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

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

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


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

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

Three young Jewish males confess to killing Palestinian teen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here's the summary:

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

Photos shared with the #GazaUnderAttack hashtag are often deceptive

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

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

Pakistan's military attack on Taliban produces little besides chaos

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's military attack on Taliban produces little besides chaos


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli police hold six suspects in the murder of Palestinian teen

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

Israeli airstrikes kill seven Gaza gunmen

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

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Palestinian violence spreads after new atrocities are revealed


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

East Ukraine fighting gets bloodier as new peace talks are scheduled

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Activists demand restoration of the Kingdom of Hawaii


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

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

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

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

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

East Ukraine fighting gets bloodier as new peace talks are scheduled

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

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

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

Mormons provide a free survival manual

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

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

China reaffirms plans to annex India's Arunachal Pradesh province

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel masses troops on Gaza border and violence escalates in Jerusalem


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

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

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

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

China reaffirms plans to annex India's Arunachal Pradesh province

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

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

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

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

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

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

China bans Ramadan fasting for Uighurs in Xinjiang province

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

China bans Ramadan fasting for Uighurs in Xinjiang province

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vladimir Putin responded as follows:

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

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

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

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

China's neighbors react to new South China Sea claims

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

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

A web site reader recently wrote the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon announces additional 300 troop deployment to Iraq

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS makes laughable 'Caliphate' claim


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

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

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

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

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

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

Threats to Kingdom of Jordan may require US and Israeli troops

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

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

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

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

Pentagon announces additional 300 troop deployment to Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

What do we call ISIS now?

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

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

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

Israel threatens revenge for deaths of three kidnapped teenagers

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West African Ebola outbreak is now the worst in history

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What could trigger another world war?

Consider the following events of the last 15 years:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West African Ebola outbreak is now the worst in history

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

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

We have Jean-Claude Juncker to kick around again.

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

We have Jean-Claude Juncker to kick around again.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The financial crisis in Greece continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thousands of Ukrainians flee east Ukraine for Russia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four questions ISIS uses to tell Sunni from Shia

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

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

Thousands of Ukrainians flee east Ukraine for Russia

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

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

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

Stocks rise after disastrous GDP report

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

At least 21 killed in Nigerian shopping mall explosion


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

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

Ukraine to sign trade deal with European Union on Friday

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

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

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

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

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

Stocks rise after disastrous GDP report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boko Haram in Nigeria abducts 60 more girls and 30 boys

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The Iraqi catastrophe worsens as European youth join ISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN and Al Monitor

ISIS conducts sophisticated media campaign to attract European youth

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

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

Russia may revoke its March 1 resolution authorizing Ukraine invasion

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

Boko Haram in Nigeria abducts 60 more girls and 30 boys

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

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

Ebola virus is 'out of control' in western Africa

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

Al Ahram (Cairo) and Al Ahram and BBC

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Tale of Two Dows
A Tale of Two Dows

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

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

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

Ebola virus is 'out of control' in western Africa

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

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

Pakistanis fear nationwide blowback from military offensive against Taliban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israeli troops kill two Palestinians during hunt for kidnapped teens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israeli air strikes hit Syria after cross-border attack

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

Pakistanis fear nationwide blowback from military offensive against Taliban

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan on alert as ISIS captures more Iraq border towns

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

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

In strategic victory, ISIS captures Syria-Iraq border crossing

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China sends four new oil rigs into South China Sea


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

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

In a turnabout, Pakistan refugees flood into Afghanistan

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

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

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

In strategic victory, ISIS captures Syria-Iraq border crossing

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

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

Financial advisors taking kickbacks in addition to commissions

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

The top three countries producing new refugees in 2013 were:

The top five countries that hosted refugees were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both America and Europe face floods of mother and child refugees

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

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

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

Financial advisors taking kickbacks in addition to commissions

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Warlord Suleiman becomes Iraqi Sunni anti-government spokesman


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

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

According to al-Suleiman:

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

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

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

Suleiman believes that Iraq is headed for partition:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also made demands of Iraqi leaders:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

Chinese and Vietnamese officials meet without smiling and agree on nothing

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

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

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

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

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

According to China's foreign ministry, Yang replied:

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

China Daily and Thanh Nien News (Hanoi) and Reuters

Ebola unexpectedly surges again in western Africa

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

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

Was the 2003 ground invasion of Iraq a mistake?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

Generational Dynamics historical analysis of the violence in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iraq in the 1930s generational Awakening era

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next steps for Iraq

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

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

Was the 2003 ground invasion of Iraq a mistake?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenya suffers worst terrorist attack since Westgate Mall attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya suffers worst terrorist attack since Westgate Mall attack


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

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

Syrian warplanes strike inside Iraq

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

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

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

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

Pakistan launches major military action against Taliban

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The size of the Iraq catastrophe continues to unfold


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

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

LA Times and Israel National News and Slate

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

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

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

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

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

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

BASH: And you really thinks that's possible?

GRAHAM: Yes.

