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23-Jun-18 World View -- Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants

European Union very badly split on migration as Sunday's summit approaches

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants


Migrants in the Mediterranean on Thursday (dpa)
Migrants in the Mediterranean on Thursday (dpa)

Both the United States and the European Union are in the midst of total political chaos over the issue of migration, and are desperately looking for ways to slow the potentially massive flood of migrants from Central America and Africa, as we described a couple of days ago.

In America, the administration has been experimenting with abandoning its "catch and release" program and keeping illegal immigrants in detention centers. This continues to be a massively divisive issue, especially related to the question of separating children from their parents. But there has been no clear statement that this will work, especially as courts and detention centers become flooded and overcrowded.

The Council of the European Union is considering a similar idea, though implemented differently. Migrants would be kept in detention centers, but the centers would not be on European Union soil. Instead, they would be in so-called "Disembarkation Platforms" that would be located in non-EU countries.

According to the EU draft document

"1. The European Council reconfirms that a precondition for a functioning EU policy on migration is effective control of the external borders. Since 2015 a number of measures have been put in place to achieve that objective. As a result, the number of detected illegal border crossings into the EU has been brought down by 95% from its peak in October 2015.

2. The European Council is determined to continue and reinforce this policy to prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015 and to further reduce illegal immigration on all routes. Specifically as regards the Central Mediterranean route, efforts to stop smugglers operating out of Libya should be further intensified. The EU will continue to stand by Italy in this respect, and will step up its support for the Libyan Coastguard, coastal and Southern communities, humane reception conditions, and voluntary humanitarian returns. ...

4. In order to establish a more predictable framework for dealing with those who nevertheless set out to sea and are rescued in Search And Rescue Operations, the European Council supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms in close cooperation with UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys."

Since there is no firm proposal, but only a draft document, possible hosting countries for these disembarkation platforms have not been officially named. However, unnamed EU officials have said that Albania (which is a European country but not a European Union count) and Tunisia have been suggested.

However, in response to a query about whether Albania would be a host, the European Council responded, "No. The regions are not yet identified as we are only talking about possibly exploring this concept."

Tunisia has already rejected a similar proposal when it was made a few months ago. Tunisia's ambassador said:

"The proposal was put to the head of our government a few months ago during a visit to Germany, it was also asked by Italy, and the answer is clear: no!

We have neither the capacity nor the means to organize these detention centers. We are already suffering a lot from what is happening in Libya, which has been the effect of European action."

African countries that might serve as hosts include Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Morocco. However, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner for migration, said that no African country has yet agreed to host migration center. Politico (EU) and European Council Draft Proposal (PDF) and Balkan Insight and Guardian (London)

UPDATE: A leaked plan by the US Navy reveals plans to construct sprawling detention centers for tens of thousands of immigrants on military bases in California, Alabama and Arizona. Time

European Union very badly split on migration as Sunday's summit approaches

Italy and Malta are refusing to take in 226 migrants on the Mediterranean rescue ship Lifeline, thus precipitating the in a continuing series of crises in Europe on migration. As of Friday evening, the Lifeline is stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean with no place to go.

Italy asked Malta to take in the Lifeline migrants. Malta refused, saying that it was too small a country to handle a large number of migrants. Italy said that Malta's response was "inhumane."

The EU has called for an emergency mini-summit meeting to be held in Brussels tomorrow (Sunday, June 24) to find a way to handle the migration issue, in advance of a major EU summit to be held on June 28-29.

However, Sunday's mini-summit became controversial almost as soon as it was announced. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte had indicated that he wouldn't be attending, but he agreed to attend after Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to him and apparently begged him to attend.

However, other anti-immigrant states including the Visegrad Group (Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) are staying away from Sunday's meeting.

At a Visegrad meeting in Budapest on Thursday Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that "we don't belong to this migrant-loving group of friends." That's an interesting statement, since it sounds like he's saying, "We don't belong to the European Union."

Even if Italy is represented at the meeting, the country's new far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini has said that Italy will not be pushed around anymore.

Angela Markel is facing the collapse of her governing coalition, and with it her entire government, unless she can come up with an EU agreement within seven days -- and in particular, an agreement with Italy.

The crucial issue is that Merkel's political opponent, Horst Seehofer, is demanding that Germany not take in any more migrants, or, if a new migrant arrives, he be sent back to the first EU country he entered. This is completely unacceptable to Italy, since that the migrants that come from Africa would almost always be sent back to Italy.

Horst Seehofer is not only the leader of the other party in Merkel's governing coalition, he's also Germany's Interior Minister. Seehofer has to power to issue an executive order that rejects refugees at the Germany border, and he's making preparations to issue that order, which is opposed by Merkel.

If Merkel fails to reach an agreement at next week's EU summit, then Seehofer will issue the executive order. That will be in direct conflict with Merkel's policy, so Merkel will have to fire Seehofer as Interior Minister. That will cause the governing coalition to collapse.

Whether or not Merkel's government collapses, the EU will face an existential crisis this summer if, as expected, hundreds of thousands of migrants cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Italy will not permit rescue ships to disembark, meaning that these ships will then head for France, Spain and Holland. In addition, Italy's new government wants to deport half a million undocumented migrants, many of whom are housed in squalid reception centers. More than 600,000 have reached Italy from Libya in the past four years. Euro News and BBC and AFP and Euro Intelligence

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jun-18 World View -- Desperate European Union considers 'Disembarkation Platforms' for migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Jun-18 World View -- Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa

Fears grow of Syrian army advance into Quneitra province

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa


March 2017: Syrian troops advancing overnight in Hama (Al-Masdar)
March 2017: Syrian troops advancing overnight in Hama (Al-Masdar)

The long-awaited assault by the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the southwestern province of Daraa appears to have begun on Thursday. According to Syrian state media, the Syrian army "carried out concentrated bombardments on dens and fortified positions of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization and the affiliated groups in the northern and northeastern countryside of Daraa."

Al-Assad considers all the people living in Daraa to be "terrorists," even the women and children. Al-Assad has used an increasingly common way of committing ethnic cleansing and genocide. After brutal attacks on peaceful Sunni protesters in 2011, as soon as even one Sunni activist uses violence to get revenge, al-Assad has declared that millions of Sunnis are all "terrorists," and he uses that as an excuse to conduct ethnic cleansing and genocide. In the past, al-Assad attacked even women and children in Aleppo, Homs and Ghouta with barrel bombs, chlorine and Sarin gas, and now he's turning his attention to Daraa. According to reports, the Syrian army has assembled a large force, including tens of thousands of soldiers and more than 100 tanks.

Daraa province lies along the border with Jordan. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing the area, running south into Jordan to escape the bombing. Jordan is already hosting 650,000 refugees from the Syrian war, and is already in economic distress.

So far, the Syrian army has not started a ground offensive, but that could change at any time.

The US State Department quickly denounced the Syrian acction, accusing them of violating a previous agreement that Daraa province part of a "de-escalation zone" which is supposed to recognize a ceasefire:

"The United States remains deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November. Syrian regime military and militia units, according to our reports, have violated the southwest de-escalation zone and initiated airstrikes, artillery, and rocket attacks.

The United States continues to warn both the Russian government and the Assad regime of the serious repercussions of these violations and demands that Russia restrain pro-regime forces from further actions within the southwest de-escalation zone. During their call this weekend, Secretary Pompeo stressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the critical nature of mutual adherence to this arrangement and the unacceptable nature of any unilateral activity by the Assad regime or Russia. The United States expects all parties to respect the ceasefire, protect civilian populations, and avoid broadening of the conflict. We remain committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it."

The US has threatened "serious repercussions" for violation of the de-escalation zone, without specifying what those repercussions might be. Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA, Damascus) and Arab News and US State Dept. and The National (UAE)

Fears grow of Syrian army advance into Quneitra province

Al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of southwest Syria from the "terrorists," even though it's in a de-escalation zone. The actions taken so far in Daraa province, near the border with Jordan, have not evoked a strong response.

There is a great deal of concern, however, that the Syrian army will advance farther west from Daraa province in Quneitra province. Quneitra province borders the Israel-controlled Golan Heights, which is of much greater concern. From there, the Syrian army could attack targets in Israel, resulting in a larger war.

Israel has already made it clear that it will not tolerate Iranian or Hezbollah forces near the Golan border, and has previously targeted Iranian weapons systems and other Iranian targets approaching the border. Israel's willingness to tolerate Syrian forces near the border is ambiguous.

The pressure on Israel to respond is further complicated by the fact that the situation along the border with Gaza appears to be deteriorating rapidly, with Hamas and Islamic Jihad sending dozens of rockets and burning kites across the border into Israel.

There are also suggestions in Israeli media that soldiers in Syria's army are actually Hezbollah terrorists wearing Syrian uniforms. Whether this is paranoia or actually happening, there is clearly a perception that it's happening, and that's putting pressure on Israel to take military action in Daraa, Gaza or both. Al Masdar News (Damascus) and Israel National News and Debka (Israel)

Related Articles

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jun-18 World View -- Thousands of Syrians flee into Jordan to escape bombing in Daraa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Jun-18 World View -- Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis

The increasing threat of 'unspeakable' violence from MS-13

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis


From June 2017: Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship
From June 2017: Migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on a rescue ship

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that nearly 69 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their home in 2017. The number of displaced people has set a new world record each year for the last five years.

Of the 69 million total, 16.2 million were newly displaced in 2017, or more than 44,000 people per day. The High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi, said:

"The global figure has gone up again by a couple of million. This is because of protracted conflicts and lack of solutions for those conflicts that continue, continuous pressure on civilians in countries of conflict that pushed them to leave their homes and new or aggravating crises, like the Rohingya crisis."

The Rohingya crisis refers to the genocide and ethnic cleansing occurring Burma (Myanmar), which has driven 905,000 ethnic Rohingyas from their homes in Rakhine State into refugee camps in Bangladesh. That's the fifth worst refugee crisis in the world today.

In fourth place is Venezuela, with 1.5 million refugees. The Socialist government has almost completely destroyed Venezuela's economy, forcing 1.5 million people from their homes into neighboring countries. More than 600,000 people are newly displaced in neighboring Colombia, with an estimated 3,000 people crossing the border each day in search of basic essentials and new opportunity.

In third place is South Sudan, with 2.1 million refugees, which is the largest refugee crisis in Africa. More than 4 million people have been uprooted from their homes since the start of a brutal civil war in 2013, including 2.1 million people who have been forced to cross into neighboring countries, the majority of them women and children.

In second place is Afghanistan, with 2.5 million refugees, who have been forced to leave the country for Iran, Pakistan or Europe.

In first place, the biggest refugee crisis in the world, is Syria, with 5.6 million refugees, where president Bashar al-Assad uses barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas specifically targeting women and children, and also used Sarin gas to kill large numbers of civilians.

The number of displace persons has been a record every year for the last five years, and this increasing trend line is expected to continue. CBS News and U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Mercy Corps and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2004)

New techniques for ethnic cleansing and genocide

A new technique for committing ethnic cleansing and genocide is becoming increasingly common. The government violently attacks members of an ethnic or religious group, such as when they're peacefully protesting. Then when any members of the ethnic group react with violence to get revenge, then the government starts referring to millions of people in the ethnic group, including women and children, as "terrorists," and starts performing ethnic cleansing, forcing millions of people into neighboring countries. This is currently happening in Syria and Burma (Myanmar), and in Cameroon to a lesser extent.

The growing use of new techniques for committing ethnic cleansing and genocide is part of a global increase in violent wars. In 2004, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that the number of wars in the world was decreasing, and that 2003 had seen the fewest number of armed conflicts in 14 years, except for 1997. But since 2003, we've seen the number of armed conflicts increase, creating record numbers of displaced persons and refugees, overwhelming resources in many countries.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is what happens during a generational Crisis era, which began in 2003. A country enters a generational Crisis era when the survivors of the previous generational crisis war, in this case World War II, all disappear (retire or die). Examination of hundreds of examples throughout history shows that this happens 58 years after the end of the previous crisis war, and 2003 is 58 years after 1945, the end of World War II.

For years I've been writing how nationalism and xenophobia have been growing in Europe, America, and in countries around the world in a generational Crisis era. A related phenomenon is the overwhelming increase in migrants and refugees, which further stokes nationalism and xenophobia.

The same thing happened in the last generational Crisis era, in the 1930s. In July 1938, 32 nations met for a conference to address the problem of hundreds of thousands of German and Austria Jews who were fleeing Naziism, or whom Hitler was expelling. Hitler actually mocked the conference participants in a speech when he said, "I can only hope and expect that the other world which has felt such deep sympathy for these criminals will be generous enough to transform this pity into practical aid. As far as I am concerned we are ready to place our luxury ships at the disposal of these countries for the transportation of these criminals." In the end, Europe, North America and Australia refused to take on refugees, saying that their population "density" had reached a point of "saturation."

After the war, the Europeans signed the 1957 Treaty of Rome where, having suffered the devastation of two world wars and fearing a third, the European survivors saw as a major cause of those world wars the same nationalism and xenophobia that's increasingly prevalent today.

There are some countries today that are successfully hosting large numbers of refugees, according to UNHCR. For the fourth consecutive year in 2017, Turkey hosted the largest number of refugees worldwide, with 3.5 million people. It was followed by Pakistan (1.4 million), Uganda (1.4 million), Lebanon (998,900), Iran (979,400), Germany (970,400), Bangladesh (932,200) and Sudan (906,600).

However, many other countries become overwhelmed by the large number of refugees, and are taking political action to block the arrival of refugees and migrants. This has been true in the United States for years, and it's becoming the policies of an increasing number of "populist" elections in Europe, in countries such as Italy and Hungary.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these political attempts are futile. Even if some temporary solution could be found, the trend line of increasing migration is going to increase in this generational Crisis era, and any political solution that "solves" the problem this year will be overcome by more wars and new waves of migrants and refugees.

The increasing threat of 'unspeakable' violence from MS-13

Although forced displacement is a global problem, UNHCR is expressing special alarm at the sharp rise in forced displacement in Central America.

More than 294,000 asylum seekers and refugees from the North of Central America were registered globally as of the end of 2017, an increase of 58 per cent from a year earlier. This is sixteen times more people than at the end of 2011.

The vast majority of those fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, are seeking refugee protection either to the north in Belize, Mexico and the United States, or (and increasingly) to the south in Costa Rica and Panama. Many are vulnerable women, or children either unaccompanied by or who have become separated from their families.

Of particular concern are MS-13 gangs in Central America traveling to the United States. A federal task force in Boston announced in January 2016 the dismantling of several local branches of the MS-13 street gang, including 56 gang members, a third of MS-13's Massachusetts membership.

Described by federal officials as being guilty of unspeakable violence and enormous cruelty, the gang targets middle and high schoolers for initiation, officials said, especially Chelsea, East Boston and Everett high schools. The initiation requires the student to commit crimes, and to become a full-fledged member requires the commission of a significant crime, usually the murder of a rival gang member.

According to a Francesca Fontanini, a Mexico-based UNHCR spokesman, refugees from Central America come to escape violence:

"The people who are coming are saying that the level of violence is brutal – they are basically confined to their own houses because there is a lack of freedom. It is very dangerous to go to school, to go to church, to move around. They are living in very traumatized and violent circumstances."

Unfortunately, if they become refugees in the United States, they're targeted by the same MS-13 gangs and the same brutal violence that they had hoped to escape from. UNHCR and Boston Globe (29-Jan-2016) and Boston Globe (29-Jan-2016) and Guardian (London, 22-May) and Institute for Research on Public Policy Policy (Canada)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jun-18 World View -- Europe and North America overwhelmed by growing migration crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah

United Nations renews its peace plan proposal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah


Tribal Yemeni fighter in town of al-Bayda on May 9 (The National)
Tribal Yemeni fighter in town of al-Bayda on May 9 (The National)

The news agencies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are reporting that troops from the Saudi-led military coalition have taken control of a large part of the airport in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, recapturing it from Iran-backed Houthi rebels that have controlled the port since 2015.

This comes a week after the coalition began large-scale ground operations against the port city, supported by air and naval forces, as we described in "15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen."

However, the road that leads from the airport to Hodeidah's city center is heavily populated, and there is still heavy ground fighting going on with the Houthis, with the coalition fighters supported by close air support from Apache helicopter gunships.

Capturing the airport is an important first step for the coalition in recapturing the port city, but a lot more is necessary. Hodeidah is densely population with around 600,000 people, and the Houthis are well entrenched within the population. It's feared that the urban house-to-house fighting will go on for months, just as we've already seen in the fights by Iraqi forces against ISIS in Mosul or the Kurdish YPG forces against ISIS in Raqqa in Syria. Similar urban fighting in Hodeidah could cost the lives of as many as 250,000 people, according to UN estimates.

It's not expected that the Saudi coalition will use the same tactics that Bashar al-Assad used in ejecting opposition rebels from Aleppo and Ghouta in Syria. Al-Assad used barrel bombs laced with chlorine gas specifically targeting women and children, and also used Sarin gas to kill large numbers of civilians. Even with the use of chemical weapons, those battles took several months. The National (UAE) and Reuters

United Nations renews its peace plan proposal

The fear of casualties resulting from the Saudi coalition assault on Hodeidah goes far beyond the possible casualties in the port city itself. NGOs use the port to import badly need humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicines, for 8 million Yeminis, out of a total population of 22 million. Many Yemenis are already on the verge of starvation, and the closure of the port for even a few days could be disastrous.

Somewhat miraculously, the port remained open on Tuesday, and the UN World Food Program was able to unload three ships containing enough food for six million people for one month.

Under Houthi control, NGOs had been able to bring humanitarian supplies through Hodeidah port. However, the Houthis charged NGOs steep license fees to dock their ships, so the port has been a major source of income for the Houthis. Furthermore, the port has been a lifeline for the Houthis war supplies including, allegedly, weapons systems provided by Iran.

For those reasons, losing control of the port would be a major setback for the Houthis, and have a significant negative impact on their war effort.

In the last few weeks, the United Nations had proposed a peace plan where UN peacekeeping forces would take control of the port, so that the fighting between the Saudi coalition and the Houthis could stop. However, the Houthis rejected that peace proposal, since control of the port is essential to their war effort.

The Saudi coalition are now demanding that the Houthis must withdraw completely from Hodeidah and hand over control to the UN.

UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths, who has been in Yemen's capital city Sanaa negotiating with the Houthis, hopes to restart talks on a peace plan next month. Assuming that the Saudi coalition have control of the vital parts of Hodeidah, the hope is that the Houthis will yield control of the urban areas, rather than remain entrenched with a resulting bloodbath in urban fighting. Al-Jazeera and The National (UAE) and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi coalition claims to have captured airport in Yemen's Hodeidah thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jun-18 World View -- Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria

Israeli airstrike on Syria-Iraq border kills dozens of Shia militia fighters

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israeli airstrike on Syria-Iraq border kills dozens of Shia militia fighters


Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Sochi (AFP)
Benjamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference in Sochi (AFP)

An airstrike on Iraqi Shia militias on Sunday evening killed dozens of fighters supporting the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The airstrike targeted a position in Syria's Deir az-Zour province, near the border with Iraq.

Syrian media blamed the US-led coalition for the airstrike. According to the report from Syrian media SANA, the fighters were from the regime army, and they were fighting ISIS:

"A military source said in a statement to SANA that the US-led coalition on Sunday targeted one of our military positions in the town of Al-Hiri, southeast of al-Boukamal city, leaving a number of martyrs and wounding other people. ...

The coalition has been targeting the military positions in a desperate attempt to raise the collapsed morale of the terrorist organizations due to the achievements of the Syrian army.

The field reports confirm that Washington provides Daesh [ISIS] organization with various kinds of support to prevent its collapse and invest it to keep its forces illegally in the Syrian territory and steal the economic resources in the eastern region through its mercenaries of terrorist groups."

By Monday evening, numerous reports have come up describing errors in the SANA report, essentially making it "fake news."

Most important, the US-led coalition had conducted no airstrikes in the region on Sunday evening, and the US military repeatedly denied that the US coalition had anything to do with the airstrike.

Second, there have been reports that the most likely force behind the airstrikes was the Israeli military. Israel is refusing comment, but unnamed Israeli military sources are confirming this off the record.

Israel rarely comments on its airstrikes in Syria, but prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday that Israel is "already taking action" against Iran in Syria:

"Over the weekend I spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We discussed regional issues and focused -- of course -- on Syria.

I reiterated our guiding principles regarding Syria. First of all, Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria. Second, we will take action -- and are already taking action -- against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria."

This statement by Netanyahu actually represents a bit of an expansion of previously announced policy. Previous policy indicated that Israeli airstrikes would be focused on southern Syria, along the border with the Israeli-governed Golan Heights. In Sunday's statement, Netanyahu made it clear that Israel will strike pro-Iranian targets anywhere in Syria. That statement clears up some confusion about whether Israel could have been responsible for the Sunday evening airstrike, whose target had been much deeper into Syria than previous Israeli airstrikes.

A final problem with the Sana story is that it wasn't clear about what forces the Israeli airstrikes were targeting. It has emerged that 40-50 militia fighters were killed, a combination of Syrian army forces, Iraqi Hezbollah forces, and Iran-backed members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) umbrella organization, which takes its orders from Iran’s Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani. SANA (Damascus) and CNN and Debka (Israel) and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria

Netanyahu's statement, quoted above, confirms something that's been increasingly clear for at least two years -- that Israel's alliance with Russia is growing, and that Russia is doing nothing to stop Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria.

That Russia's relationship with Israel is getting closer couldn't have been demonstrated more clearly than when Russia openly accepted Jerusalem as Israeli's capital and on June 14 attended a celebration of Russia's Independence Day at a reception being held in Jerusalem.

Russia, Iran and Turkey formed an alliance in 2015 to support al-Assad in Syria's civil war, with each one taking on a different "assignment." But it's always been fairly certain that once these "assignments" were completed, then there would be no one left for them to fight except each other, since they all had different objectives.

Russia's objective was to establish Russian military bases in Syria, and it has accomplished that with naval and air bases. Iran's objective was to establish its own bases in Syria, where they could be used to launch attacks on Israel. Russia does not want Iran to have bases in Syria, and more important, Russia does not want a full-scale war between Iran and Israel.

Iran does have thousands of trainers, advisors, technicians and other support specialists to make the Syrian Army and their Iranian allies. According to one estimate, Iran supervises over 50,000 mercenary forces in Syria, mainly Shias from Afghanistan and Lebanon. As we reported in 2015, al-Assad's army was near collapse, and was saved only through the intervention of Russian bombers and Iranian mercenaries.

As the role of the Iranian mercenaries winds down, Russia is demanding that "all foreign troops" (except themselves) leave Syria. Of course this is nominally directed at the Americans and Turks, but it's also directed at the Iranians. One thing most everyone can agree on, including most European and Middle Eastern nations, is that Iran should get out of Syria. Until that happens, the chances of a war between Israel and Iran in Syria will continue to grow. Al-Monitor and Strategy Page (12-June) and Spectator (UK) and Media Line

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jun-18 World View -- Russia-Israel alliance grows, while Russia-Iran alliance frays in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jun-18 World View -- India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month

Controversial one-sided UN report on Kashmir condemns India



by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month


Indian army in Kashmir (PTI)
Indian army in Kashmir (PTI)

India announced on Sunday that it would not renew a month-old unilateral ceasefire in the Indian-controlled portions of Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, it will resume military operations against rebels whom it considers to be terrorists or suspected terrorists.

India had halted military operations on May 16, which was the start of the Ramadan, the annual Muslim fasting month. Jammu and Kashmir are Muslim-majority regions, and it was hoped that the ceasefire gesture would bring an end to the violence between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, such an outcome was 100% impossible.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said:

"While the security forces have displayed exemplary restraint during this period, the terrorists have continued with their attacks, on civilians and SFs (security forces), resulting in deaths and injuries.

The security forces are being directed to take all necessary actions as earlier to prevent terrorists from launching attacks and indulging in violence."

The decision not to extend the ceasefire was made on Friday, during a high-level government meeting in New Delhi. The debate was won by the side opposing an extension because anti-government violence continued as usual during the month-long ceasefire, especially the assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and his two security guards on June 14. Bukhari was well-known as editor of the newspaper Rising Kashmir. The Hindu and AFP and Deccan Herald (India) and BBC

Controversial one-sided UN report on Kashmir condemns India

A report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (ONCHR) condemns India's actions in Jammu and Kashmir as human rights violations.

The UN report describes the same sequence of events that I've been reporting on for two years. On July 8 2016, Burhan Wani, 22, the leader of anti-Indian separatist organization Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed in a gunfight with the Indian Army. This triggered massive anti-Indian protests and clashes with Indian police that killed 36 and left thousands injured.

These clashes continued into the fall, and then resumed again in the Spring of 2017. In all the clashes, Indian police responded with rubber bullets, leaving thousands of protesters wounded or killed or blinded by pellets.

The UN report described these incidents, but is rejected by India amid claims that the report is one-sided, and does not document the activities of Pakistan-supported terrorist groups in Kashmir.

However, the report is not completely silent on these terrorist groups. According to the UN report:

Since the late 1980s, a variety of armed groups has been actively operating in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, and there has been documented evidence of these groups committing a wide range of human rights abuses, including kidnappings, killings of civilians and sexual violence. The landscape of armed intervention by groups operating in Indian-Administered Kashmir has shifted over the years. In the 1990s, around a dozen significant armed groups were operating in the region; currently, less than half that number remain active. The main groups today include Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Hizbul Mujahideen and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin; they are believed to be based in Pakistan-Administered Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahideen is also part of the United Jihad Council, which began as a coalition of 14 armed groups in 1994, claiming to be fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, that was allegedly formed by Pakistan’s defence establishment. Despite the Government of Pakistan’s assertions of denial of any support to these groups, experts believe that Pakistan’s military continues to support their operations across the Line of Control in Indian-Administered Kashmir. Three of these armed groups (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harakat Ul-Mujahidin) are listed on the Security Council “ISIL (Da’esh) & Al-Qaida Sanctions List” for their activities in Indian-Administered Kashmir among other places."

It's true that the accusations of Pakistan-supported terrorism in Kashmir are far more tentative than the accusations of human rights violations by Indian security forces. But nobody escapes condemnation in this report.

As I described in the past, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, India, Pakistan and Kashmir are now in a new generational Crisis era, and headed for another war, re-fighting the 1947 Partition war. No Ramadan ceasefire has any chance of preventing this. UN OHCHR - Kashmir report and New Indian Express and Dawn (Pakistan) and Human Rights Watch

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jun-18 World View -- India cancels ceasefire in Kashmir after one month thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jun-18 World View -- Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU

As Aquarius migrants head for Spain, Spain rescues 900 more migrants from Mediterranean

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

As Aquarius migrants head for Spain, Spain rescues 900 more migrants from Mediterranean


Migrants on the Aquarius (AP)
Migrants on the Aquarius (AP)

Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, offered to take in 629 migrants who are on board the rescue ship Aquarius, as we described early last week, after both Italy and Malta refused to allow the vessel to dock in their ports.

That was after Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had refused to allow the Aquarius to dock at an Italian port to allow the migrants to disembark, which had been the practice for several years.

The NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) were concerned that if the Aquarius had to stay at sea for three or four more days to travel an additional 1,300 km to reach Spain, then the delay would be dangerous to the migrants, many of whom were ill and had come close to drowning when their rubber dinghies sank before the migrants were rescued by the Aquarius.

Nonetheless, the Aquarius began its journey to Valencia, Spain. In order to relieve the suffering on the Aquarius, Maltese and Italian navy ships resupplied the Aquarius with bottles of water, food packages and clothing for the 1,300km voyage. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, two Italian naval and coastguard vessels took on board 400 of the 629 migrants to relieve overcrowding, and now all three boats are expected to arrive in Valencia on Sunday.

Pope Francis had condemned Italy's decision to block the ship from port, denouncing acts that make the Mediterranean into "an anonymous grave." According to the Pope:

"The Aquarius, has been like a slap that has shaken our consciences and has put us on our feet to attend to those who knock at the door of the heart and the collective conscience of peoples and nations. And they call upon people of good will, and above all they call upon the humanitarian and Christian conscience."

The people of Valencia, Spain, are reportedly ready to welcome the migrants with food and shelter. Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, after meeting with the pope, sent a message to the entire archdiocese of Valencia, said that the pope has thanked the diocese of Valencia for its generation. Cañizares quoted the pope as telling him:

"This is the path, don’t ever abandon it: that of charity; remain steady in charity, in the good example, in the light and the good taste of charity and works of charity. The pope is with you, with the diocese of Valencia."

After the migrants dock in Valencia, they will receive assistance and, eventually, be distributed across Spain.

In addition to the Aquarius, Spain's own vessels are rescuing hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean. Spain’s coast guard rescued 933 migrants and found four dead bodies in the Mediterranean Friday and Saturday. The rescues were from dozens of small dinghies in the Gibraltar strait, and in the Alboran Sea, between northeastern Morocco and southeastern Spain.

Spain's new Socialist government, led by prime minister Pedro Sánchez, has taken up the cause of the migrants' plight to demonstrate its commitment to protecting human rights and respecting international law. He can take that position when only a few hundred migrants are involved, but he may have to change his mind if there are tens or hundreds of thousands. Reuters and Crux Now and AP and Reuters

Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU

Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right anti-immigrant party La Lega, doubled down on Saturday on his policy:

"Italy no longer wants to be an accomplice of human traffickers and contribute to the business of illegal immigration."

He said that in the course of blocking two additional NGO-operated ships flying Dutch flags, the Lifeline and Seefuchs. An NGO worker on one of the vessels posted a tweet referring to Salvini as a "fascist," though the tweet was taken down soon after. Salvini responded, "As a father and as a minister, they can attack and threaten me all they want, but I won’t give up and I’m doing it for everybody’s sake."

In fact, a recent poll shows that Salvini's anti-immigration policy is extremely popular, with 59% of Italians favoring it.

Furthermore, Italy's policies are achieving their goals, in that the number of people leaving Libya for Italy, 22,000 so far this year, is down an enormous 70% from the same period last year. The number that actually reach Italy is down even further, because Libya's coast guard is also performing rescue missions, and returning the migrants they rescue to Libyan soil, where they're put into brutal detention centers.

This is the result of an EU policy adopted last year, led by Italy's government, to revive Libya's coast guard. The Libyan coast guard had fallen into disrepair after the death in 2011 of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But Italy has worked with officials in Libya to allow the Libyan coast guard to perform a large portion of the sea rescues.

This has created a competition between the NGOs and the Libyan coast guard, when they both arrived at the same scene with migrants in rubber dinghies facing drowning. In one instance, 20 migrants drowned in competition between an NGO and the Libya coast guard, competing to save dozens of migrants.

The result is that among the nine most prominent NGO rescue organizations, three have stopped or suspended their operations over the past year. A spokesman for the Aquarius says, "We will not enter into a battle with the Libyan coast guard, where people are armed." Instead, the Aquarius will stay on the horizon, watching from several miles away. "We had this situation several times, where we had to look completely helpless."

There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here. As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics 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.

So in the current situation, it's not Matteo Salvini who is making the decisions to adopt anti-immigrant policies. Salvini's policies have a 59% approval rating, and it's doubtful that he could implement any of them if their approval rating were only 30%. It's the people of Italy who are deciding these policies, first by electing MPs from Salvini's party, and then by approving of his policies.

Most people, even the most hard-hearted Scrooges, would say that they would like to see migrants, especially women and children, sheltered and fed, provided that it didn't cost anything. But the irony is that the humanitarian system that protects migrants, and feeds and shelters them, can get overwhelmed, and the costs become overwhelming as well, and that's the reason why voters turn against that humanitarian system. As Karl Marx might say, the humanitarian system contains the seeds of its own destruction.

The issue of migration is dealing one blow after another to the unity of the European Union. A lot of the motivation for Britain's affirmative vote on the Brexit referendum was to keep migrants out -- although I always like to point out many of the migrants that the British wish to keep out are not Muslims but are Christians from Eastern Europe, just as many Americans wish to keep out Christians from Latin America. Migration is far from being just a religious issue.

Germany's Angela Merkel has been widely condemned for her decision, in 2015, to encourage Syrian refugees to come to Germany. Her decision was based on the founding principles of the European Union and the 1957 Treaty of Rome where, having suffered the devastation of two world wars and fearing a third, the European survivors saw as a major cause of those world wars the same nationalism and xenophobia that's increasingly prevalent today.

Merkel's government may not survive the next two weeks. Merkel is now facing an open revolt from her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer. Seehofer wants Germany to adopt a policy to unilaterally to send back migrants who have registered in other European Union countries, which would amount to a rejection of all migrants into Germany. However, Merkel is standing her ground, saying, "This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution. And I view this issue as decisive for keeping Europe together." The MPs may not agree. Politico (EU) and Guardian (London) and Washington Post and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jun-18 World View -- Italy's migration policy opens up battle lines within the EU thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Jun-18 World View -- Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities

Amnesty report documents increasing violence on both sides

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities


Cameroon Anglophone separatist
Cameroon Anglophone separatist

Cameroon's public relations (communications) minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary is condemning as "crude lies" an Amnesty International report accusing government security forces of summary killings, arrests and property destruction that amounts to ethnic cleansing.

As I've reported many times, the atrocities described in the report began in November 2016, when the Francophone (French-speaking) Cameroon government security forces began beating and killing peaceful anti-government demonstrators in the South Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon. The demonstrators were protesting systematic bias, discrimination and marginalization towards Anglophones by the Francophone government. For example, schoolteachers in the Anglophone regions were forbidden from teaching any courses in English.

The Cameroon government, led by the 85 year old president Paul Biya, has stepped up the torture, slaughter and other atrocities continually since then, with numerous videos and reports on social media documenting the atrocities. The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia. This week, there has emerged a new video purporting to show Francophone soldiers forcing Anglophone teenage girls to crawl through mud in front of the Cameroon Protestant College, as the men jeer at the girls and refer to them as Ambazonians.

Last month when Peter Henry Barlerin, the US ambassador to Cameroon, said that "there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages," Biya's spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said, "We do not accept the infantilization of the Cameroonian nation."

So after this week's Amnesty International report, this same spokesman Bakary said:

"[The report] is stuffed with crude lies, hasty deductions (and) slanderous, unacceptable maneuvering, which are part of a strategy of harassment and destabilization of our country in its fight against the terrorist threat."

That's how things are done these days. A country leader starts by massacring, raping, arresting, torturing, and slaughtering peaceful protesters of a particular class or ethnic group, and then when any one of them strikes back, then call them "terrorists" and perform genocide and ethnic cleansing on the whole groups. That's what Bashar al-Assad has been doing in Syria, and that's what Burma's leaders have been doing to the Rohingyas in Burma. If somebody complains, then the leader's trolls say that "no evidence exists" of atrocities. AFP and Bareta News (includes video) and SCBC TV (Ambazonia)

Amnesty report documents increasing violence on both sides

There are increasing reports that the Anglophones are forming their own army called the Ambazonia Defense Forces, with about 1,500 people spread around 20 camps in the Anglophone regions. In most cases, the people are farmers who had been forced to leave their villages, armed with hunting rifles that are made in Nigeria.

The Amnesty report that the government calls "crude lies" is based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye-witnesses. The burning of villages and other ethnic cleansing can be seen in satellite images.

The report documents how Cameroon's Francophone military responded responded to the Anglophone demonstrations:

"Cameroon’s military has responded to these protests with arbitrary arrests, torture, unlawful killings and destruction of property. In one striking incident, satellite images and other photographic evidence obtained by Amnesty International show the complete destruction of the village of Kwakwa, which was burned to the ground by Cameroonian security forces following an operation conducted in December 2017 in connection with the killing of two gendarmes by suspected armed separatists.

In some cases, following these security operations, people were arbitrarily arrested and tortured while detained in illegal detention facilities and in secret. For instance, at least 23 people, including minors, were arrested by the security forces in the village of Dadi on 13 December 2017 and spent three days in incommunicado detention. They told Amnesty International that during this time security forces tortured them to extract “confessions”, to force them to admit having supported the separatists.

Victims described being blindfolded and severely beaten with various objects including sticks, ropes, wires and guns, as well as being electrocuted and burnt with hot water. Some were beaten until they lost consciousness, and Amnesty International documented that at least one person has died in custody."

Ambazonian separatists have been increasingly attacking Cameroon security personally. Between September 2017 and May 2018, at least 44 members of the security forces were killed in attacks at checkpoints, in the streets, or on their duty stations in the Anglophone region.

"Towards the end of 2017, the situation quickly deteriorated. In October, demonstrations organized across the Anglophone regions to celebrate the symbolic independence from the country's French-speaking areas were met with unlawful and excessive and deadly force. Cameroonian security forces shot dead 20 peaceful protesters, by firing indiscriminately on crowds, including from helicopters. Dozens of wounded protesters ran away from hospitals in mid-treatment out of fear of being arrested. Hundreds were arrested, and thousands fled their homes, becoming internally displaced or refugees in Nigeria. ...

Armed separatists have attacked security forces, especially gendarmes and police, killing at least 44 of them between September 2017 and May 2018, in both the North West and South West regions. In one of the most recent attacks, on 1 February 2018, in the locality of Mbingo, in the North West region, two gendarmes manning a checkpoint were stabbed to death by a group of young armed separatists.

Ordinary people have been targeted too. Teachers and students accused of not participating in the boycott have been physically assaulted, and at least 42 schools have been attacked by armed separatists from February 2017 to May 2018 in both the North West and South West regions. ...

In addition, armed separatists have attacked ordinary people – including traditional chiefs - perceived as being informants of the Cameroonian security forces."

Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the "Southern Cameroons."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, examination of hundreds of examples throughout history shows that 58 years after the end of a previous generational crisis war, the society or nation enters a generational Crisis era, and a new crisis war can begin, and becomes increasingly likely in each year after that. 58 years is the length of time before the generations that survived the previous crisis war and have personal memories of its atrocities disappear, either retiring or dying. After that, the younger generations are completely in control, and have no fear of another war.

The year 2018 is exactly 58 years after the end of the "UPC Revolt" civil war. That doesn't mean that a new civil war will begin this year, but it does mean that the probability of a new civil war is significantly higher than it was last year. The events in Cameroon in the last nine months show that Cameroon is certainly headed in that direction. Amnesty International and Radio France International

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jun-18 World View -- Cameroon condemns scathing Amnesty report on government atrocities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen

Houthis increase missile attacks on Saudi cities

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen


Fighters in Saudi-led coalition (Reuters)
Fighters in Saudi-led coalition (Reuters)

Large-scale ground operations, supported by the air and naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition, began to move in on Yemen's port city of Hodeidah on Tuesday, with the objective of regaining control of the city from the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who captured it in 2015. The war in Yemen has been largely a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) versus Iran since it began in 2015.

The Hodeidah deep sea port on the Red Sea has become a crucial asset to the Houthi's war effort. NGOs use the port to import badly need humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicines, for 8 million Yeminis. The Houthis control these imports, and charge duties that fund their war efforts. Furthermore, the Houthis use the port to import Iranian weapons for the war effort.

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has been hiding out in Saudi Arabia because of the war with the Houthis. While the Houthis are backed by Iran, Hadi's government is backed by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to a statement issued by Hadi earlier this week:

"The liberation of Hodeidah port is a turning point in our struggle to recapture Yemen from the militias that hijacked it to serve foreign agendas.

The liberation of the port is the start of the fall of the Houthi militia and will secure marine shipping in Bab al-Mandab strait and cut off the hands of Iran, which has long drowned Yemen in weapons that shed precious Yemeni blood."

The Saudis are hoping that the recapture of Hodeidah will force the Houthis to sue for peace in the proxy war. However, many others aren't so sure, as numerous previous Saudi predictions of an end to the war have turned out to be false.

The great fear is that the urban fighting in Hodeidah will be a new catastrophe, in a repeat of the kinds of assaults that Bashar al-Assad conducted in Syria's cities of Aleppo and Ghouta. In fact, the assault on Hodeidah may have to go on for weeks or months, just like the assaults on Aleppo and Ghouta. According to Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen:

"A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything - even their lives."

In fact, the ground forces being used by the Saudis have little experience in urban fighting. They consist of Emirati and Sudanese forces, as well as a combination of Yemeni groups -- some loyal to President Abdo Mansour al Hadi, others loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and some advocates of Southern Yemen secession.

