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

24-Apr-14 World View -- Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France plans to keep young people from going to Syria for jihad


Screen grab from a jihadist recruiting video made last year by Toulouse Muslim converts Jean Daniel, 22, and half-brother Nicolas Bons, 30, after arriving in Syria in March.  Jean-Daniel was killed in fighting in Syria on August 11, and Nicolas was killed by a truck bomb on December 22.
Screen grab from a jihadist recruiting video made last year by Toulouse Muslim converts Jean Daniel, 22, and half-brother Nicolas Bons, 30, after arriving in Syria in March. Jean-Daniel was killed in fighting in Syria on August 11, and Nicolas was killed by a truck bomb on December 22.

I've written many times how disastrous Russia's policy has been, supplying unlimited amounts of heavy weapons to Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad, who is conducting "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, particularly targeting innocent Sunni women and children, which has enraged Sunnis throughout the world. As a result, Syria has become a worldwide magnet for would-be jihadists and terrorists, who go to Syria for training, before returning to make use of their new skills in their homelands.

France estimates that about 700 French citizens or residents have gone to Syria for training and to fight against al-Assad. Young people in France see the war as revolutionaries fighting against a dictatorship that's killing its people.

The administration of president François Hollande on Wednesday announced a new set of measures to stop young people from going to Syria and becoming Islamic radicals. Some of the measures are:

This all sounds a bit 1984-ish, but it's the way things are going. Radio France Internationale (RFI)

Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands

A few weeks ago we reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, visiting Japan, failed to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan, and that the U.S. would defend Japan if China attacked the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. But on Wednesday, President Obama, visiting Japan, explicitly said that the U.S. would honor the mutual defense treaty:

"At the same time, the United States is going to deal directly and candidly with China on issues where we have differences, such as human rights. I’ve also told [China's] President Xi [Jinping] that all our nations have an interest in dealing constructively with maritime issues, including in the East China Sea. Disputes need to be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy, not intimidation and coercion. The policy of the United States is clear -- the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S. -- Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands."

However, Obama did not say that they are Japanese sovereign islands.

There is an increasingly widespread belief that despite any promises, the U.S. under President Obama will not honor its agreement when the actual crunch time comes. President Obama has backed down from its world policemen on several recent occasions, most notably when he flip-flopped on Syria's use of chemical weapons.

According to a Japan News newspaper editorial on Thursday:

"Perhaps one motivation for Obama’s directness is to challenge a prevalent perception of weakness, both home and abroad. The U.S. Congress, media and think tanks have become harsher in their appraisal of Obama in general, particularly since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine last month using the threat of force as leverage."

The U.S. has also recently (in February) explicitly rejected China's "nine-dash line," by which China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to other nations. However, the U.S. has ignored China's "salami slicing strategy," by which it has already annexed small regions in the expectation that the U.S. will do nothing -- an expectation that turned out to be correct. The Japan News and Radio Free Asia and The Japan News

Warring Palestinian factions announce a reconciliation agreement

The two Palestinian factions -- Hamas, which governs Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which governs the West Bank -- on Wednesday announced a reconciliation agreement. According to Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh:

"This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over."

This announcement was apparently hastily negotiated by the two sides, after Abbas announced that if the Mideast peace talks fail, which now appears to be a certainty, then he may step down and dissolve the Palestinian Authority, leaving the West Bank for Israel and the United Nations to govern.

The agreement calls for new elections in the fall, to elect a unity government for both the West Bank and Gaza.

The two Palestinian factions had a major political split in 2006, and went to war in 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza. Two previous attempts at reconciliation have failed, because of disputes over power sharing. However, it's thought that this new reconciliation attempt might succeed, for the following reasons:

However, there are also plenty of reasons why this attempt might fail. The differences that brought them to war in the first place are still there.

Israel has called off any further peace talks with Abbas, on the grounds that Israel can't negotiate with a group, Hamas, that's committed to the destruction of Israel. BBC and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-14 World View -- Obama says U.S. will defend Japan over Senkaku Islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-14 World View -- Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan

China's commodity and real estate bubbles are bursting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan


Pakistani soldiers (pakarmedforces.com)
Pakistani soldiers (pakarmedforces.com)

Saudi Arabia has begun recruiting soldiers the Pakistan's tribal areas, which are the stronghold of Taliban and al-Qaeda militants. According to a report on the recruitment:

"Youths skilled in firearms are given preferences.

Monthly salary 75,000 rupees [$750]. Medical and other facilities will also be given.

Will be deployed on borders with Yemen and oil installations."

Preference is being given to youths skilled in using an AK-47. According to the Saudis, up to $20 billion in foreign exchange could come annually to Pakistan.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman are also recruiting in Pakistan. Kuwait is opening a military office in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, to recruit retired Pakistani military officers and trainers to train 11,000 Kuwaiti soldiers.

Ten years ago, based on a generational analysis, I said that the coming Clash of Civilizations world war would pit the West, India, Russia and Iran versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Ten years ago, that seemed far-fetched, but as each year goes by, the trend continues to move in that direction. Memri (4/15) and Memri

U.S. threatens to cut off all aid to the Palestinians

As we reported two days ago, 79 year old Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to personally retire, and also "retire" the Palestinian Authority (PA) that's responsible for governing the West Bank, leaving it to Israel and the United Nations to take responsibility. ( "21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse")

The U.S. State Department is responding with a threat to cut off all aid to the Palestinians, according to spokesman Jen Psaki at Monday's press conference:

QUESTION: "Are you telling Abbas not to keep issuing statements and proclamations that they are going to sort of just close shop with the PA and turn over the occupation responsibility to the Israelis?"

MS. PSAKI: "Well, let me speak to that, because it’s an important question. That – we’re aware, of course, of these reports and comments. That type of extreme step would obviously have grave implications. A great deal of effort has gone into building Palestinian institutions by Palestinians as well as the international community, and it would certainly not be in the interests of the Palestinian people for all of that to be lost. We – the United States has put millions of dollars into this effort. It would obviously have very serious implications for our relationship, including our assistance going forward."

The Palestinian Authority gets about $400 million in aid each year from the U.S. Members of Congress have already threatened cut aid earlier this month, after Mahmoud Abbas applied for membership in 15 United Nations organizations as the State of Palestine. U.S. State Dept. and Israel National News (3-Apr)

ZeroHedge: China's commodity and real estate bubbles are bursting

For the last two months, the ZeroHedge blog has been publishing a series of articles analyzing China's collapsing credit and real estate bubbles, and responding to pundits who say that the collapse isn't happening or that it's purely a Chinese domestic matter.

The latest offering shows how China has been creating huge amounts of debt by using soybean contracts in the same way that American banks used subprime mortgages. You'll recall that investors were "flipping" properties in 2004-2007, meaning that someone would buy a property, wait a few months for properties to rise, and then sell it at a profit. This pushed up the prices of all real estate. When the bubble burst, millions of people lost their homes.

China has been "flipping" soybean contracts in the same way. One Chinese business sells a contract to someone else at a higher price, and everyone makes money, as long as the price of soybeans keeps going up. And international soybean prices have been skyrocketing into bubble levels in the last two months. The problem is that international soybean contract prices have been getting ahead of China's local soybean market, which has been getting depressed. Soybean contracts are different from actual soybeans, and a price rise in one doesn't necessarily mean a price rise in the other. So when it's time for the soybean contract to be fulfilled, and the soybeans are shipped for delivery to the contract holder, the holder has to come up with the money he's committed to pay on the contract. But if he's going to be stuck with a $10 million contract in soybeans for which he can only get $3 million in his local market, then he'll go bankrupt.

This has been happening more and more frequently in the last few weeks, and it portends a bursting of the soybean bubble, along with China's credit bubble in general. Since the soybeans are being shipped from the United States and South America, a lot of soybean farmers are not going to get paid.

It's estimated that Chinese buyers are going to default on a total of about $900 million dollars in soybean contracts. That's a huge domino effect, and it's going on right now.

I recall vividly how in 2006, all the expert economists were saying that a real estate bubble is impossible because "everyone has to live somewhere," and "these building contractors know what they're doing, and wouldn't keep building in a bubble." Then in 2008, Ben Bernanke and other expert economists were saying that there was a problem, but the problem was "contained." What all this means is that the China bubble may or may not be bursting, but that the "expert" economists who say that a China bubble is impossible, or that it's "contained" domestically, don't have a clue what's going on, and are probably full of crap. ZeroHedge and Reuters

45 people in Chicago shot over the weekend

In Chicago over the weekend, 9 people were killed and 36 were wounded from gunshots. 6 children were shot on Sunday night. Almost all of it was gang violence, scattered around the city. Unfortunately, this is a typical Chicago weekend. Chicago is beginning to read like Karachi, Pakistan, or Baghdad, Iraq. Chicago Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-14 World View -- Arab countries recruit more soldiers from Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-14 World View -- MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan

China seizes a Japanese iron ore carrier ship

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China seizes a Japanese iron ore carrier ship


The Baosteel Emotion bulk carrier, seized by the Chinese (MOL)
The Baosteel Emotion bulk carrier, seized by the Chinese (MOL)

The Japanese firm Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) said on Monday, that China has impounded one of its iron ore carriers, Baosteel Emotion, while it was docked in Shanghai. A Shanghai court ruled that the ship could be seized for damages and reparations because MOL's predecessor company in 1936 chartered two Chinese freighters that were later sunk by the Japanese Navy. Japan claims that no reparations are due because of a 1972 agreement with China in which China agreed to renounce "its demand for war reparation from Japan." However, China's foreign ministry says that the claims are solely for commercial losses, and unrelated to wartime compensation.

This incident is sure to frighten Japanese companies from doing business with China, and that may be China's motive in pursuing this. China has threatened economic sanctions against Japan in the past. Japan has just reported its worst annual trade deficit in March, with export growth slowed to the weakest in a year, and this incident will only hurt Japan further. LA Times and Xinhua and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Business Standard

MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan

One expert explains it this way:

"It took us over a year to get the first hundred cases of this viral infection. Now in just the last two weeks, we've had a hundred cases ... there's a major change occurring that cannot just be attributed to better case detection. Something's happening.

When humans readily transmit [a virus] to humans, that's what will cause a worldwide outbreak. We are very concerned that ... with what we've seen over the last two weeks ... we may be at that point now.""

The fear is that MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) has mutated in some way that's going to make it easier to spread from one person to another. Saudia Arabia has confirmed more than 50 cases of the virus in the past week, with 13 new cases reported on Monday alone. There have been 257 cases total worldwide since it was discovered in September 2012, with 93 deaths. A new cluster was reported in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week. A 69-year old male Greek citizen residing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was diagnosed in Greece as having MERS. New cases are reported in Jordan. MERS has an incubation period of 2 weeks, meaning that you can be infected and spread the disease to other people for two weeks before you start to show symptoms yourself. The sudden rapid surge in cases is raising fears that the disease is far more widespread in Saudi Arabia than previously assumed, and that travelers to and from Jeddah are spreading the disease to other countries. CNN and Recombinomics and NPR

Philippine police will use 'reasonable force' coercing MERS tests

All 414 passengers on the April 15 Etihad Airlines flight from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Manila, the Philippines, are being tested for MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus). At least 100 of the passengers have been tested so far, all with negative results. The need for testing was triggered when a 32-year-old overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who arrived from Riyadh on Sunday (4/20) was suspected of having MERS. Police are tracking down the remaining passengers on the 4/15 flight, and will use "reasonable force" to compel them to submit themselves for a medical examination. The police officers are also being warned to take reasonable precautions to protect themselves.

According to Philippine authorities, most government hospitals in Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries continue to employ Filipino nurses and hospital staff. Around 3,000 OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) are leaving the country daily and many of them are bound for Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries. Philippine Star (Manila)

Iran's President versus Supreme Leader on 'gender equality'

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that Iran would not accept any form of sexual discrimination.

Undoubtedly, Rouhani was responding to the remarks a day earlier by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, who who criticized the West's view's about "gender equality between men and women." He said, Equality is not always the same as justice; justice is always right, but equality is sometimes right and sometimes wrong." Khamenei emphasized that the most important issue for women is the sense of security and peace of mind that women find within families. Press TV (Tehran) and Business Standard

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-14 World View -- MERS virus cases surge in Saudi Arabia, spread to Greece, Jordan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse

Massive attack on AQAP in Yemen kills dozens of militants

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gunfight in east Ukraine raises fears of renewed violence


Site of the gunfight in Slavyansk in east Ukraine on Sunday (AFP)
Site of the gunfight in Slavyansk in east Ukraine on Sunday (AFP)

Just four days after Russia, Ukraine and the West signed an agreement calling for the de-escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, a gunfight at a checkpoint in east Ukraine, killing three people, has raised fears that the agreement may collapse.

At around 2 am on Sunday morning, unidentified men in four vehicles opened fire at a checkpoint near Slavyansk manned by pro-Russian activists, killing three. The activists returned fire, destroying the two cars and injuring some of the attackers.

Russia is expressing outrage, blaming the attack on Right Sector, a nationalist militia group that was prominent in the February revolution in Kiev.

However, the Ukraine government says that forensic evidence gathered at the scene does not support the claim that Right Sector was involved, but instead appears to show that the evidence was staged to falsely implicate Right Sector.

At any rate, so far this is an isolated incident, and does not yet appear to signal the beginning of a wider war. Irish Independent

Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse

The Mideast "peace talks" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, set up last year by the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry, have never been anything but a joke, but at least they were something to talk about as supposedly providing "hope for a lasting Mideast peace, with Israel and Palestine as two separate and equal nations living side by side in peace forever."

But now the self-imposed deadline for the talks to end, April 29, is approaching, and neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are indicating much desire to extend the deadline. Israel will never agree to return to pre-1967 borders or "right of return," and the Palestinians will never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to guarantee Israel's security.

So now, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is wondering what to do next, now that even the pretend-hope solution is disappearing. Abbas is quoted in an interview Sunday as saying:

"A new generation arrives and asks us: ‘What have you done?’ I am now 79 years old, going on 80. Time has really flown by.

There is no other option except to pass the flag and move on, but it is difficult to do so now because the burden is a tough one and the responsibility is great while the dangers trump the achievements. Who of our people will support us and who will oppose us? What will the Palestinian people do? How will history judge us? The settlements endanger the peace process, and the new generation sees the two-state solution is becoming less and less likely, and that there is no escape from the one-state solution."

What does the "one-state solution" mean? It means that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would dissolve, Mahmoud Abbas would retire, and the only state left would be Israel. Either Israel or the United Nations would then be responsible for governing the West Bank. Without the "peace process," according to Abbas, this is the only remaining choice.

The major aspirant to replace Abbas is his bitter rival, 52 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan has called Abbas a "catastrophe" for the Palestinian people, and would take a much more confrontational, possibly violent approach to Israel. When Abbas asks the question, "Who of our people will support us and who will oppose us?", he's suggesting that passing the flag to Dahlan and the younger generation will lead to war -- among the Palestinians and with Israel.

Israel's economy minister Naftali Bennett responded on Sunday to Abbas' statement:

"“Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] encourages terrorism against Israel as the head of the Palestinian Authority, and then he threatens us with his resignation.

If he wants to go, we won’t stop him. The Jewish people do not negotiate with a gun held against their temple."

Jerusalem Post and Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Massive attack on AQAP in Yemen kills dozens of militants

A high-level official in Yemen's government is saying that a "massive and unprecedented" military operation against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is under way, and that at least 30 AQAP militants have already been killed. Yemen's state news agency said that airstrikes completely destroy an al-Qaeda training camp, where the fighters were "preparing to launch attacks against Yemeni and foreign interests in the area." It's believed, but not confirmed, that U.S. drones were used in the attack. CNN and AP

Suicide and murder rate for bankers continues to increase

It's being increasingly noticed, though discussed in only hushed tones, that that there have been quite a few bankers committing suicide in the last few months. Some reports suggest, without official confirmation, that some of the bankers who committed suicide were under investigation for fraud and other irregularities. There have been 24 suicides or suspicious deaths in the last few months, six of them related to JP Morgan.

In the past couple of weeks, suicides have been replaced with murder. A banker in Lichtenstein and a banker in Belgium were both murdered, probably by disgruntled clients.

As I've said in the past, when I was growing up in the 1950s, I never understood why my parents and teachers and so many other people really hated bankers. Bankers seemed like perfectly reasonably people, and it seemed strange to me that so many people hated them. This was a mystery to me for my whole life. It wasn't until the 1970s or so that people seemed to like bankers again.

The mystery was finally solved for me in 2009. (See "An angry President Obama strongly condemns Wall Street bonuses" from 2009.) That's when I was shocked to learn that Citibank, Bank of America and other banks announced that they would continue paying million dollar bonuses to their employees that had created the financial crisis. These and other banks had caused the financial crisis by creating worthless structured securities and fraudulently selling them to investors. Paying big bonuses to people who defrauded the public for years is, at the very least, a public relations disaster.

So that's when I understood that bankers in the 1930s were like bankers today. Just like today, bankers had defrauded people in the 1920s and 1930s, although they used synthetic securities based on foreign government bonds in those days, rather than synthetic securities based on subprime mortgages as in the recent episode. (See "The bubble that broke the world" from 2007.) And people came to hate bankers so much, that the hatred lasted well into the 1950s and 1960s.

This has also led to a personal revelation for me. My mother's father was a Greek immigrant who came to Chicago and built a very successful retail candy business in the 1920s. But he "lost his business" in the 1930s, and died soon after "of a broken heart," according to my mother. I now realize what must have happened. Some banker had convinced my grandfather to invest his savings and mortgage his business to invest in foreign government bonds or other synthetic securities, and he "lost his business" when he couldn't repay his debt. My mother then had to go out and earn money to support her family. This is like so many people in the last decade who lost their homes and businesses after investing in fraudulent subprime-based securities. That would explain why my mother's hatred of bankers ran so deep, even in the 1950s. She must have blamed a banker not only for making her father lose her business, but also for causing his death and forcing her into the workplace.

There have been a million jokes and stories told about bankers and stock brokers who killed themselves in the 1930s by jumping out of buildings. The recent spate of banker suicides may be history repeating itself. And if history is any guide, and it is, then bankers are going to be even more hated in the decades to come. ZeroHedge and Prison Planet

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-14 World View -- Palestinian president Abbas, 79, faces life after 'peace talks' collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-14 World View -- Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter

Japan to set up an army radar base near China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter


Agios Thomas (Saint Thomas) Church in Athens, just after midnight on Easter
Agios Thomas (Saint Thomas) Church in Athens, just after midnight on Easter

The Holy Fire ceremony is possibly the most impressive celebration in all of Christianity, and is performed each year for Orthodox Easter, which occurs this year on April 20. (This is one of the rare years where the Orthodox and Catholic Easters coincide.)

On Saturday morning, Orthodox clergymen break the seal of the door to Christ's tomb in Jerusalem and descend into the chamber. After a while, they emerge with lit candles. Believers say that the "Holy Fire" appears spontaneously from the tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The fire is passed from candle to candle, and is flown to Athens and other cities, so that the Holy Fire can be shared by thousands of worshippers. In Athens, the ceremony begins at 11 pm on Saturday, when practically the entire country is in church. At midnight, the lights are turned off, and everyone's candle is lit with the Holy Fire from the priest's candle, as the priest says, "Christ has risen from the dead and in so doing has trampled on death and to those in the tombs he has given life." Then people head home with their lit candles, and the entire city is lit by the candles with the Holy Fire. The ceremony dates back to the fourth century, and possibly as early as the first century. HolyFire.org and Greece Travel

Ukraine calls an Easter Truce

Ukraine's government in Kiev has announced an Easter truce in it "anti-terrorist operation" against the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to Thursday's agreement between Russia, Ukraine and the West, such operations may be illegal anyway.

The pro-Russian separatists continue to refuse to leave the buildings they occupy or remove the blockades they set up, as called for in Thursday's agreement.

However, the separatists are said to be disappointed that a new poll indicates that 57.2% of the people in Donetsk, the center of the east Ukraine activists, say that Kiev has not violated their rights, and 66.3% say they are against a Russian military intervention. BBC and AFP

Japan to set up an army radar base near China

In a move that will surely infuriate the Chinese, Japan on Saturday broke ground for a new radar station and army base on Yonaguni island, which is Japan's westernmost inhabited island, and is closer to Taiwan and China than it is to mainland Japan. It has a population of 1,500, down from about 15,000 at the end of World War II.

According to Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera:

"This is the first deployment since the US returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing. I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan's territory."

Building the base will extend Japanese monitoring to the Chinese mainland and allow it to track Chinese ships and aircraft circling the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Opinion among residents of Yonaguni island is split, with opponents fearing that the base will one day bring a military attack, and proponents hoping that the radar base will bring young soldiers and new money, and will breathe life into the wilting economy. Japan Times and Reuters and The Diplomat

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-14 World View -- Orthodox Christians celebrate the Holy Fire ceremony at Easter thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-14 World View -- China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium

MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium


Farmer plants rice seedlings in southeast China's Fujian Province, a region heavily contaminated with cadmium.  (Xinhua)
Farmer plants rice seedlings in southeast China's Fujian Province, a region heavily contaminated with cadmium. (Xinhua)

A previously top secret report has emerged from China's Environmental Protection Ministry showing that 19.4% of China's farmland is contaminated with heavy metals, particularly cadmium, nickel and arsenic. The toxins come from factories and mining. Rice crops are particularly vulnerable, since rice paddies are flooded with water, so that the soil can be contaminated by a mine that's miles away. The report was released as a result of numerous scandals about tainted rice containing cadmium, which can cause kidney damage or cancer. Almost half the supplies of rice sold in Guangzhou, a major city, are contaminated with cadmium.

Chinese food traders have little regard for the dangers caused by tainted food. Investigations have shown that traders have been selling rice known to be cadmium-tainted to food processors. This is reminiscent of 2008, when some 54,000 babies fell ill and were hospitalized with kidney problems because of melamine added to milk powder to fool inspectors into thinking that it had more protein than it really had. (See "A generational view of China's growing melamine food disaster" from 2008.) AP and Shanghai Daily

Pro-Russian Ukraine activists refuse to stand down

Pro-Russian east Ukraine activists have refused to honor the international agreement that was signed on Thursday, saying that they weren't bound by any agreement that they were never asked to sign. As we reported several days ago, Russia's ambassador to the European Union said that any such agreement would be "betraying" the people of eastern Ukraine, and he's right -- activists are saying that Russia sold them out. They're refusing to vacate the buildings they had occupied until the Ukraine's interim government in Kiev is ousted. Russia is supporting this opposition. The White House has warned of "serious consequences" if Russia does not honor the agreement it signed.

Many commentators believe that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is looking for an excuse or just waiting until the time is right to order an invasion of east Ukraine. But he's had plenty of excuses up till now, and his 40,000 man army has been on Ukraine's border for weeks. He could have ordered an invasion at any time in the last few weeks, if he had wanted to.

It's at least as probable that Putin is looking for a way avoid invading, and to create a status quo under terms favorable to Russia. An invasion would not be quick, but would meet a great deal of local resistance. Russia's army would get bogged down in a protracted battle which, according to several analysts, Russia cannot afford. Under this interpretation, Russia's flip-flop was really an act of desperation, as he had ruled out an invasion, and he had no other viable choice. AP

MERS in Malaysia raises concerns of 'super-spreader'

MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) raised serious concerns late last year, as it was spreading in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. But now two new outbreaks, one in the Middle East and one in Malaysia, is causing new concerns that the virus may have mutated and can spread more easily.

There have been 238 confirmed cases of MERS up till now, with 92 leading to death, which is a high death rate. In the last week there are 20 cases in two distinct clusters, one in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and one in Malaysia. It's known that both clusters were caused by a 54 year old man who traveled between Saudi Arabia and Singapore in mid-March, but did not become ill until April 4.

It was just such a "super-spreader" who caused the SARS virus to become an international crisis a decade ago. The fear is that the MERS virus has mutated enough to allow such a super-spreader to cause another international crisis. Arab News and Recombinomics and World Health Organization (WHO)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-14 World View -- China admits that 20% of its farmland is polluted with cadmium thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Apr-14 World View -- Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine

Nigeria in shock from double attack by Boko Haram

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russian activists block Ukrainian soldiers in armored personnel carriers in east Ukraine on Wednesday (AFP)
Pro-Russian activists block Ukrainian soldiers in armored personnel carriers in east Ukraine on Wednesday (AFP)

In a nationally televised program on Thursday, Russia's president Vladimir Putin described southern and eastern Ukraine as Novorossiya, or New Russia, that had been part of the Russian Empire since the 18th century, until the 1920s when the European leadership decided "For God knows why," to give it to Ukraine. Putin said that he "hopes he won't have to send troops into Ukraine," but pointed out that the Duma (parliament) had given him the power to order an invasion of Crimea, if he chooses to do so. These statements were similar to the prelude to the Russian annexation of Crimean, which was justified by a historical narrative, and a statement by Putin that "we have no intention of annexing Crimea."

So it was a surprise a few hours later when Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced that an agreement had been reached between Russia, Ukraine and the West to deescalate the situation. In particular, the agreement called for protesters to leave illegally seized buildings. As we reported yesterday, Russia's ambassador to the European Union said that any such call would be "betraying" the people of eastern Ukraine.

Russia also backed down on the demand for "federalization," replacing it simply with a "constitutional process." There was no mention of being unaligned, which has been code word for the Russian demand that Ukraine not join Nato.

There are several possible reasons for Putin's flip-flop:

ABC News and Russia Today

Ukraine agreement leaves many questions unanswered

Here's the full published text of the Ukraine agreement:

"The Geneva meeting on the situation in Ukraine agreed on initial concrete steps to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens.

All sides must refrain from any violence, intimidation or provocative actions. The participants strongly condemned and rejected all expressions of extremism, racism and religious intolerance, including anti-semitism.

All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated.

Amnesty will be granted to protestors and to those who have left buildings and other public places and surrendered weapons, with the exception of those found guilty of capital crimes.

It was agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission should play a leading role in assisting Ukrainian authorities and local communities in the immediate implementation of these de-escalation measures wherever they are needed most, beginning in the coming days. The U.S., E.U. and Russia commit to support this mission, including by providing monitors.

The announced constitutional process will be inclusive, transparent and accountable. It will include the immediate establishment of a broad national dialogue, with outreach to all of Ukraine’s regions and political constituencies, and allow for the consideration of public comments and proposed amendments.

The participants underlined the importance of economic and financial stability in Ukraine and would be ready to discuss additional support as the above steps are implemented."

The first steps that would have to be: "All illegal armed groups must be disarmed; all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners; all illegally occupied streets, squares and other public places in Ukrainian cities and towns must be vacated." This would apply to eastern Ukraine cities, but it would also apply to anti-Russian "Maidan" protesters in Kiev, who are still blockading streets and occupying some buildings in the capital city. There could be some disagreements as to who has to go first.

The issue that originally triggered the months of protests and counter-protests was a desire by many in Ukraine to sign a trade agreement with the European Union, something that was bitterly opposed by Putin and Russia. The new agreement removes the demand that Ukraine be "unaligned," but it's not clear what would happen if Ukraine decided to sign the agreement after all, or to apply for membership in Nato.

As I always like to point out, major events are brought about not by politicians but by masses of people, generations of people, and politicians are irrelevant except insofar as they implement the policies demanded by the people. It's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that this is always true, even in a dictatorship. Whether the Ukraine agreement succeeds depends on how the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine and the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev deal with it. Indeed, the pro-Russian protesters may feel betrayed, as the Russian ambassador suggested. If they stand their ground, then Thursday's agreement will be totally meaningless.

By a coincidence of timing, we may know the answer within a few days. Sunday is Easter, and this is one of those rare years when the Western Easter coincides with the Eastern Orthodox Easter. If anything can motivate protesters in Kiev and eastern Ukraine to end their protests, it would be Easter Sunday, the holiest day in the Christian calendar. So we may know by Monday whether the terms of the agreement will be met by the pro-Russian protesters in east Ukraine and the anti-Russian protesters in Kiev. Guardian

Nigeria in shock from double attack by Boko Haram

First there was Monday's massive attack on a bus station in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. ( "15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70")

Then on Tuesday, Boko Haram abducted over 100 schoolgirls from a school in northeast Nigeria. This act is supposed to be consistent with the meaning in the Hausa language of Boko Haram: "Western education is forbidden." But stories are spreading that there's a much more carnal motive, and that Boko Haram are using the girls as sex slaves. There have been other terrorist attacks this week as well.

The girls have not yet been found, and excuses and statements by the government, the military and police are only infuriating the parents. Parents are beginning to ignore the police and form vigilante militias to find them.

In recent months, Boko Haram has changed, in that the terror has become indiscriminate. It used to be that Boko Haram bombed government installations and Christian churches, but now anyone and anything can be a target, with motives that are unclear. The country is roughly half Muslim and half Christian. For Muslims, it's clear that the violence is all due to Islamist extremists, but Christians do not believe that Islamists would kill fellow Muslims. The result is that the country's population is becoming more polarized along Christian/Muslim lines. Deutsche-Welle and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-14 World View -- Russia flip-flops on eastern Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Apr-14 World View -- Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing'

Ukraine's 'anti-terrorist operation' turns into a fiasco

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing'


Mohsen Rezaei was Iran's top commander during the 1980s war with Iraq
Mohsen Rezaei was Iran's top commander during the 1980s war with Iraq

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has previously declared the need to adopt a "resistance economy," to defeat the Western sanctions. Expediency Discernment Council Secretary and former IRGC (Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps) Commander Mohsen Rezaei discussed the "resistance economy":

"In my opinion, we have so far been successful in the Geneva negotiations, but these negotiations could have been done better. The wall of sanctions was not successful because we have been able to increase our oil exports. America cannot revert to the past because a lack of confidence has been created in it. Fortunately, the Ukrainian matter became a divine blessing for us, because America can no longer convince China and Russia. ...

Resistance economy means the people’s jihad and that the economy must be made resistant against the enemies’ shocks and pressures. ...

Resistance economy seeks to bring the Westerners and the Americans to their knees against sanctions, to the extent that they admit that sanctions were mistake."

AEI Iran Tracker

Ukraine's 'anti-terrorist operation' turns into a fiasco

The "anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's army to strike back at pro-Russian separatist activists in cities in eastern Ukraine is turning into a fiasco, a day after it was announced by Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov. Six of the Ukrainian army's armored personnel carriers (APCs) were captured by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, amid reports that Ukrainian soldiers switched sides to support the militants. The Ukrainian soldiers were obviously unhappy with being deployed against crowds of civilians.

Evidence is growing that Russian armed forces special agents are in east Ukraine, training the separatist militants with tactics -- takint over buildings, setting up blockades, fomenting protests. Speaking in London, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Russia had sent "thinly disguised" armed groups into eastern Ukraine to spearhead the occupation of buildings.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato, but fears are growing that Russia does not plan to stop with annexing Ukraine. Latvia and Estonia are Nato members, and have large ethnic Russian communities. Nato announced that air patrols over the Baltic republics are to be increased, while Nato warships will deploy to the eastern Mediterranean and the Baltic Sea. BBC and CNN

Russian ambassador signals coming invasion of east Ukraine


Vladimir Chizhov (BBC)
Vladimir Chizhov (BBC)

Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's Ambassador to European Union, was interviewed on the BBC on Wednesday. With violent pro-Russian activists in east Ukraine taking over police stations, airfields and government buildings, he was asked why the Russian government does not tell them to stand down (my transcription):

"Well I think in the current situation situation there would be seen by people in eastern Ukraine as Russia betraying them, because they want to see their interests protected, and they want to see a federalization of the country. Our view, and my personal view, is the only way to save Ukraine as a single democratic country."

The "federalization of the country" means making eastern provinces independent republics, which would make them like Crimea, and then vulnerable to Russian annexation. Ukraine is already no longer a "single democratic country," having lost Ukraine to Russian annexation.

Chizhov was asked what would happen if separatists in Russia were occupying police stations and airports. Would Moscow stand by and let this happen?

"I don't think you should draw a comparison between a legitimate government like the one in Russia and self-proclaimed government that came to power as a result of an armed coup in Kiev."

So according to Chizhov, Kiev isn't allowed to do anything to stop the violence in east Ukraine because it's not a "legitimate" government, even though it's the only government. And Russia won't even ask the protesters to stop the violence, because that would be "betraying" them. Therefore, according to Russian logic, Kiev just has to let the violence continue.

What Chizhov didn't mention is that Russia's government isn't legitimate either. The December 2011 parliamentary elections and the May 2012 presidential election were so fraudulent that they triggered massive protests, which Russia's security services brutally suppressed. ( "8-May-12 World View -- Putin becomes president of Russia again, facing harsh new challenges")

Watching Chizhov on television, one can almost see the sleaze oozing out of every pore. But the bottom line is that Russia is fomenting a "civil war" in eastern Ukraine, and apparently is preparing to invade in order to "protect" the ethnic Russians.

Pakistan Taliban refuses to extend ceasefire, wants 'peace talks' anyway

The one-month ceasefire that the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) declared has now expired, and on Wednesday announced that it will not be extended. However, the TTP wants to continue the "peace talks" with complete "sincerity and seriousness" which, I assume, means that TTP will keep on blowing up crowded marketplaces and mosques while it pretends to want peace.

It recently emerged that the TTP agreed to the one-month ceasefire in the first place only because prime minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to release 19 Taliban militants from jail. Sharif secretly kept this process last month, though the secret was revealed recently. Apparently the TTP is willing to agree to a ceasefire only as long as murderers are being let out of jail.

In a more bizarre development, two factions of the TTP in Pakistan's tribal area have been fighting each other for control, and have shed a lot of blood doing so. So the TTP leadership has appealed to the Afghanistan Taliban to send a delegation to Pakistan to act as mediators between the two warring factions, and end the fighting. The Express Tribune (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-14 World View -- Iran says that the Ukraine crisis is 'a divine blessing' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Apr-14 World View -- East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back

Mali separatists appeal to Russia for support on independence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back


Ukrainian troops receive munitions at a field in east Ukraine on Tuesday (CNN)
Ukrainian troops receive munitions at a field in east Ukraine on Tuesday (CNN)

A day later than originally threatened, Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov announced the beginning of an "anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's army to strike back at pro-Russian separatist activists in cities in eastern Ukraine. Later, Turchynov said the airbase at Kramatorsk had been "liberated" from "terrorists."

This clash could go either way, but based on what I've read, I personally don't feel that there's yet enough "social fuel" in this population for this to spiral into something major.

However, a victory by Kiev or even a stalemate may not be acceptable to Russia, who are thought to have been promoting chaos in Ukraine to have an excuse to invade.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the sharp escalation of the conflict in Ukraine puts the country on the brink of civil war. Putin may be looking for an opportunity to launch a short, sharp attack to take control of east Ukraine too quickly for anyone to react. BBC and Voice of Russia

Russia and Europe's far right become political allies through anti-Americanism

In past decades, Russia was usually allied with far left Communists and Socialists in Europe, but in this generational Crisis era, Russia is increasingly finding European allies among far right and right-wing populists. (The phrase "far right" has a different meaning in Europe and in America.) With the European Parliament elections approaching, some of these parties are increasingly open about their desire to act as an advocate for Russia in Brussels.

These parties are natural allies of Russia because of their common skepticism of immigration and concerns about Islamic extremism. But the broadest foundation for cooperation is their joint anti-Americanism, and their opposition to the European Union's close ties with the United States. According to one right-wing politician:

"Instead of playing the stooge of the US in the encirclement of Russia, Brussels must finally be able to build positive relations with Moscow and show understanding of Russian interests."

It's thought that Russia's objective is to destabilize and weaken the European political scene, and weaken the European-American alliance. Spiegel

Mali separatists appeal to Russia for support on independence

Following the secession of Crimea from Ukraine, the Russians are becoming the go-to guys for any secessionist group in other countries.

In April, 2012, the Tuareg ethnic group declared that northern Mali was seceding from Mali, and the new country would have the name Azawad. The governing party would be called the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA). ( "7-Apr-12 World View -- Tuareg rebels declare independent state of Azawad in northern Mali") This led to an invasion in the north by al-Qaeda linked militants, followed by the introduction of a French peacekeeping force in January, 2013.

MNLA officials made a recent visit to Russia:

"[The goal was to spread] the message of the people of Azawad everywhere, particularly in the countries that are members of the UN Security Council, some of which have veto power. ...

All the causes of the conflict were explained to the government of the Russian Federation. The political, social and cultural reasons for the recurring revolts and the suffering of the people of Azawad were discussed at length. The president of the MNLA's leadership, Mr. Bilal Ag Acharif, clearly expressed the necessity and the urgency of finding a solution to this never-ending conflict through a political dialogue. He reaffirmed the availability of the MNLA to operate by means of political negotiations provided that they are based on the sincere and frank willingness of all the parties."

Russia has its own secessionist issues, with some activists in Russia's North Caucasus provinces wanting to form a separate Islamic state. Russia's foreign ministry reaffirmed to the MNLA the availability of the Russian Federal government to help the different parties to find a just, equitable and durable solution for the crisis. Memri

Israel claims secret talks with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait about Iran

Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that Israel is holding secret talks with some Arab states to establish diplomatic ties based on a common fear of Iran. He specifically named Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, neither of which recognize Israel. Israel has signed peace deals with only two of its Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. According to Lieberman,

"For the first time there is an understanding there that the real threat is not Israel, the Jews or Zionism. It is Iran, global jihad, (Lebanese Shi'ite guerrilla group) Hezbollah and al Qaeda. There are contacts, there are talks, but we are very close to the stage in which within a year or 18 months it will no longer be secret, it will be conducted openly."

However, both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait deny that any such talks are taking place or have ever taken place. According to Kuwait's foreign ministry:

"These claims are baseless. There are no meetings, official or unofficial contacts, public or secret."

A similar statement was issued by the Saudis. Reuters and Anadolu (Turkey)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-14 World View -- East Ukraine clashes become dangerous as Kiev strikes back thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70

European Central Bank to adopt negative interest rates

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70


Aftermath of terrorist explosion at bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday (BBC)
Aftermath of terrorist explosion at bus station in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday (BBC)

Nigeria's terrorist group Boko Haram is being blamed for a massive explosion at a bus station during rush hour on Monday in Abuja, the country's capital city. More than 70 people were killed, and hundreds injured.

Boko Haram has conducted to many terrorist attacks in northeastern Nigeria that they're almost being ignored (except, of course, by the people directly affected). 1500 people, mostly civilians, have been killed this year, and 135 people were killed on Wednesday and Thursday of last week alone. These attacks have received little or no international notice, and even in Nigeria they were considered so remote they could be ignored in Abuja, where there hadn't been a terrorist attack in two years.

In the past, Nigeria's government has been largely ineffective in containing Boko Haram, and there have been suggestions that some in the army are either complicit or supporting. Monday's attack may force a change. BBC

European Central Bank to adopt negative interest rates

The Fed's policy of quantitative easy, which has "printed" tens of billions of dollars of new money every month and injected it into the banking system, is now going to be copied by the European Central Bank, according to reports. For almost two years, the euro zone has been in a deflationary spiral, with the inflation rate falling, and with Slovakia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus already in actual deflation.

On Saturday, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said:

"The strengthening of the exchange rate requires further monetary stimulus. That’s an important dimension for our price stability."

This Delphic remark is being interpreted by experts as indicating that the ECB will soon begin "printing" money and pursuing a policy of quantitative easing. Draghi may also lower interest rates, and some reports indicate that he will implement negative interest rates. Irish Times and CNBC

Standoff continues in eastern Ukraine

The government of Ukraine in Kiev allowed its own deadline to pass on Monday morning without taking any action against the pro-Russian protesters occupying buildings in cities across eastern Ukraine. Russia continues to have tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border, and many fear that Russia will invade and annex eastern Ukraine, just as it annexed Crimea. However, a number of analysts are pointing out that eastern Ukraine is very different from Crimea. In Crimea, the ethnic Russian population overwhelmingly favored being part of Russia. But in eastern Ukraine, polls have shown that many ethnic Russians are strongly opposed to a Russian annexation, and there's a possibility that if the Russians invade eastern Ukraine, then they'll be fighting not only Ukraine's army, but also many civilians. For that reason, Russia's president Vladimir Putin will be very reluctant to order an invasion, according to these analysts. However, if violence in east Ukraine continues to escalate, then Kiev and Moscow may be forced to intervene militarily. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-14 World View -- Major terrorist explosion in Nigeria's capital kills over 70 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum

Syrian army defector explains why Assad regime uses chlorine chemical weapons

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syrian army defector explains why Assad regime uses chlorine chemical weapons


Brig-Gen Zaher al Saket, Syrian army defector
Brig-Gen Zaher al Saket, Syrian army defector

As we reported yesterday, there was a new poison gas attack on a rebel-held, apparently by Syrian government warplanes. It's assumed that the poison gas attack was under the orders of Syria's genocidal monster president, Bashar al-Assad, but the al-Assad regime blames the attack on rebels.

Zaher al Saket was a Brigadier General in al-Assad's army until he defected last year. He explains why chlorine gas was used, and how only the Syrian regime has the ability to use chemical weapons, in an interview on Sunday with al-Jazeera (my transcription):

"I was given the order by my immediate commander to use chemical weapons in August of last year. These weapons are very toxic, but not deadly. I exchanged these weapons. I gave my officers non-effective elements of these weapons. They used them because they thought they are deadly.

When they started to investigate the matter, I decided to defect. In order to use the chemical weapons, you need to have the real effective elements, and the platform to use them.

The Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Battalions don't have the tools. They don't have any artillery. They don't have any missiles.

Why has the regime resorted to using chlorine mixed with cyanide in the latest chemical attacks? Because they can't be easily discovered, even if the monitoring mission arrives 48 hours later. That's why only those who have been affected is the only evidence."

Al-Zaket gave an interview last year when he defected:

Zaker Al-Saket: "There are three types of chemical weapons: harassing chemical agents, incapacitating agents, and lethal agents. When the demonstrations started, the regime used harassing agents, like any country in the world using tear gas to disperse demonstrations. As for incapacitating and lethal chemical agents - the regime used incapacitating agents at first, but when the world remained silent about this, and the regime thought that the international community did not care, it used lethal [chemical] weapons in more than 13 locations. The last incident was in Utaybah. The regime used sarin gas on three occasions, and I am increasingly afraid that they will use agents more powerful than sarin. They have VX gas and mustard gas, also known as iprit. ...

The regime's accusation that the opposition has used chemical weapons is the most compelling proof that the regime itself has used them, because the opposition does not have the means to use chemical weapons. The means of using chemical weapons are known to the whole world: airplanes, missiles, helicopters, and artillery. Worst still, this regime has binary chemical weapons. The world must understand that there are binary chemical weapons in Syria, and [Bashar Al-Assad] will use them against his people, because he is the Nero of our age."

As we described yesterday, the United Nations inspection team wrote a report proving that al-Assad was guilty of last August's sarin attack. The team did not specifically blame al-Assad, because they were not permitted to do so, but the report contained technical data that proved to outside experts that the rockets were launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit. Memri (4/29/2013)

Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum

In three cities in east Ukraine, Ukrainian security forces are exchanging fire with pro-Russian protesters, who may be Russian-paid militants, causing several casualties. Ukraine's government in Kiev has issued an ultimatum to the pro-Russian protesters to stand down by Monday morning (by 11 pm ET Sunday), or face a "large-scale anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's armed forces. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said, "We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of Ukraine." This is assumed to mean that Turchynov will act to prevent Russia from annexing eastern Ukraine as it's already annexed Crimea.

Russia and the U.S. are blaming each other for the escalating conflict in eastern Ukraine.

According to Russia's Foreign Ministry, it's the responsibility of the United States and other Western nations to "stop the civil war":

"The Kiev authorities, who self-proclaimed themselves as a result of a coup, have embarked on the violent military suppression of the protests. Blood has already been spilled as the result of such actions in the South East. ...

It depends on the West now to stop the civil war in Ukraine. ...

The western sponsors of the Maidan [Kiev] government, especially those who witnessed the Agreement [of 21 February] and are backed by the US, have to curb their out of control wards, they have to make them break away from the neo-Nazis and other extremists."

According to a statement issued by the U.S. State Dept. on Sunday:

"Russia continues to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine. The Russian propaganda machine continues to promote hate speech and incite violence by creating a false threat in Ukraine that does not exist. We would not be seeing the violence and sad events that we've witnessed this weekend without this relentless stream of disinformation and Russian provocateurs fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine. Here are 10 more false claims Russia is using to justify intervention in Ukraine, with the facts that these assertions ignore or distort."

The statement goes on to describe proof that Russian agents are active in Ukraine, that Russian internet sites are open recruiting Russian citizens to travel to Ukraine to incite violence, and that in fact there is no spiraling civil war in Ukraine, and there wouldn't be any conflict at all if it hadn't been for Russian provocations. The statement goes on to point out that there are 35,000-40,000 Russian troops massed along the border with Ukraine, in addition to approximately 25,000 troops currently in Crimea. AP and U.S. State Dept. and Russia Today

Abdullah Abdullah leads in Afghanistan vote count

In last weekend's Afghanistan election, results based on 10% of votes from 26 out of 34 provinces showed Abdullah Abdullah with 41.9% and Western-leaning academic Ashraf Ghani second with 37.6%. A third candidate, Zalmay Rassoul, backed by two of Karzai's brothers, trailed far behind with 9.8%.

Correction: Yesterday's report said that Abdullah is Hazara. Actually, he's mixed Tajik and Pashtun. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. trade accusations as Ukraine issues ultimatum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-14 World View -- The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance

New poison gas attack reported in Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New poison gas attack reported in Syria


Frame from amateur video showing a crying baby after poison gas attack (AP)
Frame from amateur video showing a crying baby after poison gas attack (AP)

Reports from both the Syrian government and rebel forces claim that a poison gas attack occurred late Friday in a central rebel-held village of Syria, killing two people and injuring more than 100. The poison gas, which is thought to be chlorine, was apparently launched during air raids that left heavy smoke over the area. The rebel groups are blaming the Syrian government, while the Syrian government is blaming the al-Qaeda al-Nusra front.

In August of last year, there was a major sarin gas attack near the capital, Damascus, killing hundreds of people. The United Nations Security Council authorized a U.N. inspection team to visit the site, but was forbidden to draw any conclusions about who was responsible. This was at the insistence of the Russians, who wanted to protect the genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad of proof of guilt. However, the the United Nations forensic team found a very clever way to defeat the Russians. In their scientific analysis of the evidence, they included calculations of the trajectories of the rockets that delivered the sarin gas. They drew no conclusions about where the rockets were launched, but they provided enough scientific information within the report so that experts studying the report could show that the rockets must have been launched from a Syrian Republican Guard unit. So they were very cleverly able to prove al-Assad's guilt without having to say so!

The al-Assad regime agreed to remove and destroy its chemical weapons stock, but Syria's government missed a Dec. 31 deadline to remove the most dangerous chemicals in its stockpile and a Feb. 5 deadline to give up its entire stockpile of chemical weapons. It's widely believed, though unproven, that al-Assad is hiding other stores of chemical weapons. AP and AFP

The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance

There has always been a big difference in behavior between the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, largely because of generational differences.

The Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns, which spread from southern Afghanistan, across the border through Pakistan's tribal area, into northwestern Pakistan. I first wrote about the Afghan Taliban's behavior when I discussed the world's worst suicide bombers. According to figures published by the Jamestown foundation, in 2007 Afghan Taliban suicide bombers almost always managed to kill only themselves, or at most one other person. This is an enormous contrast to the Pakistani Taliban, who have killed literally thousands of people in suicide bombings in recent years.

The difference between the two is a result of history. Pakistan's last generational crisis war was the war between Hindus and Muslims in 1947 that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and the creation of the states of India and Pakistan. That was one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, but most of its generations of survivors have now disappeared, and the younger generations know only of the heroics, but none of the horrors.

By contrast, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the relatively recent bloody Afghan civil war of 1991-96. In 2007, 11 years after that war ended, the bloody horrors were still fresh in all the survivors' minds, and there was no motivation to inflict more horrors on themselves or others by blowing up innocent civilians in a mosque or marketplace. The result is that the bloodiest Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have come not from Afghan Taliban but from Pakistani Taliban crossing the border.

It's now seven years later, and the first generation of children growing up after Afghanistan's civil war are coming of age. Even so, there still are apparently not enough Afghan Taliban willing to blow people up, as shown by the failure of the Taliban to disrupt last weekend's presidential election with any major terrorist attacks, despite promises to do so.

Leaders of Taliban militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan have been meeting to try to work together. This attempted alliance is in its early stages, and the generational differences will continue to provide obstacles, but they are spurred on by the withdrawal this year of American and Nato forces. In one way or another, they should be expected to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal.

We've reported several times on the ongoing "peace talks" between the Pakistani Taliban and Pakistan's government. One of the Taliban's motivations for these talks is to keep Pakistan's military from carrying out its threat to destroy militant bases in the tribal area that the militants use for cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Reuters

The presidential runoff in Afghanistan

A major issue in Afghanistan's presidential elections, both for Afghanistan and for the United States, is the pending "bilateral security agreement" (BSA), which will provide the legal backing to allow a contingent of American forces to remain in Afghanistan beyond the end of 2014. Current president Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the BSA, after previously promising to do so, and has left the decision to his successor. However, all three of the major runoff candidates have said they will sign the BSA if they win the election.

The three runoff candidates are described by one analyst as follows:

Ghani and Rassoul are Pashtuns, while Abdullah is a Hazara. The Hazaras and the Pashtuns were bitter enemies during the 1990s civil war, so a victory by Abdullah could mean trouble in the form of increased terrorist activity by the Pashtun Taliban. Correction: Abdullah is mixed Tajik and Pashtun. (Correction added 13-Apr) Defense One

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-14 World View -- The Afghanistan elections and the Afghan-Pakistan Taliban alliance thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-14 World View -- Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China

NATO says that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

NATO says that Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine


Russian Su-33 'Flanker' military jets at Yeysk air base near the Ukrainian border -- released by Nato (Digital Globe)
Russian Su-33 'Flanker' military jets at Yeysk air base near the Ukrainian border -- released by Nato (Digital Globe)

NATO has released satellite photos, taken between March 22 and April 2, that show the extent of Russia's military mobilization on its border with Ukraine -- including fighter jets, tanks, artillery and thousands of soldiers who are prepared to invade within 12 hours if called upon. Nato estimates that there are 40,000 troops massed at various locations along the Ukrainian border, at more than 100 different site.

Russia is claiming that the photos are doctored or are old photos, which Nato says is "categorically false." According to Russia's foreign ministry:

The US and Ukraine have no reason to worry. Russia has said several times that it is not conducting any unusual or unplanned military activity on its territory near the Ukrainian border. ...

Everyday activity by Russian forces on its national territory does not threaten the security of the United States of America or other OSCE member states.

The attempts to accuse Russia of building up armed forces are groundless."

CNN and Ria Novosti

Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China

Indonesia is joining Vietnam, the Philippines and other regional countries to increase their military capabilities in preparation for an invitable military conflict with China. China has been adopting a "Lebensraum" policy of claiming all of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, often for centuries. According to China, these countries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorial seas, while China has the right to annex everything in sight. China has already used its vast military power to forcibly annex territories belonging to Vietnam and the Philippines, and has militarily threatened islands belonging to Malaysia. (See "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal")

China has also claimed regions belonging to Indonesia, but Indonesian officials have avoided talking about it, for fear of upsetting the Chinese. But now Indonesia is beefing up its its military base on the Riau Islands, which borders the South China Sea, to accommodate larger fighter aircraft. China has particularly claimed the Natuna Seas, which are strategically located at the southern tip of Malacca Strait, and which are thought to contain 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

According to an Indonesian military official:

"China has claimed Natuna waters as their territorial waters. This arbitrary claim is related to the dispute over Spratly and Paracel Islands between China and the Philippines. This dispute will have a large impact on the security of Natuna waters."

Indonesia's government is playing down the dispute, but much of the upgrade work on the airbase has already been completed. Jakarta's strategy is to develop a "Minimum Essential Force" (MEF), which is the minimum scale of military capabilities that Indonesia should seek to deploy in response to a strategic threat. Janes Military Capabilities and The Diplomat and Jakarta Globe (3/13)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-14 World View -- Indonesia upgrades military base to confront China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-14 World View -- France says Central African Republic has totally collapsed

Israel imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rwandans leave Catholic churches for evangelical churches


Sunday Evangelical restoration service in Kigali Rwanda on Sunday (AFP)
Sunday Evangelical restoration service in Kigali Rwanda on Sunday (AFP)

This week, Rwanda and the United Nations are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when majority Hutus tortured, burnt, raped, mutilated and killed over 800,000 of the minority Tutsis over a six month period. The commemoration speeches have been assigning blame, most often to the former colonial powers, France and Belgium. The criticisms of France were so harsh, that France chose not to send a representative to Rwanda for the ceremony.

Rwanda is 50% Catholic and 40% Protestant, but those percentages may be changing because many Rwandans blame the Catholic Church and the Vatican for complicity in the genocide, and are abandoning the Catholic Churches for new evangelical churches that have arisen since the genocide. The new evangelical religions were brought back to Rwanda by refugees returning from Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, where they were already established.

On Monday, the representative of Rwanda to the commemoration ceremony accused members of the Catholic Church of "covering up their criminal actions" during the genocide. In particular, Rwanda is still dotted with the ruins of Catholic churches where the Tutsi sought shelter, but were massacred by the Hutus within the church, sometimes with members of the clergy acting in complicity with the killers. AFP and 7sur7(Trans)(Belgium)

UN Security Council approves 11,800 peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously approved the creation of a peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic. There are already 2,000 French troops and 6,500 African Union troops in CAR. The troops will be deployed on September 15. Violence between Christians and Muslims has been increasing, leading officials to fear a repeat of the bloody Rwanda genocide in 1994. CNN

France's Ambassador: Central African Republic has totally collapsed

Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to U.N. was interviewed on the BBC on Thursday, after the Security Council approval of deploying troops to the Central African Republic. In CAR, the Muslim Seleka militias were committing atrocities last year. The French troops disarmed the Seleka militias, but then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum" and began committing atrocities this year, for revenge. Araud was asked why the deployment is being delayed until September 15, in view of all the atrocities that are occurring, and will continue to occur. He responded that the country has collapsed and will to be rebuilt, which will take a long time, possible years (my transcription):

"Unfortunately, you know, we are facing a very challenging situation, which means that I should say, even if we have 12,000 soldiers, I'm not sure that actually the atrocities will cease.

What does it mean? It means that law and order have totally collapsed in this country. There is no police, no gendarmes, no prisons. We are not facing any sort of identifiable enemy. We are facing thugs. We are facing bandits, who are killing, raping and looting. So what we have to do is -- it's long term efforts -- which means to restore, rebuild a state, and an administration in the country.

[[Question: There are some who say that the French strategy at the beginning, when the troops there targeting Seleka, were the wrong ones. They should have been there to try and stabilize both sides in the conflict, instead of targeting one group.]]

In the beginning, when we arrived in the 5th of December, the two nights before our arrival hundreds of people were killed by the Seleka. And on the other side, there was no anti-balaka, you know. So the absolute urgency in December was to disarm the Seleka, which had committed these atrocities.

What happened was when we had disarmed the Selekas, suddenly the anti-balakas which were not there suddenly rushed into the vacuum, so after that, we had to shift our positions to disarm the anti-balaka, and that's what we have been doing.

But there's a difference. The Seleka are armed groups which are organized, which were possible to disarm and contain. While anti-balakas basically are civilians - it's very difficult to disarm them.

[[Question: Do you believe that this peacekeeping force is the solution to stabilizing the CAR. We're looking a country that has no proper administration, a country that has no proper army, so to speak. Is this the solution?]]

You know, there is no army -- it's not "so to speak" -- there is no army, there is no police, there are no gendarmes. The country has totally collapsed. On one side, the peacekeeping operation will restore a modicum of law and order, but again, I'm pretty aware that there will be still crimes after the force is deployed.

We are engaging to a long term endeavor, which is to rebuild CAR, to rebuild prisons, police, gendarmerie, and to rebuild an administration. So frankly it will be long. And CAR will need everybody - the UN agencies, but also the bilateral donors, like France or the U.S. There is no quick peace."

The timeline is interesting to me. The French forces arrived on December 5, and it was just a week later, on December 12, that I wrote Christian revenge attacks on Muslims increase in CAR, and I speculated, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that the conflict was spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war.