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

GRAHAM: What makes you think they don't?

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

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

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

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

GRAHAM: Yes.

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

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

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

GRAHAM: There are plenty of voices over there.

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

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

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

GRAHAM: That's President Obama's fault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRAHAM: Look forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN

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

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

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

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

World Stage Group (Lagos, Nigeria)

Pakistan launches major military action against Taliban

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

According to a Pakistan army statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ukraine conflict escalates sharply after plane shot down, killing 49

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All countries need to embark on joint effort regarding terrorism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. wholesale prices unexpectedly decreased in May

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

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

Ukraine conflict escalates sharply after plane shot down, killing 49

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

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

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obama caught be surprise, discussing military options in Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AP

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

Foreign exchange price fixing will exceed libor scandal in criminality

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sunday's attack on Pakistan airport signals terror tactical shift


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

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

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

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

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

President Obama considers military action in Iraq

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

According to President Obama at a press briefing on Thursday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign exchange price fixing will exceed libor scandal in criminality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The collapse of Iraq's army

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS sweeps across Iraq, captures Tikrit


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The collapse of Iraq's army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS

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

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

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

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

Nouri al-Maliki has been president of Iraq since 2006, but has seen Iraq fall apart since the Americans withdrew in December 2011. The Shia leader practically declared war on the Sunnis immediately after the withdrawal. He ordered the arrest of 13 of the bodyguards of Sunni vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, leading several Sunni blocs in the parliament to boycott the government, causing the government to be destabilized.. Al-Maliki continually isolated the Sunnis, who are a minority in the population, and now he's paying the price for it. There were new elections held a couple of months ago, but a new government has not yet been formed because of the political chaos.

There are so many terrorist bombings in Iraq on an almost daily basis that they often don't even make the news outside of Iraq. But in fact, the number of deaths has been increasing almost every month since the Americans' withdrawal. In May alone, about 800 people were killed in terrorist bombings.

During the Iraq war under President George Bush, the American army pressed very hard to pacify the Sunni tribal chiefs and populations. President Bush's surge succeeded not just because additional troops were being sent in, but because the entire surge program was geared towards getting the Sunnis in Anbar province to expel Al-Qaeda in Iraq. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from April, 2007.)

Before he became president Barack Obama bitterly opposed the surge that led to victory in Iraq. After he became president, his only policy was to withdraw as quickly as possibly, with no concern for a relationship with the Sunnis, or with getting al-Maliki to develop a relationship with the Sunnis.

So it's not surprising today that there are many reports that the disaffected Sunnis in Anbar Province, the same ones that drove jihadists out in 2007, are now joining with the jihadists to oppose al-Maliki's government. This has been a major factor in the growing strength of ISIS in Anbar Province, on the border with Syria.

The other major factor in the growth of ISIS is the war in Syria. With no leadership from American to stop them, and especially with the major flip-flop after the chemical weapons "red line" was crossed last year, many Sunnis in Syria have come to believe that their only hope is to join ISIS in fighting Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. As I've written many times, Syria has become a magnet for jihadists around the world, and is now the world's biggest training ground for jihadists.

(The news this week is that Hillary Clinton says that as Secretary of State she favored helping the opposition rebels, in the beginning, before ISIS had a chance to form. I've always said that Clinton would have been a much better president than Obama, because she knows something about what's going on in the world, while Obama doesn't have a clue. And John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, is as dumb as a doorknob.)

All the Mideast trends I've been talking about for years are coming together. From Pakistan to Syria, we see the growth of Sunni militias, and possibly armies, while we see Shia militias grow in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria. ISIS is continuing to spread and gain strength, and a number of analysts believe Jordan will be its next target. BBC and Bloomberg and CS Monitor

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-14 World View -- Iraq in major crisis after catastrophic fall of Mosul to ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan

Massive Taliban attack at airport in Karachi, Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive Taliban attack at airport in Karachi, Pakistan


Police display confiscated suicide vests and heavy weapons brought in by the terrorists.  In the foreground are the dead bodies of the terrorists in white sacks (AP)
Police display confiscated suicide vests and heavy weapons brought in by the terrorists. In the foreground are the dead bodies of the terrorists in white sacks (AP)

Taliban militants dressed as security forces stormed the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday night and Monday morning, and at least 30 people, including 10 heavily armed gunmen, were killed in a battle that ran for six hours. Security forces announced on Monday morning that the attack had come to an end, but gunfire and bomb blasts continued to be heard into Monday evening.

Jinnah International Airport is the largest and most prestigious airport in Pakistan. It's named after Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Jinnah is revered in Pakistan, for his work with Mahatma Gandhi to bring about Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. When Gandhi was killed by a Hindu extremist in February, 1948, Jinnah called him "one of the greatest men produced by the Hindu community." Jinnah himself died later that year of tuberculosis.