The fact that they include militias loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh has some significance. Saleh used to be fighting on the side of the Houthis, and tribes loyal to Saleh were supporting the Houthis. However, the Houthis ambushed and killed Saleh in December of last year, after Saleh, sickened by the massive war deaths, called on both the Houthis and Saudis to end the war, an act that the Houthis called betrayal. So now the tribes formerly supporting Saleh have switched sides from the Houthis to the Saudis, and this may be one of the reasons that the Saudis are hopeful that Hodeidah can be captured quickly.

Since the beginning of the war, the American and British governments have providing weapons and logistics support to the Saudis, and they continue to do so. However, both governments are pressuring the Saudis to reduce civilian casualties, and are warning the Saudis of the consequences of a potential humanitarian disaster. Middle East Eye and Australian Broadcasting and Brookings and Middle East Eye (12-Jun)

Houthis increase missile attacks on Saudi cities

The war in Yemen sharply escalated three months ago, when the Houthis began attacking Saudi cities with missiles. The missiles have no guidance systems, and the Saudis were able to destroy many of the incoming missiles using defensive American-supplied Patriot missiles, but not all, as there have been some Saudi civilian casualties.

On Saturday, the Houthis fired a "projectile" into Saudi Arabia, killing three civilians. According to a Saudi military spokesman:

"The terrorist Iranian-Houthi militia has targeted civilians with a projectile. ...

The Joint Forces Command of the coalition will strike with an iron fist all those who threaten the safety and security of Saudi nationals, residents and critical capabilities."

The Saudis fear that the Houthis will obtain sophisticated missiles with guidance systems from Iran. This is one of the reasons why they wish to take control of the Hodeidah port.

A Houthi statement warned commercial ships in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most important trade routes, to stay 20 miles from coalition warships or potentially face attack. Reuters and Middle East Eye (9-Jun)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jun-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia and UAE launch a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Jun-18 World View -- After the Kim-Trump summit, US and N. Korea plan denuclearization details

After the summit, North Korea must make the next move

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Media coverage of Kim-Trump summit is bizarre to the point of lunacy


Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump shake hands in Singapore on Tuesday (AP)
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump shake hands in Singapore on Tuesday (AP)

The vitriolic hatred between the left and the right began in the George W Bush administration and has been growing steadily since then in a worsening trend that shows no sign of leveling off. In the media, it's been clear for years that journalists in general have no idea what's going on in the world, and particularly have no idea what President Donald Trump is doing. For example, one Business Insider news story, apparently written by someone on Mars, says that the summit means that henceforth the world will be ruled by Beijing, not by Washington.

For some reason, everything that Trump says and does makes sense to me. That doesn't mean he doesn't make mistakes, but it still makes sense. And that certainly wasn't true of Obama, who never made any sense to me at all, and the results speak for themselves. I believe that the reason that everything that Trump does makes sense to me is because of Steve Bannon, who is an expert on Generational Dynamics, and who used to be Trump's principal advisor, and is now, according to some reports, an informal advisor.

Very little of the media coverage of the summit makes any sense since everyone seems to be completely baffled by Trump, which is why I make a point of saying that what Trump does makes sense to me. The pundits on the left make bizarre claims that Kim is making a fool of Trump. I remember particularly when Trump canceled the summit a couple of weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi said that Kim was having a "giggle fit" over Trump's naïveté. This woman is so incredibly stupid, she should be locked up in order to protect her from herself. But pundits on the right aren't too much better, since they're equally baffled by Trump, and seem reduced to expressing hope that everything all works out.

So let's take a look at some of the media coverage of the summit, and see if we can figure out what's really going on:

Recall that I've said in the past that the North Koreans have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

Kim has completely failed in this objective. They had wanted, at this point, for Trump to be on the defensive, and force him to make a concession, specifically to reduce the sanctions. Trump has defeated that objective in advance by canceling the war games.

The only way that Trump could "lose" this summit, is if he suddenly agreed to remove sanctions. That would be a diplomatic disaster. Washington Post and Business Insider

After the summit, North Korea must make the next move

Remarkably, the ball is now in North Korea's court to make a concession -- to provide the details for how they will denuclearize according to the CVID template -- complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. If Kim can't come through, then the war games will be back on, and the situation will return to square one. Also, Kim would receive extreme paternal disapproval from Trump.

When Trump canceled the summit three weeks ago, the mainstream media were completely baffled, and the left referred to Trump as a senile, inexperienced idiot. I wrote that canceling the summit was a major diplomatic victory for Trump. ( "25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit")

That turned out to be exactly right, as the North Koreans immediately started suing to get the summit back on track.

Trump's objective is to get the North to denuclearize. As I said, everything Trump does makes sense to me, and everything that Trump has done with respect to this negotiation has been exactly right. If it's possible to get the North to denuclearize, then Trump has done what needs to be done to accomplish that goal.

But the bottom line is that I believe that it's not possible to get North Korea to denuclearize, for reasons I've given repeatedly in the past. Here's a summary:

There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here.

First, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics 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 reason that generational theory works is that population generations are almost completely predictable, irrespective of what politicians want. In this case, it means that decision to denuclearize will be made by the people, not by Kim.

Second, Generational Dynamics tells us that there are many problems that have no solution. By that I do not mean that no politician has yet been clever enough to solve the problem. What I mean is that no solution exists.

The denuclearization of North Korea is such a problem. If there were a solution to this problem, then what Trump is doing would be a solution, but it's not, since no solution exists. The Hankyoreh (Seoul) and Channel News Asia

President Trump says 'Sleep well tonight!'

On Wednesday morning, President Trump tweeted the following:

"Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!"

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from a meeting with Hitler and made his famous declaration that has echoed through time:

"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour.

I believe it is peace for our time.

Go home and get a nice quiet sleep."

It later turned out that Hitler was planning war with Britain on the same day that he met with Chamberlain.

To say that President Trump's tweet is eerie would not be an overstatement. I wonder if Trump is unaware of the connection, or if he is aware but wanted to try a little dark humor. Washington Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jun-18 World View -- After the Kim-Trump summit, US and N. Korea plan denuclearization details thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Jun-18 World View -- Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests

Anti-government protests grow in Vietnam along with anti-China protests

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests


Anti-China protests in Vietnam.  'Haiyang 981' is the name of the Chinese oil rig in Vietnam's territorial waters (AP)
Anti-China protests in Vietnam. 'Haiyang 981' is the name of the Chinese oil rig in Vietnam's territorial waters (AP)

Protests erupted in cities across Vietnam on Sunday, triggered by a government proposed bill to implement new special economic zones (SEZs) that would allow land to be leased to foreign investors for a 99-year periods. Although the bill did not mention China, the protesters claimed that the bill would allow Chinese enclaves within Vietnam.

Tens of thousands of protesters had occupied buildings in Hanoi, the capital city, and in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city), with large rallies in other cities, including solidarity protests held abroad in Paris and Tokyo.

There's a growing animosity towards China in Vietnam because of China's belligerent actions in the South China Sea. These actions include China's deployment of an oil rig in Vietnam's own territorial waters, in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and then China's use of its vast military power to block Vietnam from exploring for oil in its own territorial waters.

China's actions were declared illegal in 2016 by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law. But China has ignored international law, and has been doing what the Nazis did -- using military force to annex regions belonging to other countries.

China deployed its oil rig in Vietnamese waters in 2014, and beginning May 11 of that year, Vietnam erupted in anti-China protests, resulting in Chinese businesses and factories being attacked and damaged. The protests were fed by video in the Vietnamese media showing Chinese coast guard ships and Naval vessels attacking Vietnamese fishing vessels in Vietnam's own territorial waters.

With China seizing Vietnamese areas in the South China Sea, the idea that China would have control of Vietnamese land as well has struck a nerve in many Vietnamese people, triggering the protests on Sunday.

The dictatorial Communist government of Vietnam is not normally responsive to public opinion, but in this case were caught by surprise by how widespread the protests on Sunday were. If they had occurred only in Hanoi, the government would have controlled them, but the government was unprepared to try to control protests across the country.

The Communist government is reacting by demanding the social networking systems like Facebook, Twitter and Google provide user identification to the government when demanded. This has provoked additional protests.

China's government is warning Chinese citizens in Vietnam to take safety precautions. Vietnam Express and South China Morning Post (7-Jun) and Diplomat (12-May-2015) and Australian Broadcasting

Anti-government protests grow in Vietnam along with anti-China protests

As I described in 2014 in my Generational History of Vietnam, Vietnam has historically fought many wars against the Chinese. The most important was the Tay-Son rebellion, 1771-1790, the most celebrated military event in Vietnamese history. In its explosive climax in 1789, the Vietnamese troops repelled a much larger Chinese army in a brilliant battle that united the country for the first time.

Although the Tay-Son rebellion united the country at the time, Vietnam is basically two different countries, with two different ethnic origins, where North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) was originally populated by ethnic Chinese, while South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) was populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one ethnic crisis civil war after another, the most recent one being America's "Vietnam War" that ended in 1974. From the point of view of Vietnam's history, America was almost completely irrelevant in that war, as it was really a civil war between two different ethnic cultures.

Although Vietnam's civil war ended in 1975, the enmity between the North and South Vietnamese has not disappeared. This was particularly apparent in 2006, when President George Bush visited Vietnam. As his limousine traveled through the streets of Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam, young people lined the streets cheering wildly. Although the Communist government has renamed the city Ho Chi Minh city, many of the residents refuse to use that name and call it by its historic name, Saigon.

Sunday's protests were not just anti-China; they were also anti-government protests demanding greater democracy. Some protestors carried banners reading “Returning Autonomy For [the] People.” Another placard stated the protest was against the National Assembly’s violation of the Constitution. The weekend protests may raise more awareness about land rights issues, especially the confiscation of land by the government. There's also a general suspicion that the Communist government in Hanoi is making deals with China's government in Beijing for its own benefit. Asia Times and Radio Free Asia and BBC (2-Jun)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jun-18 World View -- Vietnam government surprised by widespread anti-China and anti-government protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Jun-18 World View -- Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants

Italy cries victory, portending a growing EU migrant crisis this summer

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants


 Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini (center) savors his victory
Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini (center) savors his victory

On Monday, Spain's new prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, offered to take in the 629 migrants on board the rescue vessel Aquarius, after both Italy and Malta refused to allow the vessel to dock in their ports.

The Aquarius, which is owned by the NGO SOS Méditerranée, operating under the direction of the Italian Coast Guard, picked up up the 629 migrants in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast on Sunday. The migrants include 123 children and seven pregnant women.

After rescuing the 629 migrants, the Aquarius expected to dock, as usual, at a port on the Italian island of Sicily, where they could make asylum requests. Instead, Matteo Salvini, interior minister in Italy's new anti-immigrant coalition government, ordered that the Aquarius be refused permission to dock at an Italian port, and demanded that the ship dock at Malta, saying "The Good Lord put Malta closer to African shores than Sicily."

However, Malta refused to allow the Aquarius to dock, saying that the migrants were from Libya, and therefore Italy's responsibility.

With the Aquarius running out of food and water, and with a number of migrants requiring medical attention, the ship was stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, about halfway between the islands of Malta and Sicily.

On Monday afternoon, the office of Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez issued this statement:

"The Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has given instructions for Spain to comply with its international commitments in matters of humanitarian crises, and has announced that a Spanish port will welcome the Aquarius, in which 600 people have been abandoned to their fate in the Mediterranean. ... It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations."

The offer was extended to dock in either Valencia or Barcelona. Valencia is about 1,300 km from the Aquarius's current location, and so would require two or three days to reach that destination.

However, organizers of the rescue mission, including NGOs SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) are insisting that the Aquarius be permitted to dock in Italy immediately, for two reasons.

First, the conditions on the ship are becoming increasingly desperate, as it's overcrowded and there's a short of blankets, clean clothes, food, and water. A 2-3 day trip in potentially stormy weather would be dangerous to the migrants.

Second, the NGOs would like the ship to dock immediately, so that the ship can continue to pick up the "migrants and refugees that leave Libya in boats every day."

However, as of Monday evening, the Aquarius has received no further instructions, and is still stranded in the same place as on Sunday evening. The Spain Report and Euro News and BBC

Italy cries victory, portending a growing EU migrant crisis this summer

The peak summer migrant season is beginning, which is a huge business where a lot of people are making a lot of money. Human traffickers charge migrants in Libya thousands of dollars each to make the trip to Europe. The fill each rubber dinghy with migrants to overcapacity, and send it out into the Mediterranean Sea. There is no intention that the rubber dinghy reach Europe directly. The dinghy will run out of gas just a few miles out, and then a rescue boat like the Aquarius is expected to rescue the migrants. Sometimes they're rescued, and sometimes they drown. In some cases, it's believed that the human traffickers notify an NGO that a dinghy is coming, and then the NGO gets a kickback for rescuing the migrants.

In past years, Italy has begged the EU for help, as thousands of migrants pour into the country each day. There was supposed to be a plan to distribute migrants to all 28 EU member countries, but many countries refused to accept any migrants at all. In past years, Italy's previous government had threatened to close all its ports to the migrant rescue ships, but they never did it.

So now Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini is taking a hardline stance, saying that he would not allow Italy to become "Europe’s refugee camp." He is threatening to go through with the threat to close all its ports to migrant rescue ships. This risks precipitating a full-blown crisis with the EU.

The EU is still holding meeting on distributing migrants to other countries, but getting nowhere. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said,

"If we are unable to come up with a common response to the migration challenges, the very foundations of the EU will be at stake. Action is really needed."

However, there seems little likelihood that anything can be accomplished. The migration problem has been the main issue that has resulted in the election of new "populist" candidates in Italy and elsewhere. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the increased xenophobia and nationalism resulting from the migration issue is extremely dangerous and destabilizing for the entire European Union. Reuters and Politico (EU) and Guardian (London) and Daily Express (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jun-18 World View -- Spain's offer to take in Aquarius migrants is rejected as dangerous to migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Jun-18 World View -- EU faces new crisis as Italy demands that Malta accept African migrants

Malta refuses to accept migrants, says it 'adheres to all obligations'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU faces new crisis as Italy demands that Malta accept African migrants


Rescue vessel carrying migrants (SOS Méditerranée)
Rescue vessel carrying migrants (SOS Méditerranée)

Italy is closing its ports to a migrant rescue ship with 629 migrants, including 123 children and seven pregnant women, and is demanding that the migrants disembark at a port in Malta.

SOS Méditerranée, which runs the Aquarius, picked up the 629 migrants in six different rescue operations off Libya's coast on Sunday. Standard practice in the past has been to dock at a port in Italy, and allow the migrants to be taken in by Italy.

Italy's new policy comes about following the formation of a "populist" government coalition between two parties, the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League). The two parties different on many issues, but they formed a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, as well as lacking any fiscal discipline. Matteo Salvini, the leader of La Lega and now interior minister in Italy's new coalition government, has promised that Italy will deport half a million illegal immigrants living in Italy.

Salvini has said that migrant rescue organizations act like "water taxis," and he has previously accused migrant rescue organizations like SOS Méditerranée of begin in cahoots with human traffickers. According to accusations that have been aired by some officials in the past, rescue organizations coordinate with human traffickers and then take a share of the profits. These accusations have been denied.

On Sunday, Salvini said the following:

"[Italy is saying] no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration.

Malta takes in nobody. France pushes people back at the border, Spain defends its frontier with weapons.

It is not possible for Malta to say 'no' to every request for help. The Good Lord put Malta closer than Sicily to Africa."

Salvini also says that he is considering legal action against organizations rescuing migrants at sea.

On Saturday, 400 other rescued migrants were disembarked in the Italian ports of Reggio Calabria and Pozzallo, after Malta refused to let them disembark there.

Referring to the authorities in Malta, Salvini said, "God placed Malta closer to Africa than Sicily and it cannot continue saying no to rescue requests. ... If anyone thinks I’ll allow another summer of (migrant) landings, without lifting a finger – that is not what I will be doing as minister of the interior."

However, Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of Palmero, which is the capital city of the Italian island of Sicily, has announced that he will defy the orders coming from Salvini, and will allow the rescue boat to dock at the port of Palmero. BBC and Malta Today and Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London)

Malta refuses to accept migrants, says it 'adheres to all obligations'

On Friday, the government of Malta after Malta reportedly refused a request from the Italian coast guard to assist with some 180 migrants in its capacity as the nearest safe port of call to the boat in distress.

Salvini said:

"The Good Lord put Malta closer to African shores than Sicily, Malta cannot always say ‘no’ to any request to intervene,”

[The vessel] waves as it sails past Malta and then lands in Italy. This is a mockery."

The government of Malta is deflecting any questions about whether it has ever accepted any migrants. In an interview on the BBC World Service, a government official refused to deny that the number of migrants it has taken in is "zero."

Malta's Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia said the following:

"Malta adheres to all its obligations at all times. With regards to Search and Rescue, Malta acts in accordance to the international conventions that apply. Malta will continue to respect these conventions with respect to the Safety of Life at Sea, as happened in this latest case and indeed in each case."

Malta said the rescue operations took place in international waters off Libya and were coordinated by Italy, and therefore, "Malta is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority in this case. Malta will observe prevailing laws."

As of Sunday evening, the rescue vessel Aquarius, with 639 rescued migrants on board, was 27 miles northeast of Malta, in international waters "awaiting orders." Independent (Malta) and Malta Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jun-18 World View -- EU faces new crisis as Italy demands that Malta accept African migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Jun-18 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches multiple terror attacks, then declares farcical ceasefire

Special Inspector General issues scathing report on US military in Afghanistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban launches multiple terror attacks on Afghan security forces


American soldiers in Camp Bost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Getty)
American soldiers in Camp Bost in Helmand Province, Afghanistan (Getty)

Afghan terrorists launched multiple coordinated attacks on Afghan security forces on Friday and Saturday. Almost 50 security force members were killed in Kunduz, Herat and Sar-e-Pul provinces.

According to officials, the Afghan National Army launched operations in eight other provinces against insurgents, killing over 80 Taliban and ISIS militants on Friday and Saturday.

The Taliban announced the beginning of its Spring Fighting Season in mid-May, and clashes and attacks have increased noticeably across the country, resulting in a rise in casualties among security and defense force members. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Khaama (Afghanistan)

The Taliban issues a farcical 3-day ceasefire statement

On Saturday, the Taliban issued a farcical statement declaring a 3-day ceasefire. As usual, Afghan and American political and military officials are leaping to the bait, hoping that this is a sign that the Taliban are ready for a "negotiated settlement." Here are some excerpts:

"Directives of the Leader for the Mujahideen during Eid days

In the name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful

In order that our countrymen participate in Eid prayers and other festivities with complete confidence during the joyous days of Eid, the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate must strictly comply with the following directives:

1 – All Mujahideen are directed to cease all offensive operations against the domestic opposition forces during the first, second and third day of Eid however if Mujahideen are attacked, they must defend with their utmost capability.

2 – Foreign occupiers are excluded from the above order. Continue your operations against them and target them wherever and whenever you find an opportunity. ...

5 – The Mujahideen should not participate in civilian congregations where there could be a danger of airstrikes so that our inhumane enemy will not be able to use it as an excuse for their blind bombardments and civilian tragedies."

The phrase "the domestic opposition forces" refers to the Afghan security forces.

So, the Taliban issues this statement declaring a 3-day ceasefire against "the domestic opposition forces" at the same time that it's conducting massive coordinated terror attacks against those same forces.

Furthermore, the "foreign occupiers," referring to the US-led coalition forces, are not included in the ceasefire.

The Taliban have repeatedly said that their objective is to force the US-led coalition forces to leave, after which they would easily defeat "the domestic opposition forces" in many parts of the country. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and Long War Journal

Special Inspector General issues scathing report on US military in Afghanistan

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has issued a "lessons learned" report for 2018 on the US experience in trying to implement a stabilization strategy in Afghanistan. The report says that pretty much everything the US forces did in Afghanistan was a failure, and that's a conclusion I agree with.

Before providing excerpts, let me remind long-time readers that I've been writing for almost ten years that a simple Generational Dynamics analysis shows that any sort of victory or stabilization against the Taliban is literally impossible.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

So even if the Taliban leaders agreed to some settlement, it would not satisfy their sons and daughters, who are not going to be deterred in their search for revenge. That's the way the world works.

The SIGAR report says, in many many words, that the Afghan stabilization operation has been a disaster. Here's a summary of the report's conclusions:

"Between 2001 and 2017, U.S. government efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan mostly failed.

The U.S. government overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan as part of the stabilization strategy. During the 2009 Afghanistan strategy reviews, President Obama and his civilian and military advisors set in motion a series of events that fostered unrealistic expectations of what could be achieved. They also ensured the U.S. government’s stabilization strategy would not succeed, first with the rapid surge and then the rapid transition. Under immense pressure to quickly stabilize insecure districts, U.S. government agencies spent far too much money, far too quickly, in a country woefully unprepared to absorb it. Money spent was often the metric of success. As a result, programming sometimes exacerbated conflicts, enabled corruption, and bolstered support for insurgents.

Every organization and agency that worked on stabilization in Afghanistan suffered from personnel and programming deficits borne from rapid scaling, short tours, and the pressure to make quick progress. Even harder than finding available civilians and soldiers was finding qualified and experienced candidates who were trained and equipped to understand and navigate local political economies.

Stabilization is inherently political, but given DOD’s size and resources the military consistently determined priorities and chose to focus on the most insecure districts first. These areas were often perpetually insecure and had to be cleared of insurgents again and again. Civilian agencies, particularly USAID, were compelled to establish stabilization programs in fiercely contested areas that were not ready for them.

Because the coalition focused on the most insecure areas and rarely provided an enduring sense of security after clearing them, Afghans had little faith their districts would remain in government hands when the coalition eventually withdrew and were often too afraid to serve in local government. Implementing partners struggled to execute projects amid the violence, the coalition had very limited access to and understanding of prioritized communities, and U.S. government agencies were unable to adequately monitor and evaluate the projects that were implemented.

As a result, powerbrokers and predatory government officials with access to coalition projects became kings with patronage to sell, fueling conflicts between and among communities. In turn, Afghans who were marginalized in this competition for access and resources found natural allies in the Taliban, who used that support to divide and conquer communities the coalition was keen to win over."

To anyone who understands the generational analyses of Afghanistan that I've been writing for ten years, none of the SIGAR conclusions are a surprise at all. Stabilization didn't work because stabilization is impossible in Afghanistan for the generational reasons given, and that will continue into the future.

Nonetheless, US military forces said on Friday that the US military fight in Afghanistan will be intensified.

As I've written in the past, there may be a dynamic going on, where the American military makes statements that the public wants to hear, even though they don't contain a word of truth. Donald Trump and the military understand that this war cannot be won, but there's a larger purpose. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and AP

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I love this picture -- from Saturday's G-7 meeting


Picture from Saturday's G-7 meeting in Canada
Picture from Saturday's G-7 meeting in Canada

BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jun-18 World View -- Afghan Taliban launches multiple terror attacks, then declares farcical ceasefire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Jun-18 World View -- Argentina faces major financial crisis as IMF loans it $50 billion

Protests grow against new IMF deal in Argentina

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Argentina faces major financial crisis as IMF loans it $50 billion


Protester holds up sign saying '[President] Macri + IMF = Poverty' (AFP)
Protester holds up sign saying '[President] Macri + IMF = Poverty' (AFP)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to lend Argentina's government up to $50 billion over a three year period to help the country stanch a monetary crisis that could end in default. President Mauricio Macri felt he was forced to get help from the IMF, even though most Argentinian people are bitterly angry at the IMF for pulling the plug on a previous bailout. Anti-IMF protests have already begun, demanding that Macri back out of the agreement.

The current crisis was triggered earlier this year, when an interest rate increase by the American Federal Reserve caused the yield (interest rate) on American 10-year Treasury bonds to rise to 3% for the first time since January 2014. This action by the American central bank had a domino effect on the currencies of other countries. Investors that had purchased bonds issued by other countries suddenly had the choice of purchasing American 10-year bonds, normally considered one of the least risky investments in the world, at a higher interest rate than before.

The currencies of so-called "emerging market" countries were the hardest hit, including Turkey, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. But Argentina, with an inflation rate of 21% and a rapidly growing pile of foreign-currency debt, was hit especially hard, with the result that the peso lost 20% of its value against the dollar.

Argentina's economy had been improving since president Mauricio Macri took office in 2015. But in retrospect, Macri made some serious error by going too deeply into debt denominated in dollars. When the Fed raised its interest rates to 3%, it raised the interest due on the money that Argentina had borrowed, and now the country far into debt that it cannot repay, and facing the possible disaster of a default. BBC and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bloomberg and Guardian (London)

Protests grow against new IMF deal in Argentina

The people of Argentina do not loath the IMF because the IMF is lending them $50 billion. The people of Argentina loath the IMF because the IMF imposes austerity commitment whenever it loans money, and the mention of austerity brings back bitter memories.

In the 1990s, Argentina's peso was pegged to the dollar. In 1998, the country faced a financial crisis, but was unable to devalue the currency without abandoning its peg to the dollar. In 2000, the IMF loaned Argentina billions of dollars, and imposed austerity requirements. When Argentina failed to meet its commitment, the IMF pulled the plug, sending Argentina into a $100 billion default.

The default was a major crisis for Argentina, which most people there blame on the IMF. However, the economy began to stabilize president Néstor Kirchner, who governed from 2003 to 2007. When Kirchner declined to run for another term, his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ran for president and won. The radical far left Cristina was president from 2007-2015, and undid all the good that her husband had accomplished, by raising public spending, nationalizing companies, and heavily subsidizing everything from utilities to football transmissions on television. (Cristina, by the way, in December 2017 was arrested for allegedly covering up Iranian involvement in a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish community center, in order to get favorable terms on Iranian oil.)

President Mauricio Macri is considered to have been fiscally responsible since taking office in 2015, especially after years of unbridled spending. However, he had no choice but to go to the IMF for help, which many Argentinians consider to be loathsome, and that may doom him in next year's elections. Buenos Aires Times and Economist and al-Jazeera (7-Dec-2017) and BBC (15-May)

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8-Jun-18 World View -- Macedonia name issue triggers more huge protests in northern Greece

Protesters in Greece demand that Macedonia's new name be 'erga omnes'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Macedonia name issue triggers more huge protests in northern Greece


Anti-Macedonia rally in northern Greece (Kathimerini)
Anti-Macedonia rally in northern Greece (Kathimerini)

Widespread opposition continues in Greece to agree to change the name of the "Republic of Macedonia" to another name that includes the word "Macedonia." Greeks refer to their northern neighbor as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM), although most of the rest of the world just calls it "Macedonia."

Greece has vetoed attempts by Macedonia to join either Nato or the EU because many Greeks consider "Macedonia" to be pure Greek name, as well as the name of their own province of Macedonia, and they oppose another other country using it as part of their own name. They are especially infuriated by Macedonia's claims that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. They claim that he was Greek because at that time the Kingdom of Macedon was part of Greece.

But now it appears that the governments of the two countries are close to agreeing to a new name. The solutions being discussed are adding a modifier to "Macedonia," to get "New Macedonia" (as in New Zealand) or "Northern Macedonia" (similar to North Korea) or "Upper Macedonia." They're under pressure to reach an agreement in time for an EU summit in late June and a Nato summit in mid-July. Once a name is agreed, the former Yugoslav republic can move forward with plans to join both the EU and Nato.

Tens of thousands of protesters in 23 northern Greek cities held rallies on Wednesday, with slogans such as "Macedonia is Greek," "Respect our history" and "There is only one Macedonia and it is in Greece, where King Phillip and Alexander the Great were born."

However, many politicians in Greece's New Democracy party are opposed to any name change that includes the world "Macedonia," while many politicians in Macedonia's VMRO-EPMNE party are opposed to changing the name of the "Republic of Macedonia" to anything else.

Even assuming that agreement can be reached on a name with "Macedonia" and a modifier, there are disagreements over portions of Macedonia's constitution, and whether allowing Macedonia into the EU would be a tacit agreement by Greece that people living in Greece's province of Macedonia could be under the jurisdiction of the country.

Article 49 of Macedonia's current constitution says the following:

"The republic is interested in the regime and the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats, by assisting in their cultural development and promoting bonds between them."

Macedonia has been asked, as part of any agreement on a new name, to remove this article from the constitution, but so far Macedonia has refused. Reuters and Kathimerini and al-Jazeera and Irish Times and Deutsche Welle

Protesters in Greece demand that Macedonia's new name be 'erga omnes'

The phrase "erga omnes" is a Latin term meaning "in relation to everyone." It has a technical meaning in international law referring to acts that are illegal for any nation, such as genocide, slavery, acts of aggression, and racial discrimination.

This high-powered legal term, erga omnes, is now being referenced to discuss the much more prosaic problem of how to rename "The Republic of Macedonia" in such a way that everyone in the world will be using the same name.

According to some reports, the name most likely to be chosen is Republic of Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonija), where Severna Makedonija is the Slavic version of the name Northern Macedonia.

The "erga omnes" question is whether the new name will be used by everyone in the world, or whether the new name will be used only by the European Union, Nato and the United Nations, with the rest of the world continuing to use "Republic of Macedonia."

That situation already exists with the country's current name. It's "Republic of Macedonia" to most of the world, but the official name within the United Nations, the EU and Nato is "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM).

So those in Greece who are opposing a settlement on the name are saying that unless an "erga omnes" policy is adopted, then nothing will change, except to replace one unused name (FYROM) with another (such as Severna Makedonija), but everyone will still just call it "Republic of Macedonia."

For these people, if there's any acceptable solution at all, then it has to be an "erga omnes" solution, where the country officially agrees to change its name to "Republic of Northern Macedonia," for the entire world. Kathimerini and Kathimerini and Kathimerini

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7-Jun-18 World View -- Turkey and Greece tensions rise with warplane dogfights over Aegean Sea

Deep millennia-old issues separate Turkey and Greece

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey and Greece tensions rise with warplane dogfights over Aegean Sea


Alexis Tsipris and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting in Athens last December (AFP)
Alexis Tsipris and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting in Athens last December (AFP)

On Tuesday, Turkish warplanes held a barrage of flyovers over the Aegean Sea, in some cases flying over Greece's airspace. The flyovers are in revenge for the release of the last four of eight military servicemen into protective custody.

Since the aborted coup attempt on Turkey on July 16, 2016, Turkey has been demanding the extradition of eight Turkish soldiers who fled to northern Greece after the coup. The eight soldiers, including two commanders, four captains and two sergeants, had escaped to Greece on a Sikorsky helicopter and landed in Alexandroupolis. The soldiers denied involvement in the coup, but said that they would not receive a fair trial in Turkey.

Greece refused to extradite them without an appropriate court hearing, and an extradition trial in Greece requested by Turkey. The detention period expired after 18 months, without Turkey having requested a trial in Greece. In March, the Council of State -- Greece’s highest administrative court -- ruled that the first of the eight men should be freed from detention, although he's barred from leaving Greece, and stays at a secret location with tight security, as his asylum application is ongoing. These rulings have continued, and on Tuesday the last four of the eight military servicemen were similarly freed.

According to a Greek analyst:

"The dilemma for the Greek authorities was that if these people were sent back to Turkey ... a fair trial is not guaranteed. And that was at a time [July, 2016] when the re-instatement of the death penalty was frequently discussed at many levels including [that of] President Erdogan.

So it was impossible for the Greek justice system to send them back. It has nothing to do with their actual guilt or innocence, it was about the right to a fair trial [if] they were sent back to Turkey."

Turkey refers to the eight soldiers as "putschists," and blamed Greece for harboring traitors:

"The release of all the fugitive putschists cannot be explained as a routine administrative decision pertaining to their detention period.

The release of the traitors who plotted a coup in order to overthrow democracy in a neighboring country by a country, which claims to be the cradle of the democracy conforms neither to international law, nor to good neighborly relations."

Turkey retaliated in March by seizing two Greek soldiers, who had crossed the border from Greece into Turkey. The soldiers say they inadvertently strayed across the frontier in bad weather.

In April, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan linked Turkey's seizure of the two Greek soldiers to the fate of the eight Turkish soldiers who had fled after the aborted coup: "It is not fair to be concerned only by the Greek soldiers and not be concerned about the Turkish soldiers." Greek Reporter and Radio France International and Hurriyet (Turkey) and Guardian (London, 12-March)

Deep millennia-old issues separate Turkey and Greece

On December 7-8, 2017, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid a state visit to Greece's president Alexis Tsipras in Athens, the first official visit between heads of state since 1952. It appears that no issues were resolved at that meeting, least of all the fate of the Turkish soldiers being held in Greece.

Wars between Greece and Turkey go back millennia, even celebrated in Greek mythology in the story of the Trojan Horse and the fall of Troy. In 1974, the countries fought a war over the island of Cyprus, with the result that the small island is split between a Greek portion and a Turkish portion. Cyprus unification talks are frequently scheduled, but with tensions growing between Greece and Turkey, they are unlikely to succeed.

Besides the issues of Cyprus and the soldiers being held by each side, there has been a growing disagreement over the sovereignty of hundreds of islands in the Aegean Sea. The boundaries between Turkey and Greece, and the disposition of the islets in the Aegean Sea, were settled by the Treaty of Lausanne, signed by both countries on July 24, 1923.

According to Erdogan, Turkey was deceived and cheated when it signed the Treaty of Lausanne, and he would like to renegotiate the treaty. Turkey has expressed the desire to renegotiate the treaty with a series of very belligerent military moves.

In February a Turkish vessel rammed a Greek coastguard ship as both patrolled the waters off the Greek isle of Imia, causing extensive damage. Imia is one of the islands that Erdogan is disputing, claiming that it should have Turkish sovereignty.

Tuesday's flyovers by Turkish warplanes over the Aegean Sea are just the most recent of what are being characterized as "dogfights," where almost on a daily basis Turkish warplanes violate Greek airspace, and the Turkish warplanes are intercepted by Greek warplanes on policing missions. Although deaths are uncommon, a Greek fighter jet crashed in April, killing the pilot.

It's hoped that Turkey-Greece tensions will reduce after Turkey's national elections on June 24. Kathimerini (Athens) and Business Insider and London School of Economics and Anadolu

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jun-18 World View -- Turkey and Greece tensions rise with warplane dogfights over Aegean Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Jun-18 World View -- In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea

Ethiopia's new PM lifts state of emergency two months early

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ethiopia's new PM lifts state of emergency two months early


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmedat (Getty)
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmedat (Getty)

Ethiopia on Tuesday lifted a state of emergency two months early. The state of emergency had been imposed in February, in response to riots and demonstrations by millions of people, mostly in Ethiopia's Oromia region. The state of emergency forbids unauthorized demonstrations or the distribution of politically sensitive material, and permits politically motivated arrests without charge.

The government is largely controlled by the ethnic Tigrays, who are a market and government dominant minority, comprising only 6% of the population. They are extremely authoritarian and have succeeded in marginalizing the other ethnic groups, and are said to have informants in villages throughout the country. They have succeeded in marginalizing the Oromo ethnic group, which comprises 34% of Ethiopia's population, and the Amhara ethnic group, which comprises another 27%. Since late 2015, massive anti-government protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region, later spreading to the neighboring Amhara region, left hundreds dead and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests.

In a major break with tradition, the Tigrays in April of this year permitted the selection of Abiy Ahmedat, 42, an Oromo leader, to be prime minister and leader of the governing coalition, in the hope of ending the chaos and bloodshed.

The early termination of the state of emergency is thought to be a positive sign that the situation is stabilizing, and that the reforms being implemented by Abiy are working. It's also being touted as an opportunity for investors to begin once again exploring investment opportunities in Ethiopia.

Since taking office, Abiy has visited major cities across Ethiopia, and appealed to anti-government protesters to give his administration time to work. He has also continued a campaign of releasing jailed dissidents. Officials hope that his reform policies will end the protests permanently.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's almost impossible that the mass protests will be permanently ended. Ethiopia is in a generational Awakening era, like America and Europe in the 1960s, or like Iran today, when mass protests are a frequent feature. Mass protests can end temporarily, or be suppressed by violence from the security forces, but they return.

Furthermore, whether protests by the Oromos may have temporarily ended, there are reports that violent attacks are still continuing against the ethnic Ahmaras. The Nation (Kenya) and CNBC and Addis (Ababa) Standard and TRT World (Turkey)

In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea

Just hours after Ethiopia lifted the state of emergency on Tuesday, the government took a major surprise step by announcing that it would fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with Eritrea.

In 1998, a 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 not fully implemented. Tuesday's announcement says that Ethiopia, for the first time, accepts the terms of the 2002 border commission report. The report awarded disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea.

The border war had begun in the May 6, 1998, in a battle for control of the border town of Badme. This town is described as nothing but a "humble, dusty market town," with no oil, no diamonds, and no apparent value, exception emotional. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia wanted the town, and at the time the resulting war was described as "two bald men fighting over a comb."

By accepting the agreement, Ethiopia will have to withdraw its occupying forces from all territories awarded to Eritrea, including the flashpoint town, Badme. Ethiopia also called on Eritrea to reciprocate the decision and work toward bringing a lasting peace between the people of the two countries.

As I described in my 2016 Generational history of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia is a Christian country, and Eritrea is a Muslim countries. Eritrea was an Italian colony in the 1800s, and both were in the late 1930s as "Italian East Africa." Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993, leading to the 1998-2000 border war. It's very unlikely that there will be lasting peace. Addis (Ababa) Standard and BBC and Al-Jazeera and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jun-18 World View -- In a surprise, Ethiopia accepts peace deal with Eritrea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Jun-18 World View -- Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests

Fears grow that Jordan will be the next victim of the 'Arab Spring'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests


Protests in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday (Sky News)
Protests in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday (Sky News)

Anger over a proposed tax law has triggered five days of mass protests in the streets of Amman, the capital city of Jordan, by thousands of protesters, forcing Jordan's prime minister Hani Mulki to hand in his resignation.

The protests were non-violent, but they are exceptional because any protests at all have been rare in Jordan for decades. Nonetheless, 60 people were arrested for breaking the law, and 42 security force members were injured.

Jordan's battered economy comes from an unemployment rate of 18.4%, with a burgeoning population in one of the arid countries in the world.

The wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan that began with the "Arab Spring" in 2011 have been particularly harsh Jordan's economy. According to the United Nations human rights agency (UNHCR), Jordan is hosting 750,000 refugees from these wars. There are 650,000 Syrians, and the others are from Yemen, Iraq and Sudan.

The proposed law would raise taxes on ordinary people by at least 5%, and on businesses by 20-40%. The tax increases are part of an austerity program required by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for an IMF loan of $723 million to Jordan in 2016. The tax increases come after five successive fuel price rises, electricity hikes, and the scrapping of bread subsidies.

Jordan’s King Abdullah replaced the departing prime minister Hani Mulki with Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, in the hope that al-Razzaz can form a government that will be able to find a magical way to solve all the economics. Petra (Jordan) and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

Fears grow that Jordan will be the next victim of the 'Arab Spring'


Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at last month's OIC meeting in Istanbul (hala.jo)
Jordan's King Abdullah shakes hands with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani at last month's OIC meeting in Istanbul (hala.jo)

The current protests were triggered by the proposed tax law that will substantially raise taxes on an already impoverished public.

But a scathing editorial in the Jordan Times describes how the situation in Jordan is far worse than simply the fact that people are extremely poor:

"From the view of the people taking part in the protests: government officials keep get high salaries regardless of the duration of their services, ministers get salaries for life even if they serve for one day, officials get luxury cars with drivers from taxpayers’ money, they do not pay for gasoline and thus are unaware of the burdens people are shouldering, they get to travel a lot to unneeded conferences and they get per diems for doing so, they send their children to expensive private schools, rather than poorly equipped government schools, they receive treatment at private hospitals or abroad as public hospitals are left for the needy, etc. People also complain that the government is not serious in tackling corruption, big and small, and is not doing much to improve basic services and cutting expenses and little is being done to ensure that services are being offered to citizens in a fair manner."

From time immemorial, this kind of situation where peasants and workers need protection from excesses of their élite leaders has led to popular protests, some more serious than others, some leading coups and revolutions.

The "Arab Spring" of 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulted in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria and other Arab countries. So far, Jordan has been relatively immune, but there are concerns that it's about to be Jordan's turn. The current crisis could spin out of control and play into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Jordan's crisis goes beyond its borders, especially since Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) began their blockade of Qatar in 2016. This sharp split among the Arab nations has had the effect of relegating Jordan to secondary status in the region. Saudi Arabia has stopped providing financial aid to Jordan, and refused to extend a five-year aid package worth $3.6 billion at the beginning of 2017.