Israel imposes sanctions on the Palestinian Authority

As the Mideast "peace talks" have been collapsing, Israel and the Palestinians have been taking tit-for-tat retaliation steps against each other. The Israelis blocked the scheduled release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, and the Palestinians have applied to join 15 international organizations as the state of Palestine.

On Thursday, Israel imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinian Authority. Israel will withhold taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinians, and limit their access to bank deposits in Israel. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has condemned the move as "Israeli hijacking" and "theft." BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-14 World View -- France says Central African Republic has totally collapsed thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-14 World View -- New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires

'Heartbleed Bug' requires all users to change their passwords

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires


Bombed marketplace in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday (The News)
Bombed marketplace in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Wednesday (The News)

A powerful explosion in a fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, killed at least 24 people and injured hundreds. It's believed that the bomb was stored in a wooden fruit crate and was detonated when the fruit crate was delivered to the market.

A Taliban linked terrorist group, United Baloch Army (UBA) claimed responsibility for the bombing, giving as reasons revenge against government security forces, and demanding a separate state for Balochistan.

However, Pakistan's Interior Ministry is denying that UBA was responsible for the bombing, and is saying that it was the consequence of a disagreement among factions of the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP). Last month, TTP announced a unilateral ceasefire, in order to give peace talks with the government a chance. ( "11-Mar-14 World View -- Terrorist bombings continue in Pakistan despite so-called 'cease-fire'")

That one-month ceasefire expires on April 10, and there is bitter disagreement among the leadership of various TTP groups about whether the ceasefire period should be extended. It's believed that the bombing attack is related to that disagreement. However, a TTP spokesman said that the TTP had nothing to do with the bombing.

Like the Mideast peace talks, the Taliban peace talks are considered something of a joke by observers. TTP originally demanded that three conditions be met before any peace talks can begin: TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be withdrawn from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the entire country. Finally, the TTP agreed to the one-month ceasefire, but it only recently emerged it turned out that this commitment was made because prime minister Nawaz Sharif agreed to release 19 Taliban militants from jail. Sharif secretly kept this process last month, though the secret was revealed last week.

If it weren't so serious, it would be amusing that both the Mideast "peace talks" and the Pakistan "peace talks" were both considered a joke, are both about to expire, and were both based on a promise to release convicted militants from jail. Daily Times (Pakistan) and The News (Pakistan)

John Kerry's 'Poof' speech infuriates the Israelis

As I reported yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel in a Senate hearing for the collapse of the Mideast "peace talks" that he had set up last year in July. I quoted the official transcript on the State Dept. web site, but apparently there was an additional statement that didn't make it onto the web site.

Kerry said that the Mideast "peace talks" collapsed when Israel refused to release the fourth batch of prisoners who had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. And then, according to Kerry, Israel moved ahead with plans to approve 700 West Bank settlements.

"And, poof! That was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are."

Kerry was implying that, until that moment, the "peace talks" were on track, or close to being on track, but "poof!", Israel threw it all away.

This particular remark is infuriating Israelis, who point out that the Palestinians had broken a number of commitments, and had refused to commit to continuing the peace talks before applying to 15 United Nations agencies.

At any rate, as I've written many times, the "peace talks" that Kerry set up were never more than a theatrical show, considered a joke in the Mideast, and now Kerry is painting himself as a victim, as if to say, "I worked soooooooooooooo hard to set up these peace talks, but the two of you, especially Israel, just won't listen to me and do what I say." Jerusalem Post and Commentary

Palestinians develop political plans to defeat Israel

There are still military resistance groups among the Palestinians, but Palestinian leaders don't have faith in them because they don't appear to have serious, workable plans to change the status quo with respect to Israel. Instead, Palestinian leaders are pursuing two nonviolent resistance plans to defeat the Israelis:

Leaders of both Fatah and Hamas have praised both movements, but some, include Mahmoud Abbas, oppose the idea of boycotting the state of Israel, because it generates sympathy for Israel.

The total collapse of the peace negotiations, which many people now expect, will boost the anti-wall and BDS resistance movements, and without the distraction of the negotiations, these movements may be a lot more successful. Al-Monitor

'Heartbleed Bug' requires all users to change their passwords

Security experts are warning that a newly discovered security vulnerability exposes almost all web sites to compromise by a hacker. The bug was accidentally put into the popular OpenSSL (Open source Secure Socket Library) software library that's used to encrypt secure conversations between user browsers and web sites. The library is widely used within web servers for e-mail, banking and other web sites, but the bug permits a hacker to steal usernames and passwords of logged on users. The bug has been around since December 2011, but was only recently discovered, and was announced on Monday. Once discovered it was easy to fix, and most major web sites have fixed the bugs by now.

However, the real question is whether any hackers discovered the bug before it was announced and fixed, and have been harvesting usernames and passwords for weeks or months. This is not a far-fetched scenario, since there are teams of hackers in China, Russia and eastern Europe who work full time to discover vulnerabilities like this. For these reason, security experts are strongly recommending that all users change their passwords on all the sites they visit, starting with the most important sites.

The bug was discovered in a specific function in the OpenSSL software called the "heartbeat" function. This function causes your browser to exchange information with a web site every few seconds, in order to verify that the connection still works. The bug is that the server leaves the heartbeat information in unencrypted form in server memory for a brief period of time, and during this period a hacker could download it. For this reason, it's called the "Heartbleed Bug." CNet and Heartbleed.com

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-14 World View -- New terrorist bombing in Pakistan, as Taliban ceasefire expires thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates

Ebola continues to 'evolve rapidly' in Guinea and Liberia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates

Violence is escalating in large cities in east Ukraine, along the border with Russia, where pro-Russian protesters have stormed and looted government buildings, demanding secession from Ukraine to become part of the Russian federation. According to Ukraine's Security Service, separatists armed with explosives and other weapons were holding 60 people hostage.

Russia blamed the increasing violence on American mercenaries:

We are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the [Ukrainian] special task police unit Sokol. Organizers and participants of such incitement are assuming a huge responsibility for threatening upon the rights, freedoms and lives of Ukrainian citizens as well as the stability of Ukraine."

Russia is also accusing Ukraine's government in Kiev of trying to start a civil war.

It turns out that Greystone used to be an affiliate of Blackwater and may or may not have provided security services in Russia or Ukraine. Reports of Greystone working in Ukraine are unconfirmed.

Secretary of State John Kerry, testifying before the Senate on Tuesday, called the situation by Russia to "create a contrived crisis":

"And everything that we’ve seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they’ve been sent there determined to create chaos. And that is absolutely unacceptable. These efforts are as ham-handed as they are transparent, frankly. And quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary engaged in this initiative.

Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the east of Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing. No one should be fooled, and believe me, no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea. It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours. Some have even been arrested and exposed. And equally as clear must be the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st-century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th-century behavior. We have stated again and again that our preference – and the preference of our friends and allies – is de-escalation and a diplomatic solution. But Russia should not for a single solitary second mistake the expression of that preference as an unwillingness to do what is necessary to stop any violation of the international order."

What's interesting about this statement is the sharply escalating rhetoric on the American side. For months, Kerry has been following Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov around like a little puppy begging for a bone, and has been fooled every time. So the administration is now changing to a new hardline approach, with the old "reset button" approach completely abandoned.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this illustrates how nationalism is increasing in this generational Crisis era, even in the United States. It's a small incremental increase to be sure, but it's a part of a continuing trend of increasing nationalism in countries around the world. Russia Today and ABC News and Dept. of State

Ebola continues to 'evolve rapidly' in Guinea and Liberia

The World Health Organization (WHO) is describing this as one of the most challenging situations they've ever faced. Ebola continues to spread rapidly in Guinea and Liberia, with 178 suspected cases, 106 confirmed, resulting in 111 deaths in the two countries. Spread of the virus has was given a boost when it spread last week to Conakry, the overcrowded capital city of Guinea. From there, it's spread to widely dispersed regions, and can't be contained. Cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Mali and Ghana, but none has been confirmed. There has been some panic as, on Friday, an angry mob attacked an Ebola treatment center in Conakry, accusing the staff from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) of bringing the disease to the town and spreading it. WHO is advising people to stay calm, though is warning that controlling the outbreak could take months. CNN

Kerry blames Israel, but hopes Mideast peace talks will continue

Speaking before the Senate, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Mideast "peace talks" collapsed when Israel refused to release the fourth batch of prisoners who had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. However, he still hoped that negotiations would continue. "It is stopped. Recognize reality!" said Republican Sen. John McCain. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-14 World View -- Russia and U.S. exchange accusations as east Ukraine unrest escalates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-14 World View -- Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy

Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy


Narendra Modi (AP)
Narendra Modi (AP)

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is widely expected to win India's parliamentary elections, the first round of which began on Monday. India is the largest democracy in the world, and so national elections are held in separate regions over a five-week period.

Self-described Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) Narendra Modi is the head of BJP, and he's promising a substantially more aggressive foreign policy for India, including a promise to get tougher in territorial disputes with China. He's the "hope and change" candidate for this election, and he's expected to become the next prime minister.

Modi is also promising to review India's "no first use" policy for nuclear weapons. The no first use policy was adopted with reference to India's arch-enemy Pakistan, and the previous administration has promised that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a war. However, Pakistan does NOT have a no first use policy, and so Modi is promising to review India's.

India's last generational crisis war was the war between Hindus and Muslims that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent and the creation of the states of Pakistan and India in 1947. This action precipitated among the worst and bloodiest wars of the 20th century, as Hindus from the new Pakistan state migrated to the India side of the partition, and Muslims from the India side migrated to Pakistan, butchering and slaughtering each other along the way.

India's current prime minister is Manmohan Singh, born in 1932. Although he's a Sikh, he and his family witnessed the massive slaughter of the Partition war, as his family migrated from Pakistan to India at the time. Like many people who survive a generational crisis war, Singh has devoted his life to making sure that nothing like that ever happens again, and he's been remarkably conciliatory towards Pakistan and China since he became prime minister in 2004.

If Narendra Modi, born in 1950 after the Partition war, becomes prime minister, it will mark a significant generational change. Modi's Hindu nationalism is already strongly asserting itself, and it's made him very popular. If he wins, we can expect to see relations with China and Pakistan become considerably more confrontational. Times of India

Taiwan's proposed trade deal opens old wounds with China

A boisterous protest by hundreds of students blocking the parliament building in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, is now entering its third week. The demonstrators are protesting a proposed trade pact with China. Supporters of the pact say that it will bring new jobs to Taiwan, while opponents say that Taiwan will lose jobs to China.

The protests are opening old wounds that haven't healed since the bloody Communist Revolution civil war, when Mao Zedong's forced the Nationalist (KMT) forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, to flee to Formosa (Taiwan), passing through Hong Kong, in 1949. China still considers Taiwan to be a province of China, but whether Taiwan will declare independence has been a highly emotional issue since 1949. Taiwan's independence movement took a big stride forward in 1989, when Taiwan's population watched in horror as China's security forces brutally massacred and killed thousands of innocently protesting students in the Tiananmen Square massacre. This triggered a Taiwan student movement called "the Wild Lily rebellion," and led to the creation of a new political party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which explicitly favors independence. (See "Taiwan's Wild Election Battle" from 2004.)

DPP has been in power in Japan for about half of the last 15 years, and whenever they're in power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing totally freaks out, issuing one threat after another, saying that it Taiwan makes even one tiny step in the direction of independence, the China will declare war.

However, the KMT have been in power in Taiwan for the last five years, and relations between Taiwan and China have been relatively calm. Ironically, as I reported last month, China's new president Xi Jinping is redirecting China's ideological culture towards Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalism, and away from Mao Zedong's Marxist ideology, for fear that a new peasant revolution would throw the current CCP out in the street.

Xi Jinping also said, last year, that the situation with Taiwan could not go on much longer, with the implication that China was preparing to use military force to take control of Taiwan. It may have been that remark that triggered the anxieties that led to the current round of protests among those who are bitterly opposed to reunification with China. Reuters and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-14 World View -- Narendra Modi may change India's 'no first use' nuclear policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Apr-14 World View -- President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare

Pro-Russians riot in cities across eastern Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pro-Russians riot in cities across eastern Ukraine


Pro-Russian protester breaks a window of a government building in Donetsk on Sunday (BBC)
Pro-Russian protester breaks a window of a government building in Donetsk on Sunday (BBC)

In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters on Sunday stormed government buildings, clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence similar to the one that led Russia to annex Crimea.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has "no intention" of invading eastern Ukraine, despite the tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border, all active, well-trained, well-supplied with food and spare parts. However, Putin has also said that Russia WOULD invade eastern Ukraine if it became necessary to protect ethnic Russians.

Thus, Sunday's riots and protests are exactly the excuse that Putin needs to go ahead with the invasion. We'll have to see if he avails himself of that excuse. Itar-Tass and BBC

President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare

President Obama was visibly gloating this past week when he declared that 7.1 million people had "signed up for" Obamacare. He claimed to have no information on how many of those had even made a single payment, or how many were subsidized, or how many of these were for free Medicaid. He declared that "Obamacare is here to stay!"

When I first wrote about the "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity" in 2009, I said that this plan would never be implemented because it would destroy markets and be economically disastrous. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls which were not as disastrous for the markets as Obama's health plan, but still wrecked the economy for close to a decade. I've repeated that many times since then, and I'm going to repeat it today: Obama's health plan will never be implemented.

Obama's health plan called for employer mandates, individual mandates, a working federal health care marketplace, and integration of all health records in the country into the IRS's data bases. None of these things has been implemented yet, and most will probably never be implemented. In just this past week alone, close Obama advisor Robert Gibbs sent out a trial balloon, saying in a speech that the employer mandate will be killed completely:

"I don’t think the employer mandate will go into effect. It’s a small part of the law. I think it will be one of the first things to go."

Gibbs has a good sense of humor. The employer mandate is an essential core component of the law, not a small part of the law.

So the markets have been all but destroyed by Obamacare. The 7.1 million signups that Obama was gloating about are irrelevant to the markets. It's his economic philosophy that it's all right for a business to lose money, because they can make it up in volume.

Suppose President Nixon had announced something like, "Citizens, please sign up for NixonCarePriceControls, and if you sign up, you can buy as much Coca-Cola you want for just a penny a bottle." Then we can assume that many millions would sign up for NixonCarePriceControls, even more than 7.1 million. The problem is that the Coca-Cola company would go out of business. That in fact is what happened to many businesses. The one that I've always remembered was that chicken farmers were killing chickens, rather than bringing them to market, because chickens were price-controlled, while chicken feed was a commodity and could not be controlled, so it cost more to grow a chicken than the farmer could get under NixonCarePriceControls.

So the fact that 7.1 million signed up for unsustainably cheap insurance may be a victory to President Obama, but it's a disaster for the economy. The only thing that would have been worse is if 10 or 15 million people had signed up.

You'd think that an economist would have to be particularly incompetent and stupid to know nothing about an event as recent as Nixon's price controls, but incompetence and stupidity are available in abundance these days.

The public loved President Nixon's wage-price controls when they were first announced, but then the shortages started occurring -- gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans, and numerous other products. Nixon did everything he could to save the controls, granting special exemptions and perks to favored people, announcing frequent rule changes to resolve each new problem as it arose, and so forth.

Nixon's wage-price controls were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%. That didn't happen. Instead, the economy was so screwed up with shortages and misallocations that the inflation rate rose to 12%.

In other words, Nixon's wage-price controls destroyed the economy, and not only accomplished nothing, but were much worse than nothing.

Now we have the same thing with Obamacare. It's hard to know what's going on with all the confusion and chaos, with Obama changing the rules every week and refusing to release any figures that he considers unfavorable. But apparently, the number of uninsured people today is comparable to the number of uninsured people before all this started. So nothing has been accomplished.

Obama has lied repeatedly and often. He's bribed cronies with perks, and extorted political enemies. Even among his ardent supporters, you'd have to be crazy to believe anything he says. He'll say one thing on Monday, and the reverse himself the next day and screw the country.

Insurance costs have significantly increased, people have lost their health insurance policies, people have lost their doctors, even people who have signed up are often not sure whether their next visit to the emergency room will be insured.

There's also a constitutional crisis on the agenda. Obama has simply ignored the constitution and changed his own Obamacare law repeatedly to suit his whims. That violates the constitution, and at some point in the next year or so, the Supreme Court is going to have its say, creating a legal and constitution disaster comparable to the HealthCare.gov IT disaster. There's apparently no law and no constitutional provision that Obama is unwilling to violate.

And the worst is yet to come, because there's a huge bill to be paid. Those 7.1 million people, as an aggregate, will incur far more medical costs than they will pay for in premiums. This means that when the bill comes due in the next few months, the insurance companies will have to be bailed out (which is apparently permitted by the Obamacare bill), and they'll have to substantially increase insurance premiums for next year. And so far, Obamacare has simply wasted something like a trillion dollars. (See "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed" from last year.)

And for what? What the hell was it all for? Obama announced "Mission Accomplished!", but what exactly was accomplished? What has Obamacare accomplished except to feed Obama's ego?

This brings up an important difference between Obamacare and NixonCarePriceControls. Nixon was a member of the G.I. Generation, and had fought in and survived World War II. Like most WW II survivors, he was willing to put the good of the country ahead of his own ego, because he understood how dangerous the alternative is. So when it became clear that Nixon's wage-price controls were a disaster, he ended them. It was the right thing to do, and it was for the good of the country. (Paragraph corrected. 8-Apr)

Obama is in Generation-X, whose people typically put their egos at the highest importance level, and put the good of the country about 50th down on the list. Obama is following the standard generational Nomad archetype. (See "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X" from 2008.) Obama is determined that to save something called "Obamacare" for his legacy, no matter how disastrous it is for the country. And that's just something the rest of us will have to suffer for. BenefitsPro and Forbes and Nixon's Wage and Price Freeze

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-14 World View -- President Obama declares 'Mission Accomplished!' on Obamacare thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Apr-14 World View -- U.S. fails to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan

U.N. leaders realizing Central African Republic genocide is unstoppable

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. fails to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan


Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Saturday
Chuck Hagel and Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Saturday

Russia's effortless annexation of Crimea has raised concerns in countries throughout Asia that the U.S. will not honor its commitment to defend them against attacks from other countries, such as China. When America became policeman of the world after WW II, thanks to the Truman Doctrine in 1947, the deal was that other countries could focus on economic growth and not worry about military spending, because America would rescue them if necessary. But after America took no action in Crimea or Syria, and the Obama administration appears to have completely abandoned the Truman Doctrine for the first time, many countries are understandably nervous that now they're completely on their own.

According to one analyst:

"The hard question, particularly when leaders in this region look at what is gone on in Syria, what's gone on in Ukraine, the president drawing red lines and not actually backing up its words, there are questions, legitimate questions particularly I would say in Japan what would happen if there was conflict between China and Japan? Would the United States actually come on the side of Japan as strongly as the Japanese might hope?"

In a meeting on Saturday with Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tried to remove these fears by means of a speech full of reassuring words:

"It’s a pretty predictable, I think, reaction, not just of nations of this area and this region but all over the world. I think anytime you have a nation — Russia in this case — try to impose its will to refine and define international boundaries and violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a nation by force, all of the world takes note of that. ...

[There is no] weakness on the part of the United States as to our complete and absolute commitment to the security of Japan. So I don’t think there is any indication or any evidence that we’re doing anything but strengthening our commitment to the security of Japan."

Hagel also said that Russia suffered unnamed "consequences" for the invasion of Crimea.

So Hagel doesn't actually say that the commitment is being strengthened. He says that "there's [no] indication or evidence" that it's not being strengthened. Pretty clever wording. He's managed to sound good, while saying absolutely nothing. If I were running an Asian nation, I wouldn't be reassured at all. Japan Times/AP

U.N. leaders realizing Central African Republic genocide is unstoppable

This weekend, the United Nations is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The majority Hutus tortured, burnt, raped, mutilated and killed over 800,000 Tutsis over a six month period. As usual, we're hearing the phrase "Never again!" over and over, though it's also mixed in with recriminations, many people blaming the French and Belgians for not stopping it, and some accusing the French of actually participating.

But in the midst of the ceremonies about Rwanda, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is saying that the genocidal acts in Central African Republic (CAR) are increasing, and the peacekeeping forces sent to stop the violence are "overwhelmed":

"The international community failed the people of Rwanda 20 years ago. And we are at risk of not doing enough for the people of the CAR today.

Ethno-religious cleansing is a reality. Most members of the Muslim minority have fled. Muslims and Christians have been placed in mortal danger simply because of who they are or what they believe.

People have been lynched and decapitated. Sexual violence is on the rise. Gruesome acts have been committed while others cheered on the perpetrators. There has been total impunity – zero accountability. This must change."

As I've been writing for months, a CAR genocide cannot be stopped. This is an elemental force of nature. The last time this happened in CAR, the 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. There are probably no survivors left from the Kongo-Wara Rebellion, and so it's not surprising at all that a new war of extermination is breaking out in CAR today. It's as simple as that. This is the way that the real world works. They may say "Never again!", but the truth is "Always again!", because that's part of the human DNA, just as much as sex is. Toronto Star and United Nations and AFP

Chad withdraws from Central African Republic peacekeeping force

Chad is withdrawing its 850 soldiers from the 6,000 soldiers in the multination peacekeeping force in Central African Republic (CAR). There have been suspicions all along that the mostly Muslim Chadian troops were taking the side of the Muslims against the Christians in the CAR conflict. Then last Saturday (March 29), a group of Chadian soldiers fired indiscriminately into a crowded market, killing about 30 civilians and wounding another 300. According to a U.N. investigation, the perpetrators were Chadian troops, though they weren't part of Chad's troops in the peacekeeping force. According to a statement by Chad's foreign ministry explaining the decision to withdraw:

"Despite the sacrifices we have made, Chad and Chadians have been targeted in a gratuitous and malicious campaign that blamed them for all the suffering in (Central African Republic)."

CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-14 World View -- U.S. fails to reaffirm its mutual defense treaty with Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Apr-14 World View -- Sunni jihadists in Lebanon prepare for war with Hezbollah

John Kerry says 'It's reality check time' for Mideast talks

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.N. registers million'th Syrian refugee in Lebanon


Syrian refugees (UN)
Syrian refugees (UN)

Lebanon, with a population of 5.9 million, is now hosting one million registered refugees from Syria, according to the United Nations. The one millionth refugee was registered on Wednesday, and some 2,500 new refugees are registered every day. In addition, it's thought that hundreds of thousands of additional Syrian refugees have entered the country illegally, and are not registered.

According to the United Nations, 9.5 million Syrians, about half the population, have fled from their homes, and 2.6 million have fled to other countries:

Due to the rapid deterioration of the economy and social structure in Lebanon, especially near the Syrian border, the United Nations is "making a conceptual shift in its focus" from a purely short-term humanitarian effort to a long-term effort to develop and instill "resilience." This means that instead of just providing aid to individual refugees, the U.N. will help develop employment opportunities and improve infrastructure and basic services.

However, a humanitarian analyst opposes the change in focus, because it would dilute resources:

"I think what’s a problem is when you have an emergency setting and humanitarian actors get bogged down in also dealing with development responses.

If you see someone drowning you don’t start a project to build a jetty."

BBC and Daily Star (Lebanon)

Sunni jihadists in Lebanon prepare for war with Hezbollah

Prosecutors in Lebanon on Friday charged two militants with being tied to a jihadist group that have targeted military positions several times, including a recent suicide car bomb that killed three soldiers. The militants are charged with being members of the Syrian-based al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (the Islamic Front). Al-Nusra is one of the rebel groups fighting Syria's Shia/Alewite president Bashar al-Assad, who is systematically targeting Sunni civilians.

This is the latest action by Lebanon's government to fend off a growing threat by al-Nusra to attack Lebanese government and army targets, and particularly Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group funded by Iran. This was a shift in al-Nusra's strategy last year, after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced that Hezbollah soldiers will be entering Syria to fight alongside the Syrian army to target Sunni civilians and rebels. Al-Nusra is also claiming that the government and army are allied with Hezbollah, and so should be targeted as well.

Since then there's been a string of terrorist gunfights and bombings by al-Nusra terrorists in Lebanon. But new security reports that a large number of al-Nusra militants are taking advantage of the large influx of refugees from Syria to infiltrate Lebanon in the last few days. These fighters have scattered to several refugee camps, while some are residing in secret apartments. Reports indicate that they have already rigged several stolen cars with explosives, which they plan to use on Hezbollah targets. Reuters and Daily Star (Lebanon)

John Kerry says 'It's reality check time' for Mideast talks

It's hard to know what to say about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. He burst onto the scene in 1971 when he declared to the Senate that U.S. Army soldiers were no better than Nazi stormtroopers, and he's been belittling the army and the United States ever since.

His appointment as Secretary of State was laughable from the beginning, but was possible only because the President believes that war is outmoded, and that he's uniquely able to end war forever, at the same time that he's healing the earth and rolling back the tides, because of his community organizer skills. John Kerry and President Obama have made fools of themselves and the United States with one debacle after another -- in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Crimea, in Iran. It seems that there is almost no foreign policy issue that hasn't been made worse by some sort of clueless botching by this Administration.

Last July, Kerry used several carrots and sticks to get the Israelis and Palestinians to begin new "peace talks," which I and many other people said were completely pointless. The talks have gone on for nine months, and were considered a joke in the Mideast. Now, on Friday, Kerry said the following:

"Regrettably in the last few days both sides have taken steps that are not helpful.

There are limits to the amount of time and effort that the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps. So it’s reality check time."

He's making himself the victim here. Poor John and Barack went to all this trouble, but nobody ever listens to them. If people only listened, Obama and Kerry could heal the Mideast and the world. So now it's "reality check time."

This Administration lives in a dream world where reality hasn't played much of a part. So it's hard to know what kind of "reality check" plans Kerry will make, but there's no reason to believe that they will reflect any more reality than they have in the past. Bloomberg and NY Daily News

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4-Apr-14 World View -- Israel cancels the fourth prisoner release, jeopardizing 'peace talks'

Chicago has coldest winter on record

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chicago has coldest winter on record


Chicago's Blizzard of 1967 (Chicago Tribune)
Chicago's Blizzard of 1967 (Chicago Tribune)

The average temperature in Chicago over the last four months was 22 degrees Fahrenheit, with a record 26 days at or below zero, and over 80 inches of snow, making 2013-04 the coldest winter on record. The second coldest winter was 1903-04, when the average temperature was 22.3.

Weather forecasts for the early spring are for below average temperatures. CBS Chicago

Israel cancels the fourth prisoner release, jeopardizing 'peace talks'

Israel has canceled the release from Israeli jails of the last of the four groups of Palestinian prisoners who has been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. Releasing these prisoners, whom Palestinian officials refer to as "political prisoners," was a pre-condition to getting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to agree to participate in the "peace talks" that the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry had been pushing last month.

The last batch of prisoners was scheduled for releast last week on Friday, and the self-imposed deadline for the "peace talks" to reach a conclusion is April 29. But both sides have been playing brinkmanship with the April 29 date approaching. Abbas demanded that hundreds more prisoners be released. Then Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed last Friday's prison release. On Wednesday, Abbas applied to 15 United Nations agencies as the State of Palestine. Now, on Thursday, Netanyahu has canceled the prisoner release permanently. Whether these actions on both sides are final or temporary negotiating tactics is not known.

Kerry is said to be very downcast. He was very optimistic nine months ago, thinking that he and President Obama, the latter being the smartest person in the room, no matter what the room, thought that they would become the greatest politicians in history by bringing peace to the Mideast. But now Kerry is quoted as saying that there's nothing more he can do, and adds, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." The "peace talks" were never anything more than a show anyway, and were considered a joke throughout the Mideast.

I've been writing about this for over ten years, since May 2003 when President George Bush issued his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace." From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, peace in the Mideast is impossible, and that the Arabs and the Jews will be re-fighting their genocidal war that began last time in 1947 with the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The traumatized survivors of that war spent their lives doing everything they could to keep anything so horrible from happening to the children and grandchildren, and they succeeded in that. But now almost all of those survivors are gone, with the major exception being Mahmoud Abbas himself, and the younger generations have no hesitancy in risking steps that could spiral into all out war. When Abbas retires or dies, then the last major obstacle to such a war will be removed.

The smartest man in the room thinks that he can heal the earth, roll back the tides, and bring peace to the Mideast because he believes that politicians control events. As I've said many times, 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. I invoked this principal in my report three days ago when I wrote that the Russian public may force president Vladimir Putin to order the invasion of Ukraine:

"The Russian people are experiencing passions of ferocious intensity to achieve victories that prove Russia's "greatness." If Putin is forced to back down in any way in Ukraine, it could be politically disastrous for him. Instead, he may have to find a way to maximize the "shock and awe" from his next strike."

In the case of the Mideast, a peace deal will be blocked not by the politicians but by the people, especially young people. Young people in Palestinian militias, in Gaza, or in Palestinian refugee camps, for example, will never go along with any "peace agreement." Israel has populations of settlers who refuse to give up their settlement homes, populations of Orthodox Jews who believe that control of the region is their sacred destiny, and populations of ordinary people that fear that a "peace deal" would only mean more terrorist attacks on Israel.

So from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a Mideast peace deal really is impossible. BBC and Daily Times (Pakistan)

Pakistan government flip-flops and frees 19 Taliban militants from jail

Freeing prisoners in exchange for "peace talks" seems to be the theme in Pakistan, as well as in the Mideast. The Taliban announced a one-month ceasefire on March 1, nominally to give "peace talks" with the government a chance.

The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) have been demanding that hundreds of Taliban militants being help in Pakistan's jailed be freed, in exchange for continuing the "peace talks." Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has consistently denied that he would agree to release prisoners, but on Thursday it emerged that he's been releasing Taliban prisoners all along -- three on March 21, five on March 25th, and 11 on March 28. The prisoners are described as "non-combatants."

Early on Thursday, a government spokesman said, "The government has neither released any Taliban prisoner nor the prime minister gave any approval for any such measure," but later in the day it emerged that Sharif had personally authorized the release of the 19 prisoners, and is considered the release of hundreds more. Sharif kept the release secret from the public because of massive pressure from the military establishment, who oppose the release of TTP prisoners because of their alleged involvement in terror attacks across the country.

The Generational Dynamics principles that I discussed above with respect to the Mideast "peace talks" also apply here. It's generations of people, not the politicians, that decide great events, and Sharif's confused flip-flops illustrate the problem. Many in the public support, or at least passively support, the TTP, even when they conduct a terrorist attack in someone else's back yard, and choose to believe that the United States involvement in Afghanistan is the reason for the terrorist attacks. They're hopin' and prayin' that when the U.S. withdraws later this year, then the attacks will stop. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this cannot happen. Pakistan and India are headed for a massive war, re-fighting one of the worst wars of the century, the genocidal war between Hindus and Muslims that followed the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into the nations of Pakistan and India. Daily Times (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-14 World View -- Israel cancels the fourth prisoner release, jeopardizing 'peace talks' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Apr-14 World View -- Russia's Vladimir Putin courts European far right and ultranationals

France's Ségolène Royal gets revenge over Hollande's last girlfriend

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France's Ségolène Royal gets revenge over Hollande's last girlfriend


Ségolène Royal
Ségolène Royal

After last Sunday's election, when François Hollande's Socialist Party did very poorly, Hollande has been forced to reshuffle his cabinet. And now he's appointed Ségolène Royal to the cabinet, to be the French Minister of the Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy.

Royal was Hollande's girlfriend for 30 years, and mother of his four children, but they broke up in 2007, when Hollande took up with a new girlfriend, Valérie Trierweiler. Royal and Trierweiler obviously didn't get along, and had open spats in the last year. But Hollande's relationship with Trierweiler ended dramatically in January, when reporters from a magazine called Closer published 7 pages of photographs of Hollande's late night trysts with a young actress, Julie Gayet. So now, with Trierweiler out of the picture, Royal is back in Hollande's life in a big way. However, spokesmen from Hollande's administration deny his past relationships with Trierweiler or Royal have anything to do with Royal's appointment, which is based solely and purely and exclusively on her professional qualifications.

Meanwhile, Julie Gayet has done quite well for herself. She sued Closer magazine for breach of privacy, and the court has just awarded her 15,000 euros. AP and Euro News

Russia's Vladimir Putin courts European far right and ultranationals

One of the ironies of the Ukraine crisis is that, on the one hand, Russia's president Vladimir Putin is referring to Kiev's government as "fascists," while on the other hand, Putin is courting European politicians with views that range from center-right to far right to ultranational to fascist. (The phrase "far right" has a different meaning in Europe and America.) However, in most cases, what unites these far right European politicians is less that they love Putin and Russia and more that they despise the European Union.

The supporters of Hungary's Jobbik party call it patriotic and Christian, while its opponents call it everything from anti-Semitic to fascist. According to spokesman Marton Gyongyosi, "We have an interest in seeing a growing Russia that has in a very interesting way defended its own interests, and which has basically created some counter weight to the west." According to Gyongyosi, Russia is fighting for the rights of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, including the Hungarian minority of the Lower Carpathians. He says that the EU does not ensure minority rights, as ethnic Hungarians suffer a major deprivation in Slovakia and Romania alike.

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's Front Nationale party, which did very well in last Sunday's nationwide municipal elections, was quoted quoted favorably on Voice of Russia radio as supporting Russia’s rights in Crimea. At a meeting in Moscow in January, Le Pen argued that "France is not a democracy" and praised Putin for saving Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Her colleague, Frederick Chatillon, accuses Syria's misfortunes on a "Zionist lobby." And in Britain, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage has spoken admiringly of Putin in recent days, though not directly in relation to Ukraine.

In view of all this, Moscow's denunciation of Ukraine's right-wing movements, Svoboda and Pravyi Sektor, is all the more interesting. jobbik.com and Jamestown and Al Jazeera and Voice of Russia (trans) and ImRussia (trans)

United Nations: Violence escalates in Central African Republic

The violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) is increasing, and is moving in a new direction, according to the United Nations. There are increased tensions and clashes between the (Christian) anti-Balaka militias versus the (Muslim) Chadian soldiers in the African Union peacekeeping force (MISCA). On Saturday, 24 people were killed and 100 injured when Chadian forces fired indiscriminately into a crowd. On Monday, an anti-Balaka element threw a grenade at Chadian soldiers, before being killed by French troops.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, CAR is headed for a massive, 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 both French and MISCA peacekeeping forces as active participants in the war. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is calling for a 12,000 soldier U.N peacekeeping force, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this will have little effect in a population of 4.5 million, with the number of displaced people currently at 650,000 and increasing. UN OHCHR

Ebola outbreak spreads to Conarky Guinea, causing panic in West Africa

Officials had originally hoped to confine the Ebola virus outbreak to a couple of small villages in southern Guinea, but it's continued to spread and has now invaded Conarky, the capital of Guinea. Conarky has a population of almost 2 million people, mostly crammed together in slums, so is the perfect breeding ground for the deadly virus. Panic is spreading throughout Guinea and north to the large Guinean population in Senegal, which has shut down its normally open border with Guinea. Ebola is extremely deadly and contagious, but passes from person to person only through bodily contact, so it's hoped that it can be stopped by encouraging people to use proper sanitation measures. USA Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-14 World View -- Russia's Vladimir Putin courts European far right and ultranationals thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Apr-14 World View -- Egypt's terror cells get training in Syria and explosives from Libya

Abbas applies to U.N. agencies as 'State of Palestine'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Abbas applies to U.N. agencies as 'State of Palestine'


Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, announcing plans to apply to U.N. agencies (EPA)
Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, announcing plans to apply to U.N. agencies (EPA)

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday signed applications to join 15 international treaties and conventions as the "State of Palestine." In November, 2012, the U.N. General Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, lands Israel occupied in 1967. The intent is to force Israel back to its 1949 borders. It's thought that Abbas, as leader of Palestine, plans to bring charges to the International Criminal Court accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It's unclear whether Abbas's dramatic announcement was a negotiating tactic in the Mideast "peace process," or signaled a fundamental shift in strategy. AP

Kerry cancels meeting with Abbas and leaves Mideast

For months, U.S. Secretary of State has been flying from one foreign policy debacle after another, and that records seems to have continued on Monday. Kerry left the Mideast and canceled meeting with Abbas after he failed to get agreement from both sides to continue the "peace process" after its deadline of April 29, even though, according to reports, he offered to set U.S. spy Jonathan Pollard free.

The Obama administration got these "peace talks" going last year by "convincing" the Israelis to release 104 prisoners from the jails. These prisoners had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. The release of these prisoners has been extremely controversial in Israel, with very vocal opposition from the family members of the people whom these terrorists had killed. The last batch of 26 prisoners were scheduled for release last week on Friday, but Israel has refused to release them, unless Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas agrees to extend the "peace talks" beyond April 29. Abbas in turn demanded that 1,000 more prisoners be released, including multiple murderers, and also demanded that Israel freeze settlements.

So Kerry made a special trip to the Mideast on Monday, apparently to convince Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release the prisoners, and to sweeten the deal with the release of Jonathan Pollard. This has caused outrage in Washington from people who point out that Pollard is a major spy, and if he's going to be traded, he ought to be traded for something big -- like a Mideast peace deal. Instead, the offer is to trade him for almost nothing, just an agreement to keep the "peace talks" going for a few more months.

So we have the desperate Kerry running from his failed Ukraine peace talks to the Mideast to bribe Netanyahu to release the prisoners, who are being used as a bribe to get Abbas to continue the peace talks. This is so vomit-worthy, it's almost beyond belief, except that nothing is beyond belief these days.

Just to be clear, as we've said many times, the "peace talks" are a joke that never had any chance. Netanyahu will never agree to return to pre-1967 borders or "right of return," and Abbas will never agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or to guarantee Israel's security. According to some reports, the negotiators on the two sides never even met with each other, and the only people they spoke to was Kerry.

The "peace talks" were just for show, and now Kerry is trying to salvage them so he won't be responsible for yet one more debacle. So let's watch and see what the desperate Kerry and the Obama administration are going to give up next. NPR and Debka

Egypt's terror cells get training in Syria and explosives from Libya

We've written several times about major terrorist attacks across Egypt, with a Sinai terrorist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem) claiming credit. Terror attacks have been on the increase since the army coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government on July 3 of last year, and Ansar Jerusalem has claimed credit for many of them. ( "17-Feb-14 World View -- Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus")

On March 19, Egyptian security forces raid a major bomb factory in the village of Arab Sharkas, on the outskirts of Cairo. In addition to a large cache of weapons and explosive belts, five tons of explosives were found, enough to destroy the dams that control the flow of the Nile river into the Delta. Eight terrorist cell members were arrested.

Interrogation and investigation revealed the following:

Terrorist groups have access to large quantities of heavy weapons from Libya. Egyptian security forces have been unable to obtain weapons, since the U.S. and Europe refuse to deliver arms shipments to Egypt. As a result, Egypt may be forced to turn to Russia for arms.

So, the western military intervention into Libya in 2011 was intended to save a massacre of civilians in Benghazi, but instead has made available large quantities of heavy weapons and explosives being used in Egypt and a number of other countries.

And the western military non-intervention in Syria, combined with Russia's unending shipments of heavy weapons to Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad for use in exterminating innocent Sunni women and children, have turned Syria into a worldwide magnet for jihadists, who go for military and terrorist training and experience, to be used when they return to their home countries. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Magharebia (US Africa Command) and Al Monitor (Washington)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-14 World View -- Egypt's terror cells get training in Syria and explosives from Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Apr-14 World View -- Russia demands a 'federal model' for Ukraine

U.S. desperately tries to salvage Mideast 'peace process'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. desperately tries to salvage Mideast 'peace process'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departed Sunday's failed peace talks with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, and flew to Jerusalem, where he has a "secret plan" to keep the Mideast "peace process" from collapsing on its scheduled end day, April 29. According to some reports, Kerry's plan is to go ahead with a previously rumored offer to the Israelis to release spy Jonathan Pollard, who has been in jail since 1987 for selling secrets to the Israelis. ( "25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going") This would presumably incentivize the Israelis to keep them from walking out of the hallucinatory "peace process," but it's not known what incentive Kerry plans to offer to the Palestinians to keep them from walking about. Arab News and Bloomberg

Russia demands a 'federal model' for Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was willing to agree to almost anything on Sunday, during his failed four hour conversation with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, to convince the Russians to remove the tens of thousands of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. Lavrov not only refused to agree to pull back the troops, he also demanded that Ukraine's government in Kiev rewrite the constitution to adopt a "federal" system. The federal system will essentially make each region of Ukraine a kind of independent republic, similar to what Crimea was before it was annexed by Russia. Kerry is so desperate that he would probably agree to this if it were up to him, but it isn't -- it's up to the government in Kiev, and they're not going to agree to this "federal" system.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, being supplied with plenty of food, clothing and spare parts, there is a great deal of concern that Russia's president Vladimir Putin will soon give the order to invade Ukraine.

However, some analysts are insisting that Russia won't invade, because they can't afford it. As weak as the Western sanctions on Russia have been, not much more stringent than preventing senior Russian politicians from visiting Disneyland, they actually are more effective than anyone really expected. The sanctions have already caused many investors to voluntarily move $60-70 billion of their money out of Russia, and it could be several hundred billion dollars by year's end. Russia's has been depending on oil sales, but those have been weak since the financial crisis, and the economy is already tanking. $100 billion in capital flight would be a disaster.

However, there are other forces at work here, and Putin may actually have no choice but to order an invasion. Putin's approval ratings have shot up to 75.7% among the Russian population, since the Crimean annexation. ( "21-Mar-14 World View -- Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation".) The Russian people are experiencing passions of ferocious intensity to achieve victories that prove Russia's "greatness." If Putin is forced to back down in any way in Ukraine, it could be politically disastrous for him. Instead, he may have to find a way to maximize the "shock and awe" from his next strike. Moscow Times and AFP and Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-14 World View -- Russia demands a 'federal model' for Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2014) Permanent Link
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31-Mar-14 World View -- France's president François Hollande suffers election debacle

Michael Lewis: How the stock market is rigged

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand approaches a crisis point in anti-government riots


'Red Shirt' pro-government protesters earlier this week (Bangkok Post)
'Red Shirt' pro-government protesters earlier this week (Bangkok Post)

Thailand's "red shirt" supporters of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra have remained relatively quiet, in the face of "yellow shirt" anti-government protests that have been going on since December. But on Monday Yingluck will have to defend herself against corruption charges before a National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), and if the commission recommends impeachment, then it could trigger counter-protests and riots by the "red shirt" supporters.

The anti-government protesters are demanding that prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra resign, and allow the protesters to appoint an unelected "People's Council" that will rule in place of the elected government. The Bangkok protests are a clash between two ethnic groups: the "yellow shirt" market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority, vastly outnumbered by the "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai who do most of the menial labor, and who continue to support the Yingluck's Pheu Thai political party. Because of the Thai-Thai majority, the Pheu Thai have won the last five elections and can continue to do so. That's why the elite Thai-Chinese anti-government protesters want to throw out democracy and replace the elected government with their own People's Council that they can control.

There are fears that any red shirt march on Bangkok could end in a bloodbath, similar to one that occurred in 2010. Reuters

France's president François Hollande suffers election debacle

Sunday's nationwide municipal elections in France have dealt a stunning blow to president François Hollande and his governing Socialist party. Turnout was low, and it's thought that the reason is that his supporters, furious that he's not left-wing enough and embarrassed by his scandals, stayed home without bothering to vote.

France's economy has been tanking. The number of people out of work is at a record high, and earlier this month, the European Commission warned that France's debt is going out of control, blaming it on lack of competitiveness in the unfavorable business environment:

"France is projected to miss both headline deficit and structural adjustment targets over the entire forecast period.

Despite measures taken to foster competitiveness, so far there is limited evidence of rebalancing. While wages have developed in line with productivity, the labor cost remains high and weighs on firms’ profit margins.

The unfavorable business environment, and in particular the low level of competition in services, further aggravate the competitiveness challenge. In addition, rigidities in the wage setting system result in difficulties for firms to adjust wages to productivity."

Further, President Hollande has been through two recent scandals that would be fit for a televised situation comedy.

The first occurred in January, when Hollande called a reporter and announced:

"I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valérie Trierweiler."

Trierweiler was his 48 year old girlfriend, who had lived with him in the Élysée Palace since he took office last year. But a reporter had discovered that Hollande was sneaking out of the Palace and spending nights with a 41 year old actress, Julie Gayet.

The second recent scandal occurred earlier this month, over an investigation in the wiretapping of the phone of Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. Hollande denied that this government had anything to do with it, and France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira gave a press conference denied knowing anything about it. During the press conference she held up two documents, assuming that no one could read them. But Le Monde was able to zoom in and read the documents, and the documents proved that she was lying, as she had to admit the next day.

Beyond the theatre, French voters were looking for a change. Many had expected Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party would score well in the elections. The National Front did well, though not nearly as well as they had hoped. The big winner was the center-right Union for Popular Movement (UMP), which is headed by Nicolas Sarkozy. However, Sarkozy himself is also under investigation, for involvement in irregular party funding practices (which is the reason why his phone was being tapped in the first place). BBC and Reuters and Reuters

Russia, U.S. remain deadlocked over Ukraine after 4 hours talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked for four hours on Sunday, with no agreement. At the end, according to the BBC, Lavrov looked "satisfied," while Kerry "just looked tired." (I believe I also heard an on-air female BBC reporter actually say, "Awwww. Couldn't they reach any agreement? That's a shame.") Lavrov denied that Russia has any plans for an invasion, but continued to lay the groundwork for such an invasion, by calling the government in Kiev "fascists," jeopardizing the safety of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers. Russian troops massed on Ukraine's borders will not be pulled back. The impression, according to the BBC, is that the U.S. is "bending over backwards" in the hope of getting a diplomatic solution. The meeting had been arranged on Friday, when Russia's president Vladimir Putin telephoned President Barack Obama. BBC

Michael Lewis: How the stock market is rigged

Most people who are active in the stock market these days are large hedge funds and institutional investors, who run "high-frequency computerized stock trading" shops. These huge companies have invested millions of dollars in software algorithms and high-speed networking to be able to make dozens of stock trades in a second.

So it won't come as a surprise to anyone that the wealthiest investors have rigged the stock market so that they can make unethical profits at the expense of less fortunate investors. According to best-selling financial investigative reporter Michael Lewis, they use a technique called "front running."

The way it works is that if you buy a million shares of something, then your order will go through another company's computer. That computer will allow only half your order to go through. Then it will purchase the other half of your order, and resell it to you at a higher price. All this goes on in a fraction of a second on a computer server in New Jersey linked to the NY Stock Exchange. CBS News 60 Minutes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-14 World View -- France's president François Hollande suffers election debacle thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Mar-14 World View -- U.N. promises 'response' to North Korea firing midrange missiles

Crimean Tatars vote to push for self-rule

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New car bombing in Lebanon continues sectarian strife


Syrian children play at a refugee camp in Arsal on Friday.  A suicide car bomb exploded on Saturday.  (AFP)
Syrian children play at a refugee camp in Arsal on Friday. A suicide car bomb exploded on Saturday. (AFP)

A suicide bomber on Saturday evening drove his black Kia automobile, laden with explosives, to an army checkpoint in Arsal, a Lebanon town on the border with Syria, and detonated the explosives, killing three soldiers and four others. A Sunni jihadist terrorist group, Free Sunnis of Baalbek Battalion, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The group first became known in December when it took responsibility for the assassination of a senior commander of the Iran-funded Hezbollah militant group outside his home.

The string of terrorist attacks in Lebanon was triggered by a televised announcement, last April 30, by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Al-Assad is conducting "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, particularly targeting innocent Sunni women and children, which has enraged Sunnis throughout the Mideast. Hezbollah's support for al-Assad has caused the sectarian war in Syria to spill over into Lebanon. Daily Star (Lebanon) and LA Times

U.N. promises 'response' to North Korea firing midrange missiles

The United Nations Security Council has threatened a quick "appropriate response" to North Korea, for having launched two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea earlier this week. According to the Security Council president:

"Members of the Security Council condemned this launch as a violation of Security Council resolution(s). Council members agreed to consult on an appropriate response.

There was unanimous condemnation of the launches. ... We also all agreed that this response should be given quickly."

The firings raised concerns, because these are the first missiles that North Korea would use to launch an attack on either South Korea or Japan.

No clue was provided for what an "appropriate response" might be. However, it's thought that the only country in a position to provide any response at all is China, and China has been consistently unwilling in the past to consider any response at all to the North Koreans.

The North Koreans fired the missiles on March 26. It was on March 26, 2010, just four years ago, that the North Koreans launched a torpedo at a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, sinking it and killing 46 people. (See "27-Mar-11 News -- South Korea commemorates Cheonan warship attack, while North starves".) After this incident, China refused to condemn or even criticize the North Koreans. Reuters

Crimean Tatars vote to push for self-rule

A congress of Crimea's 300,000 strong Tatar community met on Saturday and voted to push for autonomy from Russia, but remained divided on how best to achieve that goal.

Crimea is the historic homeland of the Tatars. In 1944, Russia's dictator Josef Stalin deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence. The Tatars are scared to death of being under the control of the Russians again, and they're particularly concerned about Moscow's frequent reference to "Nazis" in Kiev, which they see as a possible signal that they're going to be accused of rom new collaboration again.

On Saturday, the congress adopted a resolution entitled "On the Crimean Tatar people's right to self-determination on their historical territory in Crimea." According to the chairman,

"By adopting this document, we inform all parties of the beginning of political and legal procedures for setting up a national autonomous territory of the Crimean Tatar people on their historical territory in Crimea."

This was adopted after hours of sometimes angry debate, with no conclusions reached whether to seek an autonomous entity in Ukraine or in Crimea, which is now part of Russia. AFP and Interfax-Ukraine

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-14 World View -- U.N. promises 'response' to North Korea firing midrange missiles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Mar-14 World View -- Christians versus Muslims in Central African Republic

Russia's Vladimir Putin calls Obama to discuss Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Christians versus Muslims in Central African Republic


 A member of an armed Christian group with a machete in Bangui, Central African Republic (AP)
A member of an armed Christian group with a machete in Bangui, Central African Republic (AP)

Articles on current events in the Central African Republic (CAR) such as the one I posted two days ago often generate a great deal of commentary. Last year, Muslim Seleka militias killed tens of thousands of Christians and drove 400,000 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 -- so far. Muslims are just 15% of CAR's population, and some anti-balaka leaders are promising to kill every Muslim that doesn't flee the country. This is a fact. I may not like this fact, and you may not like this fact, but it's a fact nonetheless.

One response is to say that the Christians in CAR are just defending themselves from the Muslims. I won't disagree with that, except to say that anti-balaka leaders saying that they're going to kill all the Muslims seems to me to cross the line from self-defense into genocide.

Another standard response is to say that the Christians in CAR aren't really Christians. This is the same response often given to the fact that millions of Christian Church-going Nazis attempted to exterminate the Jews. According to this response, the Holocaust happened because Hitler wasn't really a Christian. Well, my understanding is that if you've been baptized in Christ, then you're a Christian, and that there's no further litmus test. But OK, let's ignore that.

This response is very hard to defend, because you would also have to claim that all those millions of church-going Nazis were also not Christian. But OK, let's ignore that.

Question: How do you know that Hitler and the Nazis weren't Christian? Answer: Because they perpetrated the Holocaust. So this is circular reasoning. Christians didn't commit the Holocaust because Nazis weren't Christians, and Nazis weren't Christians because they committed the Holocaust. But OK, let's ignore even all those problems.

OK, so let's just accept that explanation: Hitler and the Nazis weren't Christian, because they perpetrated the Holocaust.

Who's at fault for the Holocaust?

But now you have another problem, because the same argument can be turned against you. The Muslim jihadists are killing some Christians, but they're mostly killing other Muslims -- millions and millions of Muslims. The same is true of Bashar al-Assad's genocide against Sunni women and children. You can claim that the Koran justifies these killings, but it doesn't. The Koran may or may not justify killing Christians (it's debatable) and other "infidels," but what the jihadists and al-Assad are doing is killing Muslims -- and that's clearly a violation of the Koran. And so by the same reasoning that people use to say Nazis weren't really Christians can be used to say that the jihadists aren't really Muslims.

In other words, if Hitler wasn't a real Christian, then Osama bin Laden wasn't a real Muslim, for the same reason.

And so, if you can't blame Christians for the Holocaust, because Hitler wasn't a real Christian, then you can't blame Muslims for 9/11, because OBL wasn't a real Muslim.

Lots of people point to the fact that most massacres being conducted today are by Muslims, albeit mostly to other Muslims. That's certainly true. All you have to do is look at Pakistan or Syria, for example, to see it happen.

But I think there's a more interesting question. Let's turn the question around. Instead of asking why Muslims are most often the perpetrators of massacres, let's ask instead why Muslims are most often the victims of massacres. Muslims are the victims of massacres by Muslims in Pakistan and Syria, by Buddhists in Myanmar (Burma), and by Christians in Central African Republic.

What is there about this particular point in history that makes Muslims the most massacred group in the world? From the point of view of generational theory, that's a very interesting question. Muslims are the most massacred people in the world today. Why is that?

Some people would say that the reason that Muslims are the most massacred people in the world today is because a lot of the world is angry for terrorist acts like 9/11. Once again, that reason would be difficult to defend, because it doesn't explain why Muslims are massacring Muslims.

War and Peace

In his monumental book War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy recounts Napoleon's invasion of Russia. But Tolstoy is completely stumped and frustrated about why the war occurred at all, especially because the people on both sides were Christians. Here's what he wrote:

"It naturally seemed to Napoleon that the war was caused by England's intrigues (as in fact he said on the island of St. Helena). It naturally seemed to members of the English Parliament that the cause of the war was Napoleon's ambition; to the Duke of Oldenburg, that the cause of the war was the violence done to him; to businessmen that the cause of the war was the Continental System which was ruining Europe; to the generals and old soldiers that the chief reason for the war was the necessity of giving them employment; to the legitimists of that day that it was the need of re-establishing les bons principes, and to the diplomatists of that time that it all resulted from the fact that the alliance between Russia and Austria in 1809 had not been sufficiently well concealed from Napoleon, and from the awkward wording of Memorandum No. 178.

It is natural that these and a countless and infinite quantity of other reasons, the number depending on the endless diversity of points of view, presented themselves to the men of that day; but to us, to posterity who view the thing that happened in all its magnitude and perceive its plain and terrible meaning, these causes seem insufficient.

To us it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged. We cannot grasp what connection such circumstances have with the actual fact of slaughter and violence: why because the Duke was wronged, thousands of men from the other side of Europe killed and ruined the people of Smolensk and Moscow and were killed by them."

Generational theory does provide some answers to these questions, and it has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with being human. Just as Christians can have inappropriate sex, they can also have inappropriate wars. If humans did not have sex, then the human race would die out. If humans did not have genocidal wars of extermination, then the human race would not survive, because it's only through wars of extermination that the strongest tribes, societies and nations become the leaders.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these wars of extermination are generational crisis wars. When one of these horrific wars occurs, the generations of survivors vow to do everything possible to keep anything like that from happening to their children and grandchildren. They succeed in that, but when the survivor generations die off, then the younger generations, with no personal memory of the crisis war, have no motivation to keep it from happening again. And so the next generational crisis war begins, usually around 60 or more years after the end of the last one.

Going back to Central African Republic, the 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. There are probably no survivors left from the Kongo-Wara Rebellion, and so it's not surprising at all that a new war of extermination is breaking out in CAR today.

Russia's Vladimir Putin calls Obama to discuss Ukraine

The White House announced on Friday that Russia's president Vladimir Putin placed a phone call to U.S. president Barack Obama to discuss a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. According to the White House statement:

"President Obama noted that the Ukrainian government continues to take a restrained and de-escalatory approach to the crisis and is moving ahead with constitutional reform and democratic elections, and urged Russia to support this process and avoid further provocations, including the buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine. ...

President Obama made clear that [a diplomatic solution] remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. President Obama reiterated that the United States has strongly opposed the actions that Russia has already taken to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Russia issued its own statement:

"Vladimir Putin drew Barack Obama’s attention to continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents, government authorities and law enforcement agencies in various regions and in Kiev with impunity. In light of this, the President of Russia suggested examining possible steps the global community can take to help stabilize the situation. The two presidents agreed that specific parameters for this joint work will be discussed by the Russian and US foreign ministers in the near future."

