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23-Jul-16 World View -- Christian pastor's '#ThisFlag' movement threatens Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe war veterans suddenly turn on Robert Mugabe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Christian pastor leads '#ThisFlag' demonstrations against Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe


Grace Mugabe, the young wife of 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, who he wants to be his successor
Grace Mugabe, the young wife of 92-year-old Robert Mugabe, who he wants to be his successor

Zimbabwe is being suddenly riven by anti-government demonstrations and clashes with security forces that suddenly erupted into a major political force almost spontaneously earlier this month, fed by social media with the hash tag #ThisFlag.

Evan Mawarire, the 39-year-old pastor of the His Generation Church in the capital city Harare, used social media to organize a nationwide "stay-away," a shutdown of schools, businesses and shops around the country. Since any sort of government protest can be punished violently by the government of the 92-year-old president Robert Mugabe, Mawarire chose the national flag as the symbol of protest, along with the hash tag #ThisFlag. According to Mawarire, the Zimbabwe flag used to be a symbol of national pride, but today it's a symbol of endemic corruption, injustice, starvation, and poverty in the country.

The July 6 national shutdown shut down much of the country, and Mawarire was summoned by police for questioning, and was charged with inciting public violence, disturbing the peace, and treason. Mawarire might have been locked up for years, or even tortured and killed, as is not uncommon in the Mugabe government. But court officials were shocked when nearly 200 young lawyers flocked to Harare's Magistrate's Court and volunteered to represent the pastor. The police were forced to free Mawarire after only one night in custody, and drop the charges.

After being freed, Mawarire posted on his Facebook page to his followers:

"You did so well. There was no violence. No one was fighting. No one was throwing stones. Zimbabweans are peaceful people and we can do this very well with peace. ... Continue to pray for Zimbabwe. God is doing something special and amazing."

Several Christian organizations -- the Zimbabwe Catholic bishops’ conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and other groups issued a statement condemning Mugabe for apparent disregard for the constitution by the government and police and failure to deal with corruption. "These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed."

In fact, widespread civil unrest is exactly where this is headed, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics. Zimbabwe is in a generational Awakening era, like America and Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, and the first post-war generation (like America's Boomers) are on the path to holding massive protests. Zimbabwe's last generational crisis war was the war for independence that climaxed in 1980. Mugabe's government has used massive arrests, massacres, atrocities and torture to stop earlier protests, but this protest could not be stopped because it used social media, and because the form of the protest was for the protesters to stay and home and shut down the country, rather than march through the streets. Now that one protest has been successful, it's likely that there will be more.

As we described earlier this month in "1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction", Zimbabwe is in the midst of a major financial crisis because Mugabe has destroyed the nation's economy by shutting down the farms and businesses, because they were run by whites, and turned them over to corrupt cronies in his own Zanu-pf political party who couldn't run a business or a farm if their lives depended on it. Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa in the 1990s, but it took Mugabe only a few years to destroy the economy, and to give away the pieces to his corrupt cronies, leaving his political enemies to starve. Mugabe's breathtaking destruction of the country's economy is a major motivation for the protests occurring now. Religion News Service and Catholic News Agency and The Zimbabwe Mail and Nehanda Radio (Harare)

Zimbabwe war veterans suddenly turn on Robert Mugabe

The success of the #ThisFlag movement has triggered other forms of protest. On Thursday, Robert Mugabe's most loyal supporters, the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, suddenly turned on Mugabe.

These were the veterans that fought alongside Mugabe in the war of independence. After the war, they were in the front lines of torturing and massacring Mugabe's political enemies. Any anti-Mugabe protestor could count on being arrested and beaten at the hands of Mugabe's war veterans. The veterans have formed the backbone of Mugabe's party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-pf).

So the surprise move to turn against Mugabe has significantly changed the political landscape in Zimbabwe. According to the statement:

"We note, with concern, shock and dismay, the systematic entrenchment of dictatorial tendencies, personified by the president and his cohorts, which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle. ...

Mugabe should understand that his leadership is as a result of our support as we are the vanguard of the ruling ZANU PF, without war veterans who fought for the liberation of this country then there is no ZANU-PF. ... So to Mugabe we say, you cannot stop us as war veterans from debating the succession of the party’s leadership, as we are the spine of the party."

However, one should not assume that this change of heart was motivated by feelings of guilt over past tortures and massacres. Actually, it was motivated by the fact that Mugabe had ordered the firing of the chairman of the veterans association, Christopher Mutsvangwa. According to the statement:

"We still recognize Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa as our national chairperson amongst the war veterans and Mugabe should be warned Mutsvangwa cannot be fired willy nilly as that has to be done through a congress. Mugabe is fond of firing from the party anybody who raises a voice against him and we are saying no enough is enough."

This is taking place in the context of a growing battle over Mugabe's successor as leader of Zanu-pf. The 92-year-old Mugabe claims that his plans are to live past the age 100, but others are not so sure.

Two factions have emerged. The veterans want Mugabe to be succeeded by the current vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe himself wants to be succeeded by his own wife, Grace Mugabe.

In February, police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of veterans who were demonstrating against what they described as criticism by Grace Mugabe. According to the veterans' statement:

"Regrettably, the general citizenry has previously been subjected to this inhuman and degrading treatment without a word of disapproval from us. That time has passed. We wish to categorically condemn the brutal suppression of the freedom of expression, whether exercised by ourselves or by anyone else."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a very interesting story because it shows how very different cultures can have Awakening eras with many similarities. What unites Awakening eras across all cultures is the rise of the first generation following the previous generational crisis war, and the appearance of marches, demonstrations and other forms of protest, just as occurred in America and Europe in the 1960-70s.

Okay Africa and Reuters and AP and The Standard (Harare - 27-Mar)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jul-16 World View -- Christian pastor's '#ThisFlag' movement threatens Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West

Turkey moves away from the West

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers


Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup.  Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)
Military officers under arrest after the failed military coup. Front row center is Akin Ozturk, a four-star general and former commander of the Turkish air force. (CNN)

Following last week's attempted coup d'état, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday declared a three-month state of emergency that gives him near dictatorial powers that cannot be challenged by the parliament or the courts. Erdogan announced the following:

"As a result of a comprehensive evaluation with members of the National Security Council [MGK], we have decided to recommend the declaration of a state of emergency, in line with Article 120 of our constitution, in order to eliminate the terror organization which attempted to make a coup, swiftly and completely."

In order to eliminate this "terror organization," Erdogan executed a purge the size of which is breathtaking:

In all, 58,000 people have been affected by the purge.

Because of the size and complexity of this purge, many analysts believe that the purge was in the planning stages for several months, waiting for the right opportunity to implement it. It was already obvious in March that something was coming when Erdogan forcibly shut down the only opposition newspaper and jailed the reporters. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

To Erdogan, free speech is terrorism.

As I wrote last week in "17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours", Erdogan is blaming the coup on a "terrorist group" led by Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania since splitting with Erdogan. Apparently Erdogan believes that the 58,000 police, judges, clerics and social workers that he purged were all part of a terrorist group being controlled by Gulen from his easy chair in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania.

Erdogan is demanding that Gulen be extradited back to Turkey, but Obama administration officials are resisting, saying that they're perfectly willing to extradite him, once Turkey has supplied the required paperwork, something that will stand up in court providing evidence that Gulen committed a crime. So far, that evidence has not been provided. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC

Turkey moves away from the West

Even ignoring the long-term conflict with the PKK terrorists, Turkey is a deeply divided country split between the religiously conservative Islamists versus the moderate secularists. This split dates back to World War I, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed, and Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, declared that Turkey's society would be secular. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current president, has been reversing that decision, making the society more Islamist.

A number of reports have indicated that young people in Turkey have been more been more Islamist than the more secularist people in the older generations, and have felt discriminated against. Erdogan has been appealing to these younger generations, and it's believed that many of 58,000 people who were purged were secularists.

The West, especially secular Europe, have become increasingly alarmed at these changes, especially in the last couple of days. Beyond the state of emergency, Erdogan has also suspended the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR), which guarantees basic rights similar to those guaranteed by the American Bill of Rights. Turkish officials argue that human rights will still be preserved, and they point out that France suspended the EHCR briefly last year, in conjunction with declaring a state of emergency.

These announcements have revived talks of the death penalty, imposed media restrictions, blocked websites and placed a ban on academics leaving the country. Erdogan has specifically stated that the death penalty might be reinstated.

"I will approve capital punishment if it's passed by parliament. ...

If the EU respects democracy it will accept people's will. The world is not simply the European Union. Do you have capital punishment in the US, Russia, China and in many other countries? Yes."

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as one of the reforms that had been demanded by the European Union before Turkey would be allowed to join the EU. Turkish officials have been getting increasingly annoyed since then because the talks with the EU have repeatedly been stalled. If Turkey reinstates the death penalty, it will have enormous symbolic significance, because it could lead to the final end of any talk about Turkey joining the European Union.

There are strong bonds tying Turkey to the West. Turkey is a member of Nato and has been so for years. More recently, Turkey and the EU have signed the EU-Turkey migrant deal that's reduced the flood of thousands of migrants per day entering Greece from Turkey to just dozens per day. Going beyond these specific contractual international relationships. Turkey is considered in the West to be the linchpin of any Mideast policy, because of its central location.

Despite all that, there is a widespread feeling among authorities in the West that Turkey is moving away from the West. One example is that some Turkish officials are suggesting that America has been partially responsible for the coup because America has given asylum to Fethullah Gulen.

Long-time readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts exactly that -- that Turkey will move away from the West. As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia")

When I first made this prediction, years ago, Turkey was a close ally and Iran was a hated enemy. However, this prediction establishes a trend line that's already being realized -- Iran has been moving toward the West, and Turkey has been moving away. If you want to understand where Turkey is going, then follow the Generational Dynamics trend lines and forecasts, and you will have the answer. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Jerusalem Post and Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives himself dictatorial powers, moving Turkey away from the West thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue

Fears grow of major uprising in Indian-governed Kashmir

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions rising between Pakistan and India over Kashmir issue


Saudi migrant workers at a bus stop in Kashmir on Wednesday (AFP)
Saudi migrant workers at a bus stop in Kashmir on Wednesday (AFP)

Tensions are rising palpably between Pakistan and India, with anti-India protests across Pakistan on Wednesday, protesting the ongoing violence in the Indian-governed Kashmir.

Violent clashes in Kashmir began on July 9, following the death on July 8 of Burhan Wani, 22, a 22-year-old commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Some 50 Kashmiris were killed and over 1,900 injured. About 600 were blinded for life, having been shot by the security forces with "non-lethal" pellet guns. After 12 days, Kashmir is paralyzed and the streets are deserted, as police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear continue to enforce a strict curfew.

Separatist sentiment continued to grow in Kashmir. On Wednesday, residents hoisted dozens of black and Pakistan flags to observe a "black day" to protest the killing Wani. Indian security forces, fearing a further uprising, removed the flags.

As I described in detail in "14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured", Pakistan and India, including Kashmir, are deep into a generational Crisis era. The last generational crisis war was Partition, the 1947 war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of bloodiest wars of the 20th century. In the past, with survivors of that war still alive and still in power, no one wanted to see a repeat of the bloody 1947 war. But today, those survivors are almost gone, and the younger generations, with only limited, partial information about the horrors that occurred in that war, are headed for a repeat of the 1947 war.

Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif said:

"Today we are observing Black Day to express solidarity with Kashmiris and are giving a strong message to the world that Pakistanis are with them (Kashmiris) for their struggle to get their rights.

India cannot suppress the voice of Kashmiris through force as they will eventually get freedom. The UN has declared Kashmir a disputed territory and India should hold plebiscite to respect the rights of Kashmiris. Terming Kashmir issue internal matter of India is not justifiable."

Many Indian officials believe that Pakistan is funding and supporting terrorism in Kashmir, which would not be surprising since India and Pakistan have found three wars over Kashmir.

On Wednesday, India's Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar

"India will be able to handle the situation but Pakistan will not be able to do that. You are committing suicide... We are saying this as a good neighbor. [It is] time to open your eyes. ...

When (Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan) Wani got killed, Pakistanis are observing 'black day' and they think we will accept it silently. We will not do that."

Akbar pointed out that when Pakistan suffered a major terror attack killing dozens of children in a school in Peshawar, Indians did not cheer the way that Pakistanis are cheering today. Press TV (Iran) and Saudi (Arabia) Journal and New Indian Express

Mastermind of 2008 Mumbai attack leads Pakistan protests against India

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in cities across Pakistan -- Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, and others -- took to the streets on Wednesday to protest against the ongoing violence in the Indian-governed Kashmir.

The leader of the protests in Lahore was Hafiz Saeed, leader of the terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) at the time that LeT attack conducted the horrific '26/11' terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008, lead the public protests against India in Kashmir on Wednesday. Saeed is designated a terrorist by the U.S. government with a $10 million bounty on his head.

On Wednesday, Saeed said that Burhan Wani was a freedom fighter, and said his death would strengthen the jihad in Kashmir. Indian officials are furious that Pakistan has refused to prosecute Saeed. AP and Asian Age

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-16 World View -- India-Pakistan tensions grow over Kashmir issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-16 World View -- The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan

Uganda's president opposes arms embargo on South Sudan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands in South Sudan flee to Uganda to escape violence


South Sudan refugee women and children seek shelter under a UN van. (DPA)
South Sudan refugee women and children seek shelter under a UN van. (DPA)

Thousands of refugees from South Sudan are fleeing across the border to Uganda to escape the possibility of fresh tribal fighting in South Sudan's capital city Juba, despite the fact that the fighting has cooled down in the last week. Over 5,000 refugees crossed the border over the weekend, joining more than 6,000 that had crossed previously.

However, that number of refugees is dwarfed by the number of people who have had to flee their homes and are still in South Sudan. At least 42,000 fled the city of Juba in recent days, and hundreds were killed. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is responsible for the protection of civilians in refugee camps in South Sudan.

There are fears that if the fighting worsens, then there may be over a million refugees, both internal and flowing into neighboring countries. ( "11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war")

Ever since the violence began in December 2013, the number of South Sudan refugees in neighboring countries is around 835,000. UNHCR and Al Jazeera

The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan

An African Union (AU) summit approved the deployment of an all-African peacekeeping to South Sudan, now that there's a lull in the fighting. The soldiers from the force are would come from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda.

The new deployment would be in addition to an existing deployment of 12,000 person UN peacekeeping force. The difference between the two (theoretically) is that the UN peacekeeping force is only permitted to keep an existing peace, while the AU force would have the mandate to "impose peace."

However, South Sudan president Salva Kiir will not grant permission for an AU force to enter the country. According to Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan's Information Minister, "We are not ready for a deployment of even a single additional soldier. That does not solve the problem. As a sovereign state ... this thing cannot be imposed on us without our consent. [It would not] serve the interests of the people of South Sudan."

However, the situation is dire. Over a third of South Sudan's population are expected to face severe food shortages over the coming months, and there is a real risk of what the UN has termed a "hunger catastrophe". Deutsche Welle and BBC and Times Live (South Africa)

Uganda's president opposes arms embargo on South Sudan

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni said he was opposed to a U.N. plan to impose an arms embargo on his neighbor South Sudan, saying it would weaken its army just as the country was trying to contain a resurgence of violence.

South Sudan became independent on July 9, 2011. There was constant low-level fighting in the country, but finally major clashes began in December 2013. ( "29-Dec-2013 World View -- Conflicts grow in South Sudan and Central African Republic") Major clashes began again on two weeks ago, on the fifth anniversary of independence.

The fighting is between two tribes, the Dinka tribe, led by the president Salva Kiir, and the Nuer tribe, led by the vice-president Riek Machar.

There's widespread fear that the tribal fighting will spiral into a full-scale civil war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's not going to happen. As in wrote in "Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes", the last generational crisis war between the Dinka and Nuer tribes climaxed in 1991 with the "Bor Massacre," starving, displacing and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Thus, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, and there are many survivors of the Bor Massacre from both sides who do not want to see anything so horrible happen again, and will do anything they can to prevent it. So an event similar to the Bor Massacre will not occur.

What is happening is that weapons are flooding into South Sudan, with Uganda supplying weapons to Salva Kiir and the Dinkas, and Ethiopia and (Northern) Sudan supplying weapons to Riek Machar and the Nuers. It's the flow of weapons that is sustaining a conflict that would otherwise die out.

We've seen the same thing in Syria. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad launched a war of extermination against the Sunnis in Syria in 2011, and it would have fizzled out long ago, almost certainly with the defeat of al-Assad, except that Russia and Iran have been pouring vast amounts of weapons and soldiers into Syria to prop up the regime and keep the fight going.

Returning now to South Sudan, the United Nations would like to impose a weapons embargo on both tribes, but in view of opposition from people like Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, that's unlikely to succeed. Reuters and Sudan Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jul-16 World View -- The African Union proposes an all-African peacekeeping force for South Sudan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Jul-16 World View -- China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea

China makes more delusional claims about the South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China makes more delusional claims about the South China Sea


China's map of countries supporting them (China Daily)
China's map of countries supporting them (China Daily)

China state media has issued a report with a map claiming that 70 countries are supporting China's position to reject last week's decision handed down by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague. (See my detailed analysis of the Tribunal decision in "13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea".)

The text in the map shown above says:

"More than 70 countries have publicly voiced support for China’s position that South China Sea disputes should be resolved through negotiations and not arbitration. In contrast, just several countries, mainly the United States and its close allies, have publicly supported the Philippines and called for observing the ruling as legally binding."

Once again, China's claims are totally delusional.

India, for example, most assuredly did not voice support for China's claim that disputes should not be resolved through arbitration. According to a statement issued by India's Ministry of External Affairs:

"India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS. India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability.

Sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans."

The Indian statement was very carefully worded so as not to strongly confront China, but it certainly did not reject arbitration.

Prior to the Tribunal ruling, China claimed that 60 countries were in "a chorus" that publicly endorsed China's South China Sea position. The list was completely delusional.

According to an analysis by the the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 8 countries have publicly confirmed their support, 4 have denied Beijing’s claim of support, and 45 have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China. In contrast, 11 countries plus the European Union have said that the arbitral award will be legally binding and have called on both China and the Philippines to respect it.

After the Tribunal ruling, an analysis by Lowy Institute seems to indicate that China has fewer supporters today than before the ruling -- not surprising in view of the clarity and presentation of evidence in the ruling. According to Lowy, only three countries now reject the ruling: China, Taiwan and Pakistan. 34 nations have publicly called for the ruling to be respected. Others have either said nothing, or acknowledged the ruling positively.

Also prior to the Tribunal ruling was issued, China released "evidence" of its claims that turned out to be a complete hoax. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

It's all very strange. The Tribunal's ruling is purely symbolic in the sense that it has no way to enforce its ruling. Militarily, China is ignoring the ruling anyway, as it prepares for war with its neighbors and with the United States.

Despite all that, China continues to behave in a highly emotional, irrational, panicky, nationalistic manner, issuing delusional and fabricated evidence to support claims that everybody knows are false claims.

This is what makes China so dangerous. They believe that the US has been weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and too anxious to risk another war. This is a major historic mistake that they will regret. They claim to be "peace loving," but the way the world works is that every leader goes to war by claiming to be "peace loving," and blaming the other side. China Daily and India Ministry of External Affairs and Lowy Institute (Australia)

China continues to operate within the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ)

China has claimed that the airstrips on their artificial islands in the Spratly Islands are for civilian aircraft, and they backed up their claims by reporting on two civilian flights, an Airbus A319 chartered by China Southern Airlines and a Boeing 737 by Hainan Airlines, that landed on the airstrips.

We're getting used to outright fabrications and lies from the Chinese, and no one seriously believes that these airstrips will be used only for commercial flights. It's generally thought that China is preparing for war with its neighbors, and that these airstrips will be used for military purposes.

The claim that the artificial islands have only commercial use is laughable. As one analyst wrote sarcastically, "The business plan for the Spratlys would be interesting to read. Perhaps the Chinese would allow Philippine civilian aircraft to land at Mischief Reef to boost revenue."

One of China's artificial islands is on Mischief Reef, which the Tribunal declared is part of the Philippines exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to last week's decision handed down by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

Indeed, Mischief Reef is 300 km (185 miles) west of the Philippines' island of Palawan, but 1,100 km (685 miles) from China's Hainan Island. So it's entirely within the Philippines EEZ, and therefore the artificial islands that China built are now the legal property of the Philippines. Press Trust of India and Reuters

China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea

China announced that it will now deploy a combat air patrol with long range bombers in the South China Sea as "a regular practice." According to the Chinese military, "The PLA Air Force will firmly defend national sovereignty, security and maritime interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with various threats and challenges."

Separately, China's maritime administration said that it is closing off a part of the South China Sea for military exercises this week.

China is in a highly nationalistic, emotional, anxious and dangerous state, and is rapidly increasing its military across the South China Sea, preparing for war with its neighbors and with the United States. AP and India Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-16 World View -- China's military deploys bombers and closes part of the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Bahrain tensions rise as Sunni government cracks down on Shias

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood


Screen grab from video of Erdogan's speech on Saturday in which he gives the four-finger R4BIA salute
Screen grab from video of Erdogan's speech on Saturday in which he gives the four-finger R4BIA salute

Following Egypt's 2013 army coup that ousted the democratically elected Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government, there were massive protests and sit-ins in Cairo and clashes between MB supporters and the army, resulting in nearly 1,000 deaths. Most of the clashes occurred in Cairo's Rabaa Square. In Arabic, the word "Rabaa" or "Rabia" means "fourth," and so MB supporters adopted the name "R4BIA" for the new four-fingered salute, which consists of raising four fingers, and folding your thumb over your palm. ( "24-Aug-13 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan adopts Muslim Brotherhood's four-fingered salute")

In the middle of his first major speech on Saturday following the coup attempt in Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan flashed the R4BIA four-fingered salute, as shown in the above screen grab, as a signal that he still supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. ( "17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours")

The significance of this is that it's a new indication that Erdogan has no intention of reconciling with Egypt. Erdogan has reconciled with both Israel and Russia in recent weeks, and some analysts had speculated that Egypt would be next. However, Erdogan's four-fingered salute on Saturday is one of several indications that no such reconciliation is possible at this time.

On several occasions, Erdogan has said that his differences are with Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who masterminded the 2013 coup, and not with the Egyptian people. Al Monitor and Washington Post and YouTube - Erdogan - watch 16:30-17:00 and The Conservative Treehouse

Bahrain tensions rise as Sunni government cracks down on Shias

The Sunni-ruled government of Bahrain on Sunday ordered the dissolution of the country's main opposition group, the Shia organization Al Wefaq National Islamic Society, despite enormous international criticism from Western countries and human rights organizations. Al-Wefaq was closed by court order last month. Bahrain's population is 2/3 Shia Muslim, but the country is led by an oppressive Sunni government closely allied with Saudi Arabia.

In May, Bahrain's courts found the Al-Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman guilty of charges relating to "publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions." Salman's Al Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a statement calling the decision "an alarming politically-motivated verdict [that] only deepens the political and constitutional crisis in Bahrain."

On Sunday, a court in Bahrain ordered the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, accusing it of harboring terrorism, inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations and sit-ins which threaten to spark "sectarian strife," and ordered the seizure of all of the organization's assets.

Iran has not yet commented on the dissolution of Al-Wefaq, but last month when it was closed, Iran issued a statement:

"The oppressed Muslim nation of Bahrain had been under the cruel, biased, unfair, and illegitimate regime of Al-Khalifa for long years. Despite furious acts which included unashamedly racist discrimination, arrest of their religious leaders, imprisoning and torturing women and children, stripping citizenship, violation of their rights without any qualms and several other crimes, this patient people have exercised patience; tightening the pressures has never distracted Bahraini people of their non-violent approach."

It's hard not to laugh at this, given that Iran regularly massacres peaceful protesters, leaving blood running in the streets, and jails political opponents for years. In 2011, Bahrain massacred peaceful protesters, leaving blood running in the streets. When these two countries whine about each other, they sound pathetic. AFP and Al-Jazeera

Bahrain accuses another top Shia cleric for money laundering

Bahrain will try the kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, accusing him on Saturday of illegal fund-raising and money-laundering.

In addition, Bahrain is threatening to strip the entire Shia cleric community of its sources of income, by taking over collection of a Shia tax, known as the fifth or "khums," because it taxes up 20% (one-fifth) of all excess wealth that has accumulated in the accounts of the faithful for more than a year.

Last month, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Qasim, accusing him of promoting "sectarianism and violence."( "21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric")

According to a Bahrain government official:

"Investigations have confirmed that Qasim harnessed the money of poor Shias to finance terror activities in Bahrain and that he sent some of those findings to Iran.

We [the authorities] will be collecting the khums in a transparent way although [I admit that] the process will take time."

Last month, after Qasim's citizenship was revoked, tens of thousands of his supporters to take to the streets. As Bahrain's minority Sunni government continues harsher and harsher crackdowns on the majority Shia population, it's feared that there will be a repeat of the massive protests that occurred in 2011.

According to Rashed al-Rashed, a leading opposition figure in Bahrain, "Nobody can foresee what would happen, but too much blood will be shed in case of Sheikh Qasim’s arrest." Middle East Eye and Tasnim News (Tehran)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jul-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan gives four-finger 'R4BIA' salute, in signal to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours

Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours


Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday.  Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)
Fethullah Gulen at his home in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on Saturday. Erdogan accuses Gulen of organizing the coup attempt (Reuters)

A botched army coup on Friday attempting to overthrow Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) collapsed within a few hours overnight.

Reports indicate that the army leadership was not involved, and that a group within the army attempted to overthrow the army leadership as well as the government.

On Saturday, 3,000 soldiers and 2,000 judges were arrested.

Erdogan is accusing Fethullah Gulen, a 76-year-old Turkish Muslim cleric, living in self-imposed exile in America since splitting with Erdogan, of orchestrating the coup from his desk in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.

Erdogan has been in power since 2007, so it's not surprising that he's made a lot of enemies. There are many reasons why some people might wish to see Erdogan removed from office:

There are many reasons for opposition to Erdogan, and many of them have coalesced under the spiritual leadership of Fethullah Gulen, whether or not that means that Gulen had a more direct responsibility for the coup attempt.

Turkey was deeply divided prior to the coup, and those divisions are probably even deeper now. Millions of Turks say that Erdogan is authoritarian, anti-secular and Islamist. It's unlikely that Erdogan will be able to heal these divisions anytime soon.

As one analyst put it, Erdogan has recently gone to great lengths to reconcile differences externally -- with Russia and Israel -- but what he really needs to do is reconcile differences internally, within Turkey itself. Hurriyet (Ankara) and BBC and AP and Daily Mail (London)

Extradition of Fethullah Gulen may be linked to reopening Incirlik air base

Turkey has a half million man army, the second largest in Nato, and Turkey occupies the central region in the Mideast, literally bridging Europe and Asia. Turkey is considered vital to the West for many reasons:

For all of these reasons, there is great concern internationally that the government of Turkey is going to be increasingly unstable in the next few months.

Incirlik airbase is currently closed since the coup attempt, and the Obama administration would like it to be reopened.

Turkey apparently wishes for the Obama administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen back to Turkey.

Analysts have suggested that Turkey will use the Incirlik closure as leverage to gain the extradition of Gulen.

Gulen lives in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, on a 26-acre compound called the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center. He has denied that he was involved in the coup, and the Obama administration position is that Turkey will have to supply some proof if he is to be extradited.

As long time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries will be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West will be on the other side.

Ten years ago, this trend prediction seemed bizarre, but it's already been astonishing to see Iran and the West move closer together, especially through the nuclear deal, while Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have become increasingly alienated and distrustful of the United States under the Obama administration. This is all in the direction of the trend prediction that I posted years ago.

As I've said before, the reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is strongly anti-trend, so is not expected to last. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia") If the coup brings further instability, it will move in the direction of the above trend, and that will have big effects on the Turkey policies of Russia, Iran, the U.S., and the West. Anadolu (Ankara) and CNN and AP and BBC (27-Jan-2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jul-16 World View -- Attempted army coup in Turkey collapses within hours thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Jul-16 World View -- Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions

Turkey coup; Protests and violence continue across Indian-governed Kashmir

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Implications of the attempted coup in Turkey


Turkish people take to streets during coup attempt (Anadolu)
Turkish people take to streets during coup attempt (Anadolu)

As of this writing on Friday evening ET, it's thought that the coup has been defeated, but it's far from certain.

Several analysts have pointed out that it's United States policy only to deal with democratically elected governments, and not with coup governments. This policy was already severely tested after the 2013 coup in Egypt, where the U.S. continued providing military aid to the coup government. The issue of military aid to Turkey would be raised if this coup is successful.

Even if the coup is defeated, the fact that Turkey's military is split would have implications for the United States. The United States military is operating out of Incirlik air force base for its operations in Syria and Iraq. The US military and 1,500 US troops and personnel, which depend on Turkey's military while in that base, might potentially be in danger.

Another flash point is the Bosporus, the narrow body of water that connects the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Russia's navy has a substantial Black Sea fleet stationed in Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014, and if a Russian ship comes under some kind of attack while traveling through the Bosporus, then Russia's military might enter Turkey and intervene.

As I've written many times during the last ten years or so, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries would be one side, and India, Iran, the United States and the West would be on the other side. However the coup turns out, this is direction in which Turkey is headed. ( "8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia")

As I'm writing this on Friday night ET, it's not entirely clear who is governing Turkey, since president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is holding a news conference in Istanbul while there's still fighting in the capital city Ankara. This coup attempt has exposed a great deal of instability within Turkey, and that instability will continue for weeks and months to come. Anadolu (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Protests and violence continue across Indian-governed Kashmir

Reports indicate that Indian security forces prevented tens of thousands of people from attending mosques for Friday Prayers, resulting in anti-India protests and clashes in dozens of places across India-governed Kashmir.

Violent clashes began a week ago, following the death of Burhan Wani, 22, a commander in the separatist militia Hizbul Mujahideen, as I described in "14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured".

India has declared Wani to be a "terrorist," but now Pakistan is referring to Wani as a "martyr of the independence movement." This is an allusion to the desires of some groups to have an independent Kashmir, but most anti-India groups want Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. At any rate, the "martyr" designation is inflaming the violence in Kashmir.

Pakistan and India, including disputed Kashmir and Jammu, are in a generational Crisis era, 69 years past the massive 1947 genocidal war between Hindus and Sikhs versus Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Being in a generational Crisis era means that the survivors of the last genocidal crisis war are all gone, and the generations in control today have no personal memory of the horrors of that war. This opens the way for a new genocidal war to begin, and it's possible that the current situation will spiral out of control into that situation. Al Jazeera

Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions

The number of terror attacks has been growing. In just the past month, there was a deadly July 7 shooting in Dallas, a massive terror attack Dhaka on July 1, the Istanbul airport attack on June 28, and the mass shooting in Orlando on June 12.

The natural reaction by politicians to the situation is to look for ways to increase their own political power or get money, no matter what the effect on others. This is evident in moronic ideological "solutions to terrorism" that are being proposed. Here are some examples:

The attack in Nice France makes a mockery of all "solutions." It was perpetrated by a permanent resident of France, who lived in Nice with a job as a delivery driver. He was known to the police as a petty thief, but not as a terrorist. No one has claimed credit for the attack, so it may have been perpetrated entirely locally. He has an ex-wife and three kids, so that the attack might have been a way of getting revenge against his ex-wife. He comes from a well-to-do family in Tunisia, where his father was speaking to the press. He expressed shock that his son had perpetrated this act. He said that his son was mentally unstable, and that when he was off his meds he would become extremely angry and break things. So the Nice France attack might simply have been perpetrated by a madman.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is no solution to the terrorism problem. The rise of terrorism is organic, coming from young generations with limited, distorted views of the world. None of the above solutions would reach them. With the worldwide Muslim versus Muslim war growing, there's going to be more and more "spillover" into the West, and so the number of terrorist attacks will continue to increase. All of the "solutions" listed above only make things worse. AFP and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-16 World View -- Nice France terror attack provokes desperate search for solutions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-16 World View -- After Brexit, London's real estate bubbles are collapsing

UK commercial real estate market hard hit by 'Brexit clauses'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UK residential real estate market hit hard by Brexit


UK house prices, 1991 to present
UK house prices, 1991 to present

According to anecdotal evidence collected in a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), indicates that the residential real estate market in the UK, especially in London, is crashing.

The findings have to be viewed with caution, since prices increased slightly in June, albeit more slowly than in the past. Since the Brexit referendum occurred on June 23, the June prices surveys don't tell us much.

But the findings that the RCIS announced on Thursday are considerably more dramatic, because they measure changes in buyer sentiment since the Brexit referendum:

According to RICS, the South of the UK has been the hardest hit, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that both the Brexit referendum and tax changes are having an impact on sentiment.

According to RICS, London remains the only region where respondents are seeing prices fall, with this largely being concentrated in the central zones. Near term price expectations are now in negative territory across the whole of the UK with 27% more respondents across the UK expecting to see prices fall rather than rise over the next three months.

RICS points out that only after the initial shock of the Brexit referendum has passed will we get a clearer picture of how the market is faring. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Business Insider

The UK housing bubble may finally be collapsing

As the chart at the beginning of this article shows, UK housing prices are still at bubble levels. As I've written a number of times in the past, the global housing bubble began in 1996, at the same time as the "tech bubble," and accelerated in the 2000s, reaching a peak in 2007.

The housing bubble then deflated, causing what we now call "the financial crisis," but as the above chart illustrates, the global housing bubble did not fully deflate, and the housing bubble continues to this day.

According to a UBS report published last year, the global housing price increase was 130% from 1996 to 2007, but the subsequent price decline was only 30%. The UBS report blames this on the "gigantic cash injection" from central banks around the world, through quantitative easing and, today, negative interest rates. According to the report:

"Through quantitative easing, central banks have more than tripled the global monetary base since 2008. This gigantic cash injection has lowered real interest rates and slowed the global housing market corrections that began in 2007. The average price decline amounted to 30% in real terms. However, this did not offset the preceding price increase of 130% since the mid-1990s. The correction was thus milder than in previous cycles, setting the stage for today’s overheating housing markets.

When inexpensive financing is combined with bullish expectations, real estate prices eventually uncouple from the real economy. We have seen this in the current cycle, particularly in the world’s leading financial centers, where housing prices are now, in many cases, fundamentally unjustified. The risk of a real estate bubble in these cities has risen sharply. While it is not always possible to prove conclusively the existence of a bubble, it remains essential to identify the signs of one early on."

According to the report, the world's most expensive real estate market was London, though Hong Kong is not far behind. Many European cities, including Geneva and Amsterdam, are overvalued. In the United States, San Francisco is the most overvalued, with New York, Boston and Chicago trailing behind.

As I wrote in "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets", the danger is from a long-term crash because of a vicious cycle involving forced selling.

It's impossible to predict exactly when the London housing bubble will collapse, but it's 100% certain that it will collapse at some point, because every bubble in history has collapsed, usually causing enormous pain. It's possible that we're seeing the beginning of a major real estate collapse right now, but it's also possible that central banks will find a way to pour massive new amounts of liquidity into the real estate markets to keep the bubble going. After the "gigantic cash injection" described by the UBS report quoted above, central banks are not about to stop now. The sky's the limit.

One thing to watch out for is that there is a great deal of resistance among mainstream economists, politicians, journalists and analysts to even imagine a collapsing bubble.

We saw this ten years ago, when mainstream financial analysts, economists and journalists would say, "Housing prices can't go down -- people have to live somewhere!" and "Banks won't foreclose -- it's not in their interest to do so!" and "These housing construction firms know what they're doing, and they wouldn't be building houses if it were just a bubble!" It wasn't until 2009 that mainstream economists began saying that there had been a housing bubble years earlier. (See "26-Dec-2015 World View -- 'The Big Short' - an infuriating movie about the financial crisis")

So expect the usual slew of excuses from mainstream economists this time, and don't be surprised if, as usual, they don't have the vaguest clue what's coming. UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index (2015-PDF) and Money Week (3-March-2016) and Bloomberg (6-April-2016)

UK commercial real estate market hard hit by 'Brexit clauses'

Since commercial real estate is often used for investments, Britain's commercial property market is being harder hit than the residential housing market.

Even before the June 23 referendum, some buyers wrote "Brexit clauses" into their contracts to purchase commercial real estate in Britain. These clauses, which are now being invoked, allow buyers to walk away from deals if the Brexit referendum passed, which it did.

Many commercial real estate investors do not plan to occupy the properties they acquire, but are purchasing them as investments. This is particularly true of Chinese property investors, who simply need a place to park their money.

Because of Brexit, many employees working in London may have their jobs moved to the continent. This means that there will be empty offices in London, reducing the value of these buildings to these Chinese investors.

Until the effects of Brexit are well understood, which may not be for two or more years, commercial real estate investors are looking for "safe havens" in other countries. Thus, London's loss could mean other cities' gain. Realtors in Canada, Australia and the US are pitching their countries as safe havens, as Chinese buyers view Britain as too risky. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-16 World View -- After Brexit, London's real estate bubbles are collapsing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured

Jammu-Kashmir violence follows a typical generational timeline after civil war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured


Anti-Indian protesters clashing with Indian police in Srinagar in Kashmir
Anti-Indian protesters clashing with Indian police in Srinagar in Kashmir

Hospitals in Indian-controlled Kashmir are being overwhelmed with patients after four days of clashes between police separatist demonstrators. The protestors are demanding that two provinces, Kashmir and Jammu, separate from India and become part of Pakistan, because of the large Muslim population.

The violence was triggered on Friday when activist Burhan Wani, 22, was killed in a gunfight with the Indian Army. Wani was a division commander in Hizbul Mujahideen, a separatist organization, and was very popular with on social media. Hizbul Mujahideen is the largest activist organization fighting against Indian rule in the contested Jammu-Kashmir region.

India's army imposed a curfew on Saturday, but that drew out thousands of angry rock-throwing protesters defying the curfew. Indian army troops used live ammunition and pellet guns to try and quell the violence, which has continued for several days. A mob attacked a police station on Tuesday. Hospitals are being overwhelmed by the arrival of hundreds of wounded patients. In all, at least 36 people were killed, including one policemen, and thousands of people were injured.

With the strict curfew still in place, Kashmir was relatively quiet on Wednesday, despite the fact that it was the anniversary of "Martyrs' Day," when Kashmiris were killed by police firing on protesters on July 13, 1931. Tribune India and AP and Daily Times (Pakistan)

Jammu-Kashmir violence follows a typical generational timeline after civil war

Kashmir was a major battleground for the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, one of the bloodiest wars of the last century. The Kashmir region was a particularly bloody site of the war between Hindus and Muslims, and it's still disputed, with an internationally recognized Line of Control (LoC) separating the regions currently governed by Pakistan from those governed by India.

As I've described in numerous countries that have been through a generational crisis civil war, there is a consistent pattern that such countries almost always follow.

About 20 years after the end of an ethnic civil war, a post-war generation comes of age. They have no personal memory of the war, and all they know is what they've heard from their parents and friends, so they have very limited information. The kids in this generation on each side know nothing of the atrocities their side committed, but know a lot about the atrocities committed against them by the other side. So the two sides of this generation come of age knowing two completely different sets of partial information.

So after 20 years, these young people start to rebel. This can take the form of anything from peaceful protests to violent riots to terrorist attacks. The governing authorities, usually from the side that won the war, fear a renewal of the civil war and react to the protests in various ways. At first, simple police actions work, at least for a while. In Thailand, the army is trying to control the "red shirt" indigenous Thais through coups and a constitutional referendum. In Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza is selectively killing, torturing and jailing Tutsi opponents. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe conducted wholesale slaughter of the Ndebele opponents. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad is currently conducting wholesale slaughter of Sunni opponents. In Bangladesh, "the Sheikh Hasina Government has decimated the leadership of established Islamist terrorist formations and their sympathetic institutions," according to one analysis, and arrested over 3,000 people in a sweep last month.

Jammu-Kashmir has following the same pattern. There were constant protests and brief conflicts between Indians and Pakistani Muslims, ending in agreements for peace that lasted weeks or months before low-level violence began again, with each new round of violence worse than the last.

The relatively small protests of the Recovery and Awakening eras became widespread protests and an armed insurgency that began following a disputed election in 1987, as JK entered its generational Unraveling era.

In 1989, Hizbul Mujahideen was formed. Although it was funded and supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, the important fact from the point of view of Generational Dynamics is that it quickly became extremely popular, with thousands of members by the early 1990s. Hizbul Mujahideen has been riven by splintering and internal conflicts, but there are today thousands of anti-India protesters in Indian-governed Kashmir.

There are numerous stories in the press suggesting ways to "solve the core problems" in Jammu-Kashmir. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, no such solutions exist, and there will be continue to be clashes in the future. These solutions completely miss the point. They suggest that some politician pursue peace talks or something similar. That's always the easy suggestion from people who have no clue what's going on. These protests are not coming from politicians. They're growing organically from the population, and no politician can either cause them or stop them. Generational Dynamics predicts that Muslims and Hindus will have a full-scale war, re-fighting the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The Hindu and Greater Kashmir and SATP (India) and The News (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-16 World View -- Police clashes in India-governed Kashmir kill 36 and leaves thousands injured thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea

Tribunal ruling eviscerates China's 'Nine-Dash Line' claims

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN Court issues harsh ruling condemning China and affirming the Philippines


Cheering Filipina girls on Tuesday after hearing the Tribunal announcement (AP)
Cheering Filipina girls on Tuesday after hearing the Tribunal announcement (AP)

China was deeply humiliated and infuriated on Tuesday by the announcement that the hated Philippines had beaten them in a major court case on the South China Sea. It wasn't a simple "on balance" victory for the Philippines. It was a ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague where the Philippines had thoroughly thrashed China. The court found that China's claims to the Spratly Islands were invalid, that China's activities in the Spratly Islands were violations of international law and destructive of the environment, and furthermore that China had repeatedly and willfully violated the Philippines' own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), putting the lives of Philippines fishermen in danger.

The Chinese and Filipino people are long-time war enemies who hold each other in contempt. In this generational Crisis era, the two countries are both highly nationalistic. There is a great deal of international concern right now that the Filipino people will gloat and that China will act like a trapped animal and will use its vast military power to strike back in some way that will lead to war.

There is now a worldwide diplomatic search for some kind of face-saving solution. One thing is for sure: The ruling did not settle the South China Sea issue, and probably made it worse. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and VOA and Guardian (London)

Tribunal ruling eviscerates China's 'Nine-Dash Line' claims

China's famous "Nine-Dash Line" claims -- a Chinese map with line consisting of nine long dashes that encompasses the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to other countries -- was completely eviscerated by the ruling.

The following are some excerpts from the "Conclusion" section of the ruling:

"D. CONCLUSION

The Tribunal considers it beyond dispute that both Parties are obliged to comply with the Convention, including its provisions regarding the resolution of disputes, and to respect the rights and freedoms of other States under the Convention. ...

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ are contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention.

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that Scarborough Shoal, Gaven Reef (North), McKennan Reef, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef, in their natural condition, are rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own, and accordingly that [they] generate no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

[The Tribunal] FINDS that none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands, in their natural condition, are capable of sustaining human habitation or economic life of their own ...; that none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands generate entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf; and that therefore there is no entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf generated by any feature claimed by China that would overlap the entitlements of the Philippines in the area of Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal; and DECLARES that Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal are within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.

[The Tribunal] FINDS that, in May 2013, fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels engaged in fishing within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone at Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal; and that China, through the operation of its marine surveillance vessels, was aware of, tolerated, and failed to exercise due diligence to prevent such fishing by Chinese flagged vessels; and that therefore China has failed to exhibit due regard for the Philippines’ sovereign rights with respect to fisheries in its exclusive economic zone; and DECLARES that China has breached its obligations under Article 58(3) of the Convention;

[The Tribunal] FINDS that Scarborough Shoal has been a traditional fishing ground for fishermen of many nationalities and DECLARES that China has, through the operation of its official vessels at Scarborough Shoal from May 2012 onwards, unlawfully prevented fishermen from the Philippines from engaging in traditional fishing at Scarborough Shoal.

[The Tribunal] FINDS, with respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment in the South China Sea: that fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels have engaged in the harvesting of endangered species on a significant scale; that fishermen from Chinese flagged vessels have engaged in the harvesting of giant clams in a manner that is severely destructive of the coral reef ecosystem; and that China was aware of, tolerated, protected, and failed to prevent the aforementioned harmful activities.

[The Tribunal] FINDS further that China’s land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North), Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef has caused severe, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem; that China has not cooperated or coordinated with the other States bordering the South China Sea concerning the protection and preservation of the marine environment concerning such activities; and that China has failed to communicate an assessment of the potential effects of such activities on the marine environment, within the meaning of Article 206 of the Convention.

[The Tribunal] DECLARES that China has breached its obligations ... with respect to China’s construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Mischief Reef: FINDS that China has engaged in the construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures at Mischief Reef without the authorization of the Philippines; and DECLARES that China has breached Articles 60 and 80 of the Convention with respect to the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

[The Tribunal] FINDS, with respect to the operation of Chinese law enforcement vessels in the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal: that China’s operation of its law enforcement vessels on 28 April 2012 and 26 May 2012 created serious risk of collision and danger to Philippine ships and personnel; and DECLARES that China has breached its obligations under Article 94 of the Convention; and that, during the time in which these dispute resolution proceedings were ongoing, China: a. has built a large artificial island on Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation located in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines; b. has caused—through its land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures—severe, irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem ...; and has permanently destroyed—through its land reclamation and construction of artificial islands, installations, and structures—evidence of the natural condition of Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North), Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, and Subi Reef.

Part of China's claim to the South China Sea was a kind of leapfrogging from island to island. China would claim one island close to the mainland, then claim another island is close to the first island, and so forth, across the South China Sea.

The Tribunal ruling was that these so-called islands are not islands. They're simply uninhabited rocks, and so they do not qualify to be claimed by anyone.

The ruling makes the following points:

Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling and Russia Today

China reacts angrily to the Tribunal ruling


Chinese media graphic: 'The farce should come to an end'
Chinese media graphic: 'The farce should come to an end'

Here are some excerpts from China's Foreign Ministry statement:

"First, the South China Sea arbitration is completely a political farce staged under legal pretext. ...

Its purpose is clearly not to seek proper settlement of disputes with China, but to violate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and put peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy.

The arbitration was conducted according to unwarranted procedure and application of law, and was based on flawed evidence and facts. Such as it is, it will never be accepted by the Chinese people. Nor will it be recognized by anyone in the world who stands on the side of justice. ...

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it."

China's Global Times contained a bitter, vitriolic editorial:

"If the award were to be followed, China would be left with only a few isolated spots in the Nansha [Spratly] Islands without entitlement to any EEZ and could even be deprived of sovereignty of the waters surrounding the islands and islets. The majority of the Nansha Islands waters would be taken up by the EEZs claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. Besides, China could not continue with its island construction. The existing facilities might be dismantled by these two countries if they could. With the related resources being owned by Manila and Hanoi in the future, China would have to withdraw its business and other activities from the area.

This not only outrageously denies China's historic rights in the Nansha area and its legitimate maritime interests, but also overthrows the state of de facto control in the region including the Huangyan Island waters. This is ridiculous. The verdict has brazenly violated China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights."

State television reacted to the ruling by showing a documentary showcasing China's military might. China's Foreign Ministry and Global Times (Beijing) and China's Foreign Ministry

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-16 World View -- Philippines humiliates China in harsh Hague Tribunal ruling over South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Increasingly angry China rams Vietnamese boat as tribunal ruling expected


Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea
Nguyen Thi Nang (L) sits next to a radio operator, waiting for news from her husband, captain Vo Van Luu, after his boat was reportedly sunk by Chinese vessels in the South China Sea

In what is likely to be increasingly a sign of things to come, Chinese vessels on Saturday rammed a Vietnamese fishing boat and sank it, and then prevented another Vietnamese ship from rescuing the crew members, as they clung to the sinking ship to keep from drowning. The five crew members were in the waters for over six hours before the Chinese ships left, permitting another Vietnamese ship to rescue the crew. The incident took place in waters that have been fished by Vietnam for centuries.

China's rhetoric has become increasingly panicky, even publicly releasing 'evidence' that turns out to be delusional. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

The rhetoric has worsened approaching July 12, when the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague will issue its long-awaited ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China on the merits of China's claims to the entire South China Sea. The case is brought under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China claims does not apply to them. ( "7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling")

Here's a typical Chinese media news story:

"On the South China Sea issue, some Western media have spared no efforts to make "news", tapping lies to cover the truth and misguide public opinions thereon, which is considered by experts and scholars to be unfair and misleading. ...

A quick glimpse of the website of the U.S. magazine The National Interest shows that there are quite a number of articles concerning the South China Sea, including ones titled "China's Reckless South China Sea Strategy Won't Work", and "China's Bogus South China Sea Consensus", among others

Almost all of these headlines are biased in opinion and exaggeratedly worded, without uttering the least responsible words as a magazine in a big media country.

Japan's The Diplomat, America's Business Insider and the Washington Post have frequently mentioned in their reports that China intends to turn the South China Sea into its "internal lake" or "a Chinese lake".

In doing so, they just turned a blind eye to the fact that the South China Sea islands have been part of the Chinese territory under international law and since ancient times, and played up sensational concepts in a bid to wrench the facts and misguide their readers.

Some media even simply fabricate stories in order to smear China, attempting to impress their readers that the situation is tense in the disputed waters."

There's a real hysterical quality to this situation. Assuming that the tribunal rules in favor of the Philippines, the tribunal has no way to enforce any decision it issues, so China can just ignore the ruling, which it has already said it would do. But having already rammed Vietnamese boats, manufactured evidence and made fantastical claims, China is in an extremely emotional and dangerous state, and this may have consequences. Sky News (Australia) and Tuoi Tre News (Vietnam) and Xinhua

Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a resounding election victory on Sunday that opens the door for Abe to get Japan's constitution amended to remove the "pacifism" clause, as I wrote three days ago.

The LDP, along with its coalition partner Komeito, now has a two-thirds "supermajority" in both the upper and lower houses of the Diet (parliament). This gives Abe the votes to amend the consitution.

The pacifism clause forbids any military action by the Japanese except in self-defense on Japanese soil. For Abe, amending this clause is personal, in that he's following in the path of his grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke, who served as prime minister of Japan from 1957-60. Kishi disliked the pacifism clause because it made Japan too dependent on the United States, and he wanted Japan to be completely self-reliant in national defense. For Abe, amending this clause would fulfill his grandfather's wish.

However, even with a super-majority in both houses of the Diet, removing the pacifism clause will be very difficult because of widespread opposition to doing so. An exit poll indicates that the country is deeply divided on this issue, with 36% of the voters opposing the change and 29.6% supporting it, with 34.4% undecided.

Those who support the change do so because of growing fears about terrorism, North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons ambitions and China’s military assertiveness, while those who oppose it take pride in the war-renouncing pledge. Japan Today and Japan Times

US will send 560 more troops to Iraq

In yet another flip-flop, the Obama administration announced that it will send another 560 US troops to Iraq, to fight the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter made the announcement on Monday during a surprise visit to Iraq.

This will bring the number of US troops in Iraq to about 6,000, including those on temporary assignment. This is a reversal for President Obama, who promised to withdraw all troops from Iraq, and did so in December 2011. Since then, Iraq's situation has continued to deteriorate, and Obama has been forced to abandon his campaign promises and send troops back to Iraq. One month ago, Obama also further abandoned his campaign promises to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. ( "11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles")

The US troops will be part of an effort to recapture Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital, and Mosul from ISIS. ISIS has occupied Mosul since June 2014.

According to one analyst, retired Marine general Anthony Zinni,

"Reading between the lines, I suspect that he has some major commitments from the Iraqis, Kurds, and Syrian opposition to go for the gold. ... I also suspect that Carter is convinced that Mosul and Raqqa are isolated. It sounds like he will use this to pressure regional allies to step up their contributions."

Zinni was commander of all US forces in the region as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000. Washington Post and Time

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jul-16 World View -- Japan's election opens the way to repeal 'pacifism' constitution clause thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war

Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war


South Sudan army forces stand at attention, April 14, 2016 (AFP)
South Sudan army forces stand at attention, April 14, 2016 (AFP)

Fresh clashes have broken out between rival forces from the Dinka and Nuer tribes in South Sudan in the last few days, killing hundreds of civilians, and forcing thousands from their homes. Although low-level violence has been a constant since South Sudan became independent in 2011, there were major clashes that began in December 2013. ( "29-Dec-2013 World View -- Conflicts grow in South Sudan and Central African Republic") There followed 21 months of atrocities, until they were supposedly ended by a peace treaty that was signed by both sides in August 2015.

New reports indicate that several Nuer armies are now heading towards the capital city Juba, and there are fears of a wider war. The United Nations said it was "outraged" at what was happening:

"The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is outraged at the resumption of violence in Juba today [...], which is severely impacting on the civilian population."

According to UNMISS, there is heavy fighting in downtown Juba. Other reports indicate the use of artillery, warplanes, and helicopter gunships. The UN Security Council on Saturday passed a resolution strongly condemning the fighting in Juba.

After the 2011 war that gave South Sudan independence from Sudan, a Transitional Government of National Unity was formed. The president is President Salva Kiir, from the Dinka tribe, and the vice president is Riek Machar, from the Nuer tribe. Both tribes had been united in facing a common enemy in their fight for independence from Sudan, but they turned on each other and started an ethnic conflict after the war.

The clashes in December 2013 were triggered when Dinka president Salva Kiir fired his cabinet and accused the Nuer vice-president Riek Machar of planning a coup. Machar fled the country, and the fighting displaced more than 2.2 million people before the August 2015 peace agreement was signed.

In April 2016, Machar returned to South Sudan to rejoin the Unity Government as vice president. However, Machar's spokesman is now saying the South Sudan is "back to war." Radio Tamazuj (South Sudan) and BBC and Al Jazeera

Generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

When Sudan became independent in 1956, the north was largely Muslim, Arabic speaking, while the southern population mostly followed tribal religions. The Khartoum government in the north launched a program to "Arabize and Islamize the South." This triggered a reaction from Christian evangelists, mostly from the US, to come to Sudan and convert the South to Christianity.

There was immediately a north-south war of independence, but there was also a generational crisis civil war between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. This was climaxed on November 15, 1991, when the "Bor Massacre" began. Over the next three months, 2,000 civilians were killed, thousands more wounded, at least 100,000 people fled the area. Famine followed the massacre, as looters burnt villages and raided cattle, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 more from starvation.

The nightmare scenario is that the new clashes will spiral into a repeat of the 1991 Bor Massacre. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, so a historic massacre of this type will not occur.

However, there certainly is a great deal of ethnic hatred between the Nuers and the Dinkas. Evidently, the level of ethnic hatred exceeds that of the Hutus and the Tutsis in Rwanda, following their 1994 genocidal ethnic bloodbath. Nonetheless, in this generational Awakening era, we can expect to see repeated clashes between Nuers and Dinkas, separated by peace agreements that fall apart in a few weeks or months. But a full-scale ethnic civil war is not expected at this time. Radio Tamazuj (South Sudan 23-Dec-2013) and Sudan Tribune (31-Aug-2007) and BBC (28-Sep-2015) and ECC Platform (2014)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-16 World View -- Fears that renewed South Sudan tribal fighting could spiral into larger war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-16 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war

European Union will pay Sudan's militias to block migration to Europe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war


United Nations in Chad registering refugees fleeing from violence in Chad (UNHCR)
United Nations in Chad registering refugees fleeing from violence in Chad (UNHCR)

More than 6,000 people from the Central African Republic's northwest Ouham-Pendé province, near the border with Cameroon, have fled into Cameroon and Chad to escape resurging violence between Muslim Seleka militias and Christian anti-balaka militias.