The United States also provides $1.3 billion financial aid to Jordan each year, but the Trump administration may halt or reduce that amount as a result of a general review of foreign aid. The review comes atop of a sharp cut in US aid to UNRWA, the UN agency which is exclusively providing services to the roughly 2 million Palestinian Arab refugees and their descendants in the Hashemite kingdom, and which has increased the burden on the already very weak Jordanian economy.

Jordan's King Abdullah used to consider Iran to be the mortal foe of the Arab world, so the Arab world was shocked recently when King Abdullah had a very friendly handshake with Iran's president Hassan Rouhani during the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul.

Following last year's Saudi blockade of Qatar, there was a realignment of Mideast countries, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel on one side, and Qatar, Iran and Turkey on the other side. Abdullah's handshake with Rouhani suggests that Jordan is switching sides to the second alignment, as Abdullah desperately looks for financial aid. Jordan Times and Middle East Eye and Israel National News and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jun-18 World View -- Jordan's government in chaos as PM resigns in face of anti-government protests thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Jun-18 World View -- Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria

Nigeria's amnesty program in Niger Delta under fire

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria


Boy guarding herd of cattle in Nigeria
Boy guarding herd of cattle in Nigeria

I've written frequently about ethnic violence between farmers and herders in many countries -- Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South 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.

In Nigeria, the problem has become so serious that it appears that more people have been killed in conflicts between farmers and herders than in the conflict with Boko Haram -- or by the militancy in the Niger Delta in the south of Nigeria.

In the latest incident, in Nigeria's norther state of Zamfara, cattle thieves killed more than 20 people, and burned down their entire village.

The incident was described on the BBC by Mary Harper, the Africa editor (my transcription):

"In Zamfara state, which is in the far north of Nigeria, cattle thieves came on motorbikes into a village. Initially some vigilantes who had been set up by the local community tried to deal with these thieves who come regularly to try to steal their cattle. They managed to chase the cattle thieves away, but then the thieves came back again, and killed lots of the vigilantes, and other villagers, burned their houses down, and made off with many, many heads of cattle."

Several weeks ago, we reported on the killing of two priests because of farmer-herder conflicts in Benue State, in central Nigeria. Harper says that the motives for the violence in northern versus central Nigeria are the same, but it's perceived differently by the public because the farmers in central Nigeria are usually Christian:

"In northern Nigeria, it's a more a conflict between settled farmers and herding communities, or it's a criminals who basically just go into villages and attack nomads, and take their cattle. Cattle are worth a huge amount of money. There's about 80 million heads of cattle in Nigeria -- they're a precious resource.

So in the north, because most people are Muslim, it's more a matter of criminality. But in other parts of Nigeria, especially in the middle region, many of the farmers are Christian, and many of the herders are Muslim, so it's being portrayed by some people as a religious conflict, even though it's actually far more complicated than that."

The violence between farmers and herders in Nigeria appears to getting more and more serious, and with the huge amount of money involved, the government seems helpless to do anything about it. According to Harper:

"The government faces a huge challenge. It faces a big insurgency in the northeast with Islamists, militants, Boko Haram. And then in the south [in the Niger Delta], it has oil-related violence. So security forces are already very badly stretched, but at the more people are being killed in this violence related to cattle and farms, than in either the north with the Islamist insurgency, or the south. And even though they've deployed the military to that region, they seem unable to control it.

And often people say that the people in the government and the army are actually complicit in the problem, they're corrupt, they've become part of the problem, rather than trying to solve it."

The last remark about the complicity of government being part of the problem has been a theme in several of the reports I've written about farmer versus herder violence. In particular, it's been suggested that Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Fulani and owns large herds of cattle, has been complicit in some of the herder attacks on farmers. BBC and BBC

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Nigeria's amnesty program in Niger Delta under fire

Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta has the capacity to produce over two million barrels of oil per day, but for years militants have attacked national pipeline installations, causing national production to fall.

The militants use a practice known as "oil bunkering." Thieves cut into the pipes, attach spigots, and divert some of the oil for their own uses. The Niger Delta is dotted with illegal refineries that produce crude gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel. Much of the diverted oil spills onto the ground, creating an environmental nightmare, and the reset is used or sold by the militants.

In 2009, Nigeria implemented an unconditional amnesty for militants, known as the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP) or the Niger Delta Amnesty Program (NDAP). The program provided the militants with an income of about $180 per month, much more than the average worker in Nigeria. Approximately 30,000 people in the Niger Delta signed up for the free monthly income, although only 2,700 weapons were surrendered.

However, the free income program did appear to be cost effective. Before the amnesty, the militants reduced Nigeria's production capacity by 900,000 barrels per day. After the amnesty, the loss was reduced to 200,000 barrels per day.

The amnesty program was supposed to last only five years, but when it was discontinued in 2015, oil bunkering surged again. It was estimated that from January to October 2016, the government lost about $5.8 million in revenue because of the bunkering. So the amnesty program, and the free monthly payments, have been restored. Today, Nigeria's crude oil output is about 2.2 million barrels per day.

The amnesty program is seen by many as a waste of government money, since it gives free money to criminals.

However, Prof. Charles Dokubo, special advisor to president Buhari, insists that the amnesty program must continue:

"The alternative will be too ghastly to contemplate. ...

The fact is that to maintain the existing peace in the region is quite important for our function. If there’s a crisis in the region, then, basically all we are putting in place will not work.

You have oil revenue increasing and the Federal Government has some more money to pay into the amnesty program to also empower our people by training them and giving them the requisite skills to perform well in an economy that is open.

If that is done, for me, I would have achieved all that I want in the program."

However, violence has once again been increasing in the Niger Delta, so some further measures will be required. There's already a heavy Nigerian army presence in the Niger Delta, but the fact that they've been relatively ineffective leads many to believed that they're sharing in the actions of the militants. Vanguard (Nigeria) and Punch (Nigeria) and Forbes and AP (20-Jul-2013)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jun-18 World View -- Violence between herders and farmers surges in Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Jun-18 World View -- Europe faces challenges with new governments in Italy, Spain and Catalonia

Italy's markets stabilize as new 'populist' government takes office

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Spain's new government faces an immediate Catalonia problem


Catalonia's new government after swearing-in ceremony in Barcelona. (AP)
Catalonia's new government after swearing-in ceremony in Barcelona. (AP)

There were actually two new Spanish governments sworn in this weekend.

One was Spain's national government in Madrid, where the new Socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez was sworn in, after a vote of confidence defeated the conservative government led by Mariano Rajoy.

The other was the Catalonia government in Barcelona. Madrid imposed direct rule on Catalonia after declaring illegal a referendum on Catalan independence on October 1. Direct rule ended and Catalonia's new government was also sworn in on Saturday.

Catalonia's new president Quim Torra called for talks with Sánchez, to resolve the question of independence for Catalonia. Just minutes after Sánchez was sworn in, Torra said:

"Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, let's talk, let's address this issue, let's take risks, you and us.

"We need to sit down at the same table and negotiate, government to government. This situation we're going through cannot go on for even one more day."

I'm pretty sure this "government to government" stuff will not go over well in Madrid. If such a meeting occurs then it may not go well, since Torra wants Catalonia to be independent, while Sánchez opposes Catalan independence.

Rajoy lost the no-confidence vote that cost him his job because of recent court judgments that revealed a vast kickback scheme with Rajoy's Popular Party. Rajoy tried to skate by and insist that he wasn't involved, but the level of corruption was so great that former Rajoy supporters in the parliament switched sides and supported the no-confidence vote. AP and BBC and AFP and Bloomberg

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Italy's markets stabilize as new 'populist' government takes office

Spain's government crisis is largely internal, and is unlikely to become a crisis in Brussels. That's not true of Italy's governmental crisis, which promises to spread, and cause wider crises.

Italy's plummeting financial markets have mostly recovered and appear to be stabilized as the "populist" government that had appeared to collapse early in the week came to power, though with a different cabinet of ministers.

The "populist" coalition is between the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League), led by Matteo Salvini. Although the two parties differ on many issues, and distrust each other greatly, they decided to form a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, and particularly on the fact that they have no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Di Maio and Salvini had chosen as finance minister Paolo Savona, who in the past had raised objections to Italy being in the eurozone and euro currency. Fearing a financial disaster, Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, vetoed the selection of Savona, and the proposed government collapsed. Di Maio and Salvini, claimed that Mattarella was catering to the demands of Brussels and Berlin, rather than to the will of the people of Italy.

For a couple of days, Italy's government was in total chaos, and it looked like Mattarella had made a major political blunder. Despite the vitriolic political atmosphere in Rome, the chaos caused heads to cool, and Di Maio, Salvini and Mattarella reached a compromise, where Savona would be given a different job.

So now the European Union and the European Central Bank have to face the reality of dealing with Italy's new government. On the immigrant issue, Salvini wants to deport half a million illegal immigrants living in Italy, and he's being criticized as xenophobic, as are far-right parties in other countries, such as Germany's AfD and the National Front in France.

Economically, Italy is already a disaster, with public debt standing at €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). This also could cause a major eurozone financial crisis, significantly worse than the one caused by Greece's public debt.

But instead of looking for ways to reduce that debt, Di Maio and Salvini want to increase it by another €125 billion. Right-wing Salvini wants to cut taxes. Left-wing Di Maio wants to substantially increase public spending, including providing a guaranteed minimum income of €780 per month to each person.

So Italy's government has stabilized for now, but few people expect that stability to last long. Bloomberg and Euro News and CNBC and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jun-18 World View -- Europe faces challenges with new governments in Italy, Spain and Catalonia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Jun-18 World View -- Israel makes deal with Russia as Syria's al-Assad makes anti-US rant

Israel and Russia reach agreement to keep Iran out of Syria's south

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria's al-Assad makes delusional threats to US military


 Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks take positions near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (AFP)
Israeli Merkava Mark IV tanks take positions near the Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. (AFP)

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Thursday threatened to expel American forces from Syria:

"This is the first option. If not, we're going to resort to liberating those areas by force. We don't have any other options, with the Americans or without the Americans.

This is our land, it's our right, and it's our duty to liberate it. The Americans should leave, somehow they're going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis, and look what happened to them. They have to learn the lesson. Iraq is no exception, and Syria is no exception. People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore."

American forces in Syria are supporting the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting in Syria's eastern province Deir az-Zour against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

There are actually several reasons why American forces have a legal basis to be in Syria.

First, the US has the right to fight ISIS, which is a terrorist army within Syria's borders. ISIS has been using Syria as a launching pad for terrorist acts against targets in Europe, America, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, among others. ISIS has to be controlled, and al-Assad has an obligation to control it, but has been unwilling or unable to do so.

US-backed SDF forces have already defeated ISIS in their stronghold Raqqa, but ISIS is still a formidable fighting force in Deir az-Zour. Even today, many people believe that ISIS would have a resurgence in Syria if American forces simply withdrew, and al-Assad wants.

A second major reason that justified American and other foreign forces in Syria is that al-Assad has driven millions of refugees into neighboring countries, destabilizing the entire region. Because of al-Assad's genocidal attacks on innocent civilians, there five million that have fled to other countries, with 3.5 million in Turkey, almost one million in Lebanon, another million in Iraq and Jordan, and over a million in Europe.

Syria has an obligation to control its own population and, when it can't, affected nations have a right to respond.

A third reason, related to the last one, as we reported a few days ago, is that Syria has now enacted "Decree #10" which makes it impossible for refugees to return to their homes, even after the war ends, thus making their expulsion from Syria permanent.

This is the same kind of genocide and ethnic cleansing that's being performed by the government of Burma (Myanmar) against the Rohingya Muslims. Starting in 2013, Burma's Buddhist army has conducted genocide and ethnic cleansing, massacring, torturing, raping and mutilating thousands of Rohingyas. Burma's army have driven over 600,000 Rohingyas into neighboring Bangladesh, not only killing, raping and mutilating them, burning down their homes and villages. Furthermore, Burma is continuing the slaughter in order to prevent the community of Rohingyas from returning to their homes in Burma, thus completing the ethnic cleansing.

Al-Assad is doing exactly the same thing with "Decree #10," making it impossible for most Sunni Muslims to return to their homes. This means that the refugees will not be permitted to return home from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, Greece and other European countries. Al-Assad has an obligation to provide homes for his own people, and there's no reason why all these other countries should be forced to tolerate his ethnic cleansing.

There's a fourth reason why US forces are justified in Syria: They've been invited into Syria after all. Under the ceasefire "Astana agreement" worked out last year by Turkey, Iran and Russia, and approved by Syria, the US is responsible for maintaining the ceasefire in some of the de-confliction zones defined by the Astana agreement. So the US military has, in fact, been invited into Syria, albeit for a limited reason.

In addition to being the worst genocidal monster so far this century, al-Assad has been repeatedly delusional about the war in Syria that he created. Possibly the most spectacular example occurred in 2016, when al-Assad was using missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas, and other weapons on innocent women and children in markets, schools and hospitals, he bragged that the 'liberation' of Aleppo would be a 'historic event' that will end the war in Syria and be remembered long into the future.

Al-Assad has promised to regain control of all of Syria, but after the "easy" battles in Aleppo and Ghouta, his final victory is nowhere in sight, and he may not even succeed in the battles of Daraa in the south and Idlib in the north. The Hill and Washington Times and Russia Today and Independent (London)

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Israel and Russia reach agreement to keep Iran out of Syria's south

According to reports from Saudi and Israeli media, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met in Moscow with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, while President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed Syria on the phone.

The reports indicate that they reached agreement that Russia would prevent Iranian and Hezbollah forces from occupying a 40 km buffer zone in southern Syria along Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Furthermore, Russia gave Israel the "green light" to launch military operations against any threatening target, except positions of the forces of the Syrian regime itself.

Israel has been concerned that Iran and Hezbollah could build up troops and weapons in Syria along the border with the Golan Heights, and launch attacks on Israel from there. Israeli officials have repeatedly expressed concern to the Russians that an Iranian buildup on the border could lead to a war between Israel and Iran, something that Russia does not want. This security issue is apparently the main argument that Israel used to convince Russia to keep the Iranians out of the buffer zone.

However, the agreement is far less than Israel actually wants, which is the forced withdrawal of all Iranian troops and weapons from Syria. In the last few years, Israel has conducted repeated airstrikes on Iranian targets, apparently with the blessing of the Russians, who control the airspace over Syria.

However, a report from Debka, says that there is no agreement between Russia and Israel at all. Debka's reports are written from Israel's point of view, based on military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong.

According to the latest Debka report:

"Contrary to widespread reports, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces were moving into southern Syria on Friday, June 1 opposite the Jordanian and Israeli (Golan) borders. ...

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources stress once against that no agreement exists between Russia and Israel, or Russia and Iran and Syria for Iranian and Hizballah forces to exit southern Syria. It stands to reason that Tehran will never accept a deal to remove its military personnel from the south while Israel is left free to carry on striking Iranian military targets in other parts of Syria. Reports of deals are being pumped out from Russian sources alone."

Prior to the announcement of the Israeli-Russian agreement, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called on all non-Syrian forces to withdraw from Syria's southern border, as soon as possible. This would include Iranian and Hezbollah forces. Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia) and Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg and Debka (Israel) and Jerusalem Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jun-18 World View -- Israel makes deal with Russia as Syria's al-Assad makes anti-US rant thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Jun-18 World View -- Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now

Egypt mediates a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now


Hamas rally in Gaza
Hamas rally in Gaza

As another round of Gaza border violence after Friday prayers is possible again today, Israeli officials are hoping that a ceasefire mediated by Egypt will hold.

For weeks, starting on March 30, there would be clash between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli army on the border between Gaza and Israel. The clashes peaked on May 14, when 62 Gazans were killed, and hundreds of injured. According to Hamas, 50 of the 62 killed were members of Hamas, while the other 12 were civilians.

The latest burst of violence began on Tuesday evening of this week when, according to Israel's military, 180 Iranian-made rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza into Israel, reaching over six miles into Israeli territory. The rocket attack continued through Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. Seven Israelis were reported wounded by shrapnel in the rocket and mortar attack.

Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza, but it's believed that the rockets and mortars were launched not by Hamas but by another Gaza terror group, Islamic Jihad. It's not clear whether Hamas knew about the attacks in advance.

Israeli warplanes retaliated for the attacks by striking by striking 65 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout Gaza, according to the Israeli military. These targets included a tunnel that traversed Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and penetrated half a mile into Israel. No casualties were reported in Gaza. Israeli forces targeted encampments that appeared to have been vacated in anticipation of attack. AFP and Israel National News (16-May) and Haaretz

Egypt mediates a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas

The events on Tuesday and Wednesday were a major escalation of violence, the worst since the 67-day summer war between Israel and Gaza in 2014. United Nations officials expressed concern that the Gaza war would be restarted in full force.

The fighting stopped on both sides on Wednesday morning, thanks to a ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt. The ceasefire agreement also included a new attempt to reconcile the differences between the two political factions, Hamas in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas. Israeli officials are hoping that the ceasefire will hold, but new demonstrations are planned for next week on Tuesday, June 5.

After the 2014 Gaza War, Egypt brokered a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PA, to form a "unity government". The new government would contain ministers and MPs from both Hamas and Fatah, and would govern both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The concept of a Palestinian unity government has never been more than a delusional fantasy. After several decades of living separately in the Gaza and the West Bank, they are no longer a single Palestinian people. The two groups are as different as the French and the English.

Hamas has repeatedly refused to relinquish any of its control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas has tried squeezing Hamas economically in several ways, such as by cutting payments to Israel for the electricity that Israel supplies to Gaza. This led to sharp reductions in power in Gaza, less than four hours on many days.

Hamas is facing its worst crisis in years, with a severe cash shortage, living conditions being compared to an "open air prison," and unemployment rate of 40%. Hamas has lost several former allies -- the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria and Iran -- because of the coup in Egypt, and because Mideast wars in Syria and Yemen have dried up resources by former donors.

Hamas became so desperate that last year it agreed to some of the terms of the proposed unity government, including giving the PA some governing authority in Gaza. However, these attempts at reconciliation fizzled as quickly as they started.

However, the core differences are insurmountable without war. Hamas and PA will never reconcile, just as Hamas and Israel will never reconcile. The two-state solution is a fantasy.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Jews and the Arabs will have a major new war, re-fighting the bloody the war of 1948-49 that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war between Jews and Arabs will be part of a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Egypt Today and RTE (Ireland) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jun-18 World View -- Israel hopeful that Egypt's mediation has ended Gaza violence - for now thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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31-May-18 World View -- Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister

Mahathir promises to reduce Malaysia's debt and China's influence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister


92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad wins election to become prime minister (EPA)
92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad wins election to become prime minister (EPA)

Malaysia and the world were shocked on May 8 when the party 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad won 113 out of a total of 222 seats in the parliament, making Mahathir the new prime minister.

Mahathir defeated the incumbent prime minister Najib Razak, and it's believed that his surprising victory had to do with money. Voters were sickened by a scandal having to do with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), where the government cannot account for how billions of dollars were spent, though Najib denies any wrongdoing. However, six countries, including the United States, are investigating transactions related to the project.

Voters were also increasingly anxious about the country's increasing indebtedness, especially to China. Malaysia's relationship with China dominated the election campaign, as it has in many election campaigns in the past. Malaysians like the money that China invests in infrastructure projects, but are anxious about indebtedness to China and to the growing communities of Chinese workers.

Mahathir was previously prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He was a typical authoritarian leader, jailing and torturing the opposition, shutting down anti-government media, scorning human rights, and sometimes languishing in open anti-Semitism.

According to one story, he was accused of being "an angry man and will burn the whole country with his anger," and he responded:

"Yes, I am a very angry man, you can see how angry I am. I will burn you, I am always burning things."

As we've seen in many other countries, being a bloody, brutal leader doesn't harm his popularity, and may improve it. South China Morning Post (10-May) and Reuters (27-April) and Bloomberg (7-May) and Reuters (23-May)

Mahathir promises to reduce Malaysia's debt and China's influence


Chinese investment projects in Malaysia (SCMP)
Chinese investment projects in Malaysia (SCMP)

In the past few years, Prime Minister Najib Razak vastly expanded the extent of Malaysia's economic engagement with China, particular as a result of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, the country is now $251 billion in debt, and the new prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, has committed to reducing the debt.

Mahathir is planning harsh cutbacks. At a press briefing just after he was elected, he announced that 17,000 contractual employees would be dismissed, and ministers' salaries would be reduced by 10%.

A particularly sensitive cutback will be to the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board, in one of the world’s biggest aviation mysteries. Houston-based Ocean Infinity has been hired to search for the plane in the Indian Ocean, under the condition that they will be paid $70 million, but only if they succeed. Mahathir is reviewing that contract, along with many others, for possible cancellation.

Mahathir's first major canceled infrastructure project wasn't a Chinese investment at all. It's a planned high-speed rail link connecting Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur, with Singapore. The price tag is $17 billion. Mahathir told reporters that "It's not beneficial," but in Singapore there are concerns that the hostile relationship between Malaysia and Singapore in the previous Mahathir administration is now returning.

The biggest Chinese infrastructure project under scrutiny is the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). This is an important part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The rail link will connect several eastern Malaysian ports on the South China Sea to Kuala Lumpur, and then to the Strait of Malacca on the west coast.

Objections to previous Chinese infrastructure investments in Malaysia have focused on the presence of thousands of Chinese workers, heavy dependence on Chinese materials, and limited opportunities for local companies. In order to respond to those objections, and to avoid a repeat of past problems, former prime minister Najib said the link would create 80,000 jobs and the Chinese project operator would be obliged to give at least 70 percent of these to local workers.

The Chinese construction firm is offering to provide a loan of 85% of the $14 billion project value, with a grace period of seven years. However, many Malaysians are familiar with the "debt trap" disaster that occurred in Sri Lanka, and many are calling the ECRL project "the next Sri Lanka." The reference is to the Port of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and the government was forced to give the Port to China. So now Sri Lanka has a port owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

Mahathir would like to cancel the ECRL contract, but is discovering that it's not possible. According to the contract signed with China by the Najib government, Malaysia will have to pay billions of dollars of the loan plus interest, within three months of default. Mahathir hopes at least that costs can be reduced by eliminating some parts of the ECRL infrastructure. Malaysia Insight and CNN and CNBC and Reuters and Bloomberg and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-18 World View -- Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2018) Permanent Link
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30-May-18 World View -- Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea

China raises 'combat readiness' as US-China relations become increasingly hostile

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea


 Philippine President Duterte warns China over South China Sea development (AP)
Philippine President Duterte warns China over South China Sea development (AP)

Ever since taking office, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has sided with China, refusing to take a position opposing China's illegal activities in the South China Sea. This is particularly ironic for the president of the Philippines, since it was the Philippines that brought the lawsuit in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

As recently as two weeks ago, Duterte was defending his refusal to challenge China's activities in the South China Sea. Duterte said that the court ruling came before he took office, but he had no choice but to support China anyway:

"It did not come during my term. But then again, if I were the President at that time, what could I have done? I can send my Marines there. I can send every policeman there. But what will happen? They will all be massacred."

Duterte's decision was never particularly popular with the Philippines people. Polls show that China's favorable rating is around 54%, while America's approval rating is around 92%. Basically, the people of China and the people of the Philippines hate each other for historical reasons.

But now apparently Duterte has been stung by recent reports that China is basing bombers and cruise missiles on the illegal artificial islands. Furthermore, the Philippines is within range of these bombers and missiles. This has apparently infuriated a lot of people in the Philippines.

So Duterte's Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday announced that Duterte is setting some "red lines" which, if crossed by China, would lead to war:

"What is our red line? Our red line is that they cannot build on Scarborough [Shoal].

Another red line is: Nobody can get natural resources there on their own.

That's what the president said. If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war. He said: 'Bahala na.' He will go to war. So those were our red lines."

According to the internet, "Bahala Na!" is a Tagalog expression that perfectly encapsulates the typical Filipino attitude towards life. The oft-used phrase Bahala Na can be translated into English as: Come what may. What happens will happen. Scholars tend to label it as a form of fatalism. Inquirer (Philippines, 21-May) and Philippines Star and Tagalog Language

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China raises 'combat readiness' as US-China relations become increasingly hostile

Two U.S. Navy warships conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) on Sunday in the South China Sea, near islands occupied by China in the Paracel Islands. This is the location where, as we reported several days ago, China is building barracks capable of housing thousands of soldiers.

According to China's foreign ministry:

"The US Warships' unauthorized entry into China's territorial waters off the [Paracel] Islands again has violated the Chinese law and relevant international law, severely undermined China's sovereignty and put in jeopardy the peace, security and sound order in relevant waters. China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the relevant act of the US, and strongly urges it to immediately stop such provocation that infringes upon China's sovereignty and threatens China's security. China will continue to take every necessary measure to safeguard its sovereignty and security."

It's laughable for China to reference "international law," when China itself does not recognize international law. As for Chinese law, who care? If China won't recognize international law, then why should we recognize Chinese law?

The "relevant international law" is the Tribunal ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal, which means that Chinese officials are international criminals.

Relations between the US and China in the South China Sea are becoming increasingly hostile. China is building hundreds of buildings on its illegal islands, as we recently reported, allowing thousands of troops to be stationed there.

Shortly before that, China announced that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea. And that announcement came just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

The US responded by withdrawing an invitation for China to take part in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Drill, because China's activities in the South China Sea "raise tensions and destabilize the region." This was followed by Sunday's FONOP, which was different from previous FONOPs because it used two warships instead of just one.

China's foreign ministry threat, was followed by reports that the U.S. Navy considers that the actions of Chinese warships on Sunday was "safe but unprofessional," because the Chinese ships maneuvered erratically.

In the last two days, there have been additional reports about China's militarization of its illegal islands.

China announced that it has set up an "intelligent microgrid" that will supply electricity to weapons systems on all of China's artificial islands. According to Chinese media:

"The microgrid also aids military personnel and weaponry, analysts said.

Stable electricity underwrites military stations and daily military operations in the South China Sea. Surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, for example, need not depend solely on electric vehicles, said Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator.

The service life of weaponry can be extended by reducing their reliance on self-contained chargers, Song told the Global Times on Monday.

Stable electricity was also critical at armories and arms depots for handling the high temperatures, humidity and salinity of the islands, Song noted."

According another report in Chinese media, China is aggressively developing its next generation of nuclear weapons:

"China is aggressively developing its next generation of nuclear weapons, conducting an average of five tests a month to simulate nuclear blasts, according to a major Chinese weapons research institute.

Its number of simulated tests has in recent years outpaced that of the United States, which conducts them less than once a month on average. ...

Over the past three years, Chinese nuclear scientists have performed more such tests than their American counterparts have in 15 years.

In tunnels deep under mountains in Mianyang, southwestern Sichuan province, where China’s main nuclear design facilities are based, loud blasts from these experiments can be heard more than once a week.

In comparison, between 2003 and 2017, the US fired a total of 150 simulated shots at its Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (Jasper) facility at the Nevada National Security Site."

These new military developments seem to be coming more and more quickly, as if China is rushing to meet a target date to launch a war. I've seen one estimate that the target date is 2020, but it could just as easily be 2019 or 2021. Foreign Ministry of China and AP and Global Times (Beijing) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-18 World View -- Philippine President Duterte reverses position, says he would go to war with China over South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2018) Permanent Link
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29-May-18 World View -- Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit

Italy's president Mattarella selects a 'technocrat' as prime minister

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit


Italy's parliament building
Italy's parliament building

Last week, we reported on the formation of a 'populist' coalition between the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The (Northern) League), led by Matteo Salvini.

Although the two parties differ on many issues, and distrust each other greatly, they decided to form a coalition based on their shared anti-euro, anti-EU and anti-immigrant policies, and particularly on the fact that they have no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Di Maio and Salvini chose Giuseppe Conte, an obscure law professor with no political experience, to serve as prime minister, to be confirmed by the parliament.

But they also chose Paolo Savona to be finance minister, someone who at one time in the past raised objections to Italy joining the eurozone. Following constitutional procedure, Conte submitted Savona's name to Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella. Mattarella, who is staunchly pro-Europe, vetoed the choice of Savona, based on his previous statements about the eurozone, even though he says that he no longer believes them. Conte resigned, and the entire proposed government collapsed.

This infuriated Di Maio and Salvini, who claimed that Mattarella was catering to the demands of Brussels and Berlin, rather than to the will of the people of Italy. Di Maio called for the impeachment of Mattarella, something unlikely to be successful under Italy's constitutional system.

Salvini demanded new elections, believing that his Northern League would gain addition seats in parliament. "In a democracy, if we are still in democracy, there's only one thing to do, let the Italians have their say," he said. Deutsche Welle and CNBC and Handelsblatt (Berlin)

Italy's president Mattarella selects a 'technocrat' as prime minister

President Mattarella said he vetoed Savona's appointment as that would have "alarmed markets and investors, Italians and foreigners." He pointed out that the threat of leaving the eurozone was causing investors to increase the bond spread. (This means that investors are losing faith in Italy's ability to repay its debt, and so investors are forcing Italy to pay higher interest rates when it borrows money.)

Indeed, Italy's economy is at crisis levels. Today, Italian debt stands at around €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). That's worse than Greece's situation when it was being bailed out in 2010. At that time, Greece's debt as "only" 127% of GDP.

The Di Maio-Salvini plan was to simply ignore Italy's crushing debt, and spend a lot more money, give away a lot of free stuff such as a guaranteed income, and reduce taxes.

Even more ominous was a hare-brained plan to issue a new kind of government bond, called a mini-Bot. (Bots are Buoni Ordinari del Tesoro, a common Italian Treasury bill or short-term credit note.) The mini-Bots would be backed by expected tax receipts in the future, meaning that the government would be spending future income before they even had it. Furthermore, the mini-Bots could be used to pay for taxes or other payments to the government, giving the feeling that mini-Bots were a new Italian currency. There would be nothing to prevent stores from accepting mini-Bots as payment, or to prevent brokers from establishing a black market exchange rate between the mini-Bot and the euro.

The mini-Bot proposal means that the Di Maio-Salvini government could, at some time in the future, repudiate its euro-based debt, leave the eurozone, and use the mini-Bots as currency.

This was all apparently too much for president Mattarella, and he vetoed the selection of Paolo Savona as finance minister, causing the entire government to collapse.

In order to stabilize the markets, Mattarella decided to make Carlo Cottarelli the new prime minister. Cottarelli will be a "technocrat," meaning that he won't be implementing any political policies, but will only do the bare minimum to keep the government running, until there can be new elections at the beginning of next year.

Carlo Cottarelli is a former official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and he is known as "Mr. Scissors" because of his cost-cutting policies. So investors' concerns should be soothed, provided Cottarelli is able to govern. But it's not clear that he can govern. He will receive no support from Di Maio or Salvini, and little or no support in parliament from MPs for the Five-Star Movement or The League. That means that Cottarelli will be unable to get the parliament to pass his proposed budget, and that will cause Cottarelli's government to collapse just as quickly as Conte's government collapsed.

In that case, there will be an emergency election in August or September. If Matteo Salvini is right, then the furious voters will elect even more MPs from the two populist parties, to get revenge for what they see as foreign interference from Brussels or Berlin. The next election will be seen as a referendum on whether Italy should stay in the eurozone, so president Mattarella's move to force the Di Maio-Salvini government to collapse may be what causes Italy to leave the eurozone after all. Sputnik News and Guardian (London) and The Street

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-18 World View -- Italy's 'populist' government collapses, threatening eurozone exit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2018) Permanent Link
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28-May-18 World View -- Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police

US Ambassador Peter Barlerin accuses Cameroon government of 'targeted killings'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police


Youth wearing a T-shirt protesting the 'Francophonization' of Anglophones (Deutsche Welle)
Youth wearing a T-shirt protesting the 'Francophonization' of Anglophones (Deutsche Welle)

Twenty-two people were killed on Friday in the Anglophone (English-speaking) region of Cameroon by army and security forces from the Francophone (French-speaking) government of 85-year-old president Paul Biya, who has been in power for more than 35 years.

This is the latest violence in a growing civil war in the Southern Cameroons, the Anglophone region of Cameroon.

The violence started in November 2016, when peaceful protests began with claims by Anglophone lawyers that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. Anglophone teachers joined in, protesting that all courses in the schools had to be taught in French, and that any use of English was forbidden. The Francophone police responded by committing atrocities.

The atrocities by Francophone security forces grew during 2017, and took a particularly dangerous turn on September 22. What always happens in these situations, as I've described in Syria, Cambodia, Burundi, and a number of other countries, is that government officials feel threated by peaceful protests by the opposition, and respond to the peaceful protests with violence and atrocities. This kind of extreme overreaction leaves everyone stunned and shocked at first, but it doesn't have the intended effect of ending the peaceful protests. Instead, more people from the opposition join the peaceful protests, and this leads to more violence and atrocities by the government. Finally, the activists within the peaceful protesters begin to commit their own acts of violence. Once that happens, the government is free to call all the peaceful protesters "terrorists," and then they can use unbridled violence against all of them, including rape, jailings, and torture.

In Cameroon, the violence and atrocities by Biya's government continued throughout 2017, in various forms. Finally, activists formed a secessionist group called the Liberation Movement of Southern Cameroons. On October 1 of last year, and declared independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia.

The name Ambazonia comes from the Ambas Bay. The bay which is located in southwestern Cameroon is considered as the boundary between Southern Cameroons and the Republic of Cameroon. In 1858, British missionary Alfred Saker founded a settlement for freed slaves at the bay which was later renamed Victoria. Britain established the Ambas Bay Protectorate in 1884 with Victoria as its capital.

Biya's Francophone government responded with massive violence, arresting hundreds of people, and using helicopter gunships to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. Hundreds of people have been killed, and hundreds more are missing. This triggered a mass flight of refugees across the border into neighboring Nigeria.

In an apparent attempt at ethnic cleansing, the Francophone army has burned down dozens of Anglophone villages, and burned down houses with people inside. In response, the separatists have been burning down state buildings and institutions, including schools.

So now there's violence on both sides. The atrocities and violence by the Francophone government targeting the peaceful Anglophone protesters radicalized some Anglophone activists into violence and declaring an independent state of Ambazonia. Now the Anglophone government can claim that tens of thousands of "terrorists" have been killed, jailed, tortured, disappeared, or forced to flee into Nigeria. VOA (27-May) and The Citizen (Tanzania) and VOA (23-May)

US Ambassador Peter Barlerin accuses Cameroon government of 'targeted killings'

Peter Henry Barlerin, the US ambassador to Cameroon, said last week:

"April has proven the bloodiest so things are not getting better.

On the side of the government, there have been targeted killings, detentions without access to legal support, family, or the Red Cross, and burning and looting of villages. On the side of the separatists, there have been murders of gendarmes, kidnapping of government officials, and burning of schools. People on both sides of the conflict have engaged in speech that dehumanizes the opposite side."

Barlerin also "suggested to President Biya that he should reflect on his legacy and how he wants to be remembered in the history books."

However Issa Tchiroma Bakary, spokesman for Cameroon's Francophone government, said:

"We do not accept the infantilization of the Cameroonian nation. It is with full knowledge of the facts that they (Cameroonians) put their ballot in the ballot box.

[The Cameroonian people] are sovereign, and not likely to accept any diktat from whatever power."

The minister described Biya as "a man of honor."

There have been some reports that ambassador Barlerin has returned to Washington, but those reports are unconfirmed. Deutsche Welle (18-May) and Journal du Cameroun and Africa News (20-May) and Journal du Cameroun (24-May)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-18 World View -- Dozens killed in English-speaking Cameroon region by French-speaking government police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2018) Permanent Link
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27-May-18 World View -- U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria

Syria passes new 'Law #10' to block refugees from returning home after the war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria


A bulldozer clears debris from the streets in Deraa, Syria July 25, 2017 (Reuters)
A bulldozer clears debris from the streets in Deraa, Syria July 25, 2017 (Reuters)

The U.S. State Department is warning the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad that the U.S. will take "firm and appropriate measures," if al-Assad violates a ceasefire deal in the southern province of Deraa.

The U.S. warning was triggered when Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on Deraa, threatening a military offensive. One of the leaflets includes a picture showing lined up bodies, saying, "This is the inevitable fate of anyone who insists on carrying arms."

By means of massive bombing campaigns by Syrian and Russian warplanes, especially targeting women and children in hospitals, schools and markets, including the use of barrel bombs containing chlorine and sometimes Sarin gas, the al-Assad regime has almost completed taking control of the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. The dropping of leaflets indicates that al-Assad plans next to turn his attention to Deraa.

Deraa is a critical region because it's on the border with Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, so action by Syria and its allies Iran and Hezbollah could spiral into a escalating military clash with Israel. Deraa is a mostly Sunni Arab province under the control of almost a dozen anti-Assad rebel groups, varying in ideology from moderate to jihadist. Some reports indicate that Israel has provided support for rebels and civilians in Deraa, treating them in their hospitals and providing weapons and other aid. The National (Abu Dhabi) and Sputnik (Moscow) and Al Jazeera (Doha)

US State Department warns the Syrian regime of 'firm and appropriate measures'

On Friday evening, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert issued a statement warning of "firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations" in Deraa:

"The United States is concerned by reports of an impending Assad regime operation in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November. The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it. We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardize the ceasefire. As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations.

The Presidents of the United States and Russia agreed in Da Nang to de-escalate the conflict. This agreement must be enforced and respected. Russia has declared to the world and to the UNSC that it will “guarantee” ceasefires in its self-declared de-escalation zones. Unfortunately, the Assad regime, with the support of Russia and Iran, has repeatedly violated these de-escalation zones, most recently in its brutal assault on East Ghouta. The Assad regime and its allies continue to prolong the conflict by ignoring their own de-escalation agreements and stonewalling the Geneva process.

Russia is duly responsible as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to use its diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives. Russia has blocked UN Security Council actions that would have held Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons and possibly saved innocent lives in Syria 11 times so far in this conflict. Six of those vetoes related to the use of chemical weapons, and others were providing humanitarian access and aid, and ceasing attacks against civilians. Russia should live up to its self-professed commitments in accordance with UNSCR 2254 and the southwest ceasefire, embodied in the Da Nang Statement issued by Presidents Trump and Putin."

This would not be the first time that Syrian-backed attacks on a "US-enforced de-escalation zone" in Syria. On February 7, Syrian-backed forces tried to cross the Euphrates River to attack US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria. The result was a disaster for the Syrian forces, as several hundred were killed, and the rest were forced to flee in retreat.

I referred to this incident in yesterday's World View article, since it's emerged that the Syrian-backed forces were actually mercenaries working for the Russian military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC). Wagner is sometimes called "Vladimir Putin's personal army," referring to the president of Russia, and is often asked to perform Putin's "dirty work," allowing him deniability.

Bashar al-Assad has stated that his objective is to regain control of all of Syria. But anti-Assad rebels still control large contiguous areas of territory in the northwest and southwest. Kurdish and allied Arab militia in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), back by the US hold the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates. RTE (Dublin) and US State Dept. and Debka (Israel) and The National (Abu Dhabi)

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Syria passes new 'Law #10' to block refugees from returning home after the war

On April 2, the Syrian government of the Bashar al-Assad regime passed "Law #10," a complex new property law that requires property holders in Syria to produce documentation to formally prove ownership of their private property within a period of 30 days, or face confiscation.

There are six million internally displaced refugees in Syria, and five million that have fled to other countries, with 3.5 million in Turkey, almost one million in Lebanon, another million in Iraq and Jordan, and over a million in Europe.

The intention has always been that these refugees would return home when the war ended, al-Assad's clear intention is to make that impossible, since their homes will be confiscated unless they can return quickly with the proper documentation, which is obviously impossible for the vast majority.

Even worse, any property owner wishing to register his lands must first obtain approval from state security officials, which means that anyone identified as having had anti-Assad sympathies can be arrested.

Every time I think that this psychopathic monster Bashar al-Assad can't get any worse, he fools me by coming up with something new and horrific beyond belief. Al-Assad has been conducting genocide and ethnic cleansing against Arab Sunnis in Syria, and now he's taking steps to make sure that anyone who fled his violence can't even return home. Al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century, comparable to Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot in the last century.