This reads to me like a standard attempt to buy enough time so that the world will forget what Putin is doing. By referring to "continued rampage of extremists who are committing acts of intimidation towards peaceful residents," Putin is preparing a case for military action in Ukraine, and for not removing his troops from Ukraine's border. He could order his troops into Ukraine next week, and then claim that Obama didn't propose a way to protect "peaceful residents," so he had to do it.

We'll see if anything changes now. Politico

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-14 World View -- Christians versus Muslims in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Mar-14 World View -- Pentagon concerned that Russia is about to invade Ukraine

Obama to meet Saudi King Abdullah among significant policy differences

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obama to meet Saudi King Abdullah among significant policy differences


President Obama was heavily criticized for bowing to King Abdullah during his last visit to Saudi Arabia
President Obama was heavily criticized for bowing to King Abdullah during his last visit to Saudi Arabia

resident Barack Obama visits Saudi Arabia on Friday, and will meet with the King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. There are significant policy differences separating the two:

Saudi Gazette and VOA

Pentagon concerned that Russia is about to invade Ukraine

U.S. officials are saying that Russian troops have been flooding into the region along the border with Ukraine in the last few days. The estimates of the number of troops range from 30,000 to 80,000, with Ukrainian officials claiming that the number is as high as 100,000.

Nato's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove has said that the Russian force on the border "is very, very sizable and very, very ready." Since the Russian troops are deployed right on the edge of Ukraine's border, if they do invade then there'll be no advance warning, and no chance for Ukraine's forces to react. A U.S. defense official says that if Russia were to invade, then this would be "far from a bloodless event as we saw in Crimea," although the Ukrainian army would be defeated. It's possible that the Russian forces could push through Ukraine to the other end very quickly, to annex Moldova's separatist territory Transdniestria, which is on Ukraine's western border. VOA and AFP and Fox News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-14 World View -- Pentagon concerned that Russia is about to invade Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Mar-14 World View -- Central African Republic peacekeepers call Christians 'enemy combatants'

Iran's Supreme Leader fears Great Islamic Revolution will be forgotten

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Central African Republic peacekeepers call Christians 'enemy combatants'


Soldiers from Misca, the African Union peacekeeping mission
Soldiers from Misca, the African Union peacekeeping mission

The 6,000 man African Union peacekeeping force, known by its acronym Misca, has designated the Christian "anti-balaka" militias in Central African Republic as "terrorists" and "enemy combatants," following a wave of anti-balaka attacks on Misca soldiers, and the killing on Monday of a Misca peacekeeping soldier from the Republic of Congo. According to a Misca statement:

"Henceforth, MISCA considers anti-balakas as terrorists and enemy combatants, and they shall be treated accordingly."

Although 2,000 French soldiers and 6,000 Misca soldiers have been deployed as peacekeepers, the violence in Central African Republic (CAR) has not been quelled. In fact, as I've been saying for months, this is spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war that will be enveloped by tribal massacres on a massive scale.

Muslim Seleka militias began killing Christians last year, after a coup by Muslim leader Michel Djotodia. There were predictions last year of revenge by Christians. The international community forced Djotodia to step down in January, in the hope that his doing so would quiesce the Christians, but that hope was in vain.

As I've explained, 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. French and African Union peacekeepers will try desperately to put a lid on it, but nothing will stop it now.

In fact, young people in CAR today certainly have heard of the Kongo-Wara war, just as Americans have heard of WW II. But what do they know? Nobody's told them about the its horrors. What the Muslims know is that their great-grandfathers were war heroes because they killed thousands of French and Christians, while the Christians have heard that their great-grandfathers were even bigger heroes, because they slaughtered even more Muslims. Now all of them want to be new generations of heroes.

If the Misca peacekeepers are now going to treat the Christians as enemy combatants, then this crisis war will be moving to the next stage. It will no longer be just CAR residents versus CAR residents. It will also be a war between CAR residents and soldiers from other nations.

I have not seen any reports about the role of the French peacekeepers in this declaration of enemy combatants, but as the situation deteriorates it would not be surprising to see the French embroiled in the war as well. AFP and BBC and Reuters

Iran's Supreme Leader fears Great Islamic Revolution will be forgotten

Iran's last generational crisis war was the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war, that climaxed in 1987 with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons. These crisis wars are at the heart of generational theory, because the traumatized generations of survivors of these wars create austere rules and institutions to keep the same thing from happening to their children and grandchildren. As the younger generations come of age, they rebel against this austerity, creating a "generation gap" and a generational Awakening era, as happened in America in the 1960s.

Iran is going through an Awakening era today, and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei is becoming panicked because younger generations don't appreciate the sacrifices that his generation had to make. In a speech to young people earlier this week, Khamenei said that "The memory of the Sacred Defense era must be kept alive" and warned against the efforts of 'some' who seek to erase the war’s values and historical memory:

"The front of the enemies of the Islamic system, meaning these European governments and the American government, encouraged Saddam’s Ba’athist regime to continue the war by providing him advanced capabilities and equipment. This matter caused the Imposed War to last for eight years.

But God almighty showed his hand of power and crushed the mouths of the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran with the iron fist of divine tradition and rubbed their noses to the dirt.

The greatest lesson of the Islamic Revolution to the Iranian nation was that the path of achieving high ideals is fighting, sacrificing and persevering for these ideals.

Those who wish ill for the Iranian nation and also some [others] are seeking to erase from memory the sacrifices of the Sacred Defense era and its prominent figures. On this basis, they are making efforts to prescript the sacrifices of the Sacred Defense and the path that the great Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei's predecessor] the wise and sage servant of God, had determined."

Khamenei is expressing the same frustrations and the same kinds of warnings that Presidents Johnson and Nixon expressed during America's Awakening era, and were the victims of violent protests by young people. These Awakening era political battles are almost always (though not always) won by young people because the older generations die off. AEI Iran Tracker

John Kerry embraces Iran's Supreme Leader fatwa scam

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that he has high regard for the fatwa issued by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei a decade ago. According to Kerry:

"I show a lot of respect for this fatwa as it is a religious message and is highly respected by people."

The problem, as I wrote last week, is that even Iranian scholars do not believe that this fatwa exists. Khamenei doesn't list it on the fatwa page of his web site, and no one has ever seen the actual text of the fatwa.

Apparently the tales of this fatwa began with a statement published in 2005 by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) announcing the fatwa:

"The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons."

As far as I can tell, that press report was the original mention of the fatwa, and that sentence has been repeated over and over since then.

Of course, Ayatollah Khamenei could clear up this confusion at any time. Did he issue this fatwa or not? He never says.

In my opinion, this is a scam and a fraud being perpetrated by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. What looks to be the case is as follows: Khamenei never issued the fatwa, but got IRNA to publish a report saying that he HAD issued the fatwa. So he has the best of both worlds. He's got Kerry and everyone else quoting his non-existent fatwa, but when crunch time comes, he'll say, "Oh no, there was no fatwa. IRNA got it wrong." He could clarify things today if he wanted to, but he doesn't want to because he's scamming President Obama, Kerry, the West, and everyone else, and getting away with it.

If anyone out there disagrees, it's easy enough to prove me wrong. Find a published copy of the text of the entire fatwa, and then show an official affirmation that Khamenei issued it. Radio Zamaneh and IRNA (2005)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-14 World View -- Central African Republic peacekeepers call Christians 'enemy combatants' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Mar-14 World View -- Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea

Ebola virus spreading from Guinea to Liberia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab League holds annual meeting among bitter splits


Arab League meeting on Tuesday (AP)
Arab League meeting on Tuesday (AP)

The 69 year old Arab League is meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday at the time in its history when it's most divided.

Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt and Saudi Arabia refer to as a terrorist organization, has resulted in a bitter dispute that caused Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain to recall their ambassadors from Qatar, as we recently reported.

Even more pressing is the issue of Syria, which has rendered the Arab League helpless and impotent in the face of 150,000 Syrian deaths, and millions of Syrian refugees. If the Arab League can't do anything about such a serious problem, then what is it good for?

In fact, there's a whole list of issues facing the Arab League, especially since the beginning of the "Arab Spring." In Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Bahrain, and Somalia -- all members of the Arab League -- there's a war going on, or at least there's some disturbance and disorder in each country. That's about half the countries of the Arab League. And there's no sign that anything is going to improve soon. Arab News (Saudi Arabia) and Al Jazeera (Qatar)

Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea

Vietnam and the Philippines are natural allies in the face of China's belligerent actions in the South China Sea. China is threatening to use its massive military force to annex the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. According to the Chinese, these countries have no rights to anything outside their 12-mile territorial seas, while China has the right annex everything else. The Chinese are using what is being called a "salami slicing strategy," described as: "the slow accumulation of small actions, none of which is a casus belli, but which add up over time to a major strategic change." (You should not miss the point, Dear Reader, that China and Russia both feel they have the right to annex other countries' territories, especially since apparently no one is willing to stop them.)

According to Philippine and Vietnamese analysts, when the Philippines last year brought a complaint against China's actions in the South China Sea to the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal, the Chinese "were really unprepared for that and were really embarrassed by it." The reason the Chinese are upset is "because they already have five battlefields — the political, diplomatic, mass media, security, military — and now [the Philippines] added a sixth: the legal battlefield. The Chinese have a saying, 'when the flag is in your hands, don't yield it to others.'" Beijing is very much at sea on the legal front, with little experience in international law.

The downside of the Philippines legal master stroke is that the Philippines replaced Vietnam as China's number one harassment target. It used to be that the Chinese regularly attacked Vietnam boats. (see "10-Jun-11 News -- Vietnam protests Chinese attack on Vietnamese survey ships"). But in the last couple of years, China has annexed the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal, and harassed Philippine fishing boats around the Spratly islands. In the meantime, relations between Vietnam and China have been improving, though unless China has changed policies in the South China Sea, that improvement won't last long. Foreign Policy in Focus and RSIS (India)

Ebola virus spreading from Guinea to Liberia

The Ebola virus appears to be spreading from Guinea to neighboring Liberia, and is also threatening Sierra Leone. The disease spreads through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. At least 86 cases and 9 deaths have been recorded. Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-14 World View -- Vietnam, Philippines unite to confront China in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going

How analysts used the Doppler Effect to locate Malaysia flight MH370

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going


Kerry lectures Netanyahu at the start of the 'peace talks' last July
Kerry lectures Netanyahu at the start of the 'peace talks' last July

Jonathan Pollard has been in jail since 1987, when he pled guilty to passing classified information to Israel. Israel has repeatedly tried to get him released, but one American administration after another has refused to let him go.

Now Pollard is becoming an issue in the Mideast "peace talks." The Obama administration got these "peace talks" going last year by "convincing" the Israelis to release 104 prisoners from the jails. These prisoners had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. The release of these prisoners has been extremely controversial in Israel, with very vocal opposition from the family members of the people whom these terrorists had killed. Nonetheless, Israel doesn't want to be seen to oppose President Obama, and though the "peace talks" have been a worthless farce, the Palestinians had continued to participate so that the prisoner releases will go forward. But the last batch of 26 prisoners are scheduled for release on Friday (March 28), and the "peace talks" will officially end of April 29.

The "peace talks" farce is now enveloping the Jonathan Pollard situation. Israel is releasing 104 killers from jail, but Pollard can't be released.

So now there are reports (or rumors) that the Obama administration is desperate to keep the "peace talks" going (presumably for purely domestic political reasons), and so they are offering to release Jonathan Pollard if the Israels will, in turn, offer some further concessions to the Palestinians to keep the "peace talks" going. Releasing Pollard seems like a reasonable thing, but these "peace talks" have literally a zero probabilty of achieving anything, and holding them together by a combination of multiple bribes and extortion is so absurd as to be beyond belief.

This administration has had one major policy debacle after another, whether it's the Russian "reset," the Afghan "peace process," the Syrian "red line," or the Iranian nuclear talks. It seems every day that they do one more stupid thing. I think I can honestly say that, in my lifetime, I have not seen an administration, Democratic or Republican, so completely inept and clueless about what's going on in the world. Israel Today and Jewish Journal

Kazakhstan becomes anxious over Russia's annexation of Crimea

In many ways, the central Asian country of Kazakhstan is similar to Ukraine. Both were part of the Soviet Union before it collapsed. And both have sizeable populations of ethnic Russians. Kazakhstan and Russia have the longest continuous common land border in the world. A quarter of Kazakhstan's population is ethnic Russian, largely concentrated in the northern provinces, along the border with Russia.

Kazakhstan has never recognized the independence of Georgia's provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russian troops have occupied since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. Just last month, several Russian politicians called on Russia to annex part of Kazakhstan.

So Kazak politicians have been extremely anxious about Russia's annexation of Crimea. On March 3, prior to the annexation, Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry had warned that "further escalation of tension may lead to unpredictable consequences" and called on all parties "to renounce options that imply the use of power."

But once the Crimea referendum was held, Kazakhstan's government flip-flopped, and issued a statement that many interpreted as supporting the annexation:

"The referendum held in Crimea is seen in Kazakhstan as a free expression of the will of the Autonomous Republic’s population, while the decision of the Russian Federation under the existing circumstances is regarded with understanding."

The interim Ukraine government responded with this on March 19:

"Ukraine expressed its deep concern in connection to Kazakhstan’s response to the referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The response contradicts the statement Kazakhstan made earlier about the need to maintain territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Kazakhstan officials are being very careful not to criticize Russian, Ukrainian, or Western governments for their action, hoping to maintain good relations with everyone. Relations between Kazakhstan and Ukraine had been improving in recent years. Russia is Kazakhstan's premier economic and security partner, while Ukraine offers Kazakhstan an important connection with European markets and institutions. The Ukraine crisis has already harmed Kazakhstan economically, and the desire is to prevent any further damage. Tengri News (Kazakhstan) and Jamestown

How analysts used the Doppler Effect to locate Malaysia flight MH370

Monday's dramatic announcement from Kuala Lumpur that Malaysian Airlines flight 370 had with certainty "ended in the southern Indian Ocean" west of Perth meant the families of the passengers on the flight could no longer hope that their family members were still alive somewhere. It's interesting that after a couple of weeks of knowing almost nothing, suddenly officials can be certain where the plane went down.

If you've ever stood and watched a train or a noisy truck drive by you at high speed, then you may have noticed that the noise coming from the vehicle changed pitch as the vehicle went past. As the vehicle was approaching you, the sound waves coming from the vehicle were being squeezed together, creating a higher pitch. As the vehicle was moving away from you, the sound waves were being stretched out, creating a lower pitch sound. If you had equipment that could precisely measure these two pitches, then you would be able to use that data to compute the speed of the vehicle. If you studied physics in high school, then you may recall that this phenomenon is called "the Doppler Effect."

What a company called Inmarsat did was use the same principle to compute the speed and direction of MH370. The plane's engines would send out a "ping" every hour of so that would be received by an Inmarsat satellite. There was no information in the transmission, just "I am here" ping. By measuring tiny differences in the frequencies of successive pings, and using the Doppler effect, the engineers were able to determine with certainty that the plane had crashed into the southern Indian ocean. The Star (Kuala Lumpur) and Ars Technica

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-14 World View -- U.S. may release Jonathan Pollard to keep Mideast peace talks going thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Mar-14 World View -- Pakistan debates sending troops to Saudi Arabia

Europeans alarmed as Russian troops mass on Ukraine border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey shoots down Syrian warplane violating Turkish airspace


Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's F-16 fighter jets shot down a Syrian aircraft which crossed Turkey's border. Tensions have been high between Syria and Turkey since the Syrian civil war began three years ago, sending millions of refugees to neighboring countries, including half a million into Turkey. But concerns have been rising even further in recent weeks because of threats to the tomb, in Syria, of Süleyman Sah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire.

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained the incident at an election rally on Sunday:

"A Syrian plane violated our airspace. Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap will be hard. Now in your presence, I congratulate the General Staff, the Turkish military and our air forces."

Opposition politicians in Turkey are claiming that the incident was an attempt for Erdogan to gain popularity seven days before national elections, and to divert attention from the growing corruption scandal swamping him and his family and administration. Cihan (Turkey) and Zaman (Turkey)

Europeans alarmed as Russian troops mass on Ukraine border

Two days after annexing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula to Russia, some 20,000 Russian troops are performing military exercises on the border of east Ukraine. At the same time, pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine are planning rallies to encourage a Russian invasion.

Nato's Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove emphasized the large size of the Russia force -- large enough to push all the way across eastern Ukraine to Moldova on the other end:

"The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizable and very, very ready.

There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Trans-Dniester if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome."

Trans-Dniester is a small province of Moldova with a large ethnic Russian population that wants to separate from Moldova and become part of Russia. They have been given hope by Russia's actions in Crimea.

The Russians say that they have no intention of invading eastern Ukraine, but it was only a few days ago that they said they had no intention of annexing Crimea.

Europeans are becoming increasingly alarmed that Russia's actions are destabilizing the European Union itself. "We must not allow a new division of Europe," according to Germany's foreign minister.

In America, politicians are becoming increasingly critical of inaction by President Obama, even in the Tea Party, which has been isolationist in the past. According to political analyst Ron Senor on ABC News on Sunday, "Rand Paul was initially quite critical of Republicans who were 'going back to cold war rhetoric,' and then you watch where the party went, where Ted Cruz went - he's a good bellwether for where the base is - he was extremely critical of the president on Russia and Ukraine, and suddenly Rand Paul has moved to a more muscular position."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is all as expected, as I've been saying for years. In this generational Crisis era, Russia, Europe, America and most other countries are becoming increasingly nationalistic, as they're forced to abandon their pie-eyed dreams left over from the 1960s. CNN

Pakistan debates sending troops to Saudi Arabia

Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday categorically said that Pakistan was not sending its troops to Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. The denial came because of persistent and increasingly numerous rumors that Pakistan is sending 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia for the defense shield force of the Gulf Cooperation Council. During the Arab Spring revolts in Bahrain, it's believed that Pakistanis quelled the revolt. It's estimated that almost 10,000 Pakistanis are still serving in security services in Bahrain.

What triggered the new reports were visits from Saudi and Bahraini officials to Pakistan to discuss common security concerns. And most significant, there was a sudden, unexpected payment of $1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, with no coherent explanation, with some officials calling an aid, then a grant, then aid, then a gift. The mystery deepened when it emerged that Saudi Arabia had purchased weapons systems from Pakistan.

Those in Pakistan who oppose sending either weapons or troops to Saudi Arabia express concern that the Saudis will use them to fight Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria, as part of the growing Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict in the Mideast. Pakistan has its own problems with sectarian battles, as Taliban-linked jihadists in Pakistan have vowed to exterminate all Shias in Pakistan, and have been carrying out that threat with frequent bombings of Shia mosques and markets. The fear is that if Pakistan becomes embroiled in Syria or in the Mideast sectarian fight in any way, then the sectarian conflict in Pakistan will only become worse.

As I've said many times over the last ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni countries will be allied against the West, India, Russia and Iran. The increasing military relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia appears to support that prediction. The Nation (Pakistan) and Memri and The News (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-14 World View -- Pakistan debates sending troops to Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's Crimea annexation brings entire European Union into question

France kills 40 Islamists in Mali in recent operations

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's Crimea annexation brings entire European Union into question


Russia supporters celebrate in Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday (Reuters)
Russia supporters celebrate in Simferopol, Crimea, on Friday (Reuters)

Russian troops consolidated their control of Crimea by smashing their way into the remaining Ukrainian military bases in Crimea with armored vehicles, automatic fire and stun grenades and taking them over. Russian troops sang Russian songs, while Ukrainian troops changed, "Long live Ukraine!"

Although Saturday's actions were mostly bloodless, with few casualties, Western officials fear further possible Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine, and cause an incident that triggers a real military confrontation and a wider war.

Russia's annexation of Crimea is not a trivial matter for the Europeans. There is a growing sense in Europe that the entire European Union project is in jeopardy. The European Union was formed with the specific purpose of providing a political and legal infrastructure that would prevent a repeat of the two world wars that had ravaged the continent. The Europeans have been building this infrastructure for 60 years, with courts and parliaments and treaties and constitutions and banks and even a new currency. But the ease with which Russia could annex another country's territory with impunity, or that China could do the same thing in the South China Sea, makes it clear to everyone that, in the end, that infrastructure prevents nothing. And if that infrastructure prevents nothing, then what's the purpose of the European Union, except a temporary romantic convenience? Irish Times and Telegraph (London)

France kills 40 Islamists in Mali in recent operations

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that operations by French soldiers in Mali have killed about 40 Islamist militants in the last few weeks, including a senior commander.

When France's president François Hollande announced in January of last year that he was sending French peacekeeping troops into Mali to prevent a takeover of the entire country by al-Qaeda linked Islamists, he expected to withdraw them by March -- of last year. Then the withdrawal date was postponed to August, then to December, and then to March of this year.

According to Le Drian, the fight against militants in Mali "is far from finished." The military action in Mali has already gone on far longer than anyone expected, and has been far more expensive, and apparently there's no end in sight. Expatica France and Al Jazeera

59 people die of Ebola virus in Guinea

Experts in the west African nation Guinea had been unable to identify the disease that's killed 59 people in the last six weeks, but on Saturday it was finally identified as the Ebola virus by scientists studying samples in Lyon, France. The disease kills 25-90% of those who fall sick. It's extremely contagious, but is transmitted by direct contact with blood, feces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses. Ebola is not transmitted through the air, so it's unlikely to cause a widespread pandemic if the public takes reasonable precautions. According to French officials, anyone who has to travel to southern Guinea should "strictly respect the hygiene rules, not consume the meat of animals killed by hunting and stay away from areas of high density of population like markets and football grounds." AFP and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's Crimea annexation brings entire European Union into question thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Mar-14 World View -- The 'New Normal': Russia and China annex other countries' territories with impunity

Xi Jinping redirects China's ideology from Marxism to Nationalism

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The 'New Normal': Russia and China annex other countries' territories with impunity


Pro-Russian troops in Crimea on Thursday (AP)
Pro-Russian troops in Crimea on Thursday (AP)

With Russia's annexation of Crimea now a fait accompli, it's well to remember that this isn't the first recent annexation of other countries' territories. China has already seized islands in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam, and is operating on the belief that any "short, sharp attack" on any one island won't bring an American response. China intends to continue annexing islands in this fashion. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines")

The news on Friday is that Russia is massing over 20,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, evidently with the intention of invading, in order annex some or all of that territory. It's really not logical for Russia's president Vladimir Putin to stop with Crimea, since there are plenty of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, and because Crimea can't survive without the fresh water, electricity, gas and food that it imports from Ukraine. NBC News

Russia protests Estonia's treatment of its Russian minority

Russia has long complained about Estonia's insistence that its large Russian minority in the country should learn to speak Estonian. But recent remarks by Russian diplomats that, for example, Russia was "concerned by steps taken .. in Estonia as well as in Ukraine" to user language to "segregate and isolate groups" is giving rise to fears that Estonia is one of the countries on Vladimir Putin's list to be invaded in order to protect Russian citizens.

Estonia has a centuries old bitter history with Russia. People today vividly remember that Josef Stalin's Red Army reoccupied Estonia in June 1940, and made it part of the Soviet Union. On a one-night operation, June 13-14, 1941, thousands of Estonians, mostly women and children, were deported to Siberia, while tens of thousands of men were forcibly relocated to Russia to fight in the army. This period of bloody Soviet rule left a deep mark on the Estonians, and so when the German Nazis invaded later in 1941, they were greeted as liberators. The Nazis were just as brutal as the Soviets, but when the Red Army returned in September, 1944, some 70,000 Estonians fled the country, and formed a diaspora throughout Europe and North America. After the war, Stalin's Soviet brutality continued by forcing ethnic Russians to relocate to Estonia to dilute the Estonian population. Estonia only became independent in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Today, as Estonia is well into a new generational Crisis era, it is haunted by ghosts of "Nazi sympathizers" who opposed the Soviets, and a substantial Russian minority, mainly descendants of Russians whom Stalin had forced to relocate to Estonia after the war, who consider themselves to be victims as well.

There are several countries that separate Russia from the European Union, and many of them have sizable ethnic Russian minorities who consider themselves to be victims. Many of these countries, including Estonia, are members of Nato, meaning that if Russia invades, then Nato will be required by treaty to fight the invasion militarily.

Russia as a whole, and Putin in particular, are becoming increasingly nationalistic, and it's possible that Putin will conclude from the experience of annexing Crimea that Nato won't respond militarily even after a Nato country is invaded, but will simply adopt new sanctions such as making it illegal for Russian politicians to visit Disneyland. Similarly, the Chinese may conclude from Russia's experience in Crimea and their own experiences in the South China Sea that they can continue annexing other people's islands and territories with impunity. But that would be a mistake on the part of the Russians and Chinese. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, nationalism is going to surge on all sides in this generational Crisis era.

It's true that there's a "new normal" today that permits Russia and China to annex foreign territories with impunity. But actually it's the same "old normal" that existed in 1938 when Britain allowed Nazi Germany to annex Sudetenland with impunity. As nationalism increases on all sides, which always happens in a generational Crisis era, sooner or later the "new normal" gives way to military force, and a new war, which has been the "real normal" since time immemorial. International Business Times

Xi Jinping redirects China's ideology from Marxism to Nationalism

A year after taking office, president Xi Jinping is emerging as the strongest Chinese leader in decades. He's adopted Mao Zedong's populist style by means of photo ops such as eating steamed buns with ordinary citizens.

Xi is also making deep changes to China's ideological culture, in order to resolve a major ideological conflict. Modern China was founded when Mao and his peasant revolutionaries defeated Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists, in the climax of the Communist Revolution in 1949. Today, however, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) elites in Beijing cower in fear at the thought of a new Mao-style peasant revolution. So just as Mao's movement obliterated China's Nationalist past, replacing it with a revolutionary Marxist culture, Xi is introducing a new orthodoxy which obliterates Mao's revolutionary culture in favor of a return to the Nationalist past. This includes a new revival of Confucius and "the excellent elements of traditional Chinese culture." Naturally, this new direction also builds on the popular resurgence of interest in traditional culture among many citizens, amid the sense that Chinese society has lost its moorings in the midst of rapid economic and social change.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, none of this is going to make any difference. The lives of 1.35 billion Chinese are not going to be affected in any way by the adoption by a few Beijing elites of a new ideological culture. These cultural changes always come from the people, anyway, not from the politicians or elites. China had a "peasant revolution" in the 1850s-60s called the "Taiping Rebellion," and had another peasant revolution in the 1930s-40 called the "Communist Revolution." China is now due for a new peasant rebellion, and an ideological diktat won't change that in any way. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-14 World View -- The 'New Normal': Russia and China annex other countries' territories with impunity thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Mar-14 World View -- Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation

Hundreds of dead pig carcasses found in China's Gan River

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation


Anti-Putin march in Moscow in February
Anti-Putin march in Moscow in February

The approval rating of Russia's president Vladimir Putin has soared 15 points since January 1 to 75.7% of Russians supporting him. Putin's political opposition was already pretty dispirited, but the Crimean annexation has permitted Putin to crush the opposition in polling.

In fact, the Crimea annexation has split the opposition itself. Liberal anti-war groups are calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, while leftist movements like the Left Front are joining nationalist forces to demand that Crimea be returned to Russia. This split has allowed Putin to claim that an "absolute majority of Russians" supported the annexation of Crimean, while those who opposed it were "national traitors" acting on behalf of Western countries. Moscow Times

Riots among Palestinians over successor to Abbas

With Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at age 79, many officials in the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) are considering the question of who will be his successor. Abbas is part of the old generation of survivors of the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1947 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. When Yasser Arafat died in 2004, Abbas was a natural choice to succeed him, because they were both war survivors and shared a common world view. But now the time is approaching for a successor and for a generational change.

The major aspirant is 52 year old Mohammed Dahlan. Dahlan grew up poor in a Gaza refugee camp, but as a top aide to Arafat became Gaza's strongman in the 1990s, jailing leaders of rival Hamas which was trying to derail Arafat’s negotiation with Israel through bombing and shooting attacks. Abbas and Dahlan uses to be allies, but the 2008 war between Fatah and Hamas, that made Hamas the governing power in Gaza caused tension between them, until 2011 when Abbas expelled Dahlan completely from Fatah. The bitterness between the two has been growing, and in the last few weeks they've even started calling each other traitors in the resistance to Israel. Abbas has accused Dahlan of involvement in six murders, hinting that he might also be behind the death of former leader and Palestinian icon Yasser Arafat. Dahlan has called Abbas a "catastrophe" for the Palestinian people.

The vitriolic personal fight is spilling over into the streets. In Gaza City on Tuesday, dozens of Abbas supporters clashed with Dahlan supporters using stones and sticks. The police were called in to separate the two parties.

In Lebanon, tensions are growing in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp between supporters of the two sides. With the war in Syria spilling over into Lebanon anyway, most Palestinians have followed the lead of Hamas in standing against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who is exterminating Sunni women and children. But there is a pro-Assad faction in Ain al-Hilweh who is siding with Abbas. With tensions growing almost daily, there are fears that all out violence could break out any day. AP and Middle East Monitor and Daily Star (Beirut)

Hundreds of dead pig carcasses found in China's Gan River

Chinese officials have pulled hundreds of dead pig carcasses out of the Gan River, in central Jiangxi province. The Gan serves as the main drinking water supply for several large cities, but Chinese officials say they've tested the water and it's still safe for consumption. It's not known where the pig carcasses came from, or why they were disposed of this way.

This year's situation seems less severe compared to what happened last year, when there were 16,000 pig carcasses. It was later determined that the pigs were from an upstream farm, which was hit by a common pig virus, porcine circovirus, infecting thousands of livestock. The virus, which is not harmful to humans, was responsible for quickly taking out a huge portion of the farm’s pig population, and the farmers dumped them into the river to dispose of them. International Business Times and Radio Free Asia

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-14 World View -- Putin's approval ratings soar in Russia over Crimea annexation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's annexation of Crimea splits the Russian Orthodox Church

Ukraine capitulates to Russia in Crimea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine capitulates to Russia in Crimea

Ukraine's interim government has announced that it will withdraw its troops from Crimea. It is not known whether Russia plans to invade eastern Ukraine. BBC

Russia's annexation of Crimea splits the Russian Orthodox Church


Saint Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kiev, constructed in 1747-54, to a design by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
Saint Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kiev, constructed in 1747-54, to a design by the Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli.

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, which is united worldwide under a single Pope in Rome, the Eastern Orthodox Church is actually a community of a dozen or so self-governing ("autocephalous") churches sharing common values. A Catholic is a Catholic anywhere in the world (in theory, anyway), but there's no such thing as a generic "Orthodox Christian." You have to be Orthodox PLUS something else -- Russian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox, for example. A Greek Orthodox would reject becoming a Catholic, but just as important, he would never become a Russian Orthodox either.

There is an amusing anecdote describing how the Russian Orthodox Church was founded in Kiev. The anecdote involves a pagan prince named Vladimir, who in 980 became ruling prince of the Slavs, headquartered in Kiev. And Prince Vladimir went religion shopping.

According to legend, he rejected Islam, because it forbade alcoholic drink. He sent commissions to visit the Christian Churches. The Bulgarians, they reported, smelt. The Germans had nothing to offer. But Constantinople (or Byzantium) had won their hearts. There, they said in words often to be quoted, "We knew not whether we were in heaven or earth, for on earth there is no such vision nor beauty, and we do not know how to describe it; we know only that there God dwells among men." Around 986-8, Prince Vladimir was baptized as an Orthodox Christian by a Byzantine emperor in the Greek colony of Chersonesos -- near Sevastopol in Crimea. Vladimir accepted Orthodox Christianity for himself and his people. Vladimir might have chosen Catholicism, and thus would one man have changed the history and the map of the world. In the centuries to come, the Slav culture moved east and formed the Russian Empire.

Well, Kiev was conquered by the Mongols in 1240, while Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1453, and became Istanbul.

With the destruction of Rome by the Visigoths, and the destruction of Constantinople by the Ottomans, by 1472 Ivan the Great decided that Moscow was going to become "the third Rome," the home of the true (or "orthodox") Christian faith, and the defender of Jerusalem. He gave himself the title "Czar" or "Tsar," derived from the name of the Roman Emperor Caesar (as is the German word "Kaiser").

Thus, the Russian Orthodox Church became married to the Russian state. This led Russia to enter the Crimean war as a generational crisis war in the 1850s in its role as the defender of Jerusalem. The Crimean war was a disaster for Russia and led in the following generational Awakening era to Russia's "Nihilist Movement," which rejected both the Church and the State, and can be thought of as an extremely violent analog to the violent protests in America in the 1960s. The Nihilist Movement grew and became the lynchpin of the next generational crisis war, the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. The Tsarist state was destroyed, and the Russian Orthodox Church was destroyed, though it was revived in the Soviet era during World War II when it was needed to help fight the Great Patriotic War against the Nazis. Since the Soviet Empire collapsed in the 1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church has once again become close to the Russian state.

Like a dog wagging its tail, changes in the Russian Orthodox Church have pushed the Ukrainian Orthodox Church through multiple chaotic events throughout this millennium of history. Sometimes it was subordinate to the Moscow Church, sometimes it was completely self-governing. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, the Ukrainian church itself was split, with the result that there were three Orthodox jurisdictions in Ukraine:

At one time, it was hoped that these three churches would eventually merge, possibly even become entirely subordinate to the Moscow church. But Russia's annexation of Crimea has thrown any such hope into chaos, and it poses a serious threat to the Moscow church.

The Bishops of Crimea are requesting that their Orthodox churches become subordinate to the Moscow church, rather than be a part of any of the Ukrainian churches. The Moscow church faces two bad choices:

It's worth pointing out that the Kiev Patriarchate is strongly opposing the actions of the Russian state in annexing Crimea, while the Moscow Patriarchate is supporting those actions. One possible outcome is an ironic one: that the Crimean churches join Moscow, and the three Ukrainian churches finally unite into a single autocephalous church as the Kiev Patriarchate. So the Russian action in Crimea may finally unite the Kiev Patriarchate, but not in the way that the Moscow Patriarchate had hoped.

Russia's annexation of Crimea has changed the map of Europe by force, for the first time since WW II, and may have changed the map of the Orthodox world as well. Religion News and Washington Post and Catholic Culture and Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's annexation of Crimea splits the Russian Orthodox Church thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Mar-14 World View -- Putin gives angry, nationalistic speech annexing Crimea to Russia

Putin's spokesman signals plans to invade eastern Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Putin announces the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation


Putin giving speech on Tuesday
Putin giving speech on Tuesday

In a speech to the Duma on Tuesday, Russia's president Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will annex Crimea.

"In order to understand why this choice was made , it is enough to know the history of the Crimea, and know what Russia means for the Crimea and what Crimea means to Russia.

There is ancient Chersonesos there, where Holy Prince Vladimir was baptized. His spiritual struggle - an appeal to Orthodoxy - predestined common cultural values and civilizational framework that will unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. In the Crimea, there are graves of the Russian soldiers, with whose courage the Crimea was taken into the Russian state in 1783. The Crimea is Sevastopol, a legendary city of great destiny, a fortress city and the birthplace of the Russian Black Sea Navy.

During all these years, many citizens and many public figures have raised this issue, saying that the Crimea is a native Russian land and that Sevastopol is a Russian city."

One might almost have sympathy for Putin's arguments if the Crimean referendum hadn't been conducted under gunpoint of a Russian invasion, with Ukrainian supporters beaten up or locked up, justifying the Russian invasion because some Russian citizens were being attacked by Nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Russophobes. By Putin's logic, Turkey could invade Germany because some Turkish citizens have been attacked by German neo-Nazis. In fact, by Putin's logic, any country whose citizens are attacked by any terrorists in any other country has a right to invade that country, to "protect its citizens" from "the terrorists."

I would have more sympathy for Putin, but my opinion of him is strongly colored by my overwhelming disgust by the situation in Syria, and Putin's support of Bashar al-Assad. As I've said in the past, it's like the TV show "Criminal Minds," which dwells on scenes of rape, torture and mutilation. But al-Assad and Putin are performing "Criminal Minds" scripts on an "industrial strength" scale, bombing innocent women and children with barrel bombs, sarin gas, and any other heavy weapons al-Assad can get his hands on from Putin, in his campaign to exterminate all Sunnis in Syria. Al-Assad is a war criminal, and Putin is also a war criminal for supplying weapons to al-Assad.

So when I hear war criminal Putin say that he's going to protect Russian citizens from "terrorists" and "neo-Nazis" (i.e., Ukrainians), it takes me back to the beginning of the Syrian civil war, and I feel we're going down the same path. And so do a lot of other people. Pravda (Moscow) and Tauric Chersonesos

Furious Vladimir Putin expresses contempt for the West

A furious Vladimir Putin made it pretty clear how contemptuous he was of Western politicians, in Europe and the U.S. It's well known that Putin believes that the European Union and President Barack Obama lied to him several times, particularly in the context of the Libyan war in 2011. (Not hard to believe.) Russia and China abstained on the vote for a no-fly zone in Libya, based on the promise of no military intervention which, Putin believes was a lie.

As I wrote in 2011 (see "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics"), Russia adopted a policy of using the United Nations Security Council to cripple American and Western foreign policy. Putin has been incredibly successful with this policy, by vetoing one Security Council resolution after another, even resolutions mildly criticizing Bashar al-Assad.

So today we're seeing the culmination of Putin's successful policy. Western foreign policy is crippled by Putin's policy, but Putin invades Crimea with no Security Council resolution.

In his speech on Tuesday, Putin clearly expressed his utter contempt for the West:

Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades. After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organizations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe’s capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort. And then, they hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.

There was a whole series of controlled “color” revolutions. Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically. Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples’ cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks in violence and a series of upheavals. The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter."

Putin is saying something I've said many times before in the context of a Generational Dynamics analysis. The survivors of World War II created the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Rockefeller Foundation (Green Revolution), and other international organizations not only to prevent a new world war, but also to end poverty and starvation and to improve health. Only WW II survivors could accomplish these things. But today, with the WW II survivors gone, it's almost impossible to accomplish anything by compromise. The only thing -- the ONLY thing -- that works today is military force. Washington Post

Putin's spokesman signals plans to invade eastern Ukraine

Two weeks ago, Vladimir Putin promised not to "consider" annexing Crimea. That promise was broken within two days.

In his speech on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin said that Russia has no plans to invade eastern Ukraine. But his spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, was interviewed on the BBC on Tuesday, and said in effect the opposite (my transcription):

"First of all, we do expect some measures from those people who are calling [themselves] the Ukrainian government.

And we do expect western community backing those people to take effective measures in order to protect those people living in the eastern regions of Ukraine. Because at the same time, we're receiving reports about clashes in Kharkov, it's an east city of Ukraine, in eastern region. So there are clashes and sounds of gunfire, and also some reports about one or two people being wounded. Those clashes between military gun men and fighters extremist coming from western regions, so we do expect Ukrainian government to protect Russian population. Otherwise Russia simply cannot stay without reaction. We will have to react. We will have to protect Russians, and those Ukrainians living there."

A careful reading of this statement reveals that it contains all of the elements and rationalizations for a Russian invasion of east Ukraine:

In other words, Putin is going to use the violence in Kharkov as an excuse to invade eastern Ukraine, and will blame it on the "Western community" -- the United States and the European Union.

There are many people in Poland, Estonia and Moldova who believe that once Putin is finished "protecting Russians" in Ukraine, he'll move on to their countries. With the U.S. and Europe distracted by the possible war in eastern Europe, China may choose this time to move on the islands in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Report: Chechnya terrorist leader Doku Umarov is dead

Doku Umarov, the Chechen leader of the Caucasus Emirate, has been responsible for several major terrorist attacks in Russia, including bombings at the Moscow airport in 2011 and on the Moscow subway in 2010. In addition, he called for terrorist attacks at last month's Sochi Olympics. A jihadist website says that Umarov is dead, and will be replaced by Ali Abu Mohammed. The report cannot be independently confirmed, and there have been several previous reports of his death, those is the first time by his sympathizers. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-14 World View -- Putin gives angry, nationalistic speech annexing Crimea to Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Mar-14 World View -- Does Iran's anti-nuclear fatwa really exist, as claimed?

U.S. special forces capture pirate Libyan oil tanker in Mediterranean

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's Putin declares Crimea to be a 'sovereign and independent state'


Girl celebrates referendum victory on Sunday in Lenin Square in Simferopol, the capital city of Crimea (Telegraph)
Girl celebrates referendum victory on Sunday in Lenin Square in Simferopol, the capital city of Crimea (Telegraph)

As expected, Russia will not immediately annex Crimea, despite the fact that Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to do so on Sunday. According to the decree signed on Monday by president Vladimir Putin:

"Considering the will of the peoples of Crimea expressed at the all-Crimea referendum on March 16, 2014, I hereby decree that the Republic of Crimea, where the city of Sevastopol has a special status, be recognized as a sovereign and independent state."

This is similar to what Russia did in 2008, after Russia invaded Georgia. Russia took control of two Georgian provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but did not officially annex them to Russia. The annexation thus was "de facto," not "de jure."

In the case of Georgia, international outrage settled down within a few months, and everything returned to business as usual. Possibly Putin hopes the same thing will happen with respect to Crimea.

The other possibility, being advanced by some analysts, is that Putin wants to postpone annexing Crimea until after a new invasion of Ukraine allowing Russia to annex either eastern Ukraine or all of Ukraine, along with Crimea. Itar-Tass (Moscow)

Does Iran's anti-nuclear fatwa really exist, as claimed?

The interim nuclear agreement that the West signed with Iran in November has been very troubled from day one. The full text of that agreement has never been published. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that under the agreement Iran had no right to enrich uranium, while Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gloated that Iran had preserved its right to enrich uranium. The White House published a "summary," but Iran completely rejected the White House summary as "not true." Then, in January, Iran disclosed that there was a secret side agreement to the nuclear agreement. The White House first confirmed this, saying that the side agreement would be made public, and then denied that there was a secret side agreement

In selling the interim nuclear agreement, President Barack Obama frequent referred to a fatwa issued by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and that forbids the development of nuclear weapons. The fatwa supposedly says, "the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons."

The problem is that Obama has apparently never actually seen this fatwa, and apparently neither has anyone else. Iranian and Arab writers have been examining Obama's claim, and they say that there is no such fatwa. The closest thing to it that's verifiable is a slogan from Khamanei:

"Nuclear weapons for no nation, nuclear energy for all nations!"

Memri

U.S. special forces capture pirate Libyan oil tanker in Mediterranean

This story could be the plot of a situation comedy.

Following the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, the eastern region of Libya, formerly known as Cyrenaica and now called the Barqa Region, is being governed by rebels who demand to secede from the Libya headed by the government in Tripoli -- and keep their oil wells for themselves.

A major drama played out in Libya over the last two weeks. A North Korean-flagged oil tanker, the Morning Glory, docked in the port of As-Sidra in "Barqa." The rebels loaded it up with $38 million worth of crude oil from Libya's wells. The Tripoli government said that if the oil tanker leaves port, it would be bombed. The rebels said that if it's bombed, then it would be a "declaration of war."

Then Libya's prime minister in Tripoli announced that the oil tanker had been captured, and that it was under control of Libya's navy. The next thing we heard was that the oil tanker had slipped away anyway. The prime minister was sacked, and he's now fled to Europe.

So the oil tanker headed to the waters near Cyprus, where the pirates began trying to sell off their oil. Both Cyprus and Libya asked for America's help, and early Monday morning, a U.S. SEAL commando team boarded the tanker from a Naval special warfare rigid inflatable boat and took control. No one was injured. The ship will be returned to Tripoli.

Despite the comedic nature of this story, the serious side is that Libya is in chaos. The country is essentially being run by individual militias, with little government control over the country. The Morning Glory incident may not be fully played out, but even if it is, it's going to lead to retribution in its aftermath. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-14 World View -- Does Iran's anti-nuclear fatwa really exist, as claimed? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Mar-14 World View -- Russia and the West plan their next steps after Crimea referendum

Islamic Jihad gaining popularity over Hamas in Gaza

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Islamic Jihad gaining popularity over Hamas in Gaza


Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad

Although Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, last week's rocket barrage from Gaza into Israel came from Islamic Jihad, not from Hamas. Hamas has been losing popularity, and Hamas's loss has been Islamic Jihad's gain.

Hamas has faced a variety of problems in recent months:

The result is that the Gaza economy is in freefall along with Hamas's popularity. The wages of most government employees haven’t been paid for months, there are shortages of fuel, electricity, building materials, and some basic foodstuffs. Gazans are turning to Islamic Jihad as the "hope and change" terrorist group. In the meantime, Islamic Jihad has been arming for a future war with Israel. Israel Hayom and Fox News

Western politicians express outrage as Crimea votes to join Russia

Jubilant citizens in Lenin Square in Crimea's capital Simferopol celebrated Sunday's referendum on secession from Ukraine, where Crimeans voted more than 95% in favor of seceding to join the Russian Federation.

According to Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague"

"Nothing in the way that the referendum has been conducted should convince anyone that it is a legitimate exercise.

The referendum has taken place at 10 days' notice, without a proper campaign or public debate, with the political leaders of the country being unable to visit Crimea, and in the presence of many thousands of troops from a foreign country. It is a mockery of proper democratic practice.

The UK does not recognise the referendum or its outcome, in common with the majority of the international community."

France's president François Hollande said Saturday that if there is no "de-escalation" in Ukraine, there will be "sanctions" Monday the EU against Russia:

"It is a 'pseudo referendum' in the Crimea because it does not conform to the Ukrainian domestic law and international law. This is why France and the European Union will not recognize the validity of this pseudo referendum."

According to Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper:

"The so-called referendum held today was conducted with Crimea under illegal military occupation. Its results are a reflection of nothing more than Russian military control.

This 'referendum' is illegitimate, it has no legal effect, and we do not recognize its outcome. Canada is working with other countries on the possibility of further sanctions."

President Barack Obama telephoned Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Sunday saying the U.S. and allies "prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions." According to the White House:

"We reject the 'referendum' that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine. This referendum is contrary to Ukraine's constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation. ...

President Obama reiterated that a diplomatic resolution cannot be achieved while Russian military forces continue their incursions into Ukrainian territory and that the large-scale Russian military exercises on Ukraine’s borders only exacerbate the tension."

AFP and La Tribune (France) and BBC and NBC News and Canadian Press

Russia and the West plan their next steps after Crimea referendum

European Union leaders, supported by President Obama, plan to meet on Monday in Brussels to decide on sanctions. If Russia takes no further action, it's possible that the whole sanction regime will be abandon and things will go back to business as usual, with Crimea's secession a fait accompli. However, it seems very likely that Russia will take further action.

The first and most logical action would seem to be the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. However, some analysts say that may not be the most likely first step.

Most people seem to agree that Russia's president Vladimir Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet/Russian empire, and wants all of Ukraine, not just Crimea. According to this logic, Putin would hold off annexing Crimea until he could launch a full invasion first of eastern Ukraine, then all of Ukraine, pushing west all the way across Ukraine to the border of Moldova, and its secessionist province Transnistria. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-14 World View -- Russia and the West plan their next steps after Crimea referendum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Mar-14 World View -- Ukraine mobilizes troops to oppose Russian troops attacking gas facility

China lambastes Malaysia for withholding MH370 flight information

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine mobilizes troops to oppose Russian troops attacking gas facility


Moscow sees the biggest anti-Putin demonstrations in years (AP)
Moscow sees the biggest anti-Putin demonstrations in years (AP)

Ukrainian troops have been mobilized to oppose a Russian armed force attacking a gas facility in Ukraine's mainland, north of Crimea. The armed force consists of 80 Russian troops, backed by four helicopter gunships and armored vehicles. This comes amidst reports that the Russian military is moving surface to air missiles into Crimea.

Ukraine supplies almost all of the fresh water, electricity, gas and food that Crimea consumes, and so this may be only the first of several Russian invasions of the Ukraine mainland to secure Ukrainian facilities that supply these things.

A Russian official is justifying the invasion to guard against "terrorists," which is the code word used by Russia's president Vladimir Putin and by Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad whenever either of them wants to use military force to exterminate an ethnic group. Telegraph (London) and AP

China abstains on anti-Russia Security Council resolution

As expected, Russia exercised its veto on Saturday on a resolution that declares Sunday's Russian-sponsored secession referendum in Crimea as having "no validity." The United States was among 13 members that affirmed the resolution. The interesting case was China, which has stood by Russia in vetoing any resolution that even mildly criticized Syria's Bashar al-Assad. In this case, China abstained.

As I wrote last week in "10-Mar-14 World View -- Ukraine - Russia crisis presents problems for China", because any secessionist resolution that China approved might apply to secessionist provinces in China -- Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan. So China was forced to abstain, leaving Russia completed isolated on its invasion of Ukraine.

After the Russian veto, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, said that the veto would not change the aspirations and destiny of the Ukrainian people:

"Nor can it change Crimea’s status. Crimea is part of Ukraine today; it will be part of Ukraine tomorrow; it will be part of Ukraine next week; it will be part of Ukraine unless and until its status is changed in accordance with Ukrainian and international law."

VOA

Russia faces biggest anti-Putin protest in two years

Some 30,000 protesters demonstrated in Moscow on Saturday against Russia's president Vladimir Putin, for the biggest anti-Putin protest in two years. The Ukraine invasion is the trigger for the protests, but they also protested against rising corruption, political repression and censorship under Putin.

However, an even bigger pro-Putin demonstration is expected on Sunday. Putin's increasingly nationalistic agenda is appealing to the public, giving Putin an approval rating at 70%. In a recent poll, two-thirds said they believed that not only Crimea but also mostly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine were "in essence" Russian lands.

Still, the large protest represents the second embarrassment, along with China's Security Council abstention, for Putin on Saturday. Putin had hoped that Russia would experience continuing good will from last month's Olympics games in Sochi, but whatever good will was gained has now been dissipated. Reuters

China lambastes Malaysia for withholding MH370 flight information

As one of China's neighbors in the South China Sea, where China is using its military might to confiscate properties that have belonged to other nations for centuries, China and Malaysia have already had a minor but tense military confrontation. ( "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal" from January.)

So it's not surprising that China is furious with Malaysia over the investigation of the disappearance of flight MH370, which was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying mostly Chinese passengers. According to a Saturday editorial from Xinhua:

"At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed a trove of new information that virtually made the massive rummage in South China Sea for the Boeing 777 aircraft and the 239 people on board a huge waste of valuable time and resources. ...

But it is undeniable that the disclosure of such vital information is painfully belated -- more than seven excruciating days after the 227 passengers and 12 crew members lost contact with their beloved relatives and friends.

And due to the absence -- or at least lack -- of timely authoritative information, massive efforts have been squandered, and numerous rumors have been spawned, repeatedly racking the nerves of the awaiting families.

Given today's technology, the delay smacks of either dereliction of duty or reluctance to share information in a full and timely manner. That would be intolerable.

As the leader of the international search and rescue mission, Malaysia bears inescapable responsibility. Other parties that possess valuable data and information, including plane maker Boeing, engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce and intelligence superpower the United States, should also have done a better job. ...

With time ticking away and the fate of Flight MH370 still shrouded in mystery, it is vital and imperative that the Malaysian side work more thoroughly and efficiently and other major information holders -- not least the Unites States -- be more open and forthcoming."

It's somewhat laughable that China, with one of the most opaque governments in the world, is demanding that the United States be "more open and forthcoming." We wish that China would also be more open and forthcoming, especially about its preparations for a preemptive military attack on the United States. Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-14 World View -- Ukraine mobilizes troops to oppose Russian troops attacking gas facility thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Mar-14 World View -- Kerry threatens sanctions against Russia, but 'nothing personal'

Germany's Angela Merkel warns of a 'catastrophe' and sanction war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kerry threatens sanctions against Russia, but 'nothing personal'


Lavrov and Kerry on Friday (EPA)
Lavrov and Kerry on Friday (EPA)

On Sunday, Ukraine's Crimea peninsula will hold a Russian-sponsored referendum on whether Crimea should secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. With thousands of Russian troops in Crimea, blockading all Ukrainian troops and arresting or beating anyone who demonstrates against the referendum, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that the referendum will pass. Russia's Duma is preparing a constitutional change that will allow Crimea to join the Russian Federation.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops in Russia along the border with eastern Ukraine, there is widespread fear that Russia will invade the rest of Ukraine. Since Ukraine supplies almost all of the fresh water, electricity, gas and food that Crimea consumes, Russia's president Vladimir Putin may well justify an invasion as being necessary to guarantee that these supplies reach Crimea.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who apparently have become BFFs, met for six hours on Friday, ending in disagreement. Lavrov said:

"As to practical measures foreign countries could take, we do not share a common view of the situation, disagreements remain but, of course, the conversation was useful.

Russia has and can have no plans to invade southeastern regions of Ukraine. We assume that the rights of Russians, the rights of Hungarians, the rights of Bulgarians and Ukrainians should definitely be ensured and should be protected. ...

We have confirmed our stance stipulated repeatedly by the Russian president that we will respect the declaration of the will of the Crimean people during the coming referendum of March 16. ...

I'll be bold enough to assure you that sanctions are a counter-productive instrument and if such a decision is taken in Western capitals, it means it will be their decision. One thing for sure is that this will not help mutual interests, business interests, the interests of our partnership in general."

At the same press conference after the meeting, Kerry warned of "very serious" consequences if Russia uses the referendum as a "back-door annexation" of Crimea, including almost immediate economic sanctions against Russia, including travel restrictions and asset seizures of private Russian businessmen and officials close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kerry said:

"After much discussion, the foreign minister made it clear that President Putin is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday.

If the referendum takes place, there will be some sanctions. There will be some response, let me put it that way.

I think, in fairness, Foreign Minister Lavrov is going to report that proposal back to President Putin as he did all of the proposals that we put on the table this afternoon. President Putin will be well aware of all the options.

We are prepared to respect his interests and rights and they can be fully respected.

We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we’re saying is meant as a threat, it’s not meant in a personal way."

So the threat of sanctions is not a threat, and it's nothing personal. Voice of Russia and ABC News

Germany's Angela Merkel warns of a 'catastrophe' and sanction war

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel was not nearly as circumspect as John Kerry. According to Merkel:

If Russia continues down the course of the past weeks, it would not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine.

It would not only change the relationship of the European Union as a whole with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically."

The first round of sanctions have already been announced -- postponement of various meetings.

If a second round is necessary, high-ranking Russian officials will face EU visa restrictions and their EU-based bank accounts will be frozen.

The third round, if necessary, might freeze the assets and bank accounts of politicians, civil servants and military personnel, possibly to include Russian businessmen.

In response, Russia has threatened to "seize property, assets and accounts of companies in the United States and the countries that adopt the sanctions against us," according to a Russian official. Russia could also cancel big contracts with European companies. For example, Moscow could drop its proposed purchase of French naval helicopter carriers.

Some reports suggest that Russia is transferring its Treasury bond holdings out of the Fed, in order to protect them from an asset freeze. Deutsche Welle and Deutsche Welle and WSJ

Saudi cleric issues fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets

A Saudi cleric named Saleh al-Fawzan has issued fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets in Saudi Arabia. "Whoever enters the buffet and eats for 10 or 50 riyals without deciding the quantity they will eat is violating Sharia (Islamic) law," he said. Twitter users mocked the fatwa mercilessly: "What is going on in this world?! i am speechless really! Fatwa prohibits 'All You Can Eat' offers" and "Fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets. You can't even parody this stuff. And we're supposed to respect it?" International Business Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Mar-14 World View -- Kerry threatens sanctions against Russia, but 'nothing personal' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Mar-14 World View -- Russia prepares to annex Ukraine's Crimea - and more

Slovakia becomes the fourth euro zone country in deflation

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

At Far East end of Russia, Putin upgrades the Pacific Fleet


Armored personnel carries of Marine Corps of Russian Pacific Fleet are heading to shore after landing from an amphibious assault ship. (RT)
Armored personnel carries of Marine Corps of Russian Pacific Fleet are heading to shore after landing from an amphibious assault ship. (RT)

After years of neglect, Russia is upgrading and building up its Pacific fleet, president Vladimir Putin focuses on building up its eastern Siberian and Far East regions. During his December 12 Presidential Address, Putin said:

"This is our national priority for the entire 21st century. ... I am confident that Russia’s reorientation toward the Pacific Ocean and the dynamic development in all our eastern territories will not only open up new economic opportunities and new horizons, but also provide additional instruments for an active foreign policy"

Moscow is becoming increasingly concerned about Russia's Far East, where population has fallen 50% since the 1990s, allowing migrants from China to repopulate the region.