Last year, United Nations officials had hoped that a visit by the Pope in November, and the election of a new president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, in December, would bring an end to the violence between Muslims and Christians in Central African Republic (CAR). Touadéra has been trying to reconcile Christians and Muslims. He was even seen celebrating the end of Ramadan with Muslims in the capital city Bangui.

The hope was that Christians whose villages were burned to the ground by Muslim militias, and Muslims whose families were raped, murdered and dismembered by Christian militias, will all put aside any desire for revenge, thanks to the soothing words of the Pope and the charismatic hope and change statements of the new president. Apparently it didn't work.

This year alone, some 25,000-30,000 people have been internally displaced, forced to flee from their homes. But the flood of refugees into neighboring countries began on June 12, when clashes erupted between Muslim livestock herders and Christian farmers north-west town of Ngaoundaye, in Ouham-Pendé province.

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

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

But then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

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

Many people had been hoping that the UN peacekeeping force, the Pope's visit, the election of a new president would somehow combine to tranquilize the fighting and end the civil war. However, the Pope's visit was to the capital city Bangui, the new president is sitting in Bangui, with little control over the rest of the country, and the peacekeeping force is just in Bangui, and has been only partially successful in keeping the peace there. Bangui is a tiny dot on the map of an enormous country that's now completely lawless, with two militias in large populations seeking revenge.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. And CAR is nowhere close to that point yet. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Deutsche Welle and VOA

In Darfur Sudan, genocidal violence continues after 13 years of civil war

The huge civil war in Darfur, Sudan, was much in the news ten years ago. In 2007, just as President Bush was launching the "surge" that ended the violence in Iraq, Senator Joe Biden called for a complete withdrawal of all American troops from Iraq, and then use those troops to launch an invasion into Sudan to put an end to the Darfur war. "Let's stop the bleeding," Biden said. "I think it's a moral imperative." (From April 2007: "Senator Joe Biden wants to move troops from Iraq to Darfur civil war")

In fact, the Darfur civil war has many things in common with the CAR civil war.

Low level violence began in the 1970s between two ethnic groups, one of farmers (the "Africans") and the other of camel herders (the "Arabs"), in the usual disputes over land and water. The violence increased from year to year, and in the 1990s, Sudan's government in Khartoum delegated the responsibility of policing the region to the Arab Janjaweed militias, formed from certain groups of herders.

Violence continued to increase, and by 2003, it had turned into a full-scale generational crisis war. (A detailed history can be found in my 2007 article, "Ban Ki Moon blames Darfur genocide on global warming") At that point, under direction of the new president Omar al-Bashir, the Janjaweed militias (herders) became extremely violent, with a program of massacres, mass murders, rapes, genocide and scorched earth.

Today, al-Bashir has renamed the Janjaweed militias as the Rapid Support Force (RSF), and they are still committing genocide in Darfur, although that violence isn't in news much anymore, as it was in the days when Joe Biden took an interest in it. As in the case of CAR, the war will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. Sudan Tribune and World Policy Institute (30-Mar)

European Union will pay Sudan's militias to block migration to Europe

The European Commission has issued a draft proposal to provide €100 million in aid to the militaries of some African countries, who will be asked to use the money to prevent migration of refugees to Libya and then on to Europe.

As I like to point out, almost every day something new happens that a few years ago you would have to have been crazy to believe would ever happen. Whether it's in America, Europe, Africa, the Mideast or Asia, things that could never happen are happening all the time.

A particular beneficiary of the EU's aid program will be Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir, and his government militia, the Rapid Support Force (RSF), led by a former leader of the Janjaweed militias general Mohamed Hamdan Hametti. Hametti will send around 1,000 RSF troops along the border with Libya. Both al-Bashir and Hametti are considered to be guilty of human rights crimes and genocidal violence against civilians in the Darfur civil war. EU Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jul-16 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic's crisis civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Jul-16 World View -- Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border

Japan's elections put constitution's pacifism clause into question

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's elections put constitution's pacifism clause into question


Shinzo Abe campaigning for Sunday's elections (Kyodo)
Shinzo Abe campaigning for Sunday's elections (Kyodo)

On Sunday, Japan will hold parliamentary elections for half the seats in Japan's upper house. There is a possibility (far from a certainty) that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will, along with its coalition partner Komeito, get a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house. LDP, which is led by prime minister Shinzo Abe, already has a two-thirds supermajority in the lower house.

Japan's constitution may be amended only by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Diet (parliament). So if Abe gets his desired supermajority in both houses, then his LDP party could amend the constitution.

And Abe has said repeatedly in the past that what he'd like to change is the "self-defense" clause of the constitution, that prohibits Japan's armed forces from being involved in military actions except in self-defense. Here is the text of the actual clause, as written by an American team led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who had led the American forces to victory of Japan in World War II:

"CHAPTER II - RENUNCIATION OF WAR

Article 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

The movement to amend the self-defense clause has gathered steam in the last ten years, primarily motivated by the rise of China and in particular China's military threats against the Senkaku Islands, which are governed by Japan.

In 2015, Japan adopted new "collective defense" laws, partially departing from the pacifism in the constitution. The old self-defense clause of the constitution has been interpreted to permit military action only when Japan itself is being attacked, and only on Japanese soil. The new collective defense laws reinterpret the self-defense clause to include "collective self-defense," which would permit military action anywhere in the world under some circumstances when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. I discussed the meaning of "collective self-defense" in detail in 2014 in "5-May-2014 World View -- Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan".

Amending the self-defense clause is extremely controversial in Japan, so much so that Abe isn't even talking about in his campaigning, choosing to focus instead on the economy. That may be an even greater risk, because Japan's economy has not been doing well, and some people blame the weakness of Abe's "Abenomics" program of massive stimulus through monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms. The goal was to reach 2% inflation, but instead Japan remains in a deflationary spiral. Perhaps the only good news for Abe is that deflation is a worldwide phenomenon, so it can't be blamed specifically on him. Japan Times and Constitution of Japan and Manila Times and CNBC

Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border

At an annual summit meeting in Warsaw Poland on Friday, Nato announced that it will deploy four multinational battalions of 1,000 soldiers each, in each of four countries -- Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The deployment will take place in six to nine months.

These four countries have been urgently requesting such a deployment for years, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. These countries are nervous that Russia's president Vladimir Putin will order his army to do the same kind of thing to one or all of them.

The four battalions will come from four different Nato countries: the United States, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.

It will not be possible to defend against an invasion by Russia's massive army with just 4,000 soldiers. However, this "tripwire" force will almost certainly deter Russia from invading. In Ukraine, Russia's forces were able to just walk in and take over, especially in Crimea, with little or no resistance. But Russia won't be able to do the same in Poland or the Balkans because it would amount to a declaration of war against Nato, which even Vladimir Putin would probably like to avoid. Radio Poland and France 24 and Nato Joint Resolution and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jul-16 World View -- Nato deploying a 'tripwire' of 4,000 soldiers along Russia's border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia

Turkey's reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia


Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014
Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014

In May, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who said that Turkey would "increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies." That was the precursor to a flurry of diplomatic activity in June, where Turkey effected a reconciliation with both Israel and Russia.

Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey after Turkish warplanes unexpectedly shot down a Russian warplane near the border with Syria, after the Russian aircraft had been warned several times that it was violating Turkish airspace. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars")

The sanctions have been harsh. Turkey was a major vacation for Russian tourists, and tourism was cut off, resulting in $3.5 billion in losses. Russia's exports to Turkey decreased by 43%, and imports from Turkey decreased by 85%.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin had repeatedly demanded that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologize for shooting down Russia's warplane, and also financially compensate the Russian pilot who was killed. Erdogan has repeatedly used highly nationalistic language to refuse to apologize.

On June 27, it was announced that Erdogan had sent a "letter of apology" to Putin. It turned out that the apology was something of a finesse -- Erdogan did not apologize for shooting down a Russian warplane in Turkey's airspace, but he did apologize to the family of the dead Russian pilot. Separately, Erdogan has also agreed to pay compensation to the family.

In response, Russia lifted the restrictions on tourists visiting Turkey, and there's talk of removing the sanctions on trade. However, economic factors are only a partial explanation for the reconciliation.

Although the shooting down of the Russian warplane triggered the fierce split in relations, tensions had been building over the war in Syria. Turkey was finding Syria's president Bashar al-Assad increasingly intolerable because of his continuing genocidal massacres of innocent Sunni civilians in Syria. Russia, on the other hand, considered al-Assad to be a vital ally. Turkey had helped to fund some moderate "rebel" opposition groups fighting against al-Assad, while Russian warplanes targeted and bombed the groups that Turkey supported, and avoided bombing militias from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

An even more serious problem is the role of the Kurds. The Kurds in Turkey have been fighting an insurrection for decades, and Turkey considers all the Kurds in the region to be working with the terrorist group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both the United States and Russia have supported the Kurds in Syria and Iraq in their roles fighting ISIS.

Turkey has suffered a series of devastating terror attacks in the last year, the worst of which was the attack on the Ataturk National Airport in Istanbul on June 28. These attacks were perpetrated by both ISIS and the PKK, but Turkey has become increasingly isolated internationally, and has received little sympathy for these terror attacks.

It was this situation that led to the promise by Turkey's prime minister to "increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies."

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be allied with the West, while Turkey and the Sunni Arabs will be allied with the Pakistan and China. ( "15-Jul-2015 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

So from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a complete reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is very strongly counter-trend, and so is unlikely to last long. This should not be surprising in view of the generational crisis wars the two have fought over the centuries. And it also should not be surprising in view of the numerous issues that still deeply divide the two countries, in both Syria and in the Caucasus. Jamestown and Tass (Moscow 27-June) and Hurriyet (Ankara 27-June) and CS Monitor

Turkey's reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

After reconciling with Russia and Israel, many are suggesting that Turkey should now reconcile with Egypt, possibly even using Israel as a mediator. Saudi Arabia, a staunch Turkish ally and a main backer of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is interested in seeing the two countries reconcile.

Turkey broke relations with Egypt as a result of the 2013 military coup led by the current president, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government led by Mohammed Morsi, putting Morsi and thousands of MB members in jail.

Once again, it was Turkey's prime minister Binali Yildirim who set the tone:

"From Russia to Israel, Egypt to Syria, Iraq to Iran, EU countries to the U.S., we are determined to develop peaceful, friendly and practical ties with everyone. We will keep doing this."

Burhanettin Duran, a Turkish official, announced that a working group would go to Egypt to discuss a plan to normalize relations.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has close relations with Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan suggested earlier this week that reconciliation with Egypt might not be possible while al-Sisi is in power:

"The problem with Egypt is an issue with its administration, especially with its ruler. It is not possible for us to say 'yes' to who tyrannizes the Morsi administration.

The context with Egypt is different from the approaches undertaken with Russia and Israel. ... Sentences handed down to Morsi and his friends have been based on fabrications.

We do not approve of these decisions. ... All of these people in Egypt are our brothers and approving the stance taken against Morsi and his friends would put us in an awkward position as Muslims, as humans and as people who believe in democracy."

However, AKP deputy leader Saban DiSli said that after the reconciliation with Israel and Russia, "God willing ties with Egypt will also ease." Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Egyptian Streets and Al Bawaba (Palestine)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-16 World View -- Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling

Obama flip-flops again on Afghanistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling


3,000 boat Chinese fishing fleet on Sept 16, 2013 (Xinhua)
3,000 boat Chinese fishing fleet on Sept 16, 2013 (Xinhua)

The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has announced that on July 12 it will issue its long-awaited ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China on the merits of China's claims to the entire South China Sea. The case is brought under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China claims does not apply to them.

China has said it will ignore any ruling of the tribunal. It's saying that because it knows it will lose. Indeed, a BBC investigation of some of China's evidence has been shown to be delusional, and possibly a complete fabrication. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

According to an editorial in the China state media Global Times:

"As the result of the international arbitration over the South China Sea dispute approaches, China is undertaking a military drill from July 5 to 11 in the waters around the Xisha Islands. ...

The South China Sea dispute has been greatly complicated after heavy US intervention. Now an international tribunal has also been included, posing more threat to the integrity of China's maritime and territorial sovereignty.

Regardless of the principle that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) shall not arbitrate on territorial disputes, the arbitration becomes nothing but a farce. But the US could use it to impose more pressure on China, causing more tensions in the South China Sea.

Washington has deployed two carrier battle groups around the South China Sea, and it wants to send a signal by flexing its muscles: As the biggest powerhouse in the region, it awaits China's obedience.

China should speed up building its military capabilities of strategic deterrence. Even though China cannot keep up with the US militarily in the short-term, it should be able to let the US pay a cost it cannot stand if it intervenes in the South China Sea dispute by force.

China is a peace-loving country and deals with foreign relations with discretion, but it won't flinch if the US and its small clique keep encroaching on its interests on its doorstep.

China hopes disputes can be resolved by talks, but it must be prepared for any military confrontation. This is common sense in international relations."

The "heavy US intervention" refers to America's "freedom of navigation" patrols in the South China Sea. Some $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea on ships each year, including $1.2 trillion of US trade. China has flip-flopped among various positions and threats in the past few years, and some statements in the past have threatened to block international traffic, or at least to require permission of Chinese authorities to traverse the South China Sea. So the US has responded with the freedom of navigation patrols.

China is claiming the entire South China Sea, and is using its massive military force to confiscate regions that have historically belonged to other nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. China is building artificial islands and converting them to military bases with advanced missile and radar systems. ( "23-Feb-16 World View -- China's military buildup neutralizes America's aircraft carriers")

China's military is in a highly emotional, irrational and nationalistic state, which makes them very dangerous. They believe that the US has been weakened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and too anxious to risk another war. This is a major historic mistake that they will regret. They claim to be "peace loving," but the way the world works is that every leader goes to war by claiming to be "peace loving," and blaming the other side. The July 12 ruling will only increase their anxieties.

Some analysts are pointing out that occupying the South China Sea is an existential need for China and for its neighbors. China, Vietnam and the Philippines have high population densities and comparatively low amounts of arable land, further magnifying the importance of food sources outside traditional crops. Food security is an existential threat to all of these countries. For China, taking control of all the fish stocks in the South China Sea is seen as a necessity, and so China sees the need to control access to the South China Sea by other nations.

So all the talk about being "peace-loving" is really irrelevant. China will go to war if that's the only way to prevent Vietnam and the Philippines from fishing in the South China Sea. Out of desperation, Vietnam and the Philippines will see China's military actions as an existential threat, and an attempt to starve their own people. The July 12 ruling will raise anxieties on all sides, and move the region closer to war. Global Times (Beijing) and Jamestown and The Diplomat

Obama flip-flops again on Afghanistan

President Barack Obama flip-flopped again on Wednesday. There are currently 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan, and Obama announced that 8,400 troops would be left in Afghanistan when he leaves office, rather than 5,500. The Taliban are gaining control of large areas of the country, defeating the indigenous Afghan army repeatedly, and Obama is under pressure to reverse himself again on his withdrawal plans. The 8,400 figure is apparently a completely meaningless political number, less than 9,800 so he can claim he's still withdrawing, but large enough to provide cover until he can leave office. It's all pretty cynical.

In October of last year, President Obama reversed himself on the Afghanistan troop withdrawal. Instead of a total withdrawal, he announced that a residual force of 5,500 troops would be left on a continuing basis. This was only one of several similar reversals. He was forced into this because many people believe that the Obama's total withdrawal from Iraq squandered the victory won by President Bush via the 2007 "surge," and because Obama's own "surge" strategy in Afghanistan has been a failure, as I predicted in 2009 that it would be, based on a Generational Dynamics comparison of Iraq and Afghanistan.

By coincidence, Obama's announcement comes on the same day that Britain is releasing the "Chilcot report," a massive condemnation of the roles of the US and Britain for the Iraq war. Thus, it's interesting to compare the media attitude towards Bush's apparent lies in Iraq, and Obama's apparent lies about Afghanistan. The press reaction was predictable. The Sacramento Bee was typical, in one editorial on the one hand expressing sympathy for President Obama's "failed exit strategies," and on the other hand accusing "the Bush-Cheney administration for ... lies about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein having weapons." Obama's lies deserve sympathy from the Sacramento Bee, while Bush's deserve the greatest condemnation. Like the analysts and anchors on CNBC who constantly lie about stock valuations and don't care that they're lying, the reporters and editors at the Sacramento Bee and New York Times don't care that they've become the public relations arms of the Obama administration. I remember the days when the New York Times could be called "the newspaper of record," but those days are gone. Washington Post and BBC and Sacramento Bee

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-16 World View -- South China Sea tension set to escalate after July 12 arbitration ruling thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-16 World View -- Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage

Bond yields continue to plummet globally into negative territory after Brexit

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage


The aftermath of the suicide bombing attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Arab News)
The aftermath of the suicide bombing attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia (Arab News)

Muslims around the world are horrified and appalled that the grave of the Prophet Mohammed in Medina was targeted by a suicide bomber on Monday. Four policemen became suspicious of an individual who was approaching the Prophet's Mosque, and when they questioned him, he blew up his explosive belt. Only the four policemen were killed, but they're actions are being credited with saving the lives of many others.

Earlier, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Faraj al-Omran Mosque in Qatif, with no casualties. And a suicide bomber blew himself up near the US consulate in Jeddah, although some Saudi authorities say that it was the mosque next door, not the consulate, that was the target of the attack. Two policemen were lightly wounded in this attack.

There were no claims of responsibility for the three attacks, but it's assumed that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is responsible. It's not even known if the three attacks were coordinated, or if they were independent attacks, all scheduled for the last day of Ramadan, in accordance with pre-Ramadan incitement by ISIS.

Early in June, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani told "lone wolves" and other ISIS supporters:

"We will make this month [Ramadan], inshallah, a month of calamities for the infidels everywhere. This call specifically goes out to the supporters of [ISIS] in Europe and America."

The scale of the carnage inflicted by jihadists extremists over the past week alone has been staggering. The attacks included more than 250 killed by a truck bomb in a crowded Baghdad market in Iraq; 44 killed at an airport in Istanbul, Turkey; 23 killed in a siege of a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

And yet, in another sense, the ISIS incitement was not really fulfilled. The attacks during the month of Ramadan killed over 800 people worldwide, but the only one that really targeted "Europe and America" was the ISIS-inspired lone wolf who killed 49 people in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

As I've written many times in the past, there is a war being prosecuted by al-Qaeda and by ISIS, but it's not a war against Westerners or Christians. The huge mass of casualties from the jihadists wars are other Muslims, and the number of Westerners is minuscule by comparison. This is a war by Muslims against Muslims, whether it's Sunnis versus Shias, Sauds versus Wahhabis, or some other fault line.

Possibly nothing illustrates this more than the attack on the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. This was a shocking escalation in ISIS's war against Muslims. Medina is the second holiest city in Islam, behind Mecca, and is always crowded with Muslim visitors. ISIS considers the Saudi government to be infidels in league with the West, and so perhaps Medina could somehow be a "Western" target. This has been particularly true since November 20, 1979, when young jihadists led by terrorist Juhayman al-Oteibi seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. By the end, the official death toll was 127 soldiers and 117 militants. Unconfirmed reports indicate that over 1,000 civilians lost their lives. ( "12-Sep-2015 World View -- Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque, site of huge construction accident, has links to 9/11")

But whatever ISIS's justification for attacking Medina, it's still Muslims that are being killed, and it's still the second holiest shrine in Islam. As one Muslim tweeted on Tuesday, "Is there anyone on earth who still thinks these barbarians HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM?" Arab News and The National (UAE) and CNN

Bond yields continue to plummet globally into negative territory after Brexit

Investors worldwide are continuing to seek "safe havens" by investing in government bonds. The demand for these bonds is forcing prices up to historical levels, which means that their yields (interest rates) are falling to historic levels, increasing to negative levels.

Bond yields had already pushed many bond yields lower, thanks to central banks "printing money" via quantitative easing, and pouring it into the banking system. This has pushed bond yields on the most popular bonds in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and much of Western Europe below zero. A negative yield means that if an investor invests a million dollars in bonds, then he'll get less than a million dollars back when the bonds expire.

The Brexit referendum vote, which mandated that Britain leave the European Union, apparently has accelerated the plunge in bond yields as an unexpected consequence, because uncertainty about the UK and EU economies has caused investors to flee to safe havens. ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

On Tuesday, ten-year US Treasury bond yields, going into uncharted territory, fell to 1.367%, down from an already extremely low 1.47% on Friday.

In Europe, the yield on 10-year UK government bonds ("gilts") fell to a record low of 0.780%. The Bank of England has already announced that there will be further quantitative easing during the summer. The yield on Germany's 10-year bonds ("bunds") fell further into negative territory to -0.182%. Switzerland's 50-year bond yields became negative for the first time on Tuesday.

At the same time, massive injections of "printed" money by central banks is keeping the stock markets at historically high levels, despite the fact that second quarter earnings are forecast to plunge about 8%, making the huge stock market bubble even larger, meaning that it will do more damage than ever when it implodes.

There was a major exception on Tuesday to falling bond yields: Italy, whose 10-year bond yields rose slightly. As we wrote yesterday, Italy's bank crisis is extremely dangerous, and may become an EU crisis when bank stress tests are announced on July 29. AFP and Market Watch and Reuters and Zero Hedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-16 World View -- Attack on Islam's holy site in Medina caps end-of-Ramadan jihadist carnage thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Jul-16 World View -- Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit

EU Banking Union rules were a reaction to Greece's financial crisis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit


The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank, will face a crisis on July 29
The Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), established 1472, the world's oldest operating bank, will face a crisis on July 29

Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi is considering "unilateral action" to bail out Italian banks with taxpayer money, in violation of EU rules. Action is needed because Italy's already fragile banking system has a staggering $420 billion of bad loans on its books. Italy's bank crisis and confrontation with the EU has gotten so deep that some analysts that it threatens the European Union "worse than Brexit."

Italy's largest bank is Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, and the world's oldest operating bank. Its share of bad loans comes to $55.2 billion. There may be a major crisis on July 29, when the ECB announces the results of the latest rounds of bank "stress tests." It's believed that these stress tests will force major recapitalizations on MSP and other Italian banks.

MPS's stock price has fallen 80% in the last year, and fell 14% on Monday, following reports that the European Central Bank is going to issue an "ultimatum" to reduce its bad loans portfolio to $32.2 billion by 2018.

How is MPS going to reduce its bad loans? MPS could call the loans in, forcing the borrowers to pay or declare bankruptcy, and MPS estimates that it would only recoup 39% of the face value of the loans. Or, MPS could sell the bad loans to a third party, in which case it would only get 20% of the face value. This would reduce the bad loan portfolio, but it would also require a bank bailout of MPS, and that's where the confrontation is emerging.

The bailout issue became explosive last year, when Italy arranged for the bailout of four small regional banks (Banca delle Marche, Banca Popolare dell'Etruria e del Lazio, Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara and Cassa di Risparmio della Provincia di Chieti) which received a $3.8 billion bailout, following strict EU Banking Union rules.

Under the terms of the bailout, ordinary savings deposits were spared, but people who had purchased bonds and shares issued by the bank would be wiped out. Some 130,000 shareholders and junior bond holders lost money in the rescue.

A 68-year-old pensioner, Luigino D'Angelo, hanged himself, after learning that his $120,000 savings were wiped out by the bank bailout. The problem is that he didn't have an ordinary savings account. Instead, he had put his money into the bank's high-risk subordinated bonds, probably because some over-eager bank salesman told him that they were high-return, and perfectly safe. He left a suicide note for his wife of 51 years, saying that he felt humiliated and swindled by his the bank, the Banca Etruria.

Because of this highly publicized suicide, which many in the public blame on strict application of EU Banking Union rules, Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi is considering "unilateral action" to bail out Italian banks with taxpayer money. In this case, the bailout would be paid for by the taxpayer, rather than by bond and share holders. Retail investors hold roughly a third of total outstanding Italian bank debt, and forcing them to lose their savings could disrupt financial stability and undermine depositors' confidence, and even threaten bank runs.

This pending crisis comes in the midst of plans for Italy to hold a a constitutional referendum on political reform in October. Renzi has said that he will step down if the referendum vote fails. This has added to Italy's political instability, and Citibank has described the vote as, "probably the single biggest risk on the European political landscape this year outside the UK [Brexit]." Deutsche Welle and Fitch Ratings and International Business Times (10-Dec-2015)

EU Banking Union rules were a reaction to Greece's financial crisis

The plan by Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi to bail out Italy's banks with taxpayer money is a violation of EU Banking Union rules that were adopted as "lessons learned" from the financial crisis and, particularly, Greece's financial crisis.

The Banking Union makes the European Central Bank (ECB) the supervisor of all 6000 banks in the eurozone, applying a single rule book that applies to all of them. Other EU countries that still use national currencies have the option of joining.

The purpose of the union is to prevent the following "vicious circle":

The EU's banking union provides three levels of rules:

In the last case, a "bail-in" process would be used to determine who is going to lose their money to save the bank. If a bank needs to resort to bail-in, authorities would first write down all shareholders and would then follow a pre-determined order in bailing in other liabilities. Shareholders and other holders of instruments such as convertible bonds and junior bonds would bear losses first.

Deposits under 100,000 euros would be protected, and taxpayer money would never be used.

Italy's government followed these rules last year, but 130,000 people had their savings wiped out, and the suicide of the 68 year old pensioner whose savings were wiped out has become politically explosive. These people did not have ordinary savings accounts. Instead, they were talked into investing in high-risk high-return bank bonds, and they ended up being wiped out.

The European Union put these banking union rules into place in 2015, and already they're facing a major confrontation, which may turn into a major crisis on July 29, when the ECB's stress tests of Italy's banks will be published. If Italy follows the rules, hundreds of thousands of additional people will lose their life savings. That's why prime minister Matteo Renzi has issued his ultimatum that he will violate EU rules and bail out the banks with taxpayer money. However, this will only "kick the can down the road," in a familiar process where one crisis is solved, but a new one emerges a few months later. Newstalk (Ireland) and Reuters and European Union Banking Union

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-16 World View -- Italy bank crisis more dangerous to EU than Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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4-Jul-16 World View -- Massive bombing attack Baghdad Iraq blamed on bogus bomb detectors

Former ambassador Jim Moriarty describes the dancing people of Bangladesh

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq declares 3 days of national mourning after massive Baghdad bombing


Aftermath of Sunday's bombing in Baghdad's Karrada district (EPA)
Aftermath of Sunday's bombing in Baghdad's Karrada district (EPA)

At least 125 people were killed and 200 wounded in two bombing attacks on Baghdad on Sunday. The first attack occurred when a large refrigerator truck packed with explosives blew up in a busy marketplace in the mostly Shia Karrada district of Baghdad, killing 120 people, and partially collapsing four buildings. The second attack occurred when a roadside bomb blew up hours later in a market in al-Shaab, another Shia district, killing at least two people. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the attacks.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Karrada to view the damage, and was greeted by angry rock-throwing crowds who blamed government corruptions and incompetence for the fact that it seems helplessly unable to prevent ISIS from striking anywhere, anytime, as desired. Later, al-Abadi announced three days of national mourning.

The bombings came about a week after Iraqi government forces recaptured the city of Fallujah, an ISIS stronghold near Baghdad. The Iraqi government had hoped that liberating Fallujah would increase security in the capital as authorities believed Fallujah was a launch pad for such attacks. In fact, ISIS has lost about half the territory it controlled as of about a year ago, but still can use suicide bombers to strike Baghdad at will. NRT (Iraq) and BBC and Rudaw (Iraq-Kurds)

Iraq orders police to stop using bogus 'bomb detectors'

Six years ago, the Iraqi government learned that a manufacturer had been supplying the country with bogus "bomb detectors." They came to be used and trusted by soldiers, police, border guards, and hotel security staff, and were (and are) used at security checkpoints, where they're supposed to protect the public from suicide bombers by detecting bombs before they can be exploded.

Some reports indicate that Sunday's bombing at Karrada was made possible because the bomber wasn't stopped at a security checkpoint because the bogus detectors didn't set off an alarm.

So Sunday's truck bombing can be blamed on the bomb detectors that have been known for years to be phony. So it was not until now, Sunday, that prime minister al-Abadi finally ordered police to stop using the so-called bomb detectors, which are little more than empty boxes containing electronics that do nothing.

The bomb detectors were a scam. A British businessman named James McCormick would buy novelty "golf ball detectors" for $20 each, changed the label, and sold them to the Iraq government as bomb detectors for $5,000 each. McCormick is thought to have made $75 million from the scam. He is currently serving a ten-year sentence in jail, after being convicted in 2013.

So why the hell are the Iraqi police still using them years after they were known to be pieces of junk? This is one of these stories that drive me completely crazy, but are so typical of what goes on today Why did it take a massive truck bombing for al-Abadi to order the change?

I've seen this kind of credulity and duplicity repeatedly in the computer industry in the last 25 years. It's perfectly obvious that a software development project is going to fail, and I say so to my manager and I get fired. You can say that I must have some obsessive compulsion to keep doing this, and maybe I do, but I'm always right, and every one of these projects crashed after I left. I wrote about some of this in my article "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history".

What's happening is that a software development manager with a project that's going to crash doesn't care that it's going to crash. He just wants to keep the project going, get as much money for himself as possible, and then simply move on to the next project, after describing his experience on the project in glowing terms on his resume.

I also see the same kind of thing in financial media, including CNBC and Bloomberg. Ten years ago, during the housing bubble, I was telling people not to buy real estate, and all I got was grief. One friend who bought a house anyway actually blamed me when she lost everything, as if I'd caused the bubble to crash. The "experts" didn't even admit that there had been a housing bubble until after it started crashing.

I've written repeatedly that the stock valuations are astronomically high, most recently last week ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets"). But every day on CNBC and Bloomberg, you hear experts say that stocks are "underpriced." I used to post the names of these people and call them liars and crooks, but nobody cares, so I don't bother anymore. That's the thing that never ceases to amaze me. People openly and blatantly provably lie about stock valuations on CNBC and Bloomberg, and nobody cares. It's incredible.

And why shouldn't they lie? No one is going to call them on it, except a nobody like me. And when the bubble bursts, they'll just come back on and say, "Wow! That sure was a 'black swan.' Who could have seen that coming?" Incredibly, these experts have absolutely nothing to lose by lying, and everything to gain, and it's just grief for anyone who calls them on it.

So let's relate this back to the situation in Iraq. The Baghdad police have been using bogus "bomb detectors" for years, and everyone in the government knows that they're bogus. Corruption runs deep in Baghdad, so probably a lot of people in government and in the police have made a lot of money reselling these bogus bomb detectors. So what if people's lives are at stake? "If there's ever a bombing, I'll just say I didn't know." Better to let hundreds of people be killed than to tell the truth.

That's the world we live in. Everyone in Washington, on Wall Street, in London, and elsewhere have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain by lying and defrauding people. If there's a problem, they find a scapegoat like James McCormick.

Bankers created tens of trillions of dollars of phony subprime mortgage backed securities, with the result that millions of people lost their homes or went bankrupt. But barely a single person has gone to jail, even though the people who committed fraud are well known to the Justice Department. Why should the Obama administration prosecute anyone? These criminals have donated millions of dollars to Obama's election campaigns and projects as payoff, so it's better to be a criminal than to prosecute criminals. Meanwhile, the same bankers are still in their jobs in banks, still defrauding people, causing more people to go bankrupt and lose everything.

And that's how the government officials in Baghdad undoubtedly feel. Al-Abadi has ordered that the police stop using the bogus devices, but the same Iraqi officials are all in the same jobs, finding new forms of corruption, and not caring in the least how many more people end up with their guts sprayed around a public market somewhere in Baghdad. Guardian (London-16-June) and Middle East Eye

Former ambassador Jim Moriarty describes the dancing people of Bangladesh

In the aftermath of the Friday overnight terror attack in Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka, the BBC interviewed James F. Moriarty, America's ambassador to Bangladesh, 2008-11. Here's what he said (my transcription):

"You're talking about the eighth most populous country in the world, you're talking about a country with probably 150 million Muslims, most of them pretty moderate in terms of their religion, and I think that's why you're seeing such a big emphasis from the external terrorist groups right now. They're really want to see countries like Bangladesh or for example Indonesia come under a lot of stress, and see whether they can turn fairly moderate countries into bastions of support for extreme Islam. ...

I think in both cases it's going to be fairly tough [for the terrorists]. Bangladeshis have a fairly strong sense of national identity. Part of that is Islam, but as I said it's a fairly moderate form of Islam, and a large part of that is a Bengali nationalism, not necessarily tied directly into the sense of being an Islamic nation. It's got traditions, it's got singing, dancing, it's got things that go back in history before the region became Muslim."

This is about as silly as you can get. Moriarty paints a picture of Bangladesh as a land of singing, dancing moderate Muslim Bengalis being invaded by terror groups like ISIS.

As I've written several times, most recently yesterday, there are two ethnic groups in Bangladesh, the dominant Bengalis and the subservient Biharis, an outcome of the bloody civil war of 1971. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka. So Friday's attack was from a local group of activist Biharis, inspired by ISIS. When these people see singing, dancing Bengalis, the visceral reaction would be to kill them, not join in the dancing.

At first I thought Moriarty was just another hack who had been given an ambassadorship in return for a campaign donation, but I looked up his background and it's quite impressive. It's almost certain that he knows that his statement is completely ridiculous.

If that's true, then why did he do it? My guess is that it's the same thing as the stock valuations or the bogus bomb detectors or crashing software projects. You can't tell the truth because all you get is grief. But if you lie, then you get plush jobs and invitations to speak on the BBC.

In fact, just last month, he was appointed as the Bangladesh Country Director by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of 28 North American retailers and brands. He will lead strategic oversight and outreach activities, with key stakeholders in Bangladesh’s Government, garment industry, and non-governmental and non-profit organizations. That's his reward for lying. Apparel Resources (23-May)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-16 World View -- Massive bombing attack Baghdad Iraq blamed on bogus bomb detectors thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years

Suspicions that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency supported the Dhaka attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years


Photos of five of the attackers, appearing on an ISIS-linked web site
Photos of five of the attackers, appearing on an ISIS-linked web site

"Blood, shock and horror" are the words being used by Bangladeshis to describe the grim news from the Friday overnight terror attack that we reported yesterday at the bakery in the in the highly secure Gulshan diplomatic enclave of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.

We've previously reported on several of the 18 jihadist attacks in Bangladesh in the last year, as in "24-Apr-2016 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death". These attacks targeted upper class secular bloggers and liberals. The attacks typically took place in full public view, as gang arrives on motorcycles to attack individuals, butcher them with machetes in the middle of crowded streets and then take off.

However, for the first time, the attack targeted foreigners and was a lengthy siege lasting over twelve hours. Nine of the victims were Italian, seven were Japanese, one was from India, two were Bangladeshi and one was a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin. The victims were among roughly three dozen people taken hostage. It's the first time that hostages have been taken in 40 years, and it's being called "Bangladesh's 26/11," in comparison to the three-day '26/11' terror attack in Mumbai India of November 2008.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit through its Amaq News Agency, and backed up the claim by posting photos of the carnage in the cafe hours before the police entered the cafe.

I am among those analysts who do not believe that this was an ISIS operation. I do not believe that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, from his ISIS headquarters in Syria, sent out a team of jihadists to a cafe in Dhaka Bangladesh to carry out this attack. Indeed, the Bangladesh police say that all of the perpetrators were Bangladeshi locals, not foreign fighters. It's possible that ISIS supported the operation and even provided some money, but at most it was a local home-grown operation piggybacking on ISIS's public relations facilities for their mutual benefit.

Indeed, as I've written repeatedly, these terror attacks almost certainly were conducted by ethnic Bihari activists targeting ethnic Bengalis. The difference this time was that they copied ISIS's tactics, and used ISIS for support.

In fact, Bangladesh suffered an even larger terrorist attack in February 2009, before ISIS even existed, that was even more horrific, except that it didn't target foreigners. 76 Bangladesh army border guard officers were mutilated and killed in a 33-hour massacre that shocked the country for its brutality. The perpetrators were the troops reporting to them. Bodies of officers and their wives were mutilated and piled into mass graves. ( "(4-March-2009) FBI will aid Bangladesh investigation of border guard officer massacre") In the end, a total of 847 defendants were tried, en masse, and 152 sentenced to hang, with hundreds more facing long jail terms. ISIS didn't exist in 2009, but if it had, they might have claimed credit for the border guard officer massacre.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wondered how the terrorists could do this to their own country. She said the usual things about these attacks being "intolerable" and that she was determined to "eradicate" the terrorists:

"There is no place for terrorists or terrorism on Bangladesh's soil. People must resist these terrorists. My government is determined to root out terrorism and militancy from Bangladesh.

It was an extremely heinous act. What kind of Muslims are these who kill other people during Ramadan?"

One thing that Hasina always did in the past but didn't do this time was to specifically blame the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islam for perpetrating the violence. The BNP is a Bihari political party, so she was using BNP as a code word for Bihari. However, BNP leaders insisted that their political party does not support Bihari violence, and so this time, because of the severity of the attack, Hasina was trying not to be divisive. Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune and CNN

Suspicions that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency supported the Dhaka attack

Some analysts, especially in India, believe that the Dhaka attack was perpetrated by a Taliban-linked group in Pakistan, supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Besides mere suspicions, there are two major reasons that give plausibility to these accusations.

First, the Dhaka attacks were similar in nature to the November 2008 three-day '26/11' terror attack in Mumbai. That attack was perpetrated by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistani terrorist group with known connections to ISI, though ISI claims that the connections were severed long ago. The Mumbai attack almost resulted in war, as India threatened to invade Pakistani soil to go after Lashkar-e-Toiba. War was only avoided by hard intervention from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Second, Bangladesh was originally part of Pakistan, and was known as East Pakistan. One of the worst wars of the 20th century was the bloody genocidal war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, with the latter split into West and East Pakistan. The scale of civilian displacement from their homes was so massive that it was called by some an "exodus of biblical proportions," since it forced millions of Hindus in Pakistan to flee to India, and millions of Muslims in India to flee to Pakistan.

However, that was a generational crisis war only for West Pakistan and western India. Eastern India and East Pakistan are on a different generational timeline, and their crisis war was the bloody civil war of 1971, mainly between the Biharis and the Bengalis of East Pakistan. The outcome of that war was that East Pakistan became an independent country, Bangladesh.

In the Bangladesh of today, the Bengali-speaking Bengalis are the dominant ethnic group, and the Urdu-speaking Biharis, who originally were from India, are the subservient ethnic group.

But that's a flip-flop from how things were in 1949, after the Partition war. At that time, Pakistan declared that Urdu was the official language of both West and East Pakistan, and that the Bengali language was to be marginalized. The Urdu-speaking Biharis became the dominant group, and the Bengali-speaking Bengalis were subservient.

In the 1971 war, the Pakistan army was on the side of the Biharis, fighting against the Bengalis, who were supported by India. The war was incredibly brutal, especially the behavior of the Pakistan army toward the Bengalis. Stories of rape, beheadings and mutilation of Bengali civilians were common. The Bengalis won, making Bangladesh an independent nation, and after that the Bengalis were the dominant ethnic group.

Pakistan today still favors the subservient Biharis over the dominant Bengalis, and so it's quite plausible, though unproven, that the Bihari terrorists received support for Friday's attack from Pakistan's ISI.

(In researching this article, I noticed something strange. The Taliban Easter attack on Lahore in Pakistan on March 29 took place in Lahore's Gulshan Iqbal Park. Saturday's terrorist attack took place in the Gulshan diplomatic enclave of Dhaka. None of the news reports notes this connection, so perhaps it's just a coincidence, but I thought it to be worth mentioning.) Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (PDF-2001) and My Golden Bengal (21-July-2013) and Swarajya (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh tries to recover from Dhaka terror attack, the worst in 40 years thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack

The Battle of the Somme and infant mortality

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Politicians commemorate the botched World War I Battle of the Somme


Tyne Cot War Cemetery, with graves of 11,954 soldiers in the British army (greatwar.co.uk)
Tyne Cot War Cemetery, with graves of 11,954 soldiers in the British army (greatwar.co.uk)

The Battle of the Somme, possibly the worst botched battle in the British army's history, began on July 1, 1916. The British wanted to deliver a knockout blow to the German army. For over a week, the British had fired some 1,738,000 artillery shells at the German line in order to prepare for the British infantry advance. However, the Germans were prepared for this. The German soldiers moved into deep dugouts that had been prepared. When the bombardment stopped, the Germans knew that was a signal that the infantry attack was about to begin, so they left the dugout and moved to their machine guns. Some 100,000 British and French army soldiers went "over the top" to confront the Germans and the machine guns along a 25-mile front. By the end of the first day, the British army had lost 60,000 men.

By the end of 141 days of battle, in November 1916, the British had lost 420,000, the French lost 200,000 men and the Germans 500,000, for a total of almost 1.2 million casualties in this one battle. The British army had not only not delivered a knockout blow, they had moved their front line only seven miles.

The British Generals had botched the situation so badly that by the 1920s, many veterans were describing the entire war as "Lions led by Donkeys."

On Friday, France's president François Hollande and Britain's prime minister David Cameron met at the site of the battle to commemorate the deaths, to give the usual speeches saying "Never again." This commemoration comes just weeks after the commemoration of the Battle of Verdun.

The commemoration comes one week after the Brexit vote, mandating that Britain should leave the European Union. The biggest motivation for the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957 and for the European Union, was that the survivors of World War I and II wanted to guarantee that Europe would never fight wars like the two world wars ever again. The Brexit vote means that this guarantee will not be met.

Today, the survivors of the two world wars are gone, and so it's particularly ironic that the commemoration comes at a time when the European Union is falling apart, and the same nationalistic and xenophobic forces that brought about the Battle of the Somme and other battles are rising again. History Learning and Telegraph (London) and Deutsche Welle

The Battle of the Somme and infant mortality


Estimated infant mortality rates - 1870-1999 - in Chicago
Estimated infant mortality rates - 1870-1999 - in Chicago

There were 38 million military and civilian casualties in World War I, including 11 million military personnel. The number of deaths was astonishing, mainly because there had never been so many deaths in previous wars.

Politicians discussing the Battle of the Somme this week blamed the large number of deaths as "a failure of political leadership," and pontificated that if the political leadership had been better, then World War I would have had fewer deaths.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's very likely that 38 million people had to die, no matter how well the politicians ran the war. In fact, asking why 38 million people died in World War I is the wrong question. The right question is: Where did all those people come from?

Prior to 1870, some 30% of all infants died before their first birthday. (By age 5, the figure was about 50%.)

But infant and child mortality fell dramatically in the 1890s, and again in the 1920s, as you can see from the graph. This fall in infant mortality meant that a lot more infants lived long enough to become soldiers. That's why there were so many more soldiers in WW I, and then again in WW II. And that's why there were so many more soldiers to be killed.

In other words, curing infant mortality is a wonderful thing for the individual parents, but it has the unintended consequence of creating large population of young boys ready to be sent into war as cannon fodder.

When there are too many people, nature provides several ways to kill them off -- war, disease, and famine. If those 38 million people hadn't been killed by World War I, then they would have had to be killed some other way. That's the way the world works.

Actually, that wasn't the end of it. The global Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed up to 50 million more people. Then 60 million more people were killed in World War II. Hundreds of millions more were killed by Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong in various Communist purges.

Today it's much worse. There are 200,000 people added to the global population every day. At the same time, growing populations are displacing more and more farmland. There is no way that this situation is sustainable, or will end well, and Brexit is just one thing that's leading the way. The Battle of the Somme was just a minor blip compared to what's coming. Oil Price

Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack

As I'm writing this on Friday evening ET, the hostage crisis in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is still in progress. There are at least two dead and 20 hostages taken so far.

A public relations media source associated with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is claiming credit for ISIS. However, other analysts attribute the action to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). ISIS and al-Qaeda are in a growing competition to take credit for as many terrorist acts as they can.

The attack took place in an upmarket area popular with wealthy Bangladeshis and foreign tourists. As I've written several times in the past, this is a signal that the act is being perpetrated by a terror group associated with activist Biharis, the ethnic group that lost to the ethnic Bengalis in the 1971 generational crisis war that created the state of Bangladesh from the former East Pakistan. ( "12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings")

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital city. These are certainly a large part of the motivation for Bihari jihadist groups to continue terrorist attacks.

So, if either al-Qaeda or ISIS plays any role at all, it would be purely for publicity purposes. It's not surprising that both of these jihadist groups should claim credit, but this is a bloody conflict between two ethnic groups, and it's only going to get worse. Dhaka Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-16 World View -- Bangladesh again shocked by major ongoing terrorist attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction

After Trump's exit, Miss Teen USA dumps its swimsuit competition

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

British government shocked as Boris Johnson stands down


Boris Johnson, next to his wife Marina, waves goodbye on Thursday after standing down (Daily Mail)
Boris Johnson, next to his wife Marina, waves goodbye on Thursday after standing down (Daily Mail)

It's being described as a complete shock, totally unexpected -- that Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and the leader of the successful campaign to win the Brexit referendum, which mandates that the UK leave the European Union, announced that he would not run to replace David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party and become Prime Minister on September 9.

Reports indicate that Boris Johnson was stabbed in the back by a close former ally, Michael Gove. Gove had said repeatedly when asked that he (Gove) was not qualified to be PM, but that he was going to support Johnson and even be his campaign manager. But early on Thursday, Gove flip-flopped and announced that he would run. He announced, "I have come reluctantly to the conclusions Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." He added that he's decided that he can.

Although Johnson's announcement was a shock, it cannot have been totally unexpected, since Johnson is completely unqualified. His pro-Brexit campaign emotionally targeted anti-EU nationalism and anti-immigrant anxieties about both east European Catholics and Syrian Muslims. Once his side won the referendum vote, he almost completely vanished from view, and it was clear that he didn't have the vaguest clue what he'd been talking about during the campaign, or what to do after winning.

The Brexit outcome has done a great deal of damage to the UK and the EU, and is continuing to do more damage, as we've been reporting the last few days. Perhaps Boris Johnson should be thanked for standing down before he did any more damage. After all, sometimes it seems that the most successful politicians are also the most destructive politicians. Daily Mail (London)

After decades of destroying the economy, Zimbabwe wants investors

In a move of total desperation, Zimbabwe on Thursday announced that foreigners who invested their money in Zimbabwe will be permitted to repatriate their profits and dividends back to their home countries. Previously, investors were required to leave all money in Zimbabwe.

As in Venezuela and Puerto Rico, the economy of Zimbabwe is crashing. There are shortages of fuel, sugar and cooking oil. Cash withdrawals from banks are strictly limited. ATM queues typically contain dozens of people, and frequently the cash machines run out of money. School teachers have been told that they will not be paid, and many don't even have money to buy food.

The change in policy is driven by total desperation. In order to keep the economy from crashing completely, Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamas is visiting business leaders in Paris to beg for further investments. Currently Zimbabwe owes 10 billion US dollars to the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Bank, with $1.86 billion in debt repayments in arrears. Chinamas is promising that the arrears will be repaid, but Zimbabwe has no money with which to pay the arrears.

If the most successful politicians are the most destructive, then one of the most successful politicians of all time is 92 year old president Robert Mubage, who has been in power for almost 30 years, and has been responsible for an almost unbelievable amount of destruction, in one incredible Marxist policy after another.

Mugabe is from the Shona tribe. Shortly after taking power in 1980, he consolidated power by launching "Operation Gukurahundi" (The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rain). During that campaign, accomplished with the help of Mugabe's 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, tens of thousands of people, mostly from the Ndebele tribe, were raped, tortured and slaughtered.

As recently as the 1999, Zimbabwe was still the 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 were dying of starvation, because Mugabe has destroyed the farm infrastructure. By 2008, the official rate of inflation was 231 million percent. ( "24-Feb-2014 World View -- Mass murderer Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has 90th birthday")

In 2009, Mugabe abolished the Zimbabwe dollar, which wasn't worth the paper it was written on anyway. The US dollar and the South African rand became the official currencies. But instead of ending the destructive land reform policies, Mugabe added on a new one: Indigenization.

Indigenization required all Zimbabwe businesses to be majority owned by Zimbabweans, again mostly from Mugabe's Shona tribe. Zimbabwe continues to shut down businesses, including foreign banks, that do not comply with the indigenization requirements. Just as Mugabe's "land reforms" destroyed the farm infrastructure, Mugabe's indigenization law is destroying the entire business infrastructure.

So now, with Zimbabwe's Marxist economy close to total collapse, Mugabe's finance minister is in Paris to convince the capitalist investors to pour more money into Zimbabwe. It's laughable except for the fact that so many people are suffering because of Mugabe's destructive Marxist policies. RFI and Financial Times (27-Jun) and Independent (Zimbabwe) and Zimbabwe Government and The Zimbabwean

Venezuela and Puerto Rico join Zimbabwe in economic destruction

Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chávez are also among the world's most successful politicians, as measured by the amount of destruction they've brought about in their own country. Like Mugabe, they've destroyed Venezuela's economy with Marxist policies, even though its oil reserves should make it one of the wealthiest economies in the world. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

Puerto Rico faces $70 billion in total debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, as a result of years of massive spending on social programs. ( "27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1") Puerto Rico was saved from default on Friday, July 1, as President Obama signed a Puerto Rico rescue bill into law on Thursday.

Let's not forget Cuba and North Korea, two more potentially wealthy countries that have been destroyed by their successful politicians. Washington Post

After Trump's exit, Miss Teen USA dumps its swimsuit competition


The sexist, outdated swimsuit competition will be eliminated by a thoroughly modern, feminist update
The sexist, outdated swimsuit competition will be eliminated by a thoroughly modern, feminist update

Now that Donald Trump has severed his relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, it has announced that it's dropping the swimsuit competition from Miss Teen USA.

According to a Miss Universe statement: "In a society that increasingly prioritizes feminism and equality, watching women parade across a stage in bikinis can feel outdated."

However, some critics complained that the contest was becoming "Sharia compliant." The Daily Good (Iceland) and Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-16 World View -- Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Puerto Rico - three amigos in Marxist economic destruction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Jun-16 World View -- Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state'

Cash stored in vaults as negative interest rates spread

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cash stored in vaults as negative interest rates spread


Man shops for vault in which to store cash
Man shops for vault in which to store cash

As I wrote last week, central banks around the world are committed to "printing money" and making it available to wealthy investors and institutions in order to forestall forced selling following global financial shocks following Brexit. A major tool for doing this is quantitative easing -- purchasing corporate or sovereign bonds. But central banks are being limited by the huge amount of debt based on negative interest rates (yields). ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

A new report by Finch Ratings indicates that negative interest rates are spreading rapidly. As of June 27, $11.7 trillion of sovereign debt globally was based on the purchase of bonds and other assets with negative yields. This is up by $1.3 trillion from the end of May.

The way that this works in "normal" times is that an investor pays $95 for a bond that will pay $100 when it expires. But in today's "new normal," the demand for bonds is surging, and by the law of supply and demand, the prices of these bonds are also surging. So the investor is forced to pay $105 for the same bond that will pay only $100. That's a negative yield.

The demand for bonds has been surging from two sources. As volatility and uncertainty increases, investors are seeking safe havens in which to park their money. And central banks are purchasing bonds as part of a quantitative easing program. Japan, Germany and France were the leaders in June of increases in sovereign debt with negative yields.

In "normal" times, banks make money by borrowing money at low interest rates and lending it out at high interest rates. But in today's low and negative interest rate environment, it's impossible to lend it out at high interest rates, except to the riskiest borrowers, the subprime borrowers most likely to default.

For financial institutions looking for a place to park their money, some of them are returning to the old days when banks stored their money in vaults. Money in a vault earns no interest, but it also doesn't lose value.

When American outlaw "Willie" Sutton was once asked why he robbed banks, he replied, "I rob banks because that's where the money is." Somewhere there may be a modern day Willie Sutton who's thinking the same thing. Fitch Ratings and Bloomberg and Seeking Alpha and Bloomberg and FT Adviser and Telegraph (London)

UK was locked out of EU summit for first time in 40 years

Today's meeting was "about us," according to one EU official, not about the UK. So 27 European Union members met for an EU summit, the first one in 40 years from which Britain was excluded.

The key phrase was "there will be no single market à la carte." The meaning of this phrase was stated repeatedly by different EU officials. If the UK wants access to the EU Single Market, then they must also be willing to guarantee the EU's four freedoms: freedom of movement for people, goods, capital and services.

In particular, this will mean that the UK would have to permit the free movement of people, which was the major motivation for the successful Brexit vote in the first place. That would be ironic. And it's worth mentioning again that the opposition to free movement of people are just as opposed to free movement of Catholic Poles and Hungarians as they are opposed to free movement of Syrian Muslims. Guardian (London)

Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state'

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and the country's that sponsor MB -- Qatar and Turkey -- have reacted furiously to the actions on June 18 by an Egyptian court to sentence former president Mohamed Morsi to 40 years in prison for conspiring to harm Egypt's national interests in what has been called the "spying for Qatar" affair. Morsi's co-defendants included a reporter from Qatar-based al-Jazeera.

The judge reading out the verdict said that Morsi and his co-defendants endangered national security, which is "worse than killing a person or opposing God’s laws." He added:

"They are more dangerous than spies. Spies are usually foreigners, but unfortunately the defendants are Egyptian."

Qatar denounced the verdicts, saying they set a dangerous precedent in relations between Arab nations:

"The verdict issued by the Cairo Criminal Court is baseless and goes against justice and the realities on the ground, because it includes a litany of misleading claims that contradicts the policy of the State of Qatar towards all its sisterly nations."

Egyptian media responded harshly. According to Muhammad Amin, editor of the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm:

"The sentence in the case of the spying [for Qatar] sends a message no only to the MB but also a special message [meant] to reach the Qatari Emir. The message to the MB is that the [Egyptian] state will not stop pursuing the movement and is not interested in holding talks [with it] or reassessing its attitude towards 'the state of the [MB] General Guide.' ...

I believe this affair means Qatar has become an 'enemy state' and can no longer be a sister country, [since] siblings do not spy on each other. I am speaking of the rash [Qatari] leadership. This leadership managed to deceive a foolish president [Morsi] in order to receive [from him] documents [pertaining to] national security. He who sells out his homeland sells out his good name and his honor."

As long-time readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran, India and Russia will be allied with the West against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Arab nations. ( "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

However, that's very broad prediction. It's clear that the Sunni Arab nations are not monolithic, and historically they've fought against each other, as well as against Shia Iran. The 2014 Gaza war revealed sharp fault lines among the Sunni Arabs, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank Palestinians on one side, and Hamas, Qatar and (non-Arab) Turkey on the other side. ( "3-Sep-14 World View -- Mideast realignment continues following the Gaza war") It would be possible through analysis and interviews to produce a much more detailed and accurate prediction of the expected activities of the different ethnic groups, but this would require more resources than are available to me. However, this could be a good project for a college student thesis. Daily News Egypt (18-Jun) and Al-Jazeera (Qatar - 18-Jun) and Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-16 World View -- Egypt calls Qatar an 'enemy state' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Jun-16 World View -- Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions

Mutual UK-EU loathing at the European Parliament in Brussels

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mutual UK-EU loathing at the European Parliament in Brussels


Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels on Tuesday
Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon in Brussels on Tuesday

While not threatening an immediate spiral into a global crisis, The Brexit situation continues every day to cause a great deal of geopolitical deterioration and damage of a kind that's likely to lead to a serious crisis in time.

Britain's government melted down further on Tuesday, as far-left Labor Party chief Jeremy Corbyn was given a big vote of no-confidence, with 172 Labor MPs voting no confidence, while only 40 supported him. However, he was elected leader last year by a wide margin among Labor MPs, and he says he won't step down. This leaves both British parties without effective leadership.