Lebanon is a country of four million people, and has had its resources enormously strained by a million refugees that officials had hoped would one day go home. Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri lambasted the legislation, saying, "This total invention of Decree 10 has no purpose but to prevent these displaced from going back to their country." Daily Star (Lebanon) and AFP and Syria Direct (17-Apr) and Needa (Syria, 5-Apr) and SANA (Damascus, 2-Apr) (Trans)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-18 World View -- U.S. threatens 'firm measures' against al-Assad's military action in Deraa, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2018) Permanent Link
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26-May-18 World View -- Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France

The rise of Russia's military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France


Map of Central African Republic, showing zones of influence of armed groups (Conflict Intelligence Team)
Map of Central African Republic, showing zones of influence of armed groups (Conflict Intelligence Team)

On October 9, 2017, president Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic (CAR) flew to Sochi, Russia, and met privately with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. The readout from the meeting said:

"The officials reaffirmed their countries’ resolve to build up practical cooperation in the political, trade, economic and cultural areas and pointed to the considerable potential for partnership in mineral resources exploration, in the energy area, as well as in the delivery of Russian industrial equipment and farming machinery to the Central African Republic."

Although the exact text of the agreement has remained secret, it has unfolded over time to mean that Russian mercenaries and military advisers have been protecting Touadera and his regime in Bangui, the capital city of CAR, taking over a portion of the responsibilities formerly assumed by French troops, and by MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic).

In addition, Russia has been supplying masses of weapons to Touadera's army. Normally, CAR is under a UN arms embargo, and it's illegal for any UN member to send any weapons into CAR, but Russia was able to obtain a waiver from the UN Security Council to do so.

Among the weapons delivered this year are 900 Makarov pistols, 5,200 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 140 sniper rifles, 840 Kalashnikov PK 7.62-millimeter machine guns, 270 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 20 man-portable anti-air defense systems, hand grenades, mortars and millions of rounds of ammunition. Russian weaponry and parts are compatible with what Soviet-era arms remain in the CAR armories.

One estimate suggests there are now 1,400 armed Russians in the CAR, most of them employees of private military contractor Wagner PMC, operating under the name Sewa Security Services.

In return, Russia is being granted access to exploit CAR's oil, precious ores, and rare earth minerals. Russia will develop infrastructure for strategic military bases, and commercial relations with telecoms and other industries. Jamestown and AFP and Turkey Telegraph (24-Apr) and Monde Afrique (9-May) (Trans)

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The rise of Russia's military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC)


Sergei Borisovich Kim, Chief of Operations in Wagner Private Military Company (Inform Napalm)
Sergei Borisovich Kim, Chief of Operations in Wagner Private Military Company (Inform Napalm)

In February, I wrote "9-Feb-18 World View -- US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) clash with Syrian regime forces" in Deir az-Zour in eastern Syria. In that article, I wrote:

"The war in Syria may have gotten even more chaotic on Thursday when US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), backed by US warplanes, clashed with pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies. The pro-regime forces launched a massive, coordinated attack on the SDF, and were driven back with the aid of US warplanes.

The US had been observing the buildup of the pro-regime forces for several days, as they prepared for this assault on the SDF. During that period, the US forces contacted the Russians over an established "de-confliction" hotline that was set up to prevent such clashes. However, the pro-regime forces attacked anyway, and the SDF forces counter-attacked in self-defense."

As I described at the time, the Pentagon estimated that 100 regime fighters were killed. The Syrian regime said that the US-backed forces had committed a "barbaric aggression" representing a "war crime."

Since then, it's come out that the "pro-regime Syrian army forces and allies" were actually a Russian military contractor Wagner Private Military Company (Wagner PMC). The clash with the American backed SDF forces was a complete disaster for Wagner, as hundreds of Wagner mercenaries were unable to return to their families in Russia.

However, this debacle was not the end of the contracting firm. This is the same Wagner PMC that we described above as operating today in Central African Republic under the name Sewa Security Services.

Wagner PMC is a private military company, but is sometimes called "Vladimir Putin's personal army." It's thought to be closely connected to Russian military and intelligence organizations, and it performs "dirty work" about which Putin wished to maintain deniability.

Wagner has a core of over 4,800 well-trained, well-paid combat troops. In additional to military operations in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Central African Republic and other countries, it has "business-related" activities, such as protecting oil and gas fields in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to reports, Wagner PMC has risen to prominence because of financial support from Russian billionaire Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin has also been identified as the head of Russia's "fake news" empire, including the famous St. Petersburg troll factory that turns out hundreds of Russian trolls who constantly attack people like me when we write about Russia. According to some reports, at the zenith of the U.S. election campaign, the troll factory’s accounts across different social media platforms would churn out as many as 50 million posts a month. Inform Napalm (20-Feb) and Jamestown (18-Apr) and Moscow Times (24-Mar-2017) and Conflict Intelligence Team (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-18 World View -- Russia gains foothold in Central African Republic, displacing France thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2018) Permanent Link
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25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit

China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit


Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump
Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

In my opinion, Thursday's cancellation of the planned June 12 summit meeting between president Donald Trump and North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is a major diplomatic disaster for Kim.

Two weeks ago, when talk of the summit meeting was still in the Pollyannaish honeymoon stages, I wrote "13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations." I gave a list of reasons, but the main reason were that the core objectives of the US and North Korea were in conflict and couldn't be reconciled or compromised. These conflicting objectives are:

These are incompatible core objectives that cannot be resolved except by military action. The Trump administration has made numerous promises in the hope of getting North Korea to denuclearize -- promises that Kim Jong-un would be safe and remain in power, promises that sanctions would be lifted, promises that enormous aid would pour into North Korea, making the country economically equivalent to South Korea. Kim would get all that, simply be denuclearizing which, in my opinion, will never happen except with military action.

So given those realities, what have the North Koreans been up to these last few weeks? In my opinion, they have had one and only one objective: Use diplomacy to force the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

They've succeeded in this objective several times in the last three decades, most recently in 2008. They committed to ending nuclear weapons development and even blew up a nuclear cooling tower to prove it. The Bush administration accepted their promises and agreed that all sanctions should be lifted. The sanctions were lifted, and North Korea immediately resumed nuclear weapons development. They completely humiliated and diplomatically defeated the United States and the Western world. It was a total North Korea diplomatic victory of enormous proportions.

So every step that North Korea has taken in this year has been with only one objective: To repeat the diplomatic victory of 2008, to get the sanctions lifted, while continuing nuclear weapons and missile development.

The Trump administration has outplayed North Korea at every stage:

The letter that Donald Trump sent to Kim Jong-un on Thursday was, in my opinion, a negotiating masterpiece:

"Dear Mr. Chairman:

We greatly appreciate your time, patience, and effort with respect to our recent negotiations and discussions relative to a summit long sought by both parties, which was scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore. We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting. Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place. You talk about nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.

I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me, and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters. Some day, I look very much forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the release of the hostages who are now home with their families. That was a beautiful gesture and was very much appreciated. If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write. The world, and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth. This missed opportunity is a truly sad moment in history."

This letter has left North Korea in a desperate diplomatic position. They had hoped to use diplomacy to force Trump to agree to lift the sanctions. They proposed a summit meeting that they didn't want, but it was accepted anyway. They tried to sabotage the summit meeting, but that backfired and they're receiving the blame for the canceled summit meeting. Now they have to try something else.

Trump's cancellation of the summit meeting was another negotiating ploy, with the purpose of gaining a negotiating advantage. It is not the end of the story. The North Koreans are already issuing conciliatory statements, looking to gain the moral high ground after Trump's cancellation. It's still possible that the summit meeting will be held. But the two core irreconcilable objectives that I listed at the beginning of this article are still in place. CNN and White House and KCNA

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China prepares to station thousands of troops in South China Sea

Satellite imagery has revealed that China has built hundreds of buildings on the artificial island that China has created illegally on Subi Reef in the South China Sea. This is on top of existing military infrastructure that includes emplacements for missiles, runways, extensive storage facilities and a range of installations that can track satellites, foreign military activity and communications. Analysts say that the buildings could house 1500-2400 troops.

This revelation occurs just a few days after China announced that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea.

And that announcement came just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

The Pentagon on Thursday withdrew an invitation for China to take part in the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Drill, the world's biggest multinational naval drill, scheduled for this summer. The purpose of the drill is to help build cooperation among nations, and China was invited to take part in the last two drills, in 2014 and 2016.

The Pentagon withdrew China's invitation this time because China's activities in the South China Sea "raise tensions and destabilize the region." Sputnik and Business Insider and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2018) Permanent Link
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24-May-18 World View -- Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal

China blames Australia and threatens retaliation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal


China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017
China's foreign minister Wang Yi and Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, on 7-Feb-2017

China is expressing renewed fury at Australian politicians after an explosive speech delivered to Parliament on Tuesday evening accused a prominent wealthy Australian politician of Chinese descent of an explosive bribery participant.

The politician, Dr. Chau Chak-wing, is accused of being linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and of being a previously unnamed co-conspirator in a 2013 case where United Nations General Assembly president John Ashe was bribed with $200,000, along with tens of thousands of dollars in custom suits and clothes, to obtain UN backing for a number of multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure projects in including Antigua and Barbuda, and other countries. Before becoming president of the General Assembly, Ashe was the ambassador to the UN for Antigua and Barbuda.

Ashe died before he could be convicted, but two co-conspirators were convicted by the US Dept. of Justice in New York in 2016:

"Shiwei Yan, a/k/a “Sheri Yan,” the co-founder and former chief executive officer of the Global Sustainability Foundation, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court today to 20 months in prison for paying more than $800,000 in bribes to John W. Ashe (“Ashe”), the late former Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda (“Antigua”) to the United Nations (“UN”) and 68th President of the UN General Assembly. Yan pled guilty in January 2016, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick.

U.S. Attorney Bharara stated: “As she admitted in court at her guilty plea, Shiwei Yan bribed the President of the UN General Assembly with hundreds of thousands of dollars to further private business interests. For her role in corrupting the United Nations, Yan will serve time in a federal prison.”"

Another co-conspirator, Heidi Hong Piao, a/k/a “Heidi Park”, was convicted at the same time. The complaint also named a third co-conspirator, a "Chinese real estate developer" only identified as "CC-3":

"YAN and Piao also arranged for ASHE to be paid $200,000 in exchange for attending a private conference in China in Ashe’s official capacity, hosted by a Chinese real estate developer identified as “CC-3” in the Complaint.

During the scheme, YAN and Piao also arranged for Ashe to receive tens of thousands of dollars in custom suits and clothes.

In imposing sentence, Judge Broderick said, “To those bent on perverting decision-making” through bribery, “this simply will not be tolerated ... there are consequences to these actions.”"

The mysterious CC-3 was not identified by name, but was known to the FBI. Recently, politicians in Australia's government attended a confidential briefing by the FBI, and during the course of that briefing, CC-3 was identified as wealthy Australian politician Dr. Chau Chak-wing. South China Morning Post and Sydney Morning Herald (7-Oct-2015) and US Dept. of Justice (29-Jul-2016) and Business Insider

Andrew Hastie's explosive speech identifying Chau Chak-wing

On Tuesday evening, a Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie gave a speech identifying Chau, thus breaking the confidential agreement, taking advantage of Australia's Constitution that allows a parliamentarian to say anything in parliament and not be prosecuted.

"Today I raise a matter before the House that is of great importance to the Australian people. It is a matter that poses a threat to our democratic tradition, particularly the freedom of the press, and our national sovereignty. I refer to the threat of foreign interference in our political institutions. ...

We live in a rapidly changing world. We are watching the rise of authoritarian states. Those states are conducting foreign interference operations across Western democracies. In Australia it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party is working to covertly interfere with our media and universities and also to influence our political processes and public debates. ...

The central pillar of the government's counter foreign interference strategy is sunlight. That's why we're seeking to introduce a new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme. The principle is simple. If a person or entity engages with the Australian political landscape on behalf of a foreign state or principal, they must register accordingly. This will give the Australian public and decision-makers proper visibility when foreign states or individuals may be seeking to influence Australian's political processes and public debates. ...

For reasons that are best undisclosed, the United States government did not seek to charge CC-3 for his involvement in the bribery of John Ashe. The bribery does, however, raise the question: what were the objectives of CC-3 in securing Ashe's attendance at the conference?"

Hastie explained that CC-3 had a leadership role in China's United Front. In previous articles, I've described China's "United Front Work Department" something that China's president Xi Jingping has said was China's "Magic Weapon."

Officially, the United Front focuses on building support for the Communist Party in China, but it's become a coercive propaganda tool targeting Chinese globally, especially in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., and Canada, but in other countries as well. The agency particularly surveils and targets Chinese students and Chinese students abroad and in foreign universities to adopt language that favors pro-Beijing policies, such as delegitimizing Taiwan, and Western ideals and values, such as liberal democracy, Christianity, or Falun Gong.

Andrew Hastie described CC-3's involvement in the United Front in Tuesday evening's speech, using CC-3's Mandarin name Zhou Zerong:

"The United Front is a platform of the Chinese Communist Party that is tasked with influence operations for the People's Republic of China. It aims to influence the choices, direction and loyalties of its targets, with a particular focus overseas on foreign political and business elites. The primary objective of the United Front is to shape thinking and attitudes in a way that is favorable to China. Mao Zedong, for good reasons, described the United Front as one of the three magic weapons of the Chinese Communist Party. Zhou, or CC-3, was no stranger to the United Front. He had assumed leadership of an organization intimately involved with it. In the final paragraph of the cable, Goldberg wrote that the Guangdong Overseas Chinese Businessmen's Association was essentially a creature of the Chinese Communist Party's United Front program."

Hastie concluded his speech by naming Chau specifically:

"As chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security I led a delegation to the United States last month to discuss our espionage and foreign interference legislation with US counterparts. During discussions with United States authorities I confirmed the long-suspected identity of CC-3. It is now my duty to inform the House and the Australian people that CC-3 is Dr Chau Chak Wing, the same man who co-conspired to bribe the president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe, the same man with extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party, including the United Front. I share it with the House because I believe it to be in the national interest. My duty first and foremost is to the Australian people and to the preservation of the ideals and democratic traditions of our Commonwealth. That tradition includes a free press. I thank the House."

Australian Broadcasting and Australian Parliament and Daily Mail (London)

China blames Australia and threatens retaliation

Andrew Hastie's explosive revelations were not previously revealed to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has recently been on a charm offensive to improve relations with China.

Relations between China and Australia have been increasingly tense for a number of reasons. One is that China's illegal militarization of the South China Sea is seen as a military and commercial threat to Australia. Furthermore, as we reported in February, a new book extensively documents China's infiltration into Australia's organizations. The new charges that prominent Australian politician Chau Chak-wing participated in a Chinese Communist Party bribery operation, and had a leadership position in the powerful United Front espionage organization only add to the concerns that many Australians have about the infiltration of China into Australia.

The increasing hostility of Australian politicians to China has brought some sharp responses from China itself. In Wednesday's press conference by China's foreign ministry, the spokesman said:

"The China-Australia relations have recently encountered difficulties, which leads to problems in our cooperation in some areas, and that is something China does not wish to see. ... [The] Australian side must first of all address its problem of perception, put China's development in a positive perspective and truly take China's development as a positive factor, instead of looking China through tinted glasses. Once the problem of perception addressed, the necessary conditions for the true improvement and sound and steady development of China-Australia relations will be created."

China's state media is taking the editorial position that Australia should be punished for its "arrogant" attitude:

"Sino-Australia relations have remained on a steady downward slope since last year due to distorted reporting on behalf of Australian media and remarks made by Australian politicians on China’s alleged interference and infiltration in Australian internal affairs.

Such remarks have not only created obstacles in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, but also have had a negative impact on Chinese living in Australia. Australian officials recently made unfriendly remarks toward China, actively hurling accusations. ...

It is high time China demonstrated how it sticks to its principles in regard to its relations with Australia, so as to make Australia pay for its arrogant attitude toward China over the past two years. ...

China has been very friendly toward Australia, but their arrogant attitudes in return over the past two years have become a virtual example of what it means to "bite the hand that feeds."

Australia's image among Chinese people has grown increasingly negative due to its warped accusations hurled at China. China does not need to spend time and effort seeking out revenge against Australia.

The cooling of bilateral relations between the two may last for a while, perhaps a few years or even longer. That would be a good lesson for Australia to learn, while also setting a precedent for other nations to follow in that there are no benefits for any country that chooses to take provocative measures against China."

It seems that relations between Australia and China will not improve much in the months to come, and in fact will probably deteriorate further. Business Insider and China Foreign Ministry and Global Times (China) and New Daily (Australia)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-18 World View -- Australia-China relations in crisis after revelation of Chinese bribery scandal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2018) Permanent Link
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23-May-18 World View -- European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals

Key proposals from Italy's M5S-League coalition

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals


Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, left, and La Lega leader Matteo Salvini (AFP)
Five-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, left, and La Lega leader Matteo Salvini (AFP)

Italy's Banco Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), founded in 1472, is the world's oldest operating bank. It may also be the world's worst managed bank, since by 2016 it had $55.2 billion in bad loans on its books. Even worse, salesmen working for the bank sold people high-risk high-yield bonds in place of ordinary savings accounts, so a collapse of the bank would mean hundreds of thousands of people, including many pensioners, would have their life savings wiped out.

In fact, Italy's entire banking system was close to collapse. There were €350 billion in bad loans on the books of Italy's banks, a third of the eurozone's total bad debt.

It's a violation of European Central Bank (ECB) rules for a member country to bail out its own banks, since that forces the taxpayers to pay for the mistakes of the bank managers, who should be held to account for their mistakes. Nonetheless, an MBS collapse would have been so disastrous for Italy's economy, that the EU was forced to agree to allow a bailout in July of last year, adding to Italy's already huge debt.

Today, Italian debt stands at around €2.17 trillion, or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP). That's worse than Greece's situation when it was being bailed out in 2010. At that time, Greece's debt as "only" 127% of GDP.

Furthermore, Italy has been struggling with years of crisis. The youth unemployment rate has remained stubbornly well above 30%, and Italy has felt abandoned by the EU as it had to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving on it shores across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya.

As I've been writing for years, most nations of the world have entered a generational Crisis era, and in a generational Crisis era, nationalistic and xenophobic behaviors of the population increase. This is happening in countries around the world. You can argue whether this is good or bad, but it's like arguing whether a cyclone is good or bad. It doesn't matter whether you think it's good or bad, since it's going to happen anyway.

In Italy, these nationalistic and xenophobic behaviors are converging into a potential major crisis, as it now appears that Italy is about to form a government which is anti-euro, anti-EU, anti-immigrant, and with no fiscal discipline whatsoever.

Italy's March elections failed to produce a governing coalition, and so Italy hasn't had a government since then. The political fighting has been raucous and bitter, and two parties that were particularly bitter rivals were the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S) that got 32% of the vote, and the right-wing La Lega (The League) that got 17% of the vote.

These two parties are far apart on many issues, but they do share a nationalistic anti-euro attitude, a xenophobic anti-immigrant attitude, and a complete lack of fiscal discipline, and so much to the shock and surprise of many EU politicians, they are forming a governing coalition, based on those principles.

Luigi Di Maio is the leader of M5S, and Matteo Salvini is the leader of The League. However, neither of them will be prime minister.

Reports indicate that they have jointly agreed that Giuseppe Conte, an obscure law professor, should be chosen as prime minister. Conte is a professor of public administration law at the University of Florence and is a political novice, so the obvious intent is that he would be a figurehead and Di Maio and Salvini would control him. BBC (25-June-2017) and Deutsche Welle and International Banker(6-Oct-2017)

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Key proposals from Italy's M5S-League coalition

Matteo Salvini is a 45 year old member of Generation-X, a generation known for its destructiveness and self-destructiveness. Luigi Di Maio is a 31 year old member of the Millennial generation, a generation known for its lack of knowledge about almost anything, and a belief that everything should be free.

Those generational descriptions are, of course, stereotypes, and apply only to a minority of each generation. However, the policies proposed by Salvini and Di Maio suggest that the stereotypes apply fully to them.

Here are some of the proposals in their policy document:

The nightmare scenario is an Italy fiscal crisis similar to the Greece fiscal crisis. Italy's economy is ten times as big as Greece's, so an Italy fiscal crisis would be a catastrophe. AFP and Pound Sterling Live and Bloomberg and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-18 World View -- European markets in turmoil over Italy's unbridled spending proposals thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2018) Permanent Link
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22-May-18 World View -- China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births

China's gender imbalance caused by one-child policy has been disastrous

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births


From 2007: Boys! Boys! Boys! Chinese maternity ward: Five boys (white) and three girls (pink) (CNN)
From 2007: Boys! Boys! Boys! Chinese maternity ward: Five boys (white) and three girls (pink) (CNN)

Since the 1979, China has attempted to control the size of its population by adopting a "one-child policy" which limited the number of children that a couple could have to just one.

Now the government in Beijing is realizing that this is a demographic disaster in two ways. First, China's population is aging rapidly, and pension payments are not keeping up. Second, since parents wanted to have a son more than a daughter, there's a huge gender imbalance. Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females

Now China is considering removing all limits to birth. The new rules will take effect at the end of this year or in 2019. This announcement has the feeling of a move of desperation. The one-child policy was reformed in 2013, when China announced that couples where one parent is an only child would be allowed to have a second child. When that policy failed miserably, China announced in October 2015 that all couples would be permitted to have two children.

Even that change had almost no effect at all. In Beijing, for example, just 6.7% of those eligible applied to have a second child. Couples are complaining that they can barely afford the costs of raising one child, so they don't want to risk the financial burden of a second child.

To alleviate the financial burdens, China's State Council proposed measures ranging from taxation incentives to introducing paternity leave to boost birth rate, but demographic experts said the cost would be huge.

China's birth rate has been dipping below the "replacement level," necessary to keep the population growing. As things stand, China's population will peak at about 1.45 billion in 2030. Furthermore, it's workforce will age to the point where those 45-69 will account for over 1/3 of the population.

China's president Xi Jinping has promised to build a world-class military force. His plans face many serious problems, and one of the most serious is that China's youth in the 2020s will be too busy producing food and medicines for any aging population. Bloomberg and South China Morning Post (26-Jan-2018) and Bloomberg (26-Jun-2017)

China's gender imbalance caused by one-child policy has been disastrous

There are 114 boys born for every 100 girls in China. In rural China, the figure is even greater, with 130 boys for every 100 girls. Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females.

On average in the world, humans give birth to 103 boys for every 100 girls. The number of boys is greater since men are more likely than women to be killed in war. But 114 to 100 is not expected.

Theoretically, the one-child policy should not affect the gender ratio at all. If you're going to restrict the number of births, then theoretically you would restrict the births of boys and girls equally. But that's not what happened in China. If a woman was to be restricted to having just one child, then she and her husband often wanted that child to be a boy, rather than a girl, since a boy would be able to support his parents as they grew older.

Female infanticide increased when the one-child policy came into effect, taking advantage of a loophole that if your one child died, then you were allowed to have another child. Ultrasound tests became generally available in the 1980s, and although they were banned in 1994, women still were able to find them, and abort a baby if it was a girl. This created the gender imbalance.

The disastrous consequences of the one-child policy are now being felt today, as the children who were born in the 1980s-90s are coming of age. Millions of men are unable to find girlfriends and wives, which creates not only a loneliness problem, but also a risk to the stability of society. If there are too few girls, then they're likely to be tempted into prostitution, or to be abducted and sold for human trafficking.

China is not alone in this situation. Birth rates have been falling in countries around the world. In the United States, the fertility rate has fallen to a historic low. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we're seeing is the reflection of the baby boom that occurred at the end of World War II. Women were reluctant to have children during the Great Depression and WW II, but when the war ended, there was an explosion of births, giving rise to what demographers call the Baby Boom generation.

Today we're seeing a situation where there's a lot of anxiety about the future. There's been a financial crisis, there are multiple wars in progress in the Mideast, and war with North Korea and China is on the horizon. Many women do not wish to have a baby under these circumstances, so we're seeing a drop in fertility rate. But after the next world war ends, then we'll see a new baby boom. Washington Post and Reuters and Time (27-July-2009) and National Geographic (13-Nov-2015) and Washington Post (30-June-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-18 World View -- China will end 'one-child policy' and all limits on births thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2018) Permanent Link
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21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province


Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)
Two women bid farewell to their deceased families on March 24, before fleeing Ghouta for Idlib province (Syria Deeply)

The army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is in the final weeks of regaining control of areas around Damascus that it lost to opposition forces, mainly in the 2013-14 time frame to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). ISIS was composed mainly of foreign fighters that had come from over 80 to fight Bashar al-Assad, and they were opposed not only by the al-Assad regime but also by local Syrian anti-Assad militias. Among these Syrian anti-Assad militias are the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). They also include "Jaysh al-Islam" or "Army of Islam."

Al-Assad has used the same methods to take control of Eastern Aleppo a year ago, and Eastern Ghouta and Douma in the last few months. There's massive bombing by Syrian and Russian warplanes of homes, hospitals, schools and markets, particularly targeting women and children. Because many people, especially women and children, hide out in basements from the bombs, al-Assad drops barrel bombs containing chlorine. Since chlorine is heavier than air, it drifts down into the basements and forces the women and children into the streets, where al-Assad's bombs can kill many of them all at once. In addition, al-Assad has used Sarin gas for mass slaughter on occasions.

After several months of this bombardment, international pressure has caused al-Assad to agree to allow the anti-Assad militias to give up their weapons, and flee the violence along with their families by traveling to Idlib province in northwestern Syria along the border with Turkey.

Tens of thousands of refugees from Aleppo and Ghouta have traveled to Idlib province, and Idlib province is now a smoking cauldron. There are multiple competing militias all across the province, some of them moderate, and some al-Qaeda linked. New militias are being formed all the time, as tensions increase because of overcrowding. Some of the militias get along with each other, and in other cases they fight and kill each other.

Now that al-Assad is finishing up in Ghouta, he's beginning to turn his attention to Idlib province, where he plans to take control in the same way. But while Aleppo and Ghouta each started with about 300,000-400,000 people, Idlib has 2.5 million people. Furthermore, while Idlib was the location to which families fled from violence, there's no place else to go to escape Idlib.

If, as seems likely, al-Assad begins to use missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine and Sarin gas on women and children in Idlib, there will humanitarian catastrophe several times worse than we've seen in Ghouta or Aleppo. Syria Deeply (29-Mar) and Enab Baladi (10-May) and United Nations and TRT World (Turkey)

Turkey warns Syria's Bashar al-Assad not to attack Idlib province

Turkey is responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in Idlib province, under the terms of agreements from the "Astana peace process," a series of meetings that took place in Astana Kazakhstan between Turkey, Russia and Iran. Those meetings defined four "de-escalation zones," and the participants are responsible for enforcing a ceasefire in them.

The whole Astana agreement about de-escalation zones has turned out to be a big joke. Not only did Russia and Iran not make any attempt to enforce a ceasefire in the de-escalation zones they were responsible for, they actually did the opposite. Russia, in particular, was particularly bloody in its warplane attacks on civilians in de-escalation zones. Bashar al-Assad has already begun bombing in the Idlib de-escalation zone. The whole de-escalation zone plan has proven to be a farce and a lie.

However, Turkey claims it will enforce a ceasefire in Idlib province, which is the de-escalation zone that it is responsible for. Turkey has been setting up observation posts within Idlib province, from which the ceasefire can be monitored. Turkey set up its 12th and final observation posts on Wednesday of last week.

Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu last week warned the Syrian government not to attack Idlib province, since any such attack will lead to a "catastrophe":

"Currently the most important issue is for the ceasefire not be violated in Syria. If this is achieved, political settlement will become closer. There are many fragmented terror groups. Our intelligence service and the General Staff are dealing with the matter. We have achieved certain results. If the Syrian regime launches an attack tomorrow under the pretext of fighting against terrorists, it will be a catastrophe. This is why we are monitoring the situation and have established our observation posts."

So, Cavusoglu is saying that a Syrian attack will be a "catastrophe," but he doesn't say that anything will be done in response to such an attack.

In fact, each of these 12 observation posts consists of a few tanks and a few Turkish soldiers. The sites are typically on the top of a hill, so that as much countryside as possible can be observed, but it's clear that Turkish forces can do nothing to stop fighting among the local militias, or to prevent Syrian or Russian bombing with Idlib. All they can do is "observe." Anadolu and Middle East Eye and Sputnik (Moscow)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-18 World View -- Stage is set for a new humanitarian catastrophe in Syria's Idlib province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2018) Permanent Link
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20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war


China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)
China's H-6K-a bomber is a modernized version of a 60-year-old Soviet design -- is the only mass-produced bomber in the world today (Xinhua)

While 99% of the world was hypnotized by Markle Sparkle, China made a major escalation in its illegal militarization of the South China Sea, and said it was preparing for war.

China announced on Friday that it has begun landing bombers on the artificial islands it created in the South China sea, in preparation for the Battle of the South China Sea. The announcement appeared on China's Ministry of Defense web site:

"A division of the Air Force’s aviation division has recently organized multi-model multi-bombers such as the -6K to carry out training on islands and reefs to take off and land in the southern seas, tempering the ability to “reach all regions, conduct full-time air strikes, and strike in all directions." ...

The aviation division equipped with the H-6K and other multi-type bombers, keeping in mind the strategic requirements of “ideological and political should be strong, have good skills to fight and must be strong in fighting style”, are fully committed to advancing training in the new era and are preparing for the West Pacific and the Battle of the South China Sea."

This is another major escalation in China's preparation for war. The bombers are landing on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies. Chinese military facilities in the South China Sea include air bases, radar and communications systems, naval facilities and defensive weaponry including landing strips able to accommodate military planes.

This announcement comes just two weeks after China deployed offensive cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea.

Friday's announcement referred to the artificial island off Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands. It's believed that this island is a blueprint for deployments to the Spratly Islands farther south, at its outposts at Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross Reefs. In all cases, these reefs can accommodate bombers, as well as large transport, patrol, and refueling aircraft. China Daily and China Ministry of Defense (Trans) and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI) and Popular Science

China prepares for war on multiple fronts

On June 16 of last year, China sent troops and construction workers to begin road construction in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau, with the apparent intention of annexing the region. At Bhutan's request, India sent in troops to prevent the annexation. Tensions escalated for weeks, and then suddenly and unexpectedly on August 28 the crisis ended when China backed off.

No one seriously believed that China backed off because they had lost interest. The most likely conclusion was that China was not ready for a full-scale war with India, and wanted to wait until it WAS ready for a full-scale war.

In the meantime, satellite images show that China has military buildup in Bhutan's Doklam Plateau. China has positioned thousands of troops, and built two helicopter platforms, and dozens of houses and stores.

Recently, China's Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its claim that Doklam belongs to China:

"Donglong (Doklam) belongs to China because we have historical conventions. China's activities there (Doklam) are within our sovereign rights. There is no such thing as changing status quo."

Furthermore, it emerged that Chinese troops have made new roads and other construction to gain access to another region of Bhutan. So few people doubt that China has not given up, but is moving forward with a large military buildup to use for an invasion at a time of its choosing.

As we reported last week, China says that the reason that it's performing aggressive military exercises around Taiwan is with the intention of threatening Taiwan. Once again, China is preparing for an invasion of Taiwan at a time of its choosing. Similar aggressive moves are occurring around Japan's Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Writing these articles makes it starkly clear how much utter craziness there is in the world. Would America be better off if it invaded and annexed Cuba? Would Britain be better off if it invaded and annexed Ireland? No one would even consider such insane moves. So then why on earth does China think it will be better off by invading and annexing Doklam Plateau? One doesn't have to be a full-fledged pacifist to see how insane this is, but that's what the Chinese are doing.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy. And they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the entire world. New Delhi TV and The Print (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-18 World View -- China escalates militarization of South China Sea, preparing for war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2018) Permanent Link
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19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iranian police clash with marginalized Qashqai tribe in southern Iran


A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)
A picture of Kazerun on Friday shared on social media shows upturned and burnt out cars and wounded activists following violent scenes (NCRI)

The latest in a series of anti-government protests in cities across Iran resulted in up to six protesters killed, and dozens more injured or arrested, by Iranian regime security forces in the last two days in the city of Kazerun (Kazeroon, Kazeroun) in southern Iran.

The population of Kazerun is about 150,000. The people are from the Qashqai tribe, a minority group of about a million people in Iran that the government has failed to fully integrate into the mainstream of Iranian society. Although they are Shia Muslims, they have little use for organized religion and are not devout followers.

They're a nomadic tribe, traditionally practicing pastoralism with sheep and goats, using camels as transports. They endure long seasonal migrations of hundreds of miles between lowland winter and highland summer pastures.

This lifestyle is relative unique for Iran, and explains why they're not integrated into mainstream society. Since the 1800s, their fortunes have gone up and down depending on who was in power in Iran. During the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war, they fought in support of the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and the revolutionary side to oust the Shah of Iran.

After the revolution, Khomeini and the ruling regime looked upon the Qashqai with favor. But because the Qashqai were so different from the other Persian people, they quickly clashed with the new regime, which was following a pathologically harsh version of Sharia law and imposing it on the entire country. The good feelings ended pretty quickly in 1980, when Qashqai leaders were arrested, but then escaped from prison and formed an anti-government insurgency. The regime captured the escaped Qashqai leaders and executed them.

Nonetheless, the Qashqai had been harshly suppressed under the Shah, and benefitted greatly from the Khomeini regime in the 1980s. In particular, the government did not interfere with their pastoral activities nor their migration routes by which they traveled with their sheep and goats.

The Qashqai have been increasingly marginalized since the 1980s, and they now harbor a great deal of anti-government sentiment. That sentiment spilled out onto the streets in the last few months.

Last year, a government official proposed a plan to split the county of Kazerun into two, and make other administrative changes. Although some Qashqai supported the plan, most bitterly opposed it, particularly the undeveloped and poor districts which viewed the plan as further discrimination. Radio Farda and JCPA and Cultural Survival and Against The Compass

Iranian police kill two as new protests erupt in Iran


An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd
An Iranian Qashqai nomad carries a live goat from his herd

The people of Kazerun have been peacefully protesting for weeks against the administrative plan to split the county. The government made some concessions, but apparently their sincerity was in doubt.

On April 20, the protesters occupied the site for the city's Friday prayers. There were a number of extremely angry chants, including “Our enemy is right here; liars say it is America,” but there were other, more shocking slogans too, including “Be afraid when we get guns” and “We will kill the traitors.”

These chants revived memories of massive protests in cities across the country starting in late December of last year. At that time, there were chants like, "Seyed Ali [Khamenei] shame on you let go of our country," "Death to the Dictator," "Death to Rouhani," "Leave Syria, think about us," and "Forget about Gaza and Lebanon; I’ll sacrifice my life for Iran."

Iran is in a generational Awakening era, following the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution civil war. The psychopathic hardliners view any sort of peaceful protest as a revival of the civil war, and so even peaceful protests have to be crushed brutally. So the Iranian regime brutally crushed the protests in January, killing some protesters and arresting several thousand.

The peaceful Kazerun protests of the last few weeks are being interpreted the same way, as an existential threat to the Khamenei regime, and so they have to be crushed brutally as well.

On Thursday, the protesters gathered in the city's main square. Iranian security forces fired teargas at the protesters, who set the police station on fire. The security forces responded with live gunfire, killing as many as five protesters, while dozens more were injured and arrested.

There's an irony about this situation in that it's occurring at the same time as Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis for the deaths of people from Hamas trying to break through the border fence from Gaza into Israel. Iran's government is criticizing the Israelis, but ignoring their own actions in Kazerun. The protesters themselves have noticed this hypocrisy in some of their chants: “The Government Supports Gazans, But Betrays Kazerun," and “Our Enemy is Here, not in the US." Iran Wire and Deutsche Welle and CNN (14-Jan-2018) and JCPA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-18 World View -- Two protesters killed in southern Iran in latest violent clashes with police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2018) Permanent Link
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18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive'


Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)
Hospital in Mbandaka, DRC, where Ebola patients will be treated (WHO)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was only marginally affected by the massive Ebola epidemic that struck western Africa (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) in 2014-2016. DRC itself has had its own Ebola outbreaks 9 times since 1976, but all of them have occurred in rural villages, where they were easily contained.

What's different now is that a new Ebola outbreak has spread to a large, densely packed port city, with the possibility of rapid transmission within the city, as well as transmission along the Congo River to other countries.

As far as is currently known, the latest outbreak began in a small inland village called Ikoko Impenge, accessible only by motorbike. However, the outbreak only became known on May 8, when the DRC notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that there were two confirmed cases identified in another inland village, Bikoro. By Thursday, 23 deaths had occurred from Ebola cases in isolated rural villages, giving authorities a better chance of ring-fencing the outbreak before it could spread.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization announced that the Ebola outbreak had reached a "new phase," as new Ebola cases were identified in Mbandaka, a large heavily populated urban city of about 1.2 million people. It's believed that the disease was brought to Mbandaka by two or three people who had attended the funeral of an Ebola victim in Bikoro.

The spread of the outbreak to Mbandaka is "explosive," according to senior WHO official Peter Salama:

"This is a major development in the outbreak. We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola. The potential for an explosive increase in cases is now there.

This puts a whole different lens on this outbreak and gives us increased urgency to move very quickly into Mbandaka to stop this new first sign of transmission."

There are two reasons why the outbreak in Mbandaka could be explosive:

The World Health Organization on Friday is convening an emergency meeting to “consider the international risks” of the Ebola outbreak, and to decide whether to officially declare an international emergency. STAT News and BBC and Al Jazeera and World Health Organization and United Nations

Applying lessons learned, WHO and MSF move quickly to contain Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) was heavily criticized for moving too slowly to contain the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2014 to 2016, and so is now moving quickly to try to contain the new outbreak in DRC.

The Emergency Committee meeting that WHO is convening on Friday will decide whether to declare a "public health emergency of international concern," which would mean getting access to more resources. So this step may be taken even though the outbreak is still confined to DRC.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has sent multiple teams to hospitals in Mbandaka and Bikoro. MSF is sending tons of supplies to Mbandaka, including medical kits; protection and disinfection kits containing isolation items such as protective clothing, gloves, and boots; logistical and hygiene kits containing items such as plastic sheets, chlorine spray kits, and water treatment kits; and palliative drugs to treat Ebola symptoms, such as strong painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs, and antibiotics.

A new experimental Ebola vaccine has been developed since the 2014-2016 outbreak, and MSF has 4,000 doses available to use to control the outbreak in Mbandaka. A vaccine cannot help someone who is already sick, but it will be used in conjunction with the methodology of "contact tracing." Once a potential victim is identified, then contact tracing means that potential contacts ae located, and their contacts are located, and so forth, and all of those people could be given the new vaccine.

However, it's not clear that any of these methods will prevent an explosive spread of Ebola. In 2014, Ebola spread rapidly in Liberia's capital city Monrovia, particularly in the West Point slum area, with more than 70,000 people crowded together on a peninsula, with no running water, sanitation or garbage collection. If there is a similar slum area in Mbandaka, Kinshasa, or Brazzaville, then the spread could be equally massive. TRT World and Doctors Without Borders and AP and World Health Organization

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-18 World View -- New Ebola outbreak in major DR Congo city is called potentially 'explosive' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2018) Permanent Link
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17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan


Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)
Taiwan's frogmen Marines perform close combat drills just a few kilometers from mainland China on the outlying island of Kinmen, Taiwan (AP)

Last week, China conducted an "innovative joint operation" where Chinese warplanes flew in opposite directions around Taiwan. New Su-35 fighter jets flew with H-6K strategic bombers south of Taiwan, and J-11 fights flew with KJ-200 early warning aircraft north of Taiwan. These operations involved two theatre commands for exercises that involved early warning systems, detection and assaults.

China's government said Wednesday that the country’s military exercises around Taiwan are intended as a direct threat to Taiwan, following any moves toward independence. According to the Chinese government spokesman:

"It is a strong warning to Taiwan independence separatist forces and their activities. It demonstrates our determination and capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

[China has the] firm will, full confidence and sufficient capabilities to block moves toward Taiwan’s formal independence."

China has conducted frequent missions by air force fighters, bombers and surveillance planes to circle Taiwan. Also, China has repeated sailed its sole operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait.

China is using a "carrot and stick" to deal with Taiwan. The "carrot" is that China is introducing 31 "preferential policies" for Taiwan, in the fields of legal rights, education, culture and tourism, with the objective of charming the Taiwanese people by improving their lives. China is making it easy for Taiwanese businesses to borrow money and invest in high-tech enterprises on the mainland. China has provided internships and jobs for nearly 9,000 Taiwanese youth as of the end of 2017.

Perhaps most important, Taiwanese entrepreneurs and businessmen who are complaining about low pay and Taiwan are being offered higher wages and bigger markets on mainland China, resulting in a "brain drain" in Taiwan.