In addition to building new logistics vessels, oilers and transport ships to provide logistical support for extended operations of the Pacific Fleet in distant seas, Russia is also seeking other facilities, pursuing negotiations with Vietnam to lease the naval base in Cam Ranh Bay.

Starting on March 28, Russia will participate in the Komodo 2014 multilateral joint exercise, focusing on naval cooperation capabilities in disaster relief. It will involve 28 warships and 4,000 personnel from all ten ASEAN members as well as Russia, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States. (The ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.)

What's notable about this joint exercise is that it will involve countries with overlapping maritime disputes, including the following:

This is occurring as the United States' military begins to pivot 60% of its forces into the Pacific. Jamestown

Russia prepares to annex Crimea and invade Ukraine

The outcome of Sunday's Crimea referendum on seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation as an independent republic seems now to be a foregone conclusion. Russia's parliament is rushing a special constitutional amendment to legalize the annexation of Crimea, and it's expected to be enacted within a day or two. There are Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea, but their bases have all been blocked by Russian forces. Anyone who advocates voting against the referendum risks arrest or being beaten up. Independent media in Moscow have been shut down or restricted.

On March 4, Russia's president Vladimir Putin stated that "Russia does not contemplate the possibility of annexing Crimea," but today it appears that Putin is contemplating more than Crimea, as all signs indicate that Russia is going beyond Crimea. Russia is increasingly on a war footing, with a big military buildup along Russia's border with Ukraine. According to a Ukrainian official in Kiev,

"[Russian forces include] over 80,000 personnel, up to 270 tanks, 180 armored vehicles, 380 artillery systems, 18 multiple-launch missile systems, 140 combat aircraft, 90 combat helicopters and 19 warships and cutters. ...

Critical is the situation not only in Crimea, but along the entire north-eastern frontier. In fact, Russian troop units are two or three hours of travel from Kiev."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the only way out of the crisis is through diplomacy. Jamestown and Daily Mail (London)

Panicked Crimeans line up to withdraw cash from banks

Crimean banks have imposed a withdrawal limit of about $150 per day. Customers are forming long lines to withdraw cash while they can, before Sunday's referendum. CNBC/AP

Slovakia becomes the fourth euro zone country in deflation

Slovakia, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus are now in deflation.

Consumer prices in Slovakia fell 0.1% in February, on a monthly and yearly basis. According to a central bank official, the fall in prices is caused by low food prices and low demand.

In Portugal, prices fell by a monthly 0.3% after a 1.4% drop in January. In Greece and Cyprus price declines are above 1%.

Other Eurozone peripheral countries remain on the cusp of falling prices, with annual consumer inflation running at just 0.1% in Spain, 0.2% in Ireland and 0.5% in Italy. Cihan (Turkey) and EuroIntelligence

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-14 World View -- Russia prepares to annex Ukraine's Crimea - and more thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Mar-14 World View -- Malaysia accused of coverup over lost MH370 airliner

Israel votes to draft ultra-orthodox Jews into the military

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia accused of coverup over lost MH370 airliner


Sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik at Puri beach in India (AFP)
Sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik at Puri beach in India (AFP)

The apparent stonewalling and confusion from Malaysia's government and air force are creating outrage among almost everyone -- the passengers' families, officials of Vietnam and other countries participating in the search, and the public in Malaysia, Vietnam and China. Malaysian authorities have given conflicting information about things they should know, especially when and where was the plane at the last time it made contact with anyone. At different times, Malaysia has said that the last contact occurred one hour after takeoff or two hours, and the plane was east of Malaysia and then west of Malaysia. With huge sums of money being spent by numerous countries to search for the plane, these confusing reports have meant that valuable time has been lost searching in the wrong place. At one point, furious Vietnamese officials discontinued their navy's search efforts for a brief period.

Malaysia is a mostly Muslim country that has a reputation of being hospitable to jihadist groups, so that they won't be angered and conduct terrorist attacks on Malaysia. (This is a strategy that's become a disaster for Pakistan.) So the theory is that Malaysian officials covered up any information they had because it suggested a terrorist act, and revealing that would anger whatever jihadist group perpetrated it.

In my opinion, what is most likely is that Malaysian officials were not being evil, but that they were simply incompetent. Malaysia Chronicle and CBS and Night Watch

Israel retaliates for barrage of 40 or more rockets fired from Gaza

Islamic Jihad is taking responsibility for a barrage of up to 55-90 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, some striking urban, civilian areas, although there were no reports of casualties, in the largest attack since the brief Israel-Gaza war in 2012 (Operation Pillar of Defense). The rockets were fired simultaneously from northern and southern Gaza. Within hours, the Israel Defense Forces retaliated by striking 29 "terror locations" in Gaza with artillery fire. Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Israel votes to draft ultra-orthodox Jews into the military

For the first time in its history, Israel's Knesset on Tuesday voted to end the provisions of the controversial "Tal Law" that kept large numbers of ultra-orthodox men from being drafted into the military.

At Israel's founding in 1948, about 400 exemplary seminary students were exempted from military service to pursue full-time, subsidized biblical studies. Today that number has grown to about 100,000 full-time Torah learners of draft age, making up about 10% of Israel's eligible draftees in what many people are calling a welfare program. Ultra-orthodox Jews defend their exemptions, saying that they shouldn't have to serve, since they're already contributing to the state with their prayers. Arab Israelis have also been exempted, and they defend their exemptions by claiming that they are treated as second-class citizens in Israel. Israel's High Court triggered a political crisis in 2010 when it struck down the so-called Tal Law, which provides for national service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis. Orthodox Jews will have to begin serving in 2017. Reports don't indicate the status of Arab Israelis. Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Independent (South Africa)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-14 World View -- Malaysia accused of coverup over lost MH370 airliner thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Mar-14 World View -- Accusations fly as Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' nears deadline

Genghis Khan owes his Mongol Empire to global warming

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Genghis Khan owes his Mongol Empire to global warming


Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan

A study of tree rings in Asia shows that the meteoric rise of Genghis Khan's Mongol empire occurred during several decades of warm, moist weather in 1211-25, that followed a period of severe drought from about 1180-90. The warm, wet weather provided rich, productive pastures for the herds of war horses on which the Mongols and Khan's invading armies depended. According to the study's author:

"The transition from extreme drought to extreme moisture right then strongly suggests that climate played a role in human events. It wasn’t the only thing, but it must have created the ideal conditions for a charismatic leader to emerge out of the chaos, develop an army and concentrate power.

Where it’s arid, unusual moisture creates unusual plant productivity, and that translates into horsepower. Genghis was literally able to ride that wave."

Each Mongolian horseman in Genghis’s army is said to have had up to five horses, which provided a supply of meat as well as transport. Higher grass yields would have also caused a boom in camels, yaks, cattle, sheep and other livestock. Independent (London)

Accusations fly as Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' nears deadline

Pretty much everyone has known from the beginning that the Obama administration inspired 9-month Mideast "peace process" never had a chance of reaching an agreement, but now that the nine months are almost up and a deadline is approaching, all parties are positioning themselves to blame someone else when the talks collapse.

The lynchpin that's kept the talks going for this long is that the Obama administration convinced Israeli leaders last July to release 104 prisoners, in four evenly spaced groups of 26, from Israeli jails. All the released prisoners had been convicted of terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords. But they're treated as heroes by the Palestinians, and so the Palestinian negotiators are willing to continue the negotiations as long as the prisoners are being released. 78 prisoners have been released so far, and the last batch of 26 are scheduled for release on March 28. The "peace talks" then officially end on April 29.

Among the issues separating the two sides, there are two major ones:

The U.S. State Dept. appears to be siding with the Palestinians, in a statement by State Dept. spokesman Jen Psaki said:

"The American position is clear, Israel is a Jewish state. However, we do not see a need that both sides recognize this position as part of the final agreement."

Since there's no chance at all of a peace deal by the April 29 deadline, the Obama administration is looking desperately for a way to keep the talks going on past that date. Presumably, the Palestinians would have to have some other motivator to stay in the talks, once the prisoner releases have ended. Israel National News and Jerusalem Post and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-14 World View -- Accusations fly as Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' nears deadline thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Mar-14 World View -- Terrorist bombings continue in Pakistan despite so-called 'cease-fire'

3D printing promises to revolutionize defense, aerospace industries

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea's Kim Jong-un reelected with 100% of the vote


Kim Jong-un voting for himself on Sunday
Kim Jong-un voting for himself on Sunday

North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-un has won re-election to the Supreme People's Assembly, receiving 100% of the vote, with 100% turnout. According to the official news agency:

"This is an expression of all the service personnel and people's absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong Un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him."

When you vote in North Korea, there's only one candidate on the ballot, and you're allowed to vote Yes or No. And the way you do that is to openly pick up the Yes ballot from one table or the No ballot from another table, in full view of everyone, and then drop the ballot into the ballot box.

The reason that North Korea even holds elections is because it allows the authorities to keep track of dissidents, as not being home to vote would put a dissident's life in danger. Independent (London) and AP

Terrorist bombings continue in Pakistan despite so-called 'cease-fire'

On March 3, terrorists carried out a terrorist suicide bombing on a courthouse in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, killing 11 people, including a judge, and wounding 23 others. According to reports, the terrorists entered the complex and opened fire indiscriminately at everyone, hurled hand grenades and later exploded their suicide vests.

This came just one day after the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) announced a one-month "unconditional" cease-fire, to allow negotiations with the government to continue. As I indicated at the time, these cease-fire announcements are often used by terrorists to give themselves time to restock their weapons inventory. After the March 3 attack, a TTP spokesman said,

"We have already declared a ceasefire and we strictly adhere to our deal with the Government. Our colleagues in the organisation also cannot violate this agreement."

Well, apparently that doesn't apply to all of TTP's "colleagues." One of their colleagues is supposed to be Ahrar-ul-Hind (AH), a TTP splinter group, who claimed responsibility for the March 3 attack. According to an AH spokesman:

"We are an independent group and have no links with TTP. We were a part of TTP earlier but now we operate independently."

He said that the judicial system in the country was "un-Islamic" and that they would continue their "struggle" till Shariah law was enforced.

In Punjab province alone (the province where Islamabad is located), there are at least 57 extremist and terrorist outfits, out of which at 28 are homegrown. Punjab is also home to various foreign terrorists, including the Afghan Taliban and Uzbek terrorists. Security forces do little to stop these groups, for fear of being attacked themselves in retribution. Some of these groups, particularly Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), were originally created by Pakistan's security forces in the 1980s to fight the Indians in Kashmir or the Russians in Afghanistan. Today, those groups have turned against Pakistan, and are actively training to take control of Afghanistan once the Americans and Nato leave. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

Outrage growing in Pakistan as famine kills hundreds of children


Hundreds of villages have been vacated in the drought (The Nation)
Hundreds of villages have been vacated in the drought (The Nation)

Hundreds of children have died of malnutrition and disease in Pakistan's Sindh province in the last few weeks, because of the worst drought since 2000. On Sunday, 375 children were brought to a single hospital on one day. In just the last few days, thousands of families have been compelled to leave their homes in search of water, leaving hundreds of villages vacated. Finger-pointing has begun, with the federal government and the local Sindh government accusing each other of letting the situation get out of control. The Nation (Pakistan) and Gulf Times

3D printing promises to revolutionize defense, aerospace industries


3D Printing
3D Printing

3D printers have gained worldwide attention for their ability to create all kinds of small objects, particularly guns, on the fly. However, 3D printing, also called "additive manufacturing," has been hampered so far because the plastic materials used in the process created items that broke under stress. But new, more advanced printers use metal-based substances, making it possible to manufacture hard-to-make items, such as brackets and tools for multi-million dollar programs ranging from satellites to jet fighters, revolutionizing the defense and aerospace industries. National Defense Magazine

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Mar-14 World View -- Terrorist bombings continue in Pakistan despite so-called 'cease-fire' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Mar-14 World View -- Ukraine - Russia crisis presents problems for China

Libya in chaos, war threatened over North Korean tanker

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine - Russia crisis presents problems for China


Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich and China's president Xi Jinping in December, signing a military and nuclear pact.  (AFP)
Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovich and China's president Xi Jinping in December, signing a military and nuclear pact. (AFP)

Some commentators have said that China will face a difficult decision in the United Nations Security Council when it has to decide whether to side with Russia in its military intervention Ukraine's Crimea region. China always takes the moral high ground by declaring that no country should interfere internally with another country (which it ignores when it comes to interfering in African countries). Thus, no outsider should interfere with China's mass slaughtering of Tibetans, for example, since that's an internal matter. So now China wants to side with Russia, but has the dilemma of dealing with its "moral" position of non-interference.

According to one report that I've heard, China has resolved this moral dilemma by blaming the United States. According to China, it was the "biased mediation" by the U.S. that interfered with Ukraine by encouraging the original Maidan anti-government protesters to continue protesting peacefully. Thus, according to this reasoning, it's OK with China for Russia to invade Ukraine, because of the U.S. interference in Ukraine's affairs. VOA and Want China Times

Relations between Ukraine and China

Oddly enough, China has close relations with Ukraine, with military, trade and agricultural partnerships. In 2012 Ukraine became the fourth-largest arms exporter in the world, with many of those exports going to China. Beijing's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was built in Ukraine.

Perhaps even more surprising is that China has a nuclear pact with Ukraine. On December 5, President Viktor Yanukovich signed an accord with a clause that says that in the event of a nuclear attack or so much as the threat of one, China would offer Kiev military support.

This pact is seen as sending a message to China's Asian neighbors that China is a nuclear power and a growing military power and, unlike the United States, is not afraid to use its military power to get what it wants.

What it wants is a great deal of territory in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and Asia, including regions that have belonged to other countries for centuries, that it would take immediately were it not for the United States. Speaking to the National People's Congress on Saturday, China's foreign minister Wang Yi said:

"We will not take anything that is not ours, but we will defend every inch of territory that belongs to us. We will never bully smaller countries, yet we will not accept unreasonable denunciation from smaller countries.

There will not be any change to this position. We will more actively practice our neighborhood diplomacy guideline of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. ...

We are also willing to listen to the voices from our neighboring countries and respond to the doubts about China’s neighborhood diplomacy. ... [With regard to the disputes with Japan,] on the two issues of principle, history and territory, there is no room for compromise."

Foreign Policy and Al-Jazeera

China: 'There is no room for compromise'

I'm not sure what Wang Yi means by "We will never bully smaller countries." China has been bullying smaller countries in the South China Sea for years, and has already used its military might to annex territories that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam. It has clearly stated that it intends to use its military power to annex multiple regions belonging to other countries in the South China Sea, as well as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands governed by Japan. China has also made repeated military incursions into India, threatening to confiscate regions along their common border.

It would seem that China and Russia are completely on the same page. Russia has invaded Ukraine's Crimea and will probably annex it to Russia, and China plans to invade numerous neighboring regions and annex them.

In fact, China is also threatening Russia's Far East. Population in the Far East has fallen 50% since the 1990s, while China has sent a flood of illegal migrants to repopulate the region, and take advantage of the rich natural resources. ( "22-Mar-11 News -- Russian offer of Japanese resettlement in Siberia raises xenophobic tensions")

This is consistent with what Generational Dynamics has been predicting for years -- that in the approaching Clash of Civilization world war, China, Pakistan and other countries will be allied against the U.S., India, Russia, and other countries. So the current relationship between Russia and China is a friendship of convenience. Russia and China were close to thermonuclear war in the 1960s, and they will be at war again.

American commentators and politicians constantly worry about the danger of war between Russia and the West, when there's actually little chance of that. In the meantime, China is spending billions of dollars every year developing and deploying new weapons systems that have absolutely no purpose other than to permit a preemptive nuclear missile attack on America's cities, aircraft carries, and military installations. Indian Express

Libya in chaos, war threatened over North Korean tanker

Historically, the eastern and western regions of Libya have been in conflict, and during the 2011 revolution that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, eastern and western rebels fought with each other, as well as against Gaddafi forces. Now the eastern region, formerly known as Cyrenaica and now called the Barqa Region, are the rebels against the new government in Tripoli in western Libya.

On Saturday, a North Korean tanker, the Morning Glory, docked in As-Sidra in eastern Libya, and has been loaded with $38 million worth of crude oil from Libya's wells. Tripoli is saying that the sale is illegal, and has threatened to bomb the ship if it leaves port with the oil. The rebel government says that if any harm comes to the tanker, it would be "a declaration of war." Reuters and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Mar-14 World View -- Ukraine - Russia crisis presents problems for China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Mar-14 World View -- Growing U.S. - Iran - Hezbollah relationship alienates Israel

Russia increases its military presence in Ukraine's Crimea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Captured Iranian arms vessel docks in Israel


Iranian missile captured by Israel forces
Iranian missile captured by Israel forces

A commercial vessel, the Klos-C, from Iran docked in Israel late Saturday. The Panamanian-flagged vessel had sailed a circuitous route from Iran, and was loaded with dozens of medium-range Syrian M-302 missiles destined for Gaza.

Israeli and U.S. intelligence had been tracking the ship for months. The missiles were flown from Syria to Iran several months ago. In late December, the Klos C sailed from the Black Sea through the Suez Canal to the Persian Gulf, docking in Iran around January 23. The weapons were stashed onboard, unknown even to the Turkish captain and the crew members of various nationalities. It departed on February 3, stopping at another port, finally sailing out of the Gulf, around Yemen, and into the Red Sea where it was intercepted by Israeli forces. The plan was to dock at Port Sudan on the Red Sea, from where the missiles could be transported overland to Gaza.

The entire allegation is a manufactured lie, created at the behest of Jewish lobbyists in the United states, according to a spokeswoman for Iran's foreign ministry:

"The claims and extensive anti-Iran propaganda were made while the Zionist regime’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington to attend the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)."

A Palestinian official said the following:

"The ship has been sailing for weeks and it is seized exactly when Netanyahu is in Washington. The entire operation and the reports raise many questions regarding the timing and whether the event was real or fabricated."

The M-302 rockets have range of between 90 to 190 kilometers, depending on their model type, and their arrival in Gaza would have represented a boost to the ability of Islamic Jihad to target Israeli cities with missiles. Jerusalem Post and Forbes and Fars (Tehran)

Growing U.S. - Iran - Hezbollah relationship alienates Israel

As the nuclear arms talks with Iran proceed, Israeli leaders are increasingly distrustful of the administration of president Barack Obama who, they fear, will continue to make numerous concessions to Iran and in the end will still allow Iran to continue development of nuclear weapons. Israel is pointing to the intercepted weapons shipment as proof that Iran cannot be trusted to keep its word.

In fact, reports from Lebanon media indicate that the U.S. is developing a closer relationship with Iran, but also with Hezbollah, the Lebanese group named by the U.S. and the West as one of the major terrorist groups in the world. At Qatar's request, a Lebanese security agency has been mediating between the U.S. and Hezbollah.

Areas of cooperation between Hezbollah and the CIA include intelligence information on al-Qaeda linked rebel groups in Syria, with the U.S. attempting to help Hezbollah evade terrorist attacks.

First reports of links began in 2012, with the number of meetings growing throughout 2013. By January 2014, the meetings have become very detail oriented, and cover topics such as the following:

The reasons for the growing relationship between the U.S., Hezbollah and Iran, despite Israeli objections, are in shared interests in fighting Sunni terrorist organizations, while disregarding the Shia terrorism promoted by Iran and Hezbollah. The U.S. seems to perceive Shia terrorism as a lesser danger to its security than Sunni terrorism.

It's ironic, as I've been writing for months, that it's these three entities, along with Russia, that have CREATED the Sunni terrorist threat in Syria and made it as large as it's become. This is because Russia has been supplying unlimited numbers of weapons to the genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and supporting him, along with passive support of the Obama administration, as he conducts "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, even using sarin gas against his own people, and particularly targeting innocent Sunni women and children. This has drawn Sunni terrorist jihadists from Europe, from Russia's Caucasus region, from northern Africa, from Pakistan, and even from as far away as Indonesia. Thanks to the U.S., Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, Syria has become the jihadist capital of the world.

However, what's really interesting about all this is that the Generational Dynamics prediction that I've been posting for almost ten years is coming true. When I started writing in the mid-2000s decade that India, Russia and Iran would be allied with the West against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni countries, it seemed almost fantastical that we would be allied with Iran. And yet, that's exactly the direction we're going. This is further proof of the validity of the Generational Dynamics methodology. Haaretz and Memri

Russia increases its military presence in Ukraine's Crimea

Hundreds of military trucks transporting heavily armed soldiers are reinforcing Russia's presence in Ukraine's southern Crimea peninsula. Many of them were seen in eastern Crimea on Friday night after apparently having crossed the Straits of Kerch, which separates Crimea from Russian territory. Different reports estimate that there are between 11,000 and 20,000 Russian troops in Crimea. In the week since Russia seized control of Crimea, Russian troops have been neutralizing and disarming Ukrainian military bases here. Some Ukrainian units, however, have refused to give up, and all Ukrainian bases have been blockaded. AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Mar-14 World View -- Growing U.S. - Iran - Hezbollah relationship alienates Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Mar-14 World View -- Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama

Russia escalates the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama


Protesters fight police in Caracas on Thursday (AFP)
Protesters fight police in Caracas on Thursday (AFP)

Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro has severed diplomatic relations with Panama, accusing the country of being a "lackey" for the United States in a conspiracy plot against his government. According to Maduro:

"There are maneuvers by the U.S. government plotting with a lackey government that has a right-wing president who is leaving in the next few months, who is not worthy of his people, who has been working actively against Venezuela."

The expulsion was triggered by a Panamanian request for a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) to discuss solutions to the unrest and violence in Venezuela. Maduro said:

"Nobody will conspire with impunity to ask for an intervention against our fatherland. Enough!"

Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats recently, on accusations of recruiting students to hold violent, rock-throwing protests against him. Washington has rejected the claims as baseless. But Maduro is desperate to blame anyone he can for the disastrous economic situation in his country, which continues to worsen, especially since the death of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez. The inflation rate at 56% is the highest in the world. The murder rate is 25,000 annually, one of the world's highest per capita rates, and 97% of the murders go unpunished. The supermarket shelves are bare, with shortages of everything from toilet paper to vegetables. Anti-government protests have been getting larger and more violent for a month.

However, Maduro's move may simply be a way to get out of paying a debt. Venezuela owes Panama about $1 billion, mostly from debts incurred related to use of the Panama Canal, and for COPA, the Panamanian airline.

According to Panama's president Ricardo Martinelli:

"I don't want to think that this is an excuse not to pay and that the Venezuelan state is a deadbeat.

Venezuela would appear to be bankrupt, although it shouldn't be because it is a very rich country."

Martinelli suggested that despite breaking diplomatic relations, Venezuela "has no excuse" to not pay off its debts. Russia Today and CNN and AFP

Russia escalates the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region

Russia escalated the conflict over Ukraine's Crimea region both politically and militarily on Friday. In doing so, hopes that the crisis might end soon seem very unrealistic.

Although Russia still refuses to admit that there are Russian troops in Crimea, it was clear that Russian troops were tightening their grip within Crimea:

On the political front, there's been a lot of euphoria in Moscow after the Crimean parliament voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, and to hold a referendum on March 16. Russia is making plans to annex Crimea and Sevastopol as new members of the Russian Federation. It was announced that on March 21, the Duma will vote for a constitutional amendment to allow for the annexation of Crimea, making it the first addition to Russia since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

It's only been a few days since Russia's president Vladimir Putin promised not to "consider" annexing Crimea. That promise was broken within two days by fast-moving events.

Three days ago, Russian troops that had been performing military drills along the border between Russia and Ukraine for several days were recalled to their barracks. As I wrote at the time, this was considered such good news that Wall Street was sent into a bubble-happy frenzy, pushing stocks up parabolically.

But in fact, something similar happened in 2008. There were massive military maneuvers on the border with Georgia, leading to fears that Russia was about to invade Georgia. Everyone breathed a sign of relief when the military exercises ended on July 31. But the invasion of Georgia began only eight days later, on August 8. If Russia follows the same pattern, then a full-scale invasion of Ukraine may be only a few days away. CNN and BBC and Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-14 World View -- Venezuela breaks diplomatic relations with Panama thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Mar-14 World View -- Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine, galvanizing US and EU

Henry Kissinger says that Vladimir Putin wants a way out

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Henry Kissinger says that Vladimir Putin wants a way out


Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State

Henry Kissinger is the most brilliant geopolitical analyst that I've seen in my lifetime, so what he says, even when counter-intuitive, is likely to be correct. He was interviewed on TV by Charlie Rose on Thursday, and said the following:

"No Russian I've ever met finds it easy, or even possible, to consider Ukraine a totally separate country. It was part of Russia for 300 years. The history of Russia and Ukraine have been intertwined for several hundred years before that. So the evolution of Ukraine is a matter that moves all Russians."

As I described yesterday, Russia is claiming that there are no Russian troops in Crimea, and that the Russian-speaking troop-like people are really local militias over which Russia has no control.

As I said, this is a blatant lie, as many reporters have spoken to Russian soldiers in Crimea who SAY that they're Russian soldiers. According to some estimates there are 16,000 Russian soldiers in Crimea.

Kissinger says that lying about the soldiers is cynical, but it's a good sign, because it provides a way for Russia to back down. Russia's president Vladimir Putin is going to suffer a major loss of prestige over the Ukraine crisis, no matter how it turns out, according to Kissinger, and Putin knows this. So far, Putin has done what he was forced to do. But now, since he's said that there are no Russian soldiers in Crimea, he doesn't have to issue a public order for the Russian soldiers to evacuate. Instead, he can just allow them to melt into the population. Although Putin will suffer some loss of prestige from this outcome, it's not as bad as other scenarios, according to Kissinger.

Kissinger also commented on Thursday's hour-long phone call between president Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Kissinger said that he's always advised presidents he's worked for not to talk to other heads of state, unless their staffs had done a lot of preparation in advance. "There's a danger when you put two egos together, and they talk unprepared. If they disagree about something, then to whom will they be able to appeal to get a resolution?"

Crimea's parliament votes to secede from Ukraine and join Russia

Just when everyone was hoping that events in Ukraine were beginning to settle down, they took a dangerous new turn early on Thursday when the Parliament of the Autonomous State of Crimea voted to separate from Ukraine and become part of Russia. There will be a referendum on March 16 with two questions:

The question that receives more "yes" votes will be considered the "will of the people."

The interim government in Kiev immediately said the vote was unconstitutional, since regional governments can't vote to secede from the nation. According to acting president Oleksandr Turchynov:

"This will be a farce, this will be falsification, this will be a crime against the state, which was organized by the military of the Russian Federation."

Any attempt for Crimea to secede from Ukraine would be rejected by Kiev, and might trigger a violent confrontation between federal forces and regional forces, the latter supported by the Russians.

Most commentators are predicting that because of the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea, the choice to secede and join Russia will win the referendum. However, a BBC reporter in Sevastopol said on air that he'd spoken to a lot of ordinary people who said that they want Russia's protection, and they want Kiev to protect their rights, but they don't want to become part of Russia. He said that it's far from certain that the secession side will win the referendum. Kyiv Post

United States and European Union apply sanctions

The sanctions that the United States and the European Union imposed on Russia on Thursday were pretty meaningless. Certain meetings have been canceled, certain individuals won't be allowed to travel to certain places, and so forth. It was all pretty symbolic.

What's interesting is that an emergency European Union summit on Ukraine that had been going on for several days would have ended on Thursday with no sanctions imposed whatsoever, if it hadn't been for the Crimean Parliament vote for secession. Leaders of EU member nations that had rejected sanctions because they would just inflame the issue further changed their minds, and the talk of the secession referendum ended up galvanizing Europe's response. The symbolic sanctions were approved, along with a statement that said that trade sanctions would be employed if Russia escalated further. (No one seriously believes that the EU would ever apply trade sanctions to Russia, since Russia would retaliate, with devastating results to both sides.) CNN

India charges Kashmiri students with sedition for cheering Pakistan at cricket

A group of Kashmiri students in an Indian university were charged with sedition on Sunday when they cheered for Pakistan at a big Pakistan-India cricket match, and then celebrated when Pakistan won. The sedition charges, which might have resulted in 3-year prison terms, were dropped on Tuesday, but other charges of "disrupting communal harmony" and "causing damage to public property" are still being investigate. However, the students have all been suspended as a "precautionary measure" for their own safety, and have been sent home. The suspension affects all 67 students in the Kashmiri community, since no one was willing to identify the specific few students who had

The suspended students are saying that the damage to property was done by the Indian team supporters, who vandalized their rooms. These charges are not being investigated. Hindustan Times (India) and Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-14 World View -- Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine, galvanizing US and EU thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Mar-14 World View -- Russia prepares invasion, and Arab states have major split

China refers to the U.S. ambassador as a 'banana'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's Lavrov blatantly lies as Russia prepares for Ukraine invasion


A member of the Ukrainian Navy stands guard on top of the Ukrainian navy command ship Slavutych in Sevastopol.  Russian ships are blockading the Ukrainian ships.
A member of the Ukrainian Navy stands guard on top of the Ukrainian navy command ship Slavutych in Sevastopol. Russian ships are blockading the Ukrainian ships.

On Wednesday, Russia continued to mobilize its troops on Crimea, apparently preparing for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Absurdly, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Lavrov continued to insist that there were no Russian troops in Crimea. He said that they were all ethnic Russian militias over which he has no control. If Lavrov can sit there and make such a ridiculous lie, then assume that everything else he and Putin say is a lie. Falsus in unum, falsus in omnibus.

If you believe in actions rather than words, then Russia is preparing for an invasion of Ukraine.

The rest of the day Wednesday was spent in fatuous diplomatic posturings on all sides. So nothing has changed since yesterday, and a major conflict could still break out at any time, and appears to be inevitable. Telegraph (London)

Gulf Arab states have major split over Egypt and Iran

Since it was formed in 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance has always hid its internal differences from the public, so Wednesday's very public split qualifies as a significant event. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar on Wednesday after a stormy GCC meeting on Tuesday. Two other GCC members, Kuwait and Oman, took no position on the split, and may try to mediate.

The three countries issued a joint statement saying that the split occurred because Qatar allegedly refused to honor a security agreement that all GCC members approved last year on November 23 not to back "anyone threatening the security and stability of the GCC whether as groups or individuals - via direct security work or through political influence, and not to support hostile media." In particular, Qatar has refused to implement three specific provisions:

Qatar declined to withdraw its own ambassadors from the three countries, and defended its relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran:

"The move taken by the brothers in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain has nothing to do with the interests of the Gulf peoples, their security and stability.

Qatar is very keen on maintaining brotherly links between the people of Qatar and all other Gulf peoples."

A Qatari official said that the split is really about Egyptian politics, targeting Egyptian general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who headed the coup that ousted Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government from the presidency last year:

"It is unfortunate that some of them [GCC countries] are trying to force Qatar to take certain policies which have nothing to do with the Gulf, nothing to do with Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain.

The whole issue is really about Sisi. These countries, they are supporting a coup d’état where thousands of Egyptians are being killed in front of the whole world. And they want Qatar to support such a policy. But we will never support any regime which kills its own people.

I am sure in the days after that wisdom will come and these countries will realize that trying to impose the philosophy of my way or the highway will not work with Qatar."

Qatari officials are particularly infuriated because three al-Jazeera reporters in Egypt have been jailed for over two months, on charges of having reported news in a way favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood. Gulf News (Dubai) and Al-Jazeera (Doha) and AFP

China refers to the U.S. ambassador as a 'banana'

A Chinese state media editorial has called Gary Locke, who is finishing up his tenure as U.S. ambassador to China, a "banana," and a "guide dog" that had stirred an "evil wind."

In China, the epithet "banana" is an ethnic slur. It's related to the American ethnic slur "Oreo," used by a black to refer to someone who is black on the outside and white on the inside, meaning "not black enough." Similarly, "banana" means yellow on the outside but white on the inside, meaning not Chinese enough. (Apparently, "coconut" is similarly used by Hispanics.)

Locke is of Chinese descent, but apparently he's more loyal to America and American values than to China and Chinese values. Hence, he's a "banana." To put it very simply: "America makes Chinese Americans, but China does not -- and does not particularly want to -- make American Chinese." CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-14 World View -- Russia prepares invasion, and Arab states have major split thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Mar-14 World View -- Wall Street goes parabolic on Russian troop pullback

Spam of the Day - from Ukraine, with Love and Care

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Wall Street goes parabolic on Russian troop pullback


Vladimir Putin at a news conference
Vladimir Putin at a news conference

Early on Tuesday morning (ET), Russian troops along the border with Ukraine were recalled to barracks. That set Wall Street stock futures rising. Then, a few hours later, Russia's president Vladimir Putin gave a news conference saying that Russia had no intention of invading Ukraine. That sent stocks parabolic, with a 228 point surge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (March 4) morning was 17.87, which is astronomically high by historical standards.

Here are some things that bubble-happy investors presumably didn't pay attention to:

Putin said that there were no Russian troops in Crimea, which is absurd.

The rest of the day was filled with tough talk from Western leaders, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Very little has changed since yesterday. Nobody has fired a shot yet, but even an accidental "incident" could occur at any time and spiral into a military conflict. FxStreet and BBC

While gaining in Ukraine, Putin now goes after Moldova

Russia's president Vladimir Putin used the 2008 invasion to prevent Georgia from joining Nato, and with the recent invasion of Crimea, Putin has prevented Ukraine from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union. Now Putin is trying to prevent one more former Soviet republic from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union -- Moldova.

Moldova is a small country on the western boundary of Ukraine, while Russia is along the eastern boundary. The Moldovan government has been pro-European since 2009, and they're prepared to sign an Association Agreement with the EU in August. Putin has been using money and persuasion, funding anti-Europe referendums, pointing out the hardships borne by countries in the European Union. Putin has convinced Moldova's population to begin to turn against integration with Europe, with only 44% now favoring it.

Russia is particularly focusing on the breakaway republic of Transnistria, a region in the form of a strip of land along the border of Ukraine, which strongly favors Russia, and has a similar role to that of Crimea. Transnistria separated from Moldova in 1992 in a civil war, and Russia has been subsidizing the region with $30 million per year. Spiegel

Russia Today anchor Abby Martin criticizes Russia in Ukraine

At the end of her Monday tv broadcast on Russia Today's program "Breaking the Set," American-born RT anchor Abby Martin criticized RT's "misinformation" on the Ukraine crisis, and made an editorial comment criticizing Russia's military intervention in Ukraine:

"Just because I work here, for RT, doesn't mean I don't have editorial independence and I can't stress enough how strongly I am against any military intervention in sovereign nations' affairs. What Russia did is wrong.

I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression. Furthermore, the coverage I've seen of Ukraine has been truly disappointing from all sides of the media spectrum, and ripe with disinformation.

All we can do now is hope for a peaceful outcome for a terrible situation, and prevent another full-blown cold war between multiple superpowers. Until then, I'll keep telling the truth as I see it. ...

I don’t know as much as I should about Ukraine’s history or the cultural dynamics of the region, but what I do know is that military intervention is never the answer."

As far as we know, Martin still has her job, and has not been sent to a hard labor camp in Siberia. RT issued a statement that Martin is free to express her own opinion, but not on the air. The statement said there will be no reprimand, but she'll be sent to Crimea "to give her an opportunity to make up her own mind from the epicenter of the story." Mashable

Spam of the Day - from Ukraine, with Love and Care

Here's a spam message that I received last week:

Good antibiotics made with love and care. In our online store http://iucxuvwabzjyp.[redacted].ua

The ".ua" suffix means that the web address is from Ukraine. I wonder whether the "love and care" is being done by Russians or Ukrainians?

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-14 World View -- Wall Street goes parabolic on Russian troop pullback thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Mar-14 World View -- West discusses sanctions, as Russia prepares for war in Ukraine

Israel's Netanyahu rebukes Obama over Mideast peace process

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

More on the 'Autonomous State of Crimea'

Several people have commented on yesterday's World View column with the title "Russia declares the Autonomous Republic of Crimea" by pointing out that Crimea has been the "Autonomous State of Crimea" since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. The point I was trying to make with that headline was that Russia was taking over in Crimea, but the result was poorly worded. I apologize for the confusion.

Other readers pointed out that South Ossetia has a majority Orthodox Christian population. There is a sizable Muslim population, but it's not a majority. I apologize for the error.

Thanks for the corrections. Republic of South Ossetia

West discusses sanctions, as Russia prepares for war in Ukraine


Protesters compare Russia's annexation of Crimea with Hitler's annexation of Sudetenland in 1938 (AP)
Protesters compare Russia's annexation of Crimea with Hitler's annexation of Sudetenland in 1938 (AP)

No shots have been fired yet, but that may change soon. Thousands of Russian troops are pouring into Crimea, the southern peninsula of Ukraine, trapping Ukrainian soldiers in their bases and Ukrainian boats in their ports. There are 150,000 troops on Russia's Ukrainian border doing military exercises.

There were several reports on Monday of ultimata given by the Russians, demanding that the Ukrainians surrender or face a "military storm." One of these deadlines is for late Monday evening, ET. These reports have been denied by Moscow, and have described these claims of threats as "nonsense."

As tensions skyrocket in Ukraine, investors dumped the Russian stocks and the ruble currency. Russia's stock market plunged 11%, and the ruble fell 1.8% against the dollar, and a similar amount against the euro. Investors fear that Russia's energy exports will suffer, and that Ukraine's corn and wheat exports will also suffer.

The administration of president Barack Obama is pinning its hopes on these adverse economic reports as "costs" that Russia has to pay. According to Obama on Monday:

"Russia is on the wrong side of history. ...

What cannot be done is for Russia, with impunity, to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world.

What we are also indicating to the Russians is that if, in fact, they continue on the current trajectory that they're on, that we are examining a whole series of steps -- economic, diplomatic -- that will isolate Russia."

According to the administration, Russia has already suffered heavy "costs" of billions of dollars from the plunge in Russian stock shares and rubles. The administration is considering sanctions against Russia, such as restricting travel to the United States by Russian officials and oligarchs.

Even if the administration went ahead with some kind of sanction, chances are it would be meaningless. Sanctions cut both ways, and Russia has many billion dollars of trade with Europe and more billions with the U.S. Stocks didn't just fall in Russia on Monday. They plunged globally, with the farthest in Russia. Any meaningful sanctions would be so painful to everyone they would never be enacted.

However, according to the Washington Post's editorial board, which has always been a strong supporter, Obama's foreign policy is "based on fantasy":

"For five years, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which 'the tide of war is receding' and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s 'This Week' Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, 'It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.' ...

Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power."

It's very hard disagree with anything in this editorial. After one foreign policy debacle after another, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and others, and after Monday's statement pinning hopes of vague "costs" to stop Russia in Ukraine, I can only repeat what I've said before: Typical of his Generation-X cohort, President Obama and his staff have no clue whatsoever what's going on in the world.

As of this writing, nobody has fired a shot in Ukraine, but that could change at any time. Russia is making threats, trying to get Kiev to overreact, so that Russia will have an excuse for military action. Perhaps Russia has no intention of military action, and is massing troops for the purpose of gaining a negotiating advantage. But if so, and even if Kiev continues to play it cool, even an accidental "incident" could occur at any time and spiral into a military conflict. AFP and Kyiv Post and Washington Post

Israel's Netanyahu rebukes Obama over Mideast peace process

In an interview late last week, President Barack Obama explained what he was going to say to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their Monday meeting. Obama said that he believes that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas "is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist." However, Abbas has repeatedly demanded that Israel could exist only on condition of the "right to return," meaning that the grandchildren of Palestinians who lost their homes in the 1940s could reclaim those homes in modern Israel. Obama said:

"We are coming to a point, though, over the next couple of months where the parties are going to have to make some decisions about how they move forward. And my hope and expectation is that, despite the incredible political challenges, that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas are able to reach past their differences and arrive at a framework that can move us to peace.

When I have a conversation with Bibi, that’s the essence of my conversation. If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who? How does this get resolved?"

Obama repeated an earlier threat that the U.S. would not be able to protect Israel from "international fallout," such as the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court as the nation "Palestine," and use that platform to accuse Israel of war crimes. According to Obama,

"If you see no peace deal, and continued aggressive settlement construction -- and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time -- if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous, sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited."

In a joint press conference on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu issued a rebuke:

"The 20 years that have passed since Israel entered the peace process have been marked by unprecedented steps that Israel has taken to advance peace. I mean, we vacated cities in [the West Bank]. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months.

And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.

Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth. And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth because they’ve been living it."

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a major regional war between Jews and Arabs, re-fighting the war that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. It really doesn't make any difference what Obama and Netanyahu say or do. Bloomberg and White House

Is the United States really no different than Russia?

Something I've heard a lot in the last couple of weeks is that Russia invades countries and the U.S. invades countries, and so there's really no difference. This deserves a response.

Historically, this comparison is completely wrong. When the U.S. "invades," it's for a police action in our role as policemen of the world, for what we believe to be a benevolent cause. We became policemen of the world in 1947 under the Truman Doctrine, which justified military police actions because they could prevent a new world war, and because their costs in blood and money are tiny in comparison to massive costs of World War II. This was later reaffirmed by President John Kennedy when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

However, when Russia invades, it's to annex territory for the Soviet/Russian empire.

The U.S. has never annexed Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, or Iraq, and has no plans to annex Afghanistan. You might argue that the Vietnam war and other wars were mistakes, and that may (or may not) be true. But it's incontrovertible that we did so to save South Vietnam from Communism, and that we never had any intention whatsoever to annex Vietnam. So there's no "moral equivalence" between Russia and the United States.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-14 World View -- West discusses sanctions, as Russia prepares for war in Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Mar-14 World View -- Russia declares the Autonomous Republic of Crimea

North Korea fires short-range missiles into the sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia declares the Autonomous Republic of Crimea


An Orthodox priest holds a crucifix next to armed men in military fatigues blocking access to a Ukrainian border guards base in Crimea on Sunday (AFP)
An Orthodox priest holds a crucifix next to armed men in military fatigues blocking access to a Ukrainian border guards base in Crimea on Sunday (AFP)

It appears that Russia has taken control of Crimea without firing a shot, and is referring to it as the "Autonomous Republic of Crimea," presumably with the intention of making it a puppet state of Moscow.

Ukraine's government in Kiev is only a few days old, and seems to be in disarray. So far, they're avoiding any strong military overreaction that would provide Russia with an excuse for a further military invasion, perhaps into eastern Ukraine beyond Crimea. However, the government warned Sunday it was on the brink of disaster and called up military reservists to counter Russia's threat to Ukraine.

Russia has appointed Sergey Aksyonov to prime minister, and on Sunday he announced:

"I believe that this day will go down in history of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the day that all law enforcement agencies were established in the autonomy, We will prove that the Crimeans are capable of protecting themselves and ensure the safety and freedom of our citizens. ...

Today the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is formed as an independent, integral public authority. I am sure that all of us will prove that we did not just come into power and that we can give Crimeans what they expect from us.

We will never see 'Maidan' with their black smoke and burned tires here. I responsibly promise that Crimea by May will be calm, quiet, friendly. People of all nationalities will live here happily."

This last paragraph is actually pretty funny. Aksyonov has absolutely no clue whether Crimea will be "calm, quiet and friendly." No national leader at any time or place in history can be sure of avoiding widespread anti-government demonstrations that might result in "black smoke and burned tires." A government can use violence and torture to suppress demonstrations for a time, but even that doesn't always work (as we see every day in Syria). Sooner or later the pressure cooker explodes.

As I've written dozens of times, 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. 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. So Aksyonov's claims are totally meaningless.

There have been many comparisons of today's situation in Ukraine to Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia, where Russia annexed two Georgian provinces in much the same way that Russia is now annexing Crimea.

But there was something noteworthy about the Georgian war that rarely gets mentioned. Here's what I wrote in "Moscow Times: 'Russia Adds 2 New Countries to Its Map'" in 2008:

"What's become clear in these three weeks is that there isn't much visceral hatred between Georgians and Russians. The Georgians are furious that the Russians are occupying Georgian territory, but there's no genocidal fury between these two ethnic groups.

What's also become clear, however, is that there is plenty of genocidal fury between Georgians and Ossetians. These two ethnic groups really hate each other, and either of them would gladly exterminate the other."

Those relationships turned out to be the deciding factors in what followed after the war ended. Russia and Georgia, both Orthodox Christian nations, have gotten along pretty well since then, while Muslim South Ossetia effective joined North Ossetia to become part of Russia's North Caucasus provinces. North and South Ossetia get along well with Chechnya and Dagestan and Russia's other North Caucasus provinces, even though the Muslim Caucasians as a whole and the ethnic Russians exhibit mutual vitriolic hatred, almost on a daily basis.

Likewise, the future of Ukraine is going to be determined by the relationships between the ethnic groups. There have been signs of hatred between ethnic Ukrainians and ethnic Russians at the government level: The new Kiev government voted to ban Russian as an official language in the country, while the government in Moscow has been referring to the Kiev government as "Nazis." But so far, I have not discerned a great deal of hatred at the level of ordinary Ukrainians and Russians (though it's early and it may simply not have shown itself yet).

If there were only ethnic Russians and a few ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea, then the hopes and dreams of Aksyonov for a "calm, quiet, friendly" future might actually have a chance. But that's not what you have.

You have 2 million ethnic Russians, and 300,000 Muslim ethnic Tatars living in Crimea. Russia's dictator Josef Stalin in 1944 deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea, where they had lived for centuries, to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence. The Tatars are scared to death of being under the control of the Russians again, and so they're aligning themselves with the government in Kiev. And the references in Moscow to "Nazis" in Ukraine strike a very deep chord in the Tatar psyche. There is no way that this relationship is going to be "calm, quiet and friendly." Russia Today and AFP

Strategic consequences of Russia's conquest of Crimea

One web site reader (BronxZionist) has kindly provided a list of some of the possible strategic consequences of the Russian conquest of Crimea:

North Korea fires short-range missiles into the sea

North Korea fired two short-range Scud missiles into the sea off its east coast Monday, with a range of 500 km. This was the second such launch recently. On Thursday, North Korea fired four Scud missiles from the same area. According to South Korea's Defense Ministry, the missile firing are a reaction to the annual South Korean/U.S. joint military exercises, and that they're a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban use of ballistic missile technology. According to a South Korean spokesman:

"North Korea is taking a two-faced approach, showing the reconciliatory peace gesture on the surface, while launching provocations on the other hand," the spokesman said in a briefing. "We sound a serious warning to North Korea, urging it to stop provocations. ...

In light of the border trespassing and short-range missile launches, South Korean and U.S. forces have stepped up their surveillance status to closely watch the North Korean military's latest moves. We are ready to strike back if provoked."

A North Korean statement blamed the U.S.:

"The United States is stepping up military provocations, going against the tide of peace and eased tension on the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. does not welcome improved inter-Korean ties and is conducting all forms of maneuvers to intensify confrontations between the two Koreas."

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea. Yonhap (Seoul)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Mar-14 World View -- Russia declares the Autonomous Republic of Crimea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Mar-14 World View -- Knife-wielding mob of probable Xinjiang terrorists kill 28 in southern China

The Charge of the Light Brigade into the Valley of Death

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions escalate between Ukraine and Russia


Russian troops in Crimea on Saturday (AP)
Russian troops in Crimea on Saturday (AP)

On Friday, Russia said that the massing of Russian troops on Ukraine's border had nothing to do with the unrest in Ukraine. But on Saturday, Russia's president demanded and got approval from Russia's parliament for those troops to invade Ukraine. (Paragraph corrected. 2-Mar)

In response, Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov announced that he put the country's armed forces on the highest alert status, because of the threat of "potential aggression" by the Russians.

Now analysts are trying to figure out what the Russians are going to do next. Few believe that Russia will try to take control of the entire country militarily, since since after they won they'd have to deal with a nasty, continuing insurgency by ethnic Ukrainians. Some suggested that Russia might take Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Others suggested that Russia might try to force the interim government in Kiev to accept a unity government where Russia's interests would be protected.

So far, the Kiev government has refused to fall into Russia's trap. Russia is apparently trying by any means possible to provoke violence against ethnic Russians in Ukraine, so that he can order a full-scale invasion of Ukraine "to protect Russian interests." AP

The Charge of the Light Brigade into the Valley of Death

Few Americans know anything about World War I except the name, and even fewer have ever heard of the Crimean War. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these wars in America's non-crisis eras, which is why they're so poorly remembered. Those two wars were generational crisis wars for Russia and Turkey, where they're VERY well remembered.

Britain fought in both of them. In The Great War (WW I), the soldiers fought bravely, but there was a strong anti-war movement. Wilfred Owen, a 24-year-old soldier, wrote "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?" in "Anthem for a Doomed Youth." The British Generals botched the war so badly that veterans described the entire war as "Lions led by Donkeys." (See "Politicians commemorate Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916" from 2006.)

The Crimea peninsula has been the site of one extremely bloody war after another for centuries. It's right on the fault line between Russia and the Orthodox Christian civilization versus Turkey and the Muslim civilization, as well as on the fault line between various ethnic groups. Here, and in the Balkans and the Caucasus, many wars were fought to the death, and the 1850s Crimean War was one of them.

Britain also fought in the Crimean war, on the side of the Turkish Ottomans, with one battle well-remembered today, the one described by Alfred Lord Tennyson in his 1855 poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade." (When I first read this poem, in school, I thought a "light brigade" was a brigade of soldiers carrying lanterns. Actually, it's a lightly armed brigade on horses, with little more than sabers to fight with.) The Light Brigade was ordered by a British General to charge their Cossack and Russian opponents, and take away their guns and cannons. But "someone had blundered," and the Russians used their guns and cannons to massacre the British soldiers:

The "Valley of Death" still exists -- it's in Balaclava, right next door to Sevastopol in Crimea, where Russian soldiers are once again massing, preparing for what may be just another chapter in a never-ending series of Crimean Wars.

By the way, modern nursing began during the Crimean War, when British nurse Florence Nightingale led a team of nurses to treat wounded soldiers in Turkey. Spark Notes and BBC

Knife-wielding mob of probable Xinjiang terrorists kill 28 in southern China

At least 29 people were killed and 130 wounded late Saturday when a mob of terrorists used long knives to attack passengers in a crowded train station in Kunming in southern China. Chinese authorities said that "evidence at the crime scene showed that the Kunming Railway Station terrorist attack was carried out by Xinjiang separatist forces."

Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs live northwestern China in Xinjiang province, which has been a source of activist violence and separatist demands. China has responded with violent crackdowns, and attempted to flood the province with Han Chinese transplants, in a failing attempt to pacify the Uighurs by diluting their population. On October 29 of last year, Uighur terrorists conducted a deadly car crash in Beijing's central Tiananmen Square, killing 5 people and injuring dozens. Saturday's attack was apparently timed to cast a shadow over the opening on Wednesday of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress. Xinhua

Pakistan's Taliban announce one-month cease-fire

A Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) spokesman says that the TTP will observe a one-month cease-fire, in order to allow the "peace talks" with the government to resume. According to the spokesman, the senior TTP leadership have instructed all of its splinter groups to abide by the ceasefire.

The offer comes just four days after Pakistan announced that it was reversing previous "peace talk" policies. Since then it's been pounding suspected Taliban handouts, and the army is massing for a "full-fledged clearing operation" on Taliban terrorists. ( "28-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban")

The TTP cease-fire is a standard tactic used by terrorist groups to gain time to rearm. Now the government has to decide whether to go ahead with its military plans, or to fall for the tactic. VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Mar-14 World View -- Knife-wielding mob of probable Xinjiang terrorists kill 28 in southern China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Mar-14 World View -- Russian troops in Ukraine raise fear of 'Abkhazia scenario'

Burma accuses Doctors without Borders of bias towards Rohingyas

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian troops in Ukraine raise fear of 'Abkhazia scenario'

With Russian warplanes and over 2,000 Russian troops now invading Ukraine, Ukraine's acting head of state, Oleksandr Turchynov, said:

"They're playing the Abkhazia scenario. ...

I am personally addressing President Putin to stop the provocation and call back the military from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and work exclusively within the framework of the signed agreements."

The "Abkhazia scenario" refers to Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia, after which Russia annexed two of Georgia's provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Indeed, Russia appears to be following exactly the same pattern that it followed prior to the Georgia invasion.

President Barack Obama made a totally meaningless televised statement late Friday afternoon:

"However, we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe.

It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws. And just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."

It's fair to say that Russia's president Vladimir Putin, who is guilty of war crimes every day by shipping arms to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad who's using them for crimes against humanity against his own people, could not care less that Obama is "deeply concerned" or that Russia might be committing "a clear violation" of international laws. Putin may well also believe that he's a better judge than Obama of what is and is not "deeply destabilizing." However, President Obama didn't take the opportunity to set any more red lines. Politico

Ukraine's president invokes the 1994 'Budapest Memorandum'

At the same time that Ukraine's acting head of state, Oleksandr Turchynov, accused Russia of "playing the Abkhazia scenario," he also alluded to a 1994 treaty:

"I also remind that the United States, Russia and Great Britain are also guarantors of the national security of Ukraine. ...

Because of Verkhovna Rada's [the parliament's] and my personal appeal, the United Nations Security Council is having a session right now. The whole civilized world supports Ukraine.

We demand to stop the provocation, we demand to normalize the situation. We're sure that Ukraine will preserve its territory, Ukraine will defend its independence and any attempts of annexation, intrusion will have very serious consequences."

The reason that the United States, Russia and Great Britain are also guarantors of the national security of Ukraine is because they all signed the 1994 "Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances."

This memorandum was signed shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The breakup left a collection of Soviet nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and there was international concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, and send them back to Russia. In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state.

Turchynov's point is that this agreement is now being violated.

Here's a philosophical question: Do treaties and memoranda between nations ever mean anything? Or are they just political appliances to be discarded by one side or the other as soon as they become inconvenient? RFERL

Burma accuses Doctors without Borders of bias towards Rohingyas

The government of Burma (Myanmar) has ordered the humanitarian agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) to cease operations, because of bias towards Rohingyas. The context is that in the last three years, large mobs of Buddhists have massacred entire neighborhoods of Muslims in various regions of the country, mutilating, raping and killing hundreds, and displacing thousands from their homes. ( "3-Oct-13 World View -- Buddhist violence against Muslims in Burma/Myanmar continues to spread")

The massacres originally targeted Muslim Rohingyas in Burma's Rakhine State in 2012, near the border with Bangladesh. There have been recurrences, most recently in January, when Buddhists are alleged to have massacred Rohingyas, killing 48. Burmese authorities have been denying that there's any problem at all, and they particularly denied that any massacre occurred in January. However, MSF confirmed that their medics had treated 22 patients near the site of the alleged attack, infuriating Burmese officials. This led to the demand that MSF cease operations, presumably so that further massacres can occur without witnesses.

Since the violence erupted in June 2012, MSF has provided care in northern Rakhine, home to more than 1 million Rohingya, and they are also present in more than a dozen camps for the displaced people elsewhere in the state. For many of the sickest patients, the organization offers the best and sometimes only care, because travelling outside the camps for treatment in local Buddhist-run hospitals can be dangerous and expensive.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these kinds of ethnic hatreds often spring up during generational Crisis eras, and they eventually lead for a massive crisis war.

Nonetheless, some analysts try to find root causes for these genocidal urges. According to one analyst, Burmese Buddhists have a "siege mentality" stemming from a scripturally unsupported but widely believed "prophecy" that Buddhism will disappear 5000 years after the Buddha’s passing. As 1956 is considered the halfway point, the belief is that Buddhism is now declining irreversibly.

In addition, the "siege mentality" is further supported among Burmese Buddhists from being surround by large, populous countries -- China, India, Bangladesh -- with a combined population of over 2.7 billion, with a large-scale influx of migrant workers from all of these countries. So between the disappearance "prophecy" and being encircled by huge foreign populations, it takes little imagination to construct a narrative where these three populous countries are scheming to swallow up the country through demographic pressure. AP and BBC and RSIS

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Mar-14 World View -- Russian troops in Ukraine raise fear of 'Abkhazia scenario' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Mar-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban

Russian fighter jets patrolling the Ukraine border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban


Protesters blockading Nato traffic last month (Dawn)
Protesters blockading Nato traffic last month (Dawn)

In a major policy reversal, the government of Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif is planning to launch a full-scale military offensive against the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP). The attack will be focused in the Taliban strongholds in the tribal area that borders Afghanistan.