The real action on Tuesday occurred at the meeting of the European Parliament in Brussels. Nigel Farage, who is the head of Britain's anti-immigrant anti-Europe Ukip party, is also an MEP (member of European parliament). In Brussels on Tuesday, he stood to speak and he used the time to gloat:

"Funny, isn't it. You know, when I came here 17 years ago, and I said that I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the European Union, you all laughed at me. Well I have to say, you're not laughing now are you?"

He also accused all the other 700 MEPs of never having done a hard day's work in their lives, or of ever creating a job.

Parliament president Jean-Claude Jüncker accused Farage of lying repeatedly during the Brexit campaign, and said "You were fighting for the exit, the British people voted in favor of the exit - why are you here?"

EU officials are described as sad and angry, and they're especially angry at David Cameron for even allowing the referendum in the first place. Jüncker said clearly that Brexit was "a fact," and there would be no going back. He also ordered all the MEPs not to conduct any negotiations with British officials, until Britain's government invokes "Article 50," which launches the two-year negotiation process. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there would be no "cherry picking," meaning that Britain would not be permitted to pick and choose which EU regulations it obeys if it wants to be part of EU's Single Market.

The UK government is still in chaos, and still lost in the wilderness, and has no idea what to do next. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland are demanding that a way be found to keep them in the EU. The Scottish MEP Alyn Smith reminded the Brussels Parliament that Scotland voted overwhelmingly against Brexit: "We will need cool heads and warm hearts but please remember this - Scotland did not let you down. I beg you: do not let Scotland down now."

Jüncker and other EU officials seem resigned that Britain will not invoke Article 50 at least until September 9, when David Cameron will be replaced by a new Prime Minister. Jüncker's nightmare scenario is that the UK will keep stalling indefinitely, without invoking Article 50, leaving the EU in unending limbo. On Wednesday, there will be a meeting of the leaders of 27 EU members and, for the first time in 40 years, the UK will be excluded.

There is a real feeling of mutual disgust and loathing between EU and UK officials now, and that the negotiations will be harsh and bitter.

On the other hand, in view of the chaos and bitterness, fears of other EU countries trying to conduct their own exit referendums seem diminished now. Nobody else wants to go through the same thing. BBC and Guardian (London) and BBC

Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions

At least 36 people were killed on Monday by three coordinated suicide bombings in Ataturk National Airport on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey. No one has claimed responsibility, but Turkish officials say that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) was responsible.

The Ataturk airport is a major international airport. Not only is it the biggest commercial hub in Turkey, it's one of the largest airports in the world, and a major international traffic hub.

The bombing comes just one day after Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan completed two diplomatic initiatives. First, the reconciliation with Israel was announced after Erdogan softened his demand that Israel end its blockade of Gaza, and agreed to a compromise, as we described on Sunday.

Second, it was revealed that Erdogan finally apologized to Russia for shooting down the Russian warplane last year. Russia's president Vladimir Putin has demanded that Erdogan apologize and provide compensation to the families of the victims. Whether it was an accident or on purpose that both diplomatic announcements occurred on the same day, it certainly appears that Erdogan is changing some of his hardline attitudes.

There's a third major diplomatic issue reaching a potential crisis this week. June 30 is the deadline set by Turkey for the European Union to lift visa restrictions on Turkey, so that any of Turkey's 72 million citizens can travel freely around Europe's Schengen zone. This is Turkey's requirement in exchange for the EU-Turkey migrant deal. This deal has been extremely successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants entering Greece from Turkey to dozens per day, down from hundreds or thousands per day.

EU officials have said they won't lift the visa restrictions unless Turkey improves its human rights record, particularly by not using anti-terrorism laws to jail journalists. Turkish officials have said repeatedly that if the visa restrictions aren't lifted, then Turkey will renege on the migrant deal, and allow an unrestricted flow of migrants to cross the Aegean Sea again to Greece.

Turkey has refused in the past to weaken the anti-terrorism laws, and Tuesday's airport attack can only redouble that resolve.

There have been no recent statements from Turkey about reneging on the migrant deal, so right now it looks like Thursday is going to come and go with no change in the status quo. If so, it will be the third time this week that Erdogan will have backed down diplomatically. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Observer

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-16 World View -- Bombing of Turkey's airport affects a swirl of diplomatic actions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah defends terrorist actions by saying it gets all its money from Iran

Rating agencies downgrade Britain's AAA credit rating

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rating agencies downgrade Britain's AAA credit rating


Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May - could be Prime Minister within weeks (Getty)
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May - could be Prime Minister within weeks (Getty)

The fallout from the UK's shock approval of the Brexit referendum, mandating that the UK leave the European Union, continued on Monday with a new stream of events.

The Russia, Standard & Poors (S&P) ratings agency cut the UK's credit rating by two notches, from AAA to AA+ and then to AA. The S&P said that Brexit could lead to "a deterioration of the UK's economic performance, including its large financial services sector."

Fitch ratings agency followed suit, lowering its rating from AA+ to AA. On Friday, Moody's ratings agency cut the UK's credit rating outlook to negative.

The main reason that this might be significant is that it could lead to forced selling. Many fund managers are only allowed to own AAA debt, and the ratings downgrades may force many of these fund managers to sell the downgraded assets. If the asset has lost value as a result of Brexit, then these funds could lose substantial amounts of money. This could lead to the vicious cycle that I described last week -- where asset values fall, leading to forced selling, causing asset values to fall, leading to more forced selling, and so forth.

On the other hand, central banks are acting quickly to "print money" and make it available to wealthy investors and institutions so that there will be as little forced selling as possible.

Meanwhile, Britain's government has become almost non-existent, as both parties are in chaos. David Cameron, leader of the government Conservative party, is to be replaced as leader early in September. The two most likely choices are the flamboyant pro-Brexit leader Boris Johnson, and the demure anti-Brexit Home Secretary Theresa May. However wins the leadership election for the party will automatically become Prime Minister until the next general election.

In other developments on Monday, there is a great deal of tension among EU leaders as to how quickly UK leaders have to "invoke Article 50" of the Lisbon Treaty, referring to the event that will launch two years of negotiations to work out the details for the divorce between the UK and EU.

UK pro-Brexit leaders don't have a plan or a clue what they want to do next, so the "plan" is to stall as long as possible, and not invoke Article 50 until it becomes absolutely necessary. This is driving some UK leaders crazy since they're unable to make their own plans due to the uncertainty of what will happen to the UK, and some of them are demanding that the UK invoke Article 50 as quickly as possible. However, the Lisbon Treaty is clear that the EU cannot force the UK to do so, and UK leaders are lost in the wilderness, so will stall as long as they can, at least until a new Prime Minister is selected.

Another question plaguing EU leaders is how harsh they should be in the negotiations. On the one hand, the UK is an important ally, and they don't want to be seen as screwing the UK. On the other hand, they don't want other countries to look on and say, "If it's that easy, then we'll leave the EU too." So many EU leaders are talking about being as harsh as possible in the negotiations, to discourage other members from doing the same.

The EU will have a great deal of leverage because the UK will want to continue to belong to the "EU Single Market," or the European Economic Area (EEA). The EEA is considered to be one of Europe's greatest post-war achievements, and its creation was led by Britain. Britain will desperately want to continue to be part of the EEA, and this is possible, because Norway is in the EEA, but not a member of the EU.

However, in return for that access to the single market, Norway pays a contribution to the EU budget and has to sign up to all the rules of the club - including its common regulations and standards. If Britain negotiates to stay in the EEA, then EU negotiators will certainly demand as large a contribution to the EU budget as possible. Furthermore -- and this will be the ultimate irony -- the common regulations and standards will be set by the hated EU regulators, but after leaving the EU, Britain will have no say in how the regulations are set. Guardian (London) and Independent (London) and BBC

Christian community in Lebanon targeted by suicide bombers

A wave of multiple suicide bombings struck the predominantly Greek Orthodox Christian village of Al-Qaa in northern Lebanon near the border with Syria. The first wave of four suicide bombings occurred outside a church in the village before sunrise on Monday morning. Then on Monday evening, as residents were preparing for funerals for the morning's suicide bombings, three suicide bombers riding motorcycles blew themselves up in the same village. At least five people were killed and 15 wounded.

No one claimed credit, but it's believed that the bombings were perpetrated by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The region around Al-Qaa has had numerous al-Qaeda and ISIS attacks since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011.

Lebanon hosts more than 1.1-million Syrian refugees, in a country with a population of just four million. The refugees have put an enormous strain on the economy and on the army. Al Manar (Lebanon-Hezbollah) and AFP and Business Day (Johannesburg)

June 12 bombing of Beirut's Blom Bank blamed on Hezbollah

A bomb has exploded in Beirut Lebanon on June 12, outside the headquarters of the Blom Bank, the second largest financial institution in Lebanon. The bomb destroyed the façade of the building, but did not cause any deaths. Lebanon's police arrested two suspects who had been pictured on surveillance video. They were part of a group linked to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is a powerful political force in Lebanon, but it's also a terrorist puppet funded and directed by Iran. Under Iran's direction, Hezbollah militias have been fighting alongside the army of the regime of president Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

In December 2015, the US Congress passed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which provides for sanctions against any foreign or domestic bank that helps Hezbollah with loans, fundraising, money laundering, or other activities.

In the weeks before the bombing, Hezbollah began a campaign of harshly criticizing Blom bank and its governor Riad Salameh, as well as other Lebanese banks. Hezbollah accused the banks of being too eager to implement the US sanctions, and appeared to be inciting violence, and did not condemn the bombing after it occurred.

Several Lebanese newspapers known to be critical of Hezbollah called the organization "bank bombers," and said that Hezbollah intended the bombing as a "message" to banks complying with the US sanctions. Congress.gov and Reuters (6/12) and Memri and Gulf News (Dubai - 6/16)

Nasrallah responds: Hezbollah gets all its funding from Iran

In a speech on Friday, Hezbollah's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech in which he defended Hezbollah against the accusation of being responsible for the Blom bank bombing, saying that the law passed by Congress has no effect on Hezbollah:

"Well, at the time, I said that even if the Lebanese banks comply with this law, ... we as a party and as an organization and jihadist movement consider the law pointless and we will not be hurt or affected by it.

Yes, it is true that the law puts some moral pressure on us but it will not have any financial impact on Hezbollah. I have previously explained why but I will remind those idiots of the following. We do not have any business projects or investments via banks.

Let me be very frank and I do not think anyone in the world would dare to say this publicly. We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran. ... Our allocated money is coming to us, not through the banks. As long as Iran has money, we have money ... Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it.

Some people might have objections. We do not care. By the way, the resistance [to Israel], its sons, audience, and people thank the imam of the nation, His Eminence Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, may God grant him a long life. We also thank the Islamic Republic of Iran, its president, government, parliament, reference, religious authorities, and people for the kind support provided to us during the years of resistance and that continues to date."

The interesting thing about this speech is that Nasrallah does not deny that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing, which makes the whole speech rather silly. It appears to be a message to the US Congress to convince them to lift the sanctions because they don't do any good. However, that message is not likely to be heeded. The National (UAE) and Al Manar (Lebanon-Hezbollah)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah defends terrorist actions by saying it gets all its money from Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Jun-16 World View -- Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday

Nationalistic tensions increase as UK and EU drift towards Brexit

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nationalistic tensions increase as UK and EU drift towards Brexit


Nationalistic tensions grow in the UK and EU (AFP)
Nationalistic tensions grow in the UK and EU (AFP)

The successful Brexit referendum vote, calling for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island to leave the European Union, has unleashed powerful nationalistic forces in both the UK and the EU, as we've been describing for years in nations around the world in a generational Crisis era. Furthermore, it's torn wide open new political fault lines within both the UK and EU, making resolution of the issues less likely and chaos more likely, and making both unions considerably weaker.

The latest developments are as follows:

David Cameron will be traveling to Brussels on Tuesday for a long-planned meeting of leaders of the 28 EU countries. But on Wednesday, he will be excluded from an all-day meeting of leaders of the other 27 EU countries, as they try to figure out what to do next. Guardian (London) and Democracy Now (London) and Breitbart News (London)

Japan's government calls emergency meeting as yen surges after Brexit

The unexpected success of the Brexit referendum caught many investors by surprise, and has shocked the markets. ( "25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets")

Investors quickly moved into "safe havens," including dollar-denominated investments and, even more, into yen-denominated investments. This created a new global demand for yen, pushing the value of the currency higher, exacerbating Japan's deflationary spiral.

The Bank of Japan and other government officials are holding an emergency meeting on Monday to evaluate the situation and to decide whether to "print money" and pour more liquidity into the banking system in order to prevent the vicious cycle that we described two days ago.

The European Central Bank would also like "print money" by buying bonds (quantitative easing), but according to one analyst, the ECB will have a problem doing this. The reason is that there are $8 trillion in bonds in the market at negative yields (interest rates), and the ECB is running out of bonds to buy. ( "15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues")

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) also announced a substantial weakening of the renminbi (yuan) currency, though they did it a different way. The yuan currency is pegged to a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar, and on Monday morning the PBOC weakened the yuan currency by 0.9%, its weakest fixing level since December 2010.

Meanwhile the favorite topic of all the tv financial talk shows has suddenly taken a dramatic twist. For months this year, these shows would debate for hours and hours each day whether the Fed would increase interest rates three times or two times or one time this year. Increasing interest rates would strengthen the US dollar, causing more deflation. So over the weekend sentiment has changed, and now analysts are expecting the Fed to lower interest rates, not raise them.

During the 1930s Great Depression, there was a "race to the bottom," as countries kept devaluing their currencies in order to gain a competitive advantage against other countries. Ever since the "financial crisis" of 2007-8, it's been widely feared that it could happen again, and the current situation is raising those concerns again. Dow Jones and Japan Today and Business Insider (Australia)

Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday

Multiple media sources are saying that Israel and Turkey are announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday, bringing to an end the deterioration in relations that followed the Mavi Marmara confrontation in 2010. (See "23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel")

According to press reports, the details of the agreement are as follows:

These have been difficult compromises for both sides.

According to a former minister to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

"Israel will pay Turkey reparations for the Marmara? I hope the reports are untrue. If they are true, this would be national humiliation and an invitation for further flotillas and libels by haters of Israel."

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt ÇavuSoglu said the following:

"Saying that Turkey has given up one of its two remaining conditions, which is lifting the embargo and blockade on Gaza, would mean humiliating the people’s intelligence. If Turkey had given up these [conditions], then relations would have been normalized by now."

The deal will be announced on Monday, and the agreement will be signed in July, according to reports. Jerusalem Post and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al-Jazeera (Doha)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jun-16 World View -- Israel and Turkey announcing a reconciliation agreement on Monday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Jun-16 World View -- Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote

In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In new escalation, China cuts communications hotline with Taiwan


Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen

China is following up on last month's ominous demands that Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen must explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China. The threatening demands were made just four days after Tsai took office. ( "26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China")

On Saturday, China announced that it was cutting a communication hotline with Taiwan that was set up last year in the waning days of the previous Ma Ying-jeou administration.

Ma is leader of the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party, which supports the "1992 Consensus" that there is "one China," leaving it ambiguous what that means. KMT favors the "one China" principle and unification with mainland China, and which has fully supported all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

Ma and China's president Xi Jinping held a highly publicized landmark meeting in Singapore on November 7 of last year. The purpose of the meeting was for Xi to support Ma Ying-jeou's bid for reelection in the upcoming January elections. The support didn't help, as Ma's opponent Tsai Ing-wen won overwhelmingly, and took office in May.

One outcome of the November 7 meeting was to set up a high-level hotline between Taipei and Beijing to handle emergencies. The hotline was used for the first time on December 30, when officials for both countries exchanged New Year's greetings.

The new president, Tsai, is the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which in the past has favored Taiwan independence from China. When the DPP was in power prior to 2008, relations between China and Taiwan were so bad that in 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" saying that China would take military action against Taiwan if there were any moves or speeches in the direction of Taiwan independence from China.

In her inauguration speech last month, Tsai said that she "respected" the "common understanding" between Taiwan and China, but did not say what the common understanding was. This infuriated the Chinese. According to Beijing state media, Tsai made "a painful effort not to answer one important question..., whether or not to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one China principle."

So on Saturday, China shut down the hotline that had been set up for emergencies as a result of last year's meeting between Xi and Ma. According to a Chinese official:

"Because the Taiwan side has been unable to confirm the 1992 consensus that embodies the common political foundation of the one-China principle, the mechanism for contact and communication between the two sides has already been suspended."

This infuriated Taiwanese officials who said that they will not give in to China's "blackmail and coercion."

China's action to shut down the hotline was probably triggered by another incident. On Friday, 25 Taiwanese in Cambodia, accused of telecommunications fraud, were extradited to China rather than to Taiwan. China demanded that Cambodia send them to China, since sending them to Taiwan would acknowledge Taiwan's existence as an independent entity.

Taiwan responded on Friday by using the hotline to protest the extraditions to China, and accused China of "abducting" Taiwanese citizens saying, "It is inappropriate for China to impede cooperation to fight crime for political factors." One day later, China shut down the hotline. Shanghaiist and AFP and China Post (Taipei - 31-Dec-2015)

Taiwan's politicians respond to the Brexit referendum result

The success of Britain's Brexit referendum was a shock to the Chinese as much as anyone, but it has special significance for China. If the UK can hold a referendum and leave the European Union, then why can't Taiwan and Hong Kong hold their own referendums and leave China?

Wu Ping-jui, an official in the administration of the new president Tsai Ing-wen, said that when China shut down the communications hotline in order to force the Taiwanese to accept its version of the "1992 Consensus," it was tantamount to "blackmail and coercion." He said that China's actions would simply "toughen up Taiwanese determination."

Wu then referenced the Brexit referendum. If China demands that Taiwan accept the 1992 consensus, "do they mean for us what to choose? This is not done in any democratic country." He cited the Brexit referendum, in which each and every British citizen was able to show his or her will.

An official from the opposition KMT party, which favors Taiwan integration with China, also congratulated Britain on the Brexit referendum. However, he said that no similar referendum could be held in Taiwan, because referendums could only be held on matters of crucial national interest, and because "the requirements of our Referendum Law need not be relaxed at this time, despite attempts by pro-independence legislators to do so." China Post (Taipei) and China Post

Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote


Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, 'Brexit what a bloody joke.'  Other signs read, 'I am not British - I am European' (Daily Mail)
Protester in fake blood outside Westminster on Friday carries sign, 'Brexit what a bloody joke.' Other signs read, 'I am not British - I am European' (Daily Mail)

Millennials in Britain are expressing fury that their futures have been ruined by the passage of the Brexit vote by the Boomer generation, meaning that Britain will no longer be part of the European Union, and the Millennials will be denied the benefits that their parents had.

According to YouGov exit polls, Millennials voted overwhelmingly for the "Remain" side, meaning that the UK would remain in the EU, while Boomers voted for the "Leave" side. The breakdown by age group was:

Yorkshire Post columnist Grant Woodward wrote:

"Brexit will come to be seen as the Baby Boomers’ ultimate betrayal of younger generations and those that will follow. A knee-jerk response to a series of red herrings, a protest vote with the potential for long-term catastrophe that they won’t be around to endure."

Typical tweets were as follows:

"So all the old people gave us a future we didn't want. You've all had your careers, why screw it up for us"

"I'm scared. Jokes aside I'm actually scared. Today an older generation has voted to ruin the future for the younger generation. I'm scared."

"I'm actually really upset how selfish the older generations have been"

"The fact that the older generation have whole heartedly made a decision that the youth of today DO NOT WANT seems strange, yes I'm bitter"

Among the American politicians, Donald Trump is on the "Leave" side, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are on the "Remain" side. Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jun-16 World View -- Britain's Millennials are furious at Boomers for Brexit vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets

Global stock markets plummet after Brexit surprise

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Successful 'Brexit' referendum vote throws UK and EU into political chaos


Rock of Gibraltar with Spain the background (AFP)
Rock of Gibraltar with Spain the background (AFP)

Few people doubt that the surprise passage of Britain's "Brexit" referendum, directing that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should withdraw from the European Union after being a member since 1975, will cause a great deal of political chaos in the next few weeks and months. Pro-Brexit politicians claim the chaos is only temporary, and it will soon settle down, and the result will be better for the UK.

Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing pro-Brexit Ukip party, said exuberantly, "Let June go down in history of our independence day!" Others pro-Brexit politicians shouted, "We've taken our country back!"

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the wish that the chaos will end is fantasy. The "financial crisis" of 2007-2009 set in motion generational forces that have caused the chaos to increase every month, every year. That's true in Europe, with the euro crisis, the migrant crisis, and the Ukraine crisis; it's true in the Mideast, with the Arab Awakening, the Syria war, the Yemen war, the rise of ISIS, the collapse in Iran-Saudi Arabia relations, and the meltdowns in Libya and Egypt; and it's true in Asia with China's belligerence in the East and South China Sea. This is worldwide trend that's been growing for a decade, and in this generational Crisis era, it's literally impossible for the growth in chaos to stop.

As I've been writing for years, nationalism, racism and xenophobia have been growing in countries around the world, as they do in every generational Crisis era. All these factors played into the surprise Brexit vote, in the form of anti-German, anti-French and anti-migrant sentiment. Furious voters wanted to get revenge against the élite in both the UK and the EU and "send a message" that they're not going to take it anymore. There have been some reports of "buyer's remorse" -- that at least some of the pro-Brexit voters wanted to send a message, but didn't really want to leave the EU. Nonetheless, the deed appears to be done.

So the pro-Brexit people who expect the EU and the UK to settle down into a non-chaotic "new normal" are making major misjudgments. They're especially overlooking the following: Just as they were angry, just as they were expressing their nationalism, racism, and xenophobia, just as they wanted revenge, the people who lost are also angry, and also will want to get revenge by expressing their nationalism, racism, and xenophobia.

The question really is not WHETHER they're going to seek revenge. The question is HOW they're going to seek revenge. Here are some possibilities:

If you were to ask a UK or EU politician whether any of the events in the above list are likely to happen, he would tell you, "No, no chance whatsoever!" However, if you had asked a UK or EU politician a few months ago (or even a few days ago) whether the UK would leave the EU, you would have gotten a similar response.

As I like to point out, almost every day, something new happens that a few years ago you would have to have been crazy to believe would ever happen. Whether it's in America, Europe, Africa, the Mideast or Asia, things that could never happen are happening.

In fact, every one of the items listed above is quite reasonable, once you realize how angry, how nationalistic, and how xenophobic people have become in many countries. That anger could be translated into anything from an election referendum to a war in a matter of days.

The European Union was formed after two world wars and the Great Depression. Institutions were put into place with the specific purpose of preventing a new war between European nations, and preventing the financial abuse that led to the Great Depression. Today, with the survivors of World War II gone, anger, nationalism, xenophobia, and stupidity are back in full force.

I can't tell you which of the above events will actually happen, but I would be very surprised if none of them happened. At the very least, expect more chaos, and one new crisis after another. Guardian (London) and Reuters and BBC and Vox and TRT World (Istanbul)

Global stock markets plummet after Brexit surprise

A global stock selloff occurred on Friday, following the Brexit vote. The plunge began in Asia, spread across Europe, and then to North America. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 600 points. Britain's sterling currency fell 10% against the US dollar, to its weakest value in 31 years. Money poured into safe havens, notably US Treasury bonds. The demand for the bonds increased their prices, which therefore lowered their yields (interest rates) dramatically.

The question is: What happens next? Will stock prices continue to fall when the markets open again on Monday? Are we in a stock market crash?


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.23 on June 24, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.23 on June 24, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

First off, we have to say that it's possible. As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and crisis. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (June 24) was at an astronomically high 24.22. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

Second, let's take a look at the 1929 stock market crash. The DJIA fell 24% on October 28-29, but then regained 18% on the next two days. That would more accurately be called a "panic" rather than a "crash." The actual crash continued for years, until mid-1932, when it had fallen to 90% of its peak value on September 3, 1929.

So when we say that "it's possible," we mean that there might still be some sort of panic next week, but a real crash would take place over a longer period of time.

The way it works is through forced selling. What happened in 1929 is that investors had borrowed money (on margin) to purchase stocks. When the price of stocks bought on margin start to fall, then the stock broker gives the investor a "margin call," which means that the investor has to come up with more money. This usually means selling some stock, and if a lot of investors are forced to sell, then stock prices fall again, and there's a vicious cycle of stock prices falling, margin calls, stock selling, stock prices falling, and so forth. This can go on for years, and it did from 1929-1932.

To this day, nobody knows what triggered the panic of 1929, and there's certainly no way to tell what will trigger the next panic, or whether Brexit will do so.

What we do know is that the current stock market bubble will burst, because every bubble in history always has, despite claims that "this time it's different." So it's possible that Brexit will be the trigger that causes the current global stock market and credit bubble to burst.

What's important about the current situation is that thousands of investors were caught completely by surprise by Brexit referendum win. Many of them had invested heavily in sterling currency and the stock market, expecting that the values of these investments would increase when the Brexit referendum lost. So many investors were forced to sell when the Brexit referendum won in order to service debts that they'd incurred to make the investments in the first place, just like the 1929 margin calls.

So it's possible that enough investors were caught by surprise and a new vicious cycle will occur. It has to happen sometime, and it may or may not be now.

However, there's one other thing we know. Central banks around the world are well aware of this vicious cycle possibility, and reports indicate that they're "printing money" and pouring into the markets in order to head off exactly this kind of vicious cycle. The Bank of England, European Central Bank and the People's Bank of China have already said they were ready to provide liquidity if needed to ensure global market stability. However, one sign that they're running out of the ability to do that is the huge amount of debt based on negative interest rates. ( "15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues")

So maybe the central banks will succeed this time or maybe they won't. We'll have to wait until next week to find out. Reuters and Washington Post and CNBC and AAP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jun-16 World View -- Fallout from Brexit: Impact on geopolitics, economics, and stock markets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Jun-16 World View -- South China Sea: China's list of supporters is found to be delusional

Cognitive dissonance and doubling down in China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China claims that 60 countries support its South China Sea policy


China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying
China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying

Any day now, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a United Nations international court in the Hague is supposed to issue a ruling on a case brought by the Philippines against China on the merits of China's claims to the entire South China Sea. The case is brought under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which China claims doesn't apply to them.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this is clearly a lie, since the claims are widely disputed. In fact, China's claims are at least delusional, and may even be fabricated, as we reported a few days ago. ( "22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax")

Not only is China delusional about some of their evidence, it now appears that they're also delusional about the kind of support they're getting from the international community.

Even though the Court's ruling would be little more than symbolic, and even though there would be no way to enforce the Court's ruling against China, and even though China has already said that it will ignore any ruling, and even though China has bitterly complained about and even threatened the Philippines for even going to the Court in the first place, it's clear that Chinese officials are close to a state of panic over a possible ruling against them.

Out of anxiety, China is resorting to a full-court press in the propaganda realm, and are doing everything they can to convince other countries to endorse their position. In particular, China is targeting many distant countries and land-locked countries, with no direct interest in the South China Sea.

Last week, at China's regular Foreign Ministry press conference, the following bizarre exchange took place:

"Q: We notice that the governments of Sierra Leone and Kenya have recently joined in the chorus supporting China's South China Sea position. Nearly 60 countries have publicly endorsed China's stance, and more and more countries have shown their support to China. Is the Chinese government behind this? Is the Chinese government trying to extend its "circle of friends" on the South China Sea issue?

A: The South China Sea issue is supposed to be an issue between China and a few littoral countries of the South China Sea. ... [Further comments evading the question]

Q: First question, how many countries have publicly endorsed China's position on the South China Sea issue up to now? The previous press conference mentioned 40, but just now a journalist said nearly 60. ...

A: On your first question, a journalist just mentioned that nearly 60 countries support China. Compared with seven or eight countries that hold the opposite position, I think the figure itself speaks volumes."

According to the first questioner, unnamed but presumably from Chinese media, said that Sierra Leone and Kenya, as if it matters whether two African country are for or against China.

In the second answer, the Foreign Ministry spokesman makes official China's belief that it's supported by 60 countries, with only seven or eight opposed. As we'll see below, these claims are delusional.

Why are these numbers even relevant? There is some suggestion that China is trying to line up countries on its side, so that if the Court rules against China, then China can go to the United Nations General Assembly and try to get a vote rejecting the Court's decision. If successful, China could then claim that the United Nations itself has rejected the decision of a United Nations court.

Anything is possible, but I would be surprised if anything like a majority of the United Nations members voted to reject the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). UNCLOS is a part of international law that has been used to settle many disputes and keep the peace since the end of World War II, and if UNCLOS is rejected in this case, then it will open up many disputes that were previously thought to be settled. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China's Foreign Ministry (14-Jun)

China cites UNCLOS in disagreement with Japan

China claims to completely reject the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and has said that this international law may not apply to China's claims in the South China Sea.

And yet, in a completely different dispute, China's Foreign Ministry cited UNCLOS in support of its view on the status of Okinotori Islands in relation to a disagreement between Taiwan and Japan. The details of the dispute are not important to us, but here's the beginning of the quote from the Foreign Ministry spokesman:

"Q: On May 23, the Taiwan authority said that "it does not take a particular stance in legal terms" on whether Okinotori is an island or a reef. It is commented that the new Taiwan administration has gone backwards on the issue of Okinotori, undermining the rights and interests of Taiwan fishermen. How do you comment?

A: Okinotori is an isolated reef in the west Pacific distant from the Japanese soil. Pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Okinotori cannot have the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. Waters off 12 nautical miles of it are high seas, where all countries are entitled to freedoms on the high seas such as fishing and so forth. On April 2012, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) adopted the recommendations in regard to the submission made by Japan on the outer limits of its continental shelf, rebuffing Japan's illegal claims based on Okinotori."

It's striking that China is appealing to UNCLOS when it's convenient, just a few weeks before a Court decision that it has already rejected, along with UNCLOS. If, as suggested above, China goes ahead with a plan to try to get the UN General Assembly to strike down UNCLOS, you can be certain that the debate will mention China's position on Okinotori.

This just adds to a growing picture that Chinese officials are delusional regarding their claims to the South China Sea. China's Foreign Ministry (24-May) and The Diplomat

South China Sea: Which countries are on China's side?

China is claiming that 60 countries are on China's side, with only seven or eight opposed. However, an analysis by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the Center for Strategic and International Studies has done the actual research on this issue. AMTI has searched publicly available, official statements in an effort to determine the real positions taken by countries.

What does it mean to be "on China's side"? What AMTI was looking for was not whether countries take one side or the other on China's claims in the South China Sea, but whether countries take one side or the other on whether the Court's ruling will be binding.

AMTI has identified 57 countries that China appears to believe are its supporters. Of those, 8 have publicly confirmed their support, 4 have denied Beijing’s claim of support, and 45 have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China. In contrast, 11 countries plus the European Union have said that the arbitral award will be legally binding and have called on both China and the Philippines to respect it.

The AMTI has divided these countries into four groups:

So China's Foreign Ministry has it backwards: Lots of nations provide no support for China, while only seven are supporting China.

Two of these nations, Afghanistan and Lesotho, are landlocked. Four of them, The Gambia, Kenya, Niger and Sudan, are far away in Africa. Vanuatu is a South Pacific island, once again far from the South China Sea. Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) and The Diplomat

Cognitive dissonance and doubling down in China

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, cognitive dissonance explains many of history's greatest disasters.

The term "cognitive dissonance" refers to the mental problems that occur when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by real life events. The literature contains numerous examples of what happens. Some of the most dramatic examples are those who believe that God will end the world on a specific day, and only true believers will be saved. In many cases, people quit their jobs, sell all their belongings and settle all their affairs, and then wait for the named day.

When the world doesn't end, they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. According to psychologist Leon Festinger's 1957 book "A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance," there are two kinds of behaviors that are common. Some admit they were wrong and devote themselves to returning to their previous lives.

Others "double down." They say that they were right all along, but that God decided to give the world one more chance. They then devote their entire lives to proselytizing. It's possible that several religions began this way.

China's cognitive dissonance is an extremely dangerous situation. China's population apparently widely believes that China's South China Sea claims are "indisputable." This is already clearly wrong, and will be publicly proven wrong if, as expected, the Court rules against China. As we described a few days ago, China has put forward "ironclad proof" in the form of evidence that's at best delusional and at worst fabricated. And China's rejection of UNCLOS is, in my opinion, not going to be widely supported, especially after China itself has cited UNCLOS when convenient.

A commenter to my last article wrote the following:

"Since Sun Tzu introduced his Art of War in the 5th century BC, making false claims, as a form of deceiving an opponent to gain advantage, has been prevalent in China since his time. In particular, to eliminate the influence of Indian Buddhism in China in the Three Kingdom Period (220-280), Chinese historian Yu Huan stated in his work ‘Weilue’ (lit: ‘A Brief History of Wei’): ‘The Buddhist Sutra are on the whole similar to the Canon of Lao-tzu in content. That is because when Lao-tzu left the passes in the west, he traversed the Western Regions and reached India, where he converted the barbarians into Buddhists’ (see Kenneth Ch’en’s ‘Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey’ published by Princeton University Press (1964, page 51). In this context, China’s "Ironclad Proof" is no exception. However, it is a clear indication that Beijing has been so desperate to use whatever it could imagine to support for its nine-dash line claim."

This commenter confirms what we've already known: China is doing everything to prepare for war, and probably already considers itself to be at war.

There is no chance at all that Chinese officials will admit that they've been wrong, or that its population will change its opinions. China is already heavily militarizing the South China Sea, and is already attacking Vietnam's and Philippines' ships with its military. China will react to its cognitive dissonance by doubling down. At best, this will mean a great deal vitriolic anger on the part of Chinese officials. Eventually, it will mean an irreversible military action that will spiral into full-scale war. Wired (Aug 2010)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jun-16 World View -- South China Sea: China's list of supporters is found to be delusional thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel

Russia improves military ties with Israel, will not veto relationship with Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and Israel close to restoring diplomatic relations


Proposed seaport on artificial island off coast of Gaza
Proposed seaport on artificial island off coast of Gaza

Reports indicate that Turkey and Israel are close to restoring diplomatic relations which deteriorated sharply in 2010 after the "Mavi Marmara" incident, during which nine citizens of Turkey were killed by Israel's military.

Turkey was the first Muslim country to formally recognize the state of Israel in 1949, and relations where generally good for decades. When Turkey's current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came to power in 2002 as prime minister, relations became more tense, but still cordial.

Relations seriously deteriorated, starting in 2008, over Israel's relationship with Gaza. Israel imposed a total blockade of Gaza, and Egypt also closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Israel, triggering violent protests by the Gazans. (From January 2008: "In dramatic scene, 60,000 Gazans pour into Egypt through holes blasted through border wall")

Tensions grew in Gaza through 2008. Hamas, the terrorist group governing Gaza, was launching dozens of rockets into Israeli territory every day, while Israeli air strikes struck weapons sites in Gaza, but also killed dozens of Gazans. In December, the exchanges of fire escalated into a full-scale war (Operation Cast Lead), beginning with air strikes followed by a full-scale ground invasion.

At the end of January 2009, Israel's president Shimon Peres and Erdogan got into a passionate debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos. After a heated exchange, a furious Erdogan walked out of the meeting, and went home to a hero's welcome when he returned to Turkey.

In June 2010, international activists send an aid flotilla to Gaza to break Israel's blockade. Israel's military intercepted the flotilla and boarded the lead boat, the Mavi Marmara. In the ensuing fracas, nine Turkish citizens were killed. The entire incident was a disaster for Israel. ( "1-Jun-2010 News -- Wide condemnation of Israel over Gaza flotilla")

As a result, Turkey effectively cut off almost all relations with Israel. It's only now, six years later, that reports indicate that a formula has been found for reconciliation.

It's believed that the situation in Syria has caused Erdogan to be more willing to compromise than he has been in the past. There are three reasons:

These reasons have apparently convinced Erdogan to compromise with Israel. Negotiators from Turkey and Israel are expected to complete a draft agreement in the next few days. Jerusalem Post and Washington Post and AP (30-Jan-2009)

Turkey drops demand for lifting the blockade of Gaza

Erdogan has consistently made three demands of Israel before relations could be restored. Israel would have to formally apologize to Turkey, and Israel did that in 2013. Israel would have to pay compensation to the families of the Turks who died in the Mavi Marmara confrontation, and reports indicate that Israel has agreed to pay $20 million.

The third requirement was that Israel must lift the blockade of Gaza. Turkey has repeatedly said that this is an absolute requirement. Israel has repeatedly said that lifting the blockade was absolutely impossible.

According to a report on RFI, the Turkey has dropped the requirement to lift the blockade, based on a compromise:

Jerusalem Post and Hurriyet (Ankara) and i24News (Israel) and Deutsche Welle

Proposal for offshore seaport raises controversy

The third item in the list above, the proposal for an offshore seaport has been around for a while, and is extremely controversial.

The proposal was first put forward in 2011 by Israel's transportation minister Yisrael Katz. The seaport would be built in international waters, located on a 5-km-long artificial island. The port will be connected to the land by a detachable bridge, which will be under Israeli supervision. Israel would be able to close the bridge at any time, if necessary.

According to Katz:

"I do not think it is right to lock up two million people without any connection to the world. Israel has no interest to make life harder for the population there. But because of security concerns we can’t build an airport or seaport in Gaza."

However, there are plenty of critics.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is said to be opposed to the project, since it would cut the final strings connecting Gaza to the West Bank. Palestinians criticize the project as another excuse to delay removing the Gaza blockade.

An Israeli commentator, Martin Sherman calls the proposal "so glaringly absurd that it transcends what you mistakenly believed was the pinnacle of imbecility," and says that it would encourage further terrorism. Oil Price and Washington Post and Israel Hayom (27-May)

Russia improves military ties with Israel, will not veto relationship with Turkey

At a meeting in Moscow on June 7, Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to strengthen military ties, and to hold joint naval and air military exercises during the summer.

At the same meeting, Putin said that he felt "exceptionally positive" about efforts to restore relations between Israel and Turkey. Putin said, "We believe that any movement of these states and peoples toward each other will have a positive impact on the international situation in general. We welcome this process." Bloomberg (8-June) and Debka (10-June)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey drops lifting of Gaza blockade demand for normalization with Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax

A request to readers: Protect the Generational Dynamics legacy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax


Supposedly, this is a picture of Su Chengfen's 600 year old book (China Daily)
Supposedly, this is a picture of Su Chengfen's 600 year old book (China Daily)

An investigation by the BBC reveals that a Chinese claim of "ironclad proof" of China's South China Sea claims is apparently a hoax.

For several weeks, China's state media has been making a big deal about an "ancient book," 600 years old, that proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in the Paracel Islands and beyond. From there, according to a leap of logic that isn't clear to me, China says that this is "ironclad proof" that the Paracel Islands belong to China.

Here's the description from Chinese media:

"Su Chengfen has spent all his life fishing in the reef-filled South China Sea, guided by a handwritten book more than 600 years old that depicts routes to various remote islands from Hainan province.

The former fishing vessel captain, who lives in the town of Tanmen, cherishes the book, wrapping it in layers of paper even though at 81 it is impossible for him to return to the sea.

He has always known it is precious, as it contains detailed information handed down over the generations, but at first he had not realized its true significance.

Specialists say the information the book contains is undeniable proof of China's sovereignty over Huangyan Island.

"Unlike other versions, it depicts the exact route to Huangyan Island. It clearly proves that generations of Chinese fishermen have worked on the island," said Zhou Weimin, a retired professor at Hainan University."

Another Chinese official says, "It is ironclad proof. ... We can deduce China's historic fishing and sailing rights in the South China Sea, as well as ownership."

Huangyan Island is China's name for Scarborough Shoal, a reef that is a little less than 200 kilometers from Subic Bay, well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone or EEZ. So there's absolutely no way that that this book provides "ironclad proof" of anything. Even if the book is as described, it only proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in Philippine waters centuries ago. It wouldn't be surprising if someone discovered that Philippines fishermen fished in Chinese waters centuries ago, but that doesn't mean that China is Philippines' sovereign territory.

In the sixth decade BC, Julius Caesar's army conquered France, as he described in his Gallic Wars. But that doesn't mean that France is the sovereign territory of Italy. So Su Chengfen's book, even if it existed, would have no value whatsoever that I can see.

However, the BBC sent its China correspondent, John Sudworth, to visit 81 year old Su Chengfen in the town of Tanmen on Hainan island. He wanted to speak to Su, and see this wonderful book for himself. According to Su:

"It was passed down from generation to generation. From my grandfather's generation, to my father's generation, then to me.

It mainly taught us how to go somewhere and come back, how to go to the Paracels and the Spratlys, and how to come back to Hainan Island."

OK. So Sudworth asked to see the book, but Su tells him the book doesn't exist.

"Although the book was important, I threw it away because it was broken.

It was flipped through too many times. The salty seawater on the hands had corroded it... In the end it was no longer readable so I threw it away."

According to Su, the book was thrown away in the late 1980s.

So apparently the whole thing is a hoax. The picture from Chinese media, shown at the top of this article, is some other book. The layers of paper, in which the "cherished book" was wrapped, don't exist either. The "cherished book" was simply thrown out, according to Su.

In particular, all the stuff depicting the "exact route" to the Scarborough Shoal is a 30 year old memory in the head of the 81 year old Su.

Some Chinese media reports claim that there are other books, but look again at the paragraph quoted above:

"Unlike other versions, it depicts the exact route to Huangyan Island. It clearly proves that generations of Chinese fishermen have worked on the island," said Zhou Weimin, a retired professor at Hainan University."

So the other books do not depict the route to Scarborough Shoal.

So China's "ironclad proof" consists of a book that doesn't exist, that may or may not have ever existed, and whose contents if it existed can only be guessed at. And even if it did exist, it only proves that Chinese fishermen were fishing in waters belonging to the Philippines, much as they're doing today. BBC and China Daily (24-May) and Julius Caesar - Gallic Wars - 58-51 BC

The craziness of China's claims in South China Sea

The above story is so crazy and farcical that I would barely believe it happened if I hadn't verified that the claims were made on several Chinese media sites and were refuted on the BBC site, as well as on the televised BBC World News, which showed Sudworth's actual interview with Su. And yet it did happen.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a generational Crisis era is in many ways similar to a human being's midlife crisis. A man may have a happy home with a wife and kids, but suddenly he becomes obsessed with a woman at work and has to have an affair with her, and does, using any ridiculous or bizarre reason to justify it, and ends up wrecking the lives of everyone around him. China is displaying the same kind of destructive and self-destructive behavior as a nation.

A 2014 book called The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia by Bill Hayton is a detailed analysis of all of China's claims to the South China Sea and finds them, to no one's surprise, invalid. If they had any validity, then China would not hesitate to ask the relevant United Nations court to rule on them. Instead, China has angrily refused to let any court tell them what to do, and instead is spending billions of dollars in a vast military buildup that can only lead to war.

Presumably, China is doing this for economic reasons, but Hayton quotes oil industry experts who say that they're skeptical that the South China Sea contains immense reserves of oil and gas, and that the fish stocks are becoming depleted.

Instead, the South China Sea has become a highly nationalistic symbol, backed up by highly irrational, farcical and bizarre justifications, like the alleged 600 year old book described above, and by the widespread belief that the United States is too weak or too tired of war to fight, or that China will win such a war within a few days. This is the same kind of irrational belief that caused America's South to attack Fort Sumter, even though the North was three times as big, or that caused Japan to bomb Pearl Harbor, even though the US was five times as big. In all cases, including China today, these beliefs have been totally delusional and disastrous for everyone.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this much at least is a total lie since the claims are very much in dispute, and are currently being adjudicated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a United Nations international court in the Hague, which is expected to rule on counterclaims by the Philippines in the near future. China has huffed and puffed and blustered on this issue, saying that the court has no right to adjudicate or that any ruling would be ignored, sounding like nothing so much as that middle-aged man caught having an affair.

Irrational beliefs that lead to world wars are typical of generational Crisis eras. The 600 year old book won't be the last one and the Chinese themselves, the ones who survive, will regret it most of all. Asia Sentinel and Economist (13-Sep-2014) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

France calls for European navies to patrol the South China Sea

The military buildup in the South China Sea is not exclusively on China's side. The US Navy has been conducting Freedom of Navigation patrols in the South China Sea, and Japan has sailed warships into Vietnam's Cam Ranh Bay seaport, for the first time since Japan was forced to withdraw from Vietnam at the end of World War II.

France's defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is calling for the European Union to get involved in the South China Sea dispute. According to Le Drian:

"If we want to contain the risk of conflict, we must defend this right, and defend it ourselves.

If the law of the sea is not respected today in the China seas, it will be threatened tomorrow in the Arctic, in the Mediterranean, or elsewhere. ...

This is a message that France will continue to be present at international forums. It’s also a message that France will continue to act upon, by sailing its ships and flying its planes wherever international law will allow, and wherever operational needs request that we do so."

France's navy is already involved, as it has already been deployed three times in the South China Sea so far this year. France has also signed a $40 billion deal in April to sell advanced submarines to Australia. Le Drian would like European navies to have a "regular and visible" presence in the region, to uphold the law of the sea and freedom of navigation.

China's aggressive and virtually unsupported claims to the South China Sea are not the local or regional issue that one might expect, but are quickly expanding to become worldwide international issues. Foreign Policy and Bloomberg and Straits Times (Singapore)

A request to readers: Protect the Generational Dynamics legacy

The text and images for all the 4000 articles that have appeared on the Generational Dynamics web site since 2003 -- over six million words and 4,000 images -- are now available to be downloaded. This includes PDF files for the three books that I've written. They're now available on the download site http://www.generationaldynamics.com/dl/.

With the worsening situation in the South China Sea, with several wars going on in the Mideast, with more displaced refugees in the world today than in decades, just one miscalculation by one person could result in a war that spirals into something really major. The entire internet, including my web site, could instantly become unavailable.

Add to that the fact that I, like anyone else, could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Any one of these events could mean the immediate disappearance of my web site and almost 15 years of work that I put into developing Generational Dynamics would be gone.

So I've posted a download page providing downloads of all the major documents and files, over six million words of text. I would like to ask as many people as possible to download these files and save them somewhere, so that if ten years from now someone is looking for the information about Generational Dynamics, then somebody somewhere will still have a copy, and the work will survive.

The purpose is to protect the Generational Dynamics legacy, and to make sure that this work is preserved, and available to researchers who write books, professors who teach courses, and governments that make policy. Please download these files now. Generational Dynamics download page

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-16 World View -- China's 'ironclad proof' of South China Sea claims revealed as hoax thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric

Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric


Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests.  The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain, after March 15 2011 protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of the kingdom's most prominent Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, accusing him of promoting "sectarianism and violence."

Bahrain's population is 2/3 Shia Muslim, but the country is led by an oppressive Sunni government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. In the days following the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011, Bahrain's security services overreacted with extremely violent and bloody massacres of unarmed protesters, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

According to a statement issued by Bahrain's government on Monday:

"Accordingly, the citizenship of Isa Ahmed Qasim has been revoked. Ever since he received the Bahraini nationality, Qasim has established organizations that follow an external religious political authority, played a major role in creating an extremist sectarian environment and worked on dividing the society alongside sects and in accordance with subordination to his orders.

Qasim has also adopted theocracy and emphasized on the absolute allegiance to the Religious Clerics. Through his sermons and “fatwas”, he exploited the religious pulpit for political purposes to serve foreign interests. He also encouraged sectarianism and violence. Qasim has kept his decisions and positions, which he dictated as religious rituals, dependent on his continuous communication with hostile foreign organizations and parties. In addition, Qasim collected funds without complying with the provisions of the law.

On several occasions, Isa Qasim has violated the supremacy of the law by issuing edicts (fatwas) that affected the elections and its processes. He influenced voters’ decisions using religious sentiments. This extends to all aspects of public affairs, undermining the rights of the people and the rule of law. He also rallied many groups to prevent the issuance of the second section of the Family Law (Jafari Section)."

The phrase "to serve foreign interests" presumably refers to Iran and Hezbollah. Although the 2011 protests were finally put down by massacring the protesters, there have been sporadic protests since then, and the Bahrain government evidently is afraid of a repeat of 2011's full scale anti-Sunni riots.

The government of Iran, which is an equally bloody regime that massacres innocent protesters, issued a statement criticizing the revoking of Qasim's citizenship, and appeared to threaten Bahrain's government with a coup. The statement begins by reciting crimes of Bahrain's regime, the same crimes that Iran's regime regularly commits:

"The oppressed Muslim nation of Bahrain had been under the cruel, biased, unfair, and illegitimate regime of Al-Khalifa for long years. Despite furious acts which included unashamedly racist discrimination, arrest of their religious leaders, imprisoning and torturing women and children, stripping citizenship, violation of their rights without any qualms and several other crimes, this patient people have exercised patience; tightening the pressures has never distracted Bahraini people of their non-violent approach. ...

Seemingly, the Al-Khalifa regime has underestimated and misinterpreted the scope and magnitude of the public wrath; encroachment of the religious leader's rights is definitely a sure redline for the public the crossing of which would set the region ablaze, leaving no alternative than resorting to armed resistance.

The consequences of the possible conflict would be beyond estimation and would rewrite the history through toppling the despotic regime. The supporters of the regime in Manama should accept responsibility for legitimizing the brazen rulers of Bahrain for any bloody confrontation."

The last sentence can and will be interpreted as encouraging a coup in Bahrain, and suggests that Iran would support a coup.

Iran's puppet terror organization, Lebanon-based Hezbollah, issued its own threatening statement, criticizing Bahrain's action, and "[calling] on the Bahrainis to decisively express their rage and discontent in face of the regime's action against Sheikh Qasim." Bahrain News Agency and BBC and Mehr News (Tehran) and Al Manar (Beirut-Hezbollah)

Iran reacts to a series of repeated anti-Shia moves by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia

Normally, Iran is publicly silent about Bahrain's regime, lest it be accused of meddling in Bahrain's affairs, and thereby inviting outsiders to meddle in its own affairs. Furthermore, Bahrain's Shia leaders prefer that Iran stay out, because they like to maintain the public pretense that Iran is not supporting Bahrain's Shia anti-government clerics.

However, the action of revoking the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim appears to have been a kind of "last straw" for Iran, after a series of actions by Saudi and Bahrain officials targeting Shia leaders in their respective countries.

The most explosive action occurred in January, when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr. Iran and Shias were infuriated because the execution implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations as a result. Other Saudi allies followed suit. ( "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran")

Last month, Bahrain's courts sentenced Shia opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman, after he had been found guilty of charges relating to "publicly inciting hatred, an act which disturbed public peace, inciting non-compliance with the law and insulting public institutions." Salman's Al Wefaq National Islamic Society issued a statement calling the decision "an alarming politically-motivated verdict [that] only deepens the political and constitutional crisis in Bahrain."

Early last week, Bahrain's government shut down the Al Wefaq National Islamic Society.

Then on Thursday, a Bahrain court sentenced eight people to 15-year jail terms for forming a "terror group." They also had their citizenships revoked, after convicting them of "establishing and raising donations to fund a terror organization named 'Bahraini Hezbollah'." The implication is that "Bahraini Hezbollah" is a terror group funded by Iran.

Then on Monday, Bahrain revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, Bahrain's leading Shia cleric, and a leader of the opposition.

Perhaps, under "normal" circumstances, this court action would have been ignored by Iran and everyone else. But after so many actions of the same kind, Iran's leaders may have felt they had to do SOMETHING, and they made their veiled threat of a coup, even though they know that an actual coup could lead to full-scale war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. BBC (30-May) and Al Wefaq (30-May) and Al Arabiya (17-Jun) and Press Tv (Tehran, 17-Jun)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-16 World View -- Iran threatens coup, after Bahrain revokes citizenship of Shia cleric thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Jun-16 World View -- Historic Orthodox Christian gathering in Crete exposes sharp divisions

History of Catholic and Orthodox Christian 'Ecumenical' Councils

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Orthodox 'Great and Holy Council' marred by defections and controversies


Eastern Orthodox icon 'Christ's Descent into Hades'.  Unlike Muslims, who forbid the depiction of Mohammed, Orthodox Churches are adorned with many such icons and monuments
Eastern Orthodox icon 'Christ's Descent into Hades'. Unlike Muslims, who forbid the depiction of Mohammed, Orthodox Churches are adorned with many such icons and monuments

It's been in the planning stages since it was first announced in 1961, and now that it's taking place, the news is more about the defections and controversies than the event itself.

It's called the "Great and Holy Council (GHC) of the Eastern Orthodox Churches," and it's meant to be the first ecumenical meeting of all the Orthodox churches since 787. At that time, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches were still together, and they held the Seventh Ecumenical Council of (almost) all the Christian Churches to decide such important issues as whether it's sacrilegious to display images and icons of Jesus Christ in churches.

Since 787, the Orthodox and Catholic churches have been split. In the "Schism of 1054," the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople excommunicated each other, and in 1204 the Catholic Crusades attacked, sacked and plundered the Orthodox church in Constantinople.

So Sunday was the first day of the Great and Holy Council, hosted in Crete by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, considered "first among equals." It would be the first ecumenical meeting of Orthodox churches since 787. It would bring together the leaders of all 14 independent Eastern Orthodox churches, representing more than 300 million Orthodox Christians.

Unfortunately, there have been several disagreements and defections.

The first disagreement was that Russia and Bulgaria did not want to recognize Bartholomew as "first among equals," so they insisted that the meeting be held at a round table. That issue was resolved, but Bulgaria pulled out anyway, citing a lack of "particularly important" topics on the agenda.

The Damascus-based Antioch Patriarchate also pulled out because of a dispute it was having with the Jerusalem Patriarchate over which of them had jurisdiction over the small Orthodox community in Qatar. The Georgian Orthodox Church pulled out over a doctrinal issue.

One of the most divisive issues in Orthodoxy is the relationship with the Catholic church. Some groups want to have closer relations with the Catholics, while others consider them heretics, citing particularly the 1204 Catholic sacking of Constantinople.

But the most divisive issue of all right now is that the Russians want their Patriarch Kirill to displace Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople as the "first among equals."

When the Ottoman Muslims sacked Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, Russia chose to take on the mantle of being "the third Rome," and head the Orthodox Church. Whatever traction was gained by that plan was thrown away by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, where Nicolai Lenin (Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov) led the destruction and sacking of the Russian Orthodox Church, and turned Russia and the Soviet Union into atheistic states.

So now Vladimir Putin is in power in Russia. He wants to ignore the historic role of Constantinople and also ignore Lenin's destruction of the Russian Orthodox Church, and put Moscow in the leadership of Orthodox churches worldwide.

So Russia has also announced that it will not be attending the ecumenical council in Crete this week.

Another controversy overshadowing the Great and Holy Council is that Putin used Orthodox religious history as a justification for the Russian invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula. ( "20-Mar-14 World View -- Russia's annexation of Crimea splits the Russian Orthodox Church")

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has for centuries been a part of the Russian Orthodox Church, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea have led to a debate as to whether the Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church should be recognized as an independent church, separate from Russia. Patriarch Bartholomew is believed to be in favor of recognizing it, something that the Russians would angrily oppose. Although that issue has been officially removed from this week's agenda, it may return. Christian Today (2-June) and AP and Guardian (London) and Kiev Post and Tass (Moscow)

History of Catholic and Orthodox Christian 'Ecumenical' Councils

Christianity's first Ecumenical Council was held in 325 AD in Nicea, an ancient city just east of today's Istanbul (Constantinople). The Council of Nicea was a meeting of all Christian churches, led not by the Pope but by the Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine of Rome. The objective of the meeting was to unify the different regional branches, and to resolve some important questions.

At that time, many questions of Christian theology had not yet been decided. One of the most important was the divinity of Jesus Christ. If Jesus was born, then how could he be divine? Although there was debate, the Council ratified the view that he was a man, but was God in the form of human flesh.