The "stick" is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and mainland China has now shifted decisively in the mainland's favor, and they would overwhelm Taiwan unless US forces quickly came to Taiwan's rescue. The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it is unclear whether the US would take military action to defend Taiwan, and have an all-out war with China. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and AP and South China Morning Post and Xinhua and Reuters (21-Apr) and Reuters (24-Apr)

Taiwan, in cooperation with the U.S., strengthens defenses against China

Last week for the first time, the annual Taiwan-U.S. Defense Business Forum was hosted in Taiwan, in order to "bring together US and Taiwan companies to discuss granular challenges of bilateral cooperation in the defense industry supply chain." The objective is to allow business executives and government officials from both countries to discuss defense cooperation in the shipbuilding, cybersecurity, and aerospace industries.

China, as usual, reacted with fury. Zhu Songling, a professor at the institute of Taiwan studies in Beijing Union University, that the event was dangerous, and could lead to war:

"The deepening US defense cooperation with Taiwan is an act of gross interference in China's domestic affairs. It's a very serious matter for the Chinese mainland. Further moves that promote concrete military exchanges will invoke a strong response from the mainland, even prompt the Chinese mainland to use non-peaceful means to resolve the Taiwan question."

A particular worry for the Taiwanese are China's J-20 stealth fighter jets. These are not detectable using ordinary radar, and if J-20s were among the warplanes circling Taiwan last week, Taiwan's military was not aware of it.

Taiwan is developing, for operational testing this year, and with mass production and deployment expected by 2020, the P01-180514-pic1BA mobile passive radar system developed by the island’s Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. This system would be able to detect, track and lock on to targets at long range.

Finally, Taiwan scheduled its own military drills late in April. These drills simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major airbase and using civilian-operated drones as part of military exercises. The descriptions of these drills do not mention China, but instead refer to "offensive forces invading Taiwan." The Diplomat and Global Times (Beijing, 8-May) and Asia Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-18 World View -- China says that its military exercises are intended to threaten Taiwan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2018) Permanent Link
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16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan


 Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)
Afghan security forces respond to the Taliban attacks on Tuesday (Reuters)

It's just the beginning of the Taliban's Spring Fighting Season, and Afghanistan government forces have apparently been caught completely by surprise by an overwhelming Taliban attack on Farah City, the provincial capital of Farah province. Farah province is in western Afghanistan, on the border with Iran.

Hundreds of Taliban attackers overran several security checkpoints in coordinated attacks starting at 2 am on Tuesday. Heavily armed Taliban fighters, using captured Afghan military HUMVEEs and police pickup trucks, launched the coordinated assault on Farah City overnight from multiple directions. Afghan security forces have responded, but had to be backed up by American and Nato warplanes, including A-10 Warthogs.

A government official claimed that no government building or organization had fallen to the Taliban, but residents are claiming that the city is close to total collapse, and government officials have a history of reporting fake news in these situations. Videos released on social media show that a number of security forces vehicles have been torched, and that the Taliban have entered a building used by the security forces. The clashes are ongoing. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Long War Journal and Business Insider

Afghan officials blame Iran and Pakistan

Afghan officials have long complained that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), aid the Taliban insurgents in western Afghanistan in an effort to torpedo construction projects and undermine stabilization efforts by the US-led coalition in the region. Unlike in the past, IRGC-affiliated media outlets now openly express support for the Taliban’s latest territorial gains in western Afghanistan. Commentary in the IRGC outlets also indicate that Iran’s support to the Taliban is aimed at expelling U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, particularly from western Afghan provinces.

Farah is the fourth largest province in Afghanistan, with a population of 925,000 in 11 districts. According to the US Naval University in 2009, 50 percent of the Farah population is composed of Pashtun tribes, 45 percent of Tajik and the rest of the population, including the Diaspora, Hazaras and Baluchs. Middle East Institute and Tasnim News (Iran) (Translation)

Afghan government continues to lose control to the Taliban

Taliban began its Spring Fighting Season in late April, and according to Afghan officials, the Taliban have carried out over 2,700 attacks across the country in the first 19 days of the Spring Fighting Season. In the last week Afghan security forces suffered heavy losses in clashes against insurgents across the country, so on Sunday the Afghan interior ministry said that security forces have retreated from some areas that have high threat levels so as to avoid additional fatalities.

On the other hand, General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said a few days ago:

"The message I would send to the Taliban is that they cannot win militarily. The international coalition, led by the United States, is focused on providing the military pressure, in conjunction with social pressure and diplomatic pressure that will force them to come to the table."

This is the latest delusional statement from the US military. It's certainly true that as an anti-government insurgency they cannot win militarily, but it's equally true that there is no chance whatsoever to "force them to come to the table."

I've been saying this repeatedly for many years, and the reasons are just as true today as ever.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

So the funny thing is that even if Votel's claim that military force targeting a group of Taliban leaders could "force them to come to the table," the children of those Taliban leaders will have none of it. It's possible that most of the Taliban fighting in Farah province today were just children in school just a few years ago.

However, as I've written in the past, there's a dynamic going on, where Votel and the American military makes statements that the public wants to hear, even though they don't contain a word of truth. Votel understands that this war cannot be won, but there's a larger purpose. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. RFE/RL and Tolo News (Afghanistan) and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2018) Permanent Link
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15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel


A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot.  The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)
A child is carried by Palestinians away from the front lines after he was shot. The smoke is created by burning tires that the Palestinians use to hide from the Israel troops (Ma'an News)

Dozens of residents of Gaza were killed, and over 2000 injured, in a clash with Israeli troops in what Palestinians are calling "The Great March for Return," resulting in the greatest surge of violence in Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in "violent riots" at 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence. Monday's march is the culmination of six weeks of similar marches that began late in March. The pattern is always the same. Thousands of Gazans march to the border with Israel, threatening to break through the fence into Israel. Israel's army tries to stop them, first using tear gas, then rubber bullets, and eventually using live fire, resulting in casualties.

Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, has been calling these demonstrations the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948. For that reason, the attempt by thousands of Gazans to breach the fence and cross over into Israel is considered an existential threat to Israel by the Israelis.

According to reports by both media and Israeli officials, Hamas directed women and children to sit near the border fence, and then the men used the women and children as shields while throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails over the fence at soldiers. I cannot think of any explanation for this except Palestinian politics -- to incite as many killings of women and children as possible, in order to international condemnation of Israel. Times of Israel and Ma'an News (Palestine) and BBC

Opening of US embassy in Jerusalem stirs strong reactions

On Monday, the US embassy in Israel officially moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. US Ambassador David Friedman and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin unveiled a plaque officially denoting the building as the US embassy. The building is already in use as an American visa-and-passport facility, and the new embassy will occupy a portion of the building with a small staff. David Friedman will be traveling back and forth between the new Jerusalem embassy, and his main offices in Tel Aviv.

So very little of substance occurred on Monday with the move of the US embassy in Jerusalem. But the reactions to the move indicate that it has a very high symbolic significance. It was the occasion of gleeful, euphoric bragging by Israeli officials at the dedication ceremony, as contrasted to angry, somber, furious expressions by Palestinian leaders.

While most international comments were restrained, some strongly condemned Israel for either the embassy move or the Gaza violence or both.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the "shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire."

Turkey called the Gaza violence a "vile massacre," and recalled its ambassadors from both US and Israel. South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning "the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack."

Numerous countries, including France, Germany and Saudi Arabia, referred to the embassy move to Jerusalem as "dangerous,", "catastrophic," "irresponsible," and "against international law."

I hear journalists, politicians and analysts say all the time that "Nobody wants a war." That isn't true. Lots of people want wars. As I described in an article last year, the public becomes heavily invested in starting a war, and extremely euphoric when the war actually begins, as most of the public are under the delusion that they'll win quickly.

That euphoria lasts until there's a major setback. According to General Carl von Clausewitz, the effects on the people and the government "is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis."

Gaza's population clearly has an overwhelming desire for another war with Israel. They presumably have been told by Hamas leaders that this time Hamas will win. I have heard Marwan Bishara, the lead analyst on al-Jazeera, imply that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are traitors to Palestinians because they sought peace rather than war with Israel.

The dreams of an easy victory over Israel are completely delusional. In a generational Crisis era, Israel will never surrender or compromise. If the war starts going badly for Israel, nuclear weapons will be used.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

Monday was supposed to be the culmination of the "Great March for Return" marches. In view of all the violence, it's possible that the marches will now fizzle out for a while, or it's possible that they'll escalate into a regional conflict. Times of Israel and Al Jazeera and BBC and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-18 World View -- Gaza violence surges in Palestinian 'Great March for Return' into Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2018) Permanent Link
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14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia


Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze following a blast at the Pentecost Church Central Surabaya in Indonesia on Sunday (Reuters)

Terrorist atrocities took a new turn on Sunday when a family of six, including a mother, a father, two daughters and two sons, all performed coordinated simultaneous terror attacks on three churches in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia. At least 13 people were killed, and 40 injured.

The two sons, aged 16 and 18, rode motorcycles into Santa Maria Catholic Church and detonated the bombs they were carrying.

Five minutes later, the father drove a car containing explosives and rammed it into the gate and onto the grounds of the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church.

Five minutes after that, the mother and her two daughters, aged 9 and 12, all strapped explosives to their bodies and blew themselves up at Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church.

ISIS (Islamic State in Syria) took credit for Sunday's attack. However, their press releases made no mention that the attackers were all from the same family, indicating that, as usual, ISIS is taking credit for a terror attack that it knows nothing about, except that it was conducted in the ISIS name.

Authorities are certain that the attackers were part of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) militant group. JAD pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015, and then conducted a series of explosions and shootings in Indonesia's capital city Jakarta, killing four civilians. It was the first attack in the country to be linked to ISIS.

The family of six that perpetrated Sunday's attacks had recently returned from a family trip to Syria. Like hundreds of other Indonesians, and like tens of thousands of people from over 80 countries around the world, they had gone to Syria to fight the Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who was attacking peaceful Sunni anti-government protesters by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

Sunday's attack is believed to be one that is part of a growing nightmare scenario, where the tens of thousands of young jihadis who had gone to Syria to fight al-Assad are now returning home, after ISIS lost almost all of the territory it formerly controlled in Syria and Iraq. As thousands of ISIS fighters return to their home countries, they will conduct terror attacks there in the name of ISIS. Reuters and Long War Journal and Daily Mail (London)

Saturday's Paris knife attacker had links to jihadists in Syria

A variation of the nightmare scenario described above was followed by Khamzat Azimov, 20. On Saturday evening, Azimov traveled to one of the most popular areas of Paris, near the celebrated opera house and theatres, and started attacking passersby with a knife. He shouted "Allahu Akbar," and killed on passerby and injured four others before being tasered and then shot dead by police.

Azimov was born in Chechnya, and obtained French nationality in 2010 when his mother was naturalized. Azimov had previously been flagged as a possible security risk, and had been interviewed by counter-terrorism police -- not because of his behavior, but because of his contacts. He was known to have links to young French people who had traveled to Syria to join ISIS.

So Azimov himself didn't go to Syria and return, as was the case with the Indonesian family. Instead, he allowed himself to be radicalized by people who had gone to Syria. Guardian (London)

Growth of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) in Indonesia

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, about 227 million Muslims out of a total population of 261 million people. About 10% of the population are Christian.

Sunday's attack was the worst terror attack since 2002, when al-Qaeda linked Jemaah Islamiyah killed more than 200 people, mostly tourists, through a string of bombings at popular nightclubs and hotels on Indonesia's island of Bali. Since then, Indonesian police have arrested or killed hundreds of people with links to Jemaah Islamiyah,

By 2014, a new generation of jihadists was coming of age in Indonesia, but were impatient with the older generation that had perpetrated the Bali bombing in 2002. When Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, declared his caliphate in 2014, many Indonesian jihadists immediately pledged allegiance to ISIS. There were some two dozen extremist groups competing to lead the ISIS cause in Indonesia.

Under the leadership of a radical cleric named Oman Rochman, also known as Aman Abdurrahman, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) was formed as an umbrella organization for all these extremist groups.

Aman Abdurrahman, the leader of JAD, has been in jail for the last 12 years, and is currently on trial for inciting followers to commit acts of terrorism while behind bars at a detention center which has been described by analysts as a breeding ground for pro-ISIS militants. BBC and Al Jazeera and Long War Journal (18-Apr-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-18 World View -- ISIS linked family of six bombs three churches in Indonesia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2018) Permanent Link
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13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea schedules dismantling of nuclear test site as TV ceremony


Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)
Ronald Reagan (L) and Mikhail Gorbachev (R) leave 1986 summit meeting after it collapses in mutual recriminations and accusations of bad faith and lying (ADST)

North Korea has announced that its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, located in Mount Mantap, will be dismantled during the period May 23-25, and that international journalists will be able to cover the dismantling "on the spot," and transmit their reports from a press center at the site.

This announcement comes just two days after scientists reported that an examination of satellite images shows that Mount Mantap itself has collapsed considerably more than has previously been estimated. Using these images, scientists found that Mount Mantap moved by around 11.5 feet (3.5 meters) and shrank by 1.6 feet (0.5 m). It can't be determined from the satellite images whether some tunnels have collapsed, or whether the entire mountain has collapsed.

Nonetheless, what is apparent from numerous reports starting with North Korea's last nuclear test, on September 3 of last year, is that Chinese scientists and geologists are telling North Korea not to use that test site again, because another test could risk a huge nuclear disaster that would release huge amounts of radiation and nuclear debris that would spread over large parts of northeastern China, as well as North Korea.

When North Korea made the initial dismantling announcement, they said that international journalists and nuclear experts would be permitted to watch the dismantling. The latest announcement omits mention of nuclear experts, and says that even the number of journalists will be limited, suggesting that there's another layer of North Korean subterfuge in process.

The bottom line is that the dismantling of the test site on May 23-25 is a completely empty gesture, since the site cannot be used again anyway. KCNA Watch and BBC and Live Science and Washington Post

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North Korea offers series of theatrical noncommittal gestures

Chinese media have been talking about a "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization. This means that the North Koreans make a concession and the US makes a concession, and so forth.

China and North Korea are already pressuring the US to ease the strict sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea, based on the supposed concessions already made. They are aware that once the sanctions have been lifted, it will be almost impossible to get international agreement to re-impose them, even if North Korea reverses any concessions that it's made. The near impossibility of re-imposing sanctions has been illustrated in the last week by the international criticism of the Trump administrations announced re-imposition of sanctions on Iran.

So the following points are worth noting with regard to the steps that have already been taken in this "dual track" process to achieve denuclearization:

Many of these things are being described by the mainstream media as concessions by the North Koreans, sometimes with the implication that Donald Trump should make some concessions in return at the meeting with Kim. However, Kim and the North Koreans have displayed a great deal of theatric showmanship, but have not made a single actual concession. Panmunjom Declaration and Japan Forward

The most likely Kim-Trump meeting outcome: Mutual accusations and recriminations

On October 11, 1986, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev held a summit meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland. The agenda was mutual reductions in missile arsenals, and expectations were very high. But then Gorbachev demanded limitations on Reagan's pet project, the mythical Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which supposedly would use space technology to provide a "shield" from nuclear attacks. Reagan refused, and the meeting ended in mutual accusations and recriminations, each accusing the other of lying and bad faith. Talks did not resume again for more than a year.

It has been announced that Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un will have a summit meeting on June 12 in Singapore. Expectations for this meeting are enormously high. The people of South Korea, particularly, are praying that this will be end of their long 70-year nightmare that began with the Korean War, and that they'll be reunited with the families again.

However, Kim is going to demand that some sanctions be lifted immediately, and Trump is going to demand substantial, verifiable steps to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. And while the main agenda item is "denuclearization," the two sides have completely different meanings for that term.

In my opinion, the most likely outcome of the June 12 meeting is a repeat of the outcome of the Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, in that the meeting will end (or not be held) amidst a flurry of mutual accusations and recriminations.

After that, there are many possible scenarios. It's possible that North Korea will continue nuclear weapons development, with or without testing, and it's possible that the Trump administration will go back to continuing military options.

As I've been writing for many months now, there's are hard bottom line positions on both sides, and they haven't changed. Kim is committed to producing an arsenal of nuclear tipped ballistic missiles aimed at the United States, and selling that technology to Iran and other rogue nations. Trump is committed to preventing that from happening. History.com and Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-18 World View -- Likely outcome of Trump-Kim North Korea summit: Mutual recriminations and accusations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2018) Permanent Link
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12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Climate change activists struggle to replace US climate change money


Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)
Brown coal open-pit mining Garzweiler in front of a power plant near the city of Grevenbroich in western Germany, on 3-Apr-2014. (AP)

After two weeks, an international climate change conference in Bonn Germany, attended by delegates of over 200 countries, has ended in failure, without agreeing on the major issues of finance and transparency.

Climate change finance has been in trouble from the beginning. The 2015 climate change conference that produced the famous "Paris Climate Change Accord" dictated that the "rich countries" of the world would provide $100 billion per year to the "developing countries," starting in 2020. Even before the election of Donald Trump, it was highly unlikely that that requirement would be met.

However, since Trump has pulled the US out of the Paris agreement, other "rich countries" now have to find a way to fill the gap that was created.

As I've described many times in the past, the climate change has never actually accomplished anything -- that is, you have leaders of one country after another taking a holier-than-thou attitude toward the United States about the Paris accord, but their carbon emissions go down little if at all. In the case of Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has had the most holier-than-thou attitude of all, carbon emissions haven't declined for nearly a decade, and have been increasing for the last three years.

I first wrote about this subject in 2007 in "UN Climate Change conference appears to be ending in farce". That conference was held at a Bali Beach Resort where 159 countries sent delegates to sip mai tais on the beach and attend an occasional meeting. The rich countries would have to contribute $100 billion to a fund for developing countries. The United Nations would control this money and administer the fund.

At that time, digging a little deeper, it turned out that Louis Redshaw, Head of Environment Markets, Barclays Capital, was leading an effort to issue synthetic securities to trade in carbon credits. It was predicted that the carbon-trading market would top $1 trillion within a decade. Readers might recall that 2007 was the year that the subprime mortgage financial crisis was starting.

In the last 11 years since that conference, nothing has changed. Climate change has accomplished nothing except as a financial scam. Climate Change News and Reuters and Washington Post and Heritage

China backs out of its climate change commitments with 'bifurcation'

The climate change conference in Bonn that ended on Thursday was supposed to resolve many issues, including two major ones: finance and transparence.

When Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, there were international cries that without the leadership of the United States, other countries must assume leadership. The European Union took on the role of becoming the leader of the "rich" or developed countries, while China would be the leader of the developing countries.

China has the 2nd largest economy in the world, and Chinese people brag that centrally-planned economy is stronger than any other economy in the world. China is implementing its "Belt and Road Initiative" in countries throughout Asia by lending them money to build infrastructure and sending Chinese workers to provide the labor. China is spending its enormous wealth by setting debt traps in all these countries with huge debts that they won't be able to repay.

China is also growing into the worst climate change violator in the world, building a new coal plant every week.

And yet, when it comes to climate change, they climb into their pathetic loser shells and claim to be a "developing country," so they won't have to provide funding under the Paris accord.

So China is failing in climate change finance. What we're seeing at the climate change conference in Bonn this last week is that they're also failing in climate change transparency.

China is demanding that it not be held to any climate change standards whatsoever. In return for all the money they're getting from the rich countries starting in 2020, the developing countries are supposed to start reducing emissions in 2020.

The issues are transparency and bookkeeping. Each country is required to open its accounting books to prove that it's meeting its emission reduction commitments.

But China is now demanding "bifurcation." This is a technical term meaning that the transparency and bookkeeping rules apply only to the rich countries, not to the developing countries.

This means that the "rich" developed countries have to pay all the money and also meet the transparency and bookkeeping rules to prove that they meeting their emission commitments.

But the developing countries just have to sit back and collect money, and claim that they're reducing emissions without having to provide any evidence.

China can go on building a new coal power plant every week, and just claim that it's magic coal that reduces emissions rather than increasing them.

You know, Dear Reader, this is so completely f--ked up that it's almost unbelievable. But that's the way the world is today. With idiots like these running the world, it's no wonder we're headed for a new World War. BBC and Climate Change News and Bloomberg and Climate Change News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-18 World View -- Climate change conference collapses as China backs down from emission commitments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2018) Permanent Link
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11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey tightens grip on Syria's Afrin, and continues to threaten Manbij


Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)
Syrian police trainees in Turkey (Anadolu)

Turkey is continuing to tighten its grip on the northern Syria city Afrin, on Turkey's border, following the successful completion of Operation Olive Branch.

Turkey's military Operation Olive Branch began on January 20 and took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria's border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

The operation was executed by Arab militias in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces. Turkey declared the operation successfully completed on March 18.

Since then, Turkey has been tightening its control on Afrin. On April 10, Turkey announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin with the objective of speeding up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city. However, at the same time, the new border crossing gives Turkey complete control over Afrin.

Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is demanding that Turkey return control of Afrin back to the Syrian regime. However, Turkey is showing no signs of being willing to do so.

On Wednesday, Turkey announced that 600 Syrian police, aged 18 to 45, have received a month's training in Turkey, and are now trained and ready to be deployed back to Afrin to provide security as local police officers, "in an effort to return daily life to normal in the recently liberated city." They received training in intervention in social incidents, police regulations, general discipline, residential district, operation education, destroying improvised explosives and crime scene investigation.

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly promised on numerous occasions that once the operation in Afrin had been completed, the FSA forces would move east to perform a similar operation in the city of Manbij, and continue from there to the Euphrates River and beyond to Iraq.

That was always going to pose big problems, since the YPG in Manbij and further east were US allies that were the principal fighters that ejected the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) from Raqqa and other regions in eastern Syria. Thus, an FSA assault on the YPG in Manbij risked a military clash with US forces.

U.S. protection of the YPG in Manbij has now been formalized. On Wednesday, it emerged that U.S. forces had set up a new base in Manbij three months ago, shortly after Turkey launched its assault on Afrin. The new base will house both US and French troops, who will have the responsibility of patrolling the border to prevent clashes between the Turkish-backed forces and the YPG in Manbij. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Reuters and Yeni Safak (Ankara) and Daily Express (London)

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Israel-Iran missile barrages in Syria take a pause on Thursday


Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)
Syrian anti-aircraft missiles in the sky over Damascus on Thursday morning in response to Israeli missile attacks (AP)

The military battle between Iran and Israel that began on Wednesday evening and continued through the night has taken a pause, with many signs that the pause will be only temporary.

According to Israel's military, the battle was triggered when Iran's Quds Force, in Syria near the border with Israel, fired 20 missiles at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights border area separating western Syria from northern Israel.

According to Israel, this was the first ever direct Iranian rocket attack on its troops.

This triggered the most intensive attack ever on Iranian positions and assets in Syria. Israel retaliated with what appeared to be surface-to-surface missiles, and multiple Syrian anti-aircraft batteries were launched to try to intercept them. Officials said that the response targeted almost all of Iran's military infrastructure inside Syria, including dozens of weapons storage sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces, as well as Syrian air defense systems. Israel struck more than 50 Iranian targets, in its most extensive operation in Syria since 1974.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "They need to remember the saying that if it rains on us, it'll storm on them. I hope we finished this chapter and everyone got the message."

Iran said that it had no desire to escalate the military conflict. Iran's president Hassan Rouhani said, "Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability."

Israel informed both Russia and the US of its plans ahead of the retaliatory strikes. Israeli officials say that Iran still has long-range capabilities in Syria with which to strike Israel, suggesting that the battle has not ended. Jerusalem Post and Independent (London) and CNN and Debka (Israel)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-18 World View -- Israel-Iran attacks in Syria take a pause, as Turkey tightens control over Afrin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2018) Permanent Link
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10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria

Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria


Nigerian Police
Nigerian Police

A prototypical conflict between herders and farmers in central Nigeria has suddenly escalated in a sectarian manner with the killing of two Catholic priests, Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, and other worshippers on April 24. The attack occurred in the town of Mbalom, just south of Makurdi, which is the capital city of Benue State in Nigeria.

I've written many times that many ethnic wars are based on fundamental clashes between farmer tribes and herder tribes. In country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers, I've described in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South 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.

In Nigeria's Benue State, the herders are mostly Muslims from the Fulani tribe. Farmers are mostly Christians from a number of tribes, including the Tiv, Mambila and Bachama tribes. The continuing tit-for-tat violence between herders and farmers in Benue State has already killed thousands of people and left tens of thousands homeless,

So the April 24 murder of the priests and worshippers was immediately blamed by the public and the media on Muslim Fulani herders, but to this day there is no solid evidence that the gunmen were Fulanis. In fact, the assailants took money, valuables and communion wine, suggesting that the motive was robbery rather than gaining farmland. Vanguard (Nigeria, 24-Apr) and Anglican News

News of revenge attacks by farmers criticized as fake news

Three days later, a Nigeria newspaper the Daily Trust reported on revenge attacks by Christian farmers from the Tiv tribe on ethnic Hausas in the Benue State capital city Makurdi.

A Hausa community leader was quoted as wondering why Tiv farmers would target Hausa people, since they were not the herders who allegedly attacked the priests:

"Last Tuesday, we saw our people running helter-skelter in the city that they brought the corpses of Church priests that were killed at Dukwayango village and then suddenly Tiv youth started attacking our people. As I am talking to you they have killed over eight people, over 20 sustained injuries and several shops were razed while over eleven people were missing.

We are not farmers, we don’t rear animals. We are just traders. These things happened in villages and in the bushes. Why are Tiv youth killing our people?"

The chief Imam of a mosque in Makurdi told the BBC Hausa service that he personally saw the corpses of 27 victims at the teaching hospital in Makurdi. He said while many were injured, some were burnt.

However, some community groups are condemning as lies the claims that Tiv farmers attacked Hausa people in Benue, and say that the purpose of the lies is to promote sectarian violence:

"It is a tissue of lies and falsehood concocted to profile the Tiv youth in bad light.

We consider the said story as part of the well planned agenda by our traducers to change the narrative in the state. ... The same report went on to claim that more than 10 Muslims were killed and 11 others missing in the state as from the reprisals following the attack on St. Ignatius Quasi Parish in Mbalom. ...

It is completely fake news. The statement by the Police further said such was nothing but falsehood, believably meant to cause break down of law and order in the State."

All that's really certain is that ethnic violence in central Nigeria, which has been growing for several years, continues to grow. Daily Trust (Nigeria, 27-Apr) and Independent (Nigeria) and Guardian (Nigeria)

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Israel, Iran and Syria exchange fire in first direct military confrontation

As this is being written on Wednesday evening ET, there is news of missile and artillery exchanges in Syria and in and around the Golan Heights, as well as airstrikes by Israel's air force.

Israel has struck Iranian missile depots and other Iranian military targets in Syria several times in the last few weeks, promising to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up a force capable of attacking Syria.

For several weeks, Israel has been stepping up its military forces on the border with Lebanon, in anticipation of a retaliatory strike on Israel by Iran. That Iranian attack has apparently happened, and there have been several hours of artillery exchanges over the Golan Heights that are continuing at this writing.

The Israeli attacks on Syria have been more intense than they were in the past. There are reports that the city of Damascus is without power. At least 20 heavy rockets have been fired from Syria at Israeli forces, but there are no reports yet of Israeli damage or casualties. Reuters and Washington Post and AFP and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-18 World View -- Killing of two priests escalates farmer-herder conflict in Benue State, Nigeria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

by Loretta Napoleoni

European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni


South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut
South Koreans watching tv admire Kim Jong-un's highly fashionable haircut

It is true that the barycenter of the world is moving to the east, not only economically but above all politically. Our politicians would do well to pay attention to how high-level politics is done in the east, since they would learn something. The most recent masterful lesson of international diplomacy comes from the sadly famous demilitarized zone (DMZ), the scar of the cold war that runs along the 38th parallel and which divides the Korean peninsula in two.

The dictator Kim Jong-un, considered crazy and bloody until four months ago, took part in a historic summit in South Korea, still 'enemy' territory, and where neither his father nor his grandfather ever set foot. He did it with all the honors reserved for a great head of state. The South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who has spent the last twenty years to get this meeting, is the country's spokesman. Meanwhile, Kim has used every political strategy, including the diplomacy of the Olympics, to get closer to the common goal: the peace agreement between the two nations.

The peace between these two countries -- which for three thousand years have been a unique geographical and linguistic expression, a single culture, a sovereign nation with the same people -- will open the doors to economic and commercial cooperation. The model will be that of the old European Common Market: exploiting the economic interdependencies and the resources of both to modernize the North and produce well-being throughout the peninsula. The union has the potential to give life to an economy much stronger than Japan's.

North and South, therefore, have common interests that they can pursue jointly. The obstacles are many. First of all, even if both have signed a peace armistice, the two countries are still at war. The People's Republic of North Korea is a buffer state for China, while South Korea is a very important US military base in the Pacific. In short, to get to shake hands on the 38th parallel and plant the tree of peace the two Korean leaders have had to convince Washington and Beijing to let them do it.

Brexit and other European fiascos in diplomacy

If we compare this lesson of international diplomacy with European post-electoral fiascos -- the last nation to prove incapable of forming a government on the basis of electoral results is Italy -- and animosities within the European Union, for example, Brexit, we realize why the axis of the world is moving to the east. To complete the sad picture of the decadence of politics in Europe, there are relations of subjugation with Washington. What about Macron crossing the ocean to present to Trump the European iron will to go ahead with the agreement with Iran and then change his mind twenty four hours after landing? Remarkable is the difference with President Moon (whose wife does not dress Chanel like the first French and American ladies), Moon is a politician of substance, who has clear ideas about the future of his nation, is not a populist.

Of course there is always Angela Merkel who clearly told Trump -- who continued to bomb the world with twitter triumphalists on the Korean summit presented as a creation -- not to trust Kim Jong-un. Yes, Merkel is a clever politician, but she has to play in a team of wives and has no interlocutor to work with seriously.

Here are some forecasts: Trump and Kim will meet, possibly in June. The peace agreement between the two leaders will be endorsed by the White House, at which point they will begin to work at the ceremony for the signing of the treaty, which will take place before November 2018, namely the mid-term US elections.

Trump will be credited with all the glory but will Kim and Moon let him do that? The North Korean dictator seems less inclined than the South Korean president to stroke Trump's ego. But he should be very careful, as the US president may walk away from the summit and Kim and Moon would end up with no deal. But if things go according to plans, Kim will reiterate the commitment to freeze nuclear warheads and details of denuclearization will be postponed to another summit, which will take place in 2019. Meanwhile, North and South Korea will quietly start to cooperate economically, despite international sanctions. Southern investors will therefore have priority access to the process of modernizing the north.

In Europe the bickering on Brexit will not disappear. The tensions between the right-wing populism of Eastern Europe and Brussels will increase, risking the implosion of the whole structure. Italy will most likely revive, but the results will not be better. In short, the scenarios are not at all positive. The last detail: Kim's haircut will continue to be more and more fashionable, while Merkel's will be considered passé.

Loretta Napoleoni is an Italian economist and analyst, and author of the 2018 book, North Korea: The Country We Love To Hate

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 News -- European politicians have a lot to learn from North and South Korean leaders, by Loretta Napoleoni thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements
  • Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements


Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)
Boris Johnson and Theresa May (PA)

Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson on Monday declared that the proposal by prime minister Theresa May to resolve Brexit issues was "crazy."

This has caused quite a sensation, because a high level cabinet minister is not supposed to openly criticize a major policy of the prime minister unless he wants to be fired.

The policy in question, called a "Customs Partnership," is indeed delusional, but in today's highly polarized world, where a man can lose his career for saying the wrong thing about whether he supports Trump, then you have to be willing to support even delusional policies if you want to keep your job.

In this case, however, May's spokesman said that the prime minister had "full confidence" in Johnson, and told officials "to do more work" on the proposal.

I've written about Brexit issues many times since the Brexit referendum passed almost two years ago, on June 23 2016, and the intractable, insoluble problem is always the same: Keeping a "frictionless border" between Northern Ireland and (Southern) Republic of Ireland, despite the fact that Northern Ireland will be part of the UK, and Ireland will be part of the EU.

Everyone says that there must be a frictionless border, so that people, trucks and goods can continue to flow freely back and forth between the two. The current open border was the result of the Good Friday agreement of 1999 that ended years of "The Troubles," bloody fighting between the indigenous ethnic Irish Gaelics (the Catholic Republicans) and the descendants of the English and Scottish invaders (the Protestant Unionists).

Today there are a lot of people who genuinely fear that fighting will resume in full force. This is not a trivial concern, in that there's still a great deal of hatred between some Gaelics and some English, and there are still walls separating neighborhoods in the province of Ulster, which spans both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and where there are still occasional flashes of violence. (See "23-Jun-11 News -- Sectarian violence in Northern Ireland grows again") (Paragraph corrected, 9-May)

Officially, Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019. There are huge unsolved problems having to do with trade, migration, citizens' rights, and Ireland for which solutions are nowhere in sight. Ireland and the EU are demanding a proposal on the Ireland "frictionless border" by June, and it will not be met.

Other deadlines are approaching as well. Concerns are widespread that the Brexit process is collapsing into a huge, unmanageable mess.

And why wasn't Boris Johnson fired? For that matter, why hasn't Theresa May lost her job as well. The answer, according to many analysts I hear, is that nobody else wants these jobs, under the current circumstances. BBC and Reuters and Express (London) and RTE (Ireland)

Theresa May's two delusional proposals - Customs Partnership and Maximum Facilitation

Any Brexit proposal by Britain also has to be approved by the EU27, the 27 nations of the EU excluding the UK. Theresa May has two proposals both of which are delusional for many reasons, not the least of which is that there is no chance that the EU27 will approve either of them. But the British politicians and the British press keep talking about them without even considering whether the EU will approve them.

One proposal is called the "Customs Partnership." Businesses shipping goods from foreign countries into Britain will be charged tariffs according to EU rules. The goods will then be tracked, and if they stay in Britain, then the businesses can claim a rebate of any overpayment. If not, then Britain forwards the tariff to the EU.

This leaves the Irish border frictionless, since goods can flow across the border freely, since the tariff has already been paid.

This is the plan that Boris Johnson is calling "crazy," because Britain would still be bound by EU rules that the whole Brexit plan was supposed to free them of:

"It’s totally untried and would make it very, very difficult to do free trade deals.

If you have the new customs partnership, you have a crazy system whereby you end up collecting the tariffs on behalf of the EU at the UK frontier.

If the EU decides to impose punitive tariffs on something the UK wants to bring in cheaply there’s nothing you can do.

That’s not taking back control of your trade policy, it’s not taking back control of your laws, it’s not taking back control of your borders and it’s actually not taking back control of your money either, because tariffs would get paid centrally back to Brussels."

He said that the plan would create "a whole new web of bureaucracy," and would not meet the key test of Britain "taking back control" from Brussels. In other words, the Customs Partnership would defeat the whole purpose of Brexit.

Theresa May's second proposal is called "Maximum Facilitation."

Shipping firms would operate as "trusted traders" so they can move goods freely as EU tariff is only paid when goods arrive in destination country. Goods would be electronically tracked and pre-cleared with tax authorities. There would be a frictionless border in Ireland, because goods would move freely back and forth, and would be tracked by means of some yet to be developed technology.

The EU has dismissed this proposal as "magical thinking," because it assumes that "trusted traders" can be trusted, and because the required technology is not possible in the foreseeable future. Daily Mail (London) and The Week (UK) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-18 World View -- Brexit negotiations in crisis as deadlines approach with no agreements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2018) Permanent Link
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8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post
  • Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post


Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)
Phnom Penh Post on November 13, 2017 (Reuters)

Cambodia's last independent newspaper, the Phnom Penh Post, is in crisis after the editor-in-chief was fired for refusing to take down an article critical of the new owner, and several senior reporters subsequently resigned after being ordered to take down the same article.

Hun Sen, Cambodia's leader for 33 years, has become increasingly dictatorial since the opposition political party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) almost won the 2013 election, and has become increasingly popular since then. With another election scheduled for July of this year, Hun Sen has solved the problem by arresting CNRP leaders and jailing them on phony charges, and even getting the Supreme Court to declare the CNRP to be an illegal political party. In addition, Hun Sen has been jailing protesters, and shutting down media sources not controlled by the government.

The weekend sale of the Phnom Penh Post is the latest example of Hun Sen's dictatorial takeover. The Cambodian government forced the previous owner to sell by imposing an enormous $3.9 million tax bill on the paper. The only other independent newspaper in the country, the Cambodian Daily, was forced to shut down last year after receiving a $6.3 million tax bill.

An announcement on Saturday said that the Phnom Penh Post had been sold to a Malaysian investor, Sivakumar Ganapathy, executive director of the Malaysia firm Asia PR.

Sivakumar's first act as owner was to issue a statement saying that the newspaper would remain independent.

But then Sivakumar's next act as owner was to demand that the editor-in-chief take down an article posted on Sunday detailing the sale and Sivakumar's background, and then fire him for refusing.

Then Sivakumar fired the editor-in-chief, and when he demanded of the other senior editors to take the article down, there was a mass resignation.

As of Monday evening ET, the article still has not been taken down, and I was still able to access it. (Perhaps after all the senior reporters left, there was no one left with a password to the servers.)

The article described numerous examples of Sivakumar's close relationships with Hun Sen and the Cambodian government, suggesting that Sivakumar might be controlled by Hun Sen. AFP and Phnom Penh Post (6-May) and Australian Broadcasting and BBC

Phnom Penh Post had a combative relationship with Hun Sen

As an example of other articles that might have triggered Hun Sen's decision to make sure that the Phnom Penh Post would become government-controlled, an article last week described Hun Sen's "catch and release policy." The way it works is that opposition figures are arrested on phony charges, kept in jail for as many months or years as necessary, and then released just in time to achieve some objective.

For example, an opposition politician Bun Chhay was jailed on August 4 of last year, supposedly on some decade old drug charges, but just when it appeared he would pose a legitimate political challenge. Then on September 3 Sourn Serey Ratha, head of the tiny Khmer Power Party, was arrested over a Facebook post criticizing the government’s recent military stand-off with Laos.

This cleared away the only viable competitors to Hun Sen's reelection, but the arrests caused an international uproar, with threats by the US and the EU to withdraw aid. According to the Phnom Penh Post article, the "catch and release" strategy was completed last week:

"Last week, the EU publicly acknowledged that it would be taking the extraordinary step of sending a team to review its General Scheme of Preferences with Cambodia – raising questions about the future of tariff-free access to one Cambodia’s largest trading partners. The pressure was reaching a head.

Days later, Nhek Bun Chhay walked out of jail.

“While it would seem that the [Cambodian People’s Party] has the upcoming election neatly sewed up, perhaps Hun Sen views him as a figure who can help diversify the electoral field just enough to gain some international credibility, while remaining too marginal to pose any real threat to the CPP’s power,” Strangio said."

Whether the EU will be fooled by this remains to be seen.

However, placing new sanctions on Cambodia will likely not have much effect. Cambodia is becoming China's most important political ally in the region. Already, between 2011 and 2015 Chinese firms funneled nearly $5 billion in loans and investment to Cambodia, mostly for major infrastructure projects, while making no demands on how Hun Sen runs the country. Like Pakistan, Cambodia is expected to be an obedient ally of China, and to follow China's policy directives in return for money. Phnom Penh Post (2-May) and Reuters and Reporters Without Borders and Nikkei Asia Review and The Diplomat (15-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-18 World View -- Cambodia's dictatorial Hun Sen forces sale of independent Phnom Penh Post thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2018) Permanent Link
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7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect
  • Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect


Ahsan Iqbal (AP)
Ahsan Iqbal (AP)

Pakistan’s interior minister Ahsan Iqbal was shot in the arm in an assassination attempt as he spoke at a public meeting on Sunday. The gunman was about to fire a second shot when he was overpowered by people around him. It's believed that Iqbal will survive.

The gunman was Abid Hussain, 21, affiliated with the ultra-religious Tehreek-e-Labaik party, which is the political party of the loony Barelvi sect that believes that anyone accused of blasphemy should be executed.

This was not the first physical attack on Iqbal this year. A man threw a shoe at him while he was addressing a workers convention in February. Iqbal wasn't hurt and refused to press charges, so the police never investigated the motive of the perpetrator, or whether he was also a member of Tehreek-e-Labaik. (One media source claims that shoe-throwing as a form of insult is practiced in many countries, and is mentioned in the Bible in Psalms 108:9.)