Pakistanis are expressing outrage that the militants were able to bring into the airport a huge arsenal of suicide vests, grenades and rocket launchers, without being detected by any airport security. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

Tens of thousands of families flee homes in Pakistan's tribal area

Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) has claimed credit for the attack. The spectacular Karachi airport attack comes at a time when the Taliban itself is having problems. (See "29-May-14 World View -- Major faction defects from Pakistan Taliban, splitting it in two") The TTP claimed that the airport attack was revenge for an American drone strike in November 2011 that killed Hakimullah Mehsud, at that leader of the TTP, whose death led to the split.

In recent months, Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif has been pursuing "peace talks" with TTP. This pursuit was always something of a joke (like the Mideast "peace talks") because the TTP demanded TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be withdrawn from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the entire country. It turned out that Sharif did secretly order the release of 19 Taliban militants from jail, in order to appease the TTP leadership, and those released militants are presumably out somewhere killing more civilians.

The airport attack is being seen as a message that there is no chance of "peace" between Pakistan's government and the Taliban. They got their people out of jail, and they really can't hope to get anything more, so now they're continuing with violence.

Although Karachi is far away from Pakistan's federally administered tribal area (FATA), the airport attack is having a major effect there. The airport attacks have triggered fears that Pakistan's army will launch a new campaign against militants in the FATA, and reports indicate that in North Waziristan, some 25,000 to 50,000 people, mostly women and children, fearing violence from an imminent army attack. and AFP and Bloomberg

Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan

In a separate incident, as many as 23 people were killed when a suicide bomber stormed a hotel where about 300 Shia pilgrims were staying. The incident took place in the town of Taftan in Balochistan, on Pakistan's border with Iran. The attack came when a convoy of 10 buses stopped at two hotels. The buses were carrying the pilgrims returning from a visit to Shia holy sites in Iran, stopping for a rest in Taftan. There were two suicide bombers, but only one of them was able to detonate himself. The terror group Jeish Al-Islam claimed responsibility.

Numerous Taliban groups have been attacking Shia Muslims in Balochistan for years, and Iran's government has been extremely critical of Pakistan for not stopping these attacks. Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ) has publicly and firmly announced as its goal the extermination of all Shia Muslims in Pakistan, and has been methodically setting off bombs in order to achieve that goal. On January 21, LeJ blew up a bus of Shia pilgrims returning from Iran, killing 24.

Presumably, Sunday's incident was the last straw for Iranian officials. After this incident, Iran closed its border with Pakistan for an indefinite period, and all activities pertaining to travelling and trade have been suspended. Pakistan Tribune and Fars News (Tehran)

Iran's Supreme Leader complains young people are not revolutionary enough

One of the most fascinating comparisons to come out of Generational Dynamics theory is Iran today with America in the 1960s, at times when the countries were in respective generational Awakening eras, with the rise of young generations following the last crisis war. In 1960s America, the generations of traumatized survivors of the horrors of World War II were determined to prevent anything like that from happening again, so they adopted conservative social policies and fought to stop the communists in Vietnam. The generations that grew up after the war had no patience with these austere policies were widespread. The generational conflict climaxed with the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

Iran's last generational crisis war was the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war, which climaxed in 1988 with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons. During the last decade, I've reported frequently on the political clashes between the elders, the war's traumatized survivors, and the young people who do not like restriction on clothing and dating, who love Western tastes and fashion, and who do not particularly want to sea Israel pushed into the sea. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who is definitely a traumatized war survivor, constantly expresses concerns about the younger generation. In an address over the weekend, he said the following:

"Individuals who moved with sharp revolutionary motivation have now changed their views by 180 degrees, and the meaning of the Revolution is incomprehensible to them and we must be vigilant so these characteristics do not penetrate the University’s Jihad complex.

“The revolutionary path of University Jihad must be preserved. It must not be allowed for this important scientific center to be influenced by the political maze of 'leftists' and 'right-wingers.'

The production of destructive atomic bombs, is one hundred percent against humanity."

Just as America's generational split was settled with the resignation of Richard Nixon, Iran's generational split will finally be settled with the death of Ayatollah Khamenei, who is now 74 years old. AEI Iran Tracker

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-14 World View -- Iran closes border with Pakistan after terror attack in Balochistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration

Pope Francis plants an olive tree for Mideast Peace

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration


Many Egyptians, especially women, cheer al-Sisi's inauguration speech, believing he's the savior they've been waiting for (AFP/BBC)
Many Egyptians, especially women, cheer al-Sisi's inauguration speech, believing he's the savior they've been waiting for (AFP/BBC)

Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi was inaugurated as president of Egypt on Sunday, to screams of delight from fans, particularly women. With more than a quarter of Egyptians living in poverty, he promised to cure poverty. He promised to build 26 new tourist resorts, eight new airports and 22 industrial estates. He's just like Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, inaugurated on Saturday, India's Narendra Modi, inaugurated two weeks ago, France's François Hollande last year, and Barack Obama two years ago. They all make promises that can't be fulfilled, and which are often mathematically impossible, which means that they're all morons or liars or, more likely, both. In any event, they're all full of crap.