The details of how it makes sense that Jesus was both human and divine were extremely controversial. It was discussed further at the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople in 381, again in the Third Ecumenical Council, held in Ephesus, an Aegean sea port, in 431. By the time of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held Chalcedon, near Constantinople, in 451, the differences on this issue were extremely vitriolic.

This was the time of the first major split within Christianity, as six branches of Christianity refused to recognize the Fourth Ecumenical Council, in a controversy that has never been resolved. Today, these are usually called the "Oriental Orthodox Christian" churches, comprised of the Ethiopian, Coptic (Egyptian), Armenian, Syrian, Indian and Eritrean Churches. These were all churches that had existed since apostolic times, and the major political issue was that they didn't wish to be controlled by Rome. The Fifth Ecumenical Council (in Constantinople in 553) and the Sixth Ecumenical Council (in Constantinople in 680) attempted without success to resolve the split.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, in Nicea in 787, is the last one that was recognized. At this one, the major controversy was was between the "iconoclasts" and "iconophiles." "Iconoclast" means "image smasher" or destroyer of religious icons and monuments. The iconoclasts, who were outvoted, said that religious art was idolatry and must be destroyed. If Jesus is divine, is it not sacrilegious to worship an icon of Jesus as if it were Jesus himself? The iconophiles loved icons, and argued that they were man's dynamic way of expressing the divine through art and beauty. The latter argument won out.

There's also reason to believe that the argument over icons was heavily influenced by the rise of Islam at that time. The Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris in January 2015 was supposedly motivated by prohibited artistic representations of the Prophet Mohammed, and this prohibition was coming into effect at the time of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

That was the last time there was sufficient unity in the Christian churches to hold a worldwide Ecumenical Council, although there were smaller regional meetings.

In 1054, the Pope in Rome sent a letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople demanding that the latter submit to the Pope as head of all the churches. The Patriarch refused, and so the Pope and the Patriarch excommunicated each other on July 16, 1054. The "Schism of 1054" has never been healed.

Things got much worse in 1204 during the Crusades. The Catholics, on their way to fighting the Muslims in Jerusalem, sacked Constantinople, and placed a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia. It was not until 2001 when the Pope John Paul visited Athens and, encountering large anti-Catholic protests, that the Catholics apologized for the sacking of Constantinople, and made a plea for forgiveness. ( "25-May-14 World View -- Pope Francis visits Mideast to reconcile with Jews, Orthodox, and Muslims")

The Orthodox Christians were generally excluded from the Ecumenical Councils held by the Catholics over the centuries, but they were controversial nonetheless, even in modern times. The Second Vatican Council held by the Catholics in 1962-65 created a new split within the Catholic Church, when the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) refused to recognize the legitimacy of its edicts. Pope Francis is currently working to heal this rift.

It was at the time of the Second Vatican Council that plans for an Ecumenical Council of all the Orthodox Churches was announced in 1961.

So in view of that history, it should not be surprising to anyone that the attempt to create a new Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Council, a Great and Holy Council (GHC) of Eastern Orthodox Churches, announced in 1961, has run into a great deal of controversy, as controversy has always been the norm, since the beginning.

It's also interesting to note that it's the norm for religions to target small regional or national populations. You can be a "Catholic" anywhere in the world, but you can't just be an "Orthodox Christian," unless you're a "Greek Orthodox" or "Russian Orthodox" or some other branch. The same thing is true of the Protestant religion, which has about 20 different churches in the United States alone, each targeting a different group. There are only three religions that have "gone viral" and become virtually universal: Catholicism, Sunni Islam and Buddhism. For example, in China, you'll find plenty of Catholics, plenty of Sunni Muslims, and plenty of Buddhists, but few Greek Orthodox or Shia Muslims or Hindus. Orthodox Wiki and Catholic World Report and World Council of Churches and National Catholic Register

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-16 World View -- Historic Orthodox Christian gathering in Crete exposes sharp divisions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Jun-16 World View -- Pak-Afghan border crisis revives controversy over 120 year old Durand Line

Pakistan reopens border crossing with Pakistan after week of gunfights

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan reopens border crossing with Pakistan after week of gunfights


Hundreds of trucks backed up at the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Reuters)
Hundreds of trucks backed up at the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Reuters)

Pakistan reopened the Torkham border gate, a major border crossing with Afghanistan on Saturday, after keeping it closed for almost a week amid cross-border gunfights that killed at least one Afghan border police officer and one Pakistani army major.

Thousands of vehicles normally pass through the Torkham crossing every week, making it a vital trade link between the countries. During the last week, there have been long lines of trucks backed up and waiting at the Torkham gate, on both sides of the Khyber Pass, a well-known mountainous transit route linking the two countries.

The border between the two countries has been tense for years. It's been particularly ironic that for many years the headquarters of the Afghan Taliban was in Pakistan, while the headquarters of the Pakistan Taliban was in Afghanistan. Each group would cross the border to commit terrorist acts, and then would flee back across the border to escape approaching security forces.

A turning point for Pakistan was reached after a horrific January 20 terror attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda in northwest Pakistan, killing 21 lives including a professor. Investigation showed that the perpetrators had crossed the border from Afghanistan, and then crossed back. Pakistan's army decided that it was necessary to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings.

Afghanistan opposed this plan because hundreds of trucks and thousands of people cross the border every week for trade, work and medical care, and because the location of the border is in dispute. Pakistan went ahead with the construction of the border gates, and that lead to the gunfights last week.

Pakistan finally reopened the border crossing on Saturday, but will only allow people to cross from Afghanistan to Pakistan if they have the proper documents - a visa and a valid passport. Since thousands of people have been crossing the border for years with no documents, this crisis is far from over.

Thousands of Afghans conducted protests earlier this week in two Afghan cities, Jalalabad and Lashkar Gah, chanting "Death to Pakistan." Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal, has threatened to resign. "I don't see any reason for me to continue my current job" unless Pakistan suspends its construction of new installations pending negotiations.

However, a Pakistan official says, "This gate (is) considered essential to check and verify documentation of all border crossers." CNN and Dawn (Pakistan) and Khaama (Afghanistan) and Al-Jazeera

Tensions grow over the Durand Line defining the Pak-Afghan border


Pakistan army image showing the Torkham border gate 37 meters inside Pakistan
Pakistan army image showing the Torkham border gate 37 meters inside Pakistan

According to Pakistan's military, "In order to check movement of terrorists through Torkham, Pakistan is constructing a gate on (our) own side of the border as a necessity to check unwanted and illegal movement." According to Pakistan, the Torkham border gate is being built 37 meters within Pakistan. However, Afghanistan disagrees, saying that the gate is being built one kilometer within Afghanistan.

The disagreement is over the border line separating the two countries. In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand, Britain's Indian foreign secretary at the time, signed an agreement with Abdur Rahman Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, defining the 2640 km border, known as the "Durand Line."

However, after the 1947 Partition war that partitioned the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, Afghanistan reneged on the agreement, and asserted claims to additional territory with Pakistan. Since then, efforts to renegotiate the agreement have been torpedoed by both sides. Since 9/11/2001, the Durand Line has taken on special significance, because of Afghan war and by the bombing by American warplanes and drones of Taliban targets in Pakistan's tribal area.

It seems pretty certain that the border crossing crisis is far from over. Thousands of people are going to be inconvenienced by Pakistan's requirement that anyone crossing the border must have a visa and valid passport, and anyway, Afghanistan is certain to renew is claim that the Durand Line is not valid, and Pakistan's new border crossing is actually on Afghan territory. AFP and The Diplomat and The Nation (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-16 World View -- Pak-Afghan border crisis revives controversy over 120 year old Durand Line thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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18-Jun-16 World View -- Pressure mounts on European Union to resume admitting Syrian refugees

Médecins Sans Frontières announces it will reject further European aid

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Children in Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps forced into rape, prostitution


People demonstrate in support of refugees in Athens on Thursday (Guardian)
People demonstrate in support of refugees in Athens on Thursday (Guardian)

A report by Unicef has found that sexual exploitation of children living in refugee camps in northern France is common on a daily basis. Many young boys are raped, and many young girls are raped and forced into prostitution.

The study was based on interview with 60 unaccompanied children aged from 11 to 17 between January and April. There are 500 unaccompanied children in camps in Calais and Dunkirk at the end of March.

Many of them have family members in the UK who are waiting for them to arrive. However, processing of children has been very slow, and only 30 of the 500 unaccompanied children have so far been brought to the UK.

In order to reach France, human traffickers have already charged them $3,000 to $12,000. They are forced to pay an "entry fee" before they're allowed to live in the camps. Once in the camp, traffickers are charging another $6,000 to cross the channel into Britain, a higher price than ever before.

The Unicef report quotes one 16 year old girl as saying "I know that if I pay or offer sex, I will cross more quickly. I have been asked to do this. It’s hard to say no." A boy says that he's "gassed and beaten here" in France.

For these unaccompanied children, there's little protection from the cold and no access to schooling, and they are subjected to sexual exploitation, violence and forced labor on a daily basis. There's also evidence that they're being forced to commit crimes.

Unicef is demanding that, at the very least, unaccompanied children with families in the UK should be processed more quickly and allowed to travel to their families.

This is an explosive situation. On the one hand, you a massive humanitarian disaster involving children on a daily basis, in one modern, developed country, France, wishing to travel to another modern, developed country, Britain, to see their families. On the other hand, you have European populations in Europe that are increasingly resistant to allowing refugees into their countries under any circumstances whatsoever. This situation will not change if the "Brexit" referendum passes, and Britain leaves Europe, and almost certainly will worsen, because France will no longer be under any obligation to prevent refugees in Calais from crossing the Channel to Britain.

Those who don't like these conclusions shouldn't blame me. Think of me as the weatherman. I'm not saying whether the category 5 hurricane is good or bad, but I'm only telling you that it's coming. There is no happy ending to this crisis. Unicef and Christian Today and Belfast Telegraph

Médecins Sans Frontières announces it will reject further European aid

In a move that my mother would probably have called "cutting off your nose to spite your face," the international aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) announced on Friday that they will no longer accept money from the European Union because of its "shameful" response to the refugee crisis, especially as the EU-Turkey refugee deal is being implemented.

According to International Secretary General Jerome Oberreit:

"For months MSF has spoken out about a shameful European response focused on deterrence rather than providing people with the assistance and protection they need. The EU-Turkey deal goes one step further and has placed the very concept of “refugee” and the protection it offers in danger. ...

Is Europe’s only offer to refugees that they stay in countries they are desperate to flee? Once again, Europe’s main focus is not on how well people will be protected, but on how efficiently they are kept away. ...

Europe’s attempt to outsource migration control is having a domino effect, with closed borders stretching all the way back to Syria. People increasingly have nowhere to turn. Will the situation in Azaz where 100,000 people are blocked between closed borders and front lines become the rule, rather than the deadly exception?"

The last sentence refers to Azaz, a city in Syria with 300,000 people, of which 200,000 are already displaced. The forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are now within 5 km of Azaz, and have threatened a huge massacre if they take control of the city.

It's not clear what MSF is advocating for Azaz. The city is close to the border of Turkey, and perhaps the point of Oberreit's statement is that he wants those 300,000 people to be permitted to flee to Turkey, and perhaps from there to Europe.

This is a total fantasy on MSF's part. As I read the situation, ISIS is going to torture, massacre and slaughter tens or hundreds of thousands of people in Azaz, and nobody is going to stop them. Those people are already as good as dead, and the dead ones are the lucky ones.

Oberreit is turning down something like $50 million in aid from the EU that it could use to help people as part of its mission. By turning this money down, Oberreit apparently hopes to shame Turkey and the EU into permitting those 300,000 refugees to flee reach the EU. Instead, they're just going to lose $50 million in aid for no reason at all. Médecins Sans Frontières and Reuters and Middle East Eye

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-16 World View -- Pressure mounts on European Union to resume admitting Syrian refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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17-Jun-16 World View -- UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over'

Saudi Arabia is condemned for Yemen's humanitarian disaster

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over'


Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)
Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)

The United Arab Emirates' involvement in more than a year of war in Yemen is "practically over", a top diplomat was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Up until late 2014, Yemen had been governed by a government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. In late 2014, the Iran-backed Shia Houthi militias from northwest Yemen moved south and took control of the capital city Sanaa, and then continue to move south, capturing a number of cities.

15 months ago, on March 26 of last year, Saudi Arabia announced that a 10-country coalition, led by the Saudis, would "free Sanaa and the rest of the northern cities" from Houthi control.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the best-equipped militaries in the region, and has been a major contributor to the Saudi-led coalition. However, the UAE have suffered numerous losses in the past year. 80 UAE soldiers have been killed, including four pilots killed in two separate helicopter crashes this week. In September, 45 UAE troops were killed by a Houthi missile attack, marking the deadliest day for the UAE military in its 44-year history.

In March, the Saudis announced that it would 'end major combat operations' in Yemen, claiming that they've met most of their objectives. However, most observers consider the war to have been a failure. The Houthis are still in control of Sanaa, while other parts of the country have gone back and forth between control of the two sides. Furthermore, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has made strong gains in the last year, and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is establishing a presence.

UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, gave a speech saying "Our standpoint today is clear: war is over for our troops; we’re monitoring political arrangements, empowering Yemenis in liberated areas." He then elaborated online:

"[The UAE will remain] a capable and honest ally alongside Riyadh in the military and political realm.

This is a partnership that was reinforced by the Yemen crisis and it is essential for the future. The Riyadh-Abu Dhabi axis will emerge out of this crisis with more strength and effectiveness, and the strategic requirements of the region make this imperative.

Responsibility lies with the Yemenis - of all their components, to build bridges of communication and to reach an agreement on the state and its institutions. A spirit of national responsibility is needed for success."

Most of this appears to be wishful thinking, because the outcome has been a disaster for both Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Saudis have received international condemnation for the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and yet the Houthis are still in control of Sanaa and much of Yemen.

It appears to be at least a partial victory for Iran, since Iran has reportedly provided the Houthis with weapons and other support. However, if it's a victory at all then it's a Pyrrhic victory because Yemen has been practically destroyed by the fighting.

It may be that the real victors are the two jihadist groups, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Both organizations have taken advantage of the chaos to gain territory. However, although AQAP is firmly enmeshed in Yemen's tribal networks, ISIS is perceived as foreign.

Despite UAE's announcement, fighting is continuing in Yemen on several fronts, with dozens of people killed and wounded in the the last couple of days. Gulf News (Dubai) and AP and Council on Foreign Relations (19-Apr)

Saudi Arabia is condemned for Yemen's humanitarian disaster

Although the blame for the damage to Yemen is shared by all the participants, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, AQAP and ISIS, the Saudis are receiving the bulk of the international condemnation because of its bombing campaign. There have been repeated stories in the last year that bombs from the Saudi coalition have struck schools, hospitals, and civilian homes. There have also been reports that some Saudi bombs have been US-made cluster bombs, which are considered illegal.

According to the UN, at least 6,200 people - about half of them civilians - have been killed and 2.8 million others have been displaced.

At the beginning of June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report condemning both the Saudis and the Houthis for killing and maiming children in Yemen. According to Ban's report, the Saudi coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries last year, killing 510 and wounding 667.

"Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict.

In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals."

Saudi Arabia was added to an annual blacklist of states and armed groups that violate children's rights during conflict.

However, the Saudis protested and said that the casualty figures were "wildly exaggerated." Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the UN, Abdullah al-Mouallimi, complained to Ban about the report, and said, "If there are any casualties from the coalition side, they would be far, far lower." He added that used "the most up-to-date equipment in precision targeting."

So a few days later, Ban removed Saudi Arabia from the list. Human Rights Watch sharply criticized the removal, saying that Ban's office had "hit a new low." A UN spokesman says that Saudi Arabia was removed from the list pending an investigation of the numbers in the report.

However, this isn't the time something like this has happened. In the 2014 report, Israel and Hamas were put onto the blacklist, and then removed a few days later. Al-Jazeera and Reuters and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-16 World View -- UAE backs out of Saudi coalition in Yemen, saying 'War is over' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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16-Jun-16 World View -- ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China

Obama administration reevaluates plans for Afghanistan troop withdrawal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China


Silly group picture of foreign ministers at Tuesday's ASEAN meeting purporting to portray unity (AFP)
Silly group picture of foreign ministers at Tuesday's ASEAN meeting purporting to portray unity (AFP)

Foreign ministers at the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), issued a statement on Tuesday criticizing China's actions in the South China Sea, though without directly naming China:

"We expressed our serious concerns over recent and ongoing developments, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and which may have the potential to undermine peace, security and stability in the South China Sea. ...

We emphasized the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities, including land reclamation, which may raise tensions in the South China Sea.

We stressed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)."

Within hours, apparently under pressure from China, Malaysia's foreign ministry announced that the ASEAN statement was being withdrawn"

"We have to retract the media statement by the ASEAN foreign ministers... as there are urgent amendments to be made."

However, a day later, neither Malaysia nor any other ASEAN member has issued an updated statement, or explained what the "urgent amendments" are.

This is a major embarrassment for ASEAN. If they issue a new statement with the South China Sea language watered down or missing, then the media will say that ASEAN is a China puppet.

China has been following Hitler's example by annexing regions of the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

ASEAN has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Of these ten nations, Cambodia has been China's most reliable ally. At a 2012 meeting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodia vetoed attempts to even discuss the South China Sea issues. That's easy enough for Cambodia, since China isn't confiscating any region belonging to Cambodia.

For a long time, Laos sided with Vietnam on the issue, but last month, Laos flip-flopped and sided with China. That's also easy enough for Laos, for the same reason as Cambodia.

Singapore has been trying to act as a mediator between China and the other countries, but the withdrawal of the original ASEAN statement apparently has angered Singapore, as Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan walked out of a press conference he was co-chairing with China's foreign minister, Wang Yi.

Laos will be hosting the next ASEAN meeting in July, and fireworks are expected. The Star (Myanmar) and The Diplomat and AFP

Obama administration reevaluates plans for Afghanistan troop withdrawal

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a meeting at Nato headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday the Obama administration is reevaluating its previous plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.

There are currently 9,800 American troops in Afghanistan. The plan was to reduce that level to 5,500 by the end of 2016, but now that plan is apparently about to be changed, much to the surprise of no one.

This new announcement comes just four days after another administration reversal. ( "11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles")

Here's what President Obama said in a speech in December 2009, just one week before he was scheduled to leave to accept his Nobel Peace Prize. He referred to a "review" of the situation in Afghanistan that his administrations had been conducting:

"This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.

Obama was bitterly criticized by military analysts for setting an 18-month deadline, and of course the analysts were right and Obama was dead wrong. Obama has been forced to backtrack on his 18-month commitment multiple times, and Wednesday's speech by Ash Carter indicates that the next flip-flop is about to occur.

When Obama took office in 2008, he had expected to be able to direct the American withdrawal from Iraq and then quickly win in Afghanistan. Those promises are in shambles, as are all Obama's policies for Afghanistan and the Mideast. This is what happens when we elect a president with absolutely no clue what's going on in the world, and it looks like it's going to happen again. Washington Post and Washington Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-16 World View -- ASEAN makes humiliating South China Sea reversal under pressure from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues

Brexit: The polls versus the bookies

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues


The Sun (London) endorsed Brexit option to 'leave the EU', as stocks sold off and German bond yields went negative (ZeroHedge)
The Sun (London) endorsed Brexit option to 'leave the EU', as stocks sold off and German bond yields went negative (ZeroHedge)

The interest rate paid by Germany's Bundesbank (central bank) if you deposit money with them for ten years has gone negative. That means that if you deposit money with them, then you'll get less money back, instead of more money, as would happen in "normal" times.

That's the meaning of the announcement that the yield (interest rate) on Germany's 10-year bund (bond) fell briefly on Tuesday to -0.033%, before closing at the end of the day at -0.028%. It also means that if the Bundesbank lends money to someone, then they'll pay you to take their money, rather than charge you.

Of course, ordinary citizens can't borrow money from the central bank, but regional banks can. The Bundesbank wants to encourage regional banks to borrow money, and then lend that money out to businesses to stimulate the economy. That's the reasoning behind negative interest rates.

Germany is just the most recent country whose central bank has adopted negative interest rates on 10 year bonds. The Bank of Japan (BOJ) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB) have done the same.

Other countries still have positive interest rates for 10 year bonds, but have negative interest rates on shorter term bonds. (As a general rule, a shorter-term loan pays a higher interest rate than a longer-term loan because a shorter-term loan is considered less risky.)

Austria, Sweden, Netherlands, France, Denmark and Belgium have negative interest rates on 4 or 5 year bonds, while Finland has negative interest rates on 3 year bonds.

The yields on UK gilts (bonds) are still positive, but they fell to 1.18% on 10 year gilts on Tuesday, a record low in more than 3 centuries of trading.

All of these countries' central banks are adopting negative interest rates in the hope of inflating their currencies and promoting growth. Instead, growth is flat, and the currencies are increasingly deflationary.

Generational Dynamics predicted that all of this would happen, as I've been writing since 2003. Mainstream economists have repeatedly been wrong about all this, time after time.

In fact, in the early 2000s, when interest rates were decreasing to around 2%, mainstream economists began predicting inflation or hyperinflation. They've continued predicting that high inflation would begin next quarter for quarter after quarter, and they've been wrong every time. Mainstream economists have consistently been clueless about what's going on.

The fact is that Keynesian economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. Monetarist economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. Austrian school economics is dead wrong because it doesn't take generational theory into account. None of these branches has predicted correctly for at least 15 years.

As I've pointed out many, many times, mainstream economists didn't predict and can't explain the tech bubble of the 1990s, didn't predict and can't explain the huge credit and real estable bubble of the mid-2000s decade, and the real estate collapse and credit crisis after 2007. In almost all cases, they didn't even know that there'd been a real estate bubble until around 2009, two years after it had started to burst.

As I've been writing since 2003, the global financial system is in a deflationary spiral. High inflation and superinflation, which many economists have incorrectly predicted for years, is not going to happen. Instead, deflation is growing and will continue to grow. Central bankers are finally beginning to grasp this, which is why they're adopting negative interest rates as a move of total desperation to stop the deflationary spiral.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the world financial system is headed for a global panic and crash, with 100% certainty. Deutsche Welle and CNBC and Bloomberg

Brexit: The polls versus the bookies

There was a global selloff of stocks on Tuesday. This is consistent with the falling yields (interest rates) on bonds. When people sell stocks and put the money into bonds, then by the law of supply and demand, the price of the bonds goes up, which means that the yields go down.

Since stocks are considered to be more risky than bonds, some analysts are calling Tuesday's actions a "rush for safety." Investors who fear that stock prices will fall can sell their stocks and use the money to purchase bonds, even at negative interest rates, just so their money will be safe.

Many analysts are blaming this rush to safety on the fact that on June 23, UK citizens will be voting on the "Brexit" referendum, to decide whether the UK should leave the European Union. What's happened in the last couple of weeks is that a number of new polls have come out indicating that more and more Britons are favoring the "leave" option. A Guardian/ICM poll gave "leave" a 7 point lead on Monday, while a Times/YouGov poll gave "leave" a 5 point lead. Many investors believe that a vote to leave the EU will cause financial chaos, at least in the short run. According to analysts, this is the reason for the "rush to safety."

However, many people believe that the polls are wrong. Many people are reluctant to admit to pollsters that they're going to vote for a "politically incorrect" choice, so they tell pollsters one thing and then vote the other way in the privacy of the voting booth.

So it's perhaps not surprising the bookies and betting firms are placing a 60% or better chance that voters will choose the "remain" option in the Brexit referendum vote.

However, only a month ago, bookies were placing an 80% probability on "remain." So although the bookies still favor "remain," the probability has been falling, and may go below 50% by referendum day. Bloomberg and Reuters and Bloomberg and ZeroHedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-16 World View -- German 10 year bund yield goes negative, as deflationary spiral continues thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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14-Jun-16 World View -- Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war

Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war


Eritrean soldiers march during the country's Independence Day (Reuters)
Eritrean soldiers march during the country's Independence Day (Reuters)

Heavy clashes have broken out along the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Although there have been occasional exchanges of gunfire ever since a two-year border war ended with a peace deal in 2000, these are the first involved heavy artillery and masses of troops.

Eritrea's ministry of information blamed Ethiopia, saying on Sunday, "Ethiopia unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front."

Ethiopia blamed Eritrea, saying, "Eritrean forces started shelling our positions, including civilian ambulances, and we responded."

It's not known what triggered the new violence. Eritrea is currently celebrating 25 years since it achieved independence from Ethiopia in 1991, and perhaps those celebrations triggered the violence.

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a report accusing Eritrea of repeated human rights violations, including crimes against humanity. According to the report:

"The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991. Eritrean officials have engaged in a persistent, widespread and systematic attack against the country’s civilian population since 1991. They have committed, and continue to commit, the crimes of enslavement, imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, other inhumane acts, persecution, rape and murder. ...

The commission has heard of no plans to hold national elections. ...

The commission finds that the gross human rights violations it documented in its previous report persist, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture, killings, sexual and gender-based violence, discrimination on the basis of religion and ethnicity, and reprisals for the alleged conduct of family members. In addition, many of those subjected to enforced disappearance in the past remain unaccounted for. ...

Eritreans continue to be subjected to indefinite military/national service. The Government has recently confirmed that there are no plans to limit its duration to the statutory 18 months. Conscripts are drafted for an indefinite duration of service in often abusive conditions, and used as forced labor."

Some observers are accusing Eritrea of starting the border war with Ethiopia to distract from the human rights report. International Business Times and AFP and UN Human Rights Council

Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea


Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa

These two countries have been linked since at least the second century AD.

Ethiopia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, and was a tribal society ruled by emperors until the 1800s. However, a split between Ethiopia and Eritrea occurred in the 700s with the rise of Islam and the Arab trade along the Red Sea, and what is now Eritrea became part of the Islamic Empire, and later the Ottoman Empire.

Italy colonized the region in the 1860s, in the so-called Scramble for Africa, so named because after it was discovered in the 1850s that malaria could be controlled with quinine, England, Belgium, France, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Germany all competed with each other to colonize different parts of Africa.

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened, connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, and Italian shipping firms became active. Large stretches of Eritrea's coastline were acquired from the local sultans and transferred to Italian control. By the mid-1880s, the Italian army moved into Eritrea, displacing the Ottomans, and challenging the Ethiopian empire.

In 1889, Menelik II rose to the position of Emperor of Ethiopia. The "Italian-Ethiopian War" (1889-1896) was a generational crisis war for Ethiopia. Menelik inflicted on Italy the most humiliating and bloody defeat ever experienced by a colonial power in Africa. In the outcome, Italy retained Eritrea as a Red Sea colony, populating it with thousands of Italian settlers, developing road and rail transport, but doing little to improve the lives of Eritreans.

Ethiopia gained independence, and by 1914 and the beginning of WW I, all of black Africa except Ethiopia and Liberia were European colonies.

By 1935, Eritrea was a colony of Italy, and Ethiopia had a new emperor, one who had taken the title Haile Selassie, meaning "Might of the Trinity," emphasizing the fact that Ethiopia was a largely Christian country.

In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini ordered an invasion of Ethiopia, partly in revenge for Italy's humiliating defeat in 1896. Mussolini announced the establishment of a new Italian empire, including Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, under the name Italian East Africa. Haile Selassie fled the country.

When Mussolini brought Italy into World War II on Hitler's side, in June 1940, Haile Selassie won the cooperation of Britain in launching a counterattack against the Italian forces in Italian East Africa. By 1941, Haile Selassie was once again emperor of Ethiopia. After the war, the United Nations made Eritrea a part of Ethiopia, an autonomous federal province with its own constitution and elected government, something that the Muslims in Eritrea strongly opposed.

From the above description, one can see that although World War II was a generational crisis war for Italy and Britain, with part of the war fought on Ethiopian soil, it was not a crisis war for Ethiopia itself. In fact, with the previous crisis war having climaxed in 1896, this was a generational Unraveling era for Ethiopia. In such an era (like America in the 1990s), there is little appetite for war among the general population, except perhaps for quick police actions. Although Ethiopia and Eritrea changed hands several times during the WW II time period, the fighting was mostly between foreign armies, and did not heavily involve the local population.

In the mid-1950s, the region entered a generational Crisis era, and the fault line between Muslims and Christians began to inflame. In 1958, Eritrea's Muslim leaders formed the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), consisting mainly of students, intellectuals, and urban wage laborers. Low-level warfare continued throughout the 1960s.

In the 1970s, the Eritrean independence movement took another turn with the formation of a powerful Marxist offshoot of the ELF, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF). Haile Selassie was toppled in 1974, after which factional warfare began to increase.

This might have led to a full-scale generational crisis war, but there was a major development: In 1977, the USSR allied with the Ethiopian government, took control of Eritrea's Red Sea ports, and provided Ethiopia's government with huge supplies of arms, enough to suppress the EPLF guerrillas. (This is what Russia has been doing in Syria for several years.)

The guerrilla war fought by Marxist rebels against the well-armed Ethiopian government climaxed in May 1991 with the collapse of Ethiopia's government, coincident with the collapse of the USSR. Eritrea finally declared independence. By that time, there were 500,000 refugees that had fled to refugee camps in Sudan, and they had to be resettled in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In 1998, a new border war broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This was a non-crisis war, with a quality very similar to World War I, where trenches were dug, mines were laid, and bodies of dead soldiers were strewn about. Of the 400,000 men who fought on both sides, 50,000 soldiers died.

A peace deal in 2000 ended the two-year border war, but it was never fully implemented, and is still in dispute. There have been occasional border incidents ever since then.

Both countries are now in the midst of a generational Awakening era, and the rhetoric on both sides is heating up again. Expect political conflict, riots, demonstrations, low-level violence and police actions, but a full-scale all-out war, which many international observers fear, is not going to happen at this time. HistoryWorld - Eritrea and HistoryWorld - Ethiopia and Library of Congress - Ethiopia

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-16 World View -- Heavy fighting along Eritrea-Ethiopia border raises fears of war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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13-Jun-16 World View -- Orlando nightclub terror attack may be result of ISIS and al-Qaeda troubles

Al-Qaeda leader swears allegiance to Taliban's new leader

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Qaeda leader swears allegiance to Taliban's new leader


ISIS social media photo
ISIS social media photo

The rise of a major competitive jihadist group, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), is forcing al-Qaeda and the Taliban to reassess their strategic directions.

That may be one of the reasons that on Saturday, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a 14-minute online audio message, pledged allegiance to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Both of the terrorist organization leaders have something major in common: They both rose to their current positions after their predecessors were killed by the US military. Al-Zawahiri became the new head of al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by US Navy Seals in 2011. Akhundzada became the new leader of the Afghan Taliban after his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed by US drone strike in Pakistan three weeks ago.

According to Saturday's online audio message, which has not yet been confirmed, al-Zawahiri said:

"As leader of the al Qaeda organization for jihad, I extend my pledge of allegiance once again, the approach of Osama to invite the Muslim nation to support the Islamic Emirate [of Afghanistan]. ...

We pledge allegiance to you on jihad to liberate every inch of the lands of the Muslims that are invaded and stolen - from Kashgar to al-Andalus, from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa, from Kashmir to Jerusalem, from the Philippines to Kabul, and from Bukhara to Samarkand."

The logic behind this pledge is that al-Zawahiri is a military leader, an Egyptian doctor-turned-militant, while Akhundzada is an Islamic legal scholar. The audio message alludes to the fact that when the Taliban were sheltering Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, bin Laden also pledged his allegiance to the Afghan Taliban leader. However, bin Laden ended up bringing the Taliban a lot of grief in the form of the US war in Afghanistan that defeated the Taliban and threw them out of government after bin Laden set the 9/11/2001 attacks in motion.

Today, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are uniting because they are both concerned about the rise of ISIS. Although ISIS operates mostly in the Mideast, some Afghan insurgent commanders have broken away from the Taliban to pledge support to ISIS, and ISIS has been displacing the influence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, and also of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in northern Africa, especially in Egypt, Libya and Nigeria.

To make matters worse for al-Qaeda, there has been infighting between different Taliban warlords and factions in Afghanistan, and this has helped ISIS. Thus, the pledge of support may be a desperate call for unity against ISIS.

Another development is that the death of Akhundzada's predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, has exposed a relationship between the Taliban and Iran. This is a "marriage of convenience" between Sunni terrorists and Shia terrorists, who are concerned about a common enemy: ISIS. Khaama Press (Kabul) and Deutsche Welle and Long War Journal and Reuters

ISIS losing ground may have led to Orlando terror attack

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has been claiming credit for Sunday's Orlando Florida nightclub terror attack, but we know that the gunman Omar Mateen was acting as a "lone wolf," without any known contact with ISIS. Nonetheless, ISIS may have indirectly caused the attack by its announcements in the last few weeks asking "lone wolves" to strike soft targets in Europe and America during the month of Ramadan, which started last week.

A year or two ago, an exuberant ISIS was making enormous gains, capturing huge swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq, raping women and chopping off people's heads to gain international acclaim, and making money by selling oil from captured facilities. There were thousands of young jihadists coming from all over the world to Syria to join ISIS and to fight against the genocidal Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

But now losses are mounting in Syria and Iraq. It's losing much of the territory it had gained, losing finances, and losing prestige. The number of foreign fighters joining the flailing ISIS is dwindling, and there are even reports of infighting within ISIS resulting in executions of junior officers.

Last month there were reports that ISIS was regrouping in Libya, setting up a base in its stronghold in the coastal city of Sirte, but now there have been new reports that troops from Libya's unity Government of National Accord (GNA) have been advancing against Sirte more quickly than expected.

ISIS is very far from defeated, but these setbacks are forcing the terror organization to rethink its strategy. A part of that strategy is to encourage lone wolf attacks and then take credit for them. They've taken credit for killings in Bangladesh which they had nothing to do with ( "12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings"), and now they've done the same with the Orlando night club shooting. These may well be moves of desperation.

Although many people are taking pleasure in the troubles of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, you should not assume that the defeat of either of these organizations (something that's probably not even possible) would bring peace and an end to the terrorist attacks. This is a generational Crisis era for the Sunnis in the Mideast and south Asia, and the terror attacks and rising tensions are occurring organically, not under the control of any politician. No one could have predicted the rise of ISIS five years ago, and some new, even worse organization could rise at any time. Just as the Holocaust and WW II would still have occurred even if Hitler had been killed in 1935, the Mideast is headed for a major regional war with or without ISIS or al-Qaeda. And the Orlando nightclub shooting may be just the start. CS Monitor (27-May) and Rudaw (Iraq-Kurds) and Washington Times and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-16 World View -- Orlando nightclub terror attack may be result of ISIS and al-Qaeda troubles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings

History of Bangladesh's 'BNP-Jamaat clique' goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings


Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addresses a press conference on Tuesday

Bangladesh's government has launched an anti-terror campaign, and begun by arresting 3,192 persons, including 37 militants belonging to outlawed radical jihadist groups.

Most of the militants arrested were members of the outlawed Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the outfit believed to have carried out a series of attacks on Hindus, Christians, bloggers, activists, professors and people from different other professions, leaving them hacked to death in broad daylight. The other militant groups swept up by the mass attacks are Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) and the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said that the police would stamp out this violence:

"Where will they hide in Bangladesh. No one will get away. Bangladesh is a small country. It's not a tough task to find them. They will be brought to justice.

Each and every killer will be brought to book as we did after the 2015 mayhem (and) all their sources, financiers and patrons would be unearthed and brought to justice as well."

When she referred to "all their sources, financiers and patrons, she was referring to the "BNP-Jamaat clique," an alliance of opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), that she has repeatedly accused of being behind the violent attacks. In particular, she has repeatedly accused the BNP-Jamaat clique of supporting Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the jihadist terror group responsible for the killings.

In a speech in May, she said, "BNP-Jamaat clique is now selectively killing imams of mosques, priests of temples, fathers of churches and teachers of universities alongside common people to create instability in the country."

BNP secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir accused the government of using the massive crackdown to suppress political dissent. He rejected the allegation that BNP and Jamaat were behind the attacks and accused the government of arresting "hundreds of opposition activists in the name of crackdown against Islamist militants." BDNews (Dhaka) and India Times and Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune (29-May)

History of Bangladesh's 'BNP-Jamaat clique' goes back to massive 1971 ethnic war

Although the extremely bloody 1947 war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan, was a generational crisis war for western India and what is now Pakistan, it was a far less brutal non-crisis war for eastern India (Bihar and West Bengal provinces) and what is now Bangladesh (East Bengal). Because of its enormous size, east and west India are on different generational timelines.

For east India and the current Bangladesh, the extremely bloody generational crisis war occurred as an ethnic civil war in 1971 between Biharis and Bengalis. At that time, Pakistan was split into West Pakistan and East Pakistan (East Bengal), and the outcome of the 1971 war was that East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Both the Bengalis and the Biharis are mostly Muslim, although the Biharis also include a small population of Hindus. The Bengalis are the indigenous majority ethnic group of Bangladesh, and speak the Bengali language. The Biharis are mostly Urdu-speaking people who crossed the border from India and settled in East Pakistan during the 1947 Partition war.

Although the Bihari population was much smaller than the population of indigenous Bengalis, the Biharis became a "market-dominant minority," allied with the West Pakistan government, in control of the major business and government organizations, while the indigenous Bengalis were most laborers.

The 1971 war between the Biharis, supported by Pakistan's army, and the Bengalis was extremely bloody and genocidal on all sides.

Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (Jamaat) was formed in 1941, and in 1971 it was on the side of the Biharis and Pakistan's army in opposing the anti-government uprising by the Bengalis. In the 1980s, it allied with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), forming what the prime minister is calling the "BNP-Jamaat clique."

Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital city. These are certainly a large part of the motivation for Bihari jihadist groups to continue terrorist attacks. Today they're often referred to as "the stranded Pakistanis," because in 1971 Pakistan promised to transport them back to Pakistan, but later reneged on that promise.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is the leader of the Bangladesh Awami League, which is a Bengali political party originally formed in 1949. The Awami League led the anti-Pakistan rebellion in the bloody 1971 civil war between Biharis and Bengalis.

Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) is a violent jihadist terror group formed in 1998, reaching a peak of violence in August 2005 when it detonated 500 bombs at 300 locations throughout Bangladesh.

So when prime minister Hasina accuses the "BNP-Jamaat clique" of supporting JMB, what she's really doing is accusing the Biharis of attacking the Bengalis in revenge for losing the 1971 war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is not surprising at all.

As I've written many times, most recently with respect to Kenya ( "7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war") but previously in articles about Rwanda, Lebanon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other countries, countries that experience an internal ethnic civil war follow the same pattern.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and if then there's a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter had been rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era immediately following the war setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will be unified in the decades to follow, while in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

That's what's going on today in Bangladesh. Starting in the 2000s, which was a generational Awakening era for Bangladesh, the Bihari-based Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) began conducting terrorist activities targeting the Bengali-based Awami League, and Bengalis in general. The Bengali-led government is responding by cracking down on the Biharis. This pattern of terrorist violence met with violent government crackdown continues in cycles, with each cycle worse than the previous one. This is a pattern that occurs in all countries that go through an ethnic generational crisis civil war, and it always ends up in new crisis civil war several decades later. Meri News (India) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Global Security (Washington)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-16 World View -- Bangladesh government arrests 3,192 people to stop terrorist killings thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles

Change in policy was resisted because of political implications

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles


Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (Getty)
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (Getty)

In a significant reversal of policy, president Barack Obama's administration will now all American soldiers to fight alongside Afghan troops in combat situations, and will allow close air support in combat. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter confirmed the change in policy, and said,

"This is using the forces we have ... in a better way, basically, as we go through this fighting season, rather than being simply reactive. This makes good sense. It's a good use of the combat power that we have there."

By "fighting season," Carter is referring to the fact that the Taliban are most active during the summer months.

The change in policy comes one day after John Sopko, appointed by Obama as Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said that the situation in Afghanistan is continuing to deteriorate:

"The bottom line is too much has been wasted in Afghanistan. Too much money was spent in too small a country with too little oversight. And if the security situation continues to deteriorate, even areas where money was spent wisely and gains were made, could be jeopardized."

He said the planned drawdown of U.S. troops could compound the reconstruction effort's problems and add to the amount that already has been wasted, which he estimated is in the billions of dollars.

Since the end of 2014, US forces have been in Afghanistan only in an "advisory" role, and were only authorized to hit Taliban targets for defensive reasons, or to protect Afghan troops. The change in policy appears designed to stop the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said:

"Our army is capable of fighting, the only thing we need is air support. We welcome this decision from America and it will boost the morale of the Afghan army."

The Afghan army may be capable of fighting, but with the US restricted to an "advisory" role before now, the Afghan army has been losing to a resurgent Taliban.

According to Obama's original timetable, all US troops should have left Afghanistan by now. Obama has been forced to reverse himself several times, and there are currently 9,800 US troops in Afghanistan. The schedule calls for a reduction to 5,500 troops as the president leaves office in January, but this reduction is opposed by many military analysts and by the Afghan government. The Hill and AFP and AP and Reuters

Change in policy was resisted because of political implications

According to reports, the Obama administration had been debating this policy for months because it had been requested by military generals, but vetoed for political reasons for fear of damaging Obama's legacy. During the 2008 campaign, Obama criticized his predecessor, George Bush, for being at war, and promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he's botched that commitment in both countries, and the NY Times has noted that as of May 6 of this year, President Barack Obama officially became the U.S. president to have been at war the longest — longer than Lyndon Johnson, longer than Abraham Lincoln and certainly longer than George W. Bush. Obama is virtually certain to be the only U.S. president to spend a full eight years at war.

In interviews earlier this year, all three of Obama's former secretaries of defense confirmed that the Obama administration ignored military advice, and made military decisions based on inexperience and ideology. This criticism is not ideological. I've been following these issues for years, and non-partisan military analysts have always been overwhelmingly critical of Obama's decisions, rarely if ever defending them.

Former defense secretary Robert Gates wrote in his book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," that Obama "doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out." Instead of getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, what Obama is discovering is that basing military decisions purely on politics and left-wing ideology is a sure way to get in deeper. Daily Caller and Washington Post (7-Jan) and Daily Caller (7-Apr)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-16 World View -- In a reversal, Obama allows US troops in Afghanistan in combat roles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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10-Jun-16 World View -- Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits

Turkey bans fertilizer sales after two terror bombings

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey bans fertilizer sales after two terror bombings


Police headquarters in Mardin after bombing on Wednesday (Reuters)
Police headquarters in Mardin after bombing on Wednesday (Reuters)

As we described yesterday, Turkey suffered two major terror attacks in two days, a bombing in Istanbul on Tuesday, and a bombing on police headquarters in the province of Mardin in southeast Turkey on Wednesday.

Both bombings targeted the police. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has taken credit for Wednesday's bombing, but no one has taken credit for Tuesday's bombing in Istanbul.

Both bombings were perpetrated by means of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate. Turkey's authorities have seized over 60,000 tons of fertilizer containing ammonium nitrate, and have temporarily suspended the sale of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate after a series of bomb attacks across the country. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Deutsche Welle

Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits

Israeli authorities have identified the perpetrators of the shooting rampage in Tel Aviv on Wednesday as two cousins, Khaled Mohammad Makhamrah, 22, and his cousin Mohamad Ahmad Makhamrah, 21, from the West Bank town of Yatta, near the city of Hebron. One was wounded during the gunfight, and both have been arrested.

Since the attackers were "lone wolves," not part of Hamas or any other organized Palestinian group, Israel's response options were limited to actions which take "collective punishment" on Palestinians in general.

It's thought that the attacks were timed for the start of the Islam's holy month of Ramadan, and there are concerns that other terror attacks are planned for Ramadan. Israel's military is deploying hundreds of additional troops to the West Bank, including soldiers from infantry and special forces units. Among other actions, the Israeli troops completed blocked roads leading in and out of Yatta.

Normally, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are permitted to enter Israel during Ramadan to visit relatives, or to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, 83,000 permits have been canceled. Entering or leaving will only be permitted for humanitarian and medical cases.

The two cousins belong to the large Makhamreh clan. Israel's government is suspending 204 work permits used by the Makhamreh clan to enter Israel.

Because Israel's options are so limited, these "collective punishment" responses have been implemented, but they're likely to further infuriate Palestinians who will not be able to visit their families or work during Ramadan. This will inevitably lead to more terror attacks and more collective punishment.

On the other hand, Israelis have been infuriated by the celebrations of many Palestinians in the streets of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and on social media. Hamas published a statement terming the attack the first good tidings of Ramadan, while promising that more such tidings would come. YNet News (Israel) and AP and al-Jazeera

Israel cracks down on Palestinian workshops producing guns


Handmade 'Carlo' gun produced in the West Bank (AP)
Handmade 'Carlo' gun produced in the West Bank (AP)

In yesterday's article, I quoted a news source as saying that the attackers "used improvised firearms: an imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s, and which is known on the Palestinian street as the Carlo."

Several readers wrote to me to point out that that's not possible. The Carl Gustav recoilless rifle is an 84mm antitank weapon, generally requiring two men to operate, shooting rocket-boosted warheads.

The actual weapon used by the attackers was a homemade clone of the 9mm Carl Gustav M/45 submachine gun, developed by Swedish state-owned Carl Gustav Arms company in 1945. It has a relatively simple design, requiring little more to build than two steel tubes welded together, along with other spare parts. In the West Bank, it's known by its street name "Carlo," with hundreds of the guns in circulation. They've been used several times by Palestinians attacking Israelis.

Israeli security forces are cracking down on metal workshops in the West Bank suspected of manufacturing the Carlo. The quality of the workmanship varies from gun to gun, depending on the materials and the manufacturer. But in the last few months it's emerged as as the weapon of choice for Palestinian attackers, including the Tel Aviv attackers on Wednesday. AP and World Guns (Russia) and World Guns

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-16 World View -- Israel deploys hundreds of troops to West Bank, cancels entry permits thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-16 World View -- Three terror attacks in Turkey and Israel mark start of Ramadan

West Bank Palestinians reject call to end security cooperation with Israel

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel's Netanyahu responds cautiously to Tel Aviv terror attack


Police at scene of Wednesdays attack in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)
Police at scene of Wednesdays attack in Tel Aviv (Haaretz)

Many times in the past, jihadists have scheduled terror attacks for the beginning of Ramadan, and that may be the reason for the three Mideast terror attacks in the last two days, one in Tel Aviv and two in Turkey.

Four people were killed and five injured on Wednesday night when terrorists dressed as Hasidic Jews opened fire at a popular market complex in Tel Aviv. Two Palestinian subjects were arrested.

The attack was apparently well-planned. Since the price of firearms in the Palestinian territories is prohibitively high, both of the gunmen in Wednesday night's attack apparently used improvised firearms: an imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, which was used primarily in the 1950s and ’60s, and which is known on the Palestinian street as the Carlo. This has been the weapon of choice of Palestinian assailants in the recent spate of terror attacks.

Correction: Several readers have pointed out that there are two "Carl Gustav" guns, and the paragraph above identifies the wrong one. The "recoilless rifle" is actually a large antitank weapon, too large to carry into a restaurant. The weapon used in the attack was a clone of the Carl Gustav 9mm submachine gun dating to 1945. [Paragraph added 9-Jun-2016]

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the attacks cautiously:

"We gathered to discuss a number of steps, both defensive and offensive, that we will take in order to act against this very severe phenomenon of shooting attacks. It definitely poses a challenge to us, but we will respond. ...

We are at the peak of a difficult period. We will act with resoluteness and with intelligence."

A couple of months ago, there was a spate of knifing attacks on Israelis by Palestinians. Those knifing attacks have all but ended, and Netanyahu's caution may have been from a desire not to further inflame relations. Wednesday's attack was the first major terror attack in several weeks. Haaretz (Israel) and Jerusalem Post

West Bank Palestinians reject call to end security cooperation with Israel

I've reported on three or four occasions in the last couple of years that some Palestinians have called on the West Bank Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to end all security cooperation with Israel, forcing Israeli security forces to take responsibility for policing the entire West Bank, rather than sharing that burden.

On May 4, the PLO Executive Committee announced that it decided "to immediately begin implementing the Palestinian Central Council's decisions regarding limiting the political, economic and security relations with the occupation authorities [i.e., Israel]," and this due to "Israel's disregard of signed agreements and its insistence on destroying the two-state solution." The decision was motivated by Israel's rejection in April of the French initiative for convening an international conference on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

However, the decision has sparked a great deal of criticism among Palestinian leaders, and no steps have been taken to implement it.

Former Nablus mayor and Executive Committee member Ghassan Al-Shak'a responded as follows:

"The decision taken by the Palestinian Central Council in its latest session [on March 2015], namely that relations with Israel must be severed, was an emotional decision, since most of the Central Council members came from abroad, from Chile, Romania, Australia, America and other countries, and their view of the Palestinian issue is more emotional than it is practical and realistic – unlike [the view taken by] us, the members [who live] inside Palestine...

[I maintain that] we kid ourselves when we say we are able to boycott Israel or sever our relations with it, especially in the two domains of security and economy, which are fundamental to the lives of the Palestinian people and the residents of the occupied West Bank... [If we sever these relations] how can we bring fuel and flour [into our territories] and how can we keep the power running, etc.? Israel controls us on land, in the sea and in the air. If we decided, hypothetically, to sever our economic relations with Israel and cancel the Paris Protocol on economic [relations], could we actually live without them? That is the question we must put to those who demand day and night to end the economic and security coordination and to sever the relations with Israel...

When Israel wants to enter a village, city or refugee camp, it does not care whether they are in area A, B or C, because we have no sovereignty over the land, with or without security coordination. Security coordination serves our interest. If the PA wants to launch a security campaign to enforce law and order, as it did in Nablus when it brought in 1,500 security officers [from all over the West Bank] – would it be able to do this without security coordination with Israel? Of course not. [Furthermore,] there are 1,000 individuals wanted [by Israel] who are [held] in bases of the [Palestinian] security apparatuses throughout the West Bank. If we suspend the security coordination, Israel will surely arrest them immediately, and that will be to the detriment of our young people..."

MEMRI

Turkey endures two days of terror bombing attacks

There were two major terror attacks in Turkey this week, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. It's thought that the attacks, along with the attack in Tel Aviv, were scheduled to coincide with the start of Ramadan.

On Tuesday in Istanbul Turkey, a car bomb was detonated around 8:35 am just as a police bus was passing near a policy station. The bomb killed 11 people, six of whom were police officers, while wounding 36 others. Seven people have been arrested, including the four that rented the car.

Turkey has been hit by a spate of terrorist bombings in recent months. In some cases, the perpetrators were the the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and in other cases the perpetrators were terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), or it terrorist offshoot the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK).

Turkish officials say that Tuesday's suicide bomber was a Syrian refugee that had come to Turkey, and that the refugee had links to ISIS. Police are investigating other connections to ISIS.

On Wednesday at 11 am, a car bomb attack targeted police headquarters in Turkey's southeastern province of Mardin, killing five people, including two police officers, and wounding around 30. In this case, Turkish officials say that they've identified they've identified the perpetrators as terrorists from the PKK.

Southeastern Turkey is a stronghold of ethnic Kurds in Turkey, and terror attacks occur regularly, leading police to take extra precautions. Authorities say that Wednesday's attack would have had a much higher death toll, but that was prevented by safety measures and barricades already in place. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Hurriyet

Terror attacks in Turkey complicate EU-Turkey migrant deal

In a way, the two terror bombings in two days in Turkey strengthens Turkey's hand in the continuing negotiations over the EU-Turkey refugee deal. After all, if one of the bombings was perpetrated by an ISIS-linked Syrian refugee, then Europe will be all the more desperate to keep out unvetted Syrian refugees.

So far the EU-Turkey deal has been incredibly successful according to what the EU wanted to accomplish. In 2015, 800,000 refugees crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, and there were thousands of drownings. But 5,000 have crossed the Aegean Sea in the last two months, and there were no refugee drownings. So Turkey has been meeting its obligations under the deal.

But if Turkey has been meeting its obligations, the EU has not:

The EU is also demanding that Turkey liberalize its anti-terrorism laws, especially those targeting ordinary Kurdish citizens. The two terror bombings will strengthen Turkey's claims that it's not possible to liberalize the laws.

We're now well into June, and there's been little public discussion of the EU-Turkey deal in the past few weeks. My guess is that European and Turkish officials have tacitly agreed not to discuss this issue until after Britain's June 23 "Brexit" referendum -- whether Britain should leave the European Union -- in order not to inflame the immigration issue further in the Brexit campaigns.

If that's true, then the last week of June is going to be a period of crisis negotiations between the EU and Turkey, no matter how the Brexit vote turns out. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Washington Times and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jun-16 World View -- Three terror attacks in Turkey and Israel mark start of Ramadan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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8-Jun-16 World View -- Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn

Colorado health insurance in crisis as Obamacare continues to collapse

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn


Six-year old Jeremy Otieno, who was hit by a stray bullet during Monday's protests in Kisumu (The Star)
Six-year old Jeremy Otieno, who was hit by a stray bullet during Monday's protests in Kisumu (The Star)

There were two new developments on Tuesday that indicate an increasingly dangerous situation in Kenya.

As I wrote about at length yesterday about the upsurge in violence related to next year's election, raising fears of a repeat of the 2008 tribal violence following the December 2007 election, resulting in 1200 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes. ( "7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war")

The Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), led by Raila Odinga of the marginalized Luo tribe is protesting against the government led by president Uhuru Kenyatta of the market-dominant Kikuyu, and against the government-created Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), whose job it is to oversee the 2017 elections. Protesters are claiming that the IEBC is biased, and will rig the election in favor of Kenyatta, as has allegedly happened in the last three elections.

The two new developments on Tuesday are as followed:

First, the government issued regulations banning any protests against the IEBC.

"To avert further violence, destruction of property and loss of life, from today the government prohibits all unlawful demonstrations in the country. ...

It is extremely dangerous for anybody to challenge the government decision. The consequences are grave."

It's hard for me to imagine any government action that's more likely to infuriate the protesters. They're now threatening to expand their protests from once per week to twice per week. In view of the anger and bitterness over the bloody 2008 violence, and the shooting of protesters in Kisumu on Monday by police, there is absolutely no chance at all that the ban will be obeyed.

The second development is that the protesters on social media are uniting behind the hash tag #JusticeForBabyJeremy, referring to Jeremy Otieno, a six year old boy who was hit by a stray bullet and killed by police in Kisumu on Monday. The boy was not even participating in the protests, but was shot in the back outside his home. The hash tag was retweeted thousands of times on Tuesday, in a sign of growing anger at the police.

The next election is still many months away, but already positions have hardened irreparably and violence is increasing. As I wrote yesterday, things have changed a great deal in Kenya since the 2008 violence. At that time, Kenya was in a generational Unraveling era, and only 52 years had passed since the climax of Kenya's last generational crisis war, the Mau-Mau Rebellion. Today, Kenya is well into a generational Crisis, and it would not take much to trigger a full-scale crisis civil war that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. The Star (Kenya) and Radio France Internationale and Deutsche Welle

Malawi's albinos 'face extinction' as they're killed and sold for body parts

Albinism is a condition where someone lacks the pigment melanin that gives hair, skin and eyes their color. Malawi has an estimated 8-10,000 people with albinism in a population of 16 million -- a prevalence of more than 12 times that of North America and Europe.

Although albinos have always faced discrimination because of their startling appearance, the discrimination in Malawi has taken a macabre turn since 2014, when Malawi's economy took a deep dive. Since then there's been a surge in attacks on albinos, fueled by witchcraft and by promises of large sums of money by idiots who believe that albinos' bones contain gold or have special powers that bring wealth and success.

The speculation has driven the price of albino body parts up astronomically. According to media reports, one 17-year-old albino boy was worth $66,000 to witch doctors, for use in potions.