This is a reversal of a bizarre policy of trying to end terrorist attacks by "negotiating" and "peace talks" with the TTP. When Sharif was elected as prime minister in May of last year, he said that he would fulfill campaign promises by opening negotiations. But as soon as the peace talks were proposed, the TTP immediately started to impose conditions: 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 country. Furthermore, the TTP promised that they would continue terrorist attacks while the "peace talks" were proceeding. Finally, the Sharif administration is becoming tired of allowing the TTP to humiliate him over and over.

There's been no official announcement of when the military operation will begin, but an unnamed Pakistani official says that that Pakistan already has 150,000 troops in the tribal region ready to "begin a full-fledged clearing operation."

Pakistan's new policy is focused on restricting attacks within its borders. That means that militants who use Pakistan for a staging base to attack U.S. and Afghan forces in neighboring Afghanistan will still be allowed to operate, as long as they observe a cease-fire in Pakistan. The News (Pakistan) and McClatchy and Dawn (Pakistan)

Pakistan protesters end their blockade of the Nato supply route

The Movement for Justice party, which governs Pakistan's northwest province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) announced on Thursday that it was ending its blockade of 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. Nato was still able to use other, less convenient, routes, but reopening this route solves a major headache for Nato, as it tries to move equipment out in anticipation of the end of Nato's military actions in Afghanistan.

The blockade was announced in November by the party's leader, Imran Khan, who is a former cricket superstar who has turned into a very anti-American politician. He claimed that the terrorist attacks in Pakistan were caused by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists, and he announced that the blockade would continue until the American drone strikes ended. The American drone strikes did end in December, at least for the time being, and that was given as a reason on Thursday for ending the blockade.

This is a significant change of policy, because it's the end of the "hope and change" fantasies that were fostered by both Sharif and Khan in telling the Pakistani people that America was to blame for the Taliban's terrorist attacks in Pakistan. That was always pretty obvious anyway, since the vast majority of the attacks were on Shias and Sufis, whose extermination was completely unrelated to either American drone strikes or Nato's activities in Afghanistan.

The change is significant also for the reason that it could lead to a conflict that could spiral into a larger war within Pakistan, which could then spiral into a wider war in the region. The bloodiest refugee crisis in the 20th century was the war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India. Generational Dynamics predicts that the partition war will be re-fought. It's now been over 60 years since that war ended, and all the generations of survivors of that war are gone. The time is ripe, and a new war could begin at any time. Daily Times (Pakistan) and AP and SATP (India)

Russian fighter jets patrolling the Ukraine border

A day after it was revealed that 150,000 Russian troops were massed on the border with Ukraine, Russian fighter jets began patrolling the border. Concerns are rising that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is about to begin, possibly with the objective of annexing Crimea to Russia, in the same way that Russia annexed two provinces of Georgia by means of an invasion in 2008.

However, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry allayed all those concerns on Thursday by announcing that he had just spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who assured him that large-scale Russian military exercises near the Ukrainian border were previously scheduled and not connected in any way to the unrest in Ukraine. Voice of America

Large pension company will leave an independent Scotland for UK

With a referendum on scheduled for September 18 for Scotland to decide whether it wants to separate from Britain and become an independent country, a large pension firm that employs 5,000 people in Scotland out of a total head count of 8,500 says that it's already making preparations to move some of its operations out of Scotland if the vote on the referendum is "yes." The company, Standard Life, is based in Edinburgh and has been based in Scotland for 189 years, so the loss would be significant. The announcement strikes a symbol blow against the referendum, which polls already indicate will be voted "no" in September. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan reverses itself, plans large-scale military attack on Taliban thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Feb-14 World View -- Russia masses troops on Ukraine border, as ethnic Russians and Tatars clash

Hezbollah vows retaliation for Israel's air strike in Lebanon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's ethnic Russians and Tatars clash in Crimea


Pro-Russian protesters (left) clash with Crimean Tatars (right) on Wednesday (AP)
Pro-Russian protesters (left) clash with Crimean Tatars (right) on Wednesday (AP)

Long-dormant World War II hatreds came alive again on Wednesday, when ethnic Russians clashed with ethnic Tatars outside of Crimea's parliament building in Simferopol in southern Ukraine. Thousands of Tatars demonstrated in front of the Crimean parliament on Wednesday to block deputies from passing any legislation that would support the separation of Crimea from Ukraine. According to one Tatar activist:

"We warned them not to arrange a [parliamentary] session. Do not explode the situation in the Crimea. We know they need that session to tear Crimea from Ukraine. We warned that the Crimean Tatars will not allow this to happen."

As the Tatars chanted "Ukraine" and "Motherland! Crimea! People!", pro-Russia demonstrators gathered, shouting "Crimea is Russia!" According to one pro-Russia activist:

"We are here to defend ourselves from those western Ukrainians, who think they can decide our future here in Crimea. They never asked us what we wanted. We've spoken Russian for 200 years here, and we're not going to start speaking that Ukrainian. It's not even a real language, it's a dialect."

Russia's dictator Josef Stalin, who had already engineered the massive famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, in 1944 deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea, where they had lived for centuries, to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence. However, the bitter feelings between the Russians and the Tatars still remains, and could spiral into a bloody confrontation. Ria Novosti and CS Monitor

Russia masses 150,000 troops on border with Ukraine

Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered war games involving 150,000 troops along the border with Ukraine. This followed several days of activities, as trucks full of armed Russian troops arrived at the Black Sea port of Yalta, and armored personnel carriers arrived at Sevastopol. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was "carefully watching what is happening in Crimea." He claimed that no invasion of Ukraine was planned, but also said:

"The commander-in-chief [Vladimir Putin] has set the task of checking the capability of the armed forces to deal with crisis situations posing a threat to the military security of the country,"

The United States warned Russia against interference in the crisis, saying military intervention by Moscow would be a "grave mistake". Ria Novosti and Washington Times and Telegraph (London)

Hezbollah vows retaliation for Israel's air strike in Lebanon

Lebanon's Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah vowed to "choose the appropriate time, place and method of response" to retaliate against Israel for an air strike on Monday. The target of the air strike is unknown, though Hezbollah claimed that "no one was martyred or wounded," and there was only "material damage." However, some security sources say that the strike hit two trucks transporting missiles and a missile launcher into Lebanon, and that four Hezbollah members were killed. Israeli defense officials are expecting Hezbollah to target senior Israeli figures in the future, in retaliation for Monday’s air strike. Daily Star (Beirut)

Nigeria asks France for help in dealing with Boko Haram terrorists

France, which already has thousands of peacekeeping troops in former colonies Mali and Central African Republic, is now being asked to help a former British colony, Nigeria, to deal with the growing threat by the jihadist terror group Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden"). The request was triggered by a horrific terror attack on a school in northeastern Nigeria on Tuesday where 29 boys were killed, and the girls were told to go home, get married, and abandon Western education. There had been soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the government school, but they were mysteriously withdrawn hours before the attack, leaving the terrorists to continue their massacre for five hours, with no troops or security agents intervening. Nigeria's government also asked for help from neighboring Cameroon, saying that the terrorists hide out in Cameroon. (Paragraph corrected. 27-Feb) Nigeria Bulletin and Oman Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Feb-14 World View -- Russia masses troops on Ukraine border, as ethnic Russians and Tatars clash thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine's 'separatist' talk threatens ethnic Tatars

China considers two new anti-Japanese national holidays

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's 'separatist' talk threatens ethnic Tatars


Ukraine - Crimea is the peninsula at the bottom, jutting into the Black Sea
Ukraine - Crimea is the peninsula at the bottom, jutting into the Black Sea

As we've discussed several times, western Ukraine is mostly populated by Ukrainian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians, while eastern Ukraine is mostly populated by Russian-speaking ethnic Russians. However, even eastern Ukraine isn't entirely Russian, and although the Russian language is spoken there, it's spoken with a Ukrainian accent.

The exception is the Crimea, the body of land at the bottom of Ukraine, jutting into the Black Sea, and connected to mainland Ukraine by a narrow strip of land. This is the most Russian part of Ukraine, and the most Russian part of Crimea is the port of Sevastopol, a strategically important naval port hosting Russia's Black Sea fleet. This is the place to which deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled over the weekend, and he has not been seen publicly since then. It's impossible to predict what will happen to Ukraine from the current crisis, but one thing is certain: Russia will not let go of Sevastopol.

Talk of "separatism" is high in Sevastopol. And we're not talking about separatism of east Ukraine from west Ukraine. We're talking about separation of Crimea from the rest of Ukraine. Sevastopol's city council on Monday already demanded a referendum on rejoining what they call "The Motherland."

The situation has become sufficiently alarming that even Moscow is backing down a bit. Two days ago, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev referred to the situation as "an armed uprising" by "people with black masks strolling through Kiev with Kalashnikov rifles."

But on Tuesday, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was considerably more subdued:

"We are using our contacts with the various political forces at play in Ukraine in order to calm the situation down.

[It is] dangerous and counter-productive to try to force upon Ukraine a choice on the principle of 'you are either with us or against us'. We want Ukraine to be part of the European family in every sense of the word."

Whether this reference to the "European family" represents a change in policy remains to be seen, but it's certainly a change in rhetoric.

The possibility of Crimea rejoining Russia is of greatest concern to the Tatars, a mostly Turkic language speaking Sunni Muslim ethnic group, currently numbering around 300,000. Russia's dictator Josef Stalin, who had already engineered the massive famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, in 1944 deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea, where they had lived for millennia, to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence.

Tatars are concerned that a return to Russia rule would mean "the end of the Crimean Tatars," according to one activist:

"If the violence in Ukraine were to spread to Crimea, 300,000 Crimean Tatars would come face to face with approximately 2 million Russians living there. Soldiers in Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol are ready to invade Crimea. The parliament of the Autonomous Region of Crimea is under the control of Russia, is predominantly of Russian ethnicity and is against the Crimean Tatar National Assembly and Crimean Tatars."

CS Monitor and Telegraph (London) and Zaman (Istanbul)

U.S. expels three Venezuela diplomats in tit-for-tat reprisal

The U.S. State Department said that two first secretaries and a second secretary at Venezuela's embassy in Washington had been declared personae non gratae, and have been given 48 hours to leave the country. The expulsion is tit-for-tat reprisal for Venezuela's expulsion of three American diplomats last week. Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro expelled three U.S. diplomats last week on accusations of recruiting students to hold violent, rock-throwing protests against him. Washington has rejected the claims as baseless. Reuters

Nigeria's Boko Haram kills 39 school students after army mysteriously withdraws

Gunmen from Nigeria's Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden") stormed at 2 am Tuesday, and killed 29 pupils, all boys, many of whom were burnt to death by a fire. The girls were spared, and were told to go home, get married, and abandon Western education. The school was secular, and students were both Christian and Muslim.

Outrage is growing in Nigeria because Boko Haram has killed thousands of civilians, but the armed forces are failing to protect them, or even respond to raids. In this case, there had been soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the government school, but they were mysteriously withdrawn hours before the attack. And then the terrorists were able to continue their massacre for five hours, no troops or security agents intervening. It's believed that the soldiers knew the attack was coming, and then withdrew either because they wanted to support the terrorists, or because they were afraid of being killed themselves. BBC and CBS News

China considers two new anti-Japanese national holidays

Laws have been submitted to China's National People's Congress to add two new holidays to the list of China's national holidays:

The proposed law is expected to pass. BBC and Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine's 'separatist' talk threatens ethnic Tatars thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Feb-14 World View -- U.S., IMF, EU facing bailout requests from Ukraine and Greece

Russia says Ukraine chaos is a 'real threat' to its interests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia says Ukraine chaos is a 'real threat' to its interests


Festive chaos in Kiev (NBC)
Festive chaos in Kiev (NBC)

Government has essentially disappeared in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, with such functions as are available being performed by activists who participated in the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych, with the support of the parliament. These activists mostly represent ethnic Ukrainians, and are mostly pro-European and often bitterly anti-Russian, blaming Russia and Ukraine's ethnic Russians for Yanukovych's brutal violence that killed dozens of young activists. The activists have issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovych, accusing him of "mass killings" of civilians.

There are reports that the parliament is considering a law that would remove Russian as one of Ukraine's official languages, and some even want to go so far as to remove citizenship status from ethnic Russians in Ukraine. This has sparked anti-Ukraine nationalism in Russia, where there are discussions of granting citizenship to ethnic Russians from Ukraine.

On Monday, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that what is going on is a "real threat" to Russia:

"We do not understand what is going on there, there is a real threat to our interests and to the lives and health of our citizens.

Strictly speaking, today there is no one there to communicate with. The legitimacy of a number of power bodies is in huge doubt. If you consider people in black masks strolling through Kiev with Kalashnikov rifles a government, then it will be difficult for us to work with such a government.

Some our foreign, western partners hold the opposite opinion, they think these people to be legitimate power bodies. I do not know what constitution and what laws they have been reading, but I hold that it is some sort of conscience aberration when you call something legitimate while in reality it is a result of an armed uprising."

Yanukovych has disappeared, and his whereabouts are unknown. According to some reports, he was last spotted in Balaclava, a town near Russia's Sevastopol naval base in Crimea on the Black Sea. According to the reports, he drove off with a 3-car convoy late on Saturday night, and hasn't been seen since. Ria Novosti and Russia Today and Reuters

Ukraine says that it needs a $35 billion bailout

Ukraine is on the brink of default, following years of massive government corruption and government overspending. In December, Russia promised a bailout loan of $15 billion, but that was before president Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown.

There are some reports that Russia is considering sending troops into Kiev, but almost everyone considers that highly unlikely, inasmuch as Russia can make Ukraine suffer financially. Ukraine's economy depends heavily on natural gas from Russia's Gazprom. Ukraine owes Gazprom $3 billion, and Russia could cut off all gas transmissions at any time. Russia could also cut off Ukrainian exports to Russia.

Ukraine says that it's going to need a $35 billion bailout for 2014 and 2015. It seems likely that the U.S., the IMF and the European Union are going to be asked to provide that bailout. Bloomberg

Bitter dispute with troika over Greece's bailout needs

History is repeating itself as the "Troika" of organizations bailing out Greece -- the European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- are in a bitter dispute with Greece's government over the amount of bailout money needed by Greece. Greece claims that it needs only 5.5 billion euros, while the Troika has done an analysis and comes up with a figure close to 20 billion euros.

One reason that Greece needs more money than anticipated is because one of its austerity measures -- the reduction of lump sum pension payments to civil servants -- has been declared unconstitutional by a Greek court. The Troika will demand that Greece take other measures to reduce its debts. The disagreement between Greece and the Troika is mostly internal right now, but if it's now resolved quickly, then it will become a very big, public fight. Greek Reporter and Kathimerini

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Feb-14 World View -- U.S., IMF, EU facing bailout requests from Ukraine and Greece thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Feb-14 World View -- Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday

Russia on top of the world as Sochi Olympics games end

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Protests in Caracas threaten both Venezuela and Cuba


Nicolás Maduro cartoon (Gulf News)
Nicolás Maduro cartoon (Gulf News)

Hundreds of pro-government demonstrators, most of them older people, marched through Caracas on Sunday, for the "March of Seniors." However, it's the anti-government demonstrators that are threatening the government of Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro. And the reason that Venezuela is unraveling is because crime and the economy continue to worsen. The inflation rate at 56% is the highest in the world. he murder rate is 25,000 annually, one of the world's highest per capita rates, and 97% of the murders go unpunished. The supermarket shelves are bare, with shortages of almost every basic product needed for day to day living.

Maduro has reacted to these problems ordering supermarkets to slash prices, jailing business owners as "speculators," and sending troops to stores to liberate washing machines "for the people." He's closed down independent television stations, deported CNN reporters, and jailed opponents.

Maduro doesn't have anything close to the charisma of his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, who died last year and left behind an economy close to disaster. According to one Maduro opponent, Chavez’s gift for showmanship enabled him to create distractions and defuse frustration, but Maduro, stiff and wooden in comparison, relies more on thuggery. So although the "March of Seniors" is demonstrating in favor of the current government, Maduro's tin ear, combined with the worsening economy and crime situation, is putting the entire Socialist government in danger.

And the end of Venezuela's Socialist government would have a profound impact on Cuba's Socialist government, because it would mean the end of Venezuela's subsidies. Venezuela ships around 100,000 barrels per day of subsidized oil to Cuba, and gives employment to thousands of Cuban doctors, sports instructors and military advisors in Venezuela. Venezuelan opposition activists have been demanding for an end to these subsidies, at a time when Venezuela's economy is so poor. CNN and Gulf News and Miami Herald

Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who has been president since 1980, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday. Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), operate as de facto enforcers of government policies and commit assault, torture, rape, extralegal evictions and executions without fear of punishment.

Mugabe's actions are mostly based on the historical enmity of two tribes -- Mugabe's Shona tribe, and his enemies, the Ndebele tribe. Genocidal warfare occurred between these two tribes in previous generational crisis wars -- the Mfecane war that climaxed in 1828, the Matabele Wars that climaxed in 1897, and the Rhodesia civil war, climaxing in 1979. It was the last war that gave Zimbabwe independence, making Mugabe the President.

In 1983, to consolidate his hold on power, Mugabe launched "Operation Gukurahundi" (The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rain). 20,000 people, almost all of them from the Ndebele tribe, were tortured, raped and slaughtered.

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

After 2003, more and more Zimbabweans have been dying of starvation, because Mugabe has destroyed the farm infrastructure. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. Today, Zimbabwe's official currencies are the U.S. dollar and the South African rand. Zimbabwe was a wealthy country until 2000, until Mugabe almost literally destroyed it single-handedly.

There is no obvious successor to Mugabe, and it's believed that if he left the scene, then there would be new violence between the Shona and Ndebele tribes. Independent (Ireland)

Russia on top of the world as Sochi Olympics games end


Joss Christensen, American gold medal winner in freestyle skiing
Joss Christensen, American gold medal winner in freestyle skiing

There were doping scandals and gay rights controversies, but overall Russia seems to done pretty well as host of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russia's athletes came out way ahead of everyone else, with 13 gold medals out of 33 total, ahead of Norway (11 gold out of 26 total), Canada (10 out of 25), and the United States (9 out of 28).

Russia conducted the biggest security operation in Olympic history, with a flotilla of naval vessels in the Black Sea, around 50,000 police and security personnel on the ground, the interception of data and emails, and surface to air missiles deployed in strategic positions. It worked, because there were no reported terrorist incidents in Russia during the Olympics games. According to IOC President Thomas Bach in the closing ceremony:

"Tonight we can say: Russia delivered all what it had promised. What took decades in other parts of the world was achieved here in Sochi in just seven years.

Through you [the Russian people], everybody with an open mind could see the face of a new Russia: efficient and friendly, patriotic and open to the world. We arrived with great respect for the rich and varied history of Russia. We leave as friends of the Russian people."

Off-topic, I found the following chart to be interesting:


Prize Money for Sochi Olympic Medalists, by country (Ria Novosti)
Prize Money for Sochi Olympic Medalists, by country (Ria Novosti)

It looks like the Kazakhstan really wants to encourage their people to participate. Reuters and Ria Novosti

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Feb-14 World View -- Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Feb-14 World View -- Freed Yulia Tymoshenko gives passionate speech to Ukraine's opposition crowds

President Obama draws another line, and tells Ukraine not to cross it

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Freed Yulia Tymoshenko gives passionate speech to Ukraine's opposition crowds


Yulia Tymoshenko on Saturday (BBC)
Yulia Tymoshenko on Saturday (BBC)

On a day of fast-moving events in Ukraine, the parliament voted to dismiss president Viktor Yanukovych from office, and to free Yulia Tymoshenko immediately. Once freed, Tymoshenko gave a riveting, passionate speech to the huge crowd in the Maidan (Independence Square) in Kiev:

"There is a new Ukraine. The heroes of the Maidan are saviors and the saviors of Ukraine. I wanted to come to the barricades on Grushevskogo and I want to feel how our brave men and women were defending us and were willing to give their lives to protect this sacred place that will always be in our hearts.

I was blaming myself that I wasn’t able to be here. Every time I saw a man fall down the bars of the prison were holding me back. They died to give us the opportunity to change what we had before. Each politician who might betray you should remember the faces of the dead heroes.

In any case you should not leave the Maidan until everything you strive for is achieved. You should go on to the end. No one has the right to step back from here. There is no way back.

It was not politicians or diplomats or world leaders who made this happen. It is you, the people who stood on Maidan, who changed the situation.

It was never a fair fight. How can it be a fair fight when you have a wooden shields against sniper rifles and kalashnikovs. But the people knew it was not fair and they continued. ...

We must bring Yanukovych and the scum that surrounds him to Maidan. ...

The snipers who put their bullets through the hearts of our heroes but a bullet in all our hearts. And it will never be removed until every one of them is punished. Everyone will be punished for what they do wrong.

This nation will never again fall to its knees. No one will ever again do this to us because we will never let them."

The call to bring Yanukovych back to Kiev to be punished will be significant. The whereabouts of Yanukovych are unknown, but it's thought that he's in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, after being prevented from taking a plane to Moscow.

There have been some reports that officials in Moscow are very contemptuous of Yanukovych because he was took weak during the crisis. The people in Moscow prefer someone like Syria's psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad who conducted "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, using sarin gas against his own people. Yanukovych was apparently unwilling to do stuff like that, or he was prevented from doing so by parts of his army, and so he's worthless to the folks in Moscow.

Yulia Tymoshenko received wild cheers during her speech on Saturday, but she's apparently not all that popular. The presidential elections have been rescheduled to May 25, and she said on Saturday that she's going to run for president, but she may not be able to win. She's extremely unpopular with the eastern 1/3 of Ukraine, which consists mostly of Russian-speaking ethnic Russians. The western 2/3 are mostly Ukrainian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians, but not everyone there loves her either. She's 53 years old, making her part of that old, corrupt generation, in the view of many activists. She was prime minister twice in the past, and there were a lot of problems both times. As one Ukrainian activist said, "She's good at leading a revolution, but not so good at leading the government." Telegraph (London) and Europe Online

Ukraine protesters storm Yanukovych's secret palace


An ornamental horse stands outside Yanukovych's residence in his secret Kiev compound
An ornamental horse stands outside Yanukovych's residence in his secret Kiev compound

President Viktor Yanukovych is disliked even among his supporters in eastern Ukraine because of his opulent lifestyle and alleged corruption. Even in the issue of aligning with the European Union or Russia, the issue that triggered the series of demonstrations in December, many people believe that Yanukovych's flip-flop was made not because it would benefit Ukraine, but because it would benefit his bank account.

The president's walled-off compound has been well-guarded and completely off-limits to the public, and on Saturday it became clear why, as the guards were removed, and thousands of Ukrainians streamed into the compound to see what was going on. Yanukovych had always refused to talk about his residence, admitting only to living in a modest house on a small plot inside the compound.

But what they saw was quite different. There were posh mansions standing amid manicured lawns. There were parks dotted with statues, ponds with fountains and wild ducks, a tennis court, a golf course and a colonnaded pavilion. There was a hovercraft and an entire Spanish galleon. There was a guest house with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, a massive stairway with what looked like gold-covered railings, and a giant piano in a reception hall with luxurious beige armchairs. Live animals included ostriches and deer, apparently for Yanukovych's eating pleasure. According to one activist, "It’s like we entered Berlin and seized the Reichstag."

Yanukovych released a video saying he had been forced to leave Kiev because of "vandalism, crime and a coup." He called his opponents "Nazis" and said:

"I don't plan to leave the country. I don't plan to resign. I am the legitimate president. ...

What I am going to do next is to protect my country from the split, to stop the bloodshed. I don't know how to do it yet. I am in Kharkiv and I don't know what I am going to do next."

One thing is fairly certain: He's not going to return to his palatial resident in Kiev. AP and CNN

President Obama draws another line, and tells Ukraine not to cross it

Before Saturday's events, President Barack Obama warned the government of Ukraine not to use violence against its own people:

"[W]e’ll be monitoring very closely the situation, recognizing that with our European partners and the international community there will be consequences if people step over the line."

The statement is reminiscent of last year's speech when Obama set a "red line" in Syria about chemical weapons, and then flip-flopped when the Bashar al-Assad used sarin gas against his own people. It's unclear what "consequences" Obama had in mind in Ukraine. National Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Feb-14 World View -- Freed Yulia Tymoshenko gives passionate speech to Ukraine's opposition crowds thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Feb-14 World View -- Europeans broker a 'peace agreement' in Ukraine

Venezuela and other countries increasingly block press freedom

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europeans broker a 'peace agreement' in Ukraine


Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych's arch-enemy
Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych's arch-enemy

With violence growing in Ukraine, and the country becoming increasing lawless and ungovernable, foreign ministers from Poland, France and Germany brokered a Ukraine peace agreement between president Viktor Yanukovych and the leaders of the opposition. Whether the agreement will get fully implemented remains to be seen, and it leaves Yanukovych in power, at least for the time being, in defiance of the key demand of the opposition that he step down. Instead, the agreement calls for new elections by December, which opposition leaders say is far too late. However, the opposition signed because European leaders warned them that the alternative was martial law.

Under the agreement, Ukraine's parliament voted to restore the 2004 constitution, limiting some of Yanukovych's power and giving more power to the parliament. The parliament also voted to fire the interior minister who ordered police violence that resulted in hundreds of deaths.

It's not clear how much support the agreement will continue to have. In particular, the Russian envoy to the negotiations originally initialed the agreement, but then disappeared before the final signing, apparently on orders from Moscow.

Some people sang the Ukraine's national anthem after the agreement:

Ukraine has not yet perished,
The glory and the freedom!
Still upon us brave brothers,
Fate shall smile!
Our enemies will vanish
Like dew in the sun;
We too shall rule
In our country.

That's the original 1863 version. In later versions, the first two lines were changed to: "Ukraine's glory has not yet perished, nor her freedom." AP

Ukraine's parliament votes to free president's arch-enemy from jail

After the agreement was signed, Ukraine's parliament voted to free Yulia Tymoshenko, a bitter political enemy of the president Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko became of a world recognized figure in 2004 of her distinctive mix of peasant hair and high-fashion dresses, after she played a major role in the 2004 "Orange Revolution" that ousted Viktor Yanukovych, the current president, from power. Tymoshenko herself became prime minister in 2007, but then lost in 2010 election to Yanukovych.

Yanukovych got his revenge in 2011 by sending Tymoshenko to jail on charges that many consider to be trumped up. The European Union has been demanding that Tymoshenko be freed, and now the parliament has agreed. However, there's no timetable for freeing her.

She's developed back problems in jail, so it's not clear whether she capable of entering politics again, but if she did, and she joined the opposition against Yanukovych, then watching those two fight it out would be quite a spectacle. AP and AFP

Venezuela and other countries increasingly block press freedom

On Thursday, Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro announced that he would expel CNN if it dod not "rectify" its coverage of anti-government protests, saying that "They [CNN] want to show the world that there is a civil war in Venezuela."

On Friday, Maduro carried out his threat, notifying seven journalists for CNN International and CNN en Español that their press credentials had been denied or revoked, and that they should book flights back home. So far, CNN International and CNN en Español continue to broadcast in Venezuela.

Increasingly, countries around the world are taking legal measures to restrict press freedom when the press doesn't support the government. Besides Venezuela, examples are:

Other countries, like China and Iran, have strict controls on all media, most of which is state-owned. CNN and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jamestown and Washington Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Feb-14 World View -- Europeans broker a 'peace agreement' in Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Feb-14 World View -- U.S. naval intelligence chief confirms worst fears of China's military buildup

How a world war with China would unfold

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China is training for a 'short, sharp war' with Japan


The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)
The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)

China has long trained for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan during military exercises but has now expanded its training to include a similar attack on the Senkaku Islands and other Japanese holdings in the East China Sea. All branches of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) participated in a massive exercise last year for taking these islands.

According to James Fanell, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Information Operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet:

"We witnessed the massive amphibious and cross military region enterprise — Mission Action 2013. [We] concluded that the PLA has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected a seizure of the Senkakus or even a southern Ryukyu [islands] — as some of their academics say. ...

Tensions in the South and East China Seas have deteriorated with the Chinese Coast Guard playing the role of antagonist, harassing China’s neighbors while PLA Navy ships, their protectors, (make) port calls throughout the region promising friendship and cooperation."

This concept of a "short, sharp attack" is quite credible, as the Chinese people widely believe that America has become weak because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and that, particularly under President Barack Obama, Americans have little will to oppose China. Thus, they could quickly overwhelm Japan's forces, America would do nothing, and Chinese ownership of the Japanese islands would be part of the new status quo.

History has shown that this is a disastrous assumption.

In April, 1861, the army of America's southern Confederacy captured Fort Sumter in a "short, sharp attack." Undoubtedly, many Southern officials believed that the North wouldn't even care, since the Fort was isolated in Southern territory. And yet the North did care, triggering the extremely bloody American Civil War.

In 1939, the Nazis launched a "short, sharp attack" on Poland. They thought that Britain was weak and uninterested, since they'd already ignored an earlier short, sharp attacks on Austria and Czechoslovakia. The attack on Poland triggered World War II.

So, one can imagine that the Chinese believe that a short, sharp attack on these Japanese islands would bring no American response, like the Nazi attack on Czechoslovakia. Even if that turns out to be true, history shows that American nationalism would surge so high that any further military action by China would trigger a response, spiraling into a new world war.

The Pentagon has issued a statement saying that they expect to have peace in our time, responding to Fanell's assessment as follows:

"What I can tell you about what Secretary Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world. We continue to want to improve our bilateral military relations with China and that we also think that a major component of that is increased transparency on their part about the investments they're making and the operations they're conducting, and that's where I leave it."

United States Naval Institute and Voice of America

How a world war with China would unfold

People ask me this question all the time: If a war with China ever happens, how and when would it start?

Of course, answering that question would require a mind-reading capability, but history tells us a lot about how such a war would start and unfold.

Looking at World War II, we have two different examples to examine. The war in Europe began with Germany's "short, sharp attack" on Czechoslovakia, and so China's attack on the Senkakus may trigger a war. Or, we can look at the Pacific war that began with an all-out attack by the Japanese, and so the war may begin with a massive missile attack by the Chinese on America's aircraft carriers, cities, and military installations.

No matter what the scenario, history tells us that the Chinese population would greet such a war with jubilation.

Here's how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how war begins in his 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery:

"The passions excited in the national psyche by the onset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in its potential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction that "everything was at stake," and the threat of death and defeat functioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening the tension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied the declarations of war in Charleston in 1861, Paris in 1870, and the capitals of the major European powers in 1914 [American Civil War, Paris Commune, and World War I, respectively] were anticipatory celebrations of victory -- since nations are as incapable of imagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving their own death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted by Burckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturing in which nations now engaged when declaring war.

The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classic manifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are not convinced of their military superiority, there will be no confrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply flee the field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment the confidence of one side fails. The will to fight ("morale") evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seeks salvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. The Greek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time (the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated the spot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments, yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy." (p. 6-7)

The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, as has happened to Americans since 2003, even though we've never had any really major military disasters in Iraq.

The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disaster occurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitz describes what happens:

"The effect of defeat outside the army -- on the people and on the government -- is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis. It's a blow to the whole nervous system of the losing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect may appear to a greater or lesser degree, but it's never completely missing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with a spirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will be futile; or he does nothing, leaving everything to Fate."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that cause this "sudden collapse" and "total destruction" of self-confidence are called "regeneracy events," because they regenerate civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.

In other words, once the euphoria of war with China is destroyed (and this will be true of both the American and Chinese side), the conflict begins to turn into an all-out generational crisis war, where no the life of no individual human being will have any value at all, and the only thing that matters is survival of the nation and its way of life.

Once again, we can look to World War II for examples. The Allies allowed tens of thousands of young American soldiers to be shot down like fish in a barrel on the beaches of Normandy, they firebombed Dresden and Tokyo, and they used nuclear weapons on two Japanese cities. This is what ALWAYS happens at the climax of a crisis war, even by the most benevolent of belligerents. General Carl von Clausewitz, On War

Intelligence chief Fanell confirms worst fears of China's military buildup

For years I've been referring to China's media reports bragging about new missile systems of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) specifically designed -- with no other purpose -- than to overwhelm American missile defenses and strike American aircraft carriers, American military installations, and American cities. America's vulnerability has been substantially weakened in recent years by defense cutbacks, and by the massive release of secret information by Edward Snowden, which may have left America's defenses completely exposed.

In a separate presentation, in addition to the one described above, intelligence chief James Fanell describes China's actions in the South China Sea by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN):

"Suffice it to say that my assessment is that the PLA Navy has become a very capable fighting force. Much of the intelligence record is classified beyond what we can discuss in this forum, but just to give you one example, in 2012, the PLA Navy sent seven surface actions groups and the largest number of its submarines on deployment into the Philippine Sea in its history – and a significant increase in some areas from the years before, or just the year before.

Make no mistake, the PLA Navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet.

The PLA Navy’s civil proxy, an organization called “China Marine Surveillance,” has escalated a focused campaign since 2008 to gain Chinese control of the near seas, and they now regularly challenge the exclusive economic zone resource rights that South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and Vietnam once thought were guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. ... China is negotiating for control of other nations’ resources off their coasts. “What’s mine is mine, and we’ll negotiate what’s yours.” ...

Incidentally, unlike U.S. coast guard cutters, Chinese marine surveillance cutters have no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s expansive claims. Mundane maritime government tasks like search-and-rescue, regulating fisheries, ice breaking and criminal law enforcement are handled by other agencies. ...

In my opinion, China is knowingly, operationally and incrementally seizing maritime rights of its neighbors under the rubric of a maritime history that is not only contested in the international community, but has largely been fabricated by Chinese government propaganda bureaus in order to quote-unquote “educate” the populace about China’s “rich maritime history” clearly as a tool to help sustain the Party’s control.

Last year’s Scarborough Shoals seizure typifies the confrontations that China is having with its neighbors. It’s one that exhibited all the common characteristics of China’s aggression. First, they are initiated by the egregious conduct of China’s actors – sometimes the Chinese government, sometimes private entities. At Scarborough Reef, Chinese fishermen were excavating live coral and harvesting endangered species, including giant clams.

Second, Chinese official spokesmen will issue fabricated stories to explain the incidents; in the case of Scarborough, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the “Chinese fishermen were seeking refuge from storms.”

Simply not true. You can Google the weather that day: winds 5-10 knots, seas less than two feet, sunny, there were no thunderstorms."

Fanell is confirming the Chinese strategy that we've been describing for years. China's seizure of the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 is similar to reports of plans for China's military to seize one island after another in the South China Sea. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines") China is counting on the fact that any "short, sharp attack" on any one island won't bring an American response.

As we've said before, it's impossible to predict the timing of all this, but there's no possible way to interpret China's actions except as massive preparations for preemptory war with the United States, and the analysis by intelligence chief Fanell confirms that.

OK, Dear Readers, please resume your regular activities of spending all your time arguing with one another about whether the world will end in 2100 because of Global Warming. China Business Intelligence

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-14 World View -- U.S. naval intelligence chief confirms worst fears of China's military buildup thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine's president fires the chief of the army amid protest crisis

George Soros bets that Wall Street is headed for a fall

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine's president fires the chief of the army amid protest crisis


Monuments to Kiev's founders burn on Tuesday (AP)
Monuments to Kiev's founders burn on Tuesday (AP)

Fears of civil war in Ukraine increased on Wednesday when president Viktor Yanukovych fired Colonel-General Volodymyr Zamana, the chief of the army, on the bloodiest day of protests in Kiev so far, with 26 people killed in clashes between protesters and police. This is at a time when the government in Kiev is losing control of much of the western part of Ukraine.

For the army chief to be fired during the middle of a major government crisis has led to speculation that Zamana had refused a direct order to use force on civilians. It's also possible that his replacement, naval commander Admiral Yuriy Ilyin, will be asked to take back control of western Ukraine.

Speaking on the BBC World Service, Reuben F. Johnson, Kiev correspondent for Jane's Defence Weekly, made the following comments (my transcription):

"It's almost certainly because the president is looking for a military leader who when given an order to use the armed forces against the public will follow that order. ...

We've already heard reports from more than two weeks ago from western parts of Ukraine basically saying, if people show up, if troops show up on the president's orders from another part of Ukraine, then our troops and our police will fight them. It will be civil war. There'll be violence without a doubt. It's headed for civil conflict on a very big scale."

Late in the day, Yanukovych announced that he'd reached a truce agreement with the opposition to end the violence, but he's announced such agreements before. BBC and AFP(1/24)

Two suicide bombings target Iran's cultural center in Beirut Lebanon

The string of terrorist attacks specifically targeting Hezbollah and Iranian assets in Lebanon continued on Wednesday, when two suicide car bombs targeted an Iranian cultural center in Beirut, killing six people and wounding 80 others.

The string of terrorist attacks was triggered by the announcement, last April 30, by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah gave a televised speech saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah reluctantly agreed to enter the Syrian war after being commanded to do so by his Iranian puppetmasters. ( "27-Sep-13 World View -- How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast")

The Al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed credit for Wednesday's attack on Twitter:

"Your brothers in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, Ali Hussein Bin Ali brigades, claim the raid of the Iranian Cultural Center and it is a twin suicide bombing. It is in response to Iran's party [Hezbollah] fighting alongside the criminal regime in Syria, and the continued detention of Muslim youth in Lebanese prisons. ...

We will continue... to target Iran and its party in Lebanon, in its security and political and military centres, until our demands are achieved. First: that the Party of Iran (Hezbollah) withdraws its forces from Syria. Second, that our prisoners are released from Lebanese prisons."

Nasrallah's announcement last year further inflamed Sunni versus Shia violence throughout the Mideast. He recently reaffirmed his decision for Hezbollah to continue fighting in Syria. Daily Star (Beirut) and AFP

George Soros bets that Wall Street is headed for a fall

According to SEC filings on Friday, George Soros has made a $1.3 billion bet that the S&P 500 stock index is headed for a sharp fall, by increasing his holdings of "put options on the S&P 500 ETF SPY," which increase in value when the S&P 500 falls. (Paragraph corrected. 20-Feb)

Even the most Pollyannaish financial experts have been anticipating a 10-20% stock market correction for over a year now, saying that the market the had to regroup before it could rise to new heights. But the experts have been repeatedly wrong, and there's been no correction. But now apparently Soros is so certain that a correction is coming that he's bet a lot of money on it. Market Watch

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine's president fires the chief of the army amid protest crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine chaos raising the worst anxieties among Russia's nationalists

Thailand police storm protest camp in Bangkok, leaving four dead

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine police storm protest camp in Kiev after bloody Tuesday


Fire and smoke billows from the protest camp in Kiev on Tuesday night (EPA)
Fire and smoke billows from the protest camp in Kiev on Tuesday night (EPA)

In Ukraine, 18 people were killed and hundreds injured, both police officers and protesters, in bloody clashes on Tuesday between anti-government protesters in central Kiev, which they have been occupying for months. The protesters are demanding that pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych resign, and allow a pro-European government take its place. The protesters took an even more bitter political turn on Tuesday Russia's president Vladimir Putin provided a $2 billion loan to the President, to strengthen his political position.

The Kiev protests are a clash between two ethnic groups: The majority Ukrainian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians who occupy the western part of the country, outnumbering the Russian-speaking ethnic Russians living in the east. In the "Orange Revolution" of 2003, the same president Yanukovych was forced to step down from office, and was replaced in new elections by someone more agreeable to the ethnic Ukrainians. Yanukovych won reelection in 2010, and is now threatened by a new "Orange Revolution."

At the time of this writing on Tuesday evening ET, security police are charging protesters in central Kiev and meeting resistance. The clashes have been mostly confined to central Kiev so far, but there are growing fears that the fighting could spread, and turning into a full-fledged civil war -- which is not impossible, since Ukraine is in a generational Crisis era. AFP and LA Times

Ukraine chaos raising the worst anxieties among Russia's nationalists

There is still a great deal of concern about what Russia is going to do if things don't go their way in Ukraine. It's widely believed that any military action by Russia in Ukraine is "on hold" for the duration of the Sochi Olympics, and the fears are of what Russia might do once the Olympics games have ended.

Russian nationalists are expressing a great deal of anxiety about the events in Ukraine, because they're afraid of similar anti-government protests in Russia. Aleksandr Samsonov, a well-known commentator, says that Russians should be under no illusions about the threat they face from the chaos that Ukraine is rapidly sinking into. He argues that what is going on threatens to return Europe to the situation of the 1930s, with the “rebirth” of Russophobic, fascist and neo-Nazi ideology” in Ukraine and its import into North Caucasian nationalists and jihadists. He says that Joseph Stalin was prepared and able to repulse these threats, but it is not clear that Russia could do so currently—or that Moscow even recognizes that “the union of liberals, national separatists, and Islamists is a terrible threat,” one that could lead to the spilling of “rivers of blood” in Russia. Russian society needs to be mobilized against this threat, he says. Jamestown

Thailand police storm protest camp in Bangkok, leaving four dead

In Thailand, four people were killed and 64 injured, both police officers and protesters, when police tried on Tuesday to clear anti-government protesters from central Bangkok, which they have been occupying for months. The protesters are demanding that prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra resign, and allow the protesters to appoint an unelected "People's Council" that will rule in place of the elected government. The protesters took an even more bitter political turn on Tuesday as the country's anti-corruption commission filed charges against the Prime Minister.

The Bangkok protests are a clash between two ethnic groups: the "yellow shirt" market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority, vastly outnumbered by the "red shirt" dark-skinned Thai-Thai who do most of the menial labor, and who continue to support the Yingluck's Pheu Thai political party. Because of the Thai-Thai majority, the Pheu Thai have won the last five elections and can continue to do so. That's why the elite Thai-Chinese anti-government protesters want to replace the elected government with their own People's Council that they can control.

The situations in Thailand and Ukraine appear to be similar, but from the point of view of Generational Dynamics they're very different. In particular, unlike Ukraine, Thailand is in a generational Awakening era, and so a civil war in Thailand is literally impossible, while it's quite possible in Ukraine. What happens during an Awakening era is that there are periods of conflict, like you see today in Thailand, alternating with "peace agreements" that never last. Each period of conflict is worse than the previous one, until a full-fledged civil war begins several decades later. So Thailand is nowhere close to a civil war, but Ukraine might be. CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Feb-14 World View -- Ukraine chaos raising the worst anxieties among Russia's nationalists thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Feb-14 World View -- Scotland faces reality as independence referendum approaches

United Nations accuses North Korea of 'unspeakable atrocities'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Scotland faces reality as independence referendum approaches


Alex Salmond, leader of Scottish National Party and of Scotland's independence movement (Reuters)
Alex Salmond, leader of Scottish National Party and of Scotland's independence movement (Reuters)

On September 18, Scotland will have a referendum on the question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" If the vote is YES then nobody knows for sure what will happen next. During the last ten days, two major issues have arisen to threaten the viability of an "independent" Scotland:

In the worst case scenario, Scotland would be an independent entity completely on its own, like nearby Iceland and Norway.

If the UK continues to refuse a currency union with an independent Scotland, then Scotland will have three major choices:

Ten years ago, when talk of Scottish independence began, these choices seemed a lot easier. But since then, there's been a major financial crisis which has split southern countries like Greece and Italy versus the northern countries like France and Germany. Even seemingly solid Ireland has been in trouble. An independent Scotland, whether in the eurozone or a currency union with the UK, might just end up being another crisis.

It's not at all clear that an independent Scotland could become part of the European Union. Spain in particular is fighting its own internal battle with its Catalonia region seeking independence, and supporting Scotland might encourage Catalonia to fight harder for independence.

The English and the Scots are as different as Irish Protestants and Catholics, or as Sunni and Shia Syrians. Scotland and England have gone through a number of periods of unity and disunity for hundreds of years.

The Battle of Bannockburn, on June 24, 1314, was a great victory for Scottish forces against superior English forces. It was the climax of the First War of Scottish Independence, and established Scotland as an independent nation. Scotland and England fought against each other in a number of subsequent wars, including the War of the Roses (1459-87), and the Armada war with Spain (1588). The most explosive war that followed Scottish independence was the English Civil War (1640-49), that climaxed with the beheading of the English King in 1649. There followed a generational Recovery Era where Britain had no King, but was actually ruled by a military dictator, Oliver Cromwell, bringing Scotland under English control, until a new King was crowned in 1661. During the generational Awakening era in the 1660s and 1670s, Scotland began demonstrating against English control, culminating in the Awakening era climax, the so-called "Glorious Revolution" of 1689, making the Scottish Parliament independent once again. In 1701, the next generational Crisis war began, the War of the Spanish Succession, which allied Scotland and France against England. Miraculously, England defeated the French army in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and then again in the explosive and tumultuous climactic Battle of Malplaquet in 1709. After France's defeat at Blenheim, Scotland was finally brought to heel, and England and Scotland signed the "Acts of Union" between the two countries, under a single king or queen, forming the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707.

It's now been 700 years since the Battle of Bannockburn, and the question of Scotland's independence is rising again. Polls indicate that the Scots themselves are slightly opposed to independence. BBC and Scotsman

United Nations accuses North Korea of 'unspeakable atrocities'


A drawing by a former prisoner shows a practice known as pigeon torture
A drawing by a former prisoner shows a practice known as pigeon torture

A United Nations panel has accused North Korea of crimes against humanity, including systematic extermination, torture, rape, forced abortions, starvation, arbitrary detention, executions and prison camps. The police and security forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea systematically employ violence and punishments that amount to gross human rights violations in order to create a climate of fear that pre-empts any challenge to the current system of government and to the ideology underpinning it. The institutions and officials involved are not held accountable.

The U.N. recommends prosecution of the country's top leaders by the International Criminal Court. This will never happen, of course, because China will veto any such attempt in the Security Council. BBC

Venezuela expels three American diplomats after anti-government protests

Venezuela on Monday gave three U.S. diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, accusing them of conspiring against the government to incite large, violent anti-government protests.

Venezuela has the highest level of inflation in the world, 56%. There's a huge crime wave, but 90% of the cases are never solved. Despite its oil reserves, there are shortages of electricity. There are shortages of most everything else, even toothpaste and toilet paper. Last year, President Nicolás Maduro announced a new Vice-Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness, whose purpose was to coordinate anti-poverty programs, but apparently it hasn't succeeded.

It seems likely that the disastrous economy is behind the new wave of anti-government protests, which have led to three deaths in clashes with police. Nonetheless, the Maduro's government blames the protests on the United States. According to Foreign Minister Elias Jaua:

"They have been visiting universities with the pretext of granting visas.

But that is a cover for making contacts with (student) leaders to offer them training and financing to create youth groups that generate violence."

In November, Maduro accused the United States of orchestrating a "massive attack" against the Twitter accounts "of Bolivarian patriots and Venezuelan Chavistas." The word Bolivarian alludes to Simón Bolivar, the 19th century founder of Venezuela. The word "Chavista" alludes to Maduro's late predecessor, Hugo Chávez. When Chávez was dying of cancer, he accused the United States of giving him cancer by poisoning him. Reuters and Latin American Herald Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Feb-14 World View -- Scotland faces reality as independence referendum approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Feb-14 World View -- Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus

The 'New Frugality' versus the 'New Criminality'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus


Smoke rises from tourist bus on Sunday (Reuters)
Smoke rises from tourist bus on Sunday (Reuters)

A terrorist bomb exploded on a bus carrying 33 tourists in Egypt on Sunday. The explosion killed the Egyptian bus driver and three South Korean tourists. The attack took place in the Red Sea resort town of Taba, in south Sinai, just before the bus was about to cross over into Israel.

No one has yet claimed credit for the attack, but it's suspected that the perpetrators are the al-Qaeda linked Sinai terrorist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem), which has claimed credit for several major terrorist bombings in the past.

Terrorist attacks have been increasing since the army coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi on July 3 of last year, with Ansar Jerusalem claiming credit for many of them, but up till now the targets have been security targets and personnel. This is the first terrorist attack since 2008 on tourists. Tourist visits to Red Sea resorts are an important source of income for Egypt, and it's feared that Sunday's attack begins a new escalation designed to destroy Egypt's economy. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Reuters

The 'New Frugality' versus the 'New Criminality'

Neil Howe who, along with the late William Strauss, founded generational theory in the 1980s, says in Forbes that analysts in the national media are wrong to blame the decline in labor force participation on the aging population, since the Boomer generation is actually increasing its labor force participation, and is the only generation currently to be doing so.

He suggests another explanation: That Generation-X has a new social mood, an enduring "New Frugality," of spending less, working less, and buying cheaper. According to Howe:

"Xers also prefer to do things for themselves. They don’t trust others to get the job done right and consider paying others for services they could perform themselves inefficient. Why buy something new when you could employ crafty DIY tactics for half the price? Why pay nannies to look after your kids while you work to be able to afford their services? And why work law firm hours at today’s high marginal tax rates, when you’ll just have to give more of your money back?"

He adds that since mainstream analysts' assumptions are wrong, their conclusions are wrong as well:

"Pundits keep offering theories about when America will return to pre-recession spending, GDP growth, and employment rates. But if Xers continue to work and spend according to a New Frugality ethos, these milestones will remain elusive."

Howe's point is that, because of generational factors, the global financial crisis is far from over, and the economic growth that politicians are counting on is not going to happen. This is a point that I too have been making for years, and it's backed up by the Velocity of Money chart that I posted last month:


Velocity of Money, 1959-2013 (St. Louis Fed)
Velocity of Money, 1959-2013 (St. Louis Fed)

The velocity of money has been cratering since the financial crisis began in 2007, and it means that people aren't spending money. This is propelling the economy into a deflationary spiral.

However, there's another side to the "New Frugality," and that's the "New Criminality."

It's easy to forget how much criminality there's been in the last decade, since the Gen-Xers came to power. There was the creation and sale of trillions of dollars in fraudulent mortgage-backed securities by thousands of bankers -- not a single one of which has gone to jail.

Analysts on CNBC lie constantly about stock valuations. There isn't even a pause any more. The lying is just part of the culture. That's criminal activity if anyone cared. (See, for example, "14-Apr-12 World View -- Wharton School's Jeremy Siegel is lying about stock valuations" from last year.)

Then there's the Gen-Xer-in-chief in Washington. Does anyone, even his supporters, believe a word he says any more? And it doesn't matter. As I've said, if President Obama picked up a gun and shot and killed Michele, then the NY Times and NBC News would blame it on the Republicans.

Probably nothing is worse right now than Obamacare. Each day, it destroys another part of the economy, just as Bashar al-Assad's barrel bombs destroy innocent people's neighborhoods in Syria. But it doesn't matter to Obama.

This is the standard Nomad archetype/Generation-X nihilistic paradigm: Destroy everything so that you can start over with a blank slate, also sometimes stated as "You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet." The Gen-Xer-in-chief believes that if enough of the medical insurance industry is destroyed, then Obamacare will survive, and his name will go down in history for government medical insurance. (See "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X" from 2008.)

All of these are examples of massive criminality that's been going on in the past decade, which would have been completely unthinkable a decade earlier, when the people of the Silent generation were in charge.

The "New Criminality" is the mirror image of Howe's "New Frugality." If CNBC analysts lie with impunity about stock valuations, and Obama lies with impunity about Obamacare, then it's impossible to trust anyone, and you have to do everything for yourself, which is what Howe says about Gen-Xers. I know that's the way I feel, and I'm not a Gen-Xer. Forbes

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Feb-14 World View -- Egypt's terrorism escalates with attack on tourist bus thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Feb-14 World View -- Syria talks collapse, putting U.S. military action back on table

Indonesia on the alert for jihadists returning from Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mediator Brahimi blames collapse of Syria talks on al-Assad regime


Lakhdar Brahimi on Saturday (Fars)
Lakhdar Brahimi on Saturday (Fars)

It's not a surprise to anyone, but the Syria "Geneva II peace talks" officially collapsed on Saturday, with no date set for future "peace talks."

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi uncharacteristically assigned blame for the collapse, apparently to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. He seemed close to tears as he announced:

"I'm very very sorry and I apologize to the Syrian people -- that their hopes which were very very high, that something will happen here -- I think that the little that has been achieved in Homs gave them even more hope. ... I apologize to them that these two rounds have not helped them very much. ...

Unfortunately, the government have refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition that in fact the government doesn't want to discuss peace at all. ...

My message to those who are concerned in the crisis in Syria to think of the Syrian people and their huge suffering which was imposed on them."

The two sides were unable to agree to an agenda for continuing the talks. The earlier peace talks in Geneva in June 2012, and now called "Geneva I," called for an end to the Syrian civil war by the resignation of president Bashar al-Assad, and instituting a new transitional governing body with members from the former al-Assad government, as well as members from the opposition.

The al-Assad regime wanted no part of that discussion, but only wants to discuss "terrorism," referring to the jihadists in Syria. So Brahimi came up with a kind of compromise: The Geneva II peace talks would discuss "terrorism" on day 1, then discuss the "transitional governing body" on day 2, and alternate between the two topics on subsequent days.

Well, the al-Assad regime refused to even discuss the "transitional government body," and his spokesman said that the terrorism problem has to be completely solved and agreed by all sides "with a common vision," before any other topic could be even discussed. According to reporters, the opposition were willing to be flexible and discuss all issues, but the al-Assad regime refused to discuss anything but their chosen topic. This is what led to Brahimi's statement, "Unfortunately, the government have refused, which raises the suspicion of the opposition that in fact the government doesn't want to discuss peace at all."

According to Brahimi, a third round of talks was planned, but no date was set. The agenda for the third round will be:

AFP and BBC

Collapse of Syria talks puts U.S. military action back on the table

The farcical nature of the "Geneva II peace conference," and its inevitable collapse, while Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad continues to drop barrel bombs on innocent women and children, is causing renewed debate in Washington over military action in Syria.

The parameters of this debate are as follows:

If a U.S. missile attack on Syria is approved, then the choice of targets would be as follows, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey:

ABC News

Indonesia on the alert for jihadists returning from Syria

As we've been saying repeatedly for months, the war crimes being committed by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and by Russia's president Vladimir Putin for supplying weapons to al-Assad, have made Syria the magnet for jihadists from countries around the world.

In Indonesia, the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was responsible for the horrendous Bali bombings in 2002, but in recent years, JI has become ineffectual. Now it's believed that dozens of fighters have gone to Syria for training and experience, and now are returning. "The danger remains that fighters returning from Syria could infuse new energy into Indonesia's weak and ineffectual jihadi movement," according to an Indonesian report. Central Asia Online

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Feb-14 World View -- Syria talks collapse, putting U.S. military action back on table thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan will sell warplanes to Saudis, denies nuclear cooperation

France sending more troops to Central African Republic

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia will sell warplanes to Egypt


MiG-29 'Fulcrum' warplane (Richard Seaman)
MiG-29 'Fulcrum' warplane (Richard Seaman)

Russia will sell $3 billion in weapons systems to Egypt, after an agreement was reached during a visit to Moscow by Egypt's defense minister and likely new president Field Marshal Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. The weapons include MiG-29M/M2 Fulcrum fighter jets, air defense missile complexes, Mi-35 helicopters, coastal anti-ship complexes, light weapons and ammunition.

Russia was Egypt's main arms supplier in the 1960s and early 1970s. Egypt is returning to Russia now, because of military aid cutbacks by the United States following the military coup that ousted president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Ria Novosti and Al Ahram (Cairo)

Pakistan will sell warplanes to Saudis, denies nuclear cooperation

Pakistan announced that it plans to sell JF-17 Thunder combat jets and other aircraft and equipment to Saudi Arabia. The JF-17 was developed jointly by China and Pakistan. This announcement comes days after reports that Saudi Arabia is asking Pakistan to send 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia". Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are signing defense cooperation agreements because of the rise of Iran.

Saudi Arabia is also very concerned that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, and some reports are suggesting that Pakistan is also planning to sell nuclear weapons technology to the Saudis. However, Pakistan's foreign minister is denying this:

"We have a nuclear weapons program which is a declared one. We have extensive security regimes. Our civilian nuclear program is under the [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards and it is meant to provide energy and it is also used in agriculture and medical fields.

The IAEA and other organizations have listed Pakistan as a model country with regard to the security mechanisms that we have in place."