On the one hand, al-Sisi promised "There will no exclusion of any Egyptian from our march." But on the other hand, one thing that al-Sisi did not do is hold out any hand of reconciliation to his opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, comprising 25-30% of the population.

"As for those who shed the blood of the innocents, there will be no place for them in this path.

And I say it loud and clear, there will be no soft stand with anyone who resorts to violence or whoever wants to delay our march towards the future that we want for our children."

He called them terrorists and repeatedly said that national security was his highest priority. Since he ousted president Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood last year as army chief, his army and security forces have killed or jailed thousands of Egyptians, many completely innocent. These include three reporters from Al-Jazeera, who apparently are jailed to get even with Qatar, Al-Jazeera's home country.

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, sent al-Sisi a "cable of congratulations" on his inauguration, but did not attend the ceremony because he wasn't invited. Leaders of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates were invited, as were leaders of western countries. The kings of Jordan and Bahrain also attended. However, because of al-Sisi's violent ouster of democratically elected Morsi, and continued violence against innocent protesters, no top officials from Western countries were present. Many African Union leaders were also absent, as Egypt was suspended from the African Union two days after Morsi's ouster. BBC and Reuters and AP

Pope Francis plants an olive tree for Mideast Peace

Pope Francis held a historic and unprecedented prayer meeting for peace in the Mideast at the Vatican, together with Israel's president Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The Pope said:

"Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to meeting, and no to conflict. yes to dialog, and no to violence. Yes to negotiations, and no to hostilities. Yes to respecting deals, and no to provocation. Yes to sincerity, and no to being false. For all this, we need courage and strength of soul."

Shimon Peres said:

"I have come here from Jerusalem, the cradle of the three monotheistic religions, and the vibrant heart of the Jewish People. In Hebrew, the word Jerusalem and the word for peace, share the same root – Shalom. And it is with that prayer in our heart and that call to action that we stand together. From Jerusalem, I have come to call for Shalom – Peace. Peace between nations. Peace between faiths. Peace between people. Peace for our children."

Mahmoud Abbas said:

"God, answer my prayers for peace and justice in my homeland Palestine, the Middle East, and the rest of the world."

In order to guarantee peace, the three went beyond words to bring peace to the Mideast. In addition to their speeches and prayers, they planted an olive tree in the Vatican garden together, to show how people of the world could work together to build the world without conflict.

One Vatican analyst said, "In the Middle East, symbolic gestures and incremental steps are important." Other analysts around the world exclaimed, "Thank God! Peace at last! The Pope has brought peace to the Mideast! Thank God!" AP and Israel National News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jun-14 World View -- Egypt's al-Sisi makes laundry list of promises at inauguration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Jun-14 World View -- Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's new president promises peace in a united Ukraine


Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)
Petro Poroshenko lights a candle in St. Sophia Cathedral after his inauguration in Kiev on Saturday (AP)

Petro Poroshenko, who was elected president of Ukraine on May 25, promised to reunite Ukraine in peace in his inauguration speech on Saturday. He said, "I am calling on everyone who has taken arms in their hands — please lay down your arms," and he promised amnesty "for those who do not have blood on their hands." He insisted that the Crimean peninsula "was, is and will be Ukrainian," although he did not indicate how Ukraine can regain control of Crimea.

Poroshenko has spoken recently with Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and apparently they've known each other for a long time, as Poroshenko's candy empire does a lot of business in Russia. Poroshenko promised in his speech that he would open a corridor of "safe passage" to Russia, something that Russia had demanded in the U.N. Security Council, and Putin appeared to respond by ordering tightened security along the border to prevent illegal crossings.

Pro-Russian rebel leaders in the east dismissed Poroshenko’s speech. A rebel leader, Denis Pushilin, said, "At the moment it’s impossible for him to come (to Donetsk for talks). Perhaps with security, a group, so people won’t tear him to pieces." AP and Bloomberg

Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election

Polls have indicated for some time that even the Russians living in eastern Ukraine do not want eastern Ukraine to be part of Russia. After the revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich, replacing him with an interim government Kiev, most of these same Russians don't like or trust the Kiev government either.

But according to James Sherr, Ukraine specialist from London think tank Chatham House, the election of Petro Poroshenko is changing some minds, and improving the prospects for Ukraine. At the same time, Vladimir Putin and the Russians are forced to change tactics. This is my transcription of his interview on BBC:

"[Saturday's inauguration speech] was crucial. I think with this speech Ukraine is now clearly back in the center of its drama, and Poroshenko has projected an image of someone who can take Ukraine into the future. This was a very purposeful, positive and realistic speech, and it's done something very important in Ukraine where, for months, there has been an interim government, a lot of indirection and uncertainty, and in the west the preoccupation for months has been almost exclusively on Russia, and if Ukraine has any image at all, it's been largely negative. So coming on top of these very impressive elections with this very high turnout on the 25th of May, I think this is now presenting a very different image, and it helps to establish a different dynamics. ...