According to the World Bank, Malawi is currently the poorest country in the world, and a severe drought affecting the region has caused major food shortages. The lure of big money is thought to be the main reason for the upsurge in abductions and murders of albinos.

The upsurge in violence is a personal crisis in the life of any of the 10,000 albinos in Malawi. As the number of murders increases, it's thought that albinos may face total extinction. Nyasa Times (Malawi) and Newsweek and BBC

Colorado health insurance in crisis as Obamacare continues to collapse

Premiums for individual health-insurance policies are rising by as much as 41% in Colorado next year as four insurer pull out of all or some markets in the state.

UnitedHealthcare and Humana Insurance already announced that they would not offer individual plans in Colorado next year. In addition, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado are severely restricting their offerings.

About 92,000 people with individual plans will need to find other coverage during the open enrollment period, Nov. 1, 2016–Jan. 31, 2017, representing approximately 20 percent of the 450,000 Coloradans who get their insurance through the individual market,

According to Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar:

"Companies are still figuring it out — where to sell, how to sell, how to price — which is why we’re seeing some companies pull back on individual plans or requesting significant increases, while still other companies are coming into the market. Some companies have done a better job of figuring out how to operate in this new environment and compete for people’s business, while others must step back and reevaluate their approach. ...

I’d rather these companies continued in the individual market. But in the larger picture, what’s taking place is a market correction; the free market is at work. And it is important to recognize that this is a market correction taking place on a national scale, not just in Colorado. While it was good initially to have so many companies offering so many individual plans, this could be an indication that there were too many options for the market to support."

The problem is that it's not a free market at all. It's the most f--cked up regulated market possible, thanks to the disastrous Obamacare legislation. And Salazar is correct that the same kind of disaster is "taking place on a national scale, not just in Colorado."

As long time readers are well aware (because I've repeated it many times), in July, 2009, when Obamacare was first announced, I wrote that Obama's health plan is a proposal of economic insanity. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls, and I predicted that it would just as much an economic disaster as Nixon's price controls. I wrote about it most recently in "26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike".

Obamacare should have collapsed by now, but instead Obama has found ways to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of other money into Obamacare to prop it up. Meanwhile, the health care industry continues to be destroyed. Obamacare was supposed to reduce health costs, but instead health costs have skyrocketed.

This is what I predicted would happen, because that's what happened with Nixon's price controls. They were supposed to reduce inflation from 4% to 2%, but they screwed up the economy so much that that inflation increased to 12%. Obamacare is screwing up the economy today in exactly the same way.

Obamacare was supposed to eliminate uninsured people, but instead it's created millions more effectively uninsured people -- people who pay insurance premiums, but can't find a doctor or who have astronomical deductions, and so effectively have no insurance whatsoever. As Jonathan Gruber said, Obamacare passed because of the stupidity of the American people, and as I like to point out, he wasn't referring to me, but to Obamacare supporters. Obamacare may well be the stupidest economic policy in American history. Denver Business Journal and Colorado Division of Insurance

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jun-16 World View -- Kenya protests take an increasingly dangerous turn thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war

Kenya facing fierce criticism over closing the world's largest refugee camp

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war


Police officers walk past burning tyres in Kisumu, Kenya, on Monday (AFP)
Police officers walk past burning tyres in Kisumu, Kenya, on Monday (AFP)

In Kisumu, Kenya's third largest city, police opened fire on demonstrators on Monday, killing at least two. Another 61 people were injured in the clashes, 20 of whom were hospitalized with wounds from bullets or sharp objects. One of the wounded was a five-year-old child.

Police then used tear gas and water cannon to quell the protests as news of the deaths spread. Word of the shootings fueled heavy clashes in the center of Kisumu. There were widespread scenes of looting and two supermarkets were destroyed.

Protests have been occurring across the country since early April. Clashes with police have been increasing, but Monday's violence in Kisumu was the worst so far. Kisumu, a port city in western Kenya on Lake Victoria, is considered a hotbed of anti-government protests.

The protests are related to the presidential election scheduled for next year. After the election in December 2007, the entire country suffered from tribal violence that killed 1200 people, and forced 600,000 from their homes. (Jan 2008: "Post-election massacre in Kenya raises concerns of tribal war") The ethnic violence was started, according to many sources, by youthful activists in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), an anti-government Luo ally supporting Odinga for President. The worst known atrocity occurred when 30 people died in a church fire. Dozens of people had gone to the church to escape increasing violence, when a youthful gang set the church on fire, trapping people inside. This atrocity drew international attention.

There are many tribes in Kenya, including the Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, Kisii of western Kenya, and the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru (GEMA) people from the Mount Kenya area.

The two most prominent tribes are the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe and the disadvantaged Luo tribe. In the last three elections, the two leading candidates were Kikuyu and Luo, respectively, and the Kikuyu candidate always won. The violence after the 2007 election was triggered because of widespread accusations that the Kikuyu government had rigged the election, to score a new victory.

The same issue is propelling the new rounds of protests and violence. The current president is Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, and his principal challenger is Raila Odinga, a Luo.

The Kenyatta government has created an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), whose job it is to define the rules and procedures for next year's election. The opposition, led by Odinga, has formed the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), which is conducting the nationwide protests that triggered Monday's violence. CORD is accusing the IEBC of rigging the election so that Kenyatta will win again next year.

The protests are becoming increasingly violent. The concerns are that the violence will continue to increase, and there will a new round of widespread violence, no matter who wins next year's election. Coast Week (Kenya) and The Star (Kenya) and Al Jazeera and AFP

Generational history of tribal violence in Kenya

What's happening in Kenya is a pattern that I've described many times when a generational crisis war is an internal civil war.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than an internal civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and if then there's a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter had been rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era immediately following the war setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will be unified in the decades to follow, while in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

Kenya's last crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion." Britain had been exerting a fairly heavy hand as a colonial power, starting from the 1850s. An independence movement began in earnest in the late 1940s, leading to the rebellion that began in 1952 and climaxed in 1956. In the Recovery Era that followed, Kenya finally gained independence in 1964. As population increased over the decades, the Luos, with traditional lifestyles as fishermen, had land conflicts with the Kikuyus and were marginalized.

When I wrote about the violence in 2007-8, I wrote that it was POSSIBLE but UNLIKELY that the violence would spiral into a full-scale civil war at that time. The reason is that the previous crisis war, the Mau-Mau Rebellion, had climaxed in 1956, only 52 years earlier. After 52 years, there would still be many survivors of the Mau-Mau Rebellion with personal memories of the war. They may have been only children at the time of the rebellion, but they would have had experiences that scarred them for life, and they would do everything possible to prevent anything like that from happening again. So in 2008, there would still have been enough of these survivors in senior positions to prevent the violence, as bad as it was, from spiraling into a full-scale civil war. This analysis turned out to be completely correct in 2008, as the violence fizzled within a few weeks. (Feb 2008: "Kenya settles into low-level violence on the way to Rwanda")

As I explained at that time, historical research and analysis had shown that a new crisis war starts to become increasingly likely at a point 58 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war. That seems to be the time when the survivors of the preceding crisis war lose their ability to prevent a new one. This is because children younger than five would not have any personal memory of a crisis war, and the children five years old and older become 63 year old and older after 58 years have passed.

Many Kenyans believe that nothing has changed and that any new violence that breaks out after next year's election won't be any worse than the 2008 violence. But that's not true, because there have been major changes since then. Eight more years have passed since the 2008 violence, and it's now 60 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war. This means that the survivors of the Mau-Mau Rebellion have almost completely disappeared, and will no longer be able to exert enough influence to prevent a major new civil war. This means that a new civil way is not CERTAIN, but it's far more LIKELY than it was in 2008. The Nation (Nairobi) and Open Democracy

Kenya facing fierce criticism over closing the world's largest refugee camp


Dadaab refugee camp in 2012
Dadaab refugee camp in 2012

Kenya has announced that it will close the Dadaab refugee camp later this year, and require the residents to return to their home country, which is almost always Somalia.

Kenya is the world's largest refugee camp, home to 350,000 people. It was opened in 1991, at a time when people in Somalia were fleeing civil war, lawlessness and recurrent droughts. (Recall that 1993 was the year of the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident, where Somali militia fighters shot down two American helicopters using rocket-propelled grenades. Mobs then hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies.)

At its peak in 2012, the Dadaab refugee camp housed nearly a half-million people. Many children had been born there and grown to adulthood without ever leaving the camp. Since then, some Somalis have left the camp and returned home voluntarily.

Kenya has given two reasons for closing the camp. One reason is the enormous expense of supporting hundreds of thousands of refugees, with little or none of the financial support promised by the EU or the US having actually been provided. And second, it's believed that Somalia's terror group, al-Shabaab, is using the camp as a base to launch terror attacks on Kenya. (See "3-Apr-2015 World View -- Al-Shabaab kills 147 mostly Christian students in Kenya school" and "23-Sep-2013 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears")

Human rights organizations are taking action to prevent Kenya from closing the camp. There's little doubt that forcing 350,000 people to leave their homes and move somewhere else is the stuff of historical genocides, and closing the camp will not be smooth in the best of circumstances. Anadolu (Turkey) and AFP and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-16 World View -- Increasing violence in Kenya revives fears of tribal war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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6-Jun-16 World View -- Kazakhstan and Bangladesh in shock after terror attacks on Sunday

Islamist militants in Bangladesh kill police officer's wife in revenge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violent terror attack on Kazakhstan blamed on Islamic militants


Three suspected Islamist gunmen were killed in a shootout with police in Aktobe, Kazakhstan on Sunday (vk.com)
Three suspected Islamist gunmen were killed in a shootout with police in Aktobe, Kazakhstan on Sunday (vk.com)

At least ten people were killed on Sunday when suspected Islamist militants conducted a series of attacks on targets in the city of Aktobe in northwest Kazakhstan, near the border with Russia. The armed gang first attacked a hunting supplies shop, then commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gates of a military base in the city. Inside the base, they opened fire indiscriminately, killing and wounding several servicemen.

Many of the details are unknown, because Kazakh authorities have closed off the area and have shut down all communications, including the internet.

Kazakhstan is a mostly Muslim country, and jihadist attacks are rare, although Aktobe was the scene of a suicide bombing in May 2011. Kazakh authorities are hesitant to admit the Islamist militancy is a problem in Kazakhstan, although northwest Kazakhstan, where Sunday's attack occurred, is a hotbed of militant activity.

Authorities have estimated that between 200 and 400 citizens of Kazakhstan have left the country, along with their wives and children, to take up arms alongside groups the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Iraq and Syria. ISIS reportedly has issued several video messages targeting Kazakhstan.

General economic unrest is increasing in Kazakhstan because of the collapse in global commodity prices, especially oil, and the ripple effect caused by Russia's recession. Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, has lost 50% of its value against the US dollar, and other currencies in the region have suffered similarly.

As we reported last month, there were protests across the countries in response to announced land reforms by the government. Protesters feared that the changes would make it easier for large Chinese agribusinesses to take control of vast swaths of farmland. According to one protester, "We can't give land to the Chinese. If they come then they won't leave!" This atmosphere usually provides fertile ground for the spread of ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups. EurasiaNet and Astana (Kazakhstan) Times and Reuters

Islamist militants in Bangladesh kill police officer's wife in revenge

Islamist militants on Sunday killed Mahmuda Aktar, the wife of a decorated police officer, as she was taking her son to school. The militants arrived on motorcycle, stabbed her nine times, then shot her in the head before driving off. The child was not hurt.

There have been at least 35 similar attacks carried out in the span of 14 months. Of those, 23 have been claimed by an Islamist terror group.

Sunday's attack occurred in the seaside town of Chittagong, which is close to Rakhine province of Myanmar (Burma), and is a hotbed of Islamist terrorism (like northwest Kazakhstan). As I wrote last month in "24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death", a recent string of militant attacks may be related to continued ethnic tensions between the two sides in Bangladesh's last generational crisis war, the incredibly bloody and brutal 1971 civil war that made the former state of East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.

Police officer Babul Aktar, whose wife was killed in Sunday's attack, had conducted some very effective investigations that led to busting a hideout of banned outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and arrest of its military wing chief Md Javed in October last year.

It's believed that Sunday's attack was a revenge attack targeting Aktar's wife because the militant organizations had been unsuccessful in attacking Aktar directly. BDNews24 (Dhaka) and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-16 World View -- Kazakhstan and Bangladesh in shock after terror attacks on Sunday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-16 World View -- How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution

Khameini accuses 'evil' Britain of fabricating the BBC report

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution


Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter
Ayatollah Khomeini and Jimmy Carter

An analysis by the BBC of a trove of newly declassified US government documents - diplomatic cables, policy memos, meeting records - shows that in 1979 Iran's new leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini tricked the administration of president Jimmy Carter into supporting the Great Islamic Revolution.

That Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, had ruled Iran since 1941, and was a staunch ally of the United States, though he was heavily criticized by liberals for human rights abuses. A rebellion against the Shah began in 1978. Since the Shah's army was heavily dependent on American arms and advice, President Carter could have done a great deal to keep the Shah in power, and prevent Khomeini from coming to power. Carter has been accused of refusing to support the Shah in the rebellion, allowing Khomeini to come to power, because of the human rights abuses, although he's denied that accusation.

The new declassified documents reveal that Khomeini courted the Carter administration, sending quiet signals that he wanted a dialogue and then portraying a potential Islamic Republic as amenable to US interests. Said Khomeini:

"You will see we are not in any particular animosity with the Americans, [and the new Islamic Republic will be] a humanitarian one that will benefit the cause of peace and tranquility for all mankind."

The documents reveal that, in return for Khomeini's assurances, the US said that they were not opposed in principle to the new government, and the US provided key intelligence information about Iran's military leaders. Carter administration officials advised Iran's army generals to simply let a coup occur.

The Great Islamic Revolution was a generational Crisis war, and as such was driven by powerful generational forces that would not have been affected by a bit of intelligence. The rebellion was a major civil war between the Shah's security forces and a growing population of revolutionaries supporting radical clerics, led by Khomeini.

At any rate, once Khomeini was in power, he did a 180 degree U-turn, and immediately became a vitriolic enemy of the United States. In particular, Khomeini created the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis by allowing students to storm the American embassy in Tehran and take the 52 American diplomats hostage for 444 days.

What the documents reveal has powerful symbolic significance even today. Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, is widely believed to have repeatedly lied to American negotiators to get agreement last year on the nuclear deal that resulted in the lifting of Western sanctions. BBC and NY Post

Khamenei accuses 'evil' Britain of fabricating the BBC report

Whether by coincidence or design, the BBC report was published on the 27th anniversary of the June 3, 1989, of the death of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

In a speech on Friday commemorating Khomeini's death, Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Britain was "evil" and the US is "Satan." He denounced the BBC report as fake "propaganda":

"Britain’s malice against the Iranian nation has never stopped. ... The same enmity continues as the British government’s propaganda apparatus spreads propaganda against the dear Imam of the Iranian nation [Khomeini], with the help of the Americans and forged documents, on the anniversary of the great and holy Imam [Khomeini’s] death. ...

The enemies are increasing their pressure on Iran because they are afraid of the Iranian nation’s ‘Revolutionary spirit’ - a legacy of the late Imam Khomeini. Before Revolution, the United States and the UK were ruling over us. Our grand Imam changed Iran’s path and changed the rail-track. Imam Khomeini guided country toward great objectives that can be summarized in Divine religion and they are uprooting ignorance and oppression as well as establishing Islamic values system."

In the same speech, he called trust in the U.S. a "big mistake" and asserted that U.S. interests are "180 degrees opposed" to those of Iran. He said that he had no intention of cooperating on regional issues with these enemies.

Khamenei's speech was interesting for another reason -- his call to maintain the same revolutionary fervor of 1979: "If we act Revolutionarily, progress is certain; otherwise, as Imam said “Islam will be slapped in face. ... I will mention five characteristics for being revolutionary and we have to create and maintain them in ourselves." These five characteristics are:

Khamenei referred to himself as an 'old revolutionary' person, so "now every modern youth can become even more revolutionary than me." Perhaps he was joking, or perhaps he was desperate.

This is wishful thinking on Khamenei's part. As I've written many times, this kind of "revolutionary fervor" will not be maintained, because Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the Great Islamic Revolution and Iran/Iraq war, just like America in the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. In fact, Iran has been fraught with many anti-government pro-American and pro-Western demonstrations by college students, just like America in the 1960s, as I described in "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran".

That explains why Khamenei, in his speeches, keeps returning to these themes of maintaining an anti-American "revolutionary" spirit, but he's fighting a losing battle because the "revolutionary" spirit of the generational Crisis era in 1979 cannot be maintained by the next generation, as it rebels against the harsh restrictions of the revolution in an Awakening era. That's why Khamenei's government has had send out the security forces to massacre, torture and kill peaceful demonstrators.

(In a recent article, "29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise", I described Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, which ended up killing tens of millions of Chinese. Mao's motivation for the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution that followed was exactly the same as Khamenei's motivation -- to invigorate the "revolutionary spirit," and end the anti-government demonstrations by college students.)

The point, as I've said in the past, is that those college students in pro-American demonstrations of the early 2000s are now in their 30s and increasingly in positions of power. Just as America's Awakening era climaxed with the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974, Iran's Awakening era climax will bring about the end of the hardline regime of the old geezers in Khamenei's generation, and result in a pro-Western victory for Iran's younger generation. BBC and IRNA (Tehran) and Mehr News (Tehran) and AEI Iran Tracker (3-June)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-16 World View -- How Iran's Khomeini fooled Jimmy Carter before the Great Islamic Revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war

'Tiananmen Mothers' commemorate China's Tiananmen Square massacre

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Drinking beer is back in Venezuela's Socialist Paradise


Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros
Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros

Cerveceria Polar breweries, the firm that makes about 80% of the beer in Venezuela, has announced that it will resume production in July.

As we described last month, Polar was forced to close down its four domestic breweries, because it was unable to import the ingredients, especially the malted barley, because Venezuela's bolivar currency has become almost completely worthless. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro Moros has found a solution. He threatened to take over the factory and jail its owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, unless it started producing beer again.

Apparently Maduro's threats were successful. Mendoza obtained a $35 million loan from the Spanish bank BBVA, putting up other assets as collateral. In Maduro's Socialist Paradise, everybody's assets belong to Maduro. Pan Am Post and Reuters and AFP

Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war

According to a report in Lebanon's Hezbollah-linked newspaper As-Safir, Hezbollah is preparing for its next conflict with Israel by digging attack tunnels and positioning its large arsenal of rockets along the northern border with Israel. The tunnels include underground ventilation systems which prevents moisture from damaging equipment, and include an electricity network and enough food to feed combatants for weeks.

Ever since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, there have been regular reports that Hezbollah was building tunnels to infiltrate into Israel, and so the new report is nothing new. According to the report, the purpose of the current article is symbolic, to make Israelis nervous: "Resistance fighters are watching, making preparations and digging tunnels so enemy soldiers and settlers are losing sleep."

It's unlikely that Hezbollah will be going to war with Israel any time time. As we reported last week, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead. ( "28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah")

There are two major factors that Hezbollah has had to suspend operations against Israel. The first reason is that Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria, and has lost half its fighting force in support of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

The second reason is the growing hatred and animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Although the Palestinians hate Israelis, the people of Saudi Arabia and Iran do not. For that reason, Iran has ordered its puppet, Hezbollah, to concentrate on operations against Saudi Arabia rather than Israel. Jerusalem Post and Israel Today

'Tiananmen Mothers' commemorate China's Tiananmen Square massacre


Iconic photo of 'tank man' - student blocking row of tanks in Tiananmen Square in June, 1989
Iconic photo of 'tank man' - student blocking row of tanks in Tiananmen Square in June, 1989

Saturday is the 27th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, where China's army massacred thousands of peacefully protesting college students.

"Tiananmen Mothers" is a group of activist mothers whose children were killed in the massacre. They've written a letter accusing the Beijing government of "white terror" in refusing to account for the deaths of their children. China's government forbids all mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and uses force to suppress any mention of it. News.com (Sydney) and Human Rights in China - Tiananmen Mothers

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-16 World View -- Hezbollah building tunnels into Israel to prepare for next war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide

Germany's genocide vote seems timed to coincide with EU-Turkey refugee deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide


Armenian settlements in eastern Turkey in 1915 (AFP)
Armenian settlements in eastern Turkey in 1915 (AFP)

In a move considered highly controversial because of its timing, Germany's parliament voted on Thursday to recognize the deaths of Armenians in 1915 during World War I at the hands of Turkey's Ottoman Empire as an act of "genocide." However, the vote was purely symbolic, as there are no legal consequences associated with the vote.

For Germans, one possible motivation for the vote is that Germany and the Ottomans were allies in World War I, and Germany may share some of the guilt for the deaths of the Armenians. The resolution emphasizes that Germany is aware of the "uniqueness" of the Nazi Holocaust and it "regrets the inglorious role" of Germany, the Ottoman Turks' main military ally at the time of the Armenians' killings, of failing to stop the "crime against humanity."

Armenia's foreign minister to Germany Edward Nalbandian praised the decision:

"Germany's valuable contribution not only to the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, but also to the universal fight for the prevention of genocides, crimes against humanity."

The vote was overwhelming, with only one MP voting against, and only one abstention. Bettina Kula, who voted against the resolution, did not dispute the claim of genocide, but said that "It’s not the duty of the Federal Parliament to evaluate historical events that took place in other countries."

Members of Turkey's government were furious at the vote, and declared it "null and void." Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on a visit to Kenya, where he condemned the vote and announced that he was recalling Turkey's ambassador to Germany "for consultation." This was considered a mild action, one that's easily reversed. Last year, Turkey temporarily recalled its ambassadors to Austria and the Vatican after Austria and Pope Francis described the killings as genocide.

According to the Turkey's deputy prime minister Numan Kurtulmus:

"The fact that the German Parliament approved distorted and baseless claims as genocide is a historic mistake. The German Parliament’s approval of this bill is not a decision in line with friendly relations between Turkey and Germany. This decision is null and void for Turkey.

This is an issue that scientists and historians need to reach a conclusion on, not politicians or parliaments. As Turkey, we will surely give the necessary response to this decision in all platforms."

Most analysts outside of Turkey consider the evidence of genocide overwhelming.

Armenia says that as many as 1.5 million people were killed by Turkish forces in World War I between 1915 and 1917, and says that the mass killings were genocidal. According to Turkey, something like 500,000 Armenians and 500,000 Turks were killed in the massive civil war that occurred when the Armenians rose up against the Ottoman rulers, and so it wasn't a genocide. However, in February 1919, a court-martial found a number of top Ottoman officials guilty of war crimes, including against Armenians, and sentenced them to death. Deutsche Welle (Berlin) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and AFP

Germany's genocide vote seems timed to coincide with EU-Turkey refugee deal

The Armenian genocide question is a century-old issue, so it seems surprising that the German parliament is raising the issue at exactly this time, at the height of the negotiations over the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

The European Union desperately needs the deal to continue. Last year, there were thousands of Syrian refugees crossing the Aegean Sea every day to Greece's islands, creating an existential crisis for the EU. Thanks to the deal, Turkey has reduced that flow from thousands per day to dozens per day. This has permitted the EU to go its merry way without being threatened with the tsunami of refugees.

However, the EU has obligations under that treaty. The EU is obligated to pay Turkey 3 billion euros in aid for refugees, followed possibly by 3 billion more. None of that money has been paid, and is way overdue.

Possible most critical is the commitment to visa liberalization: Any of Turkey's 74 million citizens must be able to travel freely throughout Europe's Schengen zone without a visa. The deadline for this change is the end of June, and there are many forces in Europe that are bitterly opposed to visa liberalization for Turks. However, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said repeatedly that if visa liberalization isn't granted, then he'll cancel the deal and allow the full flow of Syrian refugees to Europe to resume. It's quite possible that there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey just waiting for the deal to be canceled, and preparing to travel as soon as it is.

So this vote on century-old Armenian genocide issue arguably is coming at the worst possible time, at the height of tensions over the EU-Turkey deal. The suspicion is that the issue was brought to a vote at this time by people who would like to sabotage the visa liberalization.

A German official in the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said hopefully, "Despite some of his rhetoric, we believe Erdogan has a strong interest in making the migrants deal work and will not allow this to get in the way."

Over a thousand Turks demonstrated against the resolution on Saturday in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin and some German lawmakers say they have been bombarded with hate mail and insults on social media for supporting the resolution. Reuters and LA Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-16 World View -- Turkey recalls German ambassador after vote recognizes Armenian genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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2-Jun-16 World View -- New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China

China close to imposing an air defense ID zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China


From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)
From 2005: Taiwan poll results to question: 'Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?' (WSJ)

A new poll in Taiwan shows that an overwhelming majority of Taiwanese people reject eventual unification with China. This comes a week after Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), took office as president of Taiwan, having won an overwhelming and decisive electoral victory in January. ( "17-Jan-16 World View -- Taiwan's pro-independence party wins historic presidential election")

According to the new poll, 66.4% oppose unification and only 18.5% are in favor, while 15.1% remain noncommittal. The poll found that people in younger generations were more likely to favor Taiwan independence. In the 20-29 age group, 72% supported independence.

This is consistent with a trend I've reported on in the past. The graph at the beginning of this article comes from 2005, and it shows that the portion of Taiwan's population describing themselves as "Taiwanese," as opposed to "Chinese," had risen from 18% to 42% over the previous ten years. If we assume that being "Taiwanese" corresponds to favoring Taiwan independence, then that amount has risen from 42% to 66.4% in the 11 years since then.

This almost certainly means that the trend is highly generational. Older generations, especially those with some memory of the 1949 flight from Mao Zedong's army to Hong Kong and then to Formosa, have clung to the hope that one day Taiwan and Beijing would reunite into a single China governed by Taiwan's Nationalist government. People in younger generations understand that this scenario isn't even remotely possible, and that reunification would mean being governed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing, the same CCP that massacred thousands of college students in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and who have become increasingly authoritarian in Hong Kong, breaking their explicit public promise, when Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, that they could have fully free and fair elections.

If I could figure all this out, then it's certain that the officials in the CCP have also figured it out. Just last week, just after Tsai Ing-wen took office as president, Chinese media demanded that Tsai explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China, something that Tsai is refusing to do.

In 2005, during the time when Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party was last in power, Beijing enacted an Anti-Secession law that required Beijing to invade Taiwan militarily if Taiwan took any steps to move towards independence, or even encourage independence in political speech. China is becoming increasingly nationalistic, and increasingly less willing to tolerate Taiwan's independent streak. The new poll shows that time is not on Beijing's side, and at some point, possibly soon, the military invasion of Taiwan will take place. Taipei Times

China close to imposing an air defense ID zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea

The Hong Kong based South China Morning Post is quoting China's military sources as saying that China is close to announcing an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in South China Sea, "pending US moves."

An official is quoted as saying:

"If the US military keeps making provocative moves to challenge China’s sovereignty in the region, it will give Beijing a good opportunity to declare an ADIZ in the South China Sea."

The "provocative moves" are an allusion to the US Navy's completely non-threatening freedom of navigation patrols, in which US patrol vessels simply sail through the South China Sea. China has announced that it is annexing the entire South China Sea, including regions that have historically belonged to other countries, much as Adolf Hitler annexed portions of eastern Europe in 1939, and is demanding that any American patrol vessel request permission from China before entering the South China Sea. However, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has repeatedly said that "The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."

The announcement of an ADIZ would substantially escalate the tensions in the region. China has already been aggressively militarizing the South China Sea in preparation for the ADIZ. This includes creation of seven artificial islands and turning them into military naval and air force bases.

Just as China is preparing for war with Taiwan, China is also preparing for war in the South China Sea. The increasingly nationalistic Chinese people will not wait much longer before demanding that their leaders attack. South China Morning Post and India Times and The Diplomat

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-16 World View -- New Taiwan poll shows overwhelming support for independence from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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1-Jun-16 World View -- 50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS

Death of Afghan Taliban leader exposes Iran-Taliban links

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Death of Afghan Taliban leader exposes Iran-Taliban links


Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)
Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)

As we reported earlier this month, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was killed by a US drone strike as he was traveling by car in Pakistan's Balochistan province, not far from the border with Iran.

It now turns out that Mansour's car was returning from a trip to Iran. Iran's foreign ministry has said, "The concerned authorities in Iran reject that such a person had entered Pakistan via Iran’s border at the stated date," but Western reporters arriving at the site of the drone strike have seen Mansour's Pakistani passport, with entry and exit stamps showing that he had traveled into Iran and back again that day.

It's not known where or why Mansour went inside Iran. It's not known whether he had some secret relationship with Iran's government, or whether he was just visiting Taliban cells within Iran, without Iran's knowledge.

However, this discovery has generated some examination of Iran's relationship with the Taliban. Iran is a hardline Shia state, and the Taliban is a hardline Sunni organization, so their relationship could never be more than a "marriage of convenience" that could be dissolved by either side at any time.

Iran had staunchly opposed the Taliban in the 1990s and had almost gone to war with it after Taliban forces massacred Iranian diplomats and local Shia Muslims in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif in 1998. Since 9/11, there has been some cooperation between Iran and the Taliban over the US presence in Afghanistan.

Since 2014, when the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) began to infiltrate Afghanistan, Iran and the Taliban have shared a common interest in wanting to repel ISIS.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions about the drone strike that killed Mansour. Mansour's whereabouts were a closely guarded secret, and yet US intelligence officials were apparently absolutely certain, at the time of the drone strike, that they knew what car he was traveling in. How did they know?

James Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan says:

"Pick your conspiracy theory. How did his passport survive? Did [ISIS] shop him to the US? Did the Iranians tip us off? We likely will never know. But the Taliban must be wondering, too.

What needs to be debunked is the Pakistani line that Afghanistan is the fault of the United States and the international community, and that the killing [of Mansour] blocks the [Afghan-Taliban] peace process. "There is no peace process; Mansour made clear there was no intent to negotiate."

Guardian (London) and VOA and Al Monitor

50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS

American Marines endured some of the bloodiest fighting of the Iraq War in Fallujah in 2003-2004, fighting against Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). After the "surge" in 2007, AQI was expelled from Iraq, including Fallujah, but the withdrawal of all American forces in 2011 created a vacuum that was filled by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ISIS captured large swaths of Iraqi territory, including Fallujah in 2014, and now there's a new battle of Fallujah, fought mainly by ISIS against Iraqi army forces, the latter backed by US airstrikes.

Baghdad has been hit by a seemingly unending stream of terrorist attacks and bombings that have killed hundreds of civilians in recent months. Fallujah if 40 miles west of Baghdad, and ISIS has been using it as a base to launch these attacks. The Iraq government sees the recapture of Fallujah as keep to stopping these attacks and stopping ISIS itself.

For more than a week, Iraqi forces have been surrounding Fallujah and preparing for troops to enter the city, and now the battle was finally launched on Tuesday. The ISIS forces have no way to escape, and so the fighting is fierce.

It's feared that a massive humanitarian disaster is in the making. The problem is that there are also 50,000 civilians in the city, and many have no way to escape either, though they've been advised to flee. ISIS forces have booby trapped many of the roads and buildings and they're using civilians as "human shields," hoping to slow down the Iraqi forces.

Iraq is increasingly facing a huge internal refugee problem, with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis forced to flee their homes in one battle after another. If the Iraq army ever attempts to liberate Mosul from ISIS, that will put its 600,000 civilians at risk.

There is a related issue that's growing in complexity. Since the invasion by ISIS, many of the internally displaced Iraqi civilians have fled to the relative safety and security of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The KRI is supposed to hold a referendum on independence later this year, something that the Iraq government opposes, and it's possible that the Iraq government is not unhappy that a huge influx of Iraqi Arab refugees will complicate the referendum. Rudaw (Iraq/Kurds) and USA Today and VOA and Chatham House (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-16 World View -- 50,000 civilians in danger as Iraq tries to liberate Fallujah from ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2016) Permanent Link
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31-May-16 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control

Thousands of refugees leave Libya for Italy, hundreds drown

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of refugees leave Libya for Italy, hundreds drown


Boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Thursday as an Italian Navy rescue ship approached (Getty)
Boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Thursday as an Italian Navy rescue ship approached (Getty)

Human rights are describing as "catastrophic" the situation that 700-900 migrants drowned in the last week, attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy.

However, some 13,000 to 14,000 were rescued in the last week. These numbers are similar to those from 2015. The numbers are expected to increase over the summer, as there are some 800,000 migrants in Libya waiting to cross. Almost all the migrants are coming from black African countries, including Nigeria, Egypt, Eritrea and Sudan.

Earlier predictions that there would be a flood of refugees from Syria, since the Aegean Sea route has been closed by the EU-Turkey refugee deal, have not been realized so far. The Libya route is many times more dangerous than the Aegean Sea route, and it's possible that many Syrian refugees are waiting to see if the EU-Turkey deal will fall apart, which could very well happen soon. The Local (Italy) and Eagle Online (Nigeria) and Express (London)

Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again expressed his support for procreation, saying that no Muslim family should ever consider birth control or population planning.

"We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach. Nobody can interfere in God's work. The first duty here belongs to mothers. ...

I am saying this clearly, we will increase our posterity and reproduce generations. As for population planning or birth control, no Muslim family can engage in such a mentality. We will follow the road that my God and dear Prophet [Muhammad] say."

Erdogan has previously been quoted as saying: "One or two children mean bankruptcy. Three children mean we are not improving but not receding either. At least three children are necessary in each family, because our population is at risk of aging." He has previously equated birth control with treason.

Erdogan's remarks were heavily criticized by women's groups for telling women how many children to have and dismissing the Western idea of gender equality. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Gulf Times (Doha)

Population growth rate of Muslims and Christians

Ever since I learned, years ago, that Muslims had the greatest birth rate of all religions, then I've been trying to find out why.

According to Pew Research, this trend will continue for decades into the future. According to Pew, from 2010-2050 population size is expected to increase 73% for Muslims, 35% for Christians, 34% for Hindus, and 16% for Jews, with the overall growth rate of 35%.

However, those figures assume that there won't be a new world war. As we described yesterday, the world is already bulging with people, food is becoming more expensive, and refugees are pouring out of Asia, the Mideast and Africa. This becomes more unstable every day, as does global finance, with huge interlocking debts in a giant credit bubble.

However, Muslims have been the fastest growing religion since the end of World War II. Furthermore, when I researched this in the past, I noticed that this applied to Sunni Muslim countries to but not to Iran, a Shia Muslim country. So I reached the obvious conclusion that this phenomenon applies not to Muslims in general, but only to Sunni Muslims.

My theory has always been that after the devastating destruction of Turkey's Ottoman Empire, which had ruled the Muslim world since the 1400s, Sunni Muslims developed either explicit or implicit communal sense that the way to get the Ottoman Empire back was to have as many children as possible.

I've asked any number of Muslims and Muslim scholars whether this theory makes sense, whether there was some kind of fatwa issued by some cleric in the 1920s or 1930s, telling Muslims to have as many children as possible to recover from the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. No one I spoke to supported this theory, and many explicitly denied it, although were also surprised to learn the statistics that Sunni Muslim populations have been the fastest growing populations, something of which they had been unaware.

There is no prohibition against contraception in Islam. Abortion and hysterectomies are prohibited, but ordinary contraceptive methods are acceptable, including the IUD and the pill. In fact, the Catholic religion is far more restrictive about contraception than Islam is. So Erdogan's claims about birth control appear to be exaggerated.

But here we have Turkey's super-authoritarian president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gives every sign of wanting to reconstitute the old Ottoman Empire, saying that women should avoid contraception, have as many children as possible, "multiply our descendants."

So I'm sticking to my theory. The reason for the high birth rate among Sunni Muslims after World War II is because of of an explicit or implicit communal sense that the way to get the Ottoman Empire back was to have as many children as possible.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Erdogan's exhortation is just one more crazy idea, of which there are many, from just one more crazy politician, of which there are many. The Mideast is headed for a massive sectarian war, and Turkey will be at war with Iran, Russia and several Western countries, at the very least. As I wrote yesterday, those wonderful children will all be cannon fodder, and archeologists of the future will enjoy digging up their bones from mass graves. Pew Research and Islamic Edicts on Family Planning

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-16 World View -- Turkey's president Erdogan tells Muslims not to use birth control thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2016) Permanent Link
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30-May-16 World View -- Decoration Day: Commemorating America's heroes and the Battle of Verdun

Pacifism and the futility of war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Decoration Day


May 30, 1912: About 700 Civil War veterans marched in this parade on Decoration Day in Los Angeles (LA Times)
May 30, 1912: About 700 Civil War veterans marched in this parade on Decoration Day in Los Angeles (LA Times)

Decoration Day was officially designated on May 5th, 1868, by President Ulysses Grant, to honor and decorate with flowers the graves of fallen soldiers during the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11:

"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."

The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.

Following World War I, Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day, to honor Americans who died fighting in any war, not just the Civil War. Memorial Day is different from Veterans Day, which honors living veterans.

In 1971, Congress passed the National Holiday Act of 1971, making Memorial Day the last Monday in May, and a federal holiday, ensuring a three-day weekend. Almost every state now observes the holiday, although some southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19th in Texas; April 26th in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10th in South Carolina; and June 3rd (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee. Washington Post and US Memorial Day and LA Times

Germany and France commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Verdun


Angela Merkel and François Hollande commemorate the Battle of Verdun on Sunday (AFP)
Angela Merkel and François Hollande commemorate the Battle of Verdun on Sunday (AFP)

Verdun was the longest battle of World War I, a savage confrontation lasting 10 months and leaving 800,000 German and French soldiers dead, wounded or missing. The Germans fired two million shells in the opening eight-hour bombardment, and tens of millions were fired over the course of the conflict.

The Germans initially gained five miles of ground in the battle, but over time the French regained the ground they had lost. Officially, France was the victor, but they had nothing to show for their victory but piles of dead bodies.

On Sunday, German chancellor Angela Merkel and France's president François Hollande led a ceremony in the city of Verdun, to commemorate the battle's 100th anniversary.

Both Merkel and Hollande related the battle to today's migrant and Brexit crises, which are threatening to tear the European Union apart. Merkel said:

"The name Verdun stands for incomprehensible cruelty and the futility of war as well as the lessons learnt and the German-French reconciliation. ...

War is possible. We must remain vigilant to avoid it ... All these dead are the victims of nationalism, of stubborn blindness and the failings of politicians."

Hollande warned against "forces of division" in Europe, saying "Disenchantment has given way to bitterness, doubt to suspicion and, for some, rejection or even separation."

The ceremony was held at Douaumont Ossuary, which contains the bones of 130,000 German and French soldiers. BBC and Irish Times

The Germany - France reconciliation - 1984


The iconic photo of Mitterrand and Kohl at Verdun in 1984
The iconic photo of Mitterrand and Kohl at Verdun in 1984

Although reconciliation between Germany and France was every European leader's goal after World War II, the bitter war kept them separated. By 1984, the people in the generations of Nazi and French leaders who had fought the war were finally mostly gone, and reconciliation was finally possible.

Above is the highly emotional photo of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand standing hand-in-hand during a 1984 commemoration ceremony at Verdun. It's an iconic photo illustrating reconciliation that took place between their respective nations after two world wars.

This was the 68th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun. Kohl and Mitterrand issued a joint statement:

"France and Germany have learnt lessons from our history. Europe is our common fatherland. We are heirs of a grand European tradition. This is why, forty years ago, we ended our fratricidal war and began to build our future together. We were reconciled, we came to an agreement, we became friends. European unification is our common goal – this is what we are working towards – in the spirit of fraternity."

Today in History and International Herald Tribune (29-May-1966)

Red poppies in Flanders Field


Red poppies in Flanders Field (LaMa Arts)
Red poppies in Flanders Field (LaMa Arts)

Many people wear red poppies on Memorial Day, to commemorate the dead. The tradition came about because of the following poem, written by a Canadian soldier fighting in World War I:

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae died of pneumonia and meningitis in Boulogne, France, on January 28th, 1918. The poppy is Canada's official Flower of Remembrance. LaMa Arts and Flanders Fields Music

Pacifism and the futility of war

At Sunday's commemoration of the Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, "The name Verdun stands for incomprehensible cruelty and the futility of war."

If any battle illustrates the futility of war, then the Battle of Verdun does. The German attack won five miles of ground which the French recovered in the weeks that followed. What was the point?

In fact, you could ask the same thing about all of World War I and World War II. There have been some small boundary changes in Europe in the last century, but hardly worth hundreds of millions of people killed.

If the futility of war is so obvious, then why are there wars? Why isn't everyone a pacifist?

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the answer is simple: The world's population grows faster than the world's food supply. That means that, eventually, some people will have to be exterminated so that there'll be food for the rest. The same reasoning applies to other resources.

A good example is the Mideast. The Israelis and the Palestinians have some of the fastest growing populations in the world. Each year, more and more people are jam-packed into Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. And the Israelis and Palestinians hate each other. (Incidentally, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank hate each other also, to a lesser extent.) All these Israeli and Palestinian children are simply cannon fodder for the next war. People who talk about "two nations, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and harmony" are living in a total fantasy. This region is like a pressure cooker that must some day explode.

If you believe in evolution, then this is easily explainable. The strongest and fastest growing species is the one most likely to survive, because it will get the most food and resources. If there's no food left for the weaker species, then that species will quietly become extinct. That's because animals are not intelligent. Humans are intelligent, so they don't quietly become extinct. They conduct riots, demonstrations, and terrorist attacks, and eventually wars of extermination. So the strongest and fastest growing tribes, societies or nations will win the wars, and get all the food

If you believe in creationism, then the explanation is different, but also easily explainable. God has created a world in which the population grows faster than the food supply, so wars of extermination must occur. If wars of extermination must occur, because of God's creation, then it's God's fault that wars of extermination occur. It hardly makes sense to blame humans for wars of extermination if God has created a world in which wars of extermination are required. So the strongest and fastest growing tribes, societies or nations will win the wars, and get all the food.

So was the Battle of Verdun an example of futility? No, absolutely not. The Battle of Verdun killed off 800,000 people, and the food for those 800,000 people became available to other people. With those 800,000 people dead, they didn't need food, didn't need water, didn't need land, didn't need energy, and so forth. Those resources became available to other people. So the Battle of Verdun did exactly what it had to do, and except for those who experienced personal loss, it improved the lives of millions of other people. And that, Dear Reader, is the way the world works.

The world is bulging with people. Food is becoming more expensive, and refugees are pouring out of Asia, the Mideast and Africa. These are typical characteristics of a generational Crisis era.

Here are five events:

Sooner or later, one of these events (or something like them) will occur, and in this generational Crisis era, that will trigger all the others, and the Clash of Civilizations world war.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-16 World View -- Decoration Day: Commemorating America's heroes and the Battle of Verdun thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2016) Permanent Link
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29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise

Economic collapse of Venezuela will devastate the entire Caribbean region

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Economic collapse of Venezuela will devastate the entire Caribbean region


Typical food supermarket in Venezuela
Typical food supermarket in Venezuela

According to a statement by Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro Moros, his predecessor "[Hugo] Chávez earned a place in heaven" by subsidizing heating oil to 150,000 low-income American families, and especially by the PetroCaribe program, which subsidizes oil for many Caribbean and Central American companies. However, Venezuela's Socialist economy spirals into collapse, all of these subsidy programs are in jeopardy, and ending the programs could seriously destabilize the region, as many countries are already in economic difficulties.

The PetroCaribe program began in 2005, at a time when Venezuela was making huge amounts of money from selling oil. Under the program, a Venezuela lends the country most of the cost of the oil under very lenient terms -- 25 year loans with interest rates as low as 1%. In addition, Venezuela accepts debt payments in kind. For the last 10 years, it has received payments in bananas, rice, jeans, medical assistance and “intelligence” services (from Cuba). Estimates are that this costs Venezuela $2-3 billion per year in lost income. This was not a problem a few years ago, but with the economy collapsing, it is today.

In a recent visit to Jamaica, Maduro insisted that Venezuela is still committed to the PetroCaribe program:

"We are fully convinced that in the last 10 years, PetroCaribe has clearly demonstrated that it’s only together that we can reach development and (achieve) happiness for our peoples."

If Maduro is correct that PetroCaribe is needed to achieve happiness for Latin American peoples, then the logical conclusion is that there will be a lot of unhappiness in Latin America if PetroCaribe ends. That's exactly the conclusion of New York based Latin America analysts LATAM PM.

Venezuela has almost $2 billion in debt due in October, $3 billion in November and almost $4 billion in April 2017, making default almost certain. According to LATAM PM:

Inflation hit 180.9 per cent and the economy contracted 5.7 per cent last year, according to central bank figures. Contagion risks are significant: on one hand, regional risk could spike, with Brazil and Ecuador already in a recession.

PetroCaribe ... is also in big danger. Between 2004 and 2008, Venezuela experienced an economic miracle. Its economy grew ten per cent on average every year, while GDP per capita expanded by 26 per cent. Now Venezuela is going backwards.

By 2018, the country will reach the GDP seen in 2005, but with a population six million (20 per cent larger). GDP per capita will fall to 2000 levels by 2018, as if 18 years had never occurred for the economy."

Members of the PetroCaribe program include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala left the program in 2013. From the Caribbean, only the oil producers Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados refused Venezuela’s offer.

The inevitable end of the PetroCaribe program will have significant impact on most of these countries. The region spends around 15% of its GDP on oil imports, and many of the countries have a strong dependency on Venezuela's cheap oil. According to LATAM PM, "the existence of PetroCaribe is a matter of time and this will bring economic instability to Central America and the Caribbean." Jamaica Observer and Nation News (Barbados) and LATAM PM (29-Feb) and Economist (4-Oct-2014)

Lufthansa suspends flights to Venezuela over non-payment

As has been frequently reported, the citizens of Venezuela are suffering one indignity after another, thanks to the approaching collapse of Venezuela's Socialist economy. These indignities include jailing of factory owners, and severe shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

On Saturday, the German airline Lufthansa announced that it is suspending all flights to Venezuela as of June 18. The reason is that many airline fares are paid in Venezuela's bolivar currency, which has become practically worthless, with the highest inflation rate in the world. Reuters

Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise

I was startled to hear analyst Yolanda Valery on the BBC describe the unfolding some of the history of the tenure of Hugo Chávez, as he worked to create his Socialist paradise.

In the mid-2000s decade, Venezuela was swimming in money. Starting in 2006-7, Chávez put a plan into action to turn Venezuela into a pure Socialist state. The plan was as follows:

Nobody would think of awarding Chávez or any of his acolytes (Sean Penn, Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Jeremy Corbyn) any prizes for anything but sheer stupidity, but this plan is about the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

This reminds me of Mao Zedong's plan to create a Socialist Paradise in China -- the Great Leap Forward of 1958-59.

500,000,000 peasants were taken out of their individual homes and put into communes, creating a massive human work force. The workers were organized along military lines of companies, battalions, and brigades. Each person's activities were rigidly supervised. Mao's stipulated purpose was to mobilize the entire population to transform China into a socialist powerhouse -- producing both food and industrial goods -- much faster than might otherwise be possible. This would be both a national triumph and an ideological triumph, proving to the world that socialism could triumph over capitalism.

The Great Leap Forward was a disastrous failure, and tens of millions of people died of starvation. BBC: Venezuela on the Brink (MP3 at 17:30)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-16 World View -- Hugo Chávez dismantled Venezuela's businesses on purpose to create Socialist Paradise thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2016) Permanent Link
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28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah

Iran and Hezbollah turn focus of hostility from Israel to Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah


1938: English girls giving Nazi salute returning from a field trip to Germany - 'We had the time of our lives!' (Der Spiegel)
1938: English girls giving Nazi salute returning from a field trip to Germany - 'We had the time of our lives!' (Der Spiegel)

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran, India and Russia will be allied with the West against China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Arab nations in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war.

For the last few weeks, there have been increasingly widespread reports in the media that Israel and Saudi Arabia have all but severed ties with the United States, and are forming an independent military alliance against Iran.

This development runs counter to a very powerful Generational Dynamics trend prediction, and so it needs to be analyzed. Either the trend prediction is wrong (which it isn't), or the Israel-Saudi alliance must be relatively short-lived.

Several days ago, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announced a significant change in policy, as he asked the Arab nations to help in a "real deal" with the Palestinians:

"The initiatives I’m referring to are regional initiatives – meaning, aided by the Arab countries in the region to reach a real deal with the Palestinians. We always thought it would be the opposite, but that is the direction today. I am constantly trying, including over the last few hours, to further contacts with various leaders in the region to help in this direction."

A couple of days previously, Netanyahu responded to an offer by Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians by saying, "Israel is ready to participate with Egypt and other Arab states in advancing both the diplomatic process and stability in the region. I appreciate President al-Sisi’s work and also draw encouragement from his leadership on this important issue." According to reports, the Arab countries include Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt.

Netanyahu had previously rejected the help of Arab mediators in the Palestinian issue, because they were insisting on the "right of return," which would allow the descendants of Palestinians lost their homes in the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs to reclaim their grandparents' real estate. However, reports suggest that the Arab nations are backing off from that demand.

The Palestinian issue is only the latest of the issues uniting the Saudis, Egyptians and Israelis. As we've reported for years, President Obama has managed to alienate all three countries and offended their leaders. This has led to a shared sense of betrayal and abandonment, especially after Obama's vigorous pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, creating a widespread impression that he was more interested in a good relationship with Iran than with them.

There have been signs that the rapprochement in Israel's relationship with Egypt and Saudi Arabia has crossed over into the military sphere.

Israel and Egypt signed a 1979 peace treaty that Egypt's Sinai peninsula was a demilitarized zone. Yet Israel has approved Egypt's requests to move additional troops into Sinai, near the border with Israel. More recently, Israel raised no objections to Egypt's transferring two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, even though the transfer affected Israel's security.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share the common interest and belief that the biggest threat is Iran. Reports have surfaced in the past that the Saudis gave Jerusalem approval for Air Force jets to pass through their airspace if Israel decides to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. This suggests that Israel and Saudi Arabia have military to military contacts regarding Iran, and may be sharing intelligence or making other plans. Breaking Israel News and Israel National News and Politico (EU) and Jerusalem Post (12-Apr)

Iran and Hezbollah turn focus of hostility from Israel to Saudi Arabia

According to recent reports, Iran has ordered Hezbollah to suspend operations against Israel and to target Saudi Arabia instead.

Lebanon's Shia terrorist group Hezbollah and its leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah have been Iran's puppets for decades, and have had as their main objective "resistance" to Israel, or the destruction of Israel. Israel and Hezbollah fought a war in Lebanon in 2006, and Hezbollah has supported Hamas and other Palestinian groups in conducting terror operations against Israel and Israeli targets.

But the war in Syria has changed all that. Under orders from Iran, Hezbollah sent thousands of its fighters into Syria to fight alongside the army of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The targets have been anyone who opposes al-Assad, all the way from peaceful protesters and children in school all the way to the jihadist groups, so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front).

Last week, Nasrallah admitted for the first time that he had lost "a large number" of his fighters in battles in Syria. Some reports give a figure of 1,500 to 2,000, or one-third of his entire army.

The new orders from Iran were triggered by a number of devastating Iranian and Hezbollah losses in Syria, including the assassination of Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who was leading Hezbollah forces in Syria. ( "14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman")

The death of Badreddine was extremely significant, and statements by Iran and Hezbollah make it clear that they blame his death on jihadist forces funded and supported by Saudi Arabia.

As we reported yesterday, Iran has announced that it would not let its citizens participate in the Hajj in Mecca on September 9-14. This is Islam's holiest event, and non-participation by Iran is quite significant. ( "27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj")

According to reports, Iran has instructed Hezbollah to initiate actions against Saudi Arabia before the beginning of the Hajj in September. Middle East Eye (17-May) and Middle East Eye and Reuters (20-May) and Al Arabiya (20-May)

Shifting Israeli alliances in the Mideast

I am asked frequently it's conceivably even POSSIBLE that Iran will be an American ally in the coming world war, as I've been predicting for ten years would happen, given the political situation of the last ten years.

There are examples in World War II that serve as precedents. Russia and Josef Stalin were our bitter enemies before the war, but we were allies during the war. Britain and Nazi Germany were close before the war, but were bitter enemies during the war. Before the war, Germany and Russia signed a non-aggression pact, called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty, but Germany invaded Russia anyway.

A generational crisis war, like World War II, is very different from an "ordinary" war because it's considered existential, a threat to the very existence of a country and its way of life. None of the wars that America experience since the end of WW II -- Korean war, Vietnam war, Iraq wars -- was anything like that. Non-crisis wars are based on political decisions. You have Christmas truces in non-crisis wars. Crisis wars are based visceral hatred, a desire to exterminate. There are no Christmas truces.

So right now, Saudi Arabia and Israel are allied against Iran. But this is a purely political alliance. There is no visceral hatred among Israelis for Iranians, and there is no visceral hatred among Iranians for Israelis. (See, for example, "9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement")

On the other hand, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran is based on deeply visceral hatred. We see signs of this all the time, such as the Iranian firebombing of the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January, with no apology forthcoming. Iran and Saudi Arabia will be involved in an extremely bloody generational crisis war with absolute certainty, and it appears that the time is approaching rapidly.

So what about Israel? There is little hatred between Israelis and Iranians, but there's enormous hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly among younger generations. The prediction that I first posted in May 2003 is still just as true today as it was then: Jews and Arabs are headed for a new generational crisis war, re-fighting the 1948-49 genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. (From 2003: "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?")

OK, so what about Egypt? Israel and Egypt have had a peace treaty for over a quarter century. Will Israel be at war with Egypt?

To address that question, one first has to point out that Egypt is at war with itself. Egypt's army is fighting ISIS and Bedouins in Sinai, and there have been major riots targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt.

This example is a small illustration of a vastly larger problem in analyzing generational trends in the Mideast -- that there are ethnic fault lines that go beyond the easily predicted sectarian fault lines. Especially with the rise of ISIS, al-Nusra and the Kurds, we can already see signs of Sunnis fighting Sunnis in Syria, for example.

What's needed is a deep, thorough analysis of the trends among all the ethnic groups in the Mideast. Remarkably, this would be a lot easier today than it was even ten years ago, because today there's a huge wealth of social media that can be looked at.

Analyzing that huge volume of social media is far more work than I'm capable of accomplishing. But if some college student is looking for a thesis topic in order to accomplish something really important and develop valuable information on the future of the Mideast, then this is it. Der Spiegel (13-Jun-2013) and World War II: The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-16 World View -- Report: Israel and Saudi Arabia are allying against Iran and Hezbollah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2016) Permanent Link
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27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj

Far-left anti-government riots spread across France

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

A disastrous year in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia


View of the streets of Mina where the stampede occurred during the Hajj in 2015 (AP)
View of the streets of Mina where the stampede occurred during the Hajj in 2015 (AP)

Sectarian Sunni versus Shia relations in the Mideast have worsened significantly in the last year, largely driven by Iran's support of the Syria's genocidal Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who for five years has been conducting a war of extermination against his own Sunni citizens.

The Hajj takes place each year in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. It's Islam's holiest event, commemorating rituals that date back to the prophet Abraham, and then codified by the prophet Mohamed in the Quran. Each Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage to the Hajj at least once in his lifetime. Last year, about two million Muslims from 180 countries around the world arrived in Saudi Arabia for their once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage. This year, the dates of the Hajj are September 9-14.

