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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 29-Mar-2013
29-Mar-13 World View -- N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force

Web Log - March, 2013

29-Mar-13 World View -- N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force

Russia orders large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea

This morning's key headlines from

BRICS summit ends in failure over disagreements about funding

Five BRICS leaders hail a 'new paradigm', challenging Western-dominated financial institutions (Reuters)
Five BRICS leaders hail a 'new paradigm', challenging Western-dominated financial institutions (Reuters)

Leaders in developing countries have frequently aired complaints about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, because the Western countries, especially the United States, have too much influence. This is true because the Western countries, especially the United States, supply almost all the money. These institutions were set up following WW II, when the United States agreed to become policemen of the world, and agreed to provide foreign aid to countries around the world suffering from disease, poverty, or starvation.

So the BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are determined to create a competing organization, the "BRICS bank." According to South Africa's finance minister:

"The roots of the World Bank and IMF still lie in the post-world war two environment. The reforms that have taken place are still inadequate in terms of addressing the current environment. We still have a situation where certain parts of the world are over-represented."

Leaders of the five countries have been meeting in Durban, South Africa, to sign the final agreement creating and funding the BRICS bank. Unfortunately, the effort collapsed, because they couldn't agree on where the money would come from, or even which country would host the bank's world headquarters. All they got was a symbolic agreement that called for a $50 billion emergency fund, with actual money to be provided at some time in the future. Tsk, tsk. Russia Today and Guardian (London)

Russia orders large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea

On the flight back home from the BRICS summit, Russia's president Vladimir Putin issued a surprise order for a large-scale military exercise in the Black Sea, where Russia has two major naval bases in Sevastopol and Novorossiisk. The exercise will involve 7,000 military personnel, 36 warships, and 250 combat armored vehicles. According to Russian officials, the purpose of the drill is to improve readiness of the armed forces.

However, the surprise military exercise comes at a time when the Cyprus financial meltdown is causing a fundamental change in Russia's foreign policy. Putin has been courting Europeans, seeking to establish a privileged political and economic relationship with France and Germany, to undermine NATO and undermine Europe's transatlantic tie with the United States. However, the German attitude that Russia's money in Cyprus was "dirty" money is infuriating the Russians, and the meltdown itself is having a significant negative impact on Russia's economy -- a loss of up to two percent of GDP growth in 2013. With some 80 percent of Russian commercial real estate registered as belonging to Cyprus-based companies, payments and dividends from real estate and energy contracts are frozen, and may be lost. Putin is showing his anger by targeting foreign NGOs in Russia, and the surprise launch of the large-scale Black Sea military exercises may also be a signal of his anger, and of a change of policy away from Europe. Ria Novosti and Jamestown

Destruction of Syria stirs division in the Arab World

Jeremy Salt, Bilkent University, Ankara: In the ugly panorama that is the contemporary Middle East, a light hardly flickers on the horizon. Iraq has been destroyed as a unitary Arab state and jihadis unleashed in Syria are burning out another room in the Arab house. Lebanon has again been brought to the brink of implosion through the intrigues of outside governments and local proxies incapable of putting the interests of their country ahead of their sectarian and power intrigues. The Palestinians are divided between those who live under the authority of one man [Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority] who has bound himself to Israel and the US and two others [Hamas leaders] who have bound themselves to Egypt and Qatar. Fitna the spreading of division and sowing of hatred amongst Muslims is being fanned across the region by governments brazen enough to call themselves Muslim. Whether in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Iran, Shiism is the enemy. Ceaselessly stirring this pot from the outside are governments that feast on division in the Arab world. Palestine Chronicle

N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force

B-2 Stealth Bomber
B-2 Stealth Bomber

The Pentagon sent its distinctive bat-wing-shaped B-2 stealth bombers flying low over the Korean Peninsula this week, dropping fake munitions, in a "routine training exercise." Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the flights were a signal to North Korea that it's risking retaliatory strikes if any military aggression occurs. The show of force was also a signal to China, as B-2 bombers hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1999.

The North Koreans, who have already put their military on the highest alert, responded by putting rockets on standby, in preparation for firing at U.S. targets, including the U.S. mainland and military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea. According to state media:

"[Kim Jong-un] said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.

If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, [we] should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea."

North Korea has been making increasingly belligerent statements in the last few weeks. One could argue that it's all ranting and bloviating, or one could point out that he's conducted actual military strikes against South Korea in the recent past. CS Monitor and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-13 World View -- N. Korea prepares rockets for firing, after U.S. B-2 show of force thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2013) Permanent Link
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