He's reaching out to his own country's well-being, and it's important to bear in mind when you talk about separatism in the east, we're talking about activity in two eastern regions, out of six. And if you look at the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, which are predominantly Russian speaking -- that's nine regions. And in only two, and at that only parts of two, are the separatists pretty firmly in control. So that context has to be borne in mind.

The Russians' tactics are rapidly adjusting. When the Russians started this whole enterprise in eastern Ukraine, they expected that the citizen population living there would rise up in their support. And that has not happened. We had hundreds of thousands of people on the street in Kiev [referring to the original protests in December], you have not have that in Dnetsk and Luhansk -- the fighters have been supported by at most crowds of hundreds, and at most a few thousands.

So they started changing tactics then. And I think the election itself has been a further blow to them. Their preoccupation still is to get Western acquiescence in an overall deal that will federalize Ukraine in such a way that the regions it partially controls will not only have autonomy, but have veto power over the central government itself. That's what they mean by federalization. It has no resemblance to what the term means in any other country in the world. I think that's understood inside the EU. It's certainly understood by president Poroshenko."

Jihadist violence across Iraq continues to grow

Iraqi officials have been caught by surprise at the size of three days of attacks across the country by the jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Gunmen attacked city buildings and neighborhood in Samarra on Thursday, and gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the northern city of Mosul on Friday. On Saturday, jihadists attacked Anbar University in the Iraq city of Ramadi, killing the guards and blowing up a bridge leading to the school. Iraqi special forces launched a counterattack to retake the campus, where most of the students are Shias.

ISIS continues to grow and size and strength, having killed more than 4,400 people this year alone. It began in Syria when the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad started slaughtering thousands of innocent Sunni women and children, and driving millions from their homes. It has become the rock star jihadist organization these days, where tens of thousands of young people from all of the world have come to join. It's growing in both Syria and Iraq, and is threatening the Shia-led government in Iraq.

ISIS continues to grow for several reasons:

Terrorism violence has grown almost every month since the total withdrawal of American forces in December, 2011. ISIS continues to grow and become a major threat to the Mideast and to the world. The National (UAE) and Ammon News (Jordan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jun-14 World View -- Russia forced to change tactics after Ukraine's election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Jun-14 World View -- Pentagon issues annual report on China's military

Former ambassador to Syria harshly criticizes Obama's policies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pentagon issues annual report on China's military


Chinese soldier in live-fire air defense exercise in 2010 (AP)
Chinese soldier in live-fire air defense exercise in 2010 (AP)

China is developing a new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile with multiple nuclear warheads as part of a large-scale military buildup, according to the "Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China."

The so-called MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) missile will carry with it up to ten additional missiles with nuclear warheads, so that a single MIRV missile can strike up to ten different targets with nuclear missiles. China is developing these MIRV weapons in order to be able to overwhelm U.S. missile defenses in a war against the United States.

China has deployed a number of nuclear missile systems, including missiles that can be launched from submarines or from land, and which are specifically designed to target American cities, military bases and aircraft carriers.

China has also deployed thousands of short and medium range missiles for use in striking Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, or any other nation that challenges its annexation of other countries' sovereign regions in the South and East China Seas.

According to the report, China "is investing heavily in its ground force, emphasizing the ability to deploy campaign-level forces across long distances quickly. This modernization is playing out with wide-scale restructuring of PLA ground forces that includes a more rapid, flexible special operations force equipped with advanced technology; improved army aviation units using helicopters armed with precision- guided munitions; and C2 capabilities with improved networks providing real-time data sharing within and between units." These capabilities will be used in attacks on China's neighbors, including Taiwan, and potentially for introducing ground forces into a United States crippled by a barrage of missile attacks.

According to the report's summary:

"Although the dialogue between the United States and China is improving, outstanding questions remain about the rate of growth in China's military expenditures due to the lack of transparency regarding China's intentions. In 2013, China announced a 5.7 percent increase in its annual military budget to $119.5 billion, continuing more than two decades of sustained annual defense spending increases. China sustained its investments in strategic forces modernization, as well as key anti-access / area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities such as advanced intermediate- and medium-range conventional ballistic missiles, long-range land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, counter-space weapons, and offensive cyber capabilities. China's military investments provide it with a growing ability to project power at increasingly longer ranges."

The Obama administration has gone out of its way to avoid portraying China as an enemy, but according to one expert on China's military:

"The 2014 Pentagon PLA report has come a long way to presenting a more useful listing of China’s military direction.

But it is now time for this report to take the next step. It needs to become an illustrated book translated into multiple languages. This document defines the Chinese military’s trajectory more than any other statement by any other country — which is why the Chinese government hates it and wants to shut it down."

Indeed, China very bitterly denounced the Pentagon report. According to China's Foreign Ministry, China has always adhered to the path of peaceful development, pursued a defense policy which is defensive in nature and become a staunch force in safeguarding peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region and the world:

"China's military buildup is completely aimed at safeguarding the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and is part of the country's justified rights."