The worst disaster to befall the Hajj in modern times occurred last year when two large groups of pilgrims arrived together at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers outside the holy city of Mecca. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were walking towards the site of one of the most important rituals, "stoning the devil," which requires throwing seven stones at a pillar representing Satan in the city of Mina. However, when two massive crowds converged on the same narrow street, the people in front were forced to stop, while the ones hundreds of meters to the rear kept on walking. All of this took place under a burning hot sun, with a temperature of 46 degrees centigrade (= 114 degrees fahrenheit). The result was that hundreds of pilgrims suffocated or were trampled to death, including many elderly people and children. ( "27-Sep-15 World View -- After Hajj stampede disaster, Muslims debate the 'Will of Allah'")

The stampede caused the death of at least 769 pilgrims, of which 464 were Iranians, according to the Saudis. There have been claims that up to 2,200 pilgrims were killed in the stampede. From the beginning, Iran called the stampede "a crime," and demanded that the Saudis be prosecuted in international courts. The Saudis said that the stampede was cause by Iranian pilgrims "not following instructions."

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran took a major step towards increased hostility in January of this year, when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, infuriating Iran and Shias because it implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. ( "18-Jan-16 World View -- Pakistan tries to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran")

After the firebombing of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations. Other Saudi allies followed suit. In January, the Saudis halted trade and airline flights with Iran.

Then, at the beginning of April, the Saudis banned Iran's airline, Mahan Air, from flying through Saudi airspace at all, or landing at its airports, saying that Mahan was in violation of safety regulations. This affected around 150 direct flights per month between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The National (UAE, 5-Apr) and Al Bawaba (Palestine, 6-Apr) and Press TV (Tehran, 5-Apr)

Iran bans Iranians from attending the Hajj in 2016

With the 2016 Hajj approaching, Saudi Arabia and Iran have made the Hajj an issue in the severe hostility existing between the two countries. The issues are as follows:

Since the beginning of May, the Iranians and Saudis have been in talks, attempting to find a way to resolve this issue. However, the two countries are still at an impasse, and an Iranian official said Iran was "very concerned over the security of Iranians during the holy ceremony." Al Arabiya (12-May) and Al Jazeera and Leadership (Nigeria) and Al Monitor

Far left anti-government riots spread across France

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across France on Thursday to protest the government's proposed labor reform bill. In Paris, protests descended into violence, with protesters throwing projectiles and police firing bouts of teargas. Across the country, rioters blockaded roads and oil refineries, resulting in a shortage of petrol.

France has the shortest legal working week in Europe, at 35 hours. The 35 hour work week would be kept, but the new law would make it easier for employers to lay people off. Layoffs are currently almost impossible in France, but the reforms would allow companies whose revenues have fallen for four consecutive quarters to lay people off.

France has a 10.5% unemployment rate, compared with 5.4% in the UK and 4.8% in Germany. Most observers blame France's high unemployment rate on the fact that employers are reluctant to hire anyone, especially young people, since it's almost impossible to fire them if they're incompetent.

According to reports, the far-left activists calling for the strikes and riots feel betrayed because the labor reforms are being proposed by France's Socialist president François Hollande who, they feel, should completely support the far left.

As I wrote a few days ago, we're seeing in many countries complete rejection of established politicians by young Millennials, and deep polarization as large segments of the population move to the far left, while other segments move to far right. This is what happened in the 1930s, leading to World War II, and we can expect to see more riots and demonstrations on the far right and the far left, as these countries go deeper into a generational Crisis era. France 24 and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-16 World View -- Increasingly hostile Iran-Saudi relations affect this year's Hajj thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2016) Permanent Link
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26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China

IMF balks at new European bailout plan for Greece

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China


Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's new president (Reuters)
Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's new president (Reuters)

Just four days after Taiwan's new president Tsai Ing-wen took office, she is already facing a major political crisis with China, after a major election victory in January. ( "17-Jan-16 World View -- Taiwan's pro-independence party wins historic presidential election")

As I wrote in my January article, Taiwan-China relations are sure to be tumultuous as soon as Tsai takes office, and that is happening very quickly.

Since 2008, Taiwan has been governed by the pro-China Kuomintang (KMT) party, which favors the "one China" principle and unification with mainland China, and which has fully supported all of China's claims in the South China Sea.

Tsai is the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which in the past has favored Taiwan independence from China. When the DPP was in power prior to 2008, relations between China and Taiwan were so bad that in 2005 Beijing passed an "anti-secession law" saying that China would take military action against Taiwan if there were any moves or speeches in the direction of Taiwan independence from China.

So in Tsai's inauguration speech five days ago, Tsai said that she "respected" the "common understanding" between Taiwan and China, but did not say what the common understanding was.

According to Beijing state media, Tsai made "a painful effort not to answer one important question..., whether or not to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus embodying the one China principle."

According to Beijing:

"The current developments across the Taiwan Straits are becoming complex and grave. ...

Since 2008, the two sides of the Straits, acting on the common political foundation of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing "Taiwan independence", have embarked on the path of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations. ...

The key to ensuring peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations lies in adhering to the 1992 Consensus, which constitutes the political basis of cross-Straits relations. The 1992 Consensus explicitly sets out the fundamental nature of relations across the Taiwan Straits. It states that both the Mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China and that cross-Straits relations are not state-to-state relations. The 1992 Consensus was reached with explicit authorization of the two sides and has been affirmed by leaders of both sides. It thus constitutes the cornerstone of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations.

We have noted that in her address today, the new leader of the Taiwan authorities stated that the 1992 talks ... reached some common understanding, and that she will handle affairs of cross-Straits relations in keeping with the existing defining document and related regulations and continue to advance the peaceful and stable growth of cross-Straits relations on the basis of the established political foundation.

However, she was ambiguous about the fundamental issue, the nature of cross-Straits relations, an issue that is of utmost concern to people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. She did not explicitly recognize the 1992 Consensus and its core implications, and made no concrete proposal for ensuring the peaceful and stable growth of cross-Straits relations. Hence, this is an incomplete test answer.

A choice of different path leads to different future. This is a choice between upholding the common political foundation that embodies the one China principle and pursuing separatist propositions of "Taiwan independence" such as "two Chinas" or "one country on each side". This is a choice between staying on the path of peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations and repeating the past practice of provoking cross-Straits tension and instability. And this is a choice between enhancing the affinity and well-being of people on both sides and severing their blood ties and undermining their fundamental interests. The Taiwan authorities must give explicit answer with concrete actions to all these major questions and face the test of history and the people. ...

"Taiwan independence" remains the biggest menace to peace across the Taiwan Straits and the peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations. Pursuing "Taiwan independence" can in no way bring peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. The common will of people on both sides of the Straits are not to be defied. Today, we remain as determined as ever to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity and have ever stronger ability to do so. We will resolutely forestall any separatist moves and plots to pursue "Taiwan independence" in any form."

Beijing is demanding that "Taiwan must clarify this issue with practical action and allow the examination of the people and history."

Tsai won the January election overwhelmingly because the people of Taiwan, especially the younger generations, increasingly identify as "Taiwanese" rather than "Chinese." The KMT is a party of older generations.

If Tsai complied with China's demands and unambiguously recognized the 1992 Consensus, there would probably be anti-Chinese "Sunflower movement" riots in the streets, as there were frequently the last time the DPP was in power, and those riots will probably overflow into Hong Kong, where there could be a renewal of anti-Chinese "Umbrella movement" riots.

So China's demands of Tsai are quite ominous, and the political situation will be extremely volatile no matter what Tsai decides to do. China Radio International's English Service and Xinhua

IMF balks at new European bailout plan for Greece

The eurozone finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, announced on Wednesday morning that they had reached deal to provide a new bailout to Greece, and also announced that the deal complies with the demands by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for "debt relief" for Greece, and that debt relief will be provided by 2018. The new 10.3 billion euro bailout loan to Greece would allow Greece to make a July 1 debt repayment and avoid bankruptcy. It's expected that, as in the past, about one-third of the bailout loan would come from the IMF, which is funded by the United States and other countries, and two-thirds would come from eurozone institutions.

The IMF demand for "debt relief" alludes to the fact that Greece can never pay off its debt. Readers who have been following this issue for years and years can well remember crisis after crisis, with a decision each time to "kick the can down the road" by granting Greece a new bailout loan so that they could use it to avoid immediate bankruptcy. (This technique is sometimes called "Using your Visa credit card to pay your Master Card bill.")

However, the IMF announced that for this, the first 2016 crisis, they would not simply kick the can down the road, but would demand debt relief. Since most of Greece's 300 billion euro debt is owed to European Union (eurozone) institutions, the eurozone has it within its power to reduce Greece's debt so that Greece could one day be debt-free.

The main opponent of debt relief has always been the Germans, especially Germany's cranky finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. So the finance ministers reached a compromise on the debt relief issue, "extending the repayment period and capping interest rates."

What does that mean? Details were not provided, but speculation was that interest rates would be close to zero until 2050, and Greece would not have to repay the debt in full until 2100. By that time Wolfgang Schäuble would be dead, and indeed so would all the other finance ministers.

So the finance ministers announced that they'd agreed on debt relief, and had met the IMF's demands.

However, an IMF official disagreed, saying:

"Greece is in a situation where it needs a disbursement, and so we were certainly willing to concede on some points. But we have not conceded on the point that we need adequate assurances regarding debt relief before we go to our board... I am hopeful we will get there. ...

We are not in the situation where the IMF can say that we're ready to move ahead. But... given what we have got from the Europeans, given what they committed to, I'm hopeful that we can get to that point by the end of the year."

By the end of the year? It looks like another crisis in the making. Kathimerini and BBC and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-16 World View -- China demands new Taiwan leader explicitly affirm that Taiwan is part of China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2016) Permanent Link
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25-May-16 World View -- Iran-India sign 'historic' Chabahar port deal to counter Pakistan-China

Iran, India and the classic fables of Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, Jataka and Panchatantra

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran and India sign 'historic' deal for Iran's Chabahar port


Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports (Defence.pk)
Map displaying the trade routes related to the Chabahar and Gwadar ports (Defence.pk)

In a two-day visit to Iran's capital city Tehran, India's prime minister Narendra Modi and Iran's president Hassan Rouhani signed a dozen commercial, security and cultural agreements.

The most important was the "historic" Chabahar Port agreement. Chabahar is on the coast of Iran near Pakistan. India has agreed to invest $500 million to significantly increase the size of this port. Using it, India will be able to bypass Pakistan in shipping goods to Iran, and from there to Afghanistan, Central Asia or Europe. (Chabahar is the large red star on the map above, and the red lines are proposed travel routes from Mumbai to Chabahar, through Iran to Central Asia and Europe.)

The proposal fo build up the Chabahar has been discussed since the 1990s, but agreements have been slow to come. Then the whole project was put on hold because of international sanctions on Tehran. So this deal comes just four months after international sanctions have been lifted.

China has been investing heavily in the Pakistan's port at Gwadar, shown by the large purple star in the map above. The purple lines show China's trade routes to the Mideast:

A visitor from Mars might wonder why India doesn't just ship commercial goods over land through Pakistan to the port of Gwadar or to Iran. The answer is that in December of last year, Pakistan's government said that it would not permit Indian goods to be transported across Pakistan.

Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani was also in Tehran on Tuesday to join in the announcement of the Chabahar Port agreement. The agreement is significant for Afghanistan, because it will mean a great deal of increased trade with its ally, India. Indian Express and Tehran Times and Dawn (Pakistan - 10-Dec-2015)

Chabahar port deal highlights enmity between Iran-India versus Pakistan-China


Narendra Modi, Hassan Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on Tuesday (PTI)
Narendra Modi, Hassan Rouhani and Ashraf Ghani in Tehran on Tuesday (PTI)

Long-time readers are aware that for ten years I've been reporting that Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, America will be allied with India, Russia and Iran, versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. ( "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal")

In the case of Iran, the generational analysis was pretty straightforward. In the early 2000s, there were numerous pro-Western and pro-American riots and demonstrations by college students in Iran. Of course, the Iranian hardliners crushed them violently, but doing that didn't change any hearts and minds. Today, those college students are in the 30s, in positions of power, and they retain those pro-Western views. ( "9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement")

Obviously, that analysis only goes back about 15 years. But in fact, Hindus and Shias have been closely linked for many centuries, and it's particularly significant that in 681 AD Hindus fought on the side of (what would become) the Shias in the most important battle in Islam's post-Mohammed history -- the Battle of Karbala, the battle that permanently split the Muslim world of the time into the Sunni and Shia branches.

During the visit by India's prime minister Narendra Modi to Tehran, Modi gave a speech that emphasized the long relationship between the two cultures:

"Centuries of free exchange of ideas and traditions, poets and craftsmen, art and architecture, culture and commerce have enriched both our civilizations. Our heritage has also been a source of strength and economic growth for our nations. The richness of Persian heritage is an integral part of the fabric of the Indian society. A part of Iranian culture lives in Indian hearts. And, a slice of Indian heritage is woven into the Iranian society. Our ancient heroes and epics bear striking parallels. The dargahs of Azmer Sharif and Hazrat Nizamuddin in India are equally revered in Iran. Mahabharata and Shahnama, Bhima and Rustam, Arjuna and Arsh exhibit similarity in our world views and values. ...

As two ancient civilizations, we are known for our ability to be inclusive and welcoming to foreign cultures. Our contacts have not just refined our own cultures. They have also contributed to the growth of moderate and tolerant societies globally. Sufism a rich product of our ancient links, carried its message of true love, tolerance and acceptance to the entire mankind. The spirit of Sufism is also reflected in the Indian concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the World as one family. ...

India and Iran have always been partners and friends. Our historical ties may have seen their share of ups and downs. But, throughout our partnership has remained a source of boundless strength for both of us. Time has come for us to regain the past glory of traditional ties and links. Time has come for us to march together. In this endeavor, you, the eminent scholars have a defining role to play."

After reading that, compare it to the words of China's president Xi Jinping when he visited Pakistan in April of last year to sign numerous commercial, security and cultural agreements, including plans for a $46 billion transportation corridor from Xinjiang province to the port of Gwadar. ( "27-Apr-15 World View -- China extends its military buildup with Pakistan")

During Xi's "historic" visit to Pakistan, he said the following:

"This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my own brother. Over the years, thanks to the nurturing of generations of leaders and people from all sectors of both countries, China-Pakistan friendship has flourished like a tree growing tall and strong. No matter how the circumstances in our two countries, the region and the world change, our bilateral relations have enjoyed sound and steady growth. We have always respected, understood and supported each other on issues concerning our respective core interests. In Pakistan, our relationship is poetically hailed as a friendship “higher than mountains, deeper than oceans and sweeter than honey.” In China, Pakistan is known as a sincere and reliable friend. Obviously, China-Pakistan friendship is deeply felt in the hearts of our two peoples."

In May 2011, Pakistan's ambassador to China Masood Khan described the relationship between Pakistan and China as "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel, sweeter than honey, and dearer than eyesight."

These two displays of deep affection, India with Iran and China with Pakistan, may sound like true love, but they're the portent of things to come, the coming Clash of Civilizations world war will pit India, Iran and others versus China, Pakistan and others, in the bloodiest and most destructive war in world history. Narendri Modi and Times of India and Pakistan Observer

Iran, India and the classic fables of Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, Jataka and Panchatantra

During Narendra Modi's speech, excerpted above, Modi said the following:

"India and Iran are two civilizations that celebrate the meeting of our great cultures. The rare Persian manuscript Kalileh-wa-Dimneh, released just now, captures the close historical links between India and Iran. It is remarkable how the simple stories of the Indian classics of Jataka and Panchatantra became the Persian Kalileh-wa-Dimneh. It is a classic example of exchange and travel of cultural ideas between two societies. ­A beautiful demonstration of how our two cultures and countries think alike. A true depiction of the wisdom of our ancient civilizations."

I had never heard of these classics, but I checked out the Kalileh-wa-Dimneh. I've only had time to skim through it, but it's a fascinating collection of fables and stories that remind me of Aesop's Fables. It would be well worth your time, Dear Reader, to take a look for yourself. Kalileh-wa-Dimneh

The Caspian Corridor and the New Silk Road


The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe
The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe

In ancient times the Silk Road, a complex road network, was the most favored transport route between China and Europe. Today, there's a great deal of renewed interest in developing a New Silk Road, new trade routes between Asia and Europe. This article describes two such trade routes, through the ports of Chabahar and Gwadar, respectively.

It's worth mentioning one additional trade route from Asia to Europe, the Caspian Corridor, that I've written about before. ( "21-Jan-16 World View -- Azerbaijan forced to choose between Russia and Turkey")

The plan is to develop infrastructure within the Caspian Sea to effectively connect Central Asia to the Caucasus region. Goods can travel overland from India and China through Central Asia by truck and railway, to a port on the Caspian Sea. From there, the goods are ferried across the Caspian Sea to a port in Azerbaijan. From there, they can travel overland again, through Georgia, Turkey, and then into Europe, including Ukraine.

The Caspian Corridor is suitable for Pakistan and China, but not for India, since it would require land transport across Pakistan, which apparently has been forbidden. In fact, Pakistan and China have effectively isolated India from Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has been forced to use costly and impractical routes to reach the heart of Asia and Asiatic Russia.

For that reason, the Chabahar port project is considered a "game changer," and will make a significant difference for India and Afghanistan. According to Afghanistan's president Ashraf Ghani: "A hundred years from now historians will remember this day as the start of regional cooperation. We wanted to prove that geography is not our destiny. With our will we can change geography." Deccan Chronicle (India)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-16 World View -- Iran-India sign 'historic' Chabahar port deal to counter Pakistan-China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2016) Permanent Link
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24-May-16 World View -- Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland

Death of Afghan Taliban leader complicates America's relationship with Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Death of Afghan Taliban leader complicates America's relationship with Pakistan


Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)
Wreckage of vehicle in which Mansour was traveling when hit by US drone strike (Anadolu)

The Taliban has confirmed that the American drone strike that "likely" killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, as we reported two days ago, actually did kill Mansour. The drone strike occurred in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

President Obama bragged that the killing was "an important milestone" for peace in Afghanistan. Secretary of State John Kerry said, "This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan. Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort."

These Pollyannaish views are not supported by any of the analysts I've seen. The Taliban will undoubtedly go through a period of confusion as a new leader is picked, but the wish that the new leader will bring about peace in Afghanistan is fantasy. In fact, the disorganization within the Taliban could allow the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) to gain a stronger foothold in Afghanistan.

Many consider the most likely choice for Mansour's successor to be Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani Network, which has worked closely with the Afghan Taliban. Haqqani has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, and is widely seen by U.S. and Afghan officials as the most dangerous warlord in the Taliban insurgency, responsible for the most bloody attacks, including one last month in Kabul in which 64 people were killed. Thanks to the help of the Haqqani network, the Taliban now control more territory in Afghanistan today than they did since 2001. Haqqani could take control of the entire Taliban movement if he's approved.

The US drone strike into Pakistan's Balochistan province that resulted in Mansour's death is causing analysts to focus on America's relationship with Pakistan. The US has conducted numerous drone strikes into Pakistan's tribal area. Pakistan's government publicly condemns all American drone strikes as violating Pakistan's sovereign territory, but it's widely believed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency covertly approves of the strikes, and even provides the CIA with intelligence for identifying targets.

However, the strike into Balochistan province would be the first known drone strike outside of the tribal area, and is liable to raise hackles in Pakistan similar to those that were raised when American special forces entered Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden.

The ISI has apparently never approved any drone strikes against Haqqani network targets in Pakistan, and it's suspected that the ISI likes and supports Sirajuddin Haqqani. This has given rise to the speculation that the ISI somehow got the US to kill Mansour so that Haqqani could take over the Taliban. If that speculation is true, then Mansour's death could lead to an even greater insurgency in Afghanistan, and would substantially complicate America's relationship with Pakistan.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody civil war fought between 1991 and 1996. The war was fought mainly between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Today's Taliban terrorists are radicalized Pashtuns, and Generational Dynamics predicts that they are not going to agree to any peace deal, no matter whom they select as their new leader.

President Obama came into office promising to reverse the evil policies of past presidents that led us into war, and promised to bring peace to America. He won a Nobel Peace Prize. But in the last week, President Obama has just won another honor: President Barack Obama officially became the U.S. president to have been at war the longest — longer than Lyndon Johnson, longer than Abraham Lincoln and certainly longer than George W. Bush. This is what happens when America's leader has no clue what's going on in the world. With wars going on in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, Obama is virtually certain to be the only U.S. president to spend a full eight years presiding over wars. Deutsche Welle and Reuters and AFP and The Diplomat

Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland

A series of coordinated terrorist attacks on Monday in cities near Syria's Mediterranean coast have killed nearly 150 people. There were seven nearly simultaneous explosions in two seaside cities, Jableh and Tartus. A series of car bombs and suicide bombers targeted bus stations, hospitals and other sites.

The obvious objective of the bombings was to kill as many civilians as possible. However, the Russians may also have been targets, as Russia has a naval base near Tartus and an airbase near Jableh.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attacks. Some analysts considered that unlikely, pointing out that ISIS has been operating mostly in eastern Syria, and had not previously operated in western Syria. However, no one else has claimed credit, and there are some 700,000 refugees from Aleppo, Idlib, Raqqa and other war zones who have fled to the region, and an ISIS cell could well have been among them.

The attacks are a major embarrassment to the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, for several reasons.

The Syrian regime has been scrambling to explain the massive attacks. Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi blamed the terrorist attacks on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which is not widely believed outside of Damascus. He said that the "cowardly terrorist actions" would not destabilize the country.

I'm sorry, Dear Reader, but the al-Assad regime uses mortars on innocent protesters, uses Sarin gas on innocent citizens, uses missiles on children's dormitories, and uses barrel bombs on hospitals, so for the regime to refer to someone else's terrorist attacks as "cowardly" is really laughable. AFP and AP and SANA (Damascus) and Syria Online (Damascus)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-16 World View -- Massive explosions in Syria target Bashar al-Assad's heartland thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2016) Permanent Link
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23-May-16 World View -- Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates

Austria's election part of a world-wide move to the right with deep polarization

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates


Election posters for Norbert Hofer (L) and Alexander van der Bellen. (AP)
Election posters for Norbert Hofer (L) and Alexander van der Bellen. (AP)

As of this writing on Sunday evening, Austria's electorate is deeply polarized between two candidates who split the vote almost evenly in an election on Sunday. The postal votes will be counted on Monday, to decide the actual winner.

The two candidates are Norbert Hofer of the far-right Freedom Party versus Alexander Van der Bellen of the left-liberal Green Party. Both are considered to be fringe parties. What's perhaps most remarkable is that the two main centrist parties, the center-right Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the center-left Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) have both been shut out, for the first time since 1945, the end of World War II. This rejection of established politicians is similar to what has been happening in American politics.

There were 4.48 million people voting directly on Sunday, giving right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer has 51.9% of the vote, and left-wing candidate Alexander Van der Bellen has 48.1% of the vote. However, there are 700,000 absentee ballots, or 13.5% of the total ballots, and so it's quite possible that the postal votes will change the result quite significantly, giving the victory to either candidate.

Austria's politics have been strongly affected by the migrant crisis. About 90,000 people claimed asylum in Austria last year, equivalent to about 1% of the Austrian population, and the Freedom Party ran an anti-immigration campaign. Last year, Austria followed Hungary in closing the border to migrants passing through from Greece to Germany. Then last month, Austria's parliament voted to close border with Italy to slow refugees.

A victory by Hofer would give momentum to anti-migrant and eurosceptic parties in other EU countries. Moves to the right have already occurred in several countries, including France, Germany, Hungary and Denmark. BBC and The Local (Austria) and Reuters

Austria's election part of a world-wide move to the right with deep polarization

I've been writing about the worldwide increase in nationalism and xenophobia for years. This is a feature of every generational Crisis era, and we're seeing a repeat of many things that happened in the 1930s.

In 2008 in South Africa, tens of thousands of immigrants were forced to flee for their lives from their homes and businesses, often with no time to collect their belongings before their homes and businesses are looted and destroyed. The xenophobic violence and looting were generally perpetrated by young South Africans from the Zulu and Xhosa tribes. At first, refugees from Zimbabwe were particularly targeted, but later any foreigner was targeted, forcing the government to set up refugee centers housing some 70,000 refugees. ( "South Africa will create 'temporary shelters' for migrants, not 'refugee camps'")

I've written many times about anti-immigrant, anti-Roma, and anti-Muslim xenophobia in Europe. For example, in 2009 I wrote about xenophobia in Switzerland ( "Switzerland shocks itself by passing a ban on minarets."). Other examples include mutual xenophobia between China and its neighbors, Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam.

So what we're seeing today is not something that's suddenly sprung up. It's part of a growing trend that's slowly but surely been gathering power since the generational Crisis era began around 2003.

There's another side to this, however, that we haven't really yet seen yet, but certainly will -- something corresponding to the 1930s rise of the radical left -- Socialism and Communism -- as a countervailing force to the rise of the radical right. Early signs of this are already evident in America in the candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

It's worth recalling something Donald Trump has said. He's said repeatedly some variation of the following: "My wife has told me to act more presidential. If I did that, then there would be only ten people in this audience instead of 2000. So I'm not going to become presidential until I have to be." The clear implication is that Trump is like any other politician, just telling his supporters what they want to hear.

So, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Trump himself may or may not be nationalistic and xenophobic, but he's making nationalistic, xenophobic speeches because he's appealing to a highly nationalistic, xenophobic audience, mostly Millennial. In that sense, he's no different from any other politician in that he'll tell people what they want to hear if they'll vote for him and give him money. But it's the people who decide the policies, not the politicians.

As I've written many, many times, it's a core principle of generational theory that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. The Holocaust and World War II would have occurred with or without Adolf Hitler.

So we've been seeing the same phenomena in both America and Austria: Complete rejection of established politicians by young Millennials, and deep polarization as large segments of the population move to the far left, while other segments move to far right. This is what happened in the 1930s, leading to World War II. And it's what's happening today, and will lead to the approaching Clash of Civilizations World War that I've been writing about for years. The Local (Austria) and Guardian (London) and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-16 World View -- Austria deeply split between far-right and left-liberal candidates thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2016) Permanent Link
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22-May-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan

Kazakhstan farmers riot over fears of encroachment from China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kazakhstan farmers riot over fears of encroachment from China


Riot police confront protesters on Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city (Reuters)
Riot police confront protesters on Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city (Reuters)

Authorities in Kazakhstan reacted harshly to protests announced for Saturday by detaining possibly hundreds of journalists, activists and demonstrators. Police in full riot gear broke up the protests on Saturday, and dozens more were arrested in cities across the country.

They're protesting against a planned "Land Reform" program. The program would make it easier for foreigners to buy farmland or rent it for 25 years. Protesters fear that the changes would make it easier for large Chinese agribusinesses to take control of vast swaths of farmland. According to one protester, "We can't give land to the Chinese. If they come then they won't leave!" China shares a lengthy border with Kazakhstan and has been heavily investing in its energy sector and infrastructure.

The new law was approved in November, but only comes into effect on July 1. In the last round of protests, on April 27, there were one or two thousand people in each city, which is quite serious for Kazakhstan where no dissent is tolerated. Authorities fear a repeat of the huge protests in 2011, when oil workers went on strike, and 14 people were killed by police gunfire.

Kazakhstan is heavily dependent on oil exports and because of the drop in oil prices, its revenues plummeted creating budget deficit. The government had to decrease its expenditure, and the national currency lost half of its value, although it's slowly recovering now as oil prices are going up.

The collapse in global commodity prices, especially oil, drove Russia into recession, and has had s big ripple effect throughout central Asia, whose economies are dependent on Russia through subsidies and migrant labor. Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, has lost 50% of its value against the US dollar, and other currencies in the region have suffered similarly.

Although the proposed Land Reform law triggered the riots and protests, the downward spiraling economy has turned it into general protests again Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan in the last few years of the Soviet Empire, and then became president in 1991 when the Soviet Empire collapsed.

On May 5, Nazarbayev announced that the Land Reform would be put on hold, until the new laws could be discussed publicly. That was a huge concession to the activists, and perhaps was as much a sign of panic as anything else, but it didn't stop the protests from happening anyway on Saturday. EurasiaNet and Press TV (Tehran) and BBC (28-Apr) and Jamestown

Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan

According to the Pentagon, a US drone strike into Pakistan's Balochistan province, has "likely" killed Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.

Mansour's rise to power came about in a bizarre way. His predecessor was Mullah Omar, who was the nominal leader of Afghan Taliban until his death was announced in July of last year. But when his death was announced, the announcement said that he had died in April 2013. In other words, for over two years of being leader of the Taliban, he was dead.

At that point, Mansour rose to leadership, but he has not been accepted as leader by all factions, with the result of extremely bitter political infighting within the Taliban.

Nonetheless, in recent months the Taliban has been expanding operations in Afghanistan's south, and has captured several key districts, leading many to believe that President Obama will be forced to leave a large military contingent in Afghanistan at the end of his term.

Mansour's whereabouts are a closely guarded secret, so if Mansour has indeed been killed by an American drone strike, it would have to have been done with intelligence from sources within the Taliban itself. Confirmation of Mansour's death would have to come from announcement by the Taliban.

The death of Mansour, if confirmed, will not mean the end of the Taliban, just as the death of Osama bin Laden did not prevent continuing operations by al-Qaeda and did not prevent the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). One possible scenario is that his death would worsen the political infighting in the Taliban. Another possible scenario is that an even more hardline leader will be chose, someone who will unite all the Taliban factions and end the infighting. AP and Foreign Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban leader reportedly killed by US drone strike in Pakistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2016) Permanent Link
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21-May-16 World View -- A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law

Downed EgyptAir flight an economic disaster for Egypt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Downed EgyptAir flight an economic disaster for Egypt


A tourist rides a camel in front of the Giza pyramids (Reuters)
A tourist rides a camel in front of the Giza pyramids (Reuters)

At this writing, new evidence indicates that there was an electrical fire in the toilet and electronics of EgyptAir Flight 804, which went down in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, killing all 66 people onboard, as it traveled from Paris to Cairo. It's not known if the fire was the cause of the downing, or if the fire was a byproduct of a terror attack.

Either way, it's a disaster for Egypt's tourism industry and economy in general, which has already been spiraling downward. This was the third attack on Egypt's passenger aviation in just the last six months. In March, an EgyptAir flight was hijacked by a man wearing a fake explosive belt, and forced to land in Cyprus.

And in November, a passenger plane exploded over northern Sinai, 23 minutes after taking off from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on the Sinai Peninsula, heading for St. Petersburg Russia. That was not an Egyptian plane but was a Russian plane, Metrojet flight 9268, but that makes little difference given that it was blown up over Egypt.

Going beyond aviation disasters, there have been several terrorist bombings in Egypt, and the north Sinai is almost a war zone.

The tourism industry contributes about 11 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and employs about 12 per cent of the workforce. However, the number of tourists travelling to Egypt has fallen from 2.2 million in the first quarter of 2015 to about 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2016. Egypt's beach resorts are almost deserted, and even usually popular sites such as Giza’s pyramids and Great Sphinx have few visitors anymore. The new airline disaster is going make these bad figures even worse.

During the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt was a tourism powerhouse, but the number of visitors has been falling since the 2011 Arab Spring and the overthrow of Mubarak, and even more since the army coup, led by current president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, to oust the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi in 2013. International Business Times and CNN and BBC (9-Jan)

A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law

The EU-Turkey refugee deal has drastically reduced the flow of migrants crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece. But the EU has left Greece on its own to deal with the tens of thousands of migrants that already arrived, including many that are crowded filthy refugee camps.

The EU had promised Greece that EU member countries would send a staff of 2,300 experts -- police, case officers, judges, and language interpreters and translators -- to help process asylum requests, and the EU has not supplied that staff. Nor has the EU resolved the question about how approved Syrian refugees are to be distributed to the EU member countries, as many EU nations are stalling or refusing to accept more migrants.

The EU has simply blown off its obligations, leaving it to Turkey to take of the problem for them. The EU is desperately dependent on Turkey, and soon will have to fulfill it's part of the EU-Turkey deal: Allowing 70 million Turkish citizens to have visa-free travel in Europe's Schengen Zone. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has forcefully and frequently repeated his threat that he will cancel the refugee deal and open the floodgates if the EU reneges on the visa-free travel.

Many Europeans dislike they idea under any circumstances. The eastern European nations that were part of the Ottoman Empire are opposed, and there are other groups of people who simply dislike Turks.

But it's been made even more difficult because of Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian government, especially crushing freedom of speech by seizing the country's largest opposition newspaper. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Europeans have also been concerned Erdogan's harsh use of anti-terrorism laws against Turkey's Kurdish minority. Those concerns were made even stronger on Friday when the parliament passed a constitutional amendment removing prosecutorial immunity from MPs. The amendment is particularly targeted to deputies from the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). The passage of the amendment will permit Erdogan to have Kurdish members of parliament prosecuted and possibly jailed on terrorism charges.

For the European Parliament to willingly approve Turkey's visa-free travel, Turkey will have to change its laws -- something that's not going to happen, and something that the increasingly authoritarian and tyrannical Erdogan feels is not necessary since the EU is desperate. But the increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic European parliament may refuse to approve visa-free travel anyway, leading to dark confrontation between the EU and Turkey. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Deutsche Welle

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-16 World View -- A dark shadow looms over EU-Turkey refugee deal, as Turkey passes harsh anti-Kurdish law thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2016) Permanent Link
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20-May-16 World View -- Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel

Lieberman's lack of experience compared to Amir Peretz

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel


Avigdor Lieberman (L) and Benjamin Netanyanu (Reuters)
Avigdor Lieberman (L) and Benjamin Netanyanu (Reuters)

Press reports from Israel and around the world are almost unanimous in condemning the choice by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyanu for the new Defense Minister to be minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu ("Israel is our home") political party, forming what liberals are calling 'most right-wing government in history

Yisrael Beiteinu holds five or six seats of the 120 in the Knesset (Israel's parliament). Netanyahu has been governing with a razor-thin majority of 61 seats, and joining with Yisrael Beiteinu gives him at least 66 seats.

Lieberman is usually described as "a hard right racist," because of his anti-Arab rhetoric. He questions Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s commitment to peace, and he also questions the loyalty of Arab citizens of Israel, and has proposed deporting Arabs who cannot pass a loyalty test. He also led a recent parliamentary drive to exclude Arab parties from running for election, a move that was overturned by Israel’s supreme court.

A Palestinian Authority (PA) statement said that the appointment of Lieberman means that the PA no longer has a partner in the peace process. "The appointment of Lieberman to serve as a minister in Netanyahu's government is an answer to the regional, international and French efforts to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the selection of a far-right defense minister is part of a movement to the right in countries around the world, with increased nationalism and xenophobia, as I've been writing about for years. This is what happens during a generational Crisis era. It's what happened in the 1930s, and it's what happening today. Ynet (Israel) and Forward (Israel) and AFP

Lieberman's lack of experience compared to Amir Peretz


Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) in 2007 looking through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.  They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights.
Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz (right) in 2007 looking through binoculars with the lens cap on. On the left is the army's new Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. They're reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights.

Avigdor Lieberman has had no military experience, and so he's being compared to Israel's previous Defense Minister who had no previous military experience -- Amir Peretz.

In 2007, I and others mocked Peretz mercilessly because he was photographed, while reviewing a military drill in the Golan Heights, by looking through binoculars without removing the lens cap. (From February 2007: "This week's idiot of the week: Israeli defense minister Peretz".)

In other words, the person in charge of the army didn't know how binoculars worked. If that were his only sin, it might have been forgotten by now.

But Peretz was also responsible for the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. That war was a total disaster for Israel. When two Israeli soldiers were abducted by Hezbollah, Israel went into a state of total panic, and launched the war in Lebanon within four hours, with no plan and no objectives. In the next few weeks, the supposed objectives changed on an almost daily basis. ( "How Israel panicked in pursuing the summer Lebanon war with Hizbollah.")

Lieberman will presumably not make the same kinds of mistakes that Peretz did, but maybe he will. At any rate, Peretz's experience illustrates the enormous dangers of putting a politician in charge of an organization, when the politician doesn't have the vaguest clue what he's doing. Jewish Telegraphic Agency

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-16 World View -- Netanyahu's selection of Avigdor Lieberman criticized in and out of Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2016) Permanent Link
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19-May-16 World View -- Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit'

Hong Kong's history and culture make it very different from China

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit'


Pro-democracy protests greet Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong on Wednesday (CNN)
Pro-democracy protests greet Zhang Dejiang in Hong Kong on Wednesday (CNN)

China's state leader Zhang Dejiang, making a three-day "inspection visit" to Hong Kong, criticized Hong Kong who protest against Beijing policies. Nominally, the purpose of the speech was to describe Hong Kong's role in Beijing’s "One Belt, One Road" trade initiative. But there was also an iron hand. Zhang, a member of China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, made clear in his speech that calls for independence of Hong Kong from China would not be tolerated.

Hong Kong residents were promised fully free and fair elections when Britain returned the British colony over to China in 1997. China has consistently stalled on the promise, triggering the large protests in mid-2014 that shut down the business district for weeks. These protests were mostly peaceful, but there were some clashes with police. The protests were called the "Umbrella Revolution," after protesters brought umbrellas to protect themselves from police teargas.

The particular trigger for the 2014 protests was a demand by China that the "free" elections in Hong Kong in 2017 would be tightly controlled by Beijing. The elections would be "free," but the only candidates who will be permitted to be run have to be approved a "nominating committee" completely controlled by Beijing. China's hand-picked Hong Kong leader, Leung Chun-ying, announced that there was no chance whatsoever that Beijing would yield on this. ( "22-Oct-14 World View -- Hong Kong leader suggests that the poor shouldn't be allowed to vote")

Now, almost two years later, China's state leader Zhang Dejiang is making an "inspection visit" to make sure that everyone understands that Beijing has not softened its position:

"'One country, two systems' has ... won wide recognition in the international community. This did not come easily, and deserves pride and protection.

It should be respected that Hong Kong compatriots treasure their lifestyle and values – in fact, the substance of the One Country, Two Systems principle was to preserve Hong Kong’s original socioeconomic system and lifestyle.

Now an extreme small minority have rejected the country, rejected the Central Government, and even put forward for Hong Kong independence – this is not an issue of localism, but an issue of using the name of localism to separate the country. Is that violating the original intention of One Country, Two Systems? Is this good or bad for Hong Kong? I believe Hong Kong people have their answers in mind."

Zhang added that he would like to listen opinions and suggestions from people from all walks of life. Hong Kong Free Press and South China Morning Post and Xinhua

Hong Kong's history and culture make it very different from China

The heart of Hong Kong resembled an armed camp yesterday as thousands of police officers were deployed around the convention center where Zhang was speaking. At the convention center, barricades filled with water were set up to keep protesters at least 100 feet away. Construction sites were halted, trash bins were removed and paving stones were glued together, to keep them from being tossed at police during a riot in February of this year.

Culturally, Hong Kong is closer to the West than it is to China. Hong Kong was governed by Britain from 1857 until it was handed over to China in 1997. Throughout this 140 year period, Hong Kong served as a refuge, an escape from mainland China.

Hong Kong served as a refuge for exiles from China following the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912. After Japan seized Manchuria in 1932 and the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1938, China turned to Britain, with Hong Kong as an intermediary, for help and supplies. As Japan advanced into China in World War II, hundreds of thousands of Chinese took refuge in Hong Kong.

China had a massive, bloody civil war starting in 1934, which was interrupted by World War II and resumed afterwards. Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution didn't end until 1949, but then the defeated "Nationalist" forces under Chiang Kai-shek fled to Hong Kong, and from there to Formosa, which became part of Taiwan.

So Hong Kong and Taiwan have cultural and historical links with each other. Anti-Beijing protests and riots in one are likely to spur anti-Beijing protests and riots in the other.

A sign of the cultural contrasts is the differences in language. On mainland China, the official language is Mandarin Chinese. The language of the people of Hong Kong is Cantonese, which is the language of the indigenous Cantonese people in Hong Kong and eastern parts of the mainland. The languages of Taiwan, including Min Nan and Hakka, are also indigenous languages.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China is headed not only for internal wars with Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also external wars with the United States and other countries.

As I've been writing since 2005 ("China approaches Civil War"), China is headed for a new civil war, refighting many of the previous local rebellions, including the huge White Lotus rebellion in the 1790s and 1800s decade, the Taiping Rebellion in the 1850s and 60s that killed 15% of the population, and Mao's Long March that launched the civil war between Mao and Chiang Kai-shek in the 1930s and 40s killed tens of millions.

At the same time, China is headed for war with its ancient external enemies, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, as well as the United States. These two wars -- the civil wars and the external wars -- will occur simultaneously, as happened in World War II. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party, which is the most paranoid organization in the world, will blame any internal unrest on outside agitators, and may use that as an excuse to launch an external war, in the hope of unifying the country, and attempting to insure its own survival at all costs. Quartz and Today Online (Singapore) and Bloomberg and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-16 World View -- Chinese official slams Hong Kong independence during 'inspection visit' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2016) Permanent Link
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18-May-16 World View -- Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion

Syria peace talks in Vienna collapse in farce - again

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion


Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday (AP)
Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday (AP)

Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro on Tuesday renewed his accusation that the collapse of the country's economy is being caused by United States sabotage. ( "15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners")

And he accused the United States of planning an imminent invasions because, he claimed, two American military surveillance planes had illegally entered Venezuelan airspace last week.

According to Maduro on Tuesday:

"Our military aviation detected the illegal entry, for unusual espionage tasks, of the Boeing 707 E-3 Sentry, which is an airborne early warning control center system that has all the mechanisms for espionage. ...

Washington conducts these tasks to support communications of armed groups in war zones or to prepare actions to disable electronic equipment of the government, the armed forces or the economy."

Maduro has decreed a state of emergency, giving himself additional powers that will permit the use of violence and arrests against opposition protests.

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles told his followers to ignore the decree, said that the army has to make a choice:

"We, Venezuelans, will not accept this decree. This is Maduro putting himself above the constitution. To impose this, he'd better start preparing to deploy the war tanks and military jets.

And I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro."

Capriles called on its supporters to take to the streets again Wednesday. BBC and TeleSurTV (Caracas) and Deutsche Welle

Syria peace talks in Vienna collapse in farce - again

Every month, the Syria peace talks start up, then collapse a few days later. Then they would be restarted, and the cycle repeats. I've reported on several rounds of this just in the last few months.

So it's not surprising that the latest round of peace talks has collapsed, but this time the impasse is a lot worse since they didn't even bother to schedule a new date for the peace talks to restart, as they've always done in the past.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said that Syria might return to full scale war unless the peace talks could resume, and added some political bromides:

"We need to bear in mind that credible intra-Syrian talks will become credible when [...] there is a credible development on the cessation of hostilities and a credible improvement on the humanitarian side."

In other words, there couldn't be any peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition as long as they were still shooting at each other.

US Secretary of State John Kerry as usual made a statement that sounded like an SNL skit:

"The challenge that we face now is to transform these possibilities into the reality of an agreement at some point. And because of the gains that we've made in recent months, yet because of their fragility, and we acknowledge they're fragile, and increasingly threatened by irresponsible and dangerous actions taken by those who would rather have this effort fail, who want to create problems, cause rather than solutions, they see a different outcome, and there are frankly actors on both side."

Kerry referred to "those who would rather have this effort fail," and that includes pretty much everyone, though for different reasons:

So it's not surprising that the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), which was meeting in Vienna and which comprises the United States, Russia, the UN, the Arab League, the European Union, and 16 countries, announced on Tuesday that they had, once again, failed to reach any agreement to bring peace to Syria. The whole thing is an international farce.

People always criticize me when I call al-Assad a genocidal monster, but he's clearly comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy.

Al-Assad is the lynchpin and the engine behind the Syrian war. It would never have started without him, and would have ended quickly if he had let it, or if he hadn't been supported by Russia and Iran. Thanks to his policy of exterminating Sunni civilians, tens of thousands of young jihadists have come from around the world to Syria to fight him. This has resulted in the creation of ISIS, and it's resulted in millions of refugees flooding neighboring countries, including countries in Europe.

I've written thousands of Generational Dynamics analyses since 2003, which is the year that the current generational Crisis era began, and although the types of behavior we're seeing were all predictable and were all predicted, it's incredible to see them being played out on the world stage. The world is changing rapidly, as we're seeing people, especially young people, support Socialism, racism, and xenophobia in country after country exactly like the 1930s. These young people have no knowledge of history and the massive disasters caused by the Socialism or racism or the Holocaust, and are not even fazed as we see Socialist Venezuela collapse right before our very eyes.

In 2013, when Hugo Chávez died, Hollywood liberals Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone were effusive in their praise, but we haven't been hearing from them lately. Also, Britain's new ultra-left Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted:

"Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world"

The pathological stupidity of these people is amazing.

Meanwhile, the incredible geopolitical destruction being perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad is not only tolerated, but is praised by Russia, Iran and other acolytes. As I've said before, what's happening today is beyond belief to me, as if I'm watching a bad movie but I can't leave the movie theatre. But it's increasingly obvious to me what caused World War II, and that exactly the same things are happening today. United Nations and AFP and Washington Times and Twitter

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-16 World View -- Venezuela's Maduro accuses US of planning an imminent invasion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2016) Permanent Link
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17-May-16 World View -- Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS

ISIS continues to grow in Libya in size and effectiveness

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS


ISIS in Libya
ISIS in Libya

The headline on this article seems a bit perverse, doesn't it. How is lifting the arms embargo on Libya going to fight ISIS? A lot of people are wondering exactly that.

On Monday, officials from 25 countries in Europe and the Middle East met in Vienna, in a meeting jointly chaired by the U.S. and Italy, to discuss what to do about the rapid growth of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya. The decision was to supply arms to Libya's "unity government," the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is backed by the United Nations.

Despite the continuing growth of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Libya, and the danger that this represents not only to northern Africa but also to Europe, Western powers are unable to agree on a form of military action that will destroy ISIS or even stop its growth. As we reported in January, Western countries felt that it was urgent to mount a military action in Libya by the beginning of March. ( "6-Jan-16 World View -- US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016")

However Italy, Libya's former colonial power, has always insisted that Libya's government had to approve any Western military action before it could occur. That's been a continuing problem, since there are two major governments in Libya, one in Tripoli in charge of western Libya and one in Tobruk in charge of eastern Libya. There are also nearly 2,000 militias running different parts of Libya.

The United Nations approved Government of National Accord (GNA) has received some level of approval from the government in Tripoli, but little from the government in Tobruk. The GNA controls only a fraction of Libya, and only a fraction of the militias.

The result is that Italy has decided that it's too early to send in troops. Italy's defense minister Roberta Pinotti says, "The first step to stabilize Libya is having a government that can represent the different parts, and can thus take the necessary step to make a request to the international community."

Reports in March seemed to suggest that Italy might send up to 5,000 troops. By late April, that number was said to be closer to 900. But now, Italy will not even contribute troops to a peacekeeping force, and reports indicate that the U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSML) would instead be bolstered by Nepalese troops instead.

Monday's decision to lift the arms embargo in Libya has been derided by some analysts as "kicking the can down the road." First, Libya is already awash in weapons that were left behind in weapons stores previously owned by Muammar Gaddafi before he was overthrown. Second, the government in Tobruk has been receiving weapons allies, and so has gotten around the embargo. Third, lifting the arms embargo may end up benefitting ISIS, by making it easier for them to import arms.

The bottom line is that Western nations can only watch as ISIS becomes larger and more powerful in Libya. Western leaders and Western publics have little appetite for any military intervention in Libya, and so it will probably take some major crisis event to change things. BBC and Washington Post and Guardian (London) and Washington Post

ISIS continues to grow in Libya in size and effectiveness

The ISIS stronghold in Libya is in Sirte, from which it controls a strip of more than 250 km (155 miles) of Libya’s central coastline, from which it has launched attacks to the east, west and south. ISIS forces last week launched a surprise attack on local militias, enabling it to capture several towns southwest of Sirte, increasing the area it controls.

There are signs of increased cooperation between Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in Libya. Both Boko Haram and ISIS have become increasingly effective with time, and analysts are now concerned that the ties between the two terrorist organizations could herald a push south into the vast, lawless Sahel region and create a springboard for wider attacks.

ISIS has also been stepping up attacks on neighboring Tunisia from its strongholds in Libya, where it has set up training camps. In March, ISIS launched a major assault on the town of Ben Guerdane in Tunisia, on the border with Libya. More than 4,000 Tunisians are thought to have left to fight for ISIS and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria. Some are returning to join ISIS in Libya, threatening more attacks on Tunisia.

Last week, the United States said it would give jeeps, communications technology and small aircraft to Tunisia to help protect the border with Libya. The US is already striking training camps in Libya to protect Tunisia. ( "20-Feb-16 World View -- US warplanes strike suspected ISIS training base in Libya")

Concerns are also growing because of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which has reduced the flow of migrants from Turkey into Greece. The flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq has been irrepressible, and reports indicate that human traffickers are planning to use different routes. It's possible that there may be hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing from Libya to Europe this summer. Many of the human traffickers in Libya are part of ISIS, and the surge in migrants will pour a lot of money into ISIS coffers. Telegraph (London) and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and Reuters and Business Insider

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-16 World View -- Western nations agree to lift arms embargo on Libya to fight ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2016) Permanent Link
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16-May-16 World View -- China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations

Pentagon documents massive China buildup, but omits 'Maritime Militia'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations


Chinese vessel in South China Sea (Reuters)
Chinese vessel in South China Sea (Reuters)

China on Friday accused the Pentagon of "sensationalizing" China's military buildup in the South China Sea, claiming that China has "the legitimate right to deploy military facilities on its own islands in the South China Sea." The problem with this claim is that China is using its vast military power to annex regions of the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

China always says that its claims "are indisputable," and this much at least is a total lie since the claims are very much in dispute, and are currently being adjudicated by a United Nations international court in the Hague, which is expected to rule on counterclaims by the Philippines very soon, possibly by the end of May.

Friday's Pentagon report documents a massive buildup in the size, sophistication and power of China's military, including the the South China Sea. The Chinese response is essentially to call the Americans war-mongers, for documenting China's military buildup, and for freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea.

Statements by Chinese officials include the following:

"There’s no difference between China’s deployment of defense facilities on its own territory and the defense installation by the US in Hawaii. ...

We don’t hope to see militarized close-in reconnaissance by the US military. Nor do we want to see more missile destroyers or strategic fighters coming to this region. This is what all sides need to take for a responsible behavior on demilitarization. ...

The US has increasingly dispatched military vessels and aircraft to the adjacent waters and airspace of China’s islands in the South China Sea. It has engaged in highly targeted military exercises and joint patrols. The US is turning a blind eye to its own militarization and has made irresponsible accusations about China. This is a typical double standard. ...

Recent actions by the US have severely damaged mutual trust between the two sides, and violates the consensus reached by two sides. We urge the US to take concrete measures to remove obstacles for healthy development."

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has repeatedly said that "The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."

These freedom of navigation patrols are infuriating the Chinese. In China's Alice in Wonderland world, freedom of navigation patrols are the biggest military actions, not building several massive military bases in the South China Sea on top of artificial islands. Dept. of Defense - China military report and China TV and Defense News

Pentagon documents massive China buildup, but omits 'Maritime Militia'

Friday's Pentagon report documents a massive buildup in the size, sophistication and power of China's military, in a way that indicates that the situation has changed in a significant way. In the past, Americans have soothed themselves by saying that despite China's buildup, and their obvious preparations for a first strike military attack on the United States, America's military is still capable of fending off a pre-emptive Chinese attack.

However, the tone of the report suggests that China's military buildup is just about at a tipping point, where it could overwhelm American defense forces. This had to happen sometime, as America's military has been cutting back and China's has been building up. At some point, China's military had to surpass America's and the tone of the report suggests that that time is now or very soon.

Here are some highlights:

However, the Pentagon reports omits discussion of a major portion of China's naval military capabilities: The "Maritime Militia." This is a secret force of fishing vessels that patrol the South China Sea and act as a guerrilla force under civilian cover, occupying and helping to build disputed islands. National Interest and Reuters and Australian Broadcasting and International Business Times (Singapore)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-16 World View -- China says Pentagon report on China military 'severely damages' relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2016) Permanent Link
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15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners

Maduro recalls Brazil ambassador over Dilma Rousseff 'coup'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's socialist economy close to a crash


An injured man lies next to national guard members during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday (AFP)
An injured man lies next to national guard members during a demonstration in Caracas, Venezuela on Wednesday (AFP)

Pity the poor Venezuelan citizen who enjoyed years of free Socialist giveaways under president Hugo Chávez and more recently president Nicolás Maduro, and now has to pay for it all, as Chávez's Socialist paradise faces financial disaster.

The inflation rate in 2015 was 275%, the highest in the world, and it's continued to surge. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that it will reach 720% in 2016, and over 2200% in 2017.

Maduro's government is drenched in corruption, with officials not giving a s--t about anyone but themselves. Common staples are in scarce supply, and citizens have to stand in line to get milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. Crime and violence are becoming rampant. And the fall into hell has been rapid -- 75% of Venezuelan homes now live in poverty, compared to 27% just two years ago.

New indignities keep getting piled on, one after the other:

Oh, wait. Maduro has found a solution. He's ordered a 30% increase in the minimum wage. Increasing the minimum wage 30% is sure to cause even greater super-inflation and even deeper shortages, but logic never stops a Socialist loon.

Maduro's opposition have collected two million signatures on a petition to force a recall vote that would remove Maduro from power, but Maduro has control of the courts and all national agencies. One of those agencies that Maduro controls is the National Electoral Board (CNE) which supposed to have certified the signatures a week ago, but under Maduro's orders they're stalling.

Opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said on Saturday that if Maduro blocks the recall referendum, then the country "can explode at any given moment."

Maduro has announced that's calling out the army for military drills starting on Saturday, to protect the country from "foreign aggression," meaning the United States. Since the United States has no plans to invade Venezuela, it's more likely that Maduro will use the military to attack protestors violently, which is what Socialists always do to stay in power. Miami Herald and Reuters (11-Apr) and VOA (2-May) and Bloomberg (27-Apr) and VOA (1-May)

Maduro orders jailing of owners of closed factories

As we mentioned above, the country's largest producer of beer has closed down the last of its four domestic breweries, for lack of the imported malted barley needed as the principal ingredient. Cerveceria Polar, the manufacturer, is blaming the problem on Venezuela's government for not giving the company the dollars it needs to import supplies.

Venezuelan citizens are only allowed to have inflation-bloated and increasingly worthless currency, the Bolivar. Dollars are tightly controlled by the government, and have been in particularly short supply since the price of oil crashed over the last two years. Cerveceria Polar and other manufacturing firms have been forced to close their doors because they couldn't import the goods they needed.

Like all good Socialists, president Maduro has a ready solution.

On Friday, Maduro declared a full-scale state of emergency. If a factory has closed because they were unable to import what they need to make their products, then Maduro will have the factory seized and the factory owner jailed.

According to Maduro, the country is facing an "economic war," led by the United States. BBC and Fox News and USA Today (8-May)

Maduro recalls Brazil ambassador over Dilma Rousseff 'coup'

Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro recalled his ambassador to Brazil, Alberto Castelar, following a vote by Brazil's parliament to suspend president Dilma Rousseff from office and subject her to an impeachment trial on charges of corruption. The debate in Brazil that preceded the vote lasted for days, and resulted in wild protests and fury from both opponents and supporters of Rousseff. Rousseff claims that the corruption charges are bogus, and many people agree, saying that Rousseff's real problem is that her left-wing policies have brought the country to near ruin, though not yet as bad off as Venezuela.

Maduro claims that the impeachment vote was actually a palace coup against a democratically elected left-wing government. With Maduro himself facing a recall petition in Venezuela, he has become an ally of Rousseff.

There have been a string of coups and attempted coups against mostly left-wing Latin American leaders in the last decade.