Saudi Arabia is thought to be turning to Pakistan because its relationship with the United States has been souring. The News (Pakistan) and Indian Express

France sending more troops to Central African Republic

France said on Friday that it plans to send 400 additional peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic (CAR), making a total deployment of 2,000 troops, working with the African Union force of 6,000 peacekeepers. The troops are being sent because a wave of "ethnic-religious cleansing" and "mass atrocities" loom over CAR. The mass atrocities are being committed by Christian tribes in retaliation for last year's attacks on Christians by Muslim Seleka militias. ( "8-Feb-14 World View -- Central African Republic: Christians aim to get rid of all Muslims")

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the CAR conflict is spiral into a full-scale generational crisis war, despite increasingly desperate international efforts to prevent it. 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 deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. CAR is geographically the size of Texas, with over 5 million people, and so 400 additional troops will make no difference whatsoever. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan will sell warplanes to Saudis, denies nuclear cooperation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Feb-14 World View -- European Union to 'mobilize' private savings for bailouts

Welcome to the Valentine's Day edition of Generational Dynamics World view

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Welcome to the Valentine's Day edition of Generational Dynamics World View!

'Brilliant, bitter singles' ruin Valentine's Day for Shanghai, China, couples


A scene from Beijing Love Story
A scene from Beijing Love Story

A Shanghai male named "UP" who broke up with his girlfriend last year and who describes himself as a "computer nerd" has found a unique way to ruin Valentine's Day for numerous other couples in Shanghai. Any couple wanting to go to the cinema to see the popular movie Beijing Love Story will have to split up. Using crowdfunding, "UP" collected enough money from "brilliant, bitter singles" to purchase tickets to all the odd-numbered seats in the theatre, so that any lovers wanting to see the movie will have to sit at least one seat apart from each other. According to an online posting by "UP":

"Want to see a movie on Valentine’s Day? Sorry, you’ll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give us singles a chance."

Beijing Love Story is a movie based on a hit TV series. The plot of the movie is told through the eyes of five couples; Two teenagers meet and find purest puppy love; A young couple are convinced they are soul mates after making eye contact for the first time; A middle aged couple are torn apart when the husband repeatedly cheats on his wife; A couple who have been married for decades try to spice up their marriage by playing special games; And a grandmother tries to find another woman to take care of her husband after discovering she has a terminal illness.

This is not the first time that young Chinese have rebelled against Valentine's Day. In the 1990s, they created "Singles Day," to be celebrated each year on November 11 (11/11) because of the four 1's in the date. There was a particularly big Singles Day celebration in 2011 on 11/11/11. Shanghaiist and Global Times (Beijing)

Greece's unemployment reaches new record high

Greece's unemployment rate rose further to a new record high of 28% in November, according to the country's statistics agency ELSTAT (Hellenic Statistical Authority). Youth unemployment also reached a record high rate of 61.4%. Economists expect things to get worse in the early part of this year as companies continue to restructure and fire workers. Greek Reporter

European Union to 'mobilize' private savings for bailouts

The European Union is looking for ways to fund long-term investments, including bailout loans, by "mobilizing" private savings, which presumably means that private savings would be confiscated, as happened in the bailout of Cyprus last year. Also under consideration is a voluntary EU savings account, where investors could pool their money for investment in small companies. (The Obama administration has proposed a similar plan known as "MyRA".)

This approach is being increasingly discussed. In a publication by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October of last year, the following appears on page 49 of the report "Taxing Times":

"The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a "capital levy" -- a one-off tax on private wealth -- as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability. The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). There have been illustrious supporters, including Pigou, Ricardo, Schumpeter, and -- until he changed his mind -- Keynes. The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away (these, in turn, are a particular form of wealth tax -- on bondholders -- that also falls on nonresidents).

There is a surprisingly large amount of experience to draw on, as such levies were widely adopted in Europe after World War I and in Germany and Japan after World War II. Reviewed in Eichengreen (1990), this experience suggests that more notable than any loss of credibility was a simple failure to achieve debt reduction, largely because the delay in introduction gave space for extensive avoidance and capital flight -- in turn spurring inflation. The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to precrisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth."

In other words, confiscating people's assets and savings is most effective when it's a complete surprise, so that people can't practice "extensive avoidance and capital flight." Reuters and Zero Hedge and International Monetary Fund (PDF)

2,500 couples marry in South Korea in pre-Valentine's Day ceremony


Korean couples prepare for marriage on Wednesday (AFP)
Korean couples prepare for marriage on Wednesday (AFP)

2,500 South Korean couples will be able to spend Valentine's Day in marital bliss, thanks to a mass wedding held on Wednesday by the Unification Church, founded by the late Sun Myung Moon. The mass weddings began in the 1960s with only a few couples, but they reached a peak in 1997 with 30,000 couples. Many of the couples met only a few hours before the wedding, having been personally matched by Sun Myung Moon or, since his death, by his widow. However, marriage won't be TOO blissful on Valentine's Day, since the couple must promise to refrain from sexual relations for at least 40 days after marriage.

South Korea isn't the only country holding mass weddings. In Pakistan, a charitable organization donated dowries to 70 poor young women in Punjab, allowing them all to finally get married in a mass wedding. In Nigeria, a mass wedding program was launched in 2012 to enforce Islamic law by helping single people pair up. The Nigerian government provides each bride with a dowry and utensils. AFP and Global Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Feb-14 World View -- European Union to 'mobilize' private savings for bailouts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Feb-14 World View -- Resurgence of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria

Turkey-Israel relations may be close to normalization

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey-Israel relations may be close to normalization


The Mavi Marmara
The Mavi Marmara

Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Sunday that Israel and Turkey are the closest they've been to a normalization of relations in years. According to Davutoglu, there have been "positive developments":

"There has recently been a momentum and new approach in compensation talks. We could say that most of the differences have been removed recently in these discussions."

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, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has specified three conditions that Israel would have to fulfill, in order to restore normal relations. First, Israel would have to apologize, and Israel did so last March, under intense pressure for president Barack Obama.

Second, Israel would have to pay monetary compensation to the families of the victims. According to Davutoglu, negotiations have significantly reduced the difference in the amount between what Turkey demanded and Israel has offered. On Monday, it was reported that the Israeli government had decided that it would pay $20 million to the victims' families. In return, Turkey will agree to drop charges in its own courts against the IDF soldiers who participated in the raid on the Mavi Marmara.

Erdogan's third condition was the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. According to Davutoglu, Israel has "eased" the embargo on Gaza. On Tuesday, Erdogan renewed his condition, demanding that Israel provide a "written protocol" that they would end the Israeli "siege" on Gaza.

However, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday confirmed that he has rejected Erdogan's demand to provide a written statement. It remains to be seen whether further negotiations will yield a compromise. Hurriyet (Turkey) and Israel National News

Resurgence of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria


Nigeria, showing major historic tribes.  Northern tribes (Fulani, Hausa) are generally Muslim, southern tribes (Yoruba, Igbo, Berom) are generally Christian.
Nigeria, showing major historic tribes. Northern tribes (Fulani, Hausa) are generally Muslim, southern tribes (Yoruba, Igbo, Berom) are generally Christian.

Gunmen from the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden") killed 51 people on Tuesday in an attack on a majority Muslim town in northeast Nigeria. Dozens of Boko Haram fighters speeding along in trucks painted in military colors and armed with automatic weapons and explosives the town, burning houses and shooting fleeing villagers. They also took 20 young girls from a local college as hostages.

This comes after two incidents last week. On Friday, terrorist gunmen in cars and on motorbikes burst into a Christian family's home and killed a family of seven. On the previous Sunday, 52 people were killed when gunmen stormed a church.

Prior to 2009, Boko Haram was a little known Muslim sect of ethnic Kanuri people. Starting in 2010, Boko Haram began a series of terrorist attacks across the country, often bombing Christian churches, saying their objective was to eliminate all Christians. In the last year, Boko Haram has announced the intention to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria's northeast. (Correction: "Hausa" changed to "Kanuri." 27-Feb)

The rise of Boko Haram from a terrorist group to a well-armed militia is another unintended consequence of the West's military intervention in Libya in 2011. The Libyan action provided a training ground for Islamist jihadists, including Boko Haram, and also provided vast stores of heavy weapons stolen from Muammar Gaddafi's unguarded storehouses.

There has been a resurgence of Boko Haram violence since the beginning of the year. Nigeria's Christian president Goodluck Jonathan has repeatedly promised that an army campaign would clean out the Boko Haram terrorists once and for all. However, those attempts have been stymied, reportedly because some politicians and army members support Boko Haram. Reuters and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Feb-14 World View -- Resurgence of Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Feb-14 World View -- Obama slams French businessmen in front of France's president

Slaughter by Syria's al-Assad and ISIL continues despite 'truce'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obama slams French businessmen in front of France's president


François Hollande and Barack Obama
François Hollande and Barack Obama

At a Washington press conference on Tuesday, held jointly with France's president François Hollande, president Barack Obama criticized businessmen who try to violate the sanctions against Iran. He was apparently referring to a delegation of 116 French businessmen, with representatives from major companies like Total, Lafarge and Peugeot, who visited Tehran last week in hopes of getting a big chunk of business with Iran when the sanctions are completely lifted.

According to President Obama:

"Businesses may be exploring -- are there some possibilities to get in sooner rather than later if and when there is an actual agreement to be had?

But I can tell you that they do so at their own peril right now. Because we will come down on them like a ton of bricks."

Is this another "red line"? Does anyone believe anything President Obama says any more? Isn't this just so much hot air?

Hollande didn't seem to flustered. He said that he did not control French corporations, though had made clear sanctions on Iran would not be dismantled until a final deal on Iran's nuclear program had been reached. Expatica France

Slaughter by Syria's al-Assad and ISIL continues despite 'truce'

During the "peace talks" in Geneva last week, Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime killed some 1,900 people in one week, mostly with barrel bombs, which are barrels or canisters packed with explosives and metal, designed to flatten civilian neighborhoods and kill as many people as possible. So far in February, some 2,500 deaths have been documented, making it likely to be one of the deadliest months so far in the Syria war.

So it's somewhat laughable that the politicians and the media are calling it a great victory that al-Assad has agreed to a temporary truce and allow 1,000-2,000 civilians leave the wrecked city of Homs. Making up for that is just a few days work for the genocidal monster president of Syria, and for his puppetmasters in Moscow.

Meanwhile reports continue to surface, as they have for months, that the al-Assad regime and the ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) terrorists are either implicitly or explicitly cooperating together as allies to kill as many "moderate" opponents of the regime, as well as the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra. So we have two terrorists -- "industrial strength" terrorist al-Assad, and "ordinary" terrorist group ISIL -- as allies in a war to gain control of western and eastern Syria, respectively. It seems likely that the whole "peace process" in Geneva is a big joke, and al-Assad is never going to agree to anything. Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera and Daily Star (Lebanon)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-14 World View -- Obama slams French businessmen in front of France's president thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan asked to send 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia

Korea's demilitarized zone (DMZ) guarded by Microsoft Kinect game software

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Korea's demilitarized zone (DMZ) guarded by Microsoft Kinect game software


Playing volleyball using Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing technology
Playing volleyball using Microsoft's Kinect motion-sensing technology

South Korea's military is using Kinect, the motion-sensing software that Microsoft uses in its X-Box game controllers, to guard the 155-mile long demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea. The DMZ was established in 1954 as part of the armistice that ended the Korean war. It's called a "no-man's land," because it's heavily fortified with fences and landmines.

The Kinect technology was originally developed for Microsoft by Ko Jae-Kwan of Saewan Co., and the South Korean military is using it because it's better than any of the sensors they had previously been using. According to Ko:

"Existing sensors, which had been in place along the border, were highly efficient but could not tell the difference between humans and animals, sending wrong signals frequently."

The South Korean military has been embarrassed in the past by highly publicized incidents of undetected border crossings, including the case in 2012 when a defecting North Korean soldier simply walked undetected across the border and knocked on the door of a guard post. AFP

Pakistan asked to send 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia

Reports out of Pakistan indicate that Saudi Arabia has asked Pakistan to dispatch 30,000 troops to the Kingdom as part of a bilateral defense agreement that's currently being formulated in a flurry of visits and meetings between defense and military officials from the two countries. Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif said:

"In view of current challenges, there is a need to further strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries and a new era of strategic relationship needs to start."

The particular "current challenges" facing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the rise of Iran, and Iran's rapprochement with the United States. Both countries fear that Iran will develop nuclear weapons and that, in the end, the West will do nothing to prevent it. Indeed, one of the jobs of the Pakistani troops will be military training for the Saudi army, a function that was formerly performed by American troops.

In 2008, Iran was our bitter enemy, and Saudi Arabia was our close ally. It was in 2008 that I first wrote, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran would be allied with the West, while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would be allied with China. (See "China 'betrays' Iran, as internal problems in both countries mount" from 2008.)

During the last six years, it's been very interesting to see how Saudi Arabia has moved away from the U.S., while Iran is moving closer to the U.S. The hardline survivors of Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution have been retiring and dying, leaving behind younger generations that like the West, and have no particular animus against Israel. In Pakistan, on the other hand, the people are increasingly hostile to the United States and to India. MEMRI and The National (UAE)

Iran calls al-Qaeda the 'the Saudi-US lovechild of terrorism'

Iran sees the growing accord between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as a threat to Iran and to Shia Muslims in general, and uses the usual award-winning talking point of blaming the U.S. for everything to express its anger.

Iran itself has been targeted by al-Qaeda linked Jundullah (Soldiers of God), which has perpetrated major attacks on Shia mosques and Revolutionary Guard stations in southeastern Iran. Another al-Qaeda linked group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), wants to exterminate all Shias and Hazaras in Pakistan. According to the head of a Shia political organization in Pakistan:

"Not one day passes without a martyr falling in Karachi, in Peshawar, in all Pakistani cities. If we have thirty days in a month, we have more than 100 martyrs every month. And they are being killed by the Saudi support. Saudi Arabia is supporting those who are behind these attacks."

Iran has developed a narrative that blames all terrorism in the Mideast on America's support for Afghan and Pakistani troops that were fighting against Russian troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. According to Iranian analyst Dr. Ismail Salami, al-Qaeda is the "love child of terror" spawned by Saudi Arabia and America:

"Originally established by Washington in Afghanistan during the military occupation of the country by Soviet Union, it was called al-Qaeda, meaning 'base'. Soon, the group was expanded under the aegis of the CIA and Saudi-funded Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) in order to oust the Soviet forces from the region and safeguard the interests of the US government.

Following a secret long-term agenda, Washington recruited militants from different parts of the region including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Yemen and central Asian countries with the ultimate goal of disseminating and instilling an ideology of perversion in the name of Islam in the world. ...

In the final analysis, the center cannot hold and the Saudi-US lovechild of terrorism is running amuck and falling apart."

I have to say that's quite a fanciful narrative, though no more fanciful than some of the things you hear from the New York Times or NBC News. Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Iran) and Press TV (Iran)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan asked to send 30,000 troops to Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Feb-14 World View -- Switzerland votes to impose immigration quotas, violating EU agreements

U.S. General criticizes Japan, Philippines for China-Nazi comparisons

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Switzerland votes to impose immigration quotas, violating EU agreements


The caption says: 'The excess is harmful! Stop mass immigration - YES.'  I'm not sure what the tree symbolizes, but in the picture its roots are strangling Switzerland.
The caption says: 'The excess is harmful! Stop mass immigration - YES.' I'm not sure what the tree symbolizes, but in the picture its roots are strangling Switzerland.

In a nationwide referendum on Sunday, Switzerland voted by a razor thin vote of 50.3% to re-impose quotas on immigrants from other countries, including EU countries. Switzerland is not a member of 17-nation eurozone bloc, nor is it a member of the 28-nation European Union, though it's surrounded by eurozone and EU countries. For 12 years, Switzerland's borders have been open to all EU countries (though not to other countries). The referendum was strongly opposed by the Swiss government. The greatest effect of implementation of Sunday's vote would be to close the borders to workers from the EU, many of them highly qualified.

The size of the vote varied across the country. Ticino is the only canton with an Italian language majority, and it voted 78% to curb immigration. Ticino borders Italy, and is having major social and economic problems from grossly underpaid foreigners, sometimes working as black market laborers. On the other hand, cantons in western Switzerland were strongly against limiting immigration, with 60-70% voting "no".

The "yes" vote threatens several agreements with the European Union, including trade agreements that permit most of Switzerland's exports to go to the EU. EU officials say that they're reviewing the situation to which of these agreements will have to be terminated. Swiss officials have three years to implement the new immigration quotas, and they've indicated that they plan to move very slowly. Geneva Lunch and Bloomberg

Opposing sides in Ukraine exchange threats of terror and bankruptcy

Some 30,000-50,000 anti-government activists rallied in Kiev on Sunday, the capital city of Ukraine, to demand the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, chanting:

"A new constitution. A new president. A new government. A new country. This is what we want and we will prevail. Glory to Ukraine."

Many wore blue and yellow ribbons, the colors of both Ukraine and the European Union, to emphasize their demands that Ukraine should be more closely linked to Europe than to Russia.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) placed its anti-terrorist units on high alert, saying in a statement that it had received reports of terrorist incidents, including bomb threats at nuclear and hydroelectric power stations.

The government opposition warned that the country is headed for financial default. In the last month, the logic of bankruptcy has been reversed. Ukraine has been headed for bankruptcy for some time, but Russia's president Vladimir Putin offered to bail them out with a $15 billion loan, provided that they signed a trade agreement with his Eurasian Customs Union rather than the EU. However, as the riots and violence have grown, Putin announced that he would withhold the bailout money until Ukraine joins the customs union.

So now the opposition is saying that since Putin is withholding payment, the country is headed for default again. But opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk says that the U.S. and the European Union are ready to step in with financial aid. Good to know. AFP and Ukrainian News Agency and Bloomberg

U.S. General criticizes Japan, Philippines for China-Nazi comparisons

Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle, the commander of the Pacific Air Forces, is criticizing leaders of Japan and the Philippines for drawing comparisons between China's actions today and those of Nazi Germany prior to World War II. In these columns, I've repeatedly referred to China's current policies as being similar to Hitler's "Lebensraum" policies.

According to General Carlisle:

"The rise of Germany and what occurred between the U.K. in particular and Germany, and what happened in Europe, I don’t draw that comparison at all to what’s going on today [in the Asia-Pacific].

Some of the things, in particular that have been done by Japan, they need to think hard about what is provocative to other nations."

Carlisle urged all countries in the region to try to defuse tensions. In particular, he cautioned China not to extend an air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the South China Sea as it did in the East China Sea separating China from Japan, because itoulw be "very provocative."

Several days ago, I quoted U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel as "Any Chinese claim to maritime rights not based on claimed land features would be inconsistent with international law." This statement turns out to be an official U.S. rejection of China's famous "nine-dash line map" claiming regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. According to Russel, any Chinese claims "must be derived from land features," and not from a historical map not recognized by anyone else. According to a China analyst formerly of the Obama administration:

"[F]or the first time, the United States government has come out publicly with an explicit statement that the so-called 'nine-dash line' ... is contrary to international law."

According to China's foreign ministry, "Some US officials make groundless accusations against China." Bloomberg and Radio Free Asia

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Feb-14 World View -- Switzerland votes to impose immigration quotas, violating EU agreements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Feb-14 World View -- Iran's Ayatollah Khamanei rants and accuses the U.S. of lying

Peaceful protests in Bosnia turn into widespread violence

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's Ayatollah Khamanei rants and accuses the U.S. of lying


Ayatollah Khamenei, sitting underneath a picture of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini (Fars)
Ayatollah Khamenei, sitting underneath a picture of his predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini (Fars)

Now that the first of the sanctions have been lifted, and international investors are beginning to flock to Iran, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei delivered an anti-American rant on Saturday to the Iranian Air Force commanders, accusing the Obama administration of lying:

"American officials, in negotiations with the country’s (Iran) officials, say we are not after regime change in Iran but they are lying because if they had the ability to do this they would not hesitate one second.

The other reason behind US inability to change the Islamic establishment [of Iran] is that the establishment relies on the nation’s faith, kindness and resolve. One can change the tactics, but principles must remain rock solid."

The speech commemorated the 35th anniversary of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution that brought Khamenei's predecessor, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, to power.

Khamenei's speech followed in incident on Friday, when the American delegation walked out of a speech in Tunisia at a ceremony honoring Tunisia's newly adopted constitution following the "Arab Spring." At the ceremony, Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani referred to Israel as a "cancer" in the region on Friday:

"Even after the revolutions that happened in the region, the US and Israel tried to divert and devastate some of the revolutions so that Israel can benefit."

Khamenei and Larijani are both survivors of Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution which is being commemorated, and the great unifying theme of that revolution was that America was the Great Satan whose puppet, the Shah of Iran, had oppressed Iran's people for years. These aging leaders keep trying to revive the unity of the 1979 Revolution by claiming that America and Israel still want to defeat the revolution and oppress the Iranian people again.

Iran's younger generations don't share these views. Most of them like America and the West, and they don't particularly want to see Israel pushed into the sea. So 75-year-old Khamenei's fears about a regime change are well founded. His passing will trigger a generational Awakening era crisis that will cause big changes, including some kind of regime change. And as I've written many times, my expectation is that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be the ally of America, Israel, Russia, India and others versus China, Pakistan, the Sunni Muslim countries, and others. Jerusalem Post and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Iran)

Peaceful protests in Bosnia turn into widespread violence

Three days of anti-government protests in Bosnia led to violence across the country on Friday, when protesters set fire to government buildings and fought with riot police in Sarajevo and other cities. This was the worst civil unrest since the genocidal war in Bosnia-Herzegovina that followed the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia in 1992, killing 100,000 people and leading to a crisis war climax in 1995 with the Srebrenica massacre. (See "12-Jul-13 World View -- Bosnia commemorates the 1995 Srebrenica massacre".) Srebrenica is considered the worst genocide in post-war Europe. At least 8,300 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys who had sought safe haven at the U.N.-protected enclave at Srebrenica were killed by Orthodox Christian Serbs under the leadership of General Ratko Mladic, who coined the phrase "ethnic cleansing." Mladic is still considered a hero by many Serbs, who say that no crime was committed, as he was just defending Serbs. Ratko Mladic stands accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is made up of two separate entities: a Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosnian Serb Republic, or Republika Srpska, each with its own president, government, parliament, police and other bodies. With 40% unemployment, there are around 550,000 unemployed people in Bosnia. There are widespread charges of corruption stemming from the deep divisions within the dual government framework.

People are expressing fears of a new civil war, like the one in 1992-95. However, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's literally impossible. It's been 19 years since the climax of the Bosnian war, and so Bosnia is just entering a new Awakening era, as the young generation born after the war start protesting and making their views heard. However, their parents still remember that absolute horrors of the Bosnian war, and will do everything in their power to keep it from happening. It's worth noting that Friday's violence disappeared on Saturday, and the protests were almost all peaceful. BBC and AP and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Feb-14 World View -- Iran's Ayatollah Khamanei rants and accuses the U.S. of lying thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Feb-14 World View -- Central African Republic: Christians aim to get rid of all Muslims

Reader complaints about Central African Republic and Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Central African Republic: Christians aim to get rid of all Muslims


A Christian man runs through looted and burning homes of Muslims who have fled for their lives (Nat. Geographic)
A Christian man runs through looted and burning homes of Muslims who have fled for their lives (Nat. Geographic)

Thousands of Muslims are fleeing for their lives from Bangui, the capital city of Central African Republic, and from towns across the country. They're escaping in convoys being guarded by troops from Chad, a Muslim country.

The violence began after a March, 2013, coup that brought a Muslim to the presidency. Muslims formed "Seleka militias" and committed deadly attacks on Christians. Christians formed "anti-balaka" (or "anti-machete") militias, and began revenge attacks late in 2013. By now, the revenge attacks are in full force. According to one reporter:

"It's horrific, actually. You have a country that is essentially falling apart. Neighbor killing neighbor on a daily basis in the most brutal, horrific fashion I have ever seen. Lynchings, people attacked by mobs, people having their arms cut off, people burnt with tires around their necks like we saw in South Africa in the 1990s. ...

I just saw today 10,000 Muslims forced to flee from Bangui and surrounding towns north toward Chad, because they are in fear for their lives. They are getting hacked to death, attacked in streets by mobs, the districts they live in and their houses and mosques are being looted and burned, so they have no choice but to leave. ...

But it's the most violent and hateful environment I've ever documented in 16 years. And I've covered every conflict in Africa over that time, but I've never documented anything this bad.

There is so much hatred. Yesterday I was in a town that had eight mosques and over 30,000 Muslims, but now the mosques have been burnt and there are only 300 Muslims left there, hiding in a mosque surrounded by French peacekeeping forces who are trying to keep them alive."

France has 1,600 peacekeeping troops in CAR, who are working with 4,000 African Union peacekeeping troops. The United Nations expects to send thousands more. But this is a generational crisis war, a force of nature, which can't be stopped by any number of troops until it's run its course. BBC and National Geographic

Reader complaints about Central African Republic and Syria

I'd like to address some reader complaints that have been addressed to me recently when I write about Central African Republic and about Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century, comparable to Mao, Hitler and Pol Pot of the last century. He's a Shia/Alawite Muslim who conducted "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, who used sarin gas against his own people, who is allied with the Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah, and who is allied with Muslim Iran which some people call the worst terrorist country on earth.

And yet when I call al-Assad a "genocidal monster," I get bizarre complaints that I'm excusing al-Qaeda terrorism. That's ridiculous, as I write about al-Qaeda terrorism all the time, especially in Pakistan.

But what's most bizarre is that many of the people who make this complaint are in the community that perceive Muslims negatively, sometimes referring to all of them universally as "murderous." That's not true of more than a small minority, but if you really believe that all Muslims are "murderous," then you should be aware that al-Assad is the most murderous one of all.

So if you're one of those commenters who are holding those two contradictory views simultaneously, then I suggest you ask your doctor for anti-psychosis pills, because the cognitive dissonance is going to drive you crazy.

This is actually very familiar. College kids in the 1960s praised Mao Zedong as a god, even carrying copies of his "Little Red Book" in their back pockets, and quoting from it from time to time. This was going on at the same time that Mao was starving, torturing and executing tens of millions of Chinese people in the Great Leap Forward, and then again the Cultural Revolution.

There are still people today who consider Mao to be a god, and they still praise him to the skies. And we all know that there are Holocaust deniers who says that the evidence of the Holocaust was all manufactured. These are all the same to me as lovers of al-Assad.

The situation in Central African Republic is drawing a number of complaints because there are Christians committing atrocities on Muslims. One accusation is that I'm excusing the atrocities of Muslims, which is absurd.

I will agree with the commenters to the following extent: Large-scale Christian atrocities are so rare at this time in history that there is increased focus on the one in CAR, while there are so many Muslim jihadist atrocities that any individual situation is not a major story.

Another complaint was related to my contrast of the CAR war versus the Syria war, when I said that the violence in CAR was more personal.

Let's go back to the Rwanda genocide in 1994. There were many stories similar to the following: Two families lived together in peace and harmony for years. Then when a Hutu leader announced over the radio, "Cut down the tall trees," the man from the Hutu family picked up a machete, went next door to the Tutsi family, killed and dismembered the father and children, raped the wife, and killed and dismembered her. Similar stories came out of the Bosnian war genocide in 1995.

This is the kind of thing that's beginning to happen in CAR, and it's NOT happening in Syria, where something quite different is happening. Even the atrocities of Muslim jihadists are rarely as personal as described in the above story about Rwanda. That's why I'm saying that the atrocities in CAR are "more personal" than in Syria. This is an important distinction in generational theory, because this is one way to distinguish generational crisis wars from non-crisis wars.

Getting back to the Christians committing atrocities on Muslims, it may not be what I want to hear, or what you want to hear, but it's happening. The Generational Dynamics methodology does not respect ideological or religious beliefs, except as they define identity groups, and analyzes what happens among the different identity groups.

If you look at the last century, you can easily find genocidal wars that were Muslim versus Muslim (e.g., Iran/Iraq war), Christian versus Christian (e.g., World War II), and Buddhist versus Buddhist (e.g., Cambodia's "killing fields" civil war). Of course there are hundreds more examples with different kinds of populations. Generational Dynamics looks at all of these examples, analyzes them, and uses the analyses to try to predict what's going to happen in the future.

And right now, we can say with some certainty that the situation in Central African Republic is going to get very bloody, and by the time it's over, neither Muslims nor Christians will look good.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Feb-14 World View -- Central African Republic: Christians aim to get rid of all Muslims thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Feb-14 World View -- Russia contemplates Ukraine military action after Sochi

Pakistan government mediators talk to Taliban mediators

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia contemplates Ukraine military action after Sochi


Portrait of Nazi WW II hero Stepan Bandera
Portrait of Nazi WW II hero Stepan Bandera

Some Russian nationalists in Moscow are discussing a possible military annexation of Ukraine once the Sochi Olympics games have ended. It's becoming increasingly common to refer to the anti-government protesters as "fascists" or "Nazis". In the case of some groups, this characterization is not far from the truth. One anti-government activist, Dmitry Yarosh, is a follower of Stepan Bandera, who helped Hitler's army evict the Red Army from Ukraine during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. The question of military intervention is being actively discussed during prime time on Russian state TV channels. A former advisor to Russian president Vladimir Putin, political scientist Andrey Illarionov, is frequently heard discussing preparations for a military invasion:

"Ukraine is a failed state, and the historic chance for reunification of all the Russian lands can be lost in the next couple of weeks, so we mustn’t put off the solution to the Ukrainian Question."

The phrase "the solution to the Ukrainian Question" is not an accident, but is an echo of Hitler's "the solution to the Jewish question," and is accompanied by threats to send Ukrainian protesters to a "frosty minus-60 degree resort" in Siberia. The 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia, followed by the annexation of two Georgian provinces, is being discussed as a model. The scenarios being considered for Ukraine include annexation of the entire country, which is considered to be unrealistic, to full control of Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, especially the Crimea and Sevastopol. Voice of Russia and Daily Beast and Voice of Russia

Pakistan government mediators talk to Taliban mediators

The "historic" negotiations to end the terrorist attacks in Pakistan finally began on Thursday. The Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) sent three negotiators and the government sent four negotiators to a meeting in Islamabad to talk. Nothing that's decided would be binding on anyone. And even if something were decided, the TTP is merely an umbrella group under which some 40-50 autonomous extremist organizations operate.

The TTP have said that terrorist attacks will continue during the "peace talks." TTP has already killed more than 50,000 Pakistanis in the last few years, so I guess they believe that a few hundred or thousand more won't matter.

The TTP are demanding that Pakistan adopt "Sharia law," which has very different meanings to different Muslim groups. The jihadists say that want the strictest Wahhabi form, which they believe apparently gives them the right to inflict suicide bombings on Shia Muslim mosques and schools, as well as Sufis.

So, the "Pakistan peace process," like the "Israeli Palestinian peace process" and the "Syria peace process" is just another game for show. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Business Recorder (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Feb-14 World View -- Russia contemplates Ukraine military action after Sochi thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Feb-14 World View -- Another gory lynching in Central African Republic, this time by soldiers

U.S. challenges China on South China Sea claims

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Another gory lynching in Central African Republic, this time by soldiers


A man drags the corpse of the man who was lynched by CAR soldiers on Wednesday (AFP)
A man drags the corpse of the man who was lynched by CAR soldiers on Wednesday (AFP)

Soldiers in the Central African Republic, the ones who are supposed to bring peace to the CAR, brutally lynched a man on Wednesday, right at the end of a ceremony where the new president, Catherine Samba-Panza. Speaking to the assembled soldiers, Samba-Panza said they would be paid salaries for the first time in five months, and said:

"I would like to renew my pride in those elements of FACA [Armed Forces of the Central African Republic] who are here and to ask them to support my actions wherever they are.

As soon as she left, soldiers grabbed a bystander, accused him of being from the Seleka militia, and then lynched him with knives and bricks, kicking him to the ground, stripping him to his underwear and stabbing him over and over. Attempts to save the man only made the mob even more furious. All of this took place in front of reporters from AP, AFP and Reuters.

What makes this different even from the conflict in Syria is its raw, personal, man to man brutality. In Syria, you have the genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad conducting "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians. The war in Syria might well end if al-Assad stepped down. In the case of al-Qaeda linked jihadists, you have mass murder through bombings of markets and mosques, and some tortures and individual murders.

But in CAR, this kind of lynching is going on now across the country, by self-directed individuals. What makes today's story unique is that it's done by soldiers in front of international reporters. The only other country where this level of personal viciousness is occurring is Burma (Myanmar), where Buddhist mobs are slaughtering entire Muslim communities.

As I've explained several time, 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 deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. This is because all the survivors of that war are long gone, and nobody in the younger generations have any personal memories of its horrors.

Many people are describing the CAR war in religious terms, as Muslims versus Christians, and that's true to an extent. But there's no evidence that religion has anything to do with it except to identify members of the two identity groups. There have been no stories of priests or imams telling their respective "flocks" that they should go out and kill people. This is a raw ethnic/tribal war, with the mass hatred and lynchings coming from ordinary people, not from their politicians or their clerics. And week after week it's building into a new generational crisis war of ghastly proportions. National Post (Toronto) and Telegraph (London)

China struggles to import food from around the world

With memories of Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward of the late 1950s, when tens of millions of Chinese died of starvation, still in the minds of many Chinese, almost nothing concerns Chinese officials more than food security and food self-sufficiency. But with a huge and growing population and demand for food, in the face of fast-depleting water, land and labor resources, China is actually less self-sufficient, and depends on food imports, especially from the United States, to feed itself.

To better safeguard the country’s food security, China is trying to diversify its food imports away from the US, to build its own global food supply system by investing in overseas agricultural resources. In Central Asia, China leases or controls hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

In 2012, China contributed $1 billion to a joint Russia-China fund to invest in agriculture and timber in Russia, leasing 600,000 hectares of land and 800,000 hectares of forests.

China is expanding agricultural trade with Europe, especially leading food exporters in France, the Netherlands and Germany. An interesting footnote to the continuing political confrontation in Ukraine is China has loaned $3 billion to Ukraine to develop its agriculture, in return for which, Ukraine exports corn to China.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is headed for both a world war and an internal civil war. The internal war would be triggered by unemployment or food shortages, as has happened repeatedly in China's history. S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS)

U.S. challenges China on South China Sea claims

Philippine President Benigno Aquino recently called on world leaders not to "appease" China and drew a parallel to the 1938 decision to give Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler's Germany. This is the same point that I've been making for several years, when I refer to China's "Lebensraum" policy. China is claiming vast areas of the South China Sea, including regions that that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and has threatened to use its vast military power to threaten and subdue any neighboring nation that disobeys its orders.

Last year, the Philippines decided to challenge China's claims by submitting the case to a United Nations tribunal for adjudication. China contemptuously denounced that attempt, saying that everything in the South China Sea belongs to China, and nobody but China has the right to decide what belongs to China.

On Wednesday, Danny Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said:

"Any Chinese claim to maritime rights not based on claimed land features would be inconsistent with international law.

China could highlight its respect for international law by clarifying or adjusting its claim to bring it into accordance with international law of the sea."

I believe that the reference to the phrase "claimed land features" means that if James Shoal is right off the coast of Malaysia, and thousands of miles from China, then that region belongs to Malaysia, not to China. (See "29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal")

Tensions have been growing in the South China Sea because of China's military belligerence. Russel's statement is certain to bring new angry denunciations from the Chinese. AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Feb-14 World View -- Another gory lynching in Central African Republic, this time by soldiers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan 'peace process' collapses on first day

Corruption in Europe matches corruption in Washington

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan 'peace process' collapses on first day


Taliban negotiators furious about being stood up on Tuesday (Reuters)
Taliban negotiators furious about being stood up on Tuesday (Reuters)

Tuesday was to be a "historic day" for Pakistan, for this was the day that Pakistan's government would open peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban - TTP) to end the endless bombings and other terror attacks that the TTP perpetrates almost daily.

The talks were to begin on Tuesday. The TTP representatives showed up for the meeting, but the government representatives did not. The government issued a statement to the furious TTP representatives that they had to check something out about the negotiating teams.

The question of negotiating teams has been part of the joke leading up to Tuesday's scheduled meeting. The TTP negotiators could not make any binding decisions on behalf of the TTP, so the talks were just for show from their side. But even more laughable is the fact that the TTP asked Imran Khan to be one of the negotiators on the side of the TTP. Imran Khan is a former cricket superstar who has become a vitriolically anti-American politician, whose participation as a TTP negotiator would be totally inappropriate.

Even if the TTP leaders agreed to stop terrorist attacks, their decision would not be binding on other TTP-related terrorist groups in Pakistan. Probably the worst is Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ), which 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. As recently as January 21, blew up a bus of Shia pilgrims returning from Iran, killing 24. LeJ is not going give up these attacks, even if the TTP makes some deal.

The volume of terrorist attacks in Pakistan is enormous. In January alone, terrorism resulted in at least 460 fatalities, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). There have been at least 70 explosions in January, resulting in 167 deaths. To think that this flood of terrorist attacks will suddenly stop because of some "peace talks" with the Taliban is absurd. Many Pakistanis agree. One editorialist calls the peace talks "appeasement" and says, "The postponement of talks leads one to hope the prime minister has finally realized that the TTP is in fact playing tricks with the government." Pakistan Today and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and BBC

Corruption in Europe matches corruption in Washington

A new "EU Anti-Corruption Report" from the European Commission paints a very bleak picture. According to the report, Europeans believe that the only way to succeed is through political connections, and that corruption is a big problem. A rising number believe that it's getting worse, especially in Greece, Spain and Italy. According to one commentator in Brussels:

"Europe's problem is not so much with small bribes on the whole. It's with the ties between the political class and industry.

There has been a failure to regulate politicians' conflicts of interest in dealing with business. The rewards for favoring companies, in allocating contracts or making changes to legislation, are positions in the private sector when they have left office rather than a bribe."

This may be what's happening in Brussels, but it's also what's happening in Washington. It's almost beyond belief that thousands of (Gen-X) bankers committed massive fraud in the 2003-8 time period, purposely creating trillions of dollar's worth of synthetic securities backed by faulty subprime mortgages, and then sold them to investors knowing that they were fraudulent. And NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON has gone to jail for those crimes. The Obama administration adamantly refuses to prosecute these criminals and criminal organizations, which, incidentally, donated millions of dollars to Obama's campaigns. And then you have the administration dispensing Obamacare favors, exemptions and dispensations to labor unions and other administration cronies, while using the IRS to target political enemies, and you have the worst corruption in my lifetime, and you have exactly what this new report says is happening in Europe. BBC and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Feb-14 World View -- Pakistan 'peace process' collapses on first day thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Feb-14 World View -- Monday's market plunge continues 'that 1929 feeling'

Bitterness between U.S. and Israel increases as 'peace process' collapses

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Qaeda's Zawahiri picks sides among Syria's jihadist terrorists


ISIS fighter parade in Syrian town on January 2 (Reuters)
ISIS fighter parade in Syrian town on January 2 (Reuters)

Al-Qaeda's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is repudiating any connection with the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL). A statement by al-Qaeda General Command was published on a jihadist web site on Sunday:

"[Al-Qaeda] has no connection with the group called the ISIS, as it was not informed or consulted about its establishment. It was not pleased with it and thus ordered its suspension. Therefore, it is not affiliated with al-Qaeda and has no organizational relationship with it. Al-Qaeda is not responsible for ISIS's actions."

There are three groups of anti-Assad militants in Syria: The "moderate" Syrian National Coalition (SNC); the Islamic Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, consisting of Syrian citizens who are salafists; and the jihadists in ISIS, an extension of the old Al-Qaeda in Iraq, consisting of many foreign fighters.

ISIS has essentially become an ally of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, in that both of these groups are cooperating with each other to fight the other rebel groups (SNC and al-Nusra). Al-Assad's army has been focusing its bombing campaigns on rebel areas, but has not been striking any ISIS camps or supporters. This has apparently distressed al-Zawahiri, who would like to see the rebels to focus on fighting the Shia/Alawite al-Assad, rather than each other.

However, al-Zawahiri's statement is unlikely to make much difference in Syria. ISIS is attracting jihadists from all over the world, and it's becoming increasingly powerful. The fight between ISIS and al-Nusra is likely to get a lot more bloody. BBC and AFP and The National (UAE)

Monday's market plunge continues 'that 1929 feeling'

The Dow Industrials index fell more than 2% on Monday, continuing a decline that has been almost steady since the beginning of 2014. The experts blamed Monday's plunge on bad manufacturing data, and other an apparently slowdown in China.

The S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) fell to 16.9%. This is lower than 18.72 peak of last year, but it's still astronomically high by historical standards. It was only as recently as 1982 that the P/E index was 6, and it's about due to return to that level, as it does periodically, every 30 years or so. This would push the Dow Jones Industrial Average from its current 15,400 down to the 3,000-4,000 level, or lower, which is what Generational Dynamics is predicting.

A week ago, I wrote "'that 1929 feeling' may be back on Wall Street". As I said, what I'm looking for a certain pattern that preceded the 1929 crash.

For the seven weeks preceding the 1929 crash, starting from 9/3/29, the market declined gradually, but with some wild gyrations along the way. That's the pattern I'm watching for today. The market has, in fact, been declining gradually since Jan 1, but we've only begun to see the wild gyrations. If the decline continues, and if there's a fall of 6% one day, followed by a rise of 8% the next day, or some sort of wild gyration like that, then that would be the pattern I'm looking for.

However, there are no guarantees, one way or the other. The market might fall 10%, and then go back up. The stock market is in a huge bubble, and Generational Dynamics predicts a major financial panic and crisis, but the exact date that the bubble will burst is impossible to predict. But as I said, this is the first time in a long time that I've thought that the market has that "1929 feeling." Reuters

Bitterness between U.S. and Israel increases as 'peace process' collapses

As the April 29 deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement approaches, with not even the whisper of any sort of agreement in sight, the bitterness and mutual finger-pointing between Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu administration versus America's Obama administration is increasing.

In an attempt to get Israel to make additional concessions, especially to renounce any further West Bank settlement construction, Secretary of State John Kerry said at the weekend international security conference in Munich:

"You see for Israel there is an increasing deligitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to better with all of that?"

The Israeli cabinet took these remarks as a direct threat that the U.S. not oppose an international boycott of Israel, and might even support it.

"Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust, [and] they will not achieve their goal."

Kerry later issued a statement saying that the Obama administration opposes any boycotts of Israel. The relationship between the Netanyahu and Obama administrations has been testy from the start, but as the deadline approaches, it's becoming more hostile. It was just two weeks ago that an Israeli minister said that Kerry was "acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor. ( "15-Jan-14 World View -- Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident".)

Kerry is now calling the April 29 deadline "artificial," indicating that he wants the so-called "peace process" to continue into the future. However, there may be a problem. The main reason that the Palestinians haven't walked out is because Israel is releasing 104 prisoners, in four evenly spaced groups of 26, from Israeli jails. If the "peace talks" are to continue, then Kerry will have to convince Israel to release some more prisoners, or to make some other concession. VOA and Jerusalem Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Feb-14 World View -- Monday's market plunge continues 'that 1929 feeling' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Feb-14 World View -- Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party will adopt new name if banned

Syria's al-Assad has week of victories, including rebel infighting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party will adopt new name if banned


Golden Dawn rally on Saturday (Kathimerini)
Golden Dawn rally on Saturday (Kathimerini)

Faced with threats from Greece's authorities to ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn political party from participating in the May 25 elections, spokesman Ilias Kassidiaris announced the founding of a new party, National Dawn, as a backup in case Golden Dawn is banned. Kassidiaris was speaking at a rally of about 3,000 Golden Dawn supporters on Saturday, and said,

"Patriots will have a party to vote for in the next election if (authorities) go ahead with the coup to ban Golden Dawn."

Golden Dawn was declared a "criminal organization" last year, after September 18 when self-identified Golden Dawn members murdered a white Greek civilian rapper, Pavlos Fyssas, or Killah P, who rapped against the kind of racism that Golden Dawn practices.

Greek police arrested the party's leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and dozens of party members, including four MPs. The charges include homicide, attempted homicide, money laundering, blackmail, grievous bodily harm, and other serious crimes.

Golden Dawn was a little-known fringe party until the financial crisis, when it exploded in popularity. It is highly nationalistic, has a Swastika-like emblem on its flag, and supports deportation of all non-Greeks, even those who are citizens, to rid Greece of the "stench" of immigrants. It has conducted hate campaigns against immigrants, and is believed to have targeted immigrants with violence.

Two opinion polls published last week showed the party would get 8.9% to 10.3% of the vote if elections were held now. Kathimerini (Athens) and Reuters

Syria's al-Assad has week of victories, including rebel infighting

Syria's genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad had good reason to celebrate this weekend, as one victory led to another last week.

Two anti-Assad rebel groups are now fighting fiercely with one another. The al-Qaeda linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) killed a commander in a Syrian salafist rebel group, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Islamic Front), leading to continued gunfights and bombings between the two groups. ISIL has attracted foreign jihadists from all over the world, and it currently has control of parts of Iraq and Syria, and is trying to take full control of a larger region. ISIL has essentially become an ally of al-Assad for two reasons: ISIL is killing al-Assad's Syrian rebels, and ISIL allows al-Assad to maintain the fiction that he's fighting al-Qaeda terrorists, when in fact he's committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against Syrian civilians. In fact, al-Assad's bombers are reported to be very carefully avoiding ISIL camps, so al-Assad isn't fighting al-Qaeda terrorists at all.

Other good news for al-Assad this week:

Al-Assad is winning on the battlefield, and has no reason to compromise with anyone on anything. Indian Express and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Feb-14 World View -- Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party will adopt new name if banned thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Feb-14 World View -- Torture of Ukraine dissident polarizes U.S.-Russia relations

Ukraine protests lead to further crackdown on free speech in Russia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukrainian activist back from the dead, beaten but alive


Dmytro Bulatov
Dmytro Bulatov

The anti-government protests in Kiev, the capital city of Ukraine, have been simmering since late November, growing into violence within the last two weeks. But now it's turned into a major proxy political shouting match between Russia and the West, because Dmytro Bulatov, a 35 year old opposition activist, who had been presumed killed two weeks ago, was found alive in a Kiev suburb, where he had been dumped, severely scarred and missing part of one ear. He said that he had been kidnapped, and then tortured and beaten for a week by men with Russian accents. Ukraine's pro-Russian government is denying any complicity in the kidnapping and torture, but it's widely assumed that the men with the Russian accents were government thugs.

The anti-government protests began on November 21 after the president, Viktor Yanukovych, did a major flip-flop and refused to sign a trade deal with the European Union, after saying for months that would sign. The move was seen as turning away from Europe, and turning toward Russia, which displeased the ethnic Ukrainians in the east, but pleased the ethnic Russians in the west. This view was reinforced when Russia's president Vladimir Putin offered Ukraine a $15 billion loan, thought to be incentive to encourage Yanukovych to join Putin's Eurasian Customs Union.

The protests had been dying down until January 16, when the parliament passed a harsh new law restricting protests and freedom of speech. The protests became larger and more violent, and remain so until this day, even though Yanukovych has made several concessions since then: His prime minister and cabinet have all resigned, and the anti-protest law has been repealed. However, the protesters see these concessions as a sign of weakness, and are demanding the resignation of Yanukovych. Yanukovych has been out of sight for a week with "the flu," but aides say he's refusing to resign.

The reappearance of activist leader Bulatov, apparently back from the dead but badly beaten, once again escalated the protests.

There had been some initial reports that Bulatov, who is recuperating in the hospital, was going to be arrested on charges related to his anti-government activism, but government officials say that they are only detaining him in order to protect him. Kyiv Post and Interfax-Ukraine

Torture of Ukraine dissident polarizes U.S.-Russia relations

The news of the torture of Dmytro Bulatov was a bombshell that hit in the middle of a long-scheduled security conference being held in Munich. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with opposition leaders and said on Saturday in Munich that the U.S. and the European Union supported the people of Ukraine as they sought a stronger democracy, and should not be coerced into associating with one country (Russia). According to Kerry:

"[The people of Ukraine are] fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations. They have decided that means their futures do not have to lie with one country alone, and certainly not coerced. The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight."

Kerry has apparently sided with the opposition, and is receiving criticism because he seems to be saying that it's democracy to overthrow a democratically elected government through street demonstrations.

According to Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, also speaking in Munich on Saturday:

"What does the inciting of street protests, which are growing increasingly violent, have to do with promoting democratic principles?

Why do we not hear statements of condemnation toward those who seize government buildings, attack and burn police officers, and voice racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why do senior European politicians de facto encourage such actions, while at home they swiftly and harshly act to stop any impingement on the letter of the law?"

It's funny to see Lavrov, a man with no morals whatsoever, claim outrage and try to take a moral stand. He might have been reminded that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, and annexed two Georgian provinces.

The Ukraine situation has grown from a local matter involving anti-government demonstrators into a major international disagreement between Russia and the West. Al-Jazeera and Russia Today

Ukraine protests lead to further crackdown on free speech in Russia

Russian state TV is claiming that Russia's liberal news outlets "are the leaders of a fifth column that is preparing a Kyiv-style ‘Maidan’ revolution in Moscow," financed by Russian enemies in the West. The most immediate target is a Moscow-based independent TV cable news channel Dozhd (meaning "Rain"). On January 26, Dozhd ran a panel and asked viewers to vote if Leningrad (today St. Petersburg), besieged during World War II by Nazi troops, should have surrendered to save civilian lives (the siege or blockade of Leningrad lasted from 1941 to 1944 and more than a million civilians died, mainly from starvation). The St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office announced it has begun an official investigation of Dozhd: "To determine if the channel has crossed the line of permissibility during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of the blockade of Leningrad." Many cable services are dropping Dozhd from their lineups, and Pravda has called the Dozhd channel a liberal outpost run by Jews, homosexuals and "insects." The Ukraine protests are generating an almost hysterical reaction in Moscow, and splitting the power base of president Vladimir Putin, as Putin himself is taking a cautious approach, while nationalists and revisionists desperately call for a more aggressive, interventionist policy in Ukraine. Undoubtedly, the question of Russian military intervention in Ukraine is at least being considered in Moscow. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Feb-14 World View -- Torture of Ukraine dissident polarizes U.S.-Russia relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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1-Feb-14 World View -- Syria 'peace talks' end in recriminations and accusations

Three bankers commit suicide in one week

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria 'peace talks' end in recriminations and accusations


Supporters of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad demonstrate in Geneva on Friday (Reuters)
Supporters of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad demonstrate in Geneva on Friday (Reuters)

The so-called "Geneva II" Syria peace conference in the Swiss town of Montreux ended on Friday with no agreement on peace, no agreement on humanitarian aid, and no commitment to another meeting. According to UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who was conference leader:

"Progress is very slow indeed, but the sides have engaged in an acceptable manner. This is a modest beginning on which we can build.

The gaps between the sides remain wide; there is no use pretending otherwise. Nevertheless, during our discussions, I observed a little bit of common ground – perhaps more than the two sides realize or recognize.

Things have gone so far down that they are not going to get out of the ditch overnight."

The Friends of Syria, a Western alliance that backs al-Assad's foes, said, ""The regime is responsible for the lack of real progress in the first round of negotiations. It must not further obstruct substantial negotiations and it must engage constructively in the second round of negotiations." The U.S. State Department said that the Syrian government "continues to play games."

Syria's deputy prime minister, Walid al-Moallem, gave two reasons for the failure of the conference:

"[One reason was] the non-seriousness and non-ripeness of the other side and its threat of blowing up the meetings many times and stubbornness on one issue as if we come here for one hour to hand them over everything and return and this indicates the illusions they live.

The second reason was the US flagrant interference in the talks and the tense atmosphere through which the US wanted to cover Geneva meeting by its actual appearance and its flagrant intervention in the meeting affairs were also reasons that made the talks don’t lead to tangible outcomes."

Brahimi says that a new meeting is scheduled to begin on February 10, but the Syrian delegation denies that it's agreed to attend.

Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber) says that its intelligence sources are telling quite a different story. Debka, which sometimes gets things wrong, claims that the meeting in Montreux was just for show for the media, and that the real negotiations are going on at a meeting in Bern, with representatives from the U.S., Russia, Syria, and Syrian opposition representatives. The Mideast Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and the UAE, were not invited. I found no confirmation of this story anywhere, so make of it what you will, Dear Reader. Daily Star (Lebanon)/AFP and Syria Online (Damascus) and Debka

Eurozone continues spiral into deflation, with 12% unemployment

As we wrote several weeks ago ( "9-Jan-14 World View -- Eurozone plummets into deflation"), the eurozone inflation rate has been falling steadily for over a year, raising very real concerns that the eurozone is headed into deflation. The statistics for January are out, and the eurozone CPI was just 0.7%, substantially lower than the 0.9% predicted by expert economists. This raises more alarm bells over deflation, which is often the precursor to a major economic depression. As long-time readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a deflationary spiral and a major global economic crisis, the worst of which is far from over. CNBC

Three bankers commit suicide in one week

It's hard to know what to make of this, but three bankers have committed suicide in the last week:

It's well known that suicides occur most often around the Christmas holiday season, so it's possible that the timing of these three suicides was coincidental. But it's also true that a number of bankers and investors jumped to their deaths during the Great Depression, usually from hotel rooms, and that the overall suicide rate today has surged even higher than during the Great Depression (usually because of unemployment). A financial crisis sends many people to financial ruin, but more than that, a financial crisis exposes a lot of crime, particularly embezzlement.

John Kenneth Galbraith described what happened during the Great Depression in his 1954 book, The Great Crash - 1929, as follows:

"In many ways the effect of the crash on embezzlement was more significant than on suicide. To the economist embezzlement is the most interesting of crimes. Alone among the various forms of larceny it has a time parameter. Weeks, months, or years may elapse between the commission of the crime and its discovery. (This is a period, incidentally, when the embezzler has his gain and the man who has been embezzled, oddly enough, feels no loss. There is a net increase in psychic wealth.) At any given time there exists an inventory of undiscovered embezzlement in -- or more precisely not in -- the country's businesses and banks. This inventory -- it should perhaps be called the bezzle -- amounts at any moment to many millions of dollars. It also varies in size with the business cycle. In good times people are relaxed, trusting, and money is plentiful. But even though money is plentiful, there are always many people who need more. Under these circumstances the rate of embezzlement grows, the rate of discovery falls off, and the bezzle increases rapidly. In depression all is reversed. Money is watched with a narrow, suspicious eye. The man who handles it is assumed to be dishonest until he proves himself otherwise. Audits are penetrating and meticulous. Commercial morality is enormously improved. The bezzle shrinks.

The stock market boom and the ensuing crash caused a traumatic exaggeration of these normal relationships. To the normal needs for money, for home, family and dissipation, was added, during the boom, the new and overwhelming requirement for funds to play the market or to meet margin calls. Money was exceptionally plentiful. People were also exceptionally trusting. A bank president who was himself trusting Kreuger, Hopson, and Insull was obviously unlikely to suspect his lifelong friend the cashier. In the late twenties the bezzle grew apace.

Just as the boom accelerated the rate of growth, so the crash enormously advanced the rate of discovery. Within a few days, something close to universal trust turned into something akin to universal suspicion. Audits were ordered. Strained or preoccupied behavior was noticed. Most important, the collapse in stock values made irredeemable the position of the employee who had embezzled to play the market. He now confessed.

After the first week or so of the crash, reports of defaulting employees were a daily occurrence. They were far more common than the suicides. On some days comparatively brief accounts occupied a column or more in the Times. The amounts were large and small, and they were reported from far and wide. ...

Each week during the autumn more such unfortunates were reveled in their misery. Most of them were small men who had taken a flier in the market and then become more deeply involved. Later they had more impressive companions. It was the crash, and the subsequent ruthless contraction of values which, in the end, exposed the speculation by Kreuger, Hopson, and Insull with the money of other people. Should the American economy ever achieve permanent full employment and prosperity, firms should look well to their auditors. One of the uses of depression is the exposure of what auditors fail to find. Bagehot once observed: "Every great crisis reveals the excessive speculations of many houses which no one before suspected." [pp. 132-35]

We have to remember that today there's a tremendous undercurrent of what we might call "unreported crime" going on. Thousands of bankers purposely created and sold trillions of dollars in fraudulent synthetic securities backed by faulty subprime mortgages, and not a single person has gone to jail for these crimes. If there's an increase in suicide rates among bankers, then it's possible that some kind of Karmic retribution is taking place. We'll have to wait and see what's going on. Bloomberg and Business Insider and Global Research (May 2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Feb-14 World View -- Syria 'peace talks' end in recriminations and accusations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Feb-2014) Permanent Link
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31-Jan-14 World View -- Diplomatic silence in North Korea raises military alarms

Syria's Bashar al-Assad (and Vladimir Putin) guilty of more war crimes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's Bashar al-Assad (and Vladimir Putin) guilty of more war crimes


Before (left) and after pictures show that the al-Assad regime destroyed entire civilian neighborhoods, killing many women and children in just a few days (CNN/HRW)
Before (left) and after pictures show that the al-Assad regime destroyed entire civilian neighborhoods, killing many women and children in just a few days (CNN/HRW)

It seems that almost every day, new evidence comes forth of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the genocidal monster president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. A new report by Human Rights Watch shows that the Syrian government "deliberately and unlawfully" destroyed entire civilian neighborhoods. Just counting the suburbs of Damascus and Hama, thousands of homes were flattened.