As we see more and more in the South China Sea, China's view of adhering to "peaceful development" is to annex other nation's territories, and by "safeguarding peace and stability" it means that anyone who does not do as China demands gets killed. U.S. Dept. of Defense and Free Beacon and Xinhua (Beijing)

Al-Sisi's election as Egypt's president tainted by low turnout

A year ago, army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi staged a coup and overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the only democratically elected president in Egypt's history, along with his Muslim Brotherhood government. After leaving the army, al-Sisi won his own election to president on May 28, with a landslide 96.9% of the vote. In contrast to Morsi's elections, many observers consider al-Sisi's election to be fraudulent, since thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters have been killed or jailed, and in fact anyone who advocated voting against al-Sisi risked being beaten or jailed.

Now al-Sisi's opponents are calling the election a fiasco because of low voter turnout. The government is claiming 47.5% voter turnout, but it was obviously from live pictures carried by BBC and CNN of deserted polling places on election day that this figure is way too high. The Muslim Brotherhood is gleefully claiming that turnout was no higher than 12%, based on data that they collected on election day.

Egyptian authorities took many desperate measures to increase the voter turnout, after the low turnout on the first day of the election. The election had been scheduled to run two days, but it was extended to a third day. A national holiday was declared, and popular artists recorded songs for YouTube encouraging people to vote.

Just as anyone who disagrees with President Obama's policies is labeled a "racist," the pro-al-Sisi media is blaming "terrorists" in the Muslim Brotherhood for preventing people from voting.

However, others in the pro-al-Sisi media are blaming al-Sisi himself:

According to one columnist:

"At this time, many young people are prosecuted, thrown in prison, and heavily fined [under the regime's protest law]. It is astonishing that after this, the current Mubarak-esque government expects these young people – the nation's work force – to labor, to produce, and to vote..."

Another columnist pointed out:

"Field Marshall 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi must realize – and I believe he does – that his job, his aspirations, and his political dimensions are completely different now than they were before the election. He must realize that the popular rage is much greater than [just] that of the MB, and that the attempts to excuse every crisis by [blaming] terrorism in order to cover up political incompetence will no longer be convincing to the millions of Egyptian citizens."

Memri

Former ambassador to Syria harshly criticizes Obama's policies

Robert Ford served for three years as President Obama's ambassador to Syria, before resigning two months ago. Now he's saying that the reason he resigned is that he could no longer defend the U.S. administrations policies with respect to Syria. According to Ford:

"We need - and we have long needed - to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other non-lethal assistance.

Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly the al Qaeda groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates who frankly we have much in common with.

[While Russia and especially Iran are massively increasing their assistance to Assad,] our policy was not evolving and finally I got to a point where I could no longer defend it publicly."

In an interview on BBC on Friday, Ford explained that President Obama's policies have permitted al-Qaeda linked jihadists to gain strength in Syria. Ford was particularly critical of Obama's flip-flop last year, when Syria's president Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama's "red line" and used sarin gas to kill people, and Obama did nothing about it after saying that al-Assad would "face consequences." According to Ford, moderate opposition Syrians were so angered and discouraged by Obama's flip-flop that they joined jihadists groups because that was only possible way they could continue fighting al-Assad. According to Ford:

"We need - and we have long needed - to help moderates in the Syrian opposition with both weapons and other non-lethal assistance. Had we done that a couple of years ago, had we ramped it up, frankly the al Qaeda groups that have been winning adherents would have been unable to compete with the moderates who frankly we have much in common with."

These views will be no surprise to regular World View readers, but it's unusual for an ambassador to be so critical of a President so soon after resigning. Reuters and NPR

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-14 World View -- Pentagon issues annual report on China's military thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Jun-14 World View -- Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China

Eurozone moves to negative interest rates to fight deflation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China


Chinese destroyer Haribing
Chinese destroyer Haribing

Of the nations (Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) whose sovereign territory China is annexing via military force, Indonesia has tried to stay out of the disputes with China, and to concentrate on its own internal problems -- internal terrorist attacks, and separatist movements.

But now China's growing belligerence is causing Indonesia to shift strategies. According to one analyst,

"The focus in defense spending is moving to dealing with external threats. There is a concern from an Indonesian perspective that the South China Sea should not become a Chinese lake and that freedom of shipping should be maintained."

Indonesia has some 17,000 islands to police, stretched across 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) from east to west. The Malacca Strait that Indonesia shares with Malaysia is a key shipping lane that links the economies of countries such as India, China and Japan. Bloomberg and National Interest

Eurozone moves to negative interest rates to fight deflation

With four euro zone countries -- Slovakia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus -- now in deflation, the European Central Bank (ECB) took the desperate step of setting the "deposit rate" to a negative interest rate, -0.1%. The "deposit rate" is the interest rate that a regional bank receives when it deposits money in the ECB. If the interest rate goes negative, it means that a regional bank must pay the ECB to hold its deposit. The purpose of the move is to incentive regional banks to lend money out to other businesses, rather than depositing it in the ECB.