The usual questions are being asked about why security at Sunday's event was so lax that a gunman was able to get into the event. The reason being given is that the levels of terrorist violence in Pakistan have been decreasing in the last two years, and so less security is being used at events like this.

Federal elections will be held this summer, and the number of political rallies will be increasing substantially. Sunday's assassination attempt is raising concerns that there may be additional terrorist attacks at this rallies as the election approaches. Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Reuters and Pakistan Today (24-Feb) and Bible Study Tools

Barelvi sect and Tehreek-e-Labaik political party surge in popularity

In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, was shot and killed in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" of bodyguards that were supposed to protect him. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri confessed to the killing, and blamed it on Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam. When Qadri arrived in court a few days later, Islamist lawyers showed him with roses.

Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the head of the Barelvi sect, was unknown in Pakistan until he became Qadri's principal defender after the Taseer assassination. Rizvi also became the principal defender of the blasphemy law that Taseer had wanted to change, and organized public support for the law.

The text of the blasphemy law, section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, is as follows:

"Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

This loony law has been massively abused in Pakistan. In Pakistan, if you want to kill your neighbor, make up some reason why he violated the blasphemy law, and then kill him, and you'll probably get away with it.

Rizvi's aggressive support for the blasphemy law has made his Barelvi sect increasingly popular, and he was able to exhibit his power forcefully in October of last year. The government made a minor textual change to a government oath, and a mob of people belonging to the ehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah of Pakistan (TLYR or TLYRAP) political party, coming from the Barelvi sect, were able to paralyze multiple cities across Pakistan, with major roads blocked by a mobs of tens of thousands of Islamists in sit-ins, escalating into clashes with thousands of police.

After weeks of paralysis, the Barelvi TYRAP party scored an enormous victory by forcing the government to completely capitulate to their demands. These demands included resignations of top government officials who made the text change, or who might have known about it.

Barelvi TYRAP party has been gaining in popularity, and elections will be held this summer. Sunday's attempted assassination has raised concerns that Pakistan's loony blasphemy laws will be used to incite move violence, as well as to create a popular movement. The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017) and Eurasia Review and The Nation (Pakistan, 18-Nov-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-18 World View -- Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2018) Permanent Link
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6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui
  • Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui
  • The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge
  • Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in CAR capital city Bangui


Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)
Aftermath of violence clashes in Bangui, CAR, on May 1 (Defense Post)

Sectarian Muslim versus Christian violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has continued with armed groups and marauding gangs, both Muslim and Christian, almost nonstop across the country, since the violence began in 2013. The capital city Bangui has been relatively spared from violence in the last year, but this has changed in the last month, with sectarian attacks killing dozens of people, including attacks on a Catholic Church and a mosque.

The violence mostly took place in the PK5 district of Bangui. Bangui is a mostly Catholic city, but PK5 is a mostly Muslim enclave within Bangui. I wrote about PK5 in November 2015, when Pope Francis visited Bangui, and particularly paid a visit to the PK5 mosque.

The exact sequence of events isn't completely clear, but it appears that the violence began early in April when MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeper mission for CAR, joined local CAR security forces to launch a joint security operation in PK5 to dismantle militia bases that were hiding out in PK5.

MINUSCA is the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), launched in April 2014 as a peacekeeping mission. Unfortunately, there has been little peace for MINUSCA to keep. CAR is a huge country, and pretty much the entire country is in flames, so MINUSCA has mostly restricted itself to Bangui.

On April 10, the joint security operation turned into a bloody massacre, as the security forces battled several armed groups in PK5, known as the "self-defense forces," a name that reflects lack of respect in the Muslim community for either MINUSCA or CAR's current government. A total of 21 people were killed in a four-hour gun battle between the security forces and the self-defense forces, including a peacekeeper from Rwanda. 11 peacekeepers were wounded. AFP (9-Apr)

Angry protesters bring corpses to MINUSCA headquarters in Bangui

On April 11, hundreds of angry demonstrators from PK5 held a peaceful march in Bangui, and in a dramatic gesture, carried the corpses of 17 of the 21 who had been killed, and laid the corpses in front of the MINUSCA mission headquarters. According to one demonstrator:

"We, ourselves, no longer understand anything. Does their mission consist of shooting at civilians?"

MINUSCA denied that civilians had been targeted, and said that only criminal gangs had been targeted. A spokesman criticized the demonstrators:

"This is not an operation against communities and specifically the Muslim community. The Muslim community asked our troops to launch the operation and put an end to the criminal activities.

We regret the fact that the bodies were being manipulated, while they should be buried like every person who dies."

So-called Muslim "self-defense groups" have been springing up in PK5, claiming to protect the Muslim civilians.

The relationship between MINUSCA and the self-defense groups has become increasingly acrimonious. The self-defense groups claim that MINUSCA is trying to drive the Muslims out of Bangui entirely, while MINUSCA accuses them of extortion and violence against civilians. Reuters (11-Apr) and The Defense Post

The self-defense group 'The Force' gets revenge

One of the PK5 self-defense groups, "The Force," got revenge on May 1 when gunmen attacked a service at a Catholic Church in Bangui. Some 2000 people had gathered for the service, when armed men threw grenades and fired on the church. The attack lasted for hours, killing a priest and at least 15 people from the church, and injuring hundreds more.

After attacking the church, the perpetrators moved into neighboring districts, looting shops and homes and attacking civilians. An Evangelical church member was killed outside his home.

Various officials offered the usual rhetoric. The head of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Mervyn Thomas said:

"We extend our condolences to the parishioners of Our Lady Fatima Church, to the family of Albert Toungoumale Baba and to all those who have been bereaved.

The attack on a place of worship not only violates the right to freedom of religion or belief, but also threatens the social fabric of the community that religious leaders of all faiths have worked to maintain throughout the recent conflict."

Amnesty International issued the usual near-boilerplate statement:

"Central African authorities and MINUSCA must send an immediate and clear message to all armed groups and their allies in CAR: No attack against civilians will be tolerated and all those suspected of committing war crimes and other serious human rights violations and abuses will be brought to justice."

La Libre (Belgium) (Translation) and Premier (UK) and Amnesty International

Central African Republic crisis civil war continues

Despite Amnesty International's laughable rhetoric, "No attack against civilians will be tolerated," CAR is in a generational crisis civil war, and there's no end in sight.

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.

The peacekeepers succeeded, 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.

Although the CAR war appears to be entirely sectarian, that isn't entirely true. The Muslims are mostly herders, while the Christians are mostly farmers, and this is the same kind of conflict between herders and farmers that I've described in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, 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. In CAR, there have been situations where Muslim and Christian farmers were united in fighting Muslim herders.

As I've explained in the past, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. ( "2-Oct-15 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war")

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-18 World View -- Muslim vs Catholic violence surges again in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2018) Permanent Link
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5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment
  • Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

Residents of Yemen's Socotra island protest UAE military deployment


Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there.  Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)
Landscape of Socotra Island, with hundreds of plant species found only there. Pictured are 'dragon's blood trees' (Corbis/Daily Mail)

Residents of Socotra Island are reacting angrily and protesting about the increasing presence of hundreds of troops, tanks, armored transports and heavy equipment that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is deploying on the island in a power struggle with Saudi Arabia.

Socotra Island belongs to Yemen, and is strategically located south of Yemen where it oversees shipping traffic traveling from the Arabian Sea, through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea through the Suez Canal.

Socotra Island is similar to the Galapagos Islands, in that it's been isolated for millions of years, allowing for the development of hundreds of unique plant species found nowhere else on earth. Because of its unique plant life, it has recently been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 2015, Yemen has been the target of a proxy war Iran-backed ethnic Houthis versus an Arab military coalition led by Saudi Arabia. The war has become an example of the old African proverb: "When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers," in that the proxy war has caused endless misery to the ordinary people of Yemen, resulting in massive homelessness, starvation and cholera. The end of the war seems to be nowhere in sight.

Now the 60,000 people of the Socotra Island are being pulled into the war as well, with the UAE deployment. Many of these people are furious at the UAE, and some are even accusing the UAE of deploying the military in order to steal UNESCO-protected species of plants and animals from the island. Middle East Eye and Independent (London) and Al Jazeera and Daily Mail (London, 25-Sep-2013)

Rift grows between Saudi Arabia and UAE in Yemen

The internationally recognized government of Yemen is led by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who has been hiding out in Saudi Arabia because of the war with the Houthis. While the Houthis are backed by Iran, Hadi's government is backed by an coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

As the war has continued for years with no end in sight, we reported in January, that there has been a split between coalition members Saudi Arabia and UAE. This has resulted in military clashes between Saudi and UAE forces in the southern port city of Aden.

The UAE has been backing the Southern Transitional Council (STC), a separatist faction calling for the division of Yemen into Northern Yemen and Southern Yemen, and claiming Aden as the capital city of Southern Yemen.

The split between Saudi Arabia and UAE is potentially dangerous because UAE is attempting to extend its influence well beyond its borders into much of what the STC would like to be Southern Yemen. UAE's move to exert control over Socotra is seen as a further move in that direction. Anadolu (Turkey) and Middle East Eye (12-May-2017) and Press TV (Iran)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-18 World View -- UAE troops and tanks deployed to Yemen's Socotra island in dispute with Saudi Arabia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2018) Permanent Link
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4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea

China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea
  • China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers

China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea


Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)
Chinese warship in South China Sea, April 12, 2018 (Getty)

China has once again escalated its massive military occupation of the South China Sea by deploying offensive anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles systems. The missiles are being deployed on the artificial islands that China constructed in violation of international law, as the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal.

According to military analyst Gregory Poling, it means that China will soon be deploying warplanes to the area:

"This should be seen as China crossing an important threshold. Missile platforms present a clear offensive threat. [The missile deployment] is a pretty clear threat to the other claimants and furthers China's goal of establishing complete control over the water and airspace of the South China Sea."

Even before this latest deployment, Navy Admiral Philip S. Davidson told the Senate that China already has the military power to control the entire South China Sea, and only war would be able to stop this:

"China's development of forward military bases in the South China Sea began in December 2013 when the first dredger arrived at Johnson Reef. Through 2015, China used dredging efforts to build up these reefs and create manmade islands, destroying the reefs in the process. Since then, China has constructed clear military facilities on the islands, with several bases including hangars, barracks, underground fuel and water storage facilities, and bunkers to house offense and defensive kinetic and non-kinetic systems. These actions stand in direct contrast to the assertion that President Xi made in 2015 in the Rose Garden when he commented that Beijing had no intent to militarize the South China Sea. Today these forward operating bases appear complete. The only thing lacking are the deployed forces.

Once occupied, China will be able to extend its influence thousands of miles to the south and project power deep into Oceania. The PLA will be able to use these bases to challenge U.S. presence in the region, and any forces deployed to the islands would easily overwhelm the military forces of any other South China Sea-claimants. In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

As Davidson points out, China has repeatedly lied and hid its true intentions. Originally, the artificial islands were going to be for tourists and scientists, which was a lie. Then the military installations would be purely defensive, which was another lie. And now they're part of a massive militarization in anticipation, when preparation has been completed, to launch a full-scale war on America and its allies.

According to an article last month in Chinese media, China is close to announcing how much of each country's territory it plans to annex:

"A precise continuous line will split the Gulf of Tonkin between China and Vietnam, go south into waters claimed by Malaysia, take a U-turn to the north along the west coast of the Philippines and finish at the southeast of Taiwan."

China has also been increasingly threatening an belligerent with Vietnam, Japan and Australia, by demanding that they respect China's illegal sovereignty claims. China has also been increasingly military threatening to Taiwan, and may be close to a military invasion.

China has repeatedly hidden its intentions, and will continue to do so until it's prepared to launch its attack. China is following exactly the same path that the Nazis followed. Xi Jinping's "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" is the same as Hitler's National Socialism. Like the Nazis, the Chinese believe that they're a Master Race that will conquer the world. They'd have to be crazy to believe that they could succeed at that, but the Chinese are crazy.

I frequently like to quote Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, "Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." The Chinese will not be the Master Race that rules the world. Instead, they'll do exactly what the Nazis did -- bring destruction and catastrophe to themselves and the world. CNBC and The Diplomat and Newsweek (20-Apr) and US Senate (PDF, 17-Apr) and South China Morning Post (22-Apr)

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China's military attacks US pilots in Djibouti with high-grade blinding lasers


Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)
Opening ceremony of China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017 (AFP)

China's belligerent military actions in the South China Sea are being repeated as well in the horn of Africa.

Chinese military personnel are using high-grade blinding lasers to target American pilots and American military crews flying over Djibouti in northeast Africa (the horn of Africa), according to the Pentagon.

There were several incidents in the past several weeks. No one has lost his life, but several Americans have received eye injuries.

The Americans are stationed in Djibouti at the Camp Lemonnier naval base which is the primary base of operations and logistics hub for missions across Africa. It supports approximately 4,000 U.S., joint and allied forces military and civilian personnel and defense contractors.

Camp Lemonnier was built in 2001, but is now being challenged by a new Chinese base in Djibouti, built in 2017. The US has formally protested to China's government, and "requested" that China launch an investigation of the situation.

As we reported last month, there is a parallel development in progress. Djibouti's strategic port at the entrance to the Red Sea is the Doraleh Container Terminal. A Dubai firm, DP World, had been operating the terminal since 2006, when DP World had signed a 30 year contract.

In February, Djibouti seized control of the terminal, and abruptly terminated the contract without notice. Next, Djibouti signed a contract with Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), a company that works with China Merchants Port Holdings, to operate the terminal. So it appears that China is poised to take control of the entire Djibouti seaport.

Whether in the South China Sea or Djibouti, China constantly lies and hides its intentions. China has been attacking American pilots and flight crews with high-powered lasers. We have to assume that this is not some rogue Chinese soldier, but is actual policy of the Chinese military, presumably to test out their laser systems in preparation for war. CNN and Washington Examiner and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-18 World View -- China deploys cruise and surface-to-air missiles in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2018) Permanent Link
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3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program
  • Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program


Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)
Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to a facsimile of the intelligence archive that Mossad had taken from a Tehran warehouse in January (Times of Israel)

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday revealed the results of a massive intelligence coup by Israel's intelligence agency Mossad.

In February 2016, spies from Mossad discovered the top-secret location of a warehouse in Iran's capital city Tehran where thousands of documents related to Iran's past nuclear weapons developments were stored. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night in January of this year, removed half a ton of archived documents, and smuggled them back to Israel the same night. The material included 55,000 pages and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.

The archived material was of Iran's nuclear program that began in the 1980s, and ended in 2003, when the Iraq war revealed that Saddam Hussein was not developing WMDs.

The trove of intelligence data is being used in the debate over what the Trump administration should do on May 12, when it must decide whether to abandon the nuclear deal that the West signed with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say that there's nothing in the trove of data that indicates that Iran has violated any of its obligations under the treaty, and that appears to be true.

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that Iran lied about the extent of its nuclear weapons program that ended in 2003. In particular, they say that Iran claimed that the nuclear development was only for peaceful purposes, while the intelligence data provides extensive technical information on how Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Those who favor continuing to support the JCPOA say nothing revealed in the intelligence haul was new, and that in fact it was known and published in a 2011 document from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Those who oppose continuing to support the JCPOA say that the 2011 IAEA document contains only a small fraction of the information that was revealed in the intelligence trove, and that furthermore Iran had not destroyed all the work in its nuclear weapons program, as it had promised.

So this is all going to be a major heated and sometimes acrimonious debate between now and May 12, when President Trump will announce the administration's decision on whether to continue to support the JCPOA.

It's also worth noting that in October 2015, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's Expediency Council, said in a televised interview that Iran had begun developing nuclear weapons in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, and continued development for many years. Times of Israel and International Atomic Energy Commission-IAEA (PDF,2011) and Times of Israel

Importance of 2003 Iraq War revealed by the Iranian intelligence coup

Even by the extremely low to nonexistent standards of today's journalists and today's politicians, the statements made about the Iraq war on a daily basis are abysmally ignorant, saying that it was a catastrophe and the worst war in American history and other idiotic things. Actually, it's the people who opposed the Iraq war in 2003 who owe the world an apology, since they were unwilling to stop Saddam Hussein from using WMDs to kill thousands of people.

The new intelligence trove from Iran provides further evidence that NOT pursuing the Iraq war could have been a catastrophe.

We now know that the Iran had a very aggressive nuclear weapons development program that began in the 1980s during the Iran/Iraq war, at a time when Saddam Hussein was using mustard gas and other WMDs on Kurds and Iranians.

This program continued until October 2003, when Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa ending all nuclear weapons development. The fatwa was issued because the American invasion of Iraq and the defeat of Saddam Hussein had ended any possibility of Iraq developing nuclear weapons. Iran had already been victimized by Saddam's WMDs, and in 2003 Saddam was refusing IAEA inspections, so without the Iraq war there was little doubt that Saddam would continue development of WMDs, and possibly nuclear weapons.

If it hadn't been for the Iraq war, then Iran would have continued nuclear weapons development, and would be a major nuclear weapons power in the Mideast today. Furthermore, since Iran has been working with North Korea, North Korea would also be a major nuclear weapons power today.

Saudi Arabia would not have simply tolerated a nuclear Iran, so it would have obtained its own nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Saddam Hussein would undoubtedly at least continued development of WMDs. So the Mideast and the world would be very different and infinitely more dangerous places today if it hadn't been for the Iraq war. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-18 World View -- Israel reveals intelligence coup on Iran's nuclear weapons program thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2018) Permanent Link
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2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan
  • Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else
  • Armenia in a generational Awakening era

Armenia's parliament refuses to support popular opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan


Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)
Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan demonstrate in Yerevan (Pravda)

Armenia's political turmoil went into full-scale chaos on Tuesday, when the governing Republican party, which has a majority in the parliament, refused to support opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan's bid to become prime minister, leaving the country with no prime minister and no obvious alternate candidate.

Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down as prime minister on August 23, in the face of huge street protests led by Pashinyan, and his threats to shut down the country with nationwide protests and strikes. ( "26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister")

After the parliament on Tuesday had hours of acrimonious debate and then refused to elect Pashinyan as the new prime minister to replace Sargsyan, there were once again tens of thousands of protesters in Republic Square in the capital city Yerevan. Pashinyan told the cheering supporters, "We will block the streets, the airports, the metro, the railway, everything that can be blocked."

The protests are expected to continue. The parliament will hold another vote on May 8, and if no prime minister is elected, then the parliament will be dissolved, and new elections will be held. News (Armenia) and BBC and Reuters and Bloomberg

Nikol Pashinyan pledges loyalty to Russia, and everyone else

The turmoil in Armenia is of crucial importance to Russia because Armenia under Serzh Sargsyan was a close ally to Russia and followed Russia's policy. Russia has an airbase in Armenia, and in 2013, Armenia chose to join a Russian-led customs union, rather than sign an association agreement with Armenia.

The rapid collapse last week of the Sargsyan government sends shock waves through Moscow because of visceral fears that a popular uprising could similar bring about the collapse of Russia's government, led by president Vladimir Putin. Those who consider this idea far-fetched might think back to 1991, when a popular uprising led to the collapse of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev, and its replacement by a government led by Boris Yeltsin.

In the last ten years, Russia has used military force in Ukraine and Georgia in the face of threats of the governments of those countries to align themselves with the European Union rather than Russia. Until last month, Armenia was safely on Russia's team, but now that's no longer certain.

Prior to the election in parliament that rejected his bid to become prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan gave a speech outlining his policies, including the following "foreign policy":

"If I am elected, Armenia will not make turns in the foreign policy domain; it will remain a member of the EAEU and the CSTO. This position does not stem from a person’s taste, but the logic of the movement that brought victory to the people. Demanding numerous changes in domestic life, the people did not and do not demand any change in foreign policy domain. We considered and consider Russia the strategic ally of Armenia, and this movement does not pose any threat to the [Russian Federation].

We will deepen relations with the European Union and the EU member countries. We will do everything for the [Republic of Armenia] citizens toward the EU visa regime abolition; we expect to start negotiations on it in the nearest future. The soonest implementation of the EU-Armenia agreement stems from our own interests. The government that I will head will deepen relations with the US, China, will remain committed to the process of [Armenian] Genocide recognition; Armenia will continue playing the role of the pioneer on this matter."

Pashinyan's speech could hardly have been reassuring to Russian officials. But the current situation, where Pashinyan was rejected by the legislature, and massive protests and demonstrations are continuing in the streets, can hardly be considered any better. Jamestown and News (Armenia) and Tass (Russia) and AFP (26-Apr)

Armenia in a generational Awakening era

According to some reports, Russian officials have been caught by surprise by the rapid collapse of the Serzh Sargsyan government, since they had expected Sargsyan to have used military force to stop the protests and remain in power. Perhaps the Russians were thinking of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, who stopped similar protests by sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people.

For those interested in the theoretical aspects of Generational Dynamics, it's worth taking a moment to sort out what's happening.

As I described a couple of times, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

Every generational Awakening era (including the Unraveling era that follows) is politically torn by a "generation gap" that pits the traumatized survivors of the preceding crisis war versus their children, the generations that grow up after the crisis war and have no personal memories of its horrors and atrocities.

Regular readers know that there's been a great deal of theoretical development on how these Awakening eras differ, depending on whether the preceding crisis war was an external war with another country versus an internal crisis civil war between tribes and ethnic groups. In the former case, the two armies each withdraw from the other country, and further contact between the populations is done diplomatically. But in the latter case, the two populations to live with each other when the war ends -- in the same country, the same villages and even on the same streets. This means that the hatred and the desire for revenge continue at a very personal level.

In the case of popular protests when the previous crisis war was an ethnic or tribal civil war, the protests are taken as a sign that the civil war is beginning again, and the government uses that as an excuse to use massacres, extrajudicial killings, jailings, torture, rape and other atrocities on the political opposition. The extreme example is Bashar al-Assad, whom I've described is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. But I've also described the same phenomenon, with varying levels of violence, with Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Kabila in DRC, or, outside of Africa, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hun Sen in Cambodia and Maithripala Sirisena in Sri Lanka.

But if the last crisis war was an external war, then popular protests are not viewed as posing a similar sort of threat, and lead to an "Awakening climax" which is often a bloodless coup. This is what happened in America when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, and is what is happening now in Armenia with the forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan.

It's impossible to predict how this political chaos in Armenia will sort itself out. Right now, it appears that Nikol Pashinyan is so popular, that one way or another he's going to become prime minister, after which probably the same mobs that put him into power will turn against him, and he'll go from being the most popular to being the most unpopular. The only thing we can be sure of is that the chaos is going to continue for some time to come, and the only thing that Russians can do is watch and see what happens. Pravda (Moscow) and Chai Khana (Georgia) and World Policy Institute

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-18 World View -- Russia confounded by the chaotic popular uprising in Armenia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2018) Permanent Link
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1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan
  • The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq
  • Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan


Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)
Security forces run from the second coordinated suicide attack bombing in Kabul on Monday (AP)

Two coordinated suicide bombings on Monday in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, killed at least 26 people, including nine journalists, who were apparently targeted. The first suicide bomber was on a motorbike and exploded his device near Afghan intelligence headquarters in Kabul. After the initial suicide bombings, journalists arrived to report on it, and were targeted by a second suicide bomber.

There were other terror attacks in cities across Afghanistan on Monday, including a car bombing in Kandahar province that killed eight Romanian soldiers, as well as multiple Afghan police officers and civilians.

Last Sunday, a massive terror attack in Kabul killed 60 people as they waited in a voter registration center, in a region of the city inhabited by members of the mainly Shia ethnic Hazara community, whom the Taliban has frequently targeted. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Reuters and Business Insider

The Taliban announces the Spring fighting season, codename Al Khandaq

This new series of attacks just a few days after the Taliban announced its 2018 fighting season, codenamed "Al Khandaq." According to the Taliban announcement:

"The planning and strategy of the Al Khandaq Jihadi operations are organized by the expert and proficient skilled cadre of the Military Commission of the Islamic Emirate which is based on guerilla, offensive, infiltrated and various other new and intricate tactics against the new war strategy of the enemy, mainly focusing on crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters. ...

Besides sustaining the ongoing illegitimate occupation, the newly adopted war strategy of Trump has been ruthlessly implemented in the villages and rural areas against our oppressed Afghan people for the past nine months. Thousands of additional foreign forces are being deployed inside Afghanistan and they are supplied with new devastating weapons and vast military authorities."

The Taliban statement dismissed efforts at bringing about peace negotiations as "deceptive efforts" launched by the "ineffectual and corrupt officials of the puppet regime inside and outside the country are nothing but a conspiracy orchestrated by the foreign occupiers for enervating." Daily Times (Pakistan)

Analysts guess at why Afghanistan's security situation keeps deteriorating

Every time I read an article by an analyst or journalist trying to explain why the security situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating for years, it's pretty clear that they don't even know the most basic facts about the country. I've been explaining for years why any sort of "victory" in Afghanistan is impossible, and the reasons I gave years ago are still true today. I'll repeat them below, but first, let's take a look at some of the reasons that the media are providing.

Axios writer Michael Kugelman gives three reasons that don't even make as much sense as a Donald Duck cartoon. Here are his reasons:

  • Intensified U.S. military pressure. According to Klugman, increased pressure by the US military is driving the Taliban to terror attacks in the cities. So is he saying that if there were les US military pressure, then there would be fewer terror attacks? This reasoning is almost a joke, especially since the security situation has been deteriorating rapidly since the withdrawal of U.S. troops began in 2014.
  • The Taliban is a national insurgency determined to weaken if not overthrow the Afghan state. That's an easy, fatuous reason that's been true for 15 years, but it doesn't explain what's different now.
  • The Taliban and ISIS are staging terror attacks because they're easy to pull off. By this vacuous reasoning, there should be terror attacks in almost every country in the world.

Kugelman's reasons were completely empty-headed, but a more intelligent attempt was made by Allison Jackson, AFP's Kabul Bureau chief. Jackson gave her reasons in an interview on Monday on RFI. Jackson was asked whether the security situation has deteriorated (my transcription):

"Absolutely. I don't know anyone who would say otherwise. I've only been here 8 months, but everyone I speak to says since 2014 the security situation has deteriorated significantly, and now it's the worst it's ever been, and there are a number of reasons for that.

Nato ended its combat mission at the end of 2014. Since then, the Taliban has been resurgent, and is taking back a lot of the territory that they had lost while the Nato combat troops were on the ground, and the US presence is obviously much more diminished in comparison to what it was pre-2014.

And Islamic State would have been merged in Afghanistan in 2014 2015, and they claimed their first major attack in 2016, in the summer of 2016, with an attack on Shias, and since then have launched more than a dozen attacks in Kabul alone.

They've come under significant pressure. The Taliban has also come under significant pressure, following Donald Trump's new strategy in August, and that announcement basically gave the US air force and special forces much more leeway to go after the Taliban, IS, other militant groups. I think what these sorts of attacks show is that even in the heart of Kabul, ordinary Afghans are extremely vulnerable, the government is not able to secure the capital city. Resolute Support, which is the name of Nato's mission here, has said that protecting Kabul is a priority, but they've also admitted that it's very difficult to protect a city that is so porous as Kabul."

Jackson's entire explanation is that the security situation has worsened because of the withdrawal of most Nato forces in 2014. That makes sense, but it's not particularly useful because it doesn't explain why Nato forces are needed in the first place. There are dozens of countries where no Nato troops aren't deployed. Why does Afghanistan have terror attacks when those countries don't?

Kugelman's office is in Washington DC, far from Afghanistan, so there's no reason to expect him to know anything, unless he makes a special effort, which apparently he hasn't.

But Jackson has been Kabul bureau chief for eight months. During that eight months, she might have learned something about the shifting ethnic and generational pressures that are bringing about these Taliban terror attacks.

As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

But you don't have to know anything about generational history to understand what's going on. You just have to understand that there was an extremely bloody, violent civil war in 1991-96, pitting the Pashtuns versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. And you have to know that the Taliban are Pashtuns, and that young Pashtuns are looking for revenge for atrocities committed in the 1990s, and that Nato troops are completely irrelevant.

Those are simple facts that Amy Jackson might have learned during her eight months in Kabul, or that even Michael Kugelman might have learned, even though he's in Washington. Then they could give more intelligent analyses.

However, as I've written in the past, I believe that this dynamic is understood by the Nato military, and by the US administration, and that they understand that this war cannot be won, but they have a larger purpose in mind. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Axios and ABC News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-18 World View -- Nine journalists killed by suicide bombers in Kabul Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again
  • Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again


Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)
Imran Khan at Sunday's rally in Lahore, Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)

Imran Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time, and was once voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by Australia Magazine Oz. He turned to politics in the 1990s, and has become extremely colorful and extremely anti-American.

On Sunday, Khan officially began his campaign to become prime minister. Khan gave what he described as the most important speech of his life to a huge enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Lahore. This was the same venue as the rally in October 2011, when he stunned observers by drawing 100,000 people to the rally, far exceeding expectations. Saying that "It's time for a change," he promised to have closer ties with China, to distance Pakistan from the U.S., and to "convince" India to withdraw its military from the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu.

In Sunday's speech, he provided 11 points for change in Pakistan, in what might be described as a fairy tale worthy of Bernie Sanders. Here's a summary of the 11 points:

  • Invest maximum on development of people, on education for all.
  • Health facilities will be made available to all. "I will build hospitals in Pakistan where the poor wouldn’t have to worry about money and the rich wouldn’t need to go abroad for treatment."
  • "We don't have money to run countries, we're under heavy debts. I claim in front of you today that I will show you how to gather money from this nation." That will be done by revolutionizing the tax collection system.
  • Eradicate all corruption from Pakistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
  • Revamp investment policy to attract giant investors. "We will reduce the tax on electricity and gas for our industries so that they could compete with Indian market."
  • Eradicate unemployment, and especially focus on boosting the tourism industry of Pakistan.
  • Improve agriculture and the lives of farmers. "Farmers work for the whole year and get nothing in the end. They are being exploited by the sugar mill mafia."
  • Bring Fata (the federally administered tribal area) into the mainstream.
  • Improve the environment, including the planting of 10 billion trees across Pakistan. "We can even clean the rivers."
  • Depoliticize the justice and police system, and eliminate extrajudicial killings.
  • Empower women through education. "Whatever I am today, it’s all because of my mother who made me a patriotic person and raised me to be a truthful person."

Khan referred to the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, by the name Quaid-i-Azam, and said:

"The Pakistan that Quaid-e-Azam wanted would afford equal rights to all citizens including the minorities, where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens. This country was to be formed on the model of Medina, where the basis of law was justice.

Prophet (PBUH) brought the entire Muslim nation towards truth and righteousness by way of his own example. The Muslim nation then ruled the entire world for 700 years but as soon as the royal system of kingdoms was established, the poor became poorer and the rich became richer. ...

“We are on crossroads today, on one end it’s disrespect and on the other, it’s dignity."

The last sentence refers to Khan's plan to sever all connections that Pakistan has to the United States, claiming that instead of being disrespected by the U.S., this move would restore Pakistan's dignity.

The speech is totally delusional. If Imran Khan were elected, he would turn Pakistan into another Venezuela. Daily Pakistan and The News (Pakistan)

Imran Khan threatens an anti-American and pro-Chinese agenda

Pakistan has been plagued by frequent terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups, usually part of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban). These attacks have particularly targeted religious minorities in Pakistan. Shia Muslims are targeted most often, along with Hindus, Ahmadis and Christians.

In his speech on Sunday, Khan gave lip service to a Pakistan "where the Hindu community, Sikhs, and Christians would be equal citizens." However, the Taliban are radicalized Pashtuns, and Khan himself is a Pashtun, and appears to be sympathetic to the Taliban. He's openly supporting the Afghanistan Taliban.

Even though it's clear that the attacks in Pakistan by the Taliban are sectarian based, Khan insists on blaming them on the Americans and, in particular, by American drone strikes on Taliban terrorists in the Fata (federally administered tribal area along the border with Afghanistan). In 2013 he got his followers to blockade the "Khyber pass," a major route into Afghanistan that is heavily used by Nato forces to truck equipment between the port of Karachi and Nato bases in Afghanistan. The blockade finally ended in February 2014.

On January 1 of this year, US president Donald Trump tweeted that Pakistan had given nothing to the US but "lies and deceit" and provided "safe haven" to terrorists in return for $33 billion aid over the last 15 years, thinking of American leaders as "fools."

This infuriated Khan, who accused the US for using Pakistan as a "gun for hire," and made two proposals:

"Two immediate measures can be taken by Pakistan to send an unambiguous message to the US: One, we must immediately remove excessive US diplomatic, non-diplomatic and intelligence personnel from Pakistan, so that diplomatic parity is established according to international legal norms governing diplomatic relations between two states. Two, we must deny the US GLOC and AIRLOC facilities which we were providing free of cost to the US. ..

The lesson we must learn is never to be used by other for short-term paltry financial benefits ever again. We became a US proxy for a war against the Soviet Union when it entered Afghanistan and we allowed the CIA to create, train and arm Jihadi group on our soil and a decade later we tried to eliminate them as terrorists on US orders."

The last paragraph refers to the 1980s Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, when the US secretly funded anti-Soviet Saudi rebels who later turned into al-Qaeda.

As regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

If Imran Khan becomes prime minister, it would move Pakistan along this trend line. Khan will follow through on his plans to develop closer relations with China, and to distance Pakistan from America. Times of India (4-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Apr-18 World View -- Pakistan's anti-American 'hope and change' candidate Imran Khan runs again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army
  • Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army


The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)
The Je Yang camp for Kachin refugees along China's border in Burma (AP)

Some 4,000 ethnic Kachins have been driven from their homes in the last three weeks by an escalating conflict between Burma's (Myanmar's) army and the separatist Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and are now sheltering in makeshift shelters in the jungle around nearby villages. An additional 15,000 people have fled their homes since the beginning of the year.

There has been a longstanding low-level conflict between Burma's army and the KIA for several decades, but conflict has severely escalated since the beginning of this year. The conflict is expected to worsen, as reports indicate that the army is deploying reinforcements, including 2,000 infantry troops, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

The Burmese army's fight against the Kachin ethnic group and other ethnic groups in northern Burma has been eclipsed in the international news by the ethnic cleansing by the army of ethnic Rohingyas in Rakhine State. That ethnic cleansing is still in progress.

However, the additional reinforcements that the army is deploying were probably taken from the troops assigned to the ethnic cleansing activities in Rakhine State, indicating that Burma's government now considers the Kachin insurgency to be of an increasing priority. Democratic Voice of Burma and BBC and AFP and Deutsche Welle

Burma (Myanmar) appears to be entering a full-scale crisis civil war

In 2007, I wrote the article "Burma: Growing demonstrations by the '88 Generation' raise fears of new slaughter," describing anti-government riots and demonstrations by Buddhist monks. Many people feared a full-scale civil war, but as I wrote at the time, that wouldn't happen because only 49 years had passed since the end of the previous crisis civil war. In the "Brief generational history of Burma" that I included with that article, I described Burma's last generational crisis war, 1948-58, as a civil war among ethnic groups, with intervention by the Chinese, with a war climax in 1958 when the army took over power, and turned power over to a civilian government.

I wrote at that time that a new crisis war would not occur at that time, but would probably occur within ten years or so, as the survivors of the previous crisis war disappear.

Well, ten years have passed, and it appears that Burma is entering a new full-scale crisis civil war, with ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas occurring in one place, and an escalating fight with ethnic groups in the north.

The tipping point into this new generational crisis war (or the "regeneracy," using the technical term from generational theory) seems to have occurred in November 2016, when the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) joined together with other with the militant wings of other ethnic groups in northern Burma to form the Northern Alliance, whose members will fight Burma's army together.

The other militant groups are the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the armed wing of the Palaung State Liberation Front promoting self-determination for the Ta’ang people living in Shan State, Yunnan and Northern Thailand; the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), the armed wing of the ethnic Chinese Kokang ethnic group, living in the northern part of Shan state, along the border with China; and the Arakan Army (AA), the armed wing of the Arakan people in Kachin state.

These represent the ethnic groups that fought in the civil war that climaxed in 1958, and 58 years later in 2016 (right on schedule according to generational theory), they apparently joined together to form the Northern Alliance and fight a new civil war. Reuters (21-Nov-2016) and Time (9-Mar-2017) and The Irrawaddy and Foreign Policy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of ethnic Kachins flee from violence by Burma (Myanmar) army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan

Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan
  • Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan


Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe
Map: The Caspian Trade Corridor is part of the New Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe

A continuing issue facing the US-led Nato military forces in Afghanistan is sending supplies to the landlocked country. Since the war began in 2001, most resupply has been done by shipping to Pakistan's port in Karachi, and then overland by truck across Pakistan, through the Khyber Pass, into Afghanistan. This route has been reliable for the most part, there have been times when political disagreements between the US and Pakistan have cause Pakistan to close the Khyber Pass to US military goods.

As a backup, Nato has been developing several Central Asia truck and rail overland supply routes, such as from Europe through Russia to Kazakhstan, and then through Uzbekistan to Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan is about to sign an agreement with the US that will permit Nato forces to substantially increase use of the existing Caspian Trade Corridor, by shipping through the Aktau and Kuryk ports on the Caspian Sea, completely bypassing Russia. Nato supplies from Europe will pass through Turkey and Georgia, through Azerbaijan to the port at Baku. From there, the supplies will be ferried across the Caspian Sea to one of the Kazakh ports, and then travel overland by truck through Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, and then by rail to Afghanistan.

According to Kazakh officials, only nonmilitary goods will go through the ports. Nonetheless, Russian authorities are opposed to this US-Kazakh deal because it could change the balance of power in the Caspian Sea, which the Russians consider to be their own back yard.

But since the purpose of the deal is to allow transit of supplies to the military in Afghanistan, the Russians fear that American soldiers might be deployed to the ports, and that the ports eventually will turn into American military bases.

Another reason why Russians oppose the deal is because it gives them one less lever to use against Nato -- blocking goods from transiting across Russia -- in retaliation for Western sanctions against Russia.

According to one Russian analyst, "Under the current conditions of American-Russian and traditional American-Iranian conflicts, this [new US] presence will generate anger both in Moscow and in Tehran." EurasiaNet and Jamestown and EurAsia Daily

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Russia moves to increase dominance over Caspian Sea

There are five littoral states bordering the Caspian Sea -- Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. For decades, they've been unable to reach an agreement on dividing the Caspian Sea among them. They agree that the entire surface of the sea should be open to all for commercial shipping and for fishing. However, there are also large deposits of gas and oil, and large disagreements over who gets to exploit them.

Prior to 1991, there were only two littoral states -- the Soviet Union and Iran. The Soviets controlled the Caspian Sea, and forced Iran to follow Soviet policy. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the individual states began setting up individual independent oil and gas development projects. By the end of the 1990s, Vladimir Putin was taking charge, and used every heavy-handed form of obstruction to prevent these projects from going forward.

International laws provide for various methods for splitting up ownership of the seabed. According to one method, the size of the region that each country gets depends on the length of the coastline bordering the sea. Under this method Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan would get the largest shares of the seabed, and so these countries favor it.

According to a second set of rules, there are five littoral states, and so the seabed would be split up equally among them, giving them each 20% of the seabed. Iran and Turkmenistan favor this set of rules, because they have the shortest shorelines.

Putin has used these conflicting rules to provoke disagreements among the littoral states, with the result that in the 27 years since the disintegration of the Soviet Union no agreement has been reached. But recent bursts of pragmatism are bringing about agreements that may unlock some of the oil and gas fields.

Iran and Azerbaijan are adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and attempts by either country to exploit the seabed have sometimes provoked gunboat diplomacy by the other. But on March 28, Iran and Azerbaijan signed a memorandum of understanding on joint development of two oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea.

Russia and Kazakhstan are also adjacent countries along the Caspian Sea coastline, and they've also had disputes in the past about ownership of three fields in the northern part of the Caspian Sea. But they settled their disputes in 2002, dividing the three oil and gas fields between them.

It will be more troublesome for Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to reach agreement. They are not adjacent, but they are opposite each other in the a region of the Caspian Sea where there are oil and gas fields in the middle. However, agreement on joint development may be difficult to reach because both countries' economies are weak, and they would have to share the multi-billion dollar investment costs for offshore development projects. And then they would have to share the risk that oil prices could fall again, making it impossible to recover the money they invested.

There's one more emerging issue that needs to be highlighted. Readers may recall that in October 2015, Russia began launching cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea, attacking targets in Syria. The cruise missiles were launched from Russia's Caspian Flotilla, with a home base in Astrakhan, in the northern edge of the Caspian Sea.