Once again, this is a war crime on the part of Bashar al-Assad. And, once again, Russia's president Vladimir Putin is guilty of war crimes as well, for supplying the weapons to al-Assad. Human Rights Watch and CNN

U.S. accuses Syria of not complying with chemical weapons agreement

For the first time, U.S. administration officials are accusing Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime of not complying with its agreement to allow its chemical weapons and manufacturing facilities to be destroyed, with only 4% of the "low hanging fruit" so far delivered for destruction. At first, there were excuses that the weather was too cold, and so forth, but as the weeks have gone by, it's become increasingly clear that al-Assad is stalling.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said "The United States is concerned that the Syrian government is behind in delivering these chemical weapons precursor materials on time."

Apparently Hagel wasn't listening on Tuesday when President Obama gave the State of the Union address:

"You see, in a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than fifty countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles. American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear. As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side."

Actually, it's been one debacle after another, especially President Obama's "red line" flip-flop. American diplomacy has made America a laughingstock, especially in the Mideast. The Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" is a joke. Syria has become the worldwide center for al-Qaeda linked jihadism, Bashar al-Assad is committing "industrial strength" torture and extermination on his own civilians, is now suspected of developing biological weapons, and has already used sarin gas on his own people, which he'll be free to do again since he apparently is reneging on his agreement to have his chemical weapons destroyed. ( "30-Jan-14 World View -- Syria a 'huge magnet' for terrorists - and perhaps biological weapons")

A lot of people have written to me over the years saying that they don't like me saying that America is policemen of the world. What they usually say is, "Who the hell appointed America to be policeman of the world?" Well, the answer to that question is President Harry Truman, who enunciated in 1947 the Truman Doctrine, saying that intervening in international conflicts may cost money and treasure, but it's only a tiny fraction of the money and treasure spent in World War II. Like it or not, America has been policeman of the world since the end of World War II.

Well, what happens to a city when the policemen stop enforcing the laws? The criminals and thugs take over, as has happened in President Obama's home town, Chicago. And what happens to the world when the policeman of the world starts "leading from behind?" You're seeing it in Syria. President Truman said that the cost of military intervention was tiny compared to the cost of fighting a world war, and that lesson is being brought home today. McClatchy and CBS News

Diplomatic silence in North Korea raises military alarms

Commentary from KGS Nightwatch indicates that Kim Jong-un's government is in chaos since the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek:

North Korean policy is disjointed. That condition suggests the charm or reconciliation offensive is not real and might be part of a deception plan.

Supporting that judgment is the absence of diplomatic activity. North Korean media have reported the arrival or departure of no foreign delegations since 14 January. The last was by a member of the Japanese House of Councilors. Prior to that, the last foreign delegation was that led by Dennis Rodman. North Korea has sent no delegations abroad apparently since the death of Jang Song-thaek.

In times of political normality, foreign delegations arrive at or depart from Pyongyang several times a week. The absence of diplomatic activity reinforces the observation that North Korea has turned inward. It is not engaging in significant foreign initiatives and not responding to its own initiatives on North-South relations.

The absence of normal diplomatic activity is a general warning indicator. That means that conditions in the North are not normal but the reason is not yet clear.

The last comment is significant because North Korean media almost daily repeat the propaganda theme that North and South Koreans can and must solve the challenge of reunification. Nevertheless, the North has failed to respond to South Korea proposals and ignored its own proposals.

The disconnect between North Korea's words and actions justify a high alert condition by South Korean and Allied military forces. It also suggests that the overtures to the South are gestures without substance. They might provide cover for the continuing purges and campaigns to guard against counter-revolution. They also might cover North Korean preparations for a military provocation.

China Relations. A South Korean news outlet reported that on 10 January Kim Jong-un approved a security plan aimed at eliminating the "China pigs." The "China pigs" are all those people who worked with Jang Song-thaek to attract Chinese investment in North Korea.

If confirmed, as seems likely, this North Korean internal security program means that Chinese relations with North Korea are severely strained again. China has no credibility to act as an honest broker for restarting the Six Party Talks. KGS Nightwatch

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-14 World View -- Diplomatic silence in North Korea raises military alarms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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30-Jan-14 World View -- Syria a 'huge magnet' for terrorists - and perhaps biological weapons

Chinese now drink more red wine than the French

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chinese now drink more red wine than the French


Ad for Dynasty Red Wine, a joint venture of China and France
Ad for Dynasty Red Wine, a joint venture of China and France

China has overtaken France and Italy to become the world's number one consumer of red wine, consuming 155 million nine-litre cases, compared to 150 million for France, 141 million for Italy, 134 million for America, and 112 million for Germany. According to one analyst, there are Chinese superstitions over colors:

"Red is the color of luck and good fortune and white is the color of death [in China]. So you don't want to drink white, why would you?"

However, the U.S. is still the world leader in consumption of all forms of wine together. France 24

Syria replaces Pakistan as the center of al-Qaeda jihadist activity

US intelligence chief James Clapper said in Wednesday that Syria is replacing Pakistan as primary breeding ground for al-Qaeda linked terrorists. According to Clapper, "Syria has become a huge magnet for extremists," who can now recruit, train and equip a growing number of militants there:

"What’s going on there and the attraction of these foreign fighters is very, very worrisome.

We estimate at this point in excess of 7,000 foreign fighters have been attracted from some 50 countries, many of them in Europe and the Mideast. We’re seeing now the appearance of training complexes in Syria to train people to go back to their countries and of course conduct more terrorist acts."

This will not be a surprise to any Reader. As I've been saying for months, Russia and Iran are at fault here, for supplying weapons to a genocidal monster, Bashar al-Assad, allowing him "industrial level" torture and murder against his Sunni opponents, drawing Sunni jihadists from all over the world. Vladimir Putin is a war criminal for supplying weapons to al-Assad who is committing crimes against humanity. Time and US News

Syria may be developing biological weapons

Several months ago, Syria agreed to give up production of chemical weapons, such as the sarin that he used to slaughter his own people. But apparently the al-Assad and the Russians snookered the West again, because they forgot to ask about biological weapons. According to Clapper's written report:

"We judge that some elements of Syria’s biological warfare (BW) program might have advanced beyond the research and development stage and might be capable of limited agent production, based on the duration of its longstanding program. To the best of our knowledge, Syria has not successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, but it possesses conventional weapon systems that could be modified for biological-agent delivery."

AFP and Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jan-14 World View -- Syria a 'huge magnet' for terrorists - and perhaps biological weapons thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal

Syria's 'peace conference' proceeds as total farce

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine anti-government protests spread into the east


Protesters sit behind a barricade in Kiev on Tuesday (CNN)
Protesters sit behind a barricade in Kiev on Tuesday (CNN)

Up until now, the anti-government protests have been in the west, which is populated by Ukrainian-speaking ethnic Ukrainians demanding the resignation of president Viktor Yanukovych, who is from the east, which is comprised mostly of Russian-speaking ethnic Russians. However, now the protests are spreading into a few Russian-speaking cities in the east, indicating that Yanukovych may be losing control of the situation. In an attempt to head off further erosion of his credibility, he's accepted the resignation of the prime minister Mykola Azarov, and all the ministers in his cabinet, something that would have been unthinkable just two weeks ago. These resignations came shortly after the parliament voted to repeal the "anti-protest" law that had triggered a surge in violence two weeks ago.

Despite the spread to a few cities in the east, the protests do not appear to be spiraling into a larger conflict between Ukrainians and Russians. Right now the protests are almost purely political, and are being spurred by a few activists. It doesn't appear that that's going to change soon. BBC and Telegraph (London)

U.N. Security Council approves EU troops for Central African Republican

Fearing that the the violence between Muslims and Christians in the Central African Republic might spiral out of control into a full-scale genocidal civil war, like the one between the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994, the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to permit the European Union to supply 500 peacekeeping troops to the CAR, to join 1,600 French troops and 5,000 African Union troops already there.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, CAR is deep into a generation Crisis era, and the chances of a genocidal explosion are all but certain. ( "20-Jan-14 World View -- Mob rule in Central African Republic as Christians crave revenge") CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), targeting the French colonialists. In any event, the addition of another 500 peacekeeping troops to the thousands already there is unlikely to prevent what is coming anyway. United Nations and Reuters

Syria's 'peace conference' proceeds as total farce

The "Geneva-II" meetings are progressing in Switzerland this week, with the representatives of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad facing off against the representatives of the opposition rebels. The mainstream media is oohing and ahhing about how these meetings are a big step forward. The meetings are moderated by Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special Envoy appointed by the UN and the Arab League.

Here's how these meetings go: In the mornings, both sides are in the same room with Brahimi. The two sides are in the same room, but they don't talk to each other. Each of them talks only to Brahimi. The purpose of the morning sessions is to discuss the agenda for the afternoon sessions. In the afternoon sessions, the two sides are in different rooms, and Brahimi goes back and forth between the rooms, like Henry Kissinger's "shuttle diplomacy."

As we said the other day, al-Assad has no reason to compromise on anything. He's used sarin gas on his own people, he uses "industrial strength" torture on people, and every day he uses barrel bombs on his own people, which are designed to kill, maim and torture as many people as possible, especially women and children. Russia supplies an unlimited number of heavy weapons for Assad to use to continue his psychopathic murder. Al-Assad will probably win the war after he's killed off a few million more of his people, so why should he bother to compromise?

As an example of what a waste of time these Geneva meetings are, you need only look at what the mainstream media are calling "breakthroughs." The breakthrough that they always refer to is that both sides are in the same room, though they rarely mention that the two sides never actually talk to each other.

But the really, really big breakthrough was an agreement to allow some 2,500 women and children to leave the city of Homs, where they are trapped by all the bombing. I was surprised that Assad agreed to this because I assume that he gets sexual pleasure out of bombing women and children. But on Sunday he agreed to it.

But then on Tuesday, the al-Assad regime announced that all the militias (meaning all the men) would have to leave the city first, and then he would allow the women and children to leave. So, as usual, the al-Assad regime was just lying when they agreed to let the women and children leave. As usual, al-Assad and the Russians made complete fools of the mainstream media and the Western politicians.

These meetings are supposed to end on Friday, but Tuesday afternoon's session was called off because the two sides are completely deadlocked. Let's watch and see if there are any further "breakthroughs" before Friday. BBC

China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal


Malaysia's James Shoal and China (Google Maps)
Malaysia's James Shoal and China (Google Maps)

China has sent three armed ships to patrol the region around James Shoal in waters belonging to Malaysia that China has indicated in the past that it plans to seize. The shoal is named Zengmu Reef by the Chinese. According to Xinhua:

"During the ceremony held in the Zengmu Reef area, soldiers and officers aboard swore an oath of determination to safeguard the country's sovereignty and maritime interests.

[The fleet commander] urged soldiers and officers to always be prepared to fight, improve combat capabilities and lead the forces to help build the country into a maritime power."

If looking at the above map makes you think that James Shoal is awfully far away from China to be claiming it, then you would be right.

China is claiming vast areas of the South China Sea, including regions that that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and has threatened to use its vast military power to threaten and subdue any neighboring nation that disobeys its orders. This comes just a few days after China escalated tensions by demanding that any foreign fishing vessel ask permission from China's military before fishing in the South China Sea. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines")

China's media have reported a strategy of seizing one island after another, in each case without expecting any actual military confrontation because of its vast military power. China would be counting on the fact that this one-by-one approach would allow gradual seizure of the entire region without triggering a military response from the United States. As weeks go by, it seems that China is becoming more and more bellicose and militaristic. Generational Dynamics predicts that China is rapidly and aggressively preparing for preemptive war against the United States, and is rapidly developing a variety of missile systems with no other purpose than to strike American cities, aircraft carriers, and military installations. Malaysia Chronicle and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jan-14 World View -- China's military moves to seize Malaysia's James Shoal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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28-Jan-14 World View -- Army strongman al-Sisi may be Egypt's next president

Israel's PM Netanyahu slammed because son Yair is dating a gentile

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Army strongman al-Sisi may be Egypt's next president


 Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi (AP)
Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi (AP)

Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Monday gave its permission for army leader Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi to become a civilian and run for president. This followed an announcement promoting al-Sisi from General to Field Marshal. According to reports, al-Sisi will announce within the next couple of days to resign from the army and enter the upcoming presidential elections as a civilian candidate.

Al-Sisi led the coup that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak and his Muslim Brotherhood government, and he's become extremely popular for his tough stand against terrorism, which many people blame on the Brotherhood. However, he's also an extremely divisive figure, since MB supporters consider him a criminal.

Al-Sisi is expected to win the presidential election. What's ironic is that three years after the Egyptian Revolution that ousted one military strongman, Hosni Mubarak, it appears that Egypt will soon be ruled by another. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and BBC

Al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri says: Don't fight the Christians in Egypt

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has surprised observers by appearing to be defending Christians in Egypt. Instead of fighting Christians, Egyptian jihadists should focus their fire on Field Marshal Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. According to al-Zawahiri,

"We must not seek war with the Christians and thus give the West an excuse to blame Muslims, as has happened before. ...

[Al-Sisi] is a mercenary, an Americanized puppet, an impostor, treacherous and sinful with a history of bootlicking."

AP

Israel's PM Netanyahu slammed because son Yair is dating a gentile


Yair Netanyahu and Sandra Leikanger
Yair Netanyahu and Sandra Leikanger

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being criticized because is son Yair, 23, is dating a non-Jewish Norwegian girl, Sandra Leikanger, 25.

One prominent Jewish education leader in Israel called on Netanyahu to "prevent the relationship":

"[T]he consequences of your son's actions, despite his being private individual, are far-reaching, both in terms of your family personally and in more national terms as well.

On the personal level, his children - your grandchildren, as you certainly know, will not be Jews; their name may be Netanyahu, but Netanyahu the non-Jew. On the national level, this is the son of the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish nation, who will join the six million (lost Jews in the Holocaust) as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir declared."

Many Jews consider assimilation of other cultures into the Jewish culture to be an abomination. According to one commentator:

"I know friends of mine who invest tens of millions and more, hundreds of millions to fight assimilation in the world. If G-d forbid it's true, woe to us. ... I hope it's not true. [I]f this thing is true, there's a huge heart-break for him and [his wife] Sarah from this."

This debate comes in the context of a different kind of assimilation issue. On Friday, Netanyahu raised a firestorm by saying that up to 500,000 settlers might remain in the West Bank in a new state of Palestine, if a two-state solution were adopted, and that they would be under the jurisdiction of the government of Palestine. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat shot back:

"No settler will be allowed to stay in the Palestinian state, not even a single one, because settlements are illegal and the presence of the settlers on the occupied lands is illegal."

This brought charges of hypocrisy from Israeli leaders, who pointed to the many Palestinians living in Israel. However, Netanyahu also received criticism from some Israeli leaders, with Israel's pro-settler economy minister calling Netanyahu's suggestion "ethnic insanity." Jerusalem Post and Israel National News and The National (UAE)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jan-14 World View -- Army strongman al-Sisi may be Egypt's next president thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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27-Jan-14 World View -- Hungary's 'fascist' Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona speaks in London

China banks halt domestic cash transfers as fund bankruptcy looms

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hungary's 'fascist' Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona speaks in London


Gabor Vona in London on Sunday, carrying a Hungarian flag, protected from anti-fascist activists by police
Gabor Vona in London on Sunday, carrying a Hungarian flag, protected from anti-fascist activists by police

Gabor Vona, described as "one of Europe's most electorally successful fascists" spoke on Sunday to UK-based sympathizers of his Hungarian Jobbik Party. Demonstrations by anti-fascist campaigners prevented Vona from giving his speech at the planned venue, so he ended up speaking to around 100 supporters at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park. The Jobbik party, which is considered anti-Roma and anti-Semitic, is the third biggest party in Hungary, with 43 seats in the national parliament. It's thought that Vona would like to create a "common core" of parties across Europe that would include the British National Party, the French National Front, Holland's Party for Freedom, and Greece's Golden Dawn. Each of these parties is, to a greater or lesser extent, anti-immigrant, anti-Roma and/or anti-Semitic. These nationalist sentiments have been growing around Europe, for the first time since World War II. According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, anti-Semitism has been skyrocketing in Europe, with some 66% of European Jews saying that in 2013, anti-Semitism has significantly impacted their lives. Independent (London) and Israel National News

Hussman's analysis of market instability

A major correction or crash on Wall Street is long overdue ( "25-Jan-14 World View -- That '1929 feeling' may be back on Wall Street"), and while the timing cannot be predicted with certainty, some analysts are saying that there are signs that it's not far off.

The Hussman Funds manager and analyst John P. Hussman is describing a number of factors leading to market instability:

Each one of these factors, by itself, is not of concern. But the combination of such factors, taken together, creates a state of market instability, such that any small disturbance may trigger a crisis or crash.

Hussman also expresses concerns about high levels of corporate debt, and adds: "In any event, however, the objective evidence speaks well enough for itself across history. If accuracy in projecting actual subsequent market returns is a standard by which alternative valuation metrics should be judged, then the U.S. equity market is trading about double its historical norms, and double the level at which investors should expect historically normal returns."

As I've been saying repeatedly, Generational Dynamics predicts a major stock market crash to the Dow 3000 level or lower. It's impossible to predict the exact timing, but there are increasing signs that the time is close. John P. Hussman

China banks halt domestic cash transfers as fund bankruptcy looms


People's Bank of China
People's Bank of China

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has issued an order to commercial banks to halt all cash transfers for 3 days, and to suspend conversions of renminbi to other currencies for 9 days. China's banks are giving no explanation except "system maintenance." China's week-long Lunar New Year holiday begins on January 31, there's a high demand for cash around this time, and banks are desperate to avoid a cash crunch. Although China's government has $3.82 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, this crisis is over the domestic currency (the renminbi), where dollars aren't of much use.

America's financial crisis began when the credit bubble, built on over-leveraged debts based on subprime mortgages, began to burst. The collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008 triggered a worldwide financial crisis.

China has a much larger shadow credit bubble, based on $4.8 trillion of over-leveraged loans made in its shadow banking system, and is now facing a major bankruptcy in its shadow banking system on Friday, January 31.

Just as American investment banks had sold trillions in fraudulent securities based on faulty subprime mortgages, the The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China sold $496.2 million in fraudulent securities called the "Credit-Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product." The whole deal was full of corruption, and now the bill is coming due on Friday, when payment on the securities is due to investors.

According to Moodys,

"This case reminds people of Lehman minibonds because complicated credit-linked products were sold to individual investors via bank channels. It’s not clear whether misselling was involved due to lack of transparency. It’s also not clear who will share the loss. Regardless, both the product packager and distributor have seen their reputation suffer."

Many of those investors who will lose money are other banks, and so the "Credit-Credit Equals Gold #1" bankruptcy is thought to be the reason for the PBOC's order blocking cash transfers. Many banks had been counting on the money from the investment product, and some may be facing bankruptcies themselves, as a chain reaction looms. China's government will undoubtedly do everything possible to prevent such an outcome, but with China's credit bubble collapsing, it's possible that the chain reaction can't be stopped. Forbes and Bloomberg

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jan-14 World View -- Hungary's 'fascist' Jobbik party leader Gabor Vona speaks in London thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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26-Jan-14 World View -- HSBC cash withdrawal restrictions raise fears of bank runs

France's president Hollande announces end of relationship with Trierweiler

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

29 die in clashes at three-way commemoration of Egypt's revolution


 Supporters of Egypt's government cheer with national flags (Al-Ahram)
Supporters of Egypt's government cheer with national flags (Al-Ahram)

Clashes killed 29 people, as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Saturday to commemorate the third anniversary of the January 25, 2011, Egyptian Revolution, which resulted in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. However, the demonstrators today are not nearly as united as they were in 2011. On Saturday, there were three distinct groups of demonstrators:

The only ones allowed into Tahrir Square were the pro-government demonstrators. However, all three groups were marching, and the army used teargas and birdshot to disperse the crowds. 29 people died in the resulting clashes.

Today the major debate in Egypt is whether the country if better off or worse off than under Mubarak. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and BBC

HSBC cash withdrawal restrictions raise fears of bank runs

Some customers of London-based international banking firm HSBC are being told that they can't make withdrawals above $5,000 or so without being questioned about the reason for the withdrawal. In some cases the bank has been demanding documentation before the withdrawal can be permitted, although they now say they've reversed that policy.

HSBC is saying that they're just trying to protect their customers, and they issued this statement:

"We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for.

The reason being we have an obligation to protect our customers, and to minimize the opportunity for financial crime. However, following feedback, we are immediately updating guidance to our customer facing staff to reiterate that it is not mandatory for customers to provide documentary evidence for large cash withdrawals, and on its own, failure to show evidence is not a reason to refuse a withdrawal. We are writing to apologize to any customer who has been given incorrect information and inconvenienced."

This announcement is triggering visceral fears of bank runs among a lot of people who remember the Cyprus bank bailout last year that kept people from withdrawing more then 300 euros per day, and permanently cost large depositors 40-80% of their deposits.

It's also reminiscent of HSBC's 2007 announcement that it had $1.75 billion in bad debts, resulting from bad subprime mortgages written by subsidiary Household Finance Corp., which HSBC had acquired in 2003.

Then, last year, HSBC was found to have, for five years, been laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug mobs, organizations linked to al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, and Russian gangsters.

So is HSBC in trouble again? Or are these new policies really all about protecting their customers? I guess each depositor will have to make his own decision. BBC and ZeroHedge and Rollin Stone (Feb 2013)

Ukraine anti-government protests continue, despite offer of compromise

Anti-government protests in Ukraine are spreading from the capital city, Kiev, into cities in the western part of the nation. Western Ukraine is populated by ethnic Ukrainians, who largely oppose the current Russia-linked government, and who want Ukraine to have closer ties to Europe. Eastern Ukraine is populated by ethnic Russians, who prefer closer ties to Russia.

Protests in Kiev are large, but remain mostly peaceful. President Viktor Yanukovych offered several concessions to the opposition, including the appointment of anti-government activists to ministerial positions in the government. However, the opposition is demanding that Yanukovych step down, and that new elections be held. BBC

France's president Hollande announces end of relationship with Trierweiler


Valérie Trierweiler, 48 (left) and Julie Gayet, 41 (AFP)
Valérie Trierweiler, 48 (left) and Julie Gayet, 41 (AFP)

France's President François Hollande reportedly met for lunch on Thursday with his girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler, who has lived with him in the Élysée Palace since he took office last year. On Saturday, Hollande called an AFP reporter and gave this quote:

"I wish to make it known that I have ended my partnership with Valerie Trierweiler."

This harsh statement indicates that the luncheon meeting was not a pleasant one.

The announcement comes just as Trierweiler is just about to leave for India on a humanitarian trip, and a couple of weeks before Hollande will be making a state visit to the United States. Apparently Trierweiler will still go to India, but will not accompany Hollande on the state visit. Trierweiler is expected to resume her career as a journalist.

Trierweiler's relationship with 59 year old Hollande unraveled quickly after press reports two weeks ago indicated that Hollande was spending nights with an actress, Julie Gayet. Trierweiler and Hollande share something in common: She's France's least popular "first lady" in decades, while he's the least popular prime minister in decades. It is not expected that Gayet will move into the Élysée Palace. AFP and Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jan-14 World View -- HSBC cash withdrawal restrictions raise fears of bank runs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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25-Jan-14 World View -- That '1929 feeling' may be back on Wall Street

'Geneva II' Syria peace conference is more political play-acting

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist bombings in Egypt may affect Saturday's revolutionary celebrations


Huge crater in front of Cairo police station from Friday's terrorist bombing (Reuters)
Huge crater in front of Cairo police station from Friday's terrorist bombing (Reuters)

Egypt's terrorist bombings had previously been taking place far away from Cairo, in the Sinai or in northern Egypt, but as of Friday morning, have now come to the most well protected part of central Cairo. A large terrorist blast exploded at the police building in central Cairo, killing four people and injuring 76 others. Hours later, once person was killed by a bombing in Giza. Late Friday morning, a third explosion at a Giza police station near the pyramids caused no casualties. But in the afternoon, a bombing at a Giza movie theatre left one person dead.

The spate of terrorist bombings has infuriated the public, who are widely blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for the bombings, and praising army general Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi for declaring MB to be a terrorist organization.

The Muslim Brotherhood says they had nothing to do with the bombings, while al-Qaeda linked Sinai terrorist group Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis or Champions of Jerusalem) is claiming credit for the bombings. This group has claimed credit for several major terrorist bombings in the past.

Saturday is the third anniversary of the start of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Many political groups had planned big public celebrations on Saturday, but some of them are being pulled back, giving as a reason fear of violent clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and BBC

That '1929 feeling' may be back on Wall Street

This week is the first time in a long time that I've thought that the market has the "1929 feeling." Those feelings only became stronger on Friday with the dramatic 2% plunge in Wall Street stocks. Financial pundits gave these reasons for the plunge:

These are all likely to be long-term trends, and the sense of gloom that I'm detecting suggests that some change might be about to happen.

But this could all fall apart in the next few days. Perhaps Wall Street will recover from the big losses this week, and start growing again. We know that a crash is coming, but it's impossible to predict the timing. All we can do is guess, and depend on our "feelings," which can be wrong.

By the way, according to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (January 24) morning was 18.20, which is lower than the 18.72 of last month, but still astronomically high. It was only as recently as 1982 that the P/E index was 6, and it's about due to return to that level, as it does periodically, every 30 years or so. This would push the Dow Jones Industrial Average from its current 15,900 down to the 3,000-4,000 level, or lower, which is what Generational Dynamics is predicting.

So if that "1929 feeling" is going to turn into a 1929 crash at this time, then there are some things to look for in the next two months. The main thing to look for would be a gradual net fall, combined with a couple of wild fluctuations -- say, a 6% fall, then an 8% rise. In fact, if you take into account what's been happening in emerging markets, then it may be fair to say that this is already happening. This would set what might be called the "panic mood," where people would be anxious to avoid the next 6% fall, and that would trigger a much bigger fall, and a spiral downward. Reuters and AFP

'Geneva II' Syria peace conference is more political play-acting

A new Syria peace conference is going on in Geneva, Switzerland, and it certainly qualifies as a bizarre bit of political theatre. It's called "Geneva II" because there was an earlier Syrian peace conference in Geneva in June, 2012, now called "Geneva I." There was a communique issued after Geneva I, and it called for an end to the Syrian civil war by the resignation of president Bashar al-Assad, and instituting a new transitional government with members from the former al-Assad government, as well as members from the opposition.

Well, now it's time for Geneva II, and here are the realities:

So on Thursday, the two sides were in separate rooms, but they were supposed to meet with one another in the same room on Friday. Well that was canceled because of the above disagreement. But then UN and Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi stepped into the picture. He played "shuttle diplomacy," moving back and forth between the two rooms, and finally was able to announced that the two sides would meet in the same room on Saturday!! And this was described as a "major breakthrough"!!

Even if the civil war did end, on whatever terms imaginable, there would still be a resumption of peaceful protests. And remember that's how the war started -- the genocidal monster al-Assad responded to the peaceful protests by flattening civilian neighborhoods and torturing children. When the peaceful protests began again, what would al-Assad do next? Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jan-14 World View -- That '1929 feeling' may be back on Wall Street thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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24-Jan-14 World View -- China increases military force in South China Sea

Conflicts arise between Arab and Chechnya jihadists in Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cyprus military base will house Russian aircraft, naval ships


Andreas Papandreou airbase in Paphos, Cyprus
Andreas Papandreou airbase in Paphos, Cyprus

The cabinet of Cyprus has approved a proposal to offer certain facilities to the Russian air force at the Andreas Papandreou military airbase in Paphos. Cyprus will also open the Limassol port to Russia's warships. However, some details have not been worked out, including the question of whether there will be a permanent Russian base at the airport, versus permitting Russian military aircraft to land for refueling or repairs. Russia has a very strong negotiating hand with Cyprus, especially after Russian depositors lost billions in last March's bailout –- in addition to Moscow’s very generous 2.5 billion euro loan to Cyprus. It's expected that Russia will use these military bases as a transit point for arms shipments to the Bashar al-Assad regime. Cyprus Mail and Jamestown

China increases military force in South China Sea

China is continuing its "Lebensraum" policy of using its vast military power and threats of military force to take control of vast portions of the South China Sea, including islands and regions that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines") China is building a large military base on one of the Paracel Islands that are disputed by other countries, and will station a 5,000 tonne patrol ship. The ship will make regular patrols throughout the region, and presumably threaten military force against any vessels from other countries. Vietnam has accused China of harassing and even opening fire on its fishing boats near the Paracels. Reuters and AFP

Conflicts arise between Arab and Chechnya jihadists in Syria

As we recently described in detail, there are three groups of anti-Assad militants in Syria: The "moderate" Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the Islamic Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, consisting of Syrian citizens who are salafists, and the al-Qaeda linked jihadists in the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), consisting of many foreign fighters who have been drawn to the region by both the Syria conflict and the deterioration of Iraq since the Americans withdrew.

There are splits and disagreements and clashes among all three of these groups, but now there are splits within ISIS itself, between two groups of foreign fighters: the Arabic speaking jihadists and the North Caucasian fighters, mostly from Chechnya, one of Russia's southern provinces. Many Chechen jihadists in ISIS are defecting to Jubhad al-Nusra, because they're apparently being treated as second-class jihadists in ISIS.

This development has had an ironic effect. With Chechens on both sides of the al-Nusra vs ISIS divide, they're able to reach agreements and avoided clashes that might have killed hundreds of people, including civilians.

There are several hundreds, or possibly a thousand jihadists from Chechnya who have gone to Syria to fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime. The stream of jihadists from Chechnya arriving in Syria may be reduced because the jihadists might become discouraged by the violent disagreements among the groups fighting against al-Assad. Jamestown

Belgium mayor's underpants stolen from Brussels' Museum of Underpants

A signed pair of underpants from the mayor of Brussels in Belgium has been stolen from an anarchist bar housing the Museum of Underpants, which explores the relationship between politicians and their underwear. The bar is a well-known drinking spot for Belgium's bohemian far-Left. The museum has the "philosophical purpose to show that all people are equal in their underpants, whether they are famous, rich, powerful or all three at the same time." Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jan-14 World View -- China increases military force in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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23-Jan-14 World View -- Iran says it's not dismantling any nuclear components

China says that war with Japan is inevitable because they hate each other

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ukraine anti-government protesters issue ultimatum after five are killed


Protester throws Molotov cocktail on Wednesday (CNN)
Protester throws Molotov cocktail on Wednesday (CNN)

Two months of anti-government protesters in Ukraine, mostly peaceful though strewn with some bursts of violence, are now close to becoming a war with the police, as protesters hurl stones and Molotov cocktails, and police respond with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber bullets, killing five protesters in the first fatalities of the protests.

The protests were originally triggered when President Viktor Yanukovych did a 180 degree flip-flop in November and suddenly refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union, as he had promised to do, choosing instead to accept a $15 billion bailout from Russia in return for closer ties. The protests became significantly more violent last week, after passage of new laws limiting the right to protests in Ukraine, according to opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, and a former world boxing champion.

There were several hours of negotiations on Wednesday, but according to Klitschko he ended them with an ultimatum:

"We did not receive any answers. When we talked about canceling the new laws that make each of us here a criminal, we heard that maybe this can be a point of negotiations. I will be with the people. If I have to fight, I will fight. If I have to go under bullets, I will. I will stand up for the people, because I want to live in a different country.

If Yanukovych does not make concessions, then tomorrow (Thursday) we will go on the attack." "

Yanukovych said the negotiations accomplished nothing, and the government gave security forces extra powers, including firing water cannon against the protesters despite the freezing temperatures.

January 22 is Ukraine's annual "day of national unity," celebrating the unification of western and eastern Ukraine in an attempt at independence in 1919 during the Bolshevik Revolution. However, Ukraine remains today two essentially different countries, with two distinctly different ethnic groups. The majority of the population are ethnic Ukrainians, occupying most of the country, in the western part of Ukraine. The minority group are ethnic Russians, occupying the east and south, descendants of ethnic Russians who were sent there by Stalin after World War II in order to "Russify" Ukraine. CNN and AFP

Iran says it's not dismantling any nuclear components

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif directly contradicted the White House on the terms of the nuclear deal that was signed last November.

According to the White House "Fact Sheet: First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program":

Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:

Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%."

But according to Zarif:

"The White House version both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitments.

The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word they use time and again. If you find a single, a single word, that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I would take back my comment.

[W]e are not dismantling any centrifuges, we're not dismantling any equipment, we're simply not producing, not enriching over 5%."

White House and CNN

China says that war with Japan is inevitable because they hate each other

The Davos conference in Switzerland is discussing more than just global finance. One Chinese professional attending the conference, who, according to conference rules, shall not be named, said that war between China and Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands is inevitable because China and Japan increasingly hate each other.

He outlined China's plans for a "surgical invasion":

This outline is credible because it's very similar to the method used by China to seize the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012, and it's similar to reports of plans for China's military to seize one island after another in the South China Sea. ( "16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines")

It's quite possible that the Chinese really believe that this idea will work, since they're as far into fantasy land as Washington is. This world is deep into a generational Crisis era, which is characterized by surging nationalism in all countries. China might get away with snatching one island this way, just as Hitler got away with snatching the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in 1938, after promising "Peace in our time." But the next such attempt would trigger extremely high nationalism in both America and Japan, and would certainly lead to a military confrontation that could spiral out of control.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also at the Davos conference, and he says that the current tension between Japan and China is similar to the situation between Britain and Germany, prior to World War I. He said that Britain and Germany – like China and Japan – had a strong trading relationship. But in 1914, this had not prevented strategic tensions leading to the outbreak of conflict.

Abe said that China's rapidly growing military spending is a major source of instability in the region. Between 1908 and 1913, European powers increased military spending by 50% after Germany began building a navy to rival Britain's. Business Insider and Business Insider

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jan-14 World View -- Iran says it's not dismantling any nuclear components thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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22-Jan-14 World View -- Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria

Suicide bombing in Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon kills four

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Suicide bombing in Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon kills four


The aftermath of Tuesday's bombing in Beirut, Lebanon (AP)
The aftermath of Tuesday's bombing in Beirut, Lebanon (AP)

A suspected suicide bombing on Tuesday killed at least four people and wounded dozens of others in a Hezbollah stronghold south of Beirut, Lebanon's capital city. The auto was a Kia Sportage that had apparently been stolen for just this purpose. The Lebanon branch of the Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front), a Syria-based Sunni terrorist group fighting Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime, claimed responsibility for the bombing. According to one eye-witness,

"We saw a car that was speeding. The driver was honking like a mad man. Seconds later, we saw the explosion which sent the vehicle flying up in the air."

A year ago, it would have been unthinkable that a terrorist bombing could occur in the heart of Hezbollah's stronghold in Beirut. The Hezbollah terrorist militia was too powerful, and their headquarters region was too well guarded and protected.

But that was before April 30, when Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah gave a televised speech saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Nasrallah reluctantly agreed to enter the Syrian war after being commanded to do so by his Iranian masters. ( "27-Sep-13 World View -- How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast") Al-Assad is a Shia/Alawite, conducting sectarian violence against Sunnis, while Hezbollah is a Shia organization under the control of a Shia country, Iran.

Since then, there have been half a dozen car bombings in the Hezbollah-controlled region of Beirut, starting with a July 9 car bombing. Tuesday's bombing is the second one to occur in this month alone. Daily Star (Beirut) and Foreign Policy

Putin's anti-gay campaign a high-risk appeal to Russia's 'traditional values'

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has made international news recently for his bizarre statements in response to questions about gay people attending the Sochi Olympics. On the one hand, he smiles warmly and says that they're all welcome and there will be no discrimination against them. But then he adds, "But stay away from the kids!"

The strategy behind this campaign is to overcome the problems with a more standard appeal to Russian nationalism, which could lead to violence and threaten his power, as illustrated by the recent and repeated extremely xenophobic violence between ethnic Russians and Russian citizens from the North Caucasus (Russia's southern provinces).

Putin, who has been losing popularity, is appealing instead to something a little different: the defense of "traditional values," a loosely defined mixture of ideas, including opposition to secularism, homosexuality and gender equality; support for hierarchical power relations; deference to authority; and social discipline. More interesting is the fact that he feels that people abroad who share his distaste for the extension of rights to formerly excluded groups like gays will look to Moscow as a defender of their values and thus help the Russian government bring pressure on their countries. As a result, he's received expressions of support from some of the more well-known far-right politicians in Europe, including Marie le Pen of France, anti-immigrant activist Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, British National Party leader (and Holocaust denier) Nick Griffin, and Mateusz Piskorski, an openly anti-Semitic leader of Poland’s populist agrarian and nationalist Samoobrona (Self-Defense) party.

However, this approach to "traditional values" could harm his reputation as a modernizer, and may cause many Russian nationalists inside Russia to view Putin’s cooperation with such radicals in the West as a signal that they are free to push similar ideas, a step that could trigger more violence there. Jamestown/Paul Goble

Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture 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

Western officials are reacting with "horror" at a new report that details how officials in the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale.

The report is backed up by 55,000 photos showing about 11,000 men exhibiting these signs of torture. 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 report was prepared by three top war crimes prosecutors. The prosecutors spent several days with a defector who had been a military photographer in the al-Assad regime for 12 years, and whose job had been to photograph these corpses after they had been tortured and killed. Al-Assad had demanded photographs of the dead corpses out of distrust of his own officials, so that he'd have proof that the killings had actually taken place.

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.

A Syrian spokesman asked to respond didn't actually deny that the torture had taken place, but he questioned the source of the photos, and claimed that Qatar, which had provided the funding for the report, was also guilty of war crimes.

A Soviet spokesman asked to respond didn't actually deny that the torture had taken place, but he said that things like that always happen in a civil war, and he suggested that the entire matter be turned over to the United Nations Security Council, presumably so that the Russians could use their veto power to bury it.

As I've said in the past, Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. Al-Assad is literally killing thousands of Syrian civilians every week with complete impunity, using Russian-supplied barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods. And he's used sarin chemical weapons on civilians. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy. This shows that al-Assad uses the most gruesome forms of torture on a personal, individual scale, as well as on a mass scale. And the Obama administration is indirectly supporting al-Assad through Russia. BBC and CNN and Full Report (PDF)

Syria report shows Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin guilty of war crimes

The Syria report shows that Bashar al-Assad is guilty of war crimes. But the same report also shows that Russia's president Vladimir Putin is also guilty of war crimes.

This is because in 2012, a United Nations war crimes tribunal convicted Liberia's former president Charles Taylor of war crimes conducted in the war in neighboring Sierra Leone. The prosecutor was unable to prove that Taylor himself had ordered the war crimes -- genocide, rape, torture, etc. But the prosecutor did prove that Taylor had sold weapons to rebels who committed the war crimes, thus making Taylor guilty of war crimes himself.

Based on that 2012 decision, the new Syria report clearly implicates Vladimir Putin as a war criminal. He didn't order the genocide and torture conducted by the Bashar al-Assad regime, but he's provided unlimited supplies of weapons to carry out that genocide and torture, and he's very well aware of how those weapons are being used. Reuters (2012)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jan-14 World View -- Western leaders sickened by Assad's 'industrial strength' torture in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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21-Jan-14 World View -- Fears of terrorism at Sochi Russian Olympics soar

New Nato headquarters building in big financial trouble

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fears of terrorism at Sochi Russian Olympics soar


Sochi 'black widow' terror suspect Ruzanna Ibragimova (Russian Security Services)
Sochi 'black widow' terror suspect Ruzanna Ibragimova (Russian Security Services)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin rarely gives interviews to foreign media, but over the weekend several Western media services obtained "exclusive" interviews. Putin's purpose in appearing charming was to assure everyone that the Olympics would be safe, and to encourage people to come to Sochi for the games that begin on February 6, but events seem to be speeding past his PR attempts.

Russian police have been handing out fliers to hotels, warning them of a "Black Widow" terror suspect who may be planning terrorist attacks during the Sochi Olympics. The name "Black Widow" originally was applied to women who were avenging the deaths of their husbands during the 1990s Chechnya wars, but in recent years the term has referred to any of the increasing numbers of female suicide bombers. Terrorist groups prefer female suicide bombers because security officials often are prohibited from searching females, making the females more successful at being violent.

Russian security services may be looking for as many as four "Black Widows," including Ruzanna Ibragimova, the 22-year-old woman in the flyer. She uses the nickname Salima and she's the widow of an Islamic militant killed by Russian security sources last year. She is described as being affiliated with the Caucasus Emirate, the terror group led by Doku Umarov that has threatened attacks against the Winter Games in Sochi.

In other news, jihadists claiming to be responsible for the two suicide bombings in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) last month posted a video over the weekend threatening further suicide attacks during the Olympics. In a message directed at Putin, the jihadists said:

"That which we will do, that which we have done, is only a little example, a little step. We’ll have a surprise package for you. And those tourists that will come to you, for them, too, we have a surprise.

All of these events are raising fears and anxiety over terrorist attacks, especially among the 15,000 Americans who will be attending the Sochi games.

The two jihadists in the video claimed that they were from a terrorist organization in Iraq. If this turns out to be true, then it will be karmic justice for Putin, whose support for genocidal Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has encouraged Russian jihadists to go to the Syria-Iraq region for training and experience. AP and NBC News

U.S. military puts warships into Black Sea in case of Sochi terrorism

The U.S. military will move two warships into the Black Sea under a contingency plan to react to terrorism at the Sochi Olympics. If ordered to do so, they will launch helicopters to help evacuate American officials and athletes, and they will provide support to Russian security forces if requested by Russia to do so. In addition to the warships, C-17 transport aircraft would be on standby in Germany, and could reach the region in about two hours. CNN

New Nato headquarters building in big financial trouble


New Nato headquarters under construction in Brussels (Spiegel)
New Nato headquarters under construction in Brussels (Spiegel)

Nato is building a new headquarters building, a project that was decided at the Nato summit of government leaders in April 1999 in Washington. The budget was 1.05 billion euros, but now the consortium of firms building it is at risk of insolvency, and is requesting an additional 245 million euros. The building was supposed to be completed by September, but now it's going to be delayed 9-1/2 months. Nato's Deputies Committee has approved an immediate 20 million euros to prevent an immediate construction halt, but there's hostility to providing more money. Those who favor providing the money needed to complete construction give the following reasons:

The construction financial crisis is an embarrassment for outgoing NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, under whose management the crisis occurred. Spiegel

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jan-14 World View -- Fears of terrorism at Sochi Russian Olympics soar thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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20-Jan-14 World View -- Mob rule in Central African Republic as Christians crave revenge

Egypt ponders the 98.1% 'yes' vote on new constitution referendum

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mob rule in Central African Republic as Christians crave revenge


Body burning, after being hacked to pieces on Sunday morning (Al-Jazeera)#
Body burning, after being hacked to pieces on Sunday morning (Al-Jazeera)#

On Sunday morning, a Christian mob in Bangui, the capital city of Central African Republic, lynched two Muslims, hacked them to pieces, and then burned their bodies in an act of rage. Scenes of this sort are being reported across CAR, but this one was different because there's a video of the act that's so horrifying that it's drawing worldwide attention. One Christian interviewed by the BBC says that his brother was killed last year by a Muslim, and now says, "If I see a Muslim go past, I will kill them myself."

Muslim Seleka militias began killing Christians last year, after a coup by Muslim leader Michel Djotodia. There were predictions last year of revenge by Christians. The international community forced Djotodia to step down earlier this month, in the hope that his doing so would quiesce the Christians, but that hope was in vain.

As I've been saying for several weeks, this is spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war, despite increasingly desperate international efforts to prevent it. As I've explained several times, 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 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. United Nations and African Union peacekeepers will try desperately to put a lid on it, but nothing will stop it now.

In fact, young people in CAR today certainly have heard of the Kongo-Wara war, just as Americans have heard of WW II. But what do they know? Nobody's told them about the its horrors. What the Muslims know is that their great-grandfathers were war heroes because they killed thousands of French and Christians, while the Christians have heard that their great-grandfathers were even bigger heroes, because they slaughtered even more Muslims.

A BBC reporter made an interesting comment several days ago on the war in Central African Republic. He said that in the last few days the war has gotten worse, because it was now neighbor versus neighbor, rather than militia versus militia, as it had been previously. This is a characteristic of a generational crisis civil war, that people who lived together for decades as neighbors in peace and harmony, and even intermarried, suddenly burst into violence against each other. This is what happened in Rwanda in 1994 and in Bosnia in 1995.

This also provides some insight into what's happening in Syria. I haven't seen any reports of "neighbor versus neighbor" fighting, which would be characteristic of a crisis war. It's all been "militia versus militia" and "army versus civilians," which is characteristic of a non-crisis war that would end, if, for example, Russia stopped providing an unlimited supply of weapons to genocidal monster president Bashar al-Assad, who rains barrel bombs on innocent civilians every day, killing thousands of them every week with complete impunity.

Militia versus militia wars can go indefinitely, and indeed many of them do go on for decades, with violence alternating with peace agreements that turn out to be temporary.

But neighbor versus neighbor wars can't go on forever, because eventually you run out of neighbors. These are the crisis wars that reach an explosive genocidal climax, and then there's a peace through exhaustion. That's what's coming in Central African Republic, but we're a long way from that climax. BBC and Reuters

Egypt ponders the 98.1% 'yes' vote on new constitution referendum

There are no charges of election fraud in the 98.1% "yes" vote in the referendum over Egypt's new proposed constitution, but there's a lot of soul-searching going on as to where the country goes next, and a lot of questions about the next moves of army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. ( "19-Jan-14 World View -- Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters")

Put simply, the turnout high "yes" vote, combined with the low turnout -- less than 39% of registered voters -- seem to indicate that a lot of people decided to vote "no" by not voting at all. Some are even calling the 98.1% victory "alarming," because it reflects the climate of intimidation that prevailed, targeting anyone who opposed the new constitution, forcing them to stay at home rather than to vote at all. There are several groups that are known to have boycotted or partially boycotted the vote:

According to one youth activist:

"For us it is ironic that the constitution talks of freedom of speech and yet those who said no to the constitution have been jailed. For many this is a reminder of the previous Mubarak era regime."

Al-Sisi, who says that he will run for president only if there's a popular mandate, is wildly popular among those opposed to Morsi, but is reviled by Morsi followers. It turns out that the 98.1% "yes" vote does not mean that Egypt is a unified country. Combined with the 39% turnout, it means that Egypt is more angry and divided than ever. Daily News Egypt and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jan-14 World View -- Mob rule in Central African Republic as Christians crave revenge thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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19-Jan-14 World View -- Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters

Smog-shrouded China shows live sunrise on giant TV screens

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rio's giant 'Christ the Redeemer' statue struck by lightning


Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue struck by lightning (AFP)
Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue struck by lightning (AFP)

Spectacular pictures were produced when the 130 foot tall Christ the Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was struck by lightning on Thursday. The statue was originally built in 1931, and underwent a $3 million renovation in 2010. Thursday's lightning strike damaged the right thumb of the statue, and the local archdiocese said that the thumb would be repaired. Metro (London)

Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters

In a referendum that was held on Tuesday and Wednesday on whether to approve a proposed new constitution, a spectacular 98.1% of those voting said "yes," though voter turnout was only 38.6% of registered voters. This has given rise to questions of ballot-stuffing, but there have no reports of this happening.

However, the army-led government left nothing to chance in the referendum. There were expensive ad campaigns telling people to vote "yes" in the referendum, but anyone campaigning against the consitution could be arrested. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members have been arrested or killed since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, so the climate of fear was such that any serious opposition to the referendum was unlikely to surface. The low voter turnout is being ascribed to a boycott by Muslim Brotherhood members.

When Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June 2012, his election was hailed as the first free democratic election of an Egyptian leader in the millennia of the nation's history. However, once in office, Morsi stunned Egypt and the world by taking a series of steps to make himself the "new Pharaoh" of Egypt, a virtual dictator. He issued decrees giving himself dictatorial powers, he fired other government officials and replaced with the Muslim Brotherhood officials, and had his Muslim Brotherhood supporters unilaterally rewrite the constitution according to the Brotherhood's strict version of Shariah law.

A referendum on Morsi's new constitution was conducted in December, 2012. It received an overwhelming 64% "YES" vote, but only 33% of registered voters actually voted. So an army coup ousted Morsi on July 3 of last year, and now a new referendum has been held on a new constitution. The "yes" vote was 98.1%, and the turnout was 38.6%. Officials in the army-led government are pointing to the slightly higher turnout figure as an indication of the huge victory in the referendum.

Now that the referendum is over, elections must be held within six months. All eyes are on army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who is considered to be a hero by many for freeing Egypt of Morsi's dictatorship, while Morsi supporters consider him guilty of crimes against humanity. Al-Sisi is a very charming 59 year old man, and extremely popular with women, despite having a wife and four children. It's believed that al-Sisi is considering becoming a civilian and running for president. Al-Ahram and McClatchy and AFP

Smog-shrouded China shows live sunrise on giant TV screens


Giant television screen in Beijing displaying the sunrise in real time (Getty)
Giant television screen in Beijing displaying the sunrise in real time (Getty)

Beijing's smog level reached highly dangerous levels on Thursday afternoon, forcing almost everyone to remain indoors. The air had an acrid odor, and anyone venturing out wore an industrial strength face masks. In some places, you couldn't see the buildings across the street. Some Chinese newscaster must have had a sense of humor, because they started televising the sunrise in real time, and displaying them on the giant outdoor electronic screens that normally provide advertisements. The pollution level reached as high as 671 micrograms on Thursday at 4 am, 26 times as high as considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Coal burning and car emissions are major sources of China's pollution. Many Chinese businesses are government owned, so there is little or no incentive for these businesses to reduce pollution. China's government has been trying to use regulations to reduce pollution for years, but these programs have been an almost total failure, as have large government programs in a number of nations in the world. Daily Mail

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jan-14 World View -- Egypt's constitution approved by 98.1% of referendum voters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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18-Jan-14 World View -- Kerry says that he won't be fooled by Syria's Assad regime

Uganda enters the war in South Sudan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kerry says that he won't be fooled by Syria's Assad regime


Neighborhood in Syria targeted by barrel bombs in December (Reuters)
Neighborhood in Syria targeted by barrel bombs in December (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State is leading yet another peace conference, this one to be held in Geneva for Syria. The nominal aim of the conference is to promote peace by transitioning Syria to a new government. On Thursday, the Bashar al-Assad regime sent Kerry a letter saying that the peace conference would be about combating "terrorism" in Syria, not about transitioning to a new government. This could effectively torpedo the conference, because the opposition groups, whom Kerry has been begging to attend, are interested only in seeing al-Assad out of power.

However, Kerry says he's too smart to be fooled by the new al-Assad letter:

"Nobody’s going to be fooled. We’re not going to be fooled by this process.

They can bluster, they can protest, they can put out distortions, the bottom line is we are going to Geneva to implement Geneva I, and if Assad doesn’t do that he will invite greater response.

I believe, as we begin to get to Geneva and begin to get into this process, that it will become clear that there is no political solution whatsoever if Assad is not discussing a transition and if he thinks he’s going to be part of that future. It’s not going to happen."

And so I'm quoting John Kerry again, and once again I have to shrug my shoulders at how ridiculous this statement is. Kerry's clownish statements are increasingly embarrassing to the United States.

Meanwhile, the al-Assad regime is literally killing thousands of Syrian civilians per week, with complete impunity, by using Russian-supplied barrel bombs. A "barrel bomb" is a barrel containing hundreds of pounds of explosives, designed to cause massive damage on impact, and to kill as many people as possible. Why should al-Assad agree to anything? He can slaughter thousands of people and no one cares.

Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin. It makes me vomit to think that the United States is indirectly providing support for this monster through Russia.

This is so completely f--ked up. Kerry and the Obama administration are supporting the Russians who are providing unlimited supplies of heavy weapons to the al-Assad regime, who is using those weapons to slaughter thousands of civilians every week. And what's the response? A truly moronic statement by Kerry about a "greater response" that's completely non-existent. CNN and LA Times

Uganda enters the war in South Sudan

For the first time, Uganda is admitting that it has military forces in South Sudan fighting on the side of South Sudan's president Salva Kiir, and his Dinka tribe supporters, and against Riek Machar and his Nuer tribe supporters. Machar used to be Kiir's deputy, but is now leading a coup attempt against Kiir. Uganda previously denied that its forces were fighting in South Sudan, saying that its forces were there to protect and evacuate Ugandan civilians.

A long-time Generational Dynamics web site reader, and a prominent businessman living in Uganda, sent me his analysis of what's going on, and says that it all has to do with oil:

"Just thought I'd make some brief comments / speculations on the subject. Uganda, Kenya and US (and Japan probably too) seem to be generally aligned with Kiir and against China and Machar in the current phase of the conflict. The question of whether the pipeline of oil will continue to flow northward or more southwards I suspect is key.

And possibly within that alliance for the southern pipeline there is also the possibility that after the overall political and financial commitments to the southern pipeline are made that Uganda finds itself at odds with elements within Kenya, since Uganda might not want the oil to bypass having value addition in Uganda by the refinery complex also being planned and invested in.

This is most likely a secondary concern at the moment since Uganda itself has enormous amounts of oil that it will be producing within the next few years which could be refined locally and/or flow as crude through a feeder pipeline to the pipeline bound for the Kenyan coast.

Wheels within wheels within wheels.

The insecurity of the neighbors has a significant impact on the economy here. For example, traders of Uganda's goods to South Sudan face large losses from increased risk factors and security costs. Ugandan traders are also now fleeing back into Uganda which also is absorbing refugees as it did during the the earlier phase of the north vs south conflict. If S Sudan oil revenue is reduced, so too is their ability to purchase Ugandan agricultural products and the manufactured goods that pass through Uganda from Kenya. On the other hand, sectors of the economy that profit from higher prices for goods in short supply in S Sudan or those entities which insure such risky trade either through financing or military protection could be doing okay."

VOA

Hackers use a refrigerator for a cyberattack

Hackers found a way to hack into the computer chips in an ordinary refrigerator, and use it to send out spam and malicious e-mail messages. That's just one example of a component in a wide scale attack last month on more than 100,000 everyday consumer gadgets, including home-networking routers, connected multi-media centers, televisions, computers, and at least one refrigerator. The attack took place between December 23, 2013, and January 6, 2014, according to security firm Proofpoint. The hackers connected to these gadgets, hacked into them, and used them to mail more than 750,000 malicious e-mail messages to businesses and individuals worldwide.

You may find it surprising to know that your refrigerator may be capable of sending e-mail messages, but that in fact is the case. What can you do to protect yourself? If you have a web-connected device of any kind, then ask your kids to check all the privacy settings. In particular, make sure that you change the default password that the device comes with. Business Insider and Proofpoint press release

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jan-14 World View -- Kerry says that he won't be fooled by Syria's Assad regime thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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17-Jan-14 World View -- Aftermath of Egypt's referendum vote will affect U.S. aid

International concern over Russia's Sochi Olympics grows after Volgograd bombings

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Aftermath of Egypt's referendum vote will affect U.S. aid


Sochi by the beach, with snowy mountains in the distance
Sochi by the beach, with snowy mountains in the distance

As expected, Egypt's new constitution has received overwhelming approval in a two-day referendum. According to preliminary results, the boycott by Muslim Brotherhood members took its toll, as only 42.2% of registered voters turned out. However, among those who voted, 95.2% voted "yes." The new constitution is thought to be targeting the Muslim Brotherhood, as it forbids parties "formed on the basis of religion, gender, race or geography."