Few analysts believe that this interest rate reduction will make much difference. For that reason, ECB president Mario Draghi has announced that quantitative easing is being discussed. The United States "prints" $55 billion per month in quantitative easing to increase the stock market bubble. Business Insider and Bloomberg

Dept of Homeland Security seeks a 'sarcasm detector'

The Dept. of Homeland Security Secret Service has issued a solicitation for a "Social Media Software Analytics Tool," commercial software that will automate the process of monitoring social media, detect statistical patterns in real time, and visually present the data clearly and concisely. Among the required capabilities, the software must have the "Ability to detect sarcasm and false positives." So if someone sends out a tweet threatening to kill someone, the software has to be able to tell whether the tweet is a joke or not. What could go wrong with that? Engadget and Federal Business Opportunities

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-14 World View -- Indonesia increases defense spending to combat China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-14 World View -- History is repeating itself in China and Vietnam

Nigeria helpless as Boko Haram trashes entire villages

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nigeria helpless as Boko Haram trashes entire villages


Aftermath of Boko Haram attack in May (AFP)
Aftermath of Boko Haram attack in May (AFP)

Boko Haram on Sunday attacked residents of Attagara, a village in northeast Nigeria near the Cameroon border. Like many villages, Attagara residents were frustrated by the impotence and helplessness of the Nigerian army and security forces to protect them, so they formed vigilante groups to defend themselves. On Sunday, the Attagara vigilante groups immediately came out and retaliated, killing several of the Boko Haram militants.

On Tuesday, men dressed in army uniforms arrived in Attagara with about 200 motorcycles said they had arrived to protect the residents, and asked the residents to gather in the church. Once they were all inside, the men, who were militants in disguise, surrounded the church, killed everyone, and burnt down the entire village.

In addition to having abducted almost 300 teenage schoolgirls who have still not been recovered, and killing hundreds of civilians in bombings, Boko Haram militants have taken control of dozens of villages. Boko Haram is dividing Nigeria's public along religious lines. The Christians believe that Muslims in general are complicit with Boko Haram, while the Muslims believed that they're all being unfairly blamed for the horrific actions of a terrorist gang. It's believed that many soldiers in Nigeria's army also work for Boko Haram, in order to supplement their pay. These fears appear to have been confirmed on Wednesday, when Ten generals and five other senior military officers were found guilty in courts-martial of providing arms and information to Boko Haram extremists. AP and BBC and AP

Reader comments: History is repeating itself

The following are some reader comments to my last two articles:

From Trevor in the Generational Dynamics Forum:

"One major thing that concerns me is that, indeed, history is repeating itself once again. I've talked to numerous people and realize that we are just as arrogant, just as complacent, and just as unprepared for a major attack as we were in 1941. With all the talk that China can't possibly threaten us, we said something very similar- indeed, almost word for word- against Japan, only to be proven completely wrong. Doing the same thing against China would be even more disastrous yet it appears likely.

Our current policy is assuming that war is a thing of the past, that we'll never have to fight another ground war again, so why bother preparing for it? Any comparisons I try to make about similar mistakes in the past are shot down "We're more civilized than that now" "Things are completely different" "We're so far ahead of everyone else that we're in no danger". Of course, there are others who like to say that any warning of China or anyone else is all lies.

Sadly, pretty much everyone in office at the moment care more about their political power, crushing their rivals, rewarding their cronies, and screwing everyone else over than actually attempting to do something about the very real threats we currently face. Plenty of historians criticize our decision not to mobilize and prepare for WWII sooner, but that's exactly what we're doing today. Don't forget: winter is coming."

Alton Wang takes China's side in the BigPeace comments section:

"You are correct in that these waters [South China Sea] were indisputable for the past 2000 years, because China owned them, and Viet Nam never said anything, perhaps because Viet Nam itself was subsidiary to China and relied on Chinese troops to fight against the French and the Americans as well. Your own prime minister Pham Van Dong actually acknowledged Chinese ownership to these waters too. Now all of a sudden you are claiming sovereignty? Now who's attempting to change the status quo here?

A response from Henry Nguyen, who takes Vietnam's side in the same BigPeace comments section:

"Vietnam said nothing because they already developed and lived on these islands for 400 years. Vietnam was fighting the French for 100 years until China started helping. Whatever those helps were, eventually cancelled by Chinese invasion in 1979. PM Pham Van Dong did not acknowledge Chinese ownership (google and read again) and even if he did, as PM of North Vietnam he had no power to give away what controlled by the South. Research for facts and stop relying on Chinese distortions: Vietnam 1st sent naval troops to these islands to map, build storm shelters, plant trees, collect shipwrecks and valuables since early 1,600's. In fact, all Chinese occupations in Paracels and Spratlys today, resulted from invasions of Vietnamese presence."

Here's another question, from Thucydides in the Generational Dynamics Forum, regarding some technical questions about how generational theory applies to Vietnam, in view of the fact that Vietnam's last generational crisis war was the 1970s war between North and South Vietnam, in which the U.S. sided with the South and lost:

"It appears to me that Vietnam is behaving rather odd for a country in a generational awakening era. The governing officials that are provoking China are from the older generation that remembers the Vietnam war. Does generational dynamics predict that they will back down rather than risk an unwinnable war? Or is it possible that a country in a generational awakening era can allow things to escalate into a war that it is predestined to loose?"