Russia has announced that the flotilla will be moved to Kaspiisk, Dagestan, near the border with Azerbaijan, and that the number of officers and sailors assigned to the flotilla will be increased.

This change will increase Russia's dominance over the Caspian Sea. From Kaspiisk, Russia will be able to exert much more control over Dagestan and the other North Caucasus provinces. It will also give Russia more control over the entire Caspian Sea, and provide leverage to prevent building of east-west pipelines under the Caspian. Finally, Russia's warships will be able to launch cruise missiles at Syria much more quickly than in the past. AzerNews (Azerbaijan) and Jamestown and Asia Times and RFE/RL

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North-South Korea summit begins
  • Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable
  • North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap
  • The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

North-South Korea summit begins


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjeom, Friday. (Korea Times)

It was magical. South Korea's president Moon Jae-in shook hands with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, smiling sweetly at each other. As if they were euphoric lovers, they held hands and walked back and forth, crossing back and forth across the line dividing South and North Korea, in order to prove to the world that all was peace and light.

It's hard to guess what might be accomplished by this summit meeting, since the real summit will be held in a few weeks between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Korea Times

Chinese scientists conclude that North Korea's nuclear test site has become dangerous and unstable

When North Korea performed its most recent nuclear weapon test on September 3 of last year at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, seismologists outside North Korea detected an "earthquake" that followed the test itself. Concerns were expressed that the earthquake was actually a partially collapse of Mount Mantap, where the Punggye-ri site is located, and that nuclear radiation had been released. Unconfirmed reports later said that tunnel collapses had killed hundreds of North Korean workers.

As we reported last year, Chinese geologists on September 20 were warning North Korean nuclear scientists that further nuclear tests at Mount Mantap risked a nuclear catastrophe, if the mountain collapsed in an explosion, releasing large amounts of radiation that could contaminate large regions of North Korea and northeast China for decades to come.

Now, two groups of Chinese researchers one from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei, and the second from the Jilin Earthquake Agency with the China Earthquake Administration in Changchun, have both reached similar conclusions: That Mount Mantap did in fact collapse after North Korea's last nuclear weapons test on September 3 of last year.

Here's the summary from China's Earthquake Administration:

"Seismology illuminates physical processes occurring during underground explosions, not all yet fully understood. The thus far strongest North Korean test of 3 September 2017 was followed by a moderate seismic event (mL 4.1) after 8.5 min. ...

North Korea detonated its strongest underground nuclear test in September 2017. It attracted the public interest worldwide not only due to its significant magnitude (6.3 mb) but also because it was followed 8.5 min later by a weaker event. Was the delayed shock a secondary explosion, an earthquake provoked by the shot, or something else? We answer these questions.... According to our model, the explosion created a cavity and a damaged “chimney” of rocks above it. The aftershock was neither a secondary explosion nor a triggered tectonic earthquake. It occurred due to a process comparable to a “mirror image” of the explosion, that is, a rock collapse, or compaction, for the first time documented in North Korea's test site."

The USTC study is awaiting publication, but a summary says, "The occurrence of the collapse should deem the underground infrastructure beneath mountain Mantap not be used for any future nuclear tests."

A Beijing-based analyst points out that another nuclear test at the site would destabilize not only Mount Mantap but also Changbai Mountain, the site of an active volcano at the China-Korea border. South China Morning Post and AFP and Geophysical Research Letters

North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap

As I wrote last weekend in "22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site", North Korea promised to end all nuclear and missile tests, and shut down Punggye-ri, North Korea's nuclear test site. Shutting down the nuclear test site was particularly hailed by the international media that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un was turning into a nice guy, willing to compromise and all that.

Now the laughable news emerges that the nuclear test site is being shut down because another test would risk a nuclear catastrophe, according to Chinese scientists. As I wrote at the time, the North Korean concession was no concession at all, and in fact was the West's worst nightmare, since Kim would keep his existing stock of nuclear weapons, would continue developing nuclear technology without open testing, and would undoubtedly sell the nuclear technology to other countries, including Iran.

Now it turns out that the North's whole farcical announcement was a negotiating ploy to make use of the threat of further testing to lock in concessions before the West found out.

The collapse of Mantap Mountain represents a collapse of a major part of North Korea's negotiating position. With the approach of the forthcoming meeting between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Trump has said repeatedly that he was demanding denuclearization -- that the North destroy all its nuclear weapons. Kim had the threat of reopening the nuclear test site and performing more tests. But now that threat is gone, and even though the North can do further nuclear development, they can never be sure that their developments will work unless they test them.

However, in another way the collapse of Mount Mantap strengthens North Korea's negotiating position. They can claim that if their nuclear test site is unusable, then the West should remove all sanctions, since they're no longer needed. BBC

The politics of the collapse of Mount Mantap

We live in a world where whether you believe 2+2 equals 4 or 5 depends on politics. So it is with the question of whether the Punggye-ri test site at Mount Mantap is still usable.

So let's look at China's motives. China would like to use the North Korea threat as leverage to force all US military forces out of South Korea. Also, China has for years been developing numerous nuclear missile systems with no other purpose than to destroy American cities, aircraft carries and military bases. China is preparing for a pre-emptive attack on the United States, and they would be delighted to have North Korean nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S., if only to be a distraction when the war begins.

But on the other hand, Chinese media makes it clear that, whether the Punggye-ri is theoretically still usable or not, China does not want any further nuclear tests there. The risk is too great, and a serious mishap could be a nuclear disaster that lasts for decades.

Those mixed motives would explain the suggestion that the USTC conclusions are being watered down to avoid reaching a final conclusion that the site is unusable. This ambiguity preserves the North's negotiating position.

The web site 38North, which is run by North Korean defectors in South Korea, is insisting that only a portion of the Punggye-ri test site has been damaged, and they conclude:

"In short, there is no basis to conclude that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site is no longer viable for future nuclear testing. There remain two portal areas located in more pristine competent rock that can be used for future tests if Pyongyang were to give the order. Whether that will stay an option will depend on reaching verifiable agreements that build on Pyongyang’s pledge to shut down the facility."

There is no real evidence provided for this conclusion, and the motives of North Korean defectors are most likely to be that they don't want the North to get away with anything. In particular, they would want the sanctions to continue as long as possible. Washington Post and Global Times (China) and 38 North

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea's negotiating position collapses, along with Mount Mantap thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister
  • Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia
  • Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister


Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)
Soldiers from Armenia's army join the anti-government protests in Yerevan (charter97.org)

As we reported last week, Armenia's opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan called for a "non-violent velvet revolution," alluding to the peaceful 1989 uprising that ousted the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia.

Answering Pashinyan's call, thousands of protesters blockaded streets and government in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, with the objective of preventing the parliament from voting to make Serzh Sargsyan, who had already served ten years as president under the previous constitution, the new prime minister under the new constitution.

The parliament did vote to make Sargsyan the next prime minister, but as the street protests continued. The tide turned for Sargsyan on April 23 when soldiers from the Armenian military left their barracks and joined the protesters in the streets. Sargsyan announced on April 23 that he was stepping down, and would be replaced by acting prime minister Karen Karapetyan (male), an ally of Sargsyan.

This was a clear victory for Pashinyan, and it was hoped that the protests would end, and that Armenia would return to "normal." Instead, tens of thousands of opposition protesters have returned to the streets in Yerevan, demanding that the new prime minister and his entire government step down. EurasiaNet and Guardian (London) and Charter97 (Russia) and (Trans)

Fears grow that Armenia's instability will spill over into Russia

Armenia is a small country of 3 million people, strongly dependent on Russia. In religion, the Armenian Apostolic Church is very close to the Russian Orthodox Church. In trade, Armenians working in Russia supply 20% of the country's GDP. So Armenia has little choice but to do as directed by Russia's president Vladimir Putin. And long-time president Serzh Sargsyan, who was just forced to step down as prime minister, always aligned policies with Russia, not with the West.

But a popular revolution could change all that, and there is already talk of a new "color revolution" in Armenia. The opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has already invoked the 1989 Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia that ousted the Communist regime.

Other color revolutions that have occurred in Russia's backyard include the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, and the Tulip Revolution (or Pink Revolution) in Kyrgyzstan in 2005.

So Russia could be legitimately afraid that another color revolution might occur, this time in Armenia, and bring to power a government that was friendly to the West and unfriendly to Russia. Russia did militarily invade Georgia and Ukraine after their respective revolutions, so an invasion of Armenia at some point in the future is a possibility, if things really get out of hand.

There's another concern that Putin might have. Putin himself served two terms as president of Russia, then switched and became prime minister to stay in power, then switched back and became president again, arranging to the constitution to be amended so that he could be president forever.

That, of course, is similar to what Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia. And not only were there massive protests, but Sargsyan was forced to step down when the army joined the protests. Putin might fear that the Russian people might copy the Armenian people's example and hold massive anti-Putin protests, and then have army soldiers join the protests. If that every happened in Russia, the outcome would be much bloodier than in Armenia. Washington Post and Jamestown and Moscow Times and Trend News (Azerbaijan) and Reuters

Armenian political chaos follows the path of America in the 1960s

As I described last week, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the bloody conflict in 1989-94 versus Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. In this sense, Armenia is similar to America in the 1960s, one generation past the end of World War II.

An Awakening era is the time when the first generation that grows up after the war comes of age, and starts to make itself felt. Their parents, the traumatized soldiers and other survivors of the war, try to set rules and impose restrictions so that such a war will never occur again. The kids in the younger generation, with no personal memory of the war, rebel against these restrictions, creating a "generation gap," or a political conflict between generations.

The forced resignation of Serzh Sargsyan might be roughly compared to the President Lyndon Johnson's forced decision in 1968 not to run for another term. He had hoped that by stepping down he would encourage an end to the massive street protests, including some violence. However, the protests and violence did not end. There were still several "long, hot summers" to come, there was the violence at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, there was Woodstock in 1969, and there was the shootings at Kent State. Finally, the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 was the Awakening climax, because it resolved the generational conflict in favor of the younger post-war generation, specifically the Boomers, over the GI Generation that had fought in the war.

Today we're seeing exactly the same kind of generational conflict in Armenia. The tens of thousands of young people who protested in the streets of Yerevan may have won their first victory, but the protests will continue in other forms for years, and there will be bursts of violence. There will be no "return to normal" for Armenia for many years. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-18 World View -- Armenia's protesters continue protesting after forcing resignation of prime minister thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-18 World View -- Congo's Kabila and Burundi's Nkurunziza use violence and corruption to stay in power

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently
  • Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila attacks Catholic Church opposition violently


 Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa.  (Riva Press / Redux)
Sunday mass in the St. Christine Catholic Church in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. (Riva Press / Redux)

The next presidential election for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled for December 23. International leaders are demanding that he step down and let the elections be free and fair, demands that there is little possibility he'll meet.

Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down as president when his mandate ran out on December 19, 2016. Instead, he pulled a breathtaking stunt late in 2016 by doing nothing to prepare the country for new elections, and then claimed that he couldn't step down because there were no elections to select a president to replace him.

This stunt triggered large riots and a threat of civil war in DRC, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. It was pretty clear throughout 2017 that Kabila would not honor the agreement.

So now we supposedly have a commitment for an election in December of this year.

Leaders of African countries almost uniformly refuse to criticize Kabila, mainly because many of them are just as corrupt as Kabila is. However, Botswana's president Mokgweetsi Masisi has become the first (and perhaps the only) African leader to take a stand and criticize Kabila. Earlier this year, Botswana's government issued a statement openly blaming Kabila for DRC's deteriorating humanitarian and security situation.

And last week, Masisi said in an interview,

"The president of the DRC has stayed in power longer than the time that was expected. Hopefully we can get from (Kabila) a real commitment to not attempt to come back to power by whatever means."

However, as we've been reporting for months, there is no possibility whatsoever that Kabila will step down.

Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise. This is pure criminal corruption by Kabila and his family.

With tentacles reaching into so many businesses, it's not surprising that Kabila is willing to use any method -- massacres, atrocities, jailings, torture -- to stay in power. If he were to step down, he would probably be arrested or else shot and killed, rather than writing a book and going on tour as Western leaders do when they step down.

As in 2016, the Catholic Church is taking on Kabila. Earlier this year, the church organized protest events in DRC's capital city Kinshasa. They were violently broken up by Kabila's police using live rounds and tear gas, and at least 15 people were killed.

Kabila's attacks on the Catholic Church are only a small part of the violence that he's causing. In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; as we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. The genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries. Reuters and Irin (1-Feb) and Ozy (29-Mar) and Reuters (23-Jan)

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Burundi's Nkurunziza uses violence on opposition to his May 17 referendum

DRC's Joseph Kabila is rumored to be preparing a referendum to amend the constitution to allow him to remain in power into the 2030's. Leaders of Rwanda and Uganda have already arranged for their countries' constitutions to be amended in a similar way.

Burundi's president Pierre Nkurunziza, who calls himself the "eternal supreme guide" of Burundi, has set May 17 as a date for a national referendum to change the constitution to permit him to stay in office until at least 2034.

According to Human Rights Watch, Nkurunziza is using violence to guarantee that the referendum will pass. This violence includes beatings, arrests, jailings and torture.

Nkurunziza should have stepped down as leader in 2015, since the constitution limits any leader to two terms. When Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, his police force used bullets, tear gas and water cannons to control the protests. He's expected to continue to use as much force as necessary to rig the May 17 elections and guarantee that the referendum will pass.

I remember a time, 15-20 years ago, when I knew almost nothing about any African country. Well, I knew a little about Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, and a few other countries, but not much. That's why, in the last ten years, I've made a point to learn as much as I can about African countries. And in almost all of them, the story is the same -- massive corruption, massive government violence, ethnic and tribal violence. African leaders have been promising democracies, but instead we see one leader after another using violence to stay in power in order to protect his cronies who have been stealing money from the treasury, often money that the West provided in aid. That's why after forty years and billions of dollars in Western aid, ordinary African people are just as poor as they were forty years ago.

As in the case of DRC, we can expect more violence in the form of killings, torture, rape, arrests, jailings, beatings, and anything else necessary for the corrupt politicians Kabila and Nkurunziza to keep themselves in power.

From the point of view of General Dynamics, many leaders follow exactly the same patterns following a generational crisis civil war between different tribes or ethnic groups. After the war ends, the leader of the country, usually from the winning tribe or ethnic group, refuses to give up power, and becomes increasingly violent and authoritarian, using as an excuse that peaceful protests or negative news articles can turn into a new civil war. This excuse provides justification for mass slaughter, rape, torture, mass jailings, mutilations, and so forth. I've described this behavior in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who has gone to the extent of using Sarin gas and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Other leaders that I've described exhibiting this type of behavior include Hun Sen in Cambodia, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Joseph Kabila in DRC. East Africa Monitor and Human Rights Watch and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-18 World View -- Congo's Kabila and Burundi's Nkurunziza use violence and corruption to stay in power thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Apr-18 World View -- Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges

Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges
  • Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges


An imam at the Sa'ada Mosque Aqraba looks at the damage from a price-tag arson attack on April 13. Graffiti messages included 'death,' 'revenge' and 'price tag.'  (Times of Israel)
An imam at the Sa'ada Mosque Aqraba looks at the damage from a price-tag arson attack on April 13. Graffiti messages included 'death,' 'revenge' and 'price tag.' (Times of Israel)

In recent weeks, there has been a surge in "price tag" attacks by young ultra-nationalist Israeli Jews on Palestinians in the West Bank, as many in April alone as there were in all of 2017. These price tag attacks are considered by Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, as being terrorist activities, and are condemned by all political parties.

“Price tag” refers to terrorism and other hate crimes carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists ostensibly in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. The attacks are usually on Palestinians and their property, but they're also frequently targeted on Christians, Israeli peace activists and soldiers, anyone perceived as hostile to the far-right settler movement.

Here is a summary of the "price tag" attacks launched in April so far:

  • April 4: Several cars had windows smashed and tires punctured in the Palestinian village of Fara'ata, near Nablus in the West Bank. Spray-painted graffiti messages included "Administrative price tag," scrawled on vehicles and buildings. Times of Israel (4-Apr)
  • April 5: Several Palestinian and Arab Israeli parked cars in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem were spray-painted with graffiti messages and some of their tires were punctured. Times of Israel (5-Apr)
  • April 13: The Sa'ada Mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba was torched in an anti-Arab hate crime attack. Messages of “death,” “revenge” and “price tag” were found graffitied on the walls. The same mosque had been the target of an arson attack five years ago. Times of Israel (13-Apr)
  • April 17: in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya and the West Bank village of Luban a-Sharqiya, car tires were deflated, and messages including "Expel or kill" were scrawled on walls. Times of Israel (17-Apr)
  • April 18: Over two dozen olive trees were destroyed, while messages like "Death to Arabs" and "Drive them out" were spray-painted on walls in the West Bank village of Urif. Times of Israel (18-Apr)
  • April 20: Vandals spray-painted a building in the West Bank town of Burqa, near Ramallah, with the words, “Supporters of terror, expel or kill.” CCTV camera footage from the scene showed men in dark, clothes, their faces, hidden, puncture the tires of a truck. Times of Israel (20-Apr)
  • April 23: Tires were slashed and Hebrew-language graffiti were spray-painted in the villages of Ramun and Beit Iksa in the West Banks. The graffiti included phrases like “Let us take care of them” and “We’ll take our fate into our own hands." Times of Israel (23-Apr)

Phrases like “Administrative revenge” are used when the price tag attacks target Israeli police or soldiers, and refer to means taken to prevent Israeli settler violence, such as police detentions, bans on entry into the West Bank, nightly curfews, and bans on contacting certain individuals.

One of the worst price tag attacks occurred on March 20, 2016, when an arson attack killed a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma, south of Nablus. Two homes were set ablaze in the attack and the Hebrew slogans “revenge” and “long live the king messiah” were spray-painted on their walls, alongside a Star of David. Eighteen-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burned to death, and other family members died after months of treatments for burns.

Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, published statistics showing a sharp increase in price tag attacks in 2018, with 13 price tag attacks in the first four months of 2018, compared to 8 in the entire year 2017.

Last month, an Israeli court handed down a five-year prison sentence to a settler teen convicted of membership in a terror organization, for carrying out a string of so-called “price-tag” attacks against Palestinians and their property. Times of Israel and WAFA (Palestine) and I24 News

Hilltop youth from Yitzhar settlement considered the epicenter of 'price tag' attacks

Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency, declared in 2011 that the "price tag" attacks were terrorist activity, and that they had moved from spontaneous acts to organized planning, including the use of a database of potential targets.

Since then, many groups have complained that Israel's government have not taken price tag attacks seriously. In 2014, the Roman Catholic Church in Israel condemned price tag attacks on church property in Jerusalem, and issued a statement saying, "The wave of fanaticism and intimidation against Christians continues." In one price tag attack, the threat "Death to Arabs, Christians and all those who hate Israel,” was topped with a star of David in a Catholic church.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a "culture of impunity" for Israelis committing violent price tag attacks against Palestinians.

IDF (Israeli defense force) officials say that the surge in violent attacks over the past month have been carried out by "hilltop youth" from Yitzhar Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The young activists are often referred to as “hilltop youth” due to their practice of setting up illegal outposts on West Bank hilltops. In June, 2017, the IDF evacuated a large illegal outpost in Baladim, and dozens of Baladim settlers moved into the Yitzhar settlement. It's believed that the Yitzhar settlement has been used as a base for the surge in price tag attacks in the last few weeks.

The Yesh Din rights group has also slammed police “incompetence” in being unable to make a single arrest in any of the instances over the past week, saying it has “provided a tailwind for ideological crimes against Palestinians.” UPI (13-Sep-2011) and Forward (8-May-2014) and Ma'an News (West Bank) and Times of Israel

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-18 World View -- Number of Israeli 'price tag' hate crime attacks by radical Jewish settlers surges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-18 World View -- ISIS-K suicide bomber kills over 50 in Kabul, Afghanistan, registering to vote

ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills over 50 registering to vote
  • ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

Suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, kills over 50 registering to vote


Clothes and shoes are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. The items were placed in a row for the victims' families to claim afterwards.  (Getty)
Clothes and shoes are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Sunday. The items were placed in a row for the victims' families to claim afterwards. (Getty)

A massive suicide bombing on Sunday struck a voter registration office in Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. More than 50 people were killed, including women and children, while over 100 others were injured.

The voter registration office is one of dozens that the Independent Election Commission (IEC) has set up across the country to register voters for the national elections in October. As of Saturday, the voter registration process had been in process for seven days, but turnout had been disappointing low. Only 189,061 people, including just over 42,000 women, had registered to vote as of Saturday.

People were afraid to vote for fear of violence by jihadists, even though the IEC and the army had been reassuring the public that all the voter registration offices would be secure.

There had been several small jihadist attacks on the centers across the country in the last week, but the attack on Sunday of the registration center in Kabul was the most devastating attack in Kabul since January, when about 100 people were killed by a bomb concealed in an ambulance.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the Kabul bombing through its Amaq public relations agency.

Sunday's attack targeted an area of western Kabul inhabited by many members of the mainly Shia ethnic Hazara community, who were part of the Northern Alliance that fought against the Pashtuns (Taliban) in the civil war of 1991-96.

Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

So Sunday's attack has multiple purposes. First, it targets Shia Muslims who Sunni jihadists say are infidel. Second, it targets the hated Hazaras, in revenge for actions take in the 1990s civil war. And third, it cripples the registration effort, and makes it far less likely that there will be an election that brings Hazaras to power.

As I've written many times in the past, there is no possibility whatsoever that these attacks will stop, through negotiations or American or Afghan military action. To the contrary, they will get worse, as new young Pashtuns come of age and decide to get revenge against the Hazaras. Tolo News (Kabul) and CBS News and Long War Journal and Tolo News and Reuters

ISIS Khorasan (ISIS-K) becomes more prominent in South Asia

The group taking credit for Sunday's attack is ISIS-K, or "ISIS Khorasan" ("Wilayah Khorasan") or ISKP, the South Asian branch of ISIS, claiming parts of Iran, three Central Asian republics, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir and Xinjiang in western China.

Since 2014, some Taliban groups in Afghanistan have been changing their allegiance from al-Qaeda to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, mainly for public relations purposes.

However, with the loss in Syria and Iraq of most the territory formerly controlled by ISIS, many of the tens of thousands of jihadists who came from over 80 countries to join ISIS and fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad are now returning to the home countries. In the case of Afghanistan, it means that some of the Pashtuns that left home to join ISIS in Syria are now battle-hardened, and are returning to Afghanistan and joining existing jihadist Taliban groups that have sworn allegiance to ISIS.

Up until the last few months, the ISIS-K groups in Afghanistan had no real connection to the ISIS in Syria. But with the influx of fighters from Syria returning home, ISIS-K is becoming a more serious threat to Afghanistan, and there will be further attacks. Long War Journal (21-Mar) and Diplomat and Business Insider (11-Feb)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-18 World View -- ISIS-K suicide bomber kills over 50 in Kabul, Afghanistan, registering to vote thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity
  • North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

North Korea promised to denuclearize in 2008, and proved its sincerity


This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)
This picture of the destruction of the nuclear reactor cooling tower in North Korea in 2008 went viral (AP)

In 2008, the North Koreans committed to denuclearization, and to prove it, they blew up a nuclear reactor cooling tower. The reaction from the West was euphoric. North Korea was taken off the international terror list, and many sanctions were immediately removed.

Here's an AP news story from June 27, 2008:

"North Korea destroyed the most visible symbol of its nuclear weapons program today, blasting apart the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor. ...

The demolition of the 60-foot-tall cooling tower at the North's main reactor complex is a response to America's concessions after the North delivered a declaration yesterday of its nuclear programs to be dismantled.

"This is a very important step in the disablement process and I think it puts us in a good position to move into the next phase," the U.S. State Department's top expert on the Koreas, Sung Kim, who attended the demolition, said. Kim shook hands with a North Korean official following the tower's tumble to the ground.

In its first reaction to the developments this week, North Korea's Foreign Ministry welcomed Washington's decision to take the country off the U.S. trade and sanctions blacklists.

"The U.S. measure should lead to a complete and all-out withdrawal of its hostile policy toward (the North) so that the denuclearization process can proceed smoothly," the ministry said in a statement carried by the official (North) Korean Central News Agency."

It was all very sweet and friendly, except that North Korea kept on secretly developing nuclear weapons, and a year later started testing again. The North Korean promises were completely meaningless, but they got major concessions that remained for years. AP (27-June-2008)

North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site

In what some analysts are calling a "dramatic about-face," North Korea promised on Saturday to end all nuclear and missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site. Instead, the country will pursue economic growth and a "strong Socialist economy."

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA):

"[U]nder the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission. ...

To secure transparency on the suspension of nuclear tests, we will close the republic's northern nuclear test site.

Nuclear development has proceeded scientifically and in due order and the development of the delivery strike means also proceeded scientifically and verified the completion of nuclear weapons.

We no longer need any nuclear test or test launches of intermediate and intercontinental range ballistic missiles and because of this, the northern nuclear test site has finished its mission. ...

We will concentrate all efforts on building a powerful socialist economy and markedly improving the standard of people’s living through the mobilization of all human and material resources of the country."

I am totally incapable of figuring out why anyone would think that this is some sort of about-face or breakthrough. In fact, this is a statement of the West's worst nightmare.

North Korea will stop nuclear weapon and ballistic missile testing, but will keep their existing weapons, and will continue development without open testing.. In the past, the North Koreans have said that they will manufacture an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Furthermore, North Korea has sold chemical weapons technology to Syria and other countries, and will do the same with nuclear technology.

There is no mention of North Korean "denuclearization." Instead, the statement elsewhere says "(It's an) important process for global nuclear disarmament," meaning that North Korea will happily denuclearize if the rest of the world denuclearizes.

In January, the North announced that there would be no testing during the Winter Olympics games being held in Seoul. So this new announcement is just an extension and repetition of the previous one.

I've heard a couple of analysts claim that this announcement is extremely significant because the North didn't have to do it, and the fact that they did do it proves that they're sincere.

However, three days ago, president Donald Trump said this, in reference to his planned meeting with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un:

"I hope to have a very successful meeting. If I think it's a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we are not going to go. If the meeting, when I'm there, is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting."

So it's possible that North Korean officials decided to make Saturday's announcement in response to Trump's remarks. From the North's point of view, Trump's meeting with Kim will send the following message to the world: North Korea is an advanced nuclear power, and is an equal to the United States.

Trump and South Korea are demanding that North Korea "denuclearize," which means that the North give up all its weapons. This is never going to happen without a war. The North has been building nuclear weapons for decades, and they will not stop now just when they are finally building their arsenal.

Really, the situation hasn't changed since the beginning of the year: Either North Korea will have an arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can reach the United States, as well as Asian targets that include Japan, or else the US will have to launch a military strike to take out North Korea's nuclear capabilities, if such a strike is even possible. Korea Herald and BBC and CNN and Korea Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-18 World View -- North Korea suspends all nuclear, missile tests, shuts down nuclear test site thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse

Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse
  • Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse


Oil tank labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)
Oil tank labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)

Socialist Venezuela's state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) is close to collapse, beset with an ever-growing array of new and growing problems.

Venezuela's oil refineries worked at 31% of their capacity in the first quarter in 2018, well below 2017 levels. Venezuela has not seen such low levels of oil production since the 1980s. Average oil production declined dramatically over the past two years, by 12% in 2016 and again by 13% in 2017. Production in December 2017 was 27% lower than a year earlier.

Late last year, Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro appointed a military man, Major General Manuel Quevedo, head of PDVSA, with a mandate to increase production and rid the company of corruption. Quevedo and his team of military officers had no experience in the oil industry, and replaced long-time experienced employees with soldiers. According to an executive, "The military guys arrive calling the engineers thieves and saboteurs."

There has been a stampede of PDVSA workers resigning from the company. Already, 25,000 of the company's 146,000 employees resigned in 2017, and the exodus has accelerated in 2018, as General Quevedo "quickly alienated the firm’s embattled upper echelon and its rank-and-file," according to union leaders. Many of those leaving now are engineers, managers, or lawyers, professionals that are almost impossible to replace. Some offices now have lines outside with dozens of workers waiting to resign, and there have been so many resignations that some offices are refusing to accept any more of them.

The loss of all these workers is one of the causes of the fall in production, and also the inability of the company to properly maintain its equipment. Many drilling rigs work only intermittently for lack of crews, and several small fires have broken out because there are no longer enough supervisors.

The apparent oil industry collapse is a major factor in Venezuela's economic debacle. More than 90% of the country's hard currency is obtained through oil exports. The country is also suffering the worst economic depression ever recorded in Latin America. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 16.5 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2017, and forecasts a 15 percent contraction for 2018. Inflation reached more than 2,600 percent in 2017, the highest in the world by a wide margin, and the IMF forecasts 13,000 percent for 2018. Curaçao Chronicle and OilPrice and Reuters

Will China or Russia save Venezuela?

Only China and Russia can provide Venezuela with enough money to keep it from going into full-blown default, but it's doubtful that they will. However, Russia has been purchasing Venezuelan oil fields in exchange for loans, extending Russian influence in Venezuela. The Soviet Union propped up Cuba's economy for decades, but it seems unlikely that Russia will do the same for Venezuela, which is several times larger and more expensive than Cuba.

It's worth repeating that this disaster is the fault of Socialism. As I discussed in my article yesterday on Cuba's Socialism, Socialism has a 100% failure rate. Socialism killed hundreds of millions of people during the twentieth century, far more than Naziism killed, and now it's destroying Venezuela.

Cuba seems to be stepping back from the brink, having implemented a few reforms, though there's still a very long way to go. But Venezuela under Nicolás Maduro refuses to implement any reforms at all, and seems willing to destroy Venezuela for his own benefit. Atlantic Council (PDF) and Bloomberg and Council on Foreign Relations

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's state-owned PDVSA oil company near total collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-18 World View -- Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution

Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution
  • The Socialist delusion in Cuba
  • Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution


New president Miguel Díaz-Canel (L) and former president Raúl Castro (EPA)
New president Miguel Díaz-Canel (L) and former president Raúl Castro (EPA)

Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez assumed the dictatorship of Cuba on Thursday, as hand-picked successor to 86-year-old Raúl Castro, who is stepping down. Raúl Castro was the hand-picked successor to Fidel Castro when the latter stepped down in 2008.

He said that there would be no "capitalist restoration," and promised to continue the Socialist "Cuban revolution":

"In Cuba there is no space for those who aspire for a restoration of capitalism. The mandate given by the people to this house is to give continuity to the Cuban revolution in a crucial historic moment.

I assume this responsibility with the conviction that all we revolutionaries, from any trench, will be faithful to Fidel and Raúl, the current leader of the revolutionary process.

We will have to exercise an increasingly collective leadership. Strengthening the participation of the people. I do not come to promise anything, as the Revolution never has in all these years. I come to fulfill the program that we have implemented with the guidelines of Socialism and the Revolution.

To those who through ignorance or bad faith doubt our commitment, we must tell them that the Revolution continues and will continue. The world has received the wrong message that the Revolution ends with its guerrillas."

Díaz-Canel was born in 1960, the year of the Cuban revolution. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, he is in the same generational class as America's Boomers born in 1945 (at the end of World War II). He will not have anything like the revolutionary fervor of the Castros, but will be more likely to seek compromise and avoid conflict. On the other hand, he undoubtedly thinks that the Castros' generation made some mistakes. It remains to be seen what will happen, but it's possible that he may consider one of those mistakes to be the unending hostility to the Cuban community in Florida.

Many commentators are saying that this is an "opportunity" for President Trump to improve relations with Cuba. Actually, this is much more an opportunity for Díaz-Canel to improve relations with the United States. If he decides to soften Cuba's policy with the US and Cuban-Americans, it's possible that the Trump administration will respond with better relations. RadioRebelde (Cuba) and Granma (Cuba) and Guardian (London)

The Socialist delusion in Cuba

News commentators are saying that the retirement of Raúl Castro is the most important event in Cuba's recent history. Others say that the most important moment was president Barack Obama's opening to Cuba in 2014. Others say that the most important moment occurred in 2008, when Fidel Castro stepped down.

Well, in my opinion the most important moment in Cuba's recent history occurred in 2010, when Cuba's economy was in shambles, and president Raúl Castro announced the end of the Socialist economy. The government would lay off 500,000 government workers (Socialist bureaucrats) and privatize many businesses.

Here are the excerpts of the announcement that I quoted:

"After 52 years, the Cuban Revolution is a living and unshakable direction for the nation, and our people's will and determination to continue the construction of socialism, and make further progress in the development and updating of the economic model we must follow, and consolidate the gains achieved. ...

Cuba faces the urgent need to move forward economically, better organize production, enhance productivity and raise reserves, improve discipline and efficiency and this is only possible through the dignified and devoted to our people. Today, the duty of the Cubans is to work and do it well, with seriousness and responsibility, and to make better use of resources available to better serve our needs.

In order to update the economic model and economic projects for the 2011-2015 period, the guidelines call for the reduction of more than 500,000 workers in the public sector and in parallel the increase in non-state sector.

The timetable for implementation [of the reduction] for agencies and businesses is the first quarter of 2011. ...

Our state neither can nor should continue to burden companies and productive organizations with services and inflated budgets that weigh down the economy, are counterproductive, create bad habits and distort the behavior of workers. It is necessary to increase production and quality of services, reduce social spending and eliminate bulky improper gratuities, excessive subsidies.

Hundreds of thousands of workers will move to self-employment in the coming years.

Within the state sector, it will only be possible to go to places with a historical workforce deficit, such as agriculture, construction, teachers, police, industrial workers and others.

A matter of singular importance is the salary. We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided.

The unity of the Cuban workers and our people has been key to maximizing the gigantic edifice built by the Revolution and the changes that we are now undertaking she will continue to be our most important strategic weapon."

There's one part of this statement that I didn't sufficiently highlight when I first quoted it.

Marx's Socialist Principle Of Distribution is "From each according to abilities, to each according to needs." This means that greedy capitalists are not allowed to make more money than they need at the expense of starving workers.

Unsurprisingly, this principle has been a total economic disaster every time it's been tried. Cuba's 2010 announcement says:

"A matter of singular importance is the salary. We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided."

In this case, "reinvigorate" means "abandon the core principle of Socialism." Cuba may still call itself Socialist, but as a matter of definition it's more Fascist than Socialist.

This is not a surprise. Socialism has a 100% failure record, and I've posted the reason many times.

As I've written many times in the past, Socialism is mathematically impossible as population grows. The number of regulators grows exponentially faster than the population grows, so by the time you get to, say, a million people, everyone would have to be a regulator.

When you impose Socialism on an existing wealthy population, as was done in Venezuela, and what Bernie Sanders would like to do to the US, then it works ok until, as Margaret Thatcher would say, the government runs out of other people's money. Then disaster ensues. This is for the same reason. If the population has more than a few hundred thousand people, then there aren't enough government regulators.

A country can save itself from that disaster by retrenching from Socialism as Cuba and even Russia have done. Sweden also did this, adopting Socialism in the 1970s, and abandoning it in the 1990s. North Korea and Venezuela are the disaster that happens when the country leaders refuse to retrench.

Socialism is the greatest economic disaster in world history. It's much worse than Naziism or Fascism. The Nazis may have killed tens of millions of people, but in the last century, Socialism has killed hundreds of millions of people. Socialism has never succeeded, for the reasons I've given. Socialism has a 100% failure rate, for the reasons I've given. There is literally nothing worse than Socialism.

And as I always like to ask, How stupid do you have to be to advocate a system with a 100% failure rate, that always leads to disaster? BBC

Cuba's faltering economy and the dual currency problem

As in Venezuela, Socialism has been extremely destructive to Cuba's economy. There is one unique thing about Cuba's economy, however. Ever since the Cuban revolution in 1960, Cuba has been depending on other Socialist countries to provide money to prop up its economy.

For decades, the Soviet Union supplied that money. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Cuba's economy tanked. Then Venezuela started providing money to Cuba, and Cuba was OK again. For two decades, Venezuela provided $6 billion per year to Cuba. But Venezuela's Socialist economy has been suffering its own catastrophic collapse in the last few years, and can no longer subsidize Cuba.

Cuba is said to be searching for another country to provide free money, and they're talking to Russia and China. But Russia and China have their own economic problems, and they're also being asked to prop up Venezuela's failing Socialist economy.

Cuba could be helped in another way, if international investors were willing to invest in businesses in Cuba. However, investors would have to know that they will be allowed to extract their money in later years, which would require reforms to the banking system.

Cuba would also have to do away with its "dual currency system" before investors would be interested. The new president, Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, has promised to reform the dual currency system, but that is strongly opposed by Cuba's élite class.

The bizarre dual currency system means that Cuba has two currencies -- Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the dollar, while the CUP worth 1/25th of a CUC.

As one example, Cuba's peasants get paid in the cheap CUP currency, but the élites with government connections receive huge subsidies by converting their cheap CUPs for expensive CUCs.

Díaz-Canel has said that he would do away with dual currencies, but other problems run deep in the economy. Despite the 2010 reforms, the government still employs three of every four Cuban workers, and they are mostly bureaucrats who produce little or nothing. The average monthly state salary is $31 — so low that workers often live on stolen goods and handouts from relatives overseas, according to reports.

Cuba is close to economic collapse, and needs help from another nation. Díaz-Canel might turn to Russia or China, or he might turn to the U.S. and work to bring 50 years of hostility to an end. It will be interesting to watch and see what happens. AP and Bloomberg and Economist (23-Oct-2013)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-18 World View -- Cuba's new president Miguel Díaz-Canel makes delusional promise to continue Socialist revolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Al-Qaeda linked JNIM attacks two peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu, Mali
  • Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force
  • Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

Al-Qaeda linked JNIM attacks two peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu, Mali


Jihadists in Mali dress as UN peacekeeprs and display UN logos (Reuters)
Jihadists in Mali dress as UN peacekeeprs and display UN logos (Reuters)

On Saturday, Al-Qaeda linked jihadists carried out a sophisticated attack on two separate peacekeeper camps in Timbuktu in northern Mali. One UN peacekeeper and 15 jihadist suspects were killed while seven French soldiers were wounded.

The most likely perpetrator was the al-Qaeda linked Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslim (JNIM, Group for Support of Islam and Muslims, GSIM). JNIM was formed in 2017 by a merger of four Mali-based al-Qaeda linked groups, including Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoon, and Katibat Macina (Macina Liberation Front). These groups were responsible for a surge of hundreds of al-Qaeda linked attacks in Africa's Sahel (the strip of Africa just below the Sahara desert, separating the Arab north from Black Africa to the south), including Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

The increasing frequency of JNIM attacks in the Sahel region, and the great complexity and scale of Saturday's attack, indicate that the capability of JNIM is growing. The jihadists, some of whom were disguised as UN peacekeepers, arrived in vehicles bearing the logo of the UN and the Malian army. They attacked using rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, and detonated at least one suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED).

They attacked two separate peacekeeper bases simultaneously. They attacked the camp of the UN peacekeepers MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission) with mortars, exchange of fire, and a vehicle suicide bomb attack. MINUSMA was established in 2013, and now has 11,000 soldiers. 150 MINUSMA forces have now been killed, making it by far the most dangerous UN peacekeeping mission in the world.

The second simultaneous attack was on the camp of Operation Barkhane, which was set up by the French military in 2014, and includes troops from Mali, Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso – which operate collectively as the G5 Sahel. The rules are different for Barkhane and MINUSMA, in that MINUSMA is UN peacekeepers who are unarmed, while Barkhane is soldiers who are fully armed, and authorized to use them. France 24 and Reuters

Canada debates whether there's any point to a peacekeeping force

Saturday's attack has once again raised questions about whether there is any point for Western countries or the United Nations to have a peacekeeping force in the midst of warring parties.

This is becoming a major political issue in Canada, where the UN is pressuring Canada to speed up its commitment to MINUSMA.

Canada finally announced in March that it will send two Chinook transport helicopters and four Griffon attack helicopters to the MINUSMA mission in Mali. These helicopters will replace a German fleet of helicopters when Germany ends its commitment to MINUSMA.

The problem is that Germany plans to pull out in June, while Canada plans to send its helicopters to MINUSMA in August. So talks are under way for the UN either to convince Canada to deliver its helicopters in June, or to convince Germany to delay its departure until August.

One Ottawa columnist summarized the debate as follows:

"Canada’s decision to deploy military personnel there suggests none of the lessons learned from our 13-year war in Afghanistan are remembered. Nor is there memory of Canadian military involvement in the messy, inconclusive wars in Libya and Iraq, or our involvement in the disastrous wars in Somalia, Rwanda and the Congo. ...