In 2004, there was a coup against Haiti's president Jean-Bertrand Aristide; in 2008, widespread violence left dozens dead as opposition groups sought to oust President Evo Morales; in the early hours of June 28, 2009, the Honduran military kidnapped President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica; on September 30, 2010, the police and military kidnapped Ecuador's president Rafael Correa, who eventually escaped; in June 2012, Peru's left-wing president Fernando Lugo was impeached and removed from office.

Rousseff is just the latest in this string of "coups." Next in line is Maduro, unless he completely destroys the democratic process by ordering the army to use violence against his political enemies. Reuters and TeleSur TV (Caracas)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-16 World View -- Venezuela economy close to collapse as Maduro orders jailing of factory owners thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2016) Permanent Link
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14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman

Hezbollah suffers blow in death of top commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hezbollah suffers blow in death of top commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine


A neighborhood of Aleppo Syria, after being targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes (AFP)
A neighborhood of Aleppo Syria, after being targeted by Syrian regime airstrikes (AFP)

Thousands of people on Friday attended the funeral in Beirut, Lebanon, of Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine, who was leading Hezbollah's forces in the war in Syria. The death of Badreddine is a huge embarrassment to the terrorist group Hezbollah and to Hezbollah's puppetmasters in Iran. Iranian officials immediately claimed that Badreddine was killed by a "huge blast" in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, and that the blast was caused by an Israeli air strike. However, Iran quickly backed down from that claim, since after all that claim would be even more embarrassing to Hezbollah and Iran than the truth.

The truth is that Badreddine was killed a week ago while leading Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Khan Tuman in Iran's disastrous battle of Aleppo. It's believed that he was killed in battle, although there are unconfirmed conspiracy claims that either the Syrian regime or Israel had something to do with his death.

Hezbollah praised the "Martyr Badreddine": In 1982, he formed jihadist groups to confront the Zionist entity. After becoming commander in 1992, he prepared many heroic operations against the Israeli occupation. With the inception of Syrian crisis in 2011, the martyr was one of the first commanders who confronted the takfiri plot across Syria, according to Hezbollah.

Badreddine's death brings to an end a long manhunt by Israeli and Western intelligence services for the guerrilla leader who has managed to remain in the shadows while taking part in assassinations and military operations. Independent (London) and AEI Iran Tracker (13-May) and Al Manar (Hezbollah)

Iran suffers disastrous losses in battle of Khan Tuman

All last year, until Russia actively entered the war in Syria, we were reporting that Syria's army was losing one city after another to the opponents of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. ( "5-Jun-2015 World View -- With Syria's army nearing collapse, Iran plans massive troop deployment")

A major objective of Russia's entry into the war was the recapture of Aleppo from opposition forces. For the past few months, there have been massive forces -- combining forces from Syria's regime army, Hezbollah, and Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) -- focused on the recapture of Aleppo. ( "19-Feb-16 World View -- Russia's attacks on civilian hospitals in Aleppo follow the 'Grozny model'")

On May 6, IRGC forces were caught by surprise by an attack on Khan Tuman, south of Aleppo, by anti-Assad forces, killing and capturing about two dozen IRGC fighters, at a time when there was supposed to be a cease-fire in progress. This is the same battle in which Hezbollah's top military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine was killed.

Former commander of the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, retired general Mohsen Rezaei, was brought out of retirement, possibly to provide guidance to the IRGC forces in Aleppo. He said:

"Some months ago Khan Tuman in south Aleppo was freed, but a few days ago, takfiris, taking advantage of a cease-fire at a time neither a plane nor artillery was active, surprise attacked Syrian forces and Iranian advisers.

[Expressing anger and dismay over the IRGC losses:] Their martyrdom shall not remain unavenged. We will liberate Aleppo soon and wipe out the takfiri terrorists."

IRGC major-general Qassem Soleimani was also dispatched to the region to provide moral support.

The loss of several dozen IRGC fighters is not a significant loss militarily, but it has big symbolic significance. It's the first major setback for the IRGC forces in Aleppo. Other IRGC forces have suffered losses in other places in Syria, though not at this level. The strategic logic of Iran’s mission in Syria will likely drive the IRGC toward greater escalation in response to this setback. The Guard will want to avenge this defeat, moreover, and re-establish its credibility in the fight around Aleppo, which remains a strategically important prize for the Assad regime. Al-Monitor and Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and AEI Iran Tracker (12-May)

Offensive to recapture Aleppo may be near collapse

I like to reference Debka's newsletter because it contains valuable insights into what's going on, but it's written from Israel's point of view, and sometimes gets things wrong. This week's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber) contains an analysis of the battle to recapture Aleppo, and says that it's being stymied because of conflicting objectives among the three armies -- Russia, Iran and Syria.

After the loss of Khan Tuman and the deaths of IRGC fighters, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad demanded that Iran send more forces to Aleppo to defeat the rebels. Iran refused the request, and just sent IRGC major-general Qassem Soleimani to raise the morale of Iranian and Hezbollah forces, as previously described above.

According to Debka, al-Assad does not want to deploy his own army forces to Aleppo, because he wants to keep them close by in Damascus and Latakia to defend his own regime, even if it means losing Aleppo. This has inevitably infuriated both Iran and Russia, whose troops wonder why they're fighting someone else's battle. Russia in particular has no use for al-Assad except as a way of keeping control of Syria.

Russia's forces entered the Syrian war actively last year to save al-Assad from losing the war. It may be that al-Assad will lose the war anyway. Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-16 World View -- Syria's Aleppo campaign falters after disastrous Iranian loss at Khan Tuman thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2016) Permanent Link
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13-May-16 World View -- EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides

Italy rescues 800 migrants from Mediterranean Sea, many of them from Syria

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides


Italy's coast guard rescued over 800 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea on one day, Thursday (Reuters)
Italy's coast guard rescued over 800 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea on one day, Thursday (Reuters)

Both Turkey and the European Union are issuing ultimatums.

Turkey is demanding that the EU honor its agreement to allow all Turkish citizens to have visa-free travel throughout Europe's Schengen Zone. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu have been said repeatedly, since March 20 when the EU-Turkey migrant deal was signed, that the EU must fulfill its pledge to permit visa-free travel by Turkish citizens by June, or else Turkey would cancel the deal and allow floods of migrants to resume flooding across the Aegean Sea to Greece.

The EU is demanding that Turkey must bring its anti-terrorism laws into line with European standards. Turkey's anti-terrorism laws are so broad that they criminalize almost any kind of political dissent, and are used to arrest journalists and academics critical of government policies. They were used as justification for the seizure of the country's largest newspaper, Today's Zaman, because it criticized Erdogan's policies. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Changing the anti-terrorism laws was one of the terms of the agreement that the European Union negotiated with Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu. There were 72 conditions that Turkey would have to meet before the visa-free travel could be implemented. Almost all of them have been met, but the anti-terrorism change has not. Erdogan was infuriated that Davutoglu made this concession, and fired him last, saying that Turkey could not and would not change its terrorism laws while it is being receiving terror attacks from both the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ( "7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'")

Turkish officials point out that Turkey is currently hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world with 2.7 million, and has spent more than 7 billion euros meeting their needs. Erdogan says that the EU has a much smaller refugee problem and a much smaller terrorism problem, and that EU officials are hypocritical for criticizing Turkey.

With positioning hardening on both sides, people are looking for a face-saving agreement. Otherwise, the EU-Turkey deal is going to fall apart. Irish Times and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

More refugees now reaching Europe via Italy than via Greece

For the first time since April 2015, more refugees arrived in Italy by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya than arrived in Greece by crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey.

The change wsa mostly due to a slowdown of migrants arriving in Greece since the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

In March, 26,971 people arrived in Greece, while 9,676 arrived in Italy.

In April, after the deal 3,462 people arrived in Greece, while 9,149 migrants arrived in Italy.

Migrants arriving in Greece come from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Asylum seekers making their way through the Mediterranean are primarily from Nigeria, Gambia, Somalia and other Sub-Saharan African nations. EU Observer and Bloomberg

Italy rescues 800 migrants from Mediterranean Sea, many of them from Syria

There are signs in the last few days that a new wave of refugees from Syria have shifted traveling through Turkey to Greece via the Aegean Sea to a new route from Libya to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.

The Italian coast guard says that it rescued more than 800 migrants off the coast of Sicily in one day alone, Thursday, and that at least 150 of them were Syrian, and 40 were from Iraq.

Authorities had feared that with the closing of the "Balkan Route" for refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece, people smugglers would begin redirecting refugees to Libya, to cross to Italy. Typically, the people smugglers put hundreds of migrants into a single large rubber dinghy, and give the migrants enough fuel to leave Libyan waters and a cell phone to use to call the Italian coast guard.

Fearing a flood of migrants crossing Brenner Pass from Italy to Austria, Austria is building a fence on the common border. ( "28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees") Austria's plan has received widespread condemnation from human rights groups and many EU officials. Reuters and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-16 World View -- EU-Turkey migrant deal unravels over brinksmanship on both sides thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2016) Permanent Link
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12-May-16 World View -- England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland

The 'New IRA' recalls the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland


A New IRA parade commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 (Barcroft)
A New IRA parade commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916 (Barcroft)

England, Scotland and Wales were put on high alert on Wednesday by possibly imminent threats from the "New IRA" (Irish Republican Army). According to Home Secretary Theresa May:

"The Security Service, MI5, has increased the threat level to Great Britain from Northern Ireland-related terrorism from moderate to substantial.

This means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility and reflects the continuing threat from dissident republican activity.

As a result of this change, we are working closely with the police and other relevant authorities to ensure appropriate security measures are in place."

The increase in the perceived risk to Great Britain from Northern Irish terrorism from "moderate" to "substantial" was caused by a fresh assessment leading to concerns about the increasing capabilities of the dissident groups and their growing desire to attack the mainland. With this rating, a terror attack is considered "a strong possibility," which is not at the level of "highly likely" if the threat level had been raised all the way up to "severe." BBC and Belfast Telegraph (30-Apr) and Daily Mail (London)

The 'New IRA' recalls the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule

On Easter Sunday, March 27 of this year, thousands of soldiers marched through Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which was an Irish insurgency against the government of the United Kingdom. That was just one of the many clashes between the Irish and the English over the centuries.

Northern Ireland terrorism has been out of the news lately, because of concerns over jihadist terrorism. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all religious and ethnic groups have the potential for terrorism at different times. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is little significant difference between terrorism by Catholic drug cartels in Mexico, ethnic terrorism by Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, and Islamist terrorism, with the similarities more significant than the differences. However, at this point in time, terrorism related to Syria is considered to be the greatest terror threat.

Violent paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland has resulted in 1,100 bombings and shootings over the past 10 years, along with almost 800 so-called punishment attacks and 4,000 cases of people being forced out of their homes. There are still thousands of people associated with paramilitary groups responsible for acts of violence and intimidation. Last week, police arrested 14 people in Northern Ireland after the funeral of of Michael 'Mickey' Barr, a "New IRA" member who was gunned down for being a dissident republican.

The violence in Northern Ireland is usually portrayed as religious in nature, where Catholics fight against Protestants.

But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it can be called an ethnic conflict between indigenous Gaelic Irish people (usually Catholic, republican, nationalist) versus descendants of invading English and Scottish people (usually Protestant, loyalist, unionist). As is often the case, religion is not the "cause" of this conflict, but is a tool used by the factions to rally supporters.

Generally speaking, the objective of the republicans is to unify the Republic of Ireland (southern Ireland) with Northern Ireland into a single republic, while the unionists (loyalists) want Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

As I described in detail in "23-Jun-2011 News -- Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland grows again", the English and the Gaelics have been fighting generational crisis wars regularly since the 1400s. The most important was the Nine Years War (1594-1603), where the Irish Gaelics attempted to overthrow English rule. The result was the Plantation of Ulster, which Gaelics today refer to as "ethnic cleansing," because the British drove the Gaelics from their land, took it over as landlords, and used the Gaelics as servants.

Those feelings are as strong as ever today among the many of the Irish republicans. That's why, on Easter of this year, the "New IRA" warned:

"The volunteer soldiers of the IRA are ready and determined to take the war to the age old enemy of our nation."

AP and Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London, 29-Mar)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-16 World View -- England threatened with IRA terrorists from Northern Ireland thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2016) Permanent Link
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11-May-16 World View -- Azerbaijan and Dagestan celebrate culture as Islamist insurgencies grow

Nagorno-Karabakh issue still simmers

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Azerbaijan celebrates the 'Days of Culture of Dagestan'


Flame Towers -- skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan
Flame Towers -- skyscrapers in Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, will host the Days of Culture of Dagestan on May 12-13. The event will feature a concert of Dagestani singers, dancers and musicians, and an exhibition of arts and crafts entitled "Dagestan: History and Modernity". "Lezginka" Academic Dance Ensemble, "Khasavyurt" State Dance Ensemble and soloists will perform in the concert. An assortment of business deals will be signed.

The singing and dancing and jolly atmosphere hides a great deal of tension that both sides would like to ignore.

Dagestan is not an independent country. It's in the North Caucasus, and is one of Russia's southern provinces, and opposite its southern border is Azerbaijan. As with all of Russia's Caucasian provinces, it's populated mostly by Sunni Muslims, many of whom have gone to Syria to fight against the Shia/Alawite army of Bashar al-Assad, often joining the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Although a political border separates Dagestan from Azerbaijan, the ethnic groups that have lived in the region for centuries don't always follow the political boundaries. AzerTag (Baku) and Azerbaijan News

Azerbaijan and Dagestan share Sunni Salafist insurgencies

Azerbaijan's population is about 80% Shia Muslim, 15% Sunni Muslim and 3% Christian. The government is secular. As I wrote in "7-Dec-2015 World View -- Azerbaijan faces rising radical Shia Islamist insurgency", Azerbaijan is in the unfortunate situation that it suffers from both a radical Shia Islamist insurgency, and also a radical Sunni Islamist insurgency. The latter is occurring mostly in the north, along the border with Dagestan, where poverty is extensive corruption is widespread, the government is increasingly oppressive, and the gap between rich and poor is growing wider every day.

It's estimated that of 1,500 people from Azerbaijan who have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS are from Sunni groups in the north, on the border with Dagestan. As in Russia and Central Asia, Azerbaijan officials are worried that people who have gone to Syria to join ISIS will return to their homelands to use their newly acquired terrorist skills. Jamestown and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Iran state media)

Nagorno-Karabakh issue still simmers

Nagorno-Karabakh is an enclave of Armenian citizens in the midst of Azerbaijan. Depending on whose side you're on, NK is either legitimately Armenian territory or else an illegal occupation of Azerbaijan territory by Armenian forces.

Armenia and Azerbaijan got along pretty well during the days when they were both part of the Soviet Union, but they fell into a bloody war after the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. By the time that the war ended in a cease-fire in 1994, the Armenians had annexed several Azerbaijani regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh.

Low-level violence has been almost continuous since then, with each side typically accusing the other of hundreds of cease-fire violations every week.

However, early in April the low-level conflict spiraled into the worse violence since 1994, with tanks, heavy artillery and helicopters. ( "3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region")

A new cease-fire was agreed a few days later, with a return to low-level violence, but no one doubts that the region could explode once more, affecting the entire region.

Russia claims to be neutral between the two sides, but few doubt that Russia strongly supports Armenia. On the other hand, Azerbaijan has a Turkic population and is closely allied with Turkey. Thus, an escalation in war between Armenia and Azerbaijan could quickly escalate into a war between Russia and Turkey.

The Armenian government has recently approved a draft bill recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh region's independence and sent it to the country's parliament. If it becomes law, it might be considered a casus belli by Azerbaijan. For that reason, it's thought that the independence motion is for domestic consumption in Armenia, and there are no plans to push it forward. Moscow Times and Trend (Baku) and ArmenPress (Yerevan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-16 World View -- Azerbaijan and Dagestan celebrate culture as Islamist insurgencies grow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2016) Permanent Link
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10-May-16 World View -- Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement

For Palestine, Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration left a 'savage legacy'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement


The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement split the Mideast between Britain and France (Jewish Virtual Library)
The 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement split the Mideast between Britain and France (Jewish Virtual Library)

Few American have heard of the Sykes-Picot agreement of May, 1916, although today it's a matter of widespread interest in the Arab world, and is considered to be a piece of Western treachery that has caused untold misery in the Arab world for the last century.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, named after Frenchman Francois Georges-Picot and Briton Mark Sykes. The secret agreement was reached on May 9, 1916, and signed a week later by Britain, France and Tsarist Russia on May 15, 1916. The purpose of the agreement was to split up the remains of the Arab countries after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled them for centuries.

During the British fight against the Turkish Ottomans, the British had obtained the help of Arab armies by promising that after the war there would be a truly independent Syrian state that included Palestine, Transjordan, and Lebanon. However, that promise was made in the knowledge that it would be betrayed, because the secret Sykes-Picot agreement described how the region would be split between France and Britain as their respective colonies. The betrayal was exposed when the secret agreement was revealed, and that occurred after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, when Leon Trotsky published the details of the deal in November 1917.

The next betrayal was the Balfour Declaration by the British in 1917, promising the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

The borders set by Sykes-Picot/Balfour have remained largely intact, with few exceptions. There was the independence of Sudan from Egypt, and then the secession of South Sudan. North and South Yemen were unified, as were the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There were also changes to the Palestinian territories and Palestine, related to the establishment of Israel.

But there are many Arabs, especially Palestinians, who blame Sykes-Picot/Balfour as the source of all their misery. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has specifically said that Sykes-Picot is dead, but other nationalist Arab groups are calling for its abolition, mostly for local political reasons. The Kurds have been leading the calls for an end to Sykes-Picot, and the creation of a Kurdistan state.

In the past two decades, and especially since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, the Arab world has been disintegrating, with wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen. Many Arabs blame todays troubles on the Sykes-Picot agreement that was signed a century ago.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, to suggest that the Arab world has disintegrated in the war because of an agreement signed in 1917 is nonsense. The Mideast has been in an almost constant state of war for centuries, and no Western agreement could have either caused or prevented further wars. As I've been writing for years, the entire Mideast is headed for massive sectarian and ethnic wars, and those wars are coming about because of powerful generational forces that no politicians can control.

The Gulf News has done a series of articles on the effects of the Sykes-Picot agreement on different Mideast countries, and those articles are summarized in the sections below. Globe and Mail (Canada) and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Deutsche Welle

Syria: A victim of colonial politics

As the Ottomans were leaving Syria in 1920, the French forces landed on Syria's coast and started marching toward Damascus, with the specific objective of taking control of France's share of the Sykes-Picot agreement. The French crushed the Syrian army, imposed martial rule, and divided Syria into border-free mini-states. Syria's borders with the British Mandate Palestine, the newly-created State of Greater Lebanon, and the newly created emirate of Transjordan were all set by the French.

Syria declared a republic in 1932, and became independent in 1946, when it was a co-founder of both the Arab League and the United Nations.

Egyptian President Jamal Abdul Nasser merged Syria and Egypt in 1958 to form the United Arab Republic (UAR). It lasted only 43 months, and crashed in September 1961. The UAR was an attempt to reshape the borders defined by Sykes-Picot, however it failed and the original borders are still standing. Gulf News (Dubai) and Gulf News

Palestine: Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration left a 'savage legacy'

As the Ottoman armies retried, the British, with the help of their Arab allies, conquered Palestine and all of Greater Syria. The British administered Palestine directly until they received a mandate from the League of Nations that ran from 1923 to 1948. At the same time, the British favored the Zionist agenda of creating a protectorate and a government based on "some kind of Council to be established by the Jews."

This was formulated in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration, issued by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour that, "His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object." This is considered by the Arabs to be a double-cross, a betrayal of well-documented British promises to seek an Arab government of the territories liberated from the Ottomans.

In the decades that followed, Jewish colonies and Zionist aspirations advanced steadily, culminated in the 1948 Naqba ("Catastrophe"), the creation of the State of Israel, and the bloody crisis war that evicted more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes. For Arabs, and especially Palestinians, this is the savage legacy of the Sykes-Picot agreement and the Balfour Declaration, causing enormous suffering and misery to the present day. Gulf News (Dubai) and Gulf News

Lebanon: Survived Sykes-Picot largely intact

Lebanon has existed for thousands of years, home of Christians, Muslims, Druze, Maronites, and others. Lebanon came out pretty well in the 1919 Paris Versailles Peace Conference. One reason was sympathy for Lebanon because during the war, an Ottoman embargo lead to a famine in which 200,000 died in Mount Lebanon alone. So Lebanon survived intact, and elected a president in 1926. The French mandate was terminated with independence in 1943. Gulf News (Dubai)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-16 World View -- Arab countries seek to overturn the century old Sykes-Picot agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2016) Permanent Link
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9-May-16 World View -- Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures

Bolivia accuses Chile of setting up military base near border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures


Protesters in Greece have hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas outside the parliament in Athens. (EPA)
Protesters in Greece have hurled petrol bombs at police who responded with tear gas outside the parliament in Athens. (EPA)

Greece's parliament on Sunday voted on a new set of harsh austerity measures that lending institutions are demanding of Greece in order to receive new bailout loans and stave off bankruptcy.

Almost 15,000 people turned out in Athens and Thessaloniki to protest the planned austerity measures. The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but a small group of anarchist protesters hurled firebombs, Molotov cocktails and other projectiles at police in Syntagma Square in front of Parliament. Police responded with bursts of tear gas to repel the anarchists.

By Sunday, Greece was in the grip of labor strikes that have paralyzed public transport across the country, and shut down other public sector services.

The move to impose the harsh austerity measures is being led by Greece's far-left prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who performed a mind-bending U-turn last year. Tsipras was elected early last year by promising that there would be no more austerity measures. After being elected, he repeatedly lied and promised reforms with no intention of implementing them. After months of one crisis after another, Tsipras final had to agree to implement the harsh austerity measures demanded by Greece's lenders, because European officials were "holding a knife at my neck." Kathimerini and AFP

After six years of real austerity, Greeks are at wits' end

Greece has almost been forgotten, after living with six years of austerity, with 25% unemployment, and having to deal with more than a million refugees reaching the country, receiving little sympathy and no help to speak of. That crisis is far from over, with 50,000 migrants still in Greece, many awaiting the outcome of asylum applications.

A typical story is that of Dimitris, a retired 75-year-old construction worker who has to live on a measly 406 euros ($463) per month, and now even that will be cut. He says,

"I had to help on the farm when I was 5, later I became a truck driver, then a construction worker, and in my later years I was a subcontractor in the building industry. I slaved away my whole life until I had my heart attack. And it was all for nothing!"

If his pension is cut further, Dimitris would be forced to ask for money from his children - who themselves are barely getting by.

But in fact, the austerity measures being voted are reductions in pensions and sharp increases in taxes on gasoline, tobacco, cable television and gambling on Sunday. There may also be an internet tax and a special levy on bank transactions, and value-added tax is to be raised to 24%, too. Deutsche Welle and Kathimerini and Scotsman

Bolivia accuses Chile of setting up military base near border

Bolivia's President Evo Morales accused Chile on Sunday of threatening Bolivia by establishing a military base 15 km (9 miles) from their shared border. He added that international norms prohibited installing military bases less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from international borders in order to avoid confrontations.

Chile denied the accusation, and said that no such military base exists.

Bolivia and Chile are still in disagreement over the outcome of the War of the Pacific, 1879-83, involving Bolivia, Chile and Peru. As a result of that war, Chile acquired two provinces that had formerly belonged to Bolivia and Peru, respectively. The land acquired from Bolivia was about 120,000 sq km in size, roughly the size of Greece. In addition, Bolivia lost its coastline, and has been landlocked every since. Furthermore, the acquired provinces have turned out to have large copper deposits that have made Chile the world's largest copper producer.

In 2013, Bolivia took Chile to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the dispute that has been extremely bitter for over a century. Reuters and BBC (24-April-2013) and Library of Congress

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-16 World View -- Workers riot as Greece braces for new austerity measures thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2016) Permanent Link
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8-May-16 World View -- Far right and far left clash in Europe over government policies

Hooded anarchists in Italy turn violent on Austrian border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tens of thousands in pro-EU anti-government protest in Warsaw Poland


Tens of thousands in anti-government, pro-EU protests in Warsaw, Poland
Tens of thousands in anti-government, pro-EU protests in Warsaw, Poland

45,000 or more protesters gathered in Warsaw, Poland, on Saturday for pro-European Union anti-government demonstrations.

The ruling Law and Justice party came to power in a landslide October election win, and have severely restricted human rights with reforms to the constitutional tribunal, public media, civil service and surveillance laws. These reforms have been criticized by European Union officials as contrary to EU principles of democracy.

Saturday's protests were the biggest in Poland since 1989 and the fall of Communism. In recent years, there have been an increasing number of mass protests in cities across Poland, often with contradictory objectives, as if people wanted to protest just for the sake of protesting. The protests are on both sides of the political spectrum. There have been similar situations in Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic.

In Hungary, the divisions are so deep that, according to one observer, the two social camps read different newspapers and use completely different arguments that are oblivious to the perspective of the opposing side. These divides often cut across families, friendships and professional circles. Radio Poland and Visegrad Insight

Thousands of Berlin protesters chant 'No Islam on German soil'

Over 1,000 far-right extremists chanted "Merkel must go" and "No Islam on German soil," and protested the immigration policies of Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, the anti-Merkel protests drew only a small fraction of the numbers that the organizers had predicted. A similar rally in March drew 3,000.

Also, there was a sizeable counter-demonstration of around 4,500 people in support of Merkel. The confrontation between the two sides was mostly peaceful, with only small outbreaks of violence.

A third rally of about 3,000 people, organized by regional Protestant churches, was billed as a "stroll for worldly openness and tolerance" from the Brandenburg Gate to the city's central Gendarmenmarkt square. Express (London) and Deutsche Welle

Hooded anarchists in Italy turn violent on Austrian border

Hundreds of hooded "anarchist" protesters assembled in Italy on the border with Austria on Saturday and clashed violently with police during a demonstration against the Austrian government's plans to erect a fence at the Brenner Crossing between Italy and Austria, which would block asylum seekers from crossing from Italy into Austria.

It's estimated that about 30,000 migrants have reached Italy so far this year, mostly crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya by boat, and Austrian authorities have expressed the fear that masses of migrants would try to enter Austria.

Austria's Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has said he believed that that as many as a million migrants were poised to cross the Mediterranean from Libya this year. Italy says the figure is likely to be much lower.

The protest at Brenner Pass turned violent on Saturday, with Italian police firing teargas at hundreds of protesters throwing stones and firecrackers. It was the third violent demonstration to take place at the Brenner Pass in just over a month.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned that unless the European Union found a common migration stance, old nationalist ghosts would reawaken. According to Merkel:

"Either we defend our external borders and we do it together or we risk falling back into nationalism. This is not a challenge for Greece, Germany or Italy, but these are challenges that have to do with the future of Europe."

Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, said on Saturday that Austria imposing controls on its border with Italy would be a "political catastrophe" for Europe. Vice News and Washington Post and Reuters and The Local (Austria)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-16 World View -- Far right and far left clash in Europe over government policies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2016) Permanent Link
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7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'

London elects Sadiq Khan as mayor, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

London elects Sadiq Khan as mayor, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city


Katie Hopkins promised to run down Regent Street naked if Sadiq Khan won
Katie Hopkins promised to run down Regent Street naked if Sadiq Khan won

Sadiq Khan, the 45-year-old son of a bus driver from Pakistan, was elected mayor of London in an extremely bitter contest against his main rival, Zac Goldsmith, the son of a billionaire businessman.

Goldsmith was accused of running a divisive and racist campaign for referring to Khan with such labels as “radical” and “dangerous,” which were as code for his religion. The tactics may have backfired, as Khan won overwhelmingly, 57% to 43%.

In a fascinating twist, Goldsmith's sister, Jemima (Gemima) Marcelle Goldsmith, is a journalist who was married to Imran Khan, whom I've written about many times. (See "20-Aug-14 World View -- Pakistan's army called to quell massive anti-government protest")

Imran Khan was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become an extremely colorful and extremely anti-American politician. Jemima, who is Zac Goldsmith's sister and Imran Khan's ex-wife, congratulated the new mayor, describing him as a “great example to young Muslims.”

There's another fascinating twist: Sexy, well-known Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins wrote in her column on Wednesday:

"Vote Zac. Because if you don't, I'll run Regent Street naked with a sausage up my bum. I’ve even Tweeted as much. And if that horrifying prospect doesn’t get the Zac vote out, nothing will."

Now that Sadiq Khan has won, Hopkins' office is not returning phone calls on whether she intends to fulfill her pledge. Daily Mail (London) and LA Times and Telegraph (London)

Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!'

A furious Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday rejected a requirement of the EU-Turkey migrant that Turkey bring its anti-terror laws in line with EU standards, which is required for the lifting of EU visa restrictions for Turkish citizens.

The fallout from the resignation of Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, which we reported yesterday, did not take long to emerge.

It's beginning to be apparent that the EU-Turkey migrant deal was the last straw that caused president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to force Davutoglu to resign, after the stormy meeting they had on Wednesday evening. Davutoglu was Turkey's main negotiator for the deal, and according to reports, Davutoglu agreed to some things that Erdogan was opposed to.

As we reported in detail yesterday, the crux of the migrant deal is turning out to be the requirement that the EU lift visa restrictions and give citizens of Turkey visa-free travel throughout the 26 nations of Europe's Schengen Zone. There are 72 requirements imposed by the EU for the visa restriction to be lifted, and Erdogan is apparently furious that Davutoglu agreed to meet all requirements. Erdogan believes that Turkey has so much leverage in the deal, because of the EU's desperation in handling the migrant crisis, the Davutoglu did not have to concede so much.

Turkey's anti-terrorism laws are so broad that they criminalize almost any kind of political dissent, and are used to arrest journalists and academics critical of government policies. They were used as justification for the seizure of the country's largest newspaper, Today's Zaman, because it criticized Erdogan's policies. ( "6-Mar-16 World View -- Turkey's 'shameful day for free press' as government seizes Zaman media")

Erdogan on Friday said that the anti-terror laws would not be changed:

"While Turkey is under attack from terrorist organizations from all sides, the European Union is telling us to change the anti-terror law in exchange for the visa deal. You, the EU, will let PKK terrorists build tents near the EU parliament in Brussels, provide them opportunities in the name of democracy, and then tell us you will lift visas if we change our anti-terror laws. Sorry. We'll go our own way, you go yours."

Erdogan was alluding to a tent set up by supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in front of the European Council building, just two days after a major terrorist attack on Ankara on March 13, as Davutoglu was visiting Brussels. It was only after the terrorist attack on Brussels on March 22 that Belgian police ordered the tent to be taken down, but then it was set up again elsewhere. Turkish officials were furious that PKK supporters were permitted to publicize their cause just after a terrorist attack.

Erdogan's has issued a "take it or leave it" ultimatum to the European Union. He believes, probably correctly, that the EU is so desperate for the EU-Turkey migrant deal that they'll make this concession, and possibly other concessions as well, and lift the visa restrictions by the June deadline. Anadolu News (Turkey) and Irish Times and BBC

Turkey says it will meet other EU requirements for lifting visa restrictions

The European Union has 72 requirements a country must meet in order for visa restrictions to be lifted, so that citizens can travel freely around the 26 countries of the Schengen Zone. Almost all of the requirements have already been met, but five remain:

Turkey's EU Minister and Chief Negotiator Volkan Bozkir claims that much has already been done to fulfill the first four of these requirements:

"The readmission agreement will go in effect in June. The law that will allow judicial cooperation with all EU member states has recently been approved by Parliament and there is no problem with that. The data protection law was required to enhance cooperation with Europol, so it will also be done. We have also made significant progress implementing the recommendations of GRECO. Strengthening the data protection authority can be done. ...

[With regard to the fifth requirement:] The EU wants us to narrow the scope of the definition [of terrorism]. We already made the necessary changes to the anti-terrorism law in line with EU norms. The concept of immediate and obvious danger that threatens public security was introduced with these changes. However, we don't have the luxury of making these changes while the intensive fight against terrorism is ongoing."

Bozkir also addressed one of the main concerns that many EU officials have about lifting the visa restrictions for all of Turkey's 70 million citizens: That there will be a flood of asylum seekers from Turkey looking for jobs in Europe. According to Bozkir, the concern is irrelevant:

"There are about 1.5 million migrants who went to Europe, but nearly no Turkish citizens were among them. There is no single asylum application from a Turkish citizen. We will explain this to our European friends and will convince them."

Daily Sabah (Ankara) and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-16 World View -- Turkey's Erdogan threatens EU: 'We'll go our own way, you go yours!' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2016) Permanent Link
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6-May-16 World View -- Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign


Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)
Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)

I always thought that Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu was like Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev is a puppet who does what Russia's president Vladimir Putin tells him to do, apparently without question. I've thought that Davutoglu was also a spineless puppet doing the bidding of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a lot of other people have thought the same.

But that apparently isn't true. Davutoglu has apparently vigorously opposed several of Erdogan's policies. According to reports, there was a stormy meeting on Wednesday evening between Erdogan and Davutoglu, leading to Davutoglu's resignation as prime minister and as leader of the governing AK party.

Davutoglu, a former professor, made it clear that recent events made it impossible to support Erdogan's policies as a matter of conscience, although he would remain loyal to Erdogan:

"My term [as prime minister] was one of success. With this decision, there is no feeling of unsuccessfulness or regret over what I have done. I did my job properly and with honor.

The fact that my term lasted far shorter than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity. Our party is on the verge of a new era. This is the time of unity. ...

Especially after six months of the elections in which our party received 49.5 percent of the votes and the support of 24 million voters. Why is the AKP’s leader leaving while all three opposition leaders who lost the elections are still there?” he added.

Well, why have I taken such a decision? Life teaches many things, but I have my principles that I have never left since my academic days.

The strongest person in life is the one who can be at peace with himself,” the prime minister said. “In life, I have never defended anything I have not believed and I have never taken a step back on issues I have believed in. I have never negotiated for any post or position over the values and principles I have. ...

Therefore if friends are important and the objective is important, then we should all examine ourselves. As a result of my own examination and consultations with my friends with political experience, including our president, I have come to the conclusion that instead of changing colleagues, it’s much better to change the party chair for the unity of the AK Party. ...

[T]he fate of the AK Party is the fate of Turkey. Whatever will happen, I will continue my relation with our president [Erdogan] ... until my last breath. The honor of our president is my honor. His family is my family. No one should dare to initiate new plots."

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been moving in the direction of a dictatorship.

There will be an AK Party congress later in May, where Erdogan is expected to select a new prime minister who will be much more obedient and compliant. One possible successor would be Erdogan's son-in-law.

Whatever else happens, Turkey is already is a state of political chaos. There have been regular terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The government war against the PKK has led to actual fistfights in Turkey's parliament. And Russia's boycott of Turkey has caused economic hardships. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA

Davutoglu's resignation may complicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal

It's thought that there's too much at stake for both sides to allow a political dispute between Erdogan and Davutoglu to endanger the EU-Turkey migrant deal. Nonetheless, the resignation gives ammunition to opponents of the deal in both the EU and Turkey to argue that the deal should be scuttled.

The crux of the deal is the agreement to lift visa restrictions by the end of June, so that citizens of Turkey can travel freely around the 26 countries in Europe's Schengen Zone without a visa. This is something that Turkey has wanted for years, as it's enormously popular with Turkey's citizens, and it was a key demand of Turkey in making the migrant deal.

However, lifting the visa restrictions is very controversial in some parts of the EU, and the policy change is expected to face stiff opposition when the European Parliament votes on it within a few weeks. Opponents point to the fact that Turkey has not met all the preconditions for lifting the restrictions, including freedom of the press and human rights. The resignation of Davutoglu will allow opponents to say that Turkey is becoming less democratic and more authoritarian, and therefore doesn't qualify for lifting the visa restriction.

The same issue about lifting visa restrictions is a thorn in the side of Erdogan, because it places a number of restraints on Erdogan's policy changes. The EU can threaten to restore the visa restrictions at any time if Erdogan becomes too authoritarian, and so the agreement effectively places restraints on Erdogan's otherwise unrestrained policies.

Prime minister Davutoglu has offered a cautious counterweight to an increasingly radical president, who increasingly defines himself against Western values and goals. By replacing his hand-picked prime minister with someone still more subservient, Erdogan will get the power he seeks, unless he's stopped by the chaos that's likely to follow Davutoglu's resignation. Bloomberg and Euro News and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

At least 30 people were killed on Thursday when warplanes struck a refugee camp in northern Syria, killing many women and children. It's believed that the warplanes were from either Russia or the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad.

The people living in the refugee camp were civilians who had fled the Russian warplanes bombing Aleppo. As we wrote in February, Russia is following a policy used against Grozny in the 1990s war against Chechnya. ( "19-Feb-16 World View -- Russia's attacks on civilian hospitals in Aleppo follow the 'Grozny model'")

Under this policy, Russia bombs schools, hospitals and civilian neighborhoods, in order to create a a refugee crisis, and to empty the urban residential areas. Once that is achieved, heavy weapons can be deployed to eradicate the remaining population, entailing widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the policies of Syria and Russia are going to cause a humanitarian disaster, resulting in a flood of 400,000 refugees pouring into Turkey. Turkey has tried to set up refugee camps in northern Syria along the Turkish border, in order to prevent such a flood of refugees. Russia and Syria have been following the Grozny Model to eradicate the civilians in Aleppo, and now are bombing the refugee camps in order to make sure that the refugees pour into Turkey, from which they may once again flood into the Greece and the European Union.

The Syrian regime, which practices genocidal war crimes every day with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, and considers all Sunni Muslims as terrorist cockroaches to be exterminated, issued a statement saying that Aleppo has become like the heroic Stalingrad and gave a promise that "despite the brutality and cruelty of the enemy, and the great sacrifices and pains, our cities, towns, people and army will not be satisfied until they defeat the enemy and achieve victory serving the interests of Syria, the region and the world." VOA and Syria Online

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-16 World View -- Syria and Russia continue 'Grozny Model,' killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2016) Permanent Link
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5-May-16 World View -- Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima

European Commission threatens to fine countries that won't accept migrants

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain will accept thousands of child refugees from European camps


Unaccompanied child refugee last year in 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France (Getty)
Unaccompanied child refugee last year in 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, France (Getty)

Britain's prime minister David Cameron has made a U-turn in policy, and has announced that the UK will take thousands of unaccompanied children in refugee camps in the EU.

The UK already takes children from refugee camps in Syria and surrounding countries, but under the new policy will also take children who are already in Europe.

Cameron has opposed the change of policy because it would encourage more families to entrust their children to human traffickers to take them to Europe. For that reason, Cameron is restricting the policy to children registered in Greece, Italy or France prior to March 20, the date of the EU-Turkey refugee deal.

According to Cameron:

"I am also talking to Save the Children to see what we can do more, particularly about children who came here before the EU-Turkey deal was signed.

What I don't want us to do is to take steps that will encourage people to make this dangerous journey because otherwise our actions, however well-meaning they will be, could result in more people dying than more people getting a good life."

Local authorities across Britain will be asked to find homes for the children. The exact number of children was not announced, but it's assumed to be around 3,000. Each child will cost £50,000 to resettle. Guardian (London) and Catholic News Service and BBC

European Commission threatens to fine countries that won't accept migrants

The EU-Turkey deal requires Turkey to take back all migrants who travel from Turkey to Greece and are not given asylum. This applies to the thousands of migrants who are already in refugee camps in Greece.

The deal contains a somewhat bizarre "one-for-one" provision that says that, for each Syrian refugee that Greece returns to Turkey, Turkey will select a Syrian refugee from its refugee camps and send that refugee back to the EU. The plan is that these refugees will be distributed to all 28 EU countries under a quota system.

The EU tried a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. Only about 1,100 refugees were resettled under this plan because of stiff opposition from Central European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

So now the European Commission (EC) is faced with implementing a quota system for the EU-Turkey deal, and their proposal includes a "fairness mechanism" under which each of the 28 member states would be assigned a percentage quota of all asylum seekers in the bloc that it would be expected to handle. The quota would be reflect national population and wealth.

It's clear that the same Central European countries are going to oppose the new quota system, and so the EC is going to permit them to opt out for at least a year, provided that they pay a fine of 250,000 euros ($300,000) for each asylum seeker that they refuse to accept.

"It is blackmailing. It's a dead-end street," according to Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said of the proposal: "I'm still wondering if it's a serious proposal, because it sounds like an idea announced during the April Fool's Day."

The EC proposals will be voted by the European Parliament in June. They require a majority vote, which means that they can be enacted over the opposition of the Central Asian countries. VOA and Reuters

Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima

When US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima, Japan, last month, he attended a commemoration that laid a wreath at the altar of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, but specifically refused to apologize for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. However, he left unanswered the question of whether President Obama would apologize when he visits Hiroshima on May 24.

Speculation apparently ended on Monday afternoon when Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest supposedly told reporters that Obama would not apologize.

When this report is confirmed, that will be the culmination of a debate which pits the editorial boards of the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other mainstream media newspapers, who are demanding that Obama apologize, versus a broad coalition of officials in Asia that oppose any such apology.

An Obama apology would also be politically divisive in the United states, as it would support the Republican view that Obama is "weak," and would aid the nationalist Donald Trump candidacy. Washington Post (10-Apr) and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Nikkei Asia Review

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-16 World View -- Many in Asia oppose an Obama apology for 1945 nuking of Hiroshima thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2016) Permanent Link
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4-May-16 World View -- European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey

Reader question on Iran and Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Reader question on Iran and Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr


Muqtada al-Sadr
Muqtada al-Sadr

My recent article "2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis" evoked some reader questions, mostly about the relationship between Muqtada al-Sadr and Iran:

"Hey John, if you're still reading the comments, I'd love to have an answer to a layman's question, and I value your insight. What are the chances that Iraqi Shia al-Sadr is financed by the Iranian Shia, located in Tehran?

This is a very interesting question today (Tuesday), because al-Sadr has apparently shocked his supporters today by making an unannounced visit to Tehran. The visit is apparently embarrassing to both Iran and al-Sadr, since early reports from Iran's media denied that any such visit was taking place.

There's really no great love for Iran among Iraqi Shias. Recall Iraq's last generational crisis war. It was the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988 with Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons on the Kurds and the Iranians. It was a war between Iran and Iraq, not between Sunnis and Shias. Memories of that extremely bloody and brutal war are still fresh and deeply embedded in the minds of both Iraqis and Iranians today.

Al-Sadr himself has been carving out a largely nationalist non-sectarian path, trying to appeal to both Sunnis and Shias in Iraq. In Saturday's protests, his supporters were vocal about their hatred for Iran, so it's unlikely that Iran has been providing much support to al-Sadr.

If Iran has been supporting anyone, it would be the government of prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who depends on Iran for military support in fighting ISIS.

But even if Iran is not supporting al-Sadr, Iran undoubtedly has leverage over al-Sadr. There may also be the involvement of al-Sadr's "boss", the senior cleric al-Sayyid Ali al-Sistani, born in 1930. He grew up during Iraq's last generational Awakening era, so he's seen it all before, and may be acting as a mediator between Iran and the youthful al-Sadr.

(The political chaos in Iraq's generational Awakening era today is very similar to the 1930s Awakening era, as I described in my April 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq".)

At any rate, it's quite possible that when al-Sadr told his followers to retreat on Sunday, he was forced to do so by Iran. And he's visiting Iran today because he's been ordered to.

There may also be a threat of massive violence. Iran, Syria and Russia all have the policy of meeting peaceful protests with massive violence, filling the streets with dead bodies and rivers of blood, bludgeoning, massacring, torturing and mutilating peacefully protesting women and children, rather than allow anyone to peacefully protest against the government. Iraq's government didn't do anything like that on Saturday, but it's possible that Iran is threatening to use its own Revolutionary Guards military to massacre al-Sadr's protesters if they protest again.

The situation is that al-Sadr has called for massive protests after Friday prayers at the end of this week. Iran undoubtedly wants al-Sadr to call them off. But if al-Sadr calls off the protests after going to Tehran, then his protesters will be furious, and may become violent, triggering a violent response. So Friday should be interesting.

Some analysts are saying that Iraq's current Shia-led government is on the verge of collapse, because the Shias are fighting among themselves. According to Kurdish official Muhammad Ahmad, a former member of Iraq's parliament:

"There are historically three factors behind Shiite unity: when they face a common adversary, when they are guided by their supreme religious leaders, when they are told and directed by Iran. At the moment their common enemies are not so powerful and that has left some space for inter-Shiite tensions. I expect it to become even harsher. ...

[The] Sunnis have been left with no real power. At the moment they have no land, they have no wide popular support and consequently their political power is very much weakened. It wouldn’t be all too wrong to say that the Shiites no longer are intimidated by the Sunnis or Kurds. That is why the rivalries within the Shiite block have intensified."

So your question was: "Is al-Sadr financed by Iran?" My guess is that the answer is NO, but al-Sadr is THREATENED by Iran, at a time when Iraq's entire Shia government is threatened by an existential political crisis from within. Asharq Al-Awsat (London) and Press TV (Tehran) and Rudaw (Iraq, Kurdistan)

European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey

European media are reporting that the European Commission (EC) will back visa-free travel for Turkish citizens when they make their recommendations on Wednesday.

The recommendation would apply to the Schengen Zone, which is a group of 26 European countries that permit visa-free border crossings among them. Last year, because of the flood of migrants entering Europe, some Schengen zone countries imposed border controls under the "emergency situation" terms of the Schengen rules. However, with the closing of the "Balkan Route" for migrants, many of these border controls are being lifted.

If the EC recommendation is adopted, then citizens of Turkey will be able to travel anywhere within the Schengen zone without a visa. The UK, Ireland and Cyprus are not in the Schengen zone, so those countries will continue to impose a visa requirement.

Turkey had demanded that the visa requirement be scrapped as part of the EU-Turkey deal to handle Europe's migrant crisis. Turkey agreed to take back migrants who land in Greece, but agreed only on condition that the EU end the visa requirement by June.

The visa liberalization is extremely controversial in Europe. Turkey is an enormous country of 75 million people, and many Europeans fear that there will be a flood of Turkish citizens coming to Europe to look for work. However, the visa-free agreement will not grant Turks the right to get a job in Europe.

Germany and France have proposed an emergency brake or “snap back mechanism” under which it could halt visa-free travel if large numbers of Turks stay in the EU illegally or if there are a large number of asylum applications by Turks.

The EC's visa liberalization recommendation still requires approval by the EU parliament, where it is expected to meet with considerable opposition. Turkey is required to meet 72 separate conditions by May 4 to earn the visa liberalization.

It's thought that Turkey has met most but not all of the conditions. The failures are in two areas:

The EU-Turkey deal itself has raised human rights concerns, with activists claiming that Turkey is not a safe country to return migrants to.

However, EU officials believe that they have no choice but to approve the visa liberalization anyway, even if Turkey has not met all 72 requirements, because otherwise Turkey will cancel the migrant deal. BBC and Hurriyet (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-16 World View -- European Commission expected to recommend visa-free travel for citizens of Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2016) Permanent Link
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3-May-16 World View -- Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute

Report: Hamas, Israel and Egypt in alliance fighting ISIS

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel to open another truck crossing to the Gaza Strip


The Erez crossing (file photo)
The Erez crossing (file photo)

Because of the blockade of the Gaza strip by both Israel and Egypt, most of the food, medicine and other supplies reaching Gaza come through a single checkpoint, the Kerem Shalom crossing, between Israel and southeastern Gaza. Some 600-1000 trucks pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing every day, creating a hazard on some of the local roads.

Israel announced on Monday that it will open a second crossing to commercial traffic, through the Erez terminal on Gaza's northeastern tip. No implementation date has been given, but it's expected that the traffic will then be split between the two crossings.

Israel has imposed harsh restrictions on the kinds of goods that may be imported into Gaza. In particular, building materials like lumber, cement, and iron are restricted because they could be used to build tunnels and bunkers for use in war against Israel. However, officials complain that these restrictions prevent Gaza from rebuilding the homes that were destroyed since the 2014 war. The announcement made no mention of whether any of these restrictions will be lifted.

The announcement appears to be a goodwill gesture to Hamas. Israel halted commercial traffic through Erez in 2000, after the Palestinian intifada began, and only passenger transit has been allowed since. The decision to reopen the Erez crossing was taken in recognition that a truce that ended the 2014 war against Hamas is holding. Jerusalem Post and Reuters

Report: Hamas, Israel and Egypt in alliance fighting ISIS

Israel and Egypt have been in alliance for some time to fight Wilayat Sinai (State of Sinai), Sinai's branch of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). In the past, Egypt has accused Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, of allowing ISIS militants to use Gaza as a safe haven, and to allow them to cross into Sinai through smuggling tunnels. Hamas denies the allegations, saying it has no sympathies to the ISIS, which branded Hamas as infidels in a video two years ago.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that Egypt is pressuring Hamas to control its border and prevent any movement of fighters or couriers between Gaza and Sinai. Egypt has economic leverage on Hamas, as Hamas depends on Egypt in part for its economic survival.

Last week, Hamas deployed over 300 fighters to Gaza’s border with Egypt, to prevent ISIS militants from crossing over the border in either direction.

Being the generally suspicious person that I am, it's not clear to me how this will have any effect. If Hamas is providing a safe haven for ISIS militants and allowing them to cross into Egypt, then Hamas fighters will just let that continue. In fact, the Hamas fighters might actually provide cover for ISIS militants to cross back and forth.

According to Eyad al-Bozom, a Hamas spokesman, "The national security forces redeployed along the borders with Egypt, and it is part of the security plan to fully control the borders and the stability of it, as well as the security of our Egyptian brothers." Washington Post and Jerusalem Post

Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute

A question that Generational Dynamics seeks to answer is how the countries of Asia will line up for and against China in the South China Sea dispute and the coming Clash of Civilizations world war.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China had reached[2] a four-point consensus with Cambodia, Brunei, and Laos about resolving the South China Sea disputes. In particular, they all acceded to China's demand that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) not play a part.

It's been clear for some time that Cambodia is firmly in China's camp, but Vietnam was shocked by the announcement, since they always consider Laos to be "brothers."

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues to use belligerent military operations to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Much of China's announcement is just symbolic, since neither Cambodia nor Laos have made any claims in the South China Sea. Brunei does have a conflicting claim, but China's announcement does not say that the three countries accept China's sovereignty. It only says that they've adopted China's bilateral process for resolving the dispute.

China's claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing their claims are groundless and that they would lose.

However, a court is expected to issue a ruling in the next few weeks. The Philippines filed a case with the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea in 2013, challenging China's claims to the entire South China Sea. China has already reacted angrily to the Philippines' action filing the case, and if the court ruling goes against China, as many analysts believe it will, then China is expected to be furious, and may take further military action. China has repeatedly made it clear that it will never compromise in the South China Sea, and that it will take whatever military action is required to support its annexation of the region. The Diplomat and China Foreign Ministry and VOA

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-16 World View -- Laos sides with China in South China Sea dispute thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2016) Permanent Link
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2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis

Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraq's Awakening era

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis


A demonstrator holds a picture of Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration in Baghdad (Reuters)
A demonstrator holds a picture of Moqtada al-Sadr during a demonstration in Baghdad (Reuters)

Iraq's government in Baghdad is facing a major political crisis after thousands of supporters on Saturday of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr stormed the highly-secure "Green Zone" of Baghdad, and then moved on to the Parliament House. The air was festive, according to reports, as protesters took selfies while sitting in the chairs of the most hated politicians.

Under al-Sadr's orders, the protesters retreated from the Parliament House and the Green Zone on Sunday, but did so with a threat that new protests are planned for Friday. Since the "Arab Spring" began in 2011, the largest demonstrations have occurred as people poured out of mosques in the early afternoon after Friday prayers.

The Iraq government is under enormous pressure at the present time. Iraq is fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). There are currently two fronts, in Mosul and Ramadi, and it's thought that ISIS could easily penetrate Baghdad and other cities.

Iraq is also facing the prospect of bankruptcy. The government to pay out nearly $4 billion to 7 million people on the public payroll, including salaries and pensions to the military and to the workers in the bloated public-sector. But after the plunge in oil prices, from which Iraq gets more than 90% of its revenue, it's bringing only about half that amount, $2 billion.

Al-Sadr is accusing the government of prime minister Haider al-Abadi of massive corruption, and is demanding that the al-Abadi fire all his ministers and replace them with a technocrat government.

The political system that was put in place after the 2003 Iraq war set up a quota system, with required numbers of Shias, Sunnis and Kurds. The result was that government positions were granted based on patronage, leading to widespread corruption and poor public services. Al-Abadi has tried to end the quota system, but has met with overwhelming political resistance.

Al-Sadr is trying to force the issue by ordering his followers to carry out massive protests, and is threatening to bring down the entire government if changes are not made quickly.

If that happens, it would signal a major change in Iraq's government, and would be a generational Awakening era crisis, an event that settles the generational political conflict by establishing a victory of the younger generation. The climax of America's 1960s Awakening era was the 1974 resignation of Richard Nixon, which also signaled the victory of the generation of kids who grew up after World War II over the WW II survivor generations. Washington Post and Fox News and Washington Post (5-March)

Muqtada al-Sadr and Iraq's Awakening era

Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr spent many years in hiding from Saddam Hussein, but after the Iraq war ended, he portrayed himself as an Iraqi nationalist, transcending the divide between Sunnis and Shia. His actions have largely been consistent with that role.

I've written about al-Sadr several times in the past, mostly during the Bush administration. In 2004, in "Al-Sadr's Shi'ite militia turn in weapons", al-Sadr was ordering his militias not to stage an anti-American Shia uprising. The context, throughout the Bush years following the Iraq war, was that the mainstream media, led by the NY Times and NBC News, were constantly predicting and promoting a disaster for the American army in Iraq. In 2004, the mainstream media were predicting a huge anti-American Shia uprising, but al-Sadr fooled them.

At one point in 2004, I wrote the following:

"Meanwhile, it's fun to watch how the mindless Boston Globe reporters cover all this. Tuesday's lead multi-column page one headline was "Shi'ites' uprising grows." That was wishful thinking, and by Wednesday the page one Iraq headline was, "Qaeda arrests called 'lucky' break." Today's headline is "Young marines frustrated by lack of progress." Each day's headline seems so moronic that it could never be topped, but the next day's is even more moronic. I don't know how they manage to do it."

Throughout those years, the mainstream media were predicting an imminent civil war in Iraq, making one dumb prediction after another, and always proven wrong.

In 2007, the mainstream media made complete fools out of themselves over Bush's "surge" announcement, predicting that it would be a complete disaster, and becoming completely humiliated when it worked.

In April, 2007, I wrote "Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr says attack Americans, not each other". The word "attack" was an exaggeration by the mainstream media, but as a Reuter stories pointed out, al-Sadr was calling for peaceful demonstrations, not violence.

That's essentially what al-Sadr is calling for today, but this time the demonstrations are targeting the al-Abadi government in Baghdad.

Iraq's last generational crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988, giving rise to the current generational Awakening era, and the generational conflict between the generations of survivors of that war versus the generations that have grown up after that war. It's that generational conflict that gives rise to the political chaos occurring today.

Iraq's previous generational crisis war was the 1920 Great Iraqi Revolution. That gave rise to political chaos in the 1930s that looked very similar to the kind of chaos that's occurring today.

I wrote about this history in detail in my April 2007 article, "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", which is well worth reading by those interested in what's going on in Iraq today. Al-Jazeera(9-March)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-16 World View -- Iraq government faces climatic Awakening era political crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2016) Permanent Link
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1-May-16 World View -- China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations

Kenya's huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's huge ivory burning event may endanger elephants further


Pyres of ivory burn in Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Saturday (AP)
Pyres of ivory burn in Nairobi National Park in Kenya on Saturday (AP)

Kenya set fire on Saturday to 105 metric tons in 11 separate pyres, the tusks of nearly 7,000 elephants. This is 5% of the world's entire stock of ivory. In addition, 1.5 tons of rhino horns were set on fire. Ivory does not readily burn, but the fires are kept going by pumping a combination of kerosene and diesel into the pyres. The fires are expected to burn for several days.