Keep in mind that the U.S. didn't back down from the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars. The political justifications for these wars came out of WW II -- act as policeman of the world to prevent another world war.

Vietnam is in a generational Awakening era. Vietnam beat the U.S., then beat China in a brief war, and my guess is that they're thinking that they can beat the Chinese again in some way. It would be interesting to understand exactly what thought process the Vietnamese leaders are going through these days. They may believe that even if China can beat them, they'll still inflict enough damage on the Chinese that it won't be worth it to them. That would be consistent with the likely view of the victories over the U.S. and China. They wore down the U.S., and they may have decided that they can wear down China too. Generational Dynamics forum and BigPeace comments and GD forum

Generational timeline of ancient Palestine/Israel

Nathan G, a student in the Generational Dynamics forum, has done some research to establish a generational timeline for generations of ancient Palestine/Israel. He points out that several issues arise because of conflicts of chronologies (Was the Exodus in the 15th or 13th century BC? Did David rule in the 11th or 10th century BC?). However, this is a good starting point to identify generational crisis wars in those centuries, and serve as a basis for more research:

Ancient Israel/Palestine generational crisis list:

Jesus himself was in the same generational archetype as today's Boomers, and he was an extremely charismatic Alinsky-style 1960s-style activist, just like the Boomers. That's why he caused so many headaches for the Romans and the money changers, and why they had to get revenge. Generational Dynamics forum

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-14 World View -- History is repeating itself in China and Vietnam thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-14 World View -- Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China

Saudi Arabia reports significantly more deaths from MERS virus

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat


Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat (AFP)
Homegrown jihadists are France's gravest threat (AFP)

On May 24, a gunman entered the Jewish Museum in Brussels and shot three people dead, wounding a fourth. The perpetrator, Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, was finally captured on Monday, June 1, at a train station in Marseille. What has particular concerned French prosecutors is that Nemmouche had been radicalized by the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while spending a year fighting in Syria.

According to France's prime minister Manuel Valls, France is now increasing its estimate to 800 of the number of French people who have fought or plan to fight in Syria, and he warned that they pose an unprecedented security threat. According to Valls:

"We have never before faced a challenge of this kind. It is without any doubt the most serious threat we face.

We have to ensure the surveillance of hundreds and hundreds of French or European individuals who are today fighting in Syria."

Once again I'm repeating the point that I've been making now for well over a year, that Syria has become an international magnet for jihadists around the world, from places as far apart as Indonesia, Pakistan, North Africa, France, Germany and Dagestan. Recent research confirms that some 11,000 of these jihadists have flocked to Syria -- 3,000 from Western Europe and 100 from America. These jihadists will have no language or cultural problems when they return home, where they will pose a terrorist threat. AFP and BBC

Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China

China's belligerent military actions in the South China Sea, annexing regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, have drawn worldwide criticism, and caused Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines to form a military alliance to oppose China. The criticism is so sharp that a number of analysts have openly questioned why the Chinese would act so belligerently, if doing so incurred such criticism. These questions are extremely naive, but here are the answers from the point of view of Generational Dynamics:

Chinese actions towards the Vietnamese have been acts of war, or pretty close. News reports of Chinese ships using water cannons on Vietnamese ships seem to convey a benign impression. But these water cannons are being directed at doing maximum damage, to force the ships to return to port for repair. And that's only part of it. Chinese ships have been ramming smaller Vietnamese ships with the purpose of sinking them or damaging them beyond repair.

According to unconfirmed reports, Vietnam is developing an aggressive strategy to counter Chinese belligerence. The strategy develops in stages:

Once again, we have a strategy that's extremely naive. The strategy is "creating circumstances where China would have to accept the status quo or escalate." If this were 20 years ago, China would accept the status quo. But today, given a choice between accepting the status quo or escalating, China will escalate. And if Vietnam launches any ballistic missile at any China asset or city, China will clobber Vietnam, quickly spiraling into world war.

One way or another it's clear that Vietnam is not going to tolerate much longer China's annexing of Vietnamese property and attacking and crippling Vietnamese ships, without a substantially escalated response. The Diplomat and People's Daily (Beijing)

Saudi Arabia reports significantly more deaths from MERS virus

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health on Tuesday reported 282 people have died from MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus), a major increase from the previous official death toll of 190. This is out of 688 total cases in Saudi Arabia. As happened last year, concerns are growing that a major pandemic might begin during the Hajj, when millions of Muslims from around the world arrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once in a lifetime pilgrimage. The Hajj in 2014 is scheduled for October 2-7. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-14 World View -- Vietnam develops increasingly dangerous strategy to counter China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-14 World View -- Polio continues to flare in Nigeria and Pakistan

Hamas leader resigns as Palestine unity government is announced

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's King abdicates as Catalonia moves to secession referendum