I would have to provide exactly the same kinds of warnings and cautions that I provided by Jeffrey Feldman at the start of this World View column.

Let's assume that all these objectives are met successfully, that Hamas has been removed, and a "moderate" Palestinian government has been installed. The "trend" that things are getting worse, described by Feldman, would not be changed by this development. Whatever the government, Gaza would still have a dense population with an average age of 18 years old, making it a territory being run by children with guns, rockets and missiles. There is no reason to be believe that a "moderate" government would be any more successful in governing Gaza as Hamas. And there's no reason to believe that this kind of military victory and imposed government wouldn't lead to a new war in a couple of years time, even worse than this one. Middle East Eye and BBC and Israel Hayom and CNN and Debka (paywall)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jul-14 World View -- Can Hamas survive the Gaza war? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Jul-14 World View -- Palestinians harden demands for agreement to a Gaza cease-fire

Gunmen kill 21 Egyptian border guards on border with Libya

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hamas leader Meshaal demands an end to Gaza 'siege' before cease-fire


Khaled Meshaal giving speech on Wednesday (Al-Jazeera)
Khaled Meshaal giving speech on Wednesday (Al-Jazeera)

With US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon running around from country to country in the Mideast, hoping to get credit for being the one to mediate a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. However, a major speech by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Wednesday indicates that there is no hope of cease-fire. Meshaal spoke for almost an hour, and repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would not agree to a cease-fire.

More specifically, Meshaal made a series of demands that must precede a cease-fire. The major demand, repeated over and over, is an end to the "siege" of Gaza -- allow the free flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza. Here are some excerpts from his speech:

"It's been more than seven years, since 2006 [when Israel imposed the siege]. It was a collective punishment for all Palestinians because they elected their leaders through the ballot box [referring to the election of Hamas to govern Gaza]. ...

Killing by siege and starvation is no less than killing by bullets. Swift killing is as punishable as slow killing. Besieging free men turns them into time bombs. It will explode one day in the face of the occupier and those who have led the siege. Gaza has turned into a fireball in the face of those who have turned the siege to them. ...

Give me the price. What is the price to pay? How many Israeli soldiers do you wish to see dead in order to see the siege lifted from Gaza?"

Meshaal said that Hamas agreed to a cease-fire after the 2009 and 2012 wars, but the siege continued afterwards, and so Gaza accomplished nothing. This time, Hamas will not agree to a cease-fire unless the siege is ended first.

Ending the siege was Meshaal's principal demand. Other demands included end the occupation of the West Bank, return Jerusalem to the Palestinians, free the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, lift the naval blockade, lift the border controls with Israel, allow 1948 Palestinian refugees to return to their homes ("right of return").

Meshaal believes that because of the large numbers of Palestinian casualties, international pressure on Israeli will force it to give up and withdraw from Gaza. In fact, I've seen several pundits express the view that the pressure is getting so great that Israel will have to back down by the end of this week.

Meshaal also made a reference to the fact that American and European airlines are refusing to land Israel's Ben Gurion airport, because of Gaza's rockets. He said that Israel is almost "panicking" because of an increased feeling of isolation. "They're starting to taste what we have been tasting for years."

The logic of the situation is that no cease-fire is possible at this time. Meshaal has made it clear that even if Israel backs down, then the rocket attacks from Gaza will continue, and that would just force Israel to return. On the other hand, even if Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, the other Gaza militias will not go along, and once again, the rocket attacks will continue.

It's also worth mentioning that one of Meshaal's demands is not even under Israel's control. Israel has taken no position on whether Egypt should open or close the Rafah border crossing, but the government of Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi has made it clear that they consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and that the Rafah border crossing will remain closed except for specific humanitarian purposes. Ma'an News (Bethlehem) and BBC

Mahmoud Abbas reverses course and supports Hamas

As I wrote for the first time in 2003, it's the survivors of the genocidal 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that have prevented a war that major from occurring again. In 2003, Yassir Arafat and Ariel Sharon, both survivors of the 1948 war, were the respective leaders of the Palestinians and Israelis. Today, both of them are gone, and in fact, almost every other survivor is also gone, with Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas being the sole major leader with personal memories of the horrors of the 1948 war.

Since 2003, as the number of 1948 war survivors have disappeared, and younger generations have grown to take their place, relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians have become increasingly dangerous. Among the Palestinians, Abbas has been the most important leader engage in peace talks and oppose the worst forms of Palestinian extremism, but his views are being opposed more and more by younger generations within his own PA organization.

The Gaza war and its hundreds of Palestinian casualties may have been a turning point for Abbas. Whereas he's been sharply critical of Hamas almost every day until yesterday, on Tuesday he gave a speech indicating a complete U-turn.

"From the first moment of this barbaric Israeli aggression against our people in Gaza, in Jerusalem, and in the West Bank, we have called loudly about the necessity of stopping this aggression. ...

We have appealed to Egypt and have held talks with the president and with the relevant Palestinian factions, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. After that, we appealed to Turkey and Qatar; we approached the leaderships in both countries, and we met there with [Hamas political bureau head] Khaled Mashaal in order to stop the Israeli aggression and to arrive at a ceasefire, and from there to act to end the siege, to open the crossings, and to stop the aggression in all its forms; we demanded that [Israel] respect the Gazans' fishing rights, that it abolish the so-called 'buffer zones,' that it free the prisoners from the Shalit deal that Israel has re-arrested, that it free the fourth phase of the long-term prisoners and Legislative Council members; that there be an immediate operation to bring humanitarian aid [into Gaza], and that there be an international conference for the [countries] that are donating to Gaza's rehabilitation.

"The time has come for everyone to raise their voices and tell the truth, clearly and powerfully, in the face of the Israeli killing and destruction machine. The oppressing occupation forces have crossed every line and [have broken] all the laws. They have deviated from all standards of human and international morality in their ferocity and barbarism."

If this is indeed a complete U-turn by Abbas, then it's an extremely significant change in the geopolitics of the Mideast. It makes a cease-fire even less likely, if that's possible. But also, it's a big step forward toward the major war between Jews and Arabs that will engulf the region. Memri and BBC

Gunmen kill 21 Egyptian border guards on border with Libya

Militants attacked an Egyptian military checkpoint on the border with Libya on Saturday, kill 21 border guards. The attack began with an exchange of gunfire, followed by the exploding of the checkpoint's ammunition storage by means of rocket-propelled grenades.

Hundreds of people have been killed in terrorist attacks in Egypt in the last year. The attacks have been focused mainly in northern Egypt in Sinai, on the border with Gaza and Israel. Egypt has blamed many of these attacks on militants from Hamas.

These two stories are closely related. There are large caches of weapons and explosives that were left behind during the war that defeated Muammar Gaddafi, and militants have been transporting these arms and explosives from Libya by various routes to Sinai. (See "2-Apr-14 World View -- Egypt's terror cells get training in Syria and explosives from Libya")

The terrorists who killed the border guards on Saturday are believed to be part of that transportation network.

So Saturday's terrorist attack may have been far away from the war in Gaza, but it's closely connected, and it helps explain why Egypt is not likely to help end the "siege" of Gaza by opening the border crossing at Rafah. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jul-14 World View -- Palestinians harden demands for agreement to a Gaza cease-fire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jul-2014) Permanent Link
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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