Kenya's entire stock of ivory is being burned. The ivory was mostly collected from poachers and smugglers who had been responsible for killing thousands of elephants to obtain the ivory.

The spectacular ivory-burning show was accompanied by speeches full of wishful thinking by politicians. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta said the following before lighting the first pile:

"Kenya is poor, but Kenya is a rich country with a heritage given to us by God and we intend to protect it.

I have been told we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory because we are poor. For us as Kenyans, Ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants. ...

Let's do all we can to ensure our elephants are protected. Kenya's natural heritage can't be sold for money. With effective control over the movement of ivory, our elephants will be safe."

In case you're wondering how burning 105 tons of ivory is going to protect Kenya's elephants, it's because burning the ivory "sends a message" to poachers and smugglers that what they're doing is wrong and must be stopped.

This is now the fourth such burning that Kenya has held since 1989, but the poaching has only been increasing. In the 1970s, Africa had about 1.2 million elephants, but now has 400,000 to 450,000.

According to one report I heard, smugglers are not selling off their stocks of ivory. Instead, they're obtaining as much ivory as they can and storing it away, since it will only become more valuable as the number of elephants dwindles. It's not clear to me that these smugglers will stop what they're doing because of some "message" delivered by the burning.

In the excerpt above, Kenyatta said that he's been told that "we are making a fundamental mistake in burning this ivory." He's referring what many analysts are saying, that by burning off 5% of the marginal supply of the world's ivory, the price of ivory is going to skyrocket, with the result that many more elephants will be killed. In fact, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and other countries with large government stocks of ivory are holding on to it in the expectation of selling it at a much higher price.

Many people are saying that instead of burning the ivory, Kenya should have sold it off and given the money to the people whose villages have been attacked by wild elephants as compensation. This would have increased the supply of legal ivory in the world, and would have reduced the price of ivory, thus making poaching much less lucrative. The Star (Kenya) and National Geographic

China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations

Japan's foreign minister Fumio Kishida met with China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Saturday, with the intention of easing the enormous hostility between the two countries. The news reports were ambiguous about the outcome, but they seem to suggest that the meeting was pretty hostile.

One news report used an interesting phrase, "taking history as a mirror," that I haven't heard before:

"Li said China is willing, in the spirit of taking the history as a mirror and looking into the future, to make joint efforts with Japan to strengthen political mutual trust and promote bilateral relations back to the track of normal development."

According to China's Foreign Ministry, China made four demands of Japan to improve relations between the two countries:

"1. In the political area, the Japanese side should stick fast to the four political documents including the China-Japan Joint Statement, face up to and reflect upon the history and follow the one-China policy to the letter. No ambiguity or vacillation is allowed when it comes to this important political foundation of the bilateral ties."

The four documents refer to the China-Japan Joint Statement inked in 1972, the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1978, the China-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998, and the joint statement on advancing strategic and mutually-beneficial relations in a comprehensive way signed in 2008.

China is still angry that Japan invaded China prior to and during World War II, using Chinese girls as "comfort women" for the soldiers, and committing the "Nanjing massacre" on December 13, 1937. The Chinese are critical of Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe for recently sending a ritual offering to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. The Shrine, which honors Japan's war-dead, also enshrines 14 former Japanese leaders who were responsible Japan's attack on China.

Further, China is demanding that Japan recognize Taiwan as Chinese territory, not a self-governing nation, as Japan sometimes suggests.

"2. In terms of its outlook on China, the Japanese side should translate into concrete actions its consensus with China, that is, the two countries are each other's cooperative partners rather than threats. It should have a more positive and healthy attitude toward the growth of China, and stop spreading or echoing all kinds of "China threat" or "China economic recession" theories."

China is building a huge offensive military arsenal, preparing to launch war against, Japan, its neighbors in the South China Sea, and the United States. But if anyone asks China what they're doing, China accuses them of being warmongers and making threats. Point #2 demands that Japan stop complaining about China's massive military buildup and preparations for war.

"3. In terms of economic exchange, the Japanese side should establish the concept of win-win cooperation, discard the outdated idea that one side cannot do without the other side, or one side depends more on the other side than the other way around. Instead, it should enhance equal-footed and pragmatic cooperation with China in different fields based on mutual benefit."

This is an economic threat. In 2012, China declared economic war on Japan by terminating shipments of rare earth minerals, needed for manufacturing of many of Japan's electronic products. Also, Chinese protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership in China, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several Chinese cities. China's National Tourism Administration ordered travel companies to cancel tours to Japan. ( "18-Sep-12 World View -- China declares economic war on Japan, and sends 1,000 boat flotilla")

So when China talks about "win-win," it's a veiled threat that Japan must do as its told, or there may be another economic war.

"4. In terms of regional and international affairs, the two sides should respect each other's legitimate interests and concerns, and have essential communication and coordination in a timely fashion. The Japanese side should cast aside the confrontation mentality and work with China to maintain peace, stability and prosperity of the region."

China's message is this: "We want stability and peace. If you do exactly as you're ordered, then we'll have stability and peace. But if you don't do as you're ordered, then we'll kill you, and get stability and peace that way."

Generational Dynamics predicts that China and Japan are rapidly heading for a generational crisis war, and the time may not be far off. China Foreign Ministry and AP and Xinhua

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-16 World View -- China makes four demands of Japan to improve relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2016) Permanent Link
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30-Apr-16 World View -- Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos

North Korea nuclear test expected after three botched missile tests

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos


Asylum seekers on Manus island detention center (AAP)
Asylum seekers on Manus island detention center (AAP)

A bombshell Supreme Court ruling is invalidating Australia's policy for dealing with refugees. However, the bombshell was not from Australia's Supreme Court. It was from the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The ruling says that Australia's refugee detention center on PNG's Manus Island is inhumane, and must be shut down.

In past years, thousands of refugees from Asia have traveled by boat to Australia, often after paying huge sums to human traffickers, hoping to resettle there. Australia has dealt with the situation, starting in 2001, by setting up two "detention centers," one on PNG's Manus Island and one on Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. Australia intercepts the boat people while at sea, and redirects them to the detention centers.

These two detention centers have been enormously controversial, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse at the detention centers. The detention centers were shut down in 2007, but reinstated when the number refugees and asylum seeks surged again into the thousands.

There is not yet any timetable for the closing of the Manus Island center, but Australia is just weeks away from a national election. The entire policy for processing refugees and asylum seekers is now in chaos and is sure to be a major campaign issue.

Lawyers for 850 asylum seekers held at Manus Island said on Friday they planned to seek potentially billions of Australian dollars in compensation. Sydney Morning Herald and Guardian (London) and Reuters

Papua New Guinea repudiates refugee agreement after Supreme Court Ruling

According to a 2013 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Australia and PNG:

"8. Australia may Transfer and Papua New Guinea will accept Transferees from Australia under this MOU. ...

10. Persons to be transferred to Papua New Guinea are those persons who:

  • have travelled irregularly by sea to Australia; or
  • have been intercepted at sea by the Australian authorities in the course of trying to reach Australia by irregular means; and
  • are authorised by Australian law to be transferred to Papua New Guinea; and
  • have undergone a short health, security and identity check in Australia.

11. Papua New Guinea will host a Processing Centre or Processing Centers in Manus Province and may host other Processing Centers in Papua New Guinea for the purposes of this MOU."

However, the PNG Supreme Court has invalidated the agreement with its bombshell decision:

"It was the joint efforts of the Australian and PNG governments that has seen the asylum seekers brought into PNG and kept at the Manus Island Processing Centre against their will. These arrangements were outside the constitutional and legal framework in PNG. ... The forceful bringing into and detention of the asylum seekers on MIPC is unconstitutional and is therefore illegal."

Peter Dutton, Australia's Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, issued a statement saying that it's PNG's problem, not Australia's:

"This is a decision of the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. Australia was not a party to the legal proceedings. It does not alter Australia’s border protection policies – they remain unchanged. No one who attempts to travel to Australia illegally by boat will settle in Australia.

The Government will not allow a return to the chaos of the years of the Rudd-Gillard Labor Governments when regional processing was initiated to deal with the overwhelming illegal arrivals of more than 50,000 people. The agreement with Papua New Guinea to establish the Manus Island RPC was negotiated by the Labor Government.

Those in the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre found to be refugees are able to resettle in Papua New Guinea. Those found not to be refugees should return to their country of origin. People who have attempted to come illegally by boat and are now in the Manus facility will not be settled in Australia."

However, this announcement by Dutton was unwelcome in PNG, where the PNG prime minister, Peter O’Neill said, "Respecting this ruling, Papua New Guinea will immediately ask the Australian government to make alternative arrangements for the asylum seekers currently held at the regional processing center." Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Guardian (London)

North Korea nuclear test expected after three botched missile tests

North Korea on Thursday launched two intermediate range ballistic missiles, in missile tests that were both apparent failures. They came two weeks after another botched missile test, launched on April 15, the birthday of North Korean founding father Kim Il-sung.

It's believed that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un rushed the three missile tests in order to show off regime accomplishments prior to the Seventh Party Congress, which convenes on May 6.

Because all three missile tests were botched, it's now thought Kim will order a nuclear test just prior to May 6.

In other news, Kim has ordered a massive crackdown on its people, and has tightened security along its border with China. The regime also has been restricting entry into the capital Pyongyang and has ordered residents not to hold ceremonial occasions such as weddings or funerals. According to one source:

"The North has completely blocked its capital and the border area after declaring a special surveillance period. The regime is conducting random inspections of houses in Pyongyang and ordering visitors, including relatives, to immediately return to their own homes."

Security forces are also inspecting factories and institutes, checking when workers come to and leave work. The harsh new security measures are apparently intended to combat Kim's anxieties that unexpected violence could embarrass him prior to the party congress. Joongang (Seoul) and Yonhap (Seoul) and Korea Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-16 World View -- Papua New Guinea Supreme Court bombshell throws Australia's refugee policy into chaos thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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29-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens

Bank of Japan shocks investors with no stimulus, leading to global stock selloff

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens


Aftermath of Syrian airstrike on Aleppo hospital on Thursday (AP)
Aftermath of Syrian airstrike on Aleppo hospital on Thursday (AP)

The air force of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad appears on Thursday to have deliberately targeted a hospital in Aleppo with airstrikes, killing dozens of doctors and children.

According to US Secretary of State John Kerry, "It appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime's appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders. These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians."

Destroying a hospital is typical of Bashar al-Assad. This is a man who gets obvious pleasure from gouging out people's eyes or pulling out their fingernails, or send missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy.

The news today is that officials are complaining that the Syria "peace process" is hanging by a thread, in the words of Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria. But these officials are paid to live in a fantasy world of denial. As I've written many times, no one seriously believed that there was any sort of actual peace process going on. And as I've written many times, any movement to peace is impossible with al-Assad in power in Syria, because he's determined to keep dropping barrel bombs with chemical weapons on Sunni civilians until every Sunni in Syria is exterminated.

The reason that Thursday's airstrike on the Aleppo is significant news is that its sheer brutality and savageness makes it clear to even officials in denial that al-Assad has no intention of entering into any peace agreement.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, al-Assad may be making a fundamental error, by not understanding the differences between generational eras.

Syria's last generational crisis war was the civil war that climaxed in 1982 with the massacre at Hama. There was a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria's president Hafez al-Assad, the current president's father. In February, 1982, al-Assad turned the town to rubble, 40,000 deaths and 100,000 expelled. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It is regarded as perhaps the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East. But once the Hama was destroyed, the anti-government movement against Hafaz al-Assad pretty much ended. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was a generational crisis war climax, like the nuking of Hiroshima at the climax of World War II, bringing the war to an end.

Now Bashar al-Assad may believe that he's in a similar situation in Aleppo. It's quite possible -- even quite likely -- that al-Assad intends to turn the city of Aleppo to rubble, and then gain a complete victory, as his father did in 1982.

But that kind of climax with that kind of outcome can occur only in a generational Crisis era. Today, Syria is in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s. And in this generational era, the destruction of Aleppo will bring at most a temporary halt to the fighting, not the total surrender that al-Assad is delusionally hoping for. Al Monitor and CNN and United Nations

Bank of Japan shocks investors with no stimulus, leading to global stock selloff

With Japan's economy in a deep slump, most analysts expected the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to add stimulus to the economy by one form or another of "printing money" -- by increasing its purchase of bonds ("quantitative easing") or by lowering the interest rate, which is already negative, to make it even more negative.

Instead, the BOJ announced on Thursday that it would not add any new stimulus to the economy at all at the present time. This was a shock to investors, who responded by selling off stocks, causing the Tokyo Stock Exchange Nikkei index to plummet 3.6%. This triggered a world wide selloff on Thursday, though generally not as deep as the Nikkei selloff.

The Bank of Japan adopted negative interest rates three months ago, in what was considered a move of desperation. ( "30-Jan-16 World View -- Japan tries negative interest rates as US economy slows") But that move has been ineffective in promoting economic growth, so the BOJ may have decided that another stimulus move wouldn't make any difference. Actually, not adding stimulus did make a difference of a kind that wasn't expected.

Using stimulus over and over to push up the stock market cannot work forever. By the Law of Diminishing Returns, each new injection of stimulus will have a smaller effect that then previous injection.

What this illustrates is the dependence in today's world of stock markets on central banks. No one serious believes any more that the stock market is meaningfully related to a country's economy. The stock markets today are being held up by the central banks -- by the BOJ in Japan, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Federal Reserve in America.

The Fed raised interest rates by 0.25% in December, and that move is widely thought to have harmed the US economy. Today, just about the only stories important to financial media are the debates over whether the Fed is going to raise rates again, or whether it will reverse the December increase.

As we reported last week, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio has rocket above 24, its highest value in years. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower. Bloomberg and ZeroHedge and Law of Diminishing Returns

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's air force deliberately targets hospital in Aleppo, killing dozens thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Female suicide bomber attacks Bursa in northwestern Turkey


Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa's 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque
Suicide bomber blew herself up near Bursa's 14th century Ottoman Empire Grand Mosque

A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Turkish city of Bursa on Wednesday, wounding 13 people. Reports indicate that the bomber was a 25 year old woman.

Turkey has been suffering from a string of terrorist attacks on large cities, including Ankara and Istanbul. The attacks have been perpetrated both by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) and also by the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

As I reported yesterday, the PKK has promised to escalate its war against the government of Turkey. Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded that "Turkey will be saved soon from this terrorism problem completely," presumably by military action against the PKK.

However, as yet, no one has claimed credit for Wednesday's suicide attack on Bursa.

Bursa was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Today, it's a large commercial city, but still is built around the mosques, mausoleums and other sites from its incarnation from its Ottoman ancestry. The bombing took place near Bursa's historic Grand Mosque, built between 1396-99. Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and AFP and Bursa's Grand Mosque

Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees

Austria's Parliament on Wednesday voted a set of harsh regulations to stem the flow of migrants crossing the border from Italy.

According to the law:

It's thought that the Parliament passed the law in response to an overwhelming victory by the far-right Freedom Party in the first round of Austria's presidential elections on Sunday.

Human Rights Watch is denouncing the new laws as "a blow to the rights of asylum seekers."

Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi posted a statement saying:

"The possibility of closing the Brenner Pass is blatantly against European rules, as well as against history, against logic and against the future."

There are large refugee camps in Greece on the border with Macedonia, and in Calais, France, near to entrance to the Euro tunnel to Britain. As migrants enter Italy after crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, we may eventually see a large camp of migrants on Italy's border with Austria. The Local (Austria) and Guardian (London) and France 24 and The Local (Italy) and Breitbart News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-16 World View -- Austria votes to close border with Italy to slow refugees thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1

Violence spreads across Turkey as both Turkey and PKK escalate fight

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence spreads across Turkey as both Turkey and PKK escalate fight


The PKK flag hangs as armed PKK militants man a barricade in southeastern Turkey on November 15 2015 (AFP)
The PKK flag hangs as armed PKK militants man a barricade in southeastern Turkey on November 15 2015 (AFP)

Ever since the cease-fire agreement between Turkey and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) broke down last year in July, the violence on both sides has been escalating. The PKK has conducted terrorist attacks, while the Turkish military has attacked PKK havens in southeast Turkey and northeastern Iraq.

In an interview with the BBC, PKK leader Cemil Bayik blamed Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the surge in fighting, promised to escalate the terrorist attacks on Turkish targets even further:

"He [President Erdogan] wants the Kurds to surrender. If they don't surrender, he wants to kill all Kurds. He says this openly - he doesn't hide it.

The Kurds will defend themselves to the end, so long as this is the Turkish approach - of course the PKK will escalate the war. Not only in Kurdistan, but in the rest of Turkey as well."

We don’t want to divide Turkey. We want to live within the borders of Turkey on our own land freely... The struggle will continue until the Kurds’ innate rights are accepted."

The PKK has been engaged in violence with Turkey's government for three decades. The PKK and Turkey agreed to a cease-fire and a "peace process" in 2013, but that broke down abruptly last year following the July 20 terrorist attack in the city of attack on Suruç killing 33 people, mostly young pro-Kurdish activists. After that, the ceasefire agreement broke down, and Erdogan declared war on the PKK. ( "9-Sep-15 World View -- Turkey slips into chaos as violence spreads across the country")

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu responded to Bayik's interview with the BBC:

"Nobody should doubt it. This fight, which we will carry out until Turkey saves itself from the problem of terrorism, will continue without rupture. Hopefully, as a result of this determined fight, Turkey will be saved soon from this terrorism problem completely.

Unfortunately, the international community cannot give a good account of itself and a hypocritical attitude is still embraced on the issue of terrorism. Tents of a brutal terrorist organization might be erected in European capitals and their rags [flags] might be displayed."

Davutoglu was alluding to a tent set up by PKK supporters in front of the European Council building, just two days after a major terrorist attack on Ankara on March 13, as Davutoglu was visiting Brussels. It was only after the terrorist attack on Brussels on March 22 that Belgian police ordered the tent to be taken down, but then it was set up again elsewhere. Turkish officials were furious that PKK supporters were permitted to publicize their cause just after a terrorist attack.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist group by the US and the EU. However, the Kurds are also a major US ally in Iraq and Syria, fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The US distinguishes between the PKK versus Kurdish militias fighting ISIS, but Turkey considers all of them to be terrorists, resulting in policy conflicts with the West.

The new statements by Davutoglu and Bayik suggest that the fighting is going to escalate.

As we've been saying since 2003, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war between Arabs and Jews, between Sunnis and Shias, and between various ethnic groups. It seems now that every week brings this prediction a major step closer. BBC and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1

It is now all but certain that Puerto Rico will default on a $422 million debt payment due on May 1.

In January, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) promised that legislative action would be completed by the end of March to resolve Puerto Rico's problems before the May 1 deadline. However, Ryan has failed to accomplish this.

Puerto Rico faces $70 billion in total debt, a 45 percent poverty rate and a shrinking population, all of which threaten to cause its economy to collapse.

In many ways, Puerto Rico has gotten a free ride from Congress for years. Congress granted Puerto Rico investments a "triple-tax free" tax rate. This means that you can invest in Puerto Rico's bonds and earn 10% interest every year, and not have to pay federal, state or municipal tax on the interest you collect. There were other major tax benefits granted exclusively to those investing in Puerto Rico.

The money that investors paid for these bonds has been essentially "free money" to Puerto Rico, since nobody apparently believed that it would ever have to be paid back. As a result, Puerto Rico has felt free to spend huge amounts of money on social programs, with bills that are finally coming due.

Detroit defaulted on its debt several years ago, but it didn't really hurt too many people, because the bankrupt debt was $18 billion, and few ordinary people owned Detroit bonds, as most investors were institutions that hedged their purchases with credit default swaps.

A Puerto Rican debt default is likely to be much more widespread. The triple-tax free 10% interest deal has drawn massive amounts of money from 401k's and other ordinary investment funds. These funds will all lose significant principal in a Puerto Rico default.

Under US law, Puerto Rico does not have Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection that Detroit had. A legislative solution would involve a bankruptcy-like restructuring of Puerto Rico's debt. The Republicans are generally supporting the bondholders, the people who invested in the triple-tax free 10% bonds, who are fiercely resisting any restructuring, claiming that the only reason that they purchased the bonds in the first place was because the law made such restructuring impossible. Or if some kind of bailout is authorized, then Republicans want to impose harsh fiscal discipline on the island.

Democrats generally want to bail out Puerto Rico with few fiscal constraints. However, such a bailout would permit the government to resuming borrowing money and spending it, resulting in a continuing crisis.

One side effect of Puerto Rico's economic crisis is that it's accelerated the migration of Puerto Ricans to the mainland U.S. If no legislation is passed by July 1, then Puerto Rico will default on $2 billion in payments due at that time, causing the economy to spiral further into crisis.

Puerto Rico and Greece have in common that there is no solution to their respective financial crises. Reuters and Washington Post and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-16 World View -- Puerto Rico headed for new financial default on May 1 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike

Obama administration tries to find money to save Obamacare

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's NHS facing massive strike from 'junior doctors'


Striking protesters carry signs saying 'Destroy the patriarchy, not the NHS' and 'Victory to the junior doctors' (Press Association)
Striking protesters carry signs saying 'Destroy the patriarchy, not the NHS' and 'Victory to the junior doctors' (Press Association)

As we've been reporting since October, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020. ( "5-Aug-15 World View -- Britain's National Health Service (NHS) faces existential financial crisis")

Now the NHS is facing a massive strike from "junior doctors," after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he's unwilling to compromise on a contract that would increase working hours. Junior doctors, the backbone of the NHS, whose workday now ends at 7 pm, would have the workday extended to 10 pm. Also, for the first time, their normal working week would include Saturday from 7am to 5pm. The strike is scheduled to last 48 hours, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The system is deeply corrupt, with doctors falsifying records, claiming for work that was never done, or putting in for bogus overtime. Dentistry services are so bad that people are buying "do-it-yourself (DIY) dentistry kits" to take care of their whole families, as was done centuries ago.

Because the NHS bureaucracy is so old and bloated, and because the services are "free," costs can only be controlled by rationing, queuing, reduced quality and artificial cost suppression. UK's doctors earn far less than doctors in other countries, and UK specialists earn about half of what they do in America. As a result, UK's homegrown doctors have left to work in other countries, and NHS has had to import 28% of its doctors from abroad, usually from poorer countries where low UK salaries look attractive.

The junior doctors are demonstrating against the contract for the obvious reasons -- low pay, exhaustion, having little free time to spend with their families. A substantial number are considering leaving Britain to practice medicine in other countries, according to a poll.

However, women's groups are particularly concerned because of the disproportionate impact that the contract will have on women. Men are used to working long hours, but women often have to go home on time to take care of the children. An analysis by the Department of Health agrees that the new contract "impacts disproportionately on women." When the new contract going into effect in August, many women will be forced to quit unless they can find adequate child care, and child care services are extremely expensive.

The far left British Medical Association, which is leading the strike action, has launched a judicial review of the legality of the contract, because it adversely affects women.

However, the Department of Health says that women should stop complaining, because the new contract levels the playing field between men and women, which is what feminists want. According to a Department of Health spokeswoman:

"This contract is a huge step forward for achieving fairness for all trainee doctors. For the first time, junior doctors will be paid and rewarded solely on the basis of their own hard work and achievement. That is ultimately what employers and the BMA [British Medical Association] themselves want and everyone deserves: a level playing field."

Guardian (London) and BBC and Guardian and Daily Mail (London)

Britain's NHS financial crisis is being tied to the 'Brexit' debate

The "Brexit" debate, and the June 23 referendum to decide whether Britain will exit from the European Union, is being tied politically to the NHS financial crisis and the strike by junior doctors.

There are two sides to the story. One side says that if Britain leaves the European Union, then it would help the NHS financially. They argue that leaving the EU would mean that Britain could shut the door to migrants from other European countries, especially Hungary and other east European countries, who come to the UK to receive free medical services. In addition, they say that 50 million pounds per day is being sent to Brussels, and that money could be kept at home to pour into the NHS.

The other side says that if Britain leaves the European Union, then it would hurt the NHS financially. They say that health tourism -- where people travel to the UK to get free medical help -- costs less than 0.1% of the NHS budget. They point out that Norway and Switzerland, who are not in the EU, still must pay similar amounts to fund their cumbersome arrangements with the EU market. Telegraph (London) and BBC and Independent (London)

Obama administration tries to find money to save Obamacare

On the afternoon of October 1, 2013, President Obama stood up at a press conference to launch Obamacare. When a reporter asked why so few people could log on, he answered that millions of people were enrolling for insurance, so the web sites were slow. As it turned out, only six people across the country were able to enroll on that day. How is it possible that Obama and the entire White House were so completely blindsided by the disaster that was already unfolding that they didn't even know what was going on hours after the launch had begun? How many people had to lie? How many people had to commit fraud? How many people had to be silenced or fired? How many layers of management were lied to, to prevent Obama from knowing the size of the disaster, hours after the disaster was already in progress?

To answer these questions, I spent months interviewing a number of people, including contractors, whistleblowers, analysts, and others, and I posted the article "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history". The reason that healthcare.gov was a disaster was that each of the web sites was a $10-20 million software development project, but the Obama administration funded each web site with something like $200 million. So when a company like CGI Corp. receives $200 million for a $10 million project, the objective is to spend the money. So they hired hundreds of programmers, most of whom were completely incompetent. So they spent the money, but couldn't develop the web site.

As part of that project, I also looked into all the other components of Obamacare -- the exchanges, the co-ops, and the risk corridors. And as I described in the article, all of them were financial disasters. Many have gone bankrupt, and others are staying afloat only because the Obama administration is finding ways to take money from other projects and pour it into the Obamacare black hole.

The Obama administration started by taking a $730 billion Medicare fund and using it to fund Obamacare. Millions of people have been paying for years into the system to create that fund, and Obama threw it into the toilet. The co-ops and exchanges had operated at big losses, thinking that the administration would bail them out, but Congress blocked the administration from taking money from a number of other projects.

The administration is looking for more ways to bail out Obamacare co-ops and exchanges, and reports indicate that they're now planning to use a "reinsurance" mechanism in the enabling legislation that permit Obama to take money from some insurers and give it to others. Using that mechanism is supposed to be illegal, but that hasn't stopped the Obama administration before.

UnitedHealth Group Inc., the country's largest health insurer, has announced that that they are losing so much money on Obamacare exchanges that they will leave the exchanges in at least 22 states where the company sold plans for this year. Not all states have been named, but they include Florida, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Maryland.

There are 27 million people still uninsured, even though the administration claims that 22 million more people have insurance now than before Obamacare, but that claim is fraudulent. Millions more are effectively uninsured either because they're on Medicaid and can't find a doctor that accepts Medicaid or they're on an Obamacare plan with a deductible of $5,000 to $15,000, and have to pay their own medical expenses anyway, in addition to the premiums.

Blue Cross Blue Shield has done an in-depth study of medical claims in 2014 and 2015, and found that members who newly enrolled in BCBS individual health plans in 2014 and 2015 have higher rates of certain diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary artery disease, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C than individuals who had BCBS individual coverage prior to health care reform.

For example, new enrollees have rates of HIV and Hepatitis C of 41 and 24 per 10,000 respectively, compared to 12 and 10 respectively among those with individual policies prior to Obamacare. Rates of HIV and Hepatitis C for those who receive insurance through their employers were 11 per 10,000 for both conditions.

These figures support the view that many people enroll in Obamacare when they get sick, and then drop out when they get well. Few people see any point in making premium payments if they're going to be effectively uninsured.

A new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicates that Obamacare costs are 10% higher than the CBO predicted a year ago. What Obamacare and Britain's NHS have in common is that both of them are in financial death spirals that cannot be sustained. Chicago Tribune and Blue Cross Blue Shield and The Beacon and The Hill and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-16 World View -- Obamacare continues death spiral as Britain's NHS faces strike thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-16 World View -- Largest protests in years planned for Cairo Egypt on Monday

Sudan and Tunisia prepare for simultaneous protests in solidarity

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt arrests journalists in cafes and homes ahead of Monday protests


Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi with military guard
Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi with military guard

With large protests expected in Cairo on Monday, Egypt's government is conducting a security crackdown. At least 47 arrest warrants have been issued since Thursday, and dozens of citizens have been arrested without notice from cafes and private residences. Security forces threatened the families of people who were not at home at the time of the attempted arrest.

The crackdowns are targeting bloggers and journalists who have been critical of the government of president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, especially the recent agreement with Saudi Arabia that gave up two Red Sea islands in exchange for $22 billion in investments.

Those who are arrested are facing charges of inciting illegal protests, affiliation with a banned organization, attempting to overthrow the regime, promoting false news and information aimed at disturbing public order. Some are accused of "to threatening to use violence against the president of the republic while he is acting within his constitutional authorities." Daily News Egypt and AP

Egypt's al-Sisi warns of 'chaos' in Monday's Sinai Liberation Day protests

Some of the largest protests in years, reminiscent of the protests that brought down Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011, are expected on Monday, the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day, referring to the "liberation" of Sinai from Israel.

Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is warning of "chaos" and "destabilization attempts" over the planned demonstrations and protests planned for Monday by opposition political parties and movements. In a nationally televised speech, al-Sisi said:

"I see there are people calling once again for damage to [Egypt's] security and stability. Our responsibility is to protect security and stability, and I promise Egyptians that no one will terrorize them again.

Still there are evil powers that aim to destabilize stability and safety inside Egypt. Over the last three years, we have succeeded in establishing state institutions, such as the parliament, constitution and presidency. The survival of these institutions means the survival of Egypt. ...

Security services ... will confront with extreme rigor any attempt to disturb public order."

Al-Sisi is deploying hundreds of troops to maintain peace, and is warning that a repeat of large past protests will be punished.

Monday is Sinai Liberation Day, commemorating April 25, 1982, when all Israeli forces were withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula, and the land was returned to Egyptian control.

The call for protests was triggered by a historical coincidence. Egypt and Saudi Arabia recently signed a deal to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries, and there have already been a day of protests on April 15. ( "16-Apr-16 World View -- Egypt-Saudi deal for Red Sea bridge triggers massive protests in Cairo")

The deal called for Saudi Arabia to invest $22 billion development projects in Egypt. The deal also called for Egypt to give two disputed Red Sea islands, the Sanafir and Tiran islands, to Saudi Arabia. The coincidence of giving up sovereignty in the two islands just days before the celebration of regaining sovereignty from Israel of the Sinai Peninsula triggered a nationalist fury in many Egyptians.

A petition titled "Egypt is not for sale," which calls for a reversal of the decision on the islands and supports the protests, was signed by more than 300 Egyptian novelists, lawyers and activists. However, the anger of the protesters goes far beyond the loss of the two islands. After the 2011 Arab Awakening, Egyptians had hoped and prayed that a new government would not only bring stability to the country, but would also improve human rights, end abuses by security forces, and end government corruption.

None of these hopes has been realized. The number of jihadist terrorist attacks has been increasing, security forces are as brutal and abusive as ever, and protesters say that government corruption is as bad as ever.

With some activists promoting violence, and with the security forces prepared to respond to violence with violence, it's possible that the protests could spiral out of control and even put al-Sisi's presidency in danger. Al Ahram (Cairo) and Egyptian Streets and AP

Sudan and Tunisia prepare for simultaneous protests in solidarity

Tunisian activists have called for protests in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Tunis on Monday, in solidarity with the protests planned for Cairo. According to the statement, "We reject the arrests carried out recently by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi against the Egyptian people in an attempt to thwart the 25 April movement organized by a group of revolutionary forces in Egypt."

Since Egypt has just given two islands to Saudi Arabia, Sudan is hoping that Egypt will concede in another border dispute. The Halayeb and Shalateen Triangle is part of the shared border between Egypt and Sudan. Egypt says that the 8,000 square mile region has fallen within Egypt's borders since 1820, when Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt, put Sudan under his political authority. On the other hand, Sudan says that an 1899 agreement between the two countries grants the region to Sudan. But Egypt points out that a 1909 joint Egyptian-Sudanese map puts the territory inside Egypt. But Sudan points out that Sudan had sovereign control over the region from 1899 to 1958, a period during which Sudan governed the area uninterrupted and without objection.

There have been threats of war over the disputed region, but both sides say that they hope to resolve the dispute through peaceful negotiations. Daily News Egypt and Anadolu (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-16 World View -- Largest protests in years planned for Cairo Egypt on Monday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death

Europe goes on charm offensive with Turkey on migrant deal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe goes on charm offensive with Turkey on migrant deal


EU and Turkish officials surrounded by hot Muslim chicks at Gaziantep, Turkey, refugee camp on Saturday
EU and Turkish officials surrounded by hot Muslim chicks at Gaziantep, Turkey, refugee camp on Saturday

The EU-Turkey migrant deal is receiving a lot of criticism from human rights groups, who claim that it violates international law to send migrants back to Turkey after they'd risked their lives traveling to Greece.

However, Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu bragged on Saturday that the EU-Turkey deal had been extremely successful, since it had drastically cut the number of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Commission, agreed, and praised Turkey further:

"Today Turkey is the best example for the whole world for how we should treat refugees.

“No one has a right to lecture Turkey on what it should do, I am really proud that you are my partner and I am absolutely sure that we will succeed… We have no other way! ...

The way I see it, Turkey has made good progress ahead of decisions to be taken this summer provided that Turkey meets all the agreed benchmarks."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also praised Turkey, for issuing work permits to refugees, so that they can earn a living. Merkel also reversed an earlier position, and said that she now favors Turkey's proposals to set up "safe zones" in northern Syria where displaced Syrians can live and receive humanitarian aid.

The charm offensive took place on Saturday during a visit to the Nizip refugee camp in Gaziantep province, southeastern Turkey. Merkel and Tusk led a European delegation to visit the camp, and hold a press conference to sell the EU-Turkey migrant deal to doubters.

However, Davutoglu also made clear that the EU-Turkey deal would be canceled if the EU did not fulfill its side of the deal -- easing visa restrictions, so that Turkish citizens can travel freely through Europe's Schengen zone without a visa:

"We see the visa exemption as an inseparable, fundamental part of the EU-Turkey agreement. Readmission agreement applies only with visa exemption."

There are strong voices of opposition to the visa easing within EU member countries. As part of the EU-Turkey deal, the EU committed to removing the visa restriction by June, and so this could become a major political crisis in the next few weeks.

A number of other problems with the EU-Turkey deal remain to be solved. The EU had promised Greece that EU member countries would send a staff of 2,300 experts -- police, case officers, judges, and language interpreters -- to help process asylum requests, and only a few of the staff have arrived. Also, approved Syrian refugees are to be distributed to the EU member countries, but many EU nations are stalling or refusing to accept more migrants. Anadolu Agency (Turkey) and BBC and AP and Anadolu Agency

Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death

Rezaul Karim Siddique, an English professor at Rajshahi University in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, was hacked to death 50 meters from his home, when he went to catch a bus to campus around 7:30 on Saturday morning. The brutal killing was similar to increasingly frequent killings, mainly of secular or atheist bloggers, or any other media people who they believe pose a threat to their fundamentalist Islamic teachings and lifestyle.

The new killing is particularly shocking because Siddique was a religious Muslim, and had not put forward secular or atheistic opinions.

As we reported just three weeks ago, Bangladesh is spawning a new, younger generation of jihadist terrorists who are highly educated and tech-savvy. Leading these terror groups is Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), which has taken responsibility for several hacking deaths.

The ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency posted the following message on its web site:

"Source to Amaq Agency: Islamic State fighters assassinate a university teacher for calling to atheism in the city of Rajshahi in Bangladesh. Amaq Agency"

It's hard to know what to make of this claim, since Bangladesh is geographically very remote from Syria. It's possible that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is taking credit for something it didn't do. It's also possible that the murder was perpetrated by ABT or some other jihadist group that was planning to pledge allegiance to ISIS.

However, another news report quotes local police as saying that "Though his murder was initially claimed by Islamist radicals, police later ruled out that possibility. Police said he was murdered as a sequel to personal rivalry." Dhaka Tribune and AP and Amaq Agency (ISIS) and BDNews24 (Dhaka)

FBI offers to help investigate Bangladesh murders

After the murder on April 8 of student activist Nazimuddin Samad, who was hacked and shot to death by three assailants riding motorcycles, the US State Department offered to help, according to spokesman Mark Toner:

"We've offered assistance to the Bangladeshi government, collaboration on the investigations, FBI assistance.

These are horrific attacks. We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to take them very seriously."

In March 2009, the FBI was asked to help investigate an extremely brutal mutilation and massacre of 76 Bangladesh army officers by border guards under their command. ( "(4-March-2009) FBI will aid Bangladesh investigation of border guard officer massacre") In the end, a total of 847 defendants were tried, en masse, and 152 sentenced to hang, with hundreds more facing long jail terms.

Bangladesh's last generational crisis war was the incredibly bloody and brutal 1971 civil war that made the former state of East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh.

As I wrote in detail in my 2009 article, the war was between two ethnic groups, both Muslim.

One group were the Muslim Biharis ("Urdu-walla" or Urdu speaking) from northern India, a "market-dominant minority," only 12% of the population, controlling the government and major businesses. The other group were the Bengalis, a poor majority, speaking the Bengali language, working at menial tasks in the employ of the Urdu-speaking minority.

So the 2009 massacre was an echo of the 1971 civil war, with the poor, majority, lower-caste ethnic Bengali border guards massacring the market-dominant minority high-caste Biharis.

Now we have a new series of brutal massacres going on. The news reports do not indicate that ethnicity of the people involved, but (going out on a limb) it would seem likely that a college professor was a Bihari, and the murderers were Bengalis. If news reports provide further information supporting or contradicting this assessment, then I'll report it.

Earlier in this article, I quoted a news story that said, "Police said he was murdered as a sequel to personal rivalry." In other words, it's very likely that Saturday's slaughter was related to the 1971 war between Biharis and Bengalis, rather than a jihadist attack by ISIS, and that ISIS was claiming credit for something they had nothing to do with, making them typical politicians.

The FBI has offered to help with the investigation, but this isn't an Agatha Christie murder mystery that can be solved by clever sleuthing, or even a CSI murder mystery that can be solved by running DNA tests. It's something that runs deep in the core of Bangladeshi society, and no real solution exists. VOA and Economist (9-Nov-2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-16 World View -- Bangladesh in shock after university professor hacked to death thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-16 World View -- 175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio rockets to highest value in years

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement


John Kerry and his granddaughter sign the climate change agreement
John Kerry and his granddaughter sign the climate change agreement

175 countries on Friday signed the climate change agreement that was produced a climate change conference in December.

The climate change agreement is total farce for many reasons, including the fact that it's not binding on anyone. The "historic" signing ceremony will be forgotten in a few days, just as December's "historic" climate change conference was forgotten in a few days. There are other things to worry about -- the war in Syria, China's militarization of the South China Sea, Russia's annexation of Crimea, and so forth.

The climate change agreement is more entertainment than anything else. In fact, the main speaker at the signing ceremony: Movie star and entertainer Leonardo DiCaprio. He entertained everyone by making a truly idiotic speech comparing climate change to slavery:

"[Lincoln] was speaking before the U.S. Congress to confront the defining issue of his time: slavery. Remarkably, his words ring as true today when applied to the defining crisis of our time: climate change. ...

After 21 years of debates and conferences, it is time to declare: no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing the fossil fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future."

Blah, blah, blah, on and on.

Entertainment Weekly and VOA and Guardian

The 'science' of climate change

Just to make things clear, here are some other things wrong with the climate change hysteria:

In his speech, DiCaprio said he was "absolutely terrified" of climate change, but said nothing about being terrified of the far more likely world war. Daily Caller and From Horse Power to Horsepower and The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 and Great Moments in Failed Predictions

President Obama threatens Britain over 'Brexit' referendum

President Obama has moved on to Britain, having completed his task in Saudi Arabia of lecturing the Saudi King that he needs to learn to "share the neighborhood" with Iran. ( "21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit")

In Britain, he discussed the June 23 "Brexit" referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union. Obama made it clear that he wants Brexit to be rejected, and he threatened the government with regard to the question of a possible US-UK trade agreement if Brexit occurs. According to Obama, referring to the pro-Brexit politicians in Britain:

"They are voicing an opinion about what the United States is going to do, I figured you might want to hear from the president of the United States what I think the United States is going to do.

And on that matter, for example, I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.

The UK is going to be in the back of the queue."

Analysts are undecided as to whether Obama's threat helps the pro-Brexit side or the anti-Brexit side. Guardian (London)

Report: China to build floating nuclear power plants in South China Sea

According to Chinese media, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp is "pushing forward the work" to build floating nuclear power plants in the South China Sea.

China is annexing the entire South China Sea through military means, including regions that have historically belonged to other countries. China has built artificial islands, and is rapidly turning them into large military bases.

However, they need to burn oil or coal for power, and these large military bases are far from home, making transportation costs exorbitant, especially in bad weather. The nuclear power plants would solve the military problem.

Liberal environmentalists rarely criticize China, and are not expected to provide more than perfunctory criticism of this plan, even though an accident could be extremely damaging to the sea life.

A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry could not comment on the report, since he said that he hadn't read it. Reuters and Gizmodo

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio rockets to highest value in years


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.11 on April 22, indicating a huge and rapidly growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.11 on April 22, indicating a huge and rapidly growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a global financial panic and crisis. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (April 22) was at an astronomically high 24.11. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market is growing quickly, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

The rapidly rising P/E ratio is a sure sign of trouble. The last time that the P/E ratio rose above 24 was in April 2008. For the year following, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 50% to the 6000s level in May 2009.

As the stock market was falling, the Federal Reserve began its massive quantitative easing program in December 2008, "printing" new money and pumping it into the banking system, from which it went into the stock market. The P/E ratio fell below 24 again in December 2009.

Since then, the Fed has lowered interest rates almost to zero, and there is talk of negative interest rates, which are already the policy in several other countries, with little effect. ( "11-Mar-16 World View -- In desperation move, European Central Bank further lowers negative interest rates")

If you listen to CNBC or Bloomberg TV, as I do for as long as I can stand it, all they talk about is interest rates set by the Fed and other central banks. No one seriously believes any more that the stock market has any relation to the real economy. As long as the Fed pumps money into the stock market, it will go up; if the Fed stops, then it will go down.

The reason that stock valuations are surging is because earnings (the denominator of the P/E ratio) are plummeting. During the first quarter, earnings have declined 8.9%, with the result that the P/E ratio is pushed up.

The stock market bubble is getting larger and larger, and there's going to be a lot of political pressure for the Fed to pump it even larger, especially from the Obama administration in an election year. But there is no bubble in history that hasn't burst, and this one is no exception. The amount of pain that it will cause will be enormous. Factset Earnings Insight (PDF)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-16 World View -- 175 countries sign farcical climate change agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-16 World View -- Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum

France to launch new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France to launch new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30


French president François Hollande and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas
French president François Hollande and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas

France will launch a new Israeli-Palestinian peace process on May 30, but without involving the Israelis or the Palestinians.

France will invite ministers from 20 countries to the May 30 conference. The goal of the May 30 meeting was to prepare an international summit in the second half of 2016. In that case, Israel and the Palestinians would finally be invited.

According to France's foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the goal of the May 30 meeting is clear:

"To build a collective commitment of the international community in preparation for paving a diplomatic horizon for peace. It is in everyone’s interest. The guiding principle is also clear and recognized: The two-state solution. I want to return to the guiding principles of this solution, because there is a tendency not to mention them. We are talking about the State of Israel and the state of Palestine living side by side in peace and security, with secure and recognized borders on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem their shared capital."

Here we go again. This is essentially the "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" that was offered by President Bush in 2003. As I wrote in May 2003 in "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?", the plan would not succeed because Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Since 2003, there have been five Mideast wars: the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; the two wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012 and July-August 2014.

Beyond that, the Arab Awakening has destabilized countries all around the Mideast, given rise to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and inflamed the sectarian fault lines between Sunnis and Shias from India to Algeria.

But Ayrault is unfazed by all that:

"I did not say it would be easy. The parties are now far apart, maybe more than ever. We have on one side, in Israel, a government that shows more and more ambivalence to the two-state plan... and on the other side the Palestinians, who are not only divided [on this question], but also must address growing anger from their public. And we also have the situation itself — there is no need to mention there have already been two conflicts in six years. Is there an alternative to the plan we are proposing? The only other option is a fatalistic acceptance of conflict. I reject that approach."

So I guess Ayrault will be Pollyannaish, and leave being fatalistic to people like me. Haaretz (Israel) and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Israel National News

Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum

Europeans who have been following the American primary elections have expressed astonishment and puzzlement over the complexity of America's election laws. However, they might wish to take a look at the UK elections laws for the June 23 referendum that will decide "Brexit," whether Britain will exit from the European Union.

Nominally, British and Irish citizens will be permitted to vote "yes" or "no" in the referendum. But this simple formula is complicated by two issues.

The first issue is migrants from other countries who are living in Britain. The rule is that even if the migrant is not British or Irish citizen, he can still vote in the referendum, provided that he's from one of the Commonwealth countries. When the British Empire broke up after World War II, it was replaced by the British Commonwealth of Nations, consisting mostly of former British colonies. The Queen is still nominally the head of state for the Commonwealth countries.

I listed the 53 countries in the Commonwealth and some of the controversies surrounding the Commonwealth in a 2007 article, "Pakistan is suspended from the British Commonwealth of Nations".

So this rule has quite a few anomalies. A migrant from France or Italy working in Britain would not be eligible to vote in the referendum. But a migrant from Australia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Kenya, the Bahamas, Uganda or Zambia would be eligible to vote in the referendum. The only two European countries that are in the Commonwealth are Malta and Cyprus, and so migrants from those countries would be eligible to vote.

Obviously, this situation is raising complaints. According to Lord Green, the founder of the campaign group Migration Watch UK:

"Of course we are not opposed to Commonwealth citizens who are also British citizens having a vote. But if they are not yet British or have decided not to become British it is surely wrong that they should be able to."

The total number of Commonwealth migrants potentially eligible to vote in the referendum is 1.3 million, a number large enough to possibly affect the referendum results.

I said that there were two issues, and the second issue has to do with migration in the other direction. According to the "15 year rule," a citizen of Britain who is living and working in another country is eligible to vote in the referendum only if he's lived in Britain at some time in the last 15 years.

The referendum highlights a particular problem for expats living in another EU country. British citizens living in the EU are also EU citizens, and can live and work in other countries, retire there, and receive health care free at the point of use, paid for by Britain's National Health Service (NHS).

Estimates are that there are 1-2 million expats in this category who moved into another EU country more than 15 years ago. They're unable to vote in the referendum, even though a Brexit "yes" vote could leave them in limbo, because they'd lose their EU citizenship. CNBC and Telegraph (London) and Express (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-16 World View -- Britain debates which migrants can vote in the 'Brexit' referendum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit

President Obama to 'clean up leftover messes' in the Mideast

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit


President Obama and Saudi King Salman in the Erga Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday (AP)
President Obama and Saudi King Salman in the Erga Palace in Riyadh on Wednesday (AP)

In May of last year, President Obama invited the leaders of the Arab nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to a meeting at Camp David. Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud snubbed Obama by not attending the meeting. ( "15-May-15 World View -- Obama repudiates the Carter doctrine at bizarre GCC meeting")

Now King Salman has snubbed Obama once again, this time in an even more embarrassing manner, as Obama arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday on Air Force One. King Salman was not there to greet him. Instead, a lower-level official greeted him. Saudi state television did not show Obama's arrival live, but did provide live coverage of the arrival of other Gulf nation leaders -- being greeted by King Salman.

Relations have been worsening ever since President Obama took office, especially when Obama appeared to throw Hosni Mubarak under the bus during the 2011 Arab Awakening. (See "21-May-11 News -- Saudi Arabia advances Gulf Cooperation Council, further cuts U.S. ties.")

Last year, Obama referred to Saudi Arabia as a "so-called ally," because of its opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Recently, the Saudis were deeply offended when Obama characterized some of his allies as "free riders." ( "15-Mar-16 World View -- Saudi's Prince Faisal sharply rebukes Obama's 'free riders' accusation")

No one should be surprised at all that the Saudis have snubbed and embarrassed Obama twice in two years. Washington Times and CNN

President Obama to 'clean up leftover messes' in the Mideast

According to a WSJ article that I quoted in July of last year, Obama saw the deal with Iran as a kind of "gateway" to solve all the problems in the Mideast:

"The White House is crafting a Middle East strategy for the remaining 18 months of President Barack Obama’s term that would more forcefully address conflicts in Iraq, Yemen and Syria amid tensions over the conclusion of talks with Iran. ...

[S]enior administration officials said the president is intent on cleaning up leftover messes in the region before leaving office in 2017, including relations with key allies that have been strained by the Iran talks."

And this is no joke. Just last week, US Secretary of State was in Kabul Afghanistan, lecturing government leaders how to run their governments. That was just a couple of days before the massive terrorist explosion in Kabul. ( "12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms")

So President Obama has been in office for 7-1/2 years, and he apparently believes that he's been so skillful in governing America that he now feels qualified to lecture leaders of any country in the world on what they're doing wrong.

According to reports, that's what he did on Wednesday in his meetings with King Salman in Saudi Arabia. Reports indicate that Obama raised the following issues:

People always criticize me when I criticize Obama, but if these reports are true, then this is about the dumbest thing I've every seen.

The Saudis see Iran as an existential threat. As we've been pointing out for two years, analysts note that the Saudis feel surround by the "Shia Crescent," with Iran dominating control of four capitals -- Tehran Iran, Damascus Syria, Beirut Lebanon (thanks to the Iran-sponsored terror group Hezbollah), and Sanaa Yemen. A fifth under partial control is Baghdad Iraq. Telling the Saudis to "share the neighborhood" with Iran is absurd and offensive.

From the point of view of the Saudis, every one of Obama's "suggestions" makes the situation much worse. The nuclear deal with Iran has removed sanctions and given Iran hundreds of billions of dollars more money to use in sponsoring wars and terrorist acts. Exiting the war in Yemen would give complete control to the Iran-supported Houthis. Apparently Obama has no grasp of any of this, as shown by the fact that the Saudi king has repeatedly snubbed Obama.

Obama supposedly believes that this trip will soothe Saudi-US relations, but it will probably only make relations worse. The Arab world is furious at Obama. Obama's "free riders" statement alone sparked hundreds of scathing articles against him in the Gulf press. Well, we'll be watching to see which country and which leader Obama will be lecturing to next.

However, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this growing US-Saudi estrangement is exactly consistent with what Generational Dynamics has been predicting for years, as I explained in detail in "15-Jul-15 World View -- Arab views of Iran nuclear deal": In the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the US, India, Russia and Iran would be allies opposing China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Sunni Muslim countries. BBC and Washington Post and Bloomberg and Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-16 World View -- Saudi King Salman snubs Obama - again - as he arrives for Saudi Arabia summit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion

Turkey threatens to cancel migrant deal unless visa restrictions are lifted by June

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion


Aftermath of Tuesday's terror bombing in Kabul Afghanistan
Aftermath of Tuesday's terror bombing in Kabul Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Taliban announced last week the beginning of its "Spring Fighting Season," and launched it on Tuesday with a massive attack on a government security agency on Kabul. The attack combined a suicide car bomb with gunfire, killing 28 people and wounding at least 327.

The attack comes with Afghanistan's government in total chaos, because of the bitter feud between President Ashraf Ghani and the country's chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise trip to Kabul to instruct Ghani, Abdullah, and the other the politicians on how to run their government. ( "12-Apr-16 World View -- Troubles mount for Afghanistan government as US withdrawal looms")

Putting the best face on it, Ghani said the attack "clearly shows the enemy's defeat in face-to-face battle with Afghan security forces." However, those results have clearly been fixed, with the Afghan scoring military successes in the northern part of the vast country, while the Taliban have been gaining ground in Helmand Province.

For American policy and President Obama's administration, there is one major conundrum: Does the US continue its policy of withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, risking a total collapse in security as happened in Iraq? Or does the US reverse policy and add forces to Afghanistan, thus reneging on Obama's previous commitments? AP and Daily Times (Pakistan) and AFP

China tests its DF-41 long-range nuclear missile with multiple warheads

China conducted another flight test of its newest and longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile last week. The flight test of the new road-mobile DF-41 missile took place Tuesday with two multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs. This means that a single missile could deliver a nuclear weapon to two separate targets.

As we wrote three weeks ago ( "1-Apr-16 World View -- China close to deploying very long range DF-41 missile"), it's believed that a fully-deployed DF-41 will be able to carry up to 10 MIRVs. A DF-41 can travel over the Pacific Ocean and strike any city in the western US, or travel over the North Pole and strike any city in the eastern US, in each case within about half an hour. China has the manufacturing capacity to produce hundreds of these missiles, and clearly is preparing for war and planning to use them. Washington Free Beacon

Turkey threatens to cancel migrant deal unless visa restrictions are lifted by June

Tensions are increasing quickly over a crucial provision of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, whose purpose is to slow the flow of migrants traveling from Turkey to Greece by means of a provision that permits Greece to return migrants back to Turkey.

In return for the migrant deal, the EU made several commitments to Turkey:

The June deadline for visa-free travel is quickly approaching. On Monday, Turkey's prime minister Ahmed Davutoglu bluntly warned that the migrant deal will be off if visa liberalization is not implemented:

"This is a mutual commitment.

If the EU cannot take the necessary steps required of it then of course it cannot be expected of Turkey to take these steps.

I maintain my belief that, God willing, we will have the visa exemption in June. In the absence of that, then of course no one can expect Turkey to adhere to its commitments."

Turkey must meet 72 criteria by May for the visa liberalization to be granted. Davutoglu says that 44 of the criteria have already been met, and the rest will be met by May.

However, a new report by the European Parliament appears to contradict Davutoglu's claim. The report is extremely critical of the situation of basic rights and freedoms in Turkey. It is also heavily critical regarding a number of other significant issues, including the situation in Syria, rule of law, the situation with the armed Kurdish opposition, the negotiations on Cyprus, independence of the judiciary, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and the normalization of relations with Armenia.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the report:

"The European Union needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the European Union.

Three million people have been looked after in this country so they don't disturb the Europeans. Is there anything about this in the report?

At a time when our relations with the European Union are in a positive phase regarding the migrants... it is provocative to come out with a report like that."

There's a great deal of opposition in the EU to visa-free travel by Turkish citizens, so this issue is expected to become a crisis next month. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Istanbul) and AFP

Violence surges in Syria as 'peace talks' collapse becomes official

"Moderate" rebel groups opposed to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have once again said that they will not negotiate on a "political solution" unless al-Assad is to be removed from power. They made this official on Tuesday by pulling out of the Geneva peace talks.

There was supposed to have been a cease-fire since February 27, but firing never actually ceased, and now violence is escalating sharply in several regions, especially around Aleppo, which the Syrian army is attempting to recapture from rebels with the help of massive airstrikes.

Before the Russian military intervened last year, Syria's army was close to defeat for several reasons, but especially because of large numbers of defections and desertions. This situation has not changed, even with al-Assad's own Alawite sect. ( "4-Apr-16 World View -- Syria's Alawites threaten to abandon Bashar al-Assad")

Now that much of Russia's military has withdrawn, there are reports that al-Assad's army is again losing ground in some regions. Al-Qaeda linked militias, the Islamic Party of Turkestan and Jund al-Aqsa, on Monday captured strategic positions in Syria’s central province of Hama. Vice News and ARA News (Syria)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-16 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches 'Spring Fighting Season' with massive Kabul explosion thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2016) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-16 World View -- In a new catastrophe, hundreds of migrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea

Israel's Netanyahu vows re