After the July 3 army coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi and his governing coalition, a year after he was freely elected, Egypt was led by army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. However, after taking power, al-Sisi hand-picked Adly Mansour to be President of the Egypt. Since Mansour is a civilian, Egypt's Foreign Ministry is claiming that Egypt is not under military role, and that it won't be in the future.

However, al-Sisi some reports indicate that al-Sisi is a very charming 59 year old man, and extremely popular with women, despite having a wife and four children. It's believed that al-Sisi is considering becoming a civilian and running for president.

Before the coup, Egypt was receiving $1.5 billion in U.S. aid annually, $1.3 billion of which is designated for the military. The aid included military equipment, including F-16s. For months, the Obama administration carefully refrained from using the word "coup" to describe Morsi's ouster, since American law requires aid to be cut off to a country that overthrows a democratically elected leader in a coup. Finally, on October 9, the political pressure became too great, and the administration cut off military aid to Egypt.

Now that the referendum as passed and Egypt appears to be returning to democracy, Washington is discussing whether to unfreeze the aid to Egypt. According to a State Dept. spokesman, "It's also important for the interim government to foster a positive environment for civil society, to protect the rights of political activists and groups, to peacefully respect their views on the country's future." Daily News Egypt and AP and AFP

International concern over Russia's Sochi Olympics grows after Volgograd bombings

In late December, terrorist bombings on two consecutive days, blowing up a commuter bus and the inside of the railway station in Volgograd, Russia, triggered worldwide concern over security at the Winter Olympics to be held at the Sochi Black Sea resort on February 6-23. ( "31-Dec-13 World View -- Another Volgograd explosion throws Russia's Sochi Olympics into doubt")

Russia is promising that the Sochi Olympics will be the most secure ever, despite the threats by Chechnya Islamic warlord Doku Umarov, leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate, to disrupt the "satanic" Olympics with terrorist attacks. Russia emphasizes the billions of dollars being spent to create a 1,500 mille ring of protection all around the Sochi area, and that it's imposing extraordinary restrictions on anyone hoping to attend the Olympics in person.

What the Volgograd bombings have done is show that Umarov can still strike major targets outside of Sochi, and that doing so raises almost as many international concerns as strikes within the Sochi region.

In fact, many security analysts say that the Olympics faces a high risk of a jihadist terrorism attacks. The problem is that the Sochi region is mostly wilderness, and can't be entirely protected. The athletes in the skiing competitions will be particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack, since the ski slopes can be miles long, and can't be completely protected.

A threat to the Olympics has come from another direction. Nationalism among ethnic Russians targeting Muslims from the North Caucasus, Russia's southern provinces, has been growing for years, resulting in an increasing level of xenophobia between the Orthodox Christian ethnic Russians and the Muslim North Caucasians. The Volgograd bombings have triggered nationalist protests in Volgograd, Moscow, and other cities. Opposition rallies coordinated via the social networking site VKontakte, attracted more than 50,000 signatories. Nationalist pogroms against people from the Caucasus, but sometimes taking in all dark-skinned foreigners as well, have become a frequent occurrence in Russia over the last eight years. Russian nationalists have already expressed displeasure about the Sochi Olympics because of the astronomical costs and the massive corruption. This nationalist opposition could become violent at any time, and represents yet one more danger to the peacefulness of the Sochi Olympics. Jamestown and Washington Times and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jan-14 World View -- Aftermath of Egypt's referendum vote will affect U.S. aid thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines

Vietnam reverses policy and become openly anti-China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam reverses policy and become openly anti-China


Anti-China protesters in Hanoi (Reuters)
Anti-China protesters in Hanoi (Reuters)

Up until recently, Vietnamese policy was to very carefully avoid offending China, even to the point of using security forces to crush any civilian anti-China protests. But Vietnam has apparently now completely reversed that policy. The occasion is the anniversary of a naval clash between South Vietnamese and Chinese naval forces on January 19, 1974. China's superior naval power crushed the Vietnamese forces, and China seized some of the Paracel Islands controlled by Vietnam, and has occupied them ever since.

For forty years, Vietnam has never mentioned the battle, for fear of offending China; it's not even included in modern history books. But now, Vietnam's state media is publicly marking the event, and printing numerous articles on the subject, describing how the islands were taken by China by force, and the heroic actions of the Vietnamese sailors. Public meetings have been held to commemorate the battle and there are calls to recognize the "martyrdom" of the fallen soldiers and offer support to their families.

This highly nationalistic policy change by Vietnam's government comes just a few days after China demanded foreign fishing vessel ask permission from China's military before fishing in the South China Sea, something that infuriated the Vietnamese who, at the very least, claim to have as much right to fish in the South China Sea as the Chinese do.

Things have really changed rapidly in the past few months. China has threatened Japan militarily over the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands, and Japanese nationalism has surged. Nationalism has sharply increased in the Philippines and Vietnam. And for years we've been reporting on the vastly increased nationalism in China, especially among the younger generations. With tensions growing throughout the region, it would not take much for an accident or miscalculation to spiral into a larger military confrontation. BBC

China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines

A Chinese media article published over the weekend says that China is preparing for a military invasion of the second-largest of the Spratly Islands. Pagasa Island is administered by the Philippines. China calls it the Zhongye Island, and claims it, along with vast areas of the South China Sea, including regions that that have historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and has threatened to use its vast military power to threaten and subdue any neighboring nation that disobeys its orders. This comes just a few days after China escalated tensions by demanding that any foreign fishing vessel ask permission from China's military before fishing in the South China Sea.

Pagasa Island is designated a town in the Philippines with a civilian population of nearly 200, and an airstrip with 50 soldiers. In March 2011, the Philippine military announced plans to upgrade the airfield.

According to a translated summary of the Chinese media report:

"Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years. It will be an intolerable insult to China

According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea. The battle is aimed at recovery of the island stolen by the Philippines from China. There will be no invasion into Filipino territories.

A report in the Philippines Star confirmed the Philippines military buildup on the island."

The article said that the attack will occur in 2014. This would be the second such military seizure by China. In 2012, China used threat of military force to seize the Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines.

Some analysts are speculating that China's new military policy will be to seize all the islands in the South China Sea, one by one, counting on the fact that no single military act would force a response by the United States. China Daily Mail and Philippine Star

China tests hypersonic speed missile vehicle


Chinese media graphic showing potential flight of new missile (Free Beacon / Global Times)
Chinese media graphic showing potential flight of new missile (Free Beacon / Global Times)

China's military on January 9 tested a new ultra-high speed missile vehicle aimed at delivering warheads too quickly for U.S. missile defense to respond. The new weapon is being dubbed the WU-14 by the Pentagon. The military advantages of hypersonic craft include precise targeting, very rapid delivery of weapons, and greater survivability against missile and space defenses. Generational Dynamics predicts that China is rapidly and aggressively preparing for preemptive war against the United States. As we've reported on a number of occasions, China is rapidly preparing new missile systems for an attack with maximum surprise and maximum force striking America's cities, military installations, aircraft carriers, and satellites. America's defenses have been weakened in recent years by defense cutbacks, and the massive release of secret information by Edward Snowden may have left America's defenses completely exposed. On Wednesday, China confirmed the test of the new hypersonic missile delivery vehicle, but claimed that it was a scientific test, not a military test. Free Beacon (Washington) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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15-Jan-14 World View -- Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident

Le scandale du jour: Who is France's 'First Lady' now?

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Le scandale du jour: Who is France's 'First Lady' now?


François Hollande at press conference on Tuesday (Reuters)
François Hollande at press conference on Tuesday (Reuters)

At a press conference on Tuesday, France's president Francois Hollande refused to "clarify" who his current girlfriend is, just a few weeks before he and his partner are expected to make a state visit to the United States on February 11. Hollande lives in the Elysee palace with his girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler, who is considered the de facto "first lady" of France, and is expected to play that role in state visits. But Hollande has been spending nights with a new girlfriend, actress Julie Gayet, amid rumors that Trierweiler is going to have to find a new place to live. When the affair became public on Friday, Trierweiler checked into the hospital with a "severe case of the blues." Her aides say that her stay is being extended because "doctors believe she needs more rest."

When asked at Tuesday's press conference to clarify his relationship with Trierweiler, Hollande said:

"I understand your question. And I am sure you will understand my answer. Everyone can go through hardships. That is the case. But I have one principle. Private affairs are dealt with in private, with due respect to all parties. Therefore this is not the place to go into this."

He added that Trierweiler was "resting," and that he would clarify the situation before the February 11 trip to the U.S.

The news of women trouble in France is inspiring the revival of some previous rumors that Michele Obama is fed up with her husband and plans to divorce her husband. Voice of Russia speculates that they "sleep in separate bedrooms," and points out that her husband returned home alone from the family vacation in Hawaii. Telegraph (London) and Voice of Russia

Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident

Washington is expressing outrage at comments by Israel's defense minister calling U.S. Secretary of State obsessive and messianic.

Defense minister Moshe Ya'alon is quoted as saying in private meetings:

"Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us. The moment we leave [the West Bank] he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.

The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on. It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in [the West Bank] and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians."

U.S. State Department spokesman Marie Harf shot back:

"If these comments are accurate, we find the remarks of the defense minister to be offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States has done to support Israel's security needs and will continue to do. Secretary Kerry and his team, including Gen. (John) Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the secretary's deep concern for Israel's future."

Late news is that Ya'alon's office has issued an apology.

It's hard to know what to make of this situation. Kerry and the Obama administration have been stumbling from one foreign policy debacle to another for months. The Syria "red line" debacle and the Afghanistan "peace process" debacle come most readily to mind, but there are others. The Mideast "peace plan" that Kerry is "obsessively" pushing is almost farcical in its naïveté, which is the kind of thing that Ya'alon was saying.

I constantly complain that politicians frequently lie and say really dumb and dishonest things. Now you can see why. Any politician who doesn't follow the party line, even if it's utter nonsense, risks an international incident. The ideal politician is a stupid crook, and we have many that meet that ideal. YNet and CNN

White House confirms, then denies, a secret Iran agreement

Iran disclosed on Monday that there's a 30-page side agreement that's a secret part of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West. The secret deal has not been released. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that the agreement would be released to Congress. However, a State Dept. spokesman later denied that there was a secret agreement.

Carney also commented on on a tweet by Iran's president Hassan Rouhani:

"Our relationship w/ the world is based on Iranian nation's interests. In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation's will. — Tweet: Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) January 14, 2014"

According to Carney, "It matters what they do, not what they say." Apparently that bit of wisdom doesn't apply to remarks made in private by Ya'alon in Israel. LA Times and Weekly Standard

Egypt to side with the Palestinian Authority / Fatah against Hamas


 An Egyptian woman ululates as others wave a national flag in front of a polling station in Cairo on Tuesday (AP)
An Egyptian woman ululates as others wave a national flag in front of a polling station in Cairo on Tuesday (AP)

A bombing caused no casualties, but at least 9 people in Egypt died on Tuesday in violence related to a referendum on a new constitution, with clashes reported in several provinces. The new constitution forbids parties "formed on the basis of religion, gender, race or geography."

The new constitution is targeting the Muslim Brotherhood, which was the governing party for a year before the army ousted Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi in a coup. The referendum is likely to win approval, since the Brotherhood has announced that it will boycott the vote.

The army has already declared the Brotherhood to be a "terrorist organization," and now the army is going further by attempting to eradicate Hamas, the governing authority of Gaza. Hamas was originally formed in the early 1980s as an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's army has accused Hamas not only of supporting the Brotherhood in Egypt, but also of being behind several bloody terrorist attacks in Egypt, which Hamas has denied.

Hamas is increasingly cooperating with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, the governing authority in the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah have been split since the war between them in Gaza in 2008, which forced Fatah to withdraw from Gaza completely. Egypt and Fatah are hosting anti-Hamas activists. According to one Fatah official in Cairo:

"We support the movement and any peaceful movement against the cruelty of the Islamist group that is part of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization."

Al Ahram (Cairo) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jan-14 World View -- Israeli remarks about Kerry grow into international incident thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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14-Jan-14 World View -- Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand army coup feared in face of massive anti-government protests



The racial split in Thailand's population between the light-skinned people of the Thai-Chinese elite minority versus the dark-skinned people of the indigenous Thai-Thai laborer majority is potentially reaching a crisis point, as tens or hundreds of thousands of Thai-Chinese anti-government flag-waving "yellow shirt" protesters have blocked major roads around the center of Bangkok.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban of the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) vowed on Monday to shutdown Bangkok indefinitely:

" Today will be written in Thai history. ... We will shut down the city. We will do it all days and we will do it everyday until we win. No negotiations. No compromise."

Thaugsuban is calling on his supporters to boycott the planned February 2 election, which he knows his party will lose because his elite racial group is in the minority. Instead, Thaugsuban is demanding that the prime minister resign, and be replaced by an unelected "people's council," whose members are presumably to be chosen by Thaugsuban.

So far, the "red shirt" pro-government supports have kept their rallies fairly small, but there are fears that that could change if it begins to appear that Thaugsuban might get his way. It's particularly ominous that Thaugsuban is calling for a boycott of the February 2 election, since the last time that happened, in 2006, an army coup ousted the prime minister, Thai-Thai hero Thaksin Shinawatra, brother of the current prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The army is known to be strong on the side of Thaugsuban's elite minority, and have shown willingness in the past to be violent to the red shirt protesters, while excusing the yellow shirts. If there's violence between the red shirts and the yellow shirts, then the army may stage a coup once more, and that is presumably exactly what Thaugsuban wants, even though that could mean a lot more violence. Bangkok Post and AP

Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria

The al-Qaeda linked Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL) killed as many as 100 anti-Assad activists in Syria over the weekend, and took control of several cities. Al-Qaeda and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have essentially become military allies, fighting the Syrian anti-Assad militants. ( "11-Jan-14 World View -- Syria's president al-Assad collaborates with al-Qaeda against Syria rebels")

The Syrian anti-Assad militants are the moderate Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and the salafist Jabhat al-Nusra. Both of these groups consist of actual Syrian citizens, and both are opposed to the al-Assad government.

ISIS consists mostly of foreign al-Qaeda trained fighters, and is being led by Abu Omar al-Shishani, a prominent jihadist leader from Chechnya, and the most influential military leaders in Syria in ISIS. The slaughter of dozens of activists in the SNC and al-Nusra over the weekend puts him squarely on the side of al-Assad's army.

Well, this is certainly a complex situation. Al-Qaeda terrorists are Sunni jihadists who consider Shia Muslims to be infidels or apostates. Al-Assad is Shia/Alawite, and is being supported by the so-called "Shia crescent," consisting of Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah. ISIS is also fighting the Shia government in Iraq. Jihadists in Chechnya are fighting the Orthodox Christian government of Russia, which is providing an unlimited supply of heavy weapons to al-Assad. So we have to assume that ISIS's love affair with al-Assad is not going to last forever.

In the meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russians are leading the effort to hold a "Syria Peace Conference" in Geneva on January 22. It's not known if any of the Syrian opposition groups will be there, or if Iran will be there, and Israel certainly won't be there. ISIS's string of victories over the weekend makes it appear that that it will be the next in the list of John Kerry's failed peace conferences, peace agreements and peace announcements, a list that seems to get longer every week. Cihan (Turkey) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jan-14 World View -- Chechen terrorist Omar Shishani leads al-Qaeda to victories in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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13-Jan-14 World View -- Iran will 'roll back' its nuclear program, starting January 20

Plummeting velocity of money explains deflation trend

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran will 'roll back' its nuclear program, starting January 20


Iran's foreign minister Mohamed Javad Zarif (Reuters)
Iran's foreign minister Mohamed Javad Zarif (Reuters)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the six-month deal reached between Iran and the West last November will begin implementation on January 20, when Iran will begin to eliminate some of its uranium stockpile. According to Kerry:

"As of that day, for the first time in almost a decade, Iran's nuclear program will not be able to advance, and parts of it will be rolled back, while we start negotiating a comprehensive agreement to address the international community's concerns about Iran's program."

The official Iranian news media confirmed the announcement, saying that Iran agreed not to expand its nuclear program and to suspend its 20 percent uranium enrichment in return for a limited easing of the sanctions imposed on the country. According to the deputy foreign minister:

"Today, we were informed that the six countries have approved the proposed solutions and have accepted them. And in Iran, the relevant organizations have also reviewed and approved the solutions.

The approval was announced in a telephone conversation ... and we agreed that the implementation of the first step of the agreement will begin on January 20."

Approval of the deal may have been motivated by threatened passage in Congress of a bill that would automatically increase sanctions if Iran failed to live up to its part of the deal. Support for this bill is high among both Republicans and Democrats, and even a threatened veto could be overridden. According to one Republican:

"I'm concerned that this agreement takes us down that path where sanctions pressure is relieved, but Iran maintains its ability to produce a nuclear weapon. Given these stakes, it's regrettable that the President does not want to work with Congress to bolster his negotiating hand with additional sanctions, which would go into effect should Iran fail to meet its commitments."

Among the total sanctions relief over the six months, $4.2 billion is in the form of access to currently blocked Iranian revenues held abroad. CNN and Tehran Times and Reuters

Plummeting velocity of money explains deflation trend

The strong deflationary trend in Europe ( "9-Jan-14 World View -- Eurozone plummets into deflation") is puzzling many people who don't understand why massive money "printing" by the Fed and other central banks isn't causing inflation or even hyperinflation in Europe, the U.S., and around the world.

Financial "experts" on CNBC and elsewhere are highly motivated to promote inflationary expectations, even if they have to lie, because they want to sell stocks. If they convince you that hyperinflation is coming, then you'll want to get rid of your cash and invest it in things like stocks, which can be expected to go up with inflation. They want to make sure that you don't worry about deflation, since then you would keep your assets in cash, rather buy stocks and pump up their commissions.

When the money supply goes up quickly, it doesn't always mean inflation, especially in the current world where central banks are "printing" money by purchasing bonds, and the money just goes into the banks and into the pockets of investment bankers. Almost none of this money is reaching the ordinary consumer, who would use it to buy things and push up prices, or the ordinary business, who would use it to hire people and push up wages. Instead, it's just sloshing around in the banking system and through the stock market, where it's been pushing the stock market bubble to new heights.

In Economics 1.01, the inflation rate is determined by the formula:

inflation-rate = (growth in money supply) x (velocity of money)

The "velocity of money" counts the number of times a dollar bill passes from one person to another, which is a measure of whether anyone is buying or hiring. Here's a graph of the velocity of money since 1959:


Velocity of Money, 1959-2013 (St. Louis Fed)
Velocity of Money, 1959-2013 (St. Louis Fed)

As you can see from the graph, the velocity of money started falling rapidly since the Nasdaq crash in the year 2000, and even more sharply since the financial crisis of 2007.

That's why there's been no inflation. The money supply has been increasing because the Fed has been "printing" a lot of money, but the velocity of money has been plummeting, with no change in sight, and when you multiply the two relevant factors together, the inflation rate has been fairly constant.

This is the generational change that happens in every "great depression." There is always a huge bubble from debt securitization, where pieces of paper saying "IOU" are traded as if they were money. This was even true in the famous Tulipomania bubble, where certificates were issued for tulips to be grown the following year. In the last decade, the certificates were synthetic securities created by slicing and dicing subprime mortgage debts, and fraudulently turning them into AAA securities. Once the bubble bursts, people save themselves by saving money and paying off debt, causing the velocity of money to plummet, leading to a deflationary spiral.

The generations that survived the Great Depression of the 1930s reacted to the stock market bubble of the 1920s by becoming savers and remaining so for the rest of their lives. As they were replaced by younger generations with no personal memory of the 1930s, a new debt securitization bubble occurred, and then burst. We're seeing a repeat of the 1930s today, with the worst yet to come. St. Louis Fed Velocity of Money

France's 'First Lady' admitted to hospital

France's "First Lady," Valerie Trierweiler, the official girlfriend of president François Hollande, was admitted to a hospital on Friday for depression, after a gossip magazine published photos and a report that Hollande was spending nights with another woman, actress Julie Gayet, as we reported yesterday. Trierweiler and Hollande are not married, but they've been together since 2007, and they live in the Elysee palace together. There have been recent rumors that Trierweiler and Hollande are becoming estranged, and that she may be leaving the Elysee palace.

Despite the fact that the French people claim that the president's sex life is nobody else's business, this has become major news in France. There is a major presidential news conference scheduled for Tuesday, and Hollande and Trierweiler are scheduled to visit Washington together next months. Hollande's approval rating is already rock-bottom, and this mess is expected to make it worse. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jan-14 World View -- Iran will 'roll back' its nuclear program, starting January 20 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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12-Jan-14 World View -- Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon dies

France's Francois Hollande's affair throws U.S. visit into doubt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon dies


Ariel Sharon in October, 1973 (Reuters)
Ariel Sharon in October, 1973 (Reuters)

Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon died on Saturday, after 8 years in a coma caused by a massive stroke in January, 2006. Sharon's death is, perhaps surprisingly, a major international news story, even though he hasn't opened his eyes or spoken a word in 8 years.

Sharon is considered by many to be Israel's greatest national hero. Starting with the 1948 war with Arabs, he fought for Israel in one war after another, often as commander. Many people believe that Israel owes its continued existence to the life of Sharon.

From the Arab point of view, Sharon's victories in all those wars were actually war crimes, where thousands of Palestinian civilians were killed with no justification. The greatest event in this category occurred in 1982, when Christian Arab forces allied with Sharon's Israeli army massacred and butchered hundreds or perhaps thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps in Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. Sharon personally had nothing to do with the attack, but many, including some Israelis, believe that it was a war crime for Sharon not to do anything to stop it, when he allegedly knew that it was in progress.

As Prime Minister in the early 2000s, Sharon began to transform from a warrior to a statesman. He initiated the building of the barrier security fence separating Israel from Arab territory. After the death of Yasser Arafat in November, 2004, Sharon brought about the withdrawal of all Israeli forces and settlements in the Gaza Strip, in a move for peace in cooperation with the President George Bush's May 2003 "Mideast Roadmap to Peace."

When Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in November, 2004, there was a widespread belief that everything in the Mideast would change. It had been thought that there was no Mideast peace agreement because Arafat did everything in his power to stop it, and that with him gone, successful peace talks would go ahead. But as I've written many times, it's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that great events are determined by masses of people, generations of people, and that politicians are largely irrelevant. The death of Arafat showed that to be true. Things not only didn't get better, they continued to get worse. In Gaza, for example, it had been hoped that the Palestinian residents would create a sound economy and peaceful democracy, but instead, the Palestinian residents spent most of 2005 trashing Gaza, and using it as a base for terrorist attacks against Israel.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat were very similar men. They were born one year apart (1928 and 1929, respectively), and they both survived the bloody, genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Each had fought in Arab vs Israeli wars after that, viewed by their supporters as heroes, and by their enemies as terrorists.

However, what always united Sharon and Arafat was that, like all survivors of generational crisis wars, they were determined to make sure that no such war happens again, to their children and grandchildren. So Arafat may have been a terrorist, and he may have been approved suicide bombings that killed Jewish children, but he undoubtedly saw it as the lesser of two evils. Sharon and Arafat shared a view that the greatest evil of all would be to unleash a new genocidal war, one that would kill many more Jewish and Arab children than suicide bombings do. However, their deaths bring exactly the kind of war closer. Jerusalem Post and AP

France's Francois Hollande's affair throws U.S. visit into doubt


François Hollande and French actress Julie Gayet (EPA)
François Hollande and French actress Julie Gayet (EPA)

A gossip magazine has reported that France's Socialist president François Hollande has been riding across Paris each evening on the back of a scooter, arriving at the home of his latest mistress, French actress Julie Gayet. He spends the night there, according to the reports, leaving his officially recognized girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler back at the Elysee palace, where they live together. An outraged Hollande has demanded that his private life be kept private, and he's even threatened to sue the gossip magazine. However, he didn't deny the facts in the story.

Before Trierweiler, Hollande's previous girlfriend of 30 years and mother of his four children was Segolene Royal. Trierweiler and Royal got into a tweeting spat over Hollande just last year. All this is quite amusing, but it's bad news for Hollande, as his approval rating is now just 15%, the lowest for any president in the past 50 years.

Trierweiler is expected to accompany Hollande on a state visit to the United States next month. That should keep Hollande's latest love affair in the news for some time to come. BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jan-14 World View -- Israel's former prime minister Ariel Sharon dies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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11-Jan-14 World View -- Syria's president al-Assad collaborates with al-Qaeda against Syria rebels

Christians cheer as Central African Republic president resigns

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's president al-Assad collaborates with al-Qaeda against Syria rebels


Syrian citizens pray over the coffins wrapped by Syrian flags for the victims who were killed on Thursday by a car bomb (AP)
Syrian citizens pray over the coffins wrapped by Syrian flags for the victims who were killed on Thursday by a car bomb (AP)

Nearly 500 people have been killed in northern Syria in the last week because of fighting among supposedly anti-Assad militias. The army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad was not even involved in this fighting.

As we recently described in detail, there are three groups of anti-Assad militants in Syria: The "moderate" Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the Islamic Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, consisting of Syrian citizens who are salafists, and the al-Qaeda linked jihadists in the Islamic Emirate in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), consisting of many foreign fighters who have been drawn to the region by both the Syria conflict and the deterioration of Iraq since the Americans withdrew.

It's thought that the SNC and Jabhat al-Nusra are on the same side, fighting al-Qaeda. This view has been supported by Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu:

"What I say is that some circles are trying to show al-Assad as less evil than al-Qaeda.

The al-Assad regime has not fought al-Qaeda yet. The Free Syrian Army is fighting both regime forces and al-Qaeda. The existence of al-Qaeda creates an area of legitimacy for the regime and the pressures of the regime create [one] for al-Qaeda. Thus they benefit and support each other.

If the al-Assad regime had not applied such intense pressure during the past two years, no groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) could have emerged."

The argument that al-Assad and ISIS are helping each other politically is obviously true, as al-Assad and Russia use ISIS as a club in the international community to support al-Assad's genocidal atrocities on his own people. What hasn't been proven is that al-Assad is militarily aiding al-Qaeda against the two Syrian anti-Assad groups.

However, Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber) says that al-Assad has a long history of supporting al-Qaeda militarily:

It was recalled in some US intelligence quarters how key members of the Assad family made their fortunes from hosting the Al Qaeda networks which funneled combatants and arms from Syria into Iraq to fight US forces in 2004, a year after the American invasion, and again in 2005.

Leading figures in this episode were Gen. Assef Shawqat, Assad's brother-in-law, deputy Defense Minister until he was assassinated in July 2012; and Rami Makhlouf, tycoon and Assad's maternal cousin.

The networks they harbored smuggled al Qaeda terrorists into Iraq as they poured into Syria from the Gulf, other parts of the Mid East, and from Muslim population centers in the West.

Is Assad at his old double game?

US Secretary of State at the time Colin Powell traveled to Damascus to tax Bashar Assad with double-dealing and sabotaging the American war effort. He came away furious over Assad's denials and on the plane taking him back to Washington, Powell told reporters that the Syrian ruler had lied in his teeth several times in their interview.

Those US veteran watchers of the Iraqi and Syrian scenes, recalling their stealthy interaction, saw a rat in the ease with which Assad and his security agencies have allowed Al-Baghdadi's legions to move out of Syria to Iraq in recent weeks.

They suspect that the Syrian president, becoming worried by the Obama administration's rapprochement with Tehran, betrayed both their interests in Iraq by opening the door to al Qaeda's access, exactly as he did a decade ago.

At the same time, fresh intelligence reached Washington about another double game, whereby Iran and al Maliki are suspected of deliberately overstating Al Qaeda's battle successes, as a pretext for cracking down on the very Iraqi Sunnis, who collaborated with Washington during America's 2003-2012 US presence in the country."

Arab News / AP and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Debka

Christians cheer as Central African Republic president resigns

Christians in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic (CAR), filled the streets and cheered wildly at the news that the country's president, Michel Djotodia, had announced his resignation, under pressure from France and others in the international community. Djotodia, a Muslim, became president last March in a coup that ousted president François Bozize, a Christian.

Following the coup, Muslims formed Seleka brigades and began going door to door and killing Christians. Millions of Christians across the country have been forced to flee their homes, and some groups of Christians have been forming anti-Seleka revenge militias. Thus, Christians are hoping that the reversal of the event that triggered the massacre will now cause things to go back to the way they were, when Muslims and Christians lived together in love and harmony. Although Christian neighborhoods were rocking with celebrations, Muslim neighborhoods were eerily silent, according to reports.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the resignation of Djotodia will make little difference, and the hope of a return to the old days is a pipe dream. The violent, visceral attacks by the Muslims on the Christians were triggered by the Djotodia coup, but they could only have occurred because of hatreds bottled up for years or decades, presumably based on anger and resentment by the Muslim minority at discrimination by the Christian majority.

As I've written many times, 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. Djotodia could neither have caused nor prevented bloody slaughter that's unfolding, just as no politician could have caused or prevented the bloody slaughter in Rwanda in 1994.

CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), targeting the French colonialists. The way that this works is that a generational crisis war is so horrific that the survivors make it their life's work to make sure that nothing similar ever happens to their children or grandchildren. However, once those survivor generations are gone, then all you have left are younger generations with no personal memories of the last war, and no personal inhibitions against their ultra-nationalist drives. After that, a new generational crisis war breaks out, and we're seeing the beginnings of it now. AP and Reuters

Israel announces plans for 1,800 new West Bank settlement homes

As expected, Israel on Friday announced plans to build 1,800 new West Bank Jewish settlement homes. The announcement was expected after Israel's recent release from jail of twenty-six Palestinian prisoners who committed terrorist acts prior to the 1994 Oslo accords, as part of the deal for Israeli-Palestinian "peace talks." Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is thought to have been forced to announce the settlement plans as part of a deal with Israeli politicians who opposed the prisoner release.

According to Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator:

"The new settlement construction plan is a message from Netanyahu to [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry not to come back to the region to continue his efforts in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Every time Kerry has stepped up his efforts, returning to the region, Netanyahu has stepped up his efforts to destroy the peace process. Netanyahu is determined to destroy the two-state solution."

AFP

U.S. sends troops to Somalia

The Obama administration has reversed two decades of U.S. policy that effectively prohibited military "boots on the ground" in Somalia, after the "Black Hawk Down" disaster in 1993. The U.S. military secretly deployed about two dozen troops to Somalia in October, to serve as trainers and advisers. Drones from a U.S. base in neighboring Djibouti conduct surveillance missions and occasional airstrikes, but except for occasion use of special forces, this is the first introduction of American troops on the ground. Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jan-14 World View -- Syria's president al-Assad collaborates with al-Qaeda against Syria rebels thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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10-Jan-14 World View -- Uganda and China intervene in South Sudan conflict

China demands approval of fishing in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Uganda and China intervene in South Sudan conflict


Ugandan tanks (UGO)
Ugandan tanks (UGO)

As the ethnic Dinka vs Nuer conflict continues in South Sudan, Uganda has provoked controversy by send an unspecified number of troops into South Sudan to support the Dinka side. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni says that the troops are purely defensive, guarding the airport and government buildings. The political opposition in Uganda is criticizing the president for abandoning neutrality. According to Wilfred Niwagaba, a Ugandan MP:

"The rhetoric itself denies Uganda the chance of playing a neutral role. We lose what we would have otherwise gained as a neutral arbiter, so we cannot participate as an arbiter in the Sudan. And regardless of how finally the war ends, our leadership will still be viewed as a partisan and biased partner. So the benefits of us remaining neutral would have definitely outweighed the advantages, if any, that are being obtained now. ...

We do not know the cost of that war, both materially on the taxpayer of Uganda, and two, the human cost. Our country now seems to be involved in so many wars. We are in Somalia, now the Sudan, the Central African Republic, but government has never come up to give us accountability. Who spends on these troops? And is it worth the cost?"

His words are interesting, as they might have come from an American politician talking about American troops somewhere in the Mideast.

There are several conflicts currently going on in Africa. In the east, there's Somalia, which is jihadist. Moving west, there's South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which are local ethnic rivalries, and Central African Republic, which is jihadist. According to Niwagaba, Uganda is involved in all but the one in Congo, though we know from other reporting that the Congo war has spilled over into Uganda. The other two wars right now are both jihadist, in Nigeria and Mali. Of the six, the Central African Republic war is deepest into a generational Crisis era, as we've been reporting in recent days, so is most likely to explode into mass carnage.

Uganda's prime minister Amama Mbabazi defended the military action:

"What happens in the region affects all of us and so we must ensure there is peace in the region. We are fighting a war.

‘I don’t want you to think that the UPDF [Uganda People’s Defense Forces] are just war mongers, Ugandans need to understand that this conflict is for Uganda too."

VOA and UGO News (Uganda)

China violates its lofty 'non-interference' policy in South Sudan

Getting back to South Sudan, China's involvement is very interesting. China's politicians, as we know, become apoplectic and vitriolic when anyone in the West criticizes the brutal treatment of Tibetans or Uighurs, and they always insist that these are "internal" problems that are no one else's business. And China has no problem endorsing the atrocities and slaughter conducted by Syria's psychopathic president Bashar al-Assad.

But South Sudan is different, and the Chinese seem quite willing to "interfere." China is in talks with neighboring Sudan to deploy a military force to protect South Sudan's oil fields. This could potentially risk a proxy war in South Sudan, since Uganda and Sudan support opposite sides of the conflict in South Sudan.

However, China has now abandoned all its lofty, highly moralistic "non intervention" principles anyway. Why? Because China is desperate for oil. China has invested some $30 billion in Sudan / South Sudan oil. Oil production has already dropped by 20% since the onset of the conflict three weeks ago, and more than 300 Chinese workers have been evacuated. So the People's Republic of China is just as immoral as anyone else, but we already knew that, didn't we? BBC and Guardian (London)

China demands approval of fishing in South China Sea

China has further escalated the international dispute in the South China Sea by demanding that all foreign fishing vessels ask permission before entering much of the South China Sea. China has adopted a kind of "Lebensraum policy," by claiming territory in the South China Sea that has historically belonged to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and using its vast military power to threaten and subdue any neighboring nation that disobeys its orders. China has already forced the Philippines to cede the Scarborough Shoal to China, under threat of military force. The new escalation risks a confrontation that could spiral out of control. Vietnam has already stated that it will ignore the new demands. VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-14 World View -- Uganda and China intervene in South Sudan conflict thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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9-Jan-14 World View -- Eurozone plummets into deflation

Measles spread feared in Central African Republic

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Eurozone plummets into deflation


Inflation versus deflation (Don Stott, Silver Bear Cafe)
Inflation versus deflation (Don Stott, Silver Bear Cafe)

The eurozone consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate fell to 0.8% in December, continuing a long string of steadily decreasing month after month inflation rate reports. The "core inflation rate," which excludes food and energy and so is less volatile, fell to 0.7%. The following table shows the core inflation rate reported in each of several months in the last year:

|   Dec 2012    1.5%
|   Jul 2013    1.1%
|   Aug         1.1%
|   Sep         1.0%
|   Oct         0.8%
|   Nov         0.9%
|   Dec 2013    0.7%

This has been a fairly dramatic trend, and shows that deflation is becoming firmly lodged in the European economy.

For over ten years, mainstream economists have been predicting inflation or hyperinflation, because central banks have had near-zero interest rates, and have been pumping trillions of "printed" dollars into the economy. For ten years, Generational Dynamics has been predicting a deflationary spiral. Once again, it's generational theory that's right, and mainstream economists who are wrong. Mainstream economists didn't predict and can't explain the tech bubble of the 1990s, the real estate and credit bubble of the 2000s, or the financial crisis of 2007. It was perfectly obvious that there was a huge real estate bubble in the 2004-2007 time frame, as I wrote about many times in that period, but mainstream economists didn't even recognize the bubble, until around 2009, when they started saying, "Oh yeah, by the way, there was a real estate bubble in 2006. Let's not do that again." Are you kidding me? Mainstream economists have no clue what's going on, and have no clue what will happen next year, except to assume that the same thing that happened last year will happen next year, and you don't need mainstream economists to make that "prediction."

The Wall Street stock market bubble has gotten so large that even some mainstream financial advisers are predicting a crash soon. (See, for example, Estimating the Risk of a Market Crash, John P. Hussman Ph.D.) According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations) on Friday (January 3) morning was 18.88, which is astronomical by historic standards, indicating that stocks are far overpriced, and the stock market bubble is worse than ever.

As Europe spirals into deflation, it's worth duly noting that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is expressing concern about China's credit bubble. The Chinese credit system has grown to $24 trillion from $9 trillion in late 2008, equivalent to adding the entire US commercial banking system.

Generational Dynamics predicts a continued deflationary spiral, and a massive world financial crisis, as a crisis in one country or market creates a chain reaction that affects the entire world. Reuters and Telegraph (London) and Telegraph (Dec 2013)

Measles spread feared in Central African Republic

Measles has broken out at the airport in the capital, Bengui, of the Central African Republic. There are about 100,000 people there, mostly Christians fleeing Muslim Seleka militia attacks, squeezed like sardines into the area. Seleka militias have been going from house to house, killing young men. However, Christian groups are preparing a violent revenge against the Muslims, leading to fears of a huge regional war.

A month ago, there were only a few thousand camped out near the airport. The 100,000 people there now are among the 513,000 total Bangui citizens who have been driven from their homes. Across the country, about 2.2 million people have been made homeless, about half the total population.

Last March's coup by a Seleka leader unleashed a wave of looting, rapes and massacres by its fighters that degenerated into clashes with the Christian militias. It's become murder of neighbor against neighbor, like the Rwanda genocide in 1994, or the Bosnian massacre in 1995.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Central African Republic is deep into a generational Crisis era, and this conflict is rapidly deteriorating into a full-fledged generational crisis war between Muslims and Christians. There are 1,600 French and 6,000 African Union "peacekeepers" who are supposed to stop the slaughter, but a generational crisis war is an elemental force of nature that can sometimes be briefly delayed, but cannot be stopped until it reaches an explosive climax. BBC and Guardian (Nigeria) and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-14 World View -- Eurozone plummets into deflation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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8-Jan-14 World View -- The 'Battle of Fallujah' begins in Iraq

Turkey's political crisis grows as police are reassigned

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

The 'Battle of Fallujah' begins in Iraq


Fighters with guns march triumphantly (DPA)
Fighters with guns march triumphantly (DPA)

Iraqi army troops are massing around the city of Fallujah in Anbar Province in Iraq, in preparation for an attack to retake Fallujah back from the forces of Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria/Sham/theLevant (ISIS or ISIL), after the latter capture Fallujah and parts of Ramadi last week. Clashes have already begun on the outskirts of Fallujah, following the ISIS capture of an army officer and four soldiers on Monday.

The situation in Iraq began deteriorating steadily after the December 2011 withdrawal of American troops, without a "status of forces" agreement with Iraq's government, headed by Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Obama administration is being blamed by Republicans for the rapid deterioration of Iraq after the Bush administration's successful "surge" strategy, and is also being blamed by families of soldiers who fought and died in Fallujah. President Obama is now desperately searching for ways to help the al-Maliki administration prevent a complete rout. However, al-Maliki has lost credibility because of his harsh treatment of and open discrimination against Sunni politicians and people. Secretary of State John Kerry says that some weapons may be supplied to al-Maliki, but there will be no American soldiers on the ground. CBS News

Turkey's political crisis grows as police are reassigned

In what might be called a "Monday morning massacre," Turkey's interior minister ordered 350 police officers in Ankara from the anti-smuggling and organized crime units to positions in other departments, such as the traffic department (where they're presumably directing traffic in the desert somewhere). The number of transferred officers has risen to 560 in the capital city Ankara alone, 400 were transferred in Istanbul, and many were more transferred in other cities. The interior minister is new, having taken office last month when the previous minister was forced to resign.

Turkey was shaken last month when three ministers in the cabinet of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan all resigned, and one of them called for Erdogan's resignation. In the case of each minister, his son has been the target of a wide-ranging corruption investigation that resulted in the arrest of 52 people, including bureaucrats and well-known businessmen. The corruption investigation involves billions of dollars, including illegal money laundering through Iran, and bribes and kickbacks for construction projects.

On Monday, a simultaneous corruption operation in five cities across Turkey detained 25 more businessmen and state officials.

Erdogan is trying to containing the growing scandal. He's described it as a "dirty plot" by his political enemies, led by former ally and now political enemy Islamist cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. Zaman (Ankara) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-14 World View -- The 'Battle of Fallujah' begins in Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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7-Jan-14 World View -- Mideast 'peace talks' near collapse as Kerry leaves without deal

Tens of thousands of migrants to Israel protest in Tel Aviv

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tens of thousands of migrants to Israel protest in Tel Aviv


Tens of thousands of migrants protest in Tel Aviv on Sunday and Monday (AP)
Tens of thousands of migrants protest in Tel Aviv on Sunday and Monday (AP)

Tens of thousands of African migrants to Israel, mostly from Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea, have been massing and protesting in front of embassies in Tel Aviv. They are protesting that migrants are treated poorly, that few if any migrants have been granted refugee status, and that a new law will allow an illegal immigrants to be held in detention in a facility in Holot for up to a year with no charges filed. Israel has a program where it will pay an illegal immigrant $3,500 plus a one-way plane ticket, if the immigrant will go back home. Israel is threatening to deport other immigrants.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN refugee agency - UNHCR) is joining with international NGOs to pressure Israel to grant an unlimited number of asylum requests to refugees. According to a UNHCR statement:

"Placing asylum seekers in duress that may force asylum seekers to opt to return without having examined their asylum claim could amount to a violation. The current policy and practices create fear and chaos amongst asylum seekers, not taking into account their specific situation. 'Warehousing' refugees in Holot is not a solution in line with the 1951 Refugee Convention."

Israeli's who oppose granting asylum say that the migrants are not refugees at all, but have come to Israel to get a job and send money back to their families at home. Some Israeli commentators say that UNHCR and the international NGOs are exploiting the migrants and sometimes endangering their lives in order to gain a broader political objective of diluting the population with tens or hundreds of thousands of migrants in order to change Israel from being a Jewish state. CS Monitor and Jerusalem Post

Mideast 'peace talks' near collapse as Kerry leaves without deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left the Mideast on Monday, having failed in four days of intense negotiations with Israelis and Palestinians to get agreement on a "framework" to guide future peace talks. Kerry parroted the usual claim that "progress has been made," but in the opposite appears to be true. There were bitter recriminations from both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The Israelis said that the Palestinians were "continuing their campaign of inciting hatred," while the Palestinians adamantly refuse to recognize Israel as a "Jewish state", and remain steadfast in their opposition to stationing any Israeli troops in the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms a third of the West Bank.

There is an April deadline for the current round of "peace talks," and Kerry will be making one more trip before then in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the negotiations, before having to deal with yet one more major Obama administration foreign policy debacle, among many others. Ma'an News Agency

Hamas welcomes the Palestinian Authority back to Gaza

Ever since they went to war in 2007, the Palestinians have been split into two groups. Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the West, is the governing authority in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority and Fatah are the governing authority in the West Bank. The so-called Mideast "peace talks" have been between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but one of the many reasons why they've failed is that Hamas opposes them.

On Monday, Hamas' prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said that all Fatah members, except those accused of killing Hamas members in 2007, would now be welcome to return to Gaza, after being exiled in 2007. However, a Fatah spokesman called the announcement a "superficial" gesture, and demanded that Hamas agree to elections for a government for both Gaza and the West Bank. Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jan-14 World View -- Mideast 'peace talks' near collapse as Kerry leaves without deal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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6-Jan-14 World View -- Thailand's elite minority seeks to shut Bangkok down

Syria's Sunni opposition militias fight each other

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thailand's elite minority seeks to shut Bangkok down


Anti-government protesters rally in front of the statue of King Rama I at Bangkok's Memorial Bridge (Bangkok Post)
Anti-government protesters rally in front of the statue of King Rama I at Bangkok's Memorial Bridge (Bangkok Post)

Anti-government protesters led by Suthep Thaugsuban of the "People’s Democratic Reform Committee" are planning a massive rally to shut down the city of Bangkok, Thailand, next week on Monday, January 13, in an attempt to gain control of the government. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has offered to step down, and has scheduled new elections for next month. However, that doesn't work for Thaugsuban, because Shinawatra's Pheu Thai political party has won the last five elections, and will undoubtedly win the next election. Instead of an election Shinawatra is demanding that a new "People's Council" select the next prime minister. Presumably, Thaugsuban wants the People's Council to be packed with is allies.

Thailand is in a very dangerous situation. Thaugsuban's market-dominant light-skinned Thai-Chinese elite minority do not wish to give up any power, but they're vastly outnumbered by the dark-skinned Thai-Thai who do most of the menial labor, and who continue to support the Pheu Thai political party. So if the latter stick together, they will always win every election, and Thaugsuban knows it.

Thaugsuban's "yellow shirt" supporters are apparently planning terrorist violence on January 13 to get their way, including gunfire and bombs. If they do get their way, then expect a violent backlash from the "red shirt" Thai-Thai. Bangkok Post

Syria's Sunni opposition militias fight each other

As al-Qaeda linked jihadists pour into Syria, the fighting on the ground is becoming more complex. There are now four different groups fighting in Syria:

The Syrian army has been taking advantage of the increasing fighting among the opposition forces. Some people are accusing al-Assad and ISIS as being allied against the moderates, while al-Assad fools the international community by claiming to be fighting terrorists in Syria. The SNC has issued this statement:

"The Syrian National Coalition believes that ISIS is closely linked to the terrorist regime and serves the interests of the clique of President Bashar Al-Assad…. The murder of Syrians by this group leaves no doubt about the intentions behind their creation, their objectives, and the agendas they service, which is confirmed by the nature of their terrorist actions that are hostile to the Syrian revolution."

Al-Jazeera (TV report) and Joshua Landis

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-14 World View -- Thailand's elite minority seeks to shut Bangkok down thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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5-Jan-14 World View -- U.S. sends Polar Star icebreaker to free Russian ship and Chinese icebreaker

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in control of Fallujah

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. sends Polar Star icebreaker to free Russian ship and Chinese icebreaker


Chinese helicopter ferries the Shokalskiy passengers to safety
Chinese helicopter ferries the Shokalskiy passengers to safety

The United States Coast Guard is sending the Seattle-based icebreaker Polar Star south to the Antarctic to free a Russian research ship that got trapped in the ice, and also to free a Chinese icebreaker that got trapped in the ice while trying to free the Russian ship. An Australian icebreaker also was unable to help. The 399-feet long Polar Star can break ice that's six feet deep, at a continuous rate of three knots. (Paragraph corrected. 5-Jan)

The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy with 52 passengers was on a four-week expedition to follow the path taken a century ago by Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

One aim of the expedition was to track how quickly the Antarctic's sea ice was disappearing because of global warming, but a blizzard and thick ice caused the expedition to be abandoned on Christmas eve, despite the fact that it's the height of Summer in the Antarctic.

A Chinese icebreaker, the Xue Long (Snow Dragon), tried to free the Shokalskiy, but got trapped in the ice before it reached the Shokalskiy. An Australian icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, also made an attempt, but turned back before getting trapped. The passengers and crew of the Shokalskiy have never been in danger, with plentiful supplies of food and water. Last week a Chinese helicopter ferried the passengers to the Australian ship, though the Russian crew will remain where they are, hoping that the Polar Star can free them. Seattle Times and Telegraph (London)

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in control of Fallujah

More than 100 people were killed on Friday in Fallujah and Ramadi as Iraq's army battled fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), leaving ISIS in control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi on Saturday.

Fallujah and Ramadi were two of the main battlegrounds in the Iraq war in 2005-2008. In 2007, President Bush's surge, in conjunction with the "Anbar Awakening," defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS's predecessor, but since the withdrawal of American forces in December, 2011, al-Qaeda has been surging in strength. ISIS Iraq, has taken control of large sections of eastern Syria and of Anbar province in western Iraq. There is no longer any effective border between the two countries. However, ISIS is not monolithic, as there are al-Qaeda linked militias fighting one another for power within the region. France 24 and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-14 World View -- U.S. sends Polar Star icebreaker to free Russian ship and Chinese icebreaker thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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4-Jan-14 World View -- H1N1 swine flu spread in Michigan and Texas revive fears of pandemic

IMF working paper predicts major global financial crisis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

H1N1 swine flu spread in Michigan and Texas revive fears of pandemic


All hospitals in New Delhi were put on high alert last year after six cases of swine flu were confirmed (India.com)
All hospitals in New Delhi were put on high alert last year after six cases of swine flu were confirmed (India.com)

The number of people hospitalized with cases of H1N1 swine flu is climbing in the area of Ann Arbor, Mich., area, following a series of H1N1 deaths in eastern Texas, raising fears of a repeat of the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic, this time with a mutated virus that's more deadly. The last H1N1 pandemic ran from April, 2009 to May 2010, and killed at least 18,000 people, though though some estimates run into the hundreds of thousands. Mexico City was particularly hard hit, and the city was all but shut down for several months.

The fear in 2009, and again today, is a repeat of the huge Spanish flu pandemic that took tens of millions of lives in 1918-19, decimating entire communities. (See "Rapid worldwide H1N1 swine flu spread is raising big concerns for the Fall" from 2009.) The 2009 pandemic fizzled without causing massive numbers of death, but the world is overdue for a massive pandemic, and the possibility cannot be excluded now. Michigan Live and Recombinomics

Nearly one million people homeless in Central African Republic

According to Doctors Without Borders, "fighting, lynchings and violent attacks remain a daily occurrence in Bangui," the capital of Central African Republic (CAR), "where the situation appears to be out of control." The number of people driven from their homes in Bangui alone was around 700,000 a week ago, and is now close to one million. These are people who have fled their homes in the sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians in Bangui alone. There do not seem to be figures for the rest of the country. France has deployed 1,600 peacekeeping troops to Bangui, supplemented by about 6,000 African Union peacekeeping troops. C.A.R. is deep into a generational Crisis era, so it's quite possible that these peacekeeping troops will be unable to keep the peace, and that C.A.R. will repeat the genocidal bloodletting of Rwanda in 1994. Doctors Without Borders and AFP

IMF working paper predicts major global financial crisis

Mainstream economists are generally becoming increasingly alarmed by the imbalances in the global economy, whether from a stock market bubble or from historically high public debt, and are expressing increasing concern about a major financial crisis. In an IMF working paper, economists Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff particularly criticize national governments' wishful thinking that debt can be ignored because it will be eliminated automatically by a spurt of economic growth. According to the report:

"Even after one of the most severe crises on record (in its fifth year as of 2012) in the advanced world, the received wisdom in policy circles clings to the notion that advanced, wealthy economies are completely different animals from their emerging market counterparts. Until 2007–08, the presumption was that they were not nearly as vulnerable to financial crises.2 When events disabused the world of that notion, the idea still persisted that if a financial crisis does occur, advanced countries are much better at managing the aftermath, thanks to their ability to vigorously apply countercyclical policy. Even as the recovery consistently proved to be far weaker than most forecasters were expecting, policymakers continued to underestimate the depth and duration of the downturn. ...

It is certainly true that policymakers need to manage public expectations. However, by consistently choosing instruments and calibrating responses based on overly optimistic medium-term scenarios, they risk ultimately losing credibility and destabilizing expectations rather than the reverse.3 Nowhere is the denial problem more acute than in the collective amnesia about advanced country deleveraging experiences (especially, but not exclusively, before World War II) that involved a variety of sovereign and private restructurings, defaults, debt conversions, and financial repression. This denial has led to policies that in some cases risk exacerbating the final costs of deleveraging."

The paper points out that, "In fact, going back to 1800, the current level of central government debt in advanced economies is approaching a two-century high-water mark." With debt higher than it's been in 200 years, a major financial crisis will not be far off.

The paper warns that savers will face "haircuts" in the form of negative interest rates and cancellation of government debt. IMF (PDF) and Telegraph (London)

Was North Korea's Kim Jong-un's uncle eaten by ravenous dogs?

Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un was executed in a particularly gruesome manner, according to a report in Hong Kong's strongly pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po. According to the report, Jang and his five closest aides were stripped naked and thrown live into a cage with 120 hunting hounds that had been starved for five days. According to the newspaper, Jang and his aides were "completely eaten up." The story is unconfirmed, but because the paper is a Beijing mouthpiece, the story may indicate the contempt that Chinese officials are expressing for the current North Korean government. NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-14 World View -- H1N1 swine flu spread in Michigan and Texas revive fears of pandemic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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3-Jan-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda militants seize cities in Iraq's Anbar province

Car bomb explodes in Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut, Lebanon

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Car bomb explodes in Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut, Lebanon


Car bombing in Beirut on Thursday (AFP)
Car bombing in Beirut on Thursday (AFP)

A car bomb exploded Thursday in the well-protected Shia / Hezbollah stronghold in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, killing 5, just one week after a car bomb exploded in the well-protected Sunni region of Beirut, killing a leading Sunni leader. ( "28-Dec-13 World View -- Lebanon faces new chaos after car bombing in heart of Beirut") This bombing comes weeks after a twin suicide bombing killed 25 people at the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

The sectarian war in Syria has been spilling over into Lebanon almost since it began in 2011, mostly in the form of sectarian gunfights in northern Lebanon in Tripoli, on the border with Syria. But the violence in Lebanon has been spreading and worsening since April 30, when Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah committed his Shia militia to fighting alongside the army of Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad against the Sunni opposition. And in the last couple of months, the violence in Lebanon has crossed several red lines, particularly striking at the heart of Beirut, in the most well-defended sections of the city. Each side is determined to prove that it can strike at the other side, and that attempts at protection are futile. AFP

Al-Qaeda militants seize cities in Iraq's Anbar province

The war in Syria is also spilling over into Iraq, where sectarian violence has been growing since the withdrawal of American troops in December, 2011. During the last week, al-Qaeda linked forces have been taking control of parts of the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Anbar province, near the border with Syria. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was defeated in 2007 by President George Bush's "surge" strategy (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.) Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has adopted hostile policies towards the Sunni population, alienating them, perhaps getting even for the decades when Sunni leader Saddam Hussein treated the Shia population extremely harshly.

The old Al-Qaeda in Iraq has become the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). During the last few months, ISIS has become a magnet for Sunni jihadists around the world. ISIS's victories in Iraq are a sign of the growing strength of ISIS in the region, as the entire Mideast becomes inflamed along sectarian Shia/Sunni lines. Al-Jazeera and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-14 World View -- Al-Qaeda militants seize cities in Iraq's Anbar province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2014) Permanent Link
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2-Jan-14 World View -- Latvia becomes 18th nation to adopt the euro currency

Palestinian ambassador to Czech Republic dies in freak explosion

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

N. Korea's Kim Jong-un struggles for stability, purging 'factionalist elements'


Kim Jong-un giving New Year's day speech (AP)
Kim Jong-un giving New Year's day speech (AP)

In his typically shrill speech to the North Korean people on New Year's Day, the child dictator Kim Jong-un appeared to be responding to numerous national and international concerns about his government's stability, describing as removing "factionalist scum" the execution of his uncle and mentor Jang Song-thaek:

"Our party's timely, accurate decision to purge the anti-party, anti-revolutionary and factionalist elements helped greatly cement unity of the party and the revolution and strengthened our solidarity by 100 times. ...

It is necessary to establish stringent revolutionary discipline and order in all domains of the revolutionary struggle and construction work."

He pledged a crackdown on "any sort of alien ideology and decadent lifestyle." By referring to his uncle as "factionalist elements," he's hoping to reverse the loss of respect among the North Korean for having killed a family member, in a culture where family is extremely important. Furthermore, the word "factionalist" seems to indicate that there was a power struggle, and he hoped that executing Jang would help "greatly cement unity."

Although most reasons given in the press for the execution of Jang have referred to corrupt deals involving sales of coal and other resources to China, South Korean analysts say that the Kim's fury at Jang was far more personal in nature:

It's Jang that maintained good relations between N. Korea and China. From the Chinese perspective, Kim is too young to be a partner, and Jang provided a bridge. Some Beijing officials may actually have been in a panic after Jang's execution. Channel News Asia and Korea Times

Palestinian ambassador to Czech Republic dies in freak explosion

The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic Jamal Al Jamal, 56, was killed in Wednesday in a freak explosion when he attempted to open what was evidently a booby-trapped safe. The safe had been located in the old Palestinian embassy in Prague, and hadn't been opened in at least 20 years. The safe had been moved to the new Palestinian Embassy which wasn't yet officially open. The ambassador had officially assumed his post on October 11, 2013. It was not known why the safe had been booby-trapped. Prague Post

Latvia becomes 18th nation to adopt the euro currency