Even a cursory acknowledgement of the history of the country and the region, where “empires” were almost as numerous as the sands of the Sahara, suggests the injection of thousands of foreign troops will do little to settle historical geographic, ethnic and linguistic divides, which have been sharpened by the involvement, or more accurately, accentuation of extreme Islamic theology.

During the colonial period, formalized in 1892, the region was called French Sudan and, at various iterations, was inclusive of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. In the north, it overlapped with the southern regions of Algeria with easy, uncontrolled connections into Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.

Some will suggest our Afghanistan experience was unique but in doing so we easily forget the beginnings of African peacekeeping in 1960 in the Congo. More are dying today than when the area was the personal fiefdom of the King of the Belgians."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this commentator is correct. The Sahel region is headed for a war, and it makes absolutely no difference at all whether MINUSMA or Barkhane are operating there. The peacekeeping forces are provided for humanitarian reasons, which is also the reason given by the UK government for supporting last weekend's missile strike on Syria's chemical weapons plants. AFP and Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen

Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence

In a completely separate region of Mali, a separate crisis is brewing, with thousands of Malians fleeing to neighboring Burkina Faso to escape a growing ethnic conflict that has killed dozens of people in the last month, destroying homes and other property.

The reasons for the clashes are very familiar, since I've written about the same issues occurring in country after country.

The two ethnic groups the Dogons, who are farmers, versus the Peuls or Fulani, who are herders. The two ethnic groups may be able to coexist peacefully for years, but as populations grow, the farmers extend the farms, and the herders demand more grazing land and water for their cattle. Since the amount of available land is the same, no matter what the population, clashes result, often leading to war.

Conflicts between herders and farmers are common in many countries, and I've described them in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, and even America in the 1800s. As population grows, 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.

UN officials are becoming alarmed over the growing refugee crisis. In just a few weeks since mid-February, some 3,000 people have already fled across the border into Burkina Faso. The new arrivals add to some 24,000 Malian refugees who have found refuge in Burkina Faso since the start of the Mali conflict in 2012. UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Reuters and AFP (20-June-2017)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-18 World View -- Thousands of Mali refugees flee into Burkina Faso to escape ethnic violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Apr-18 World View -- Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country
  • Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country


Nikol Pashinyan, late Tuesday evening, calling for his supporters on Wednesday to block buildings and roads.  The violence gave him a black eye, and there is some blood on his bandaged right hand.  (lragir.am)
Nikol Pashinyan, late Tuesday evening, calling for his supporters on Wednesday to block buildings and roads. The violence gave him a black eye, and there is some blood on his bandaged right hand. (lragir.am)

Nikol Pashinyan, a member of Armenia's parliament from the opposition Yelk party, is calling for a "non-violent velvet revolution," alluding to the peaceful 1989 uprising that ousted the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. Pashinyan's objective is to prevent Serzh Sargsyan, who has served ten years as Armenia's president, from continuing in power as Armenia's prime minister under a new constitution.

Protesters are particularly incensed that Sargsyan had promised not to run for prime minister after the constitution was changed, but now is running anyway.

With protesters chanting "Serzh the liar," Pashinyan has been calling for widespread strikes, and blockades of streets and government buildings in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, with the objective of preventing the parliament from voting to make Sargsyan the prime minister.

There were widespread protests across several cities, with students blocking roads and buildings. At least 46 people were injured in the protests, including six police officers. More than 60 people were arrested. Pashinyan himself was taken to a hospital with cuts and an eye injury, but he returned to speak to the crowd and urge further protests.

On Tuesday, the parliament voted overwhelmingly, 76 to 17 with no abstentions, to elect former president Sargsyan as the prime minister under the new constitution.

Late on Tuesday, Pashinyan addressed the crowd and called for widespread protests to block government agencies, streets and highways.

"Tomorrow at 10 am, I will be waiting for you on France Square where our actions will start and will be concluded on Republic Square. ...

On the upcoming days we will form velvet revolution committees which will lead this movement till victory. Revolutionary committees will be created in all areas and regions of the country. Very soon all the government agencies of Armenia, including the police will have to perform the orders of the revolutionary committees, not of Serzh Sargsyan.

Tomorrow morning we must paralyze entire Armenia, from the 9th district to 3rd, 4th villages. Serzh Sargsyan and his servants must not have room to move in Yerevan, they must move along the crossing points that we will decide. Tomorrow we set up crossing points in Yerevan streets which are intended for the Republicans and their riffraff only."

RFE/RL and Lragir (Armenia) and News (Armenia) and NPR

Brief generational history of Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan

Armenia had two generational crisis wars, over 70 years apart, during the 20th century.

The first occurred during World War I between 1915-17, when over a million Armenians were massacred, deported from their homeland in Anatolia (Turkey) to present-day Syria. Armenia considers the killings genocide, a charge that Turkey denies.

The second generational crisis war was the conflict between 1989-94 with Azerbaijan over the enclave Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian-occupied region within Azerbaijan, and the source of continuing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Today, Armenia is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the end of the previous generational crisis war. Student protests are common in Awakening eras (as in America and Europe in the 1960s), because this is the coming of age of the first generation growing up after the crisis war. So the student protests occurring this week in Armenia are typical of this era.

Although the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan was an external war, more research is needed on the question of the extent to which it was also an ethnic conflict between the ethnic Armenians and the ethnic Turkic population of Azerbaijan.

During this week's protests, with the objective of preventing former president Serzh Sargsyan from becoming prime minister, opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan said the following:

"Serzh Sargsyan is trying to change the essence of our country. He’s transforming it into western Azerbaijan. We aren’t citizens of Azerbaijan. We are citizens of Armenia. We aren’t citizens of North Korea or of Kazakhstan."

Media sources do not explain what Pashinyan means by "transforming it into western Azerbaijan." This suggests an ethnic issue, and requires more research. Hetq (Armenia) and BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-18 World View -- Leader of Armenia's 'non-violent velvet revolution' threatens to paralyze the country thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Apr-18 World View -- As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria gas attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack
  • Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack
  • As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential
  • Syria TV says that its Shayrat airbase has been attacked by missiles

Russia ties itself in knots diplomatically over Syria chemical attack


Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (Tass)
Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov (Tass)

On Friday, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that he had "irrefutable evidence" that the April 7 chemical attack Syria's Damascus suburb Douma had been staged:

"We have the irrefutable data that this [chemical attack] was staged.

And special services of a country, which is now seeking to be in the first ranks of the Russophobic campaign, were involved in this staged event."

Lavrov did not name the country, but other Russian officials have said that Lavrov was referring to the UK, and said that the British government has paid a group of volunteer rescue workers, known as the White Helmets, "to stage a provocation with an alleged use of chemical weapons."

In an interview of Lavrov by BBC's HardTalk, Steven Sachur repeatedly asked what this "irrefutable data" was, and Lavrov never answered the question, but kept personally attacking Sachur. Not surprisingly, no such irrefutable data exists.

According to a statement by the British government:

"Russia has argued that the attack on Douma was somehow staged, or faked. They have even suggested that the UK was behind the attack. That is ludicrous. The attack on Douma was not reported by just a sole source in opposition to the Regime. There are multiple eye witness accounts, substantial video footage, accounts from first responders and medical evidence."

Russia is tied up in knots about this subject because lie after lie have caught up with one another. After Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people in 2013, Lavrov first denied that any Sarin attack had taken place, then denied that al-Assad had any stockpiles of Sarin gas, and then committed to US Secretary of State John Kerry that all stockpiles of chemical weapons would be removed. Under international pressure, Lavrov committed that Russia would guarantee that all chemical weapons would be removed.

So you can see the problem. Russia has to deny that any attack took place on April 7, because Russia has guaranteed that al-Assad has no stockpiles of chemical weapons. That's why Russia is diplomatically tied up in knots.

Lavrov made an additional interesting statement during the interview. He was asked whether relations between Russia and the West are worse than during the cold war:

"Well I think it's worse because during the cold war there were channels of communication, and there was no obsession with Russophobia, which looks like genocide by sanctions."

His accusation of "genocide by sanctions" is startling, and the "Russophobia" remark is common to both of Lavrov's comments quoted above, and reflects a pervasive paranoia in Russia's leadership. I've previously quoted a high-level Russian official claiming that the West has been attacking Russia for 200 years. All this talk about staging the chemical attack as a kind of Hollywood horror film and blaming it on the UK, combined with paranoia, seems highly delusional and worrying. Russia's leadership is in a very dangerous state right now, and could make a miscalculation and mistake. UK Government and Tass (13-Apr) and NBC News (13-Apr) and Russia Today (13-Apr) and BBC HardTalk

Syria blocks OPCW inspectors from visiting site of chemical attack

Syria has been for several days blocking the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from inspecting the Douma site. The OPCW held an emergency meeting in Hague on Monday, and demanded immediate unfettered access to the site of the attack.

Russians have already been inspecting the site since the day after the April 7 chemical attack. We know that because the Russians have said that these "experts" had visited and determined that there was no evidence of a chemical attack. So these "experts" have already had ten days to clean up as much evidence as they can.

There were also reports by a correspondent on al-Jazeera that local Syrians in Douma are being threatened by Syrian security forces with violence to themselves and their families if they give the OPCW inspectors any evidence of the chemical attack.

Late on Monday, Syria said that they could go on Wednesday, April 18. Deutsche Welle and Tass (9-Apr) and Al-Jazeera

As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential

The military strategy used by Bashar al-Assad in Douma and Ghouta, and earlier in Aleppo, depends heavily on repeated use of chemical weapons, particularly chlorine attacks. His objective in these cities is genocide and ethnic cleansing -- to kill as many Sunnis as possible, since he says that all Sunnis in these cities are terrorists, including women and children.

The problem that al-Assad has faced is that people hide in basements, and so clearing out the entire population of Sunnis requires destroying all buildings as much as possible, then house to house searches to find all the Sunnis still hiding from the army. That process will work, but it can take many months.

Use of chlorine gas speeds things up considerably. Chlorine is heavier than air, and the chlorine gas seeps into the basement of every home, forcing the women and children out into the open, where al-Assad can mop them up and kill them all simultaneously. This could save considerable time, and undoubtedly has already.

Idlib province presents special problems for al-Assad. Whereas Ghouta and Aleppo each had just a few hundred thousand residents, Idlib has over two million. In fact, many of the people who fled the violence in Aleppo and Ghouta ended up fleeing to Idlib. So for al-Assad, Idlib contains over two million terrorists.

To exterminate all those residents of Aleppo with just conventional weapons will take al-Assad a long time, possibly years. Al-Assad would like to mop up the entire population a lot more quickly than that.

There have been news reports that al-Assad has been smiling and happy since Saturday's coalition airstrikes, because even though a few buildings were demolished, the airstrikes actually gave al-Assad the green light he needs to proceed with ethnic cleansing and genocide in Idlib:

  • Saturday's attack was little more than a slap on the wrist for al-Assad. He undoubtedly has other labs that can produce chemical weapons, and he undoubtedly has other stocks of chemical weapons elsewhere.
  • The West has only condemned chemical weapons use by al-Assad, meaning that any other form of mass slaughter is perfectly acceptable.
  • In fact, al-Assad has conducted numerous chlorine attacks. The one on April 7 has been called out only because of the horrific videos. So al-Assad can even conduct further chemical weapons attacks, provided that he does something to prevent any viral videos.
  • Furthermore, if al-Assad uses chlorine gas again, it's likely that the international opposition to another strike on al-Assad's assets will make it impossible.

So Bashar al-Assad has plenty of reason to be smiling and happy now. He will undoubtedly use chlorine gas to force women and children out into the open where his missiles can kill masses of them simultaneously. Basically, there is nothing stopping him from committing any war crimes or ethnic cleansing or genocide in Idlib. Bashar al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster so far this century, and Vladimir Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei are war criminals for participating in his genocide. France Diplomatie and Reuters and AFP and Syria Deeply (29-Mar)

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Syria TV says that its Shayrat airbase has been attacked by missiles

Syria's state television says that its airbase at Shayrat in Homs province and Dumair military airport near Damascus have been attacked by missiles. Syria says that all missiles were shot down without reaching their targets.

Shayrat air base was the target of the US missile strikes launched by the US a year ago in response to Sarin gas attacks by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on April 4, 2017.

However, in this case, the US says that there was no U.S. military activity in the area at that time.

This situation is similar to the one that occurred on Monday of last week, when Syria's T4 airbase was attacked by missiles, but not by American missiles. It turned out that the missile attack came from Israel. Reuters and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-18 World View -- As Syria's al-Assad attacks Idlib, he may consider chemical weapons essential thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail

Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail
  • Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail


African migrants leaving prison on Sunday, after being freed by Israel's Supreme Court (Times of Israel)
African migrants leaving prison on Sunday, after being freed by Israel's Supreme Court (Times of Israel)

Israel's Interior Ministry on Sunday released 207 African migrants from Saharonim prison in southern Israel, by order of Israel's Supreme Count. The migrants were mostly from Eritrea and Sudan. According to the government, they were "infiltrators," or "illegal immigrants."

Israel's government had wanted to deport them to another country, but were unable to reach any agreement with a country. It was not announced what countries the government was negotiating with, but it's believed they were Rwanda and Uganda. The court had given the government until Sunday to reach agreement with another country, or else release the migrants from prison, and that's what happened.

Earlier this month, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major new policy for dealing with 16,250 of the migrants. Under a deal with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR), 16,250 African migrants under threat of being either jailed or deported to another African country, would instead be absorbed and resettled into a Western country. The deal also specifies that another 16,250 similarly threated migrants would be permitted to remain in Israel as "temporary residents."

Netanyahu originally said that the agreement was a "landmark achievement," allowing 16,250 migrants to be taken to "developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy." Canada announced that it would accept some migrants under the deal, but Germany and Italy announced that they were not part of the deal and hadn't been consulted. The deal was also opposed by many politicians in Israel, because it granted legal status to 16,250 "infiltrators." Within hours, Netanyahu was forced to suspend the deal entirely.

Uganda first agrees to accept Israel's African migrants, then backs down

For months there have been unconfirmed reports that Benjamin Netanyahu was negotiating with Rwanda and Uganda to accept Israel's African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, in return for some unspecified payment. Netanyahu recently confirmed that negotiations with Rwanda had been going on for two years. However, under enormous pressure from pro-migrant activists both inside and outside Israel, Rwanda was finally forced to withdraw from the agreement.

Until Friday, Uganda consistently denied that a deportation deal with Israel exists, despite reports that it was accepting migrants deported from Israel.

On Friday, Musa Ecweru, Uganda's state minister of disaster preparedness and refugees, indicated that Uganda was ready to accept 500 migrants from Israel. According to Ecweru:

"The State of Israel working with other refugees’ managing organizations has requested Uganda to allow about 500 Eritreans and Sudanese refugees to relocate to Uganda. The Government and Ministry are positively considering the request.

We already have millions of refugees in Uganda from Somalia, Ethiopia so the few from Israel won’t be a problem to Uganda as a third party country.

We are slow but very sure on the issue of refugees that we host. To my knowledge, no refugees from Israel have come in yet. The ones coming are going to the settlement."

However, on Sunday, Netanyahu's special emissary to Uganda returned home after 11 days of negotiations with Uganda, apparently without a deal on migrants. Independent (Uganda) and Times of Israel

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's top court orders 207 African migrants to be released from jail thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Apr-18 World View -- Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy
  • Britain publishes its legal justification for military action
  • Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

American, British, French attack on Syria signals sharp change in Western policy


Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)
Audience for Saturday's speech by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah (Reuters)

As we reported on Friday evening, the joint attack on Syrian targets by American, British and French forces ended as quickly as it started. The attack was in retaliation for the attack on April 7 by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on civilians in Douma, using chemical weapons.

The attack occurred at 4 am Syrian time, and was over in minutes. 105 missiles were launched, striking three Syrian chemical weapons targets. The military said that all missiles reached their target, and denied Syrian claims that most (or any) were shot down.

The attack was "one and done," according to Secretary of Defense James Mattis. However, Mattis and other US officials have stated clearly that another attack will follow if al-Assad uses chemical weapons again.

So America's message to Bashar al-Assad is pretty clear: "You may use barrel bombs, missiles, gunfire, and any other conventional weapons on neighborhoods, markets, schools and hospitals, and you may massacre and kill as many women and children as you want, with no retribution. Just don't use chemical weapons."

The targets and time of day of Saturday morning's attack were carefully chosen so as to avoid civilian casualties, particularly Russian casualties. The Russian military did not respond, and it was clear that both the US and Russian side did everything possible to avoid confronting each other.

However, the language used by Russia on Saturday was extremely bitter and angry. And according to Pentagon spokesman Dana White,

"The Russian disinformation campaign has already begun. There has been a 2000 per cent increase in Russian trolls in the last 24 hours."

As someone who is attacked constantly by Russian trolls, this is disheartening news.

At Saturday's UN Security Council meeting by Russia's ambassador Vasily Nebenzya expressed deep anger:

"The US and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law. You are constantly tempted by neocolonialism. You have nothing but disdain for the UN charter, and the Security Council. As a pretext for aggression, you mention the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, but after an investigation by Russian experts, it was proven unequivocally that no such attacks took place."

The invocation of international law by Russia is really laughable, as Russia has done everything from invading and annexing Crimea to support the worst genocidal monster so far this century, Bashar al-Assad, without getting approval for anything from the UN Security Council, yet Russian officials become apoplectic when the US or the West does anything to avoid their UNSC veto.

As I've been writing starting in 2011, Russia's president Vladimir Putin adopted a policy of using the UN Security Council to take control of US, Nato and Western foreign policy. Russia took any military action it pleased without getting UNSC approval, but demanded that any other country got UNSC approval for everything. By using its UNSC veto, Russia could effectively control American foreign policy.

This Russian policy has been extremely successful for years, crippling not only Western foreign policy, but the UN Security Council itself. I believe that success reached its peak with the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. The British public was incensed that Russia put ordinary British citizens at risk by using Novichok in public, where anyone could be affected, but Russia made matters worse when Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

This was following by a series of moronic claims by Russia, including accusing Britain of poisoning the Skripals in order to embarrass Russia. Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to these claims: "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it."

The Skripal poisoning was an international tipping point, uniting Britain and other nations to no longer tolerate Russia's strategy to use the UNSC to cripple Western foreign policy.

That's why Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya and other Russian officials are so bitterly angry. The policy they had successfully used for years is now collapsing in front of them.

Further remarks by the Russians have the appearance of hysterical desperation. There have been horrifying videos of al-Assad's April 7 chemical attack on Douma, but Nebenzya and other Russian officials are claiming that the chemical attack didn't even occur. They claim that the British government paid the "White Helmet" humanitarian workers in Douma to stage the horrifying videos as a Hollywood production. One gets the impression that the Russians as a nation are becoming completely delusional.

Meanwhile, Syrians in Damascus were dancing in the streets on Saturday, because the military strikes were not as bad as feared. Guardian (Australia) and The Hill

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Britain publishes its legal justification for military action

I've always believed that there was plenty of legal justification for American and Western military intervention in Syria. After al-Assad began targeting peaceful protesters in 2011, and particularly after he massacred thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011, millions of Syrian citizens began fleeing into neighboring countries, including over a million reaching Europe. Any country has a responsibility to control its own population, but al-Assad had essentially weaponized refugees. If al-Assad can't control its own population, but instead uses them as a weapon, then any target is justified in intervening in the country.

In addition, al-Assad's attack on the Palestinian camp caused tens of thousands of Sunni jihadists to travel from around the world to fight al-Assad. These foreign jihadists formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which has launched terror attacks on other countries. Once again, if al-Assad can't control ISIS, then any country threatened by ISIS is justified in intervening. In fact, the US military intervention in Syria has succeeded in recapturing all territory formerly occupied by ISIS, although ISIS is far from completely defeated.

So the West certainly has plenty of justifications for military intervention in Syria, but al-Assad's use of chemical weapons doubles down on those justifications.

But in the end, the justification for this kind of military action has less to do with international law, and more to do with domestic politics. For that reason, the British government has published a humanitarian justification policy paper for Saturday's military action. Here's a brief summary:

The Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons is a war crime and a crime against humanity.

Under international law, the UK may use force for humanitarian intervention, provided that three conditions are met:

  • Convincing evidence of extreme humanitarian distress on a large scale, requiring immediate and urgent relief;
  • There is no practicable alternative to use of force, if lives are to be saved.
  • The proposed use of force must be necessary and proportionate to the aim of relief of humanitarian suffering,

The policy paper goes on to explain why all three conditions have been met. BBC and UK Government

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel

Although the debate over Saturday's airstrikes has dominated news coverage since the April 7 chemical attack, there's a completely different parallel issue in play, which may be even more dangerous.

On Monday last week, Israel attacked Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport), because the airbase is considered a threat to Israel. Apparently seven Iranians were killed in the attack.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah says that the attack put Israel into direct combat with Iran:

"You made a historic mistake and a great folly which brings you into direct confrontation with Iran.

This is the first time in 7 years that the Israelis have deliberately killed Iranian revolutionary guards. Attacking T-4 airport is a pivotal incident in the history of the region that can’t be ignored.

Iran is not a weak or a cowardly state, and you know that well. The Israeli have false calculation. You will have to face the Islamic Republic of Iran.

All those thousands of terrorists in Syria do not concern the Israeli while they have every kind of weapons, however, they are afraid of just few revolutionary guards there."

According to the BBC, Syria, Iran and Russia are all expressing quiet relief that Saturday's missile attack was considerably more limited than was expected. But it did evoke a sense of greater defiance, with the three entities calling themselves the "Axis of Resistance," and referring to Western powers as "paper tigers," a phrase used by China's Mao Zedong in the 1960s to describe the United States.

It's generally believed that Iran must retaliate for Israel's airstrike, killing several Iranian revolutionary guards. This could be a far more dangerous confrontation than even Saturday's missile strikes.

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Events appear to be moving very quickly now. Al Manar (Hezbollah) and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-18 World View -- Iran, Hezbollah and Syria threaten retaliation against Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level
  • DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo
  • U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons

UN says DR Congo humanitarian crisis at highest emergency level


A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)
A refugee Congolese woman and children (dpa)

Jan Egeland, the former head of the UN's emergency humanitarian relief office, was shocked by the catastrophic and growing humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and how the international community is ignoring the DRC crisis:

"This is up there with Yemen and Syria in terms of number of people in desperate need. I was not prepared of for the scale of the suffering, frankly.

Since the Congolese are not coming to the Mediterranean, since the Congolese are not part of a Russian-US or Saudi-Iran battle, they are being ignored really."

According to the United Nations, 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 4.5 million people are displaced from their homes, more than 7 million face severe food insecurity, and two million children at risk of starvation.

In the past, I've written about the bloody wars in the southwestern Kasai region, where the armies and militias reporting to the government of president Joseph Kabila are committing genocide; about the bloody tribal wars in northeastern Kivu region, causing massive refugee flows into Uganda; about the massive corruption of Joseph Kabila, skimming billions of dollars out of the treasury and providing it to his family and cronies; and of his repeated stunts of refusing to hold elections, so that he can't be replaced as president.

As we reported in February, another a humanitarian disaster of "extraordinary proportions" emerged in Tanganyika province in southeastern DRC. For several years, there have been bloody clashes between two ethnic groups, the Luba, a Bantu ethnic group, and the Twa, a Pygmy ethnic group. The violence surged in January of this year with the entrance of the president Kabila's Congolese armed forces.

The increasing violence is destabilizing the entire region. As we reported in December, the genocide by Kabila's army has resulted in 3.9 million people forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Hundreds of thousands have fled to Zambia, Angola and other neighboring countries as refugees, creating a humanitarian disaster in those countries.

Since the beginning of the year, 70,000 Congolese in eastern DRC have fled across the border into Uganda. 40,000 Congolese refugees have been settled into a single refugee camp, the Kyangwali refugee camp, in Uganda on the border in DRC. The Kyangwali camp is overcrowded and running out of space. Because of a lack of humanitarian aid, not everyone is being fed. There's also shortage of clean water, with each person receiving just 8 liters per day, while the average person requires 20 liters. The result has been the spread of cholera, with 1,000 cases of cholera already identified. BBC and Al-Jazeera

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DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo

The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) sponsored a humanitarian conference for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), meeting on Friday in Geneva. The purpose of the conference was to raise funds for humanitarian aid to DRC.

The conference drew $530 million in pledges, less than 1/3 of the estimated $1.7 billion needed. Refugee official Jan Egeland said, "We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance."

Even more startling is that one of the countries that boycotted the humanitarian conference was DR Congo itself.

According to Zenon Mukongo Nga, DRC's ambassador to the United Nations, DRC officials are furious about the description of DRC as a failed state. In particular, they dispute the the UN estimate that 13 million people need humanitarian aid, and they say that only 200,000 people are internally displaced.

"The level of humanitarian situation was raised to 'level three', the worst of all the levels in the world, meaning exactly that DR Congo has been compared to the countries where there is chaos, where the state has collapsed, where there is nothing working so far. And this drove people mad . "

We have our own figures which should be confronted with UN figures because, sometimes people are just sitting in their offices in Geneva, in New York, and they just get reports from each people who are on the ground. Sometimes they don't go really on the ground. We have people everywhere and the figures we have are the real ones."

Although no real explanation for the DRC boycott of their own humanitarian conference has been provided, it appears to be another cynical action by president Joseph Kabila, one of the bloodiest and most corrupt leaders in the world.

Kabila was to have stepped down as president in December 2016. However, he refused to allow elections to go forward, and without elections he could not step down. Since then, he's made no preparations for elections, and he's used violence, torture and jailings to suppress protests, as he continues to stay in office illegally.

At first he promised to hold elections in December 2017, but it was clear that those elections would never be held, as he refused to make any preparations for them. Now he's promising elections in December 2018, and the international community has threatened to cut off aid if the elections are not held.

At the same time, Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise.

So there is literally no possibility that Kabila will ever agree to step down, since if he does then his family's entire corrupt empire will be put into danger, and many members of his family could be jailed on charges of corruption.

Humanitarian aid does not go to the government. It's given to NGOs that provide food, water, medicine and humanitarian services to actual people. And Kabila couldn't care less for the needs of ordinary Congolese people.

DRC officials have indicated that what particularly infuriates them about the characterization of a "humanitarian disaster" in DRC is that such a characterization discourages investors. And money from investors goes to government officials, where it will pass into the bank accounts of Kabila and his family. Bloomberg and UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Deutsche Welle and Relief Web

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U.S., France, Britain launch Syria attack in retaliation for al-Assad's use of chemical weapons


Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)
Early Saturday morning in Damascus, Syria, surface to air missiles light up the sky (AP)

As I am writing this article on Friday evening (ET), the United States, France and Britain launched coordinated missile strikes on three targets in Syria, two in Damascus, one near Homs, all related to manufacture and storage of chemical weapons.

The following are some preliminary notes on the announcements.

President Trump announced that the attacks will continue "until the Syrian regime stops using chemical weapons."

However, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that the operation was completed, once the three targets were hit.

If both of these statements are true, it would have to mean there will be additional operations if the regime continues using chemical weapons.

There will be debates in Congress whether Trump had the authority to order these strikes without Congressional approval.

Some people are arguing that UN Security Council approval would also be needed, but as we've been writing lately, the Russians have been using the UNSC to control US foreign policy by requiring all operations to be approved by the UNSC, where Russia has veto power, while Russia goes ahead with any operations it wants, such as invading and annexing Crimea, without seeking UNSC approval. Earlier this week, US ambassador Nikki Haley announced that, in effect, the US would conduct an operation with or without UNSC and Russian approval.

Russia did not attempt to strike down the incoming missiles, suggesting that Russia might be tacitly approving of the missile strikes. Mattis said that Russia was not notified in advance, but that a standard phone call was made over the joint US-Russia deconfliction phone line.

However, Syrian media claims that its air defenses shot down some missiles.

After Trump has set a firm "red line" about chemical weapons, Trump had no choice but to go through with a strike on Syrian targets.

Friday's strike was an essential message to the North Koreans as the planned summit meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un approaches. If Trump had backed down from a missile strike, then America would have had no credibility whatsoever in the summit meeting.

Last year's missile strike did not deter al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons, and the latest strike may be equally ineffective. Even if al-Assad stops using chemical weapons, the message to al-Assad is that the only things the west cares about are chemical weapons and ISIS. Al-Assad is free to use barrel bombs and any conventional weapons that he wants on women and children. In fact, al-Assad is expected to move on to his next massive, genocidal target, Idlib province, with one million displaced people. NBC News and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-18 World View -- DR Congo boycotts its own international humanitarian conference for DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters
  • Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters


Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles.  (Telegraph)
Researchers have found rare earth minerals just 2-4 meters below the seabed, at a depth of almost four miles. (Telegraph)

In January 2013, a deep-sea research vessel from Japan obtained seven samples of mud collected two to four meters below the seafloor at 5,600 to 5,800 meters in depth, near Japan's Minami-Tori-shima Island, also known as Marcus Island, within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Analyzing the mud revealed that it contained extreme concentrations of rare earth minerals. Continued research since then has led to an announcement that the region contains more than 16 million tons of rare earth minerals. These elements are needed to build high-tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric vehicles.

This find is being described as a "semi-infinity" supply of rare earth minerals, enough to supply all of Japan's needs for well over a century. However, getting at the resources will be an issue, since they're almost four miles underwater. Japan Times and Fortune and Nikkei Asian Review

Japan's rare earths discovery represents a defeat for China

China's theft of intellectual property from other nations is a subject much in the news these days, and China's near-monopoly on rare earth minerals has been a mechanism for exactly that kind of theft.

As I've said frequently in the past, people who "there won't be a war because it's bad for business" are wrong. In fact the opposite is true, since trade becomes just another weapon of war.

In 2009, there was a brief clash between China and Japan in the East China Sea, and China decided to punish Japan and get revenge by ending shipments to Japan of rare earth minerals. This was a significant blow for Japanese manufacturing, since Japan needed these minerals for manufacture of their high tech products, and Japan was dependent on being supplied by China.

This became a major foreign policy for China.

As Yasuhiro Kato from Tokyo University has pointed out, "Their real intention is to force foreign companies to locate plant in China. They're saying `if you want our rare earth metals, you must build your factory here, and we can then steal your technology."

In 2012, China stepped up the revenge against Japan. The Beijing government encouraged the Chinese people to demonstrate and protest against Japanese businesses in China. The government urged protesters not to use violence, but that part of the message was clearly ignored, as protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several cities.

It became clear to the Japanese that they would need to find an alternate supply of rare earth minerals, and that's what motivated the deep-sea research project that made the initial discovery in 2013, leading to the "semi-infinite" supply of rare earths announced this week.

The new supply of rare earths has to be described as a defeat for China, because once Japan is successful in mining this new supply, the China will be unable to use rare earths as a weapon of war. The Diplomat (29-Aug-2017) and Telegraph (London, 24-Mar-2013)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-18 World View -- Japan finds 'semi-infinite supply' of rare earth minerals in its territorial waters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack

Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack
  • Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike
  • Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria's Afrin
  • Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack


Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)
Survivor of Saturday's chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Sunday had promised retaliation within 24-48 hours for the use of chemical weapons by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Saturday on civilians, including women and children.

However, by Wednesday evening, no retaliation has occurred, and the world is watching and waiting. But the rhetoric between Russia and the US has heated up a great deal.

Alexander Zasypkin, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, said on Wednesday:

"if there is a US missile attack, we - in line with both Putin and Russia's chief of staff's remarks - will shoot down US rockets and even the sources that launched the missiles."

Zasypkin was alluding to a previous Russian threat to shoot down not only American missiles, but also the warplanes and battleships that launches them.

This only served to goad president Trump, who tweeted this:

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

However, Trump was more conciliatory in a later tweet:

"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?"

Long time readers are aware that Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

Saturday's chemical weapons attack by al-Assad has caused a chain reaction that has raised tensions in the Mideast to the next level higher than they'd been before Saturday. Here's a summary:

  • Israel and Iran appear headed for a proxy war in Syria.
  • Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.
  • The U.S. and Syria are headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • The U.S. and Russia may be headed for a confrontation in Syria.
  • Turkey and Russia are headed for a confrontation in Syria.

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the political divide in the West, including the United States, is getting more hostile, and not just along party lines. It's increasingly hostile to hear American analysts and journalists side with Russia trolls in claiming that there's "no proof" that Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons or Sarin gas, in the face of conclusions reached by America, British, French, German and other governments.

Russia has lied repeatedly about Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, and other things, and for an American analyst to side with Russian trolls against multiple Western governments is truly a remarkable development. And as I reported yesterday, this has even extended to the point where Newsweek magazine is publishing easily debunkable fake news US Secretary of Defense is claiming that no evidence exists that al-Assad ever used Sarin gas.

So let me try to make this clear.

Since the Syrian war began, I've written 359 analytical articles with "Syria" in the title, and hundreds more where Syria was discussed, but not in the title. These articles are all available on my web site for anyone to check.

I have an archive of almost 100,000 articles that I've copied and pasted in the last 15 years. Over 3,000 of those articles have "Syria" in the title, and probably tens of thousands more discuss the Syria war. These articles are from all political biases and from all media sources and all countries available on the internet. I typically study 10-20 of these articles in detail for each article that I write.

My point is this: 99.9% of the time, I know a lot more than you do. And I'm telling you that there's no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has used Sarin gas several times on innocent civilians, and has used chlorine gas, phosphorous and ammonia many, many times on innocent civilians. There is no question about this.

But the fact that some Americans are calling officials in both the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrators liars, and are saying that paid Russian trolls are telling the truth, is truly a remarkable development. Al-Jazeera and CNN and Reuters

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Israel braces for attack from Iran in retaliation for Sunday's airstrike

On Sunday, president Donald Trump threatened a "big price to pay" after the chemical weapons attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on Douma on Saturday. As I was writing an article about this and on Sunday evening, Syria's state media reported a missile attack on Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near Homs. US officials denied having anything to do with the attack, so it was thought that some other country, perhaps Britain, France or Israel, might have been fulfilling Trump's "big price to pay" threat.

Well, news reports since then have indicated that the missile strike on T4 airbase had nothing to do with Trump's threat, except possibly to influence the timing. According to Iranian media, the attack was from Israeli warplanes.

If it was an Israeli airstrike, then the target was an Iranian drone base. Israel has repeatedly expressed its red lines when it comes to Syria:

  • It will not allow the transfer of high-powered weapons to Hezbollah.
  • It will not allow any breach of Israeli sovereignty.
  • It will work to prevent Iran from entrenching itself in Syria.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied the airstrike, but Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made these comments:

"I want to say one thing with absolute certainty. We will not allow the Iranians to base themselves in Syria, no matter what the price. We have no other choice. To agree to the Iranians basing themselves in Syria is like agreeing to Iran putting a noose around our neck."

Iran's media is reporting that four Iranians were killed by the Israeli airstrikes.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, said:

"The Israeli regime's aggression against Syria is a breach of this country's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and runs counter to all international regulations and principles."

Velayati added, "Definitely, this crime (by Israel) will not remain without a response."

Israeli forces have gone onto high alert, and Israeli media are talking about a "proxy war between Iran and Israel" taking place on Syrian soil:

"Beyond the confrontation between Russia and the United States, the main story in the northern arena is the direct confrontation between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil. There is no more shadow war or contest through agents. The confrontation between Israel and Iran, it seems, is turning into a limited direct military confrontation. It is impossible to ignore the fact that within two months, in at least two known incidents, Iranian fighters and officers were killed by an action attributed to the Israeli Air Force. It seems that in light of the continued Iranian consolidation in Syria, Israel has decided to remove the gloves.

After the day of battle two months ago, when the Iranian UAV was intercepted and an Israeli fighter plane was shot down, quite a few things happened underneath the surface, despite the apparent media silence."

Former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said, “When on a given day, the chance for [active military conflict with Iran] are about one percent, now it is about 10%." CNN and Tasnim News (Iran) and Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel

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Turkey to open a new border crossing to Syria's Afrin

Turkey on Wednesday announced plans to open a new border crossing from Turkey to the Syrian city of Afrin. The purpose of the border crossing is to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid to the city, and help build infrastructure in the region.

However, the border crossing will also strengthen Turkey's link to Afrin, which is opposed by Russia, Iran and Syria.

Turkey's military Operation Olive Branch took place over several months, with the objective of regaining control of Syria's border city of Afrin from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). The YPG is linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is considered by the US and Europe as a terrorist organization, and has conducted numerous terrorist attacks within Turkey over a thirty year period.

Now that the operation has been completely, apparently successfully, Russia, Iran and Syria would all like the Turkish forces to withdraw back into Turkey. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday:

"[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has never said that Turkey wants to occupy Afrin. We always proceed from the fact that the easiest way to normalize the situation in Afrin now that Turkish representatives say that the main goals they set there have been achieved would be to return the territory under the control of the Syrian government."

However, Erdogan rejected Lavrov's remarks:

"We know very well who we’ll hand Afrin to. First, let’s talk about handing over areas controlled by other countries in Syria to Syria.

When the time comes, we will give Afrin to the people of Afrin personally, but the timing of this is up to us, we will determine it, not Mr. Lavrov."

Turkey, Russia and Iran have had a three-way alliance of convenience for several months, creating "de-escalation zones" in Syria. However, neither the Syrian regime nor any of the Syrian rebel groups doing the actual fighting were party to the agreements. Whatever the value of that alliance, it appears to be losing whatever little effectiveness it had, and increasingly is fraying, as all the participants in the Syrian war are looking forward to grabbing their respective pieces of Syria. Anadolu (Turkey) and Sputnik (Russia) and Reuters

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Yemen war escalates as Iran-backed Houthis launch missiles at Saudi targets

The Houthi rebels in Yemen declared this to be the "year of ballistic missiles," after firing a ballistic missiles on Wednesday at targets in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh, and also at oil storage facilities belonging to the Saudi oil company Aramco. The missiles either missed their targets or were shot down by Saudi air defenses, but a successful strike on an oil storage facility could do a great deal of damage.

Last week, Houthi rebels caused minor damage to a Saudi oil tanker in the Red Sea on Tuesday. The oil tanker was able to continue on its way, escorted by a Saudi coalition warship.

The Houthis are using ballistic missiles and armed drones that could only have been supplied by Iran. Saudi threatened "a heavy price" for the Houthis, and for those who are equipping the Houthis. Al Jazeera and Reuters and Arab News and Deutsche Welle (3-Apr)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-18 World View -- The world awaits Trump's promised retaliation for al-Assad's chemical weapons attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Fake news: Newsweek says Mattis denied any evidence that Assad used Sarin gas
  • Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council
  • Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use
  • Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

Fake news: Newsweek says Mattis denied any evidence that Assad used Sarin gas


Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)
Children being medically treated in Douma Syria after chemical weapons attack (AP)

I've had trolls referring to a February Newsweek article that says that US Secretary of Defense James Mattis claims that there is "no evidence" that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad had ever used Sarin gas.

This is totally fake news, as suggested by the fact that the Newsweek article did not give a link to the transcript of the press briefing where Mattis supposedly made this remark, which they could easily have done.

I actually went to the trouble to track down the transcript -- which incidentally wasn't hard at all, and took about 30 seconds, which is another indication that the Newsweek article was a full-fledged hoax. We have to assume that Ian Wilkie, the author of the article, is one of Russia's army of paid internet trolls, and moonlights for Newsweek.

Mattis was giving a press conference and answering questions thrown at him by reporters. The press conference covered various subjects, including Ukraine and Afghanistan, and the questions about Syria are scattered throughout the transcript. Here are some excerpts:

"We think that they did not carry out what they said they would do back when -- in the previous administration, when they were caught using it. Obviously they didn't, cause they used it again during our administration."

According to Mattis, what they said they were going to do in 2013, when they were caught using Sarin gas, was to destroy all their stocks of chemical weapons, but obviously they didn't do that, since they've used chemical weapons repeatedly, and used Sarin gas again during the Trump administration (on April 4, 2017).

Mattis continued answering questions about chemical weapons attacks in 2018. He said that chlorine gas has been used recently, and he's looking for evidence whether Sarin gas has also been used recently:

"And that gives us a lot of reason to suspect them. And now we have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it's been used.

We do not have evidence of it [Sarin gas]. But we're not refuting them; we're looking for evidence of it. Since clearly we are using -- we are dealing with the Assad regime that has used denial and deceit to hide their outlaw actions, okay? ... Well, there's certainly groups that say they've used it. And so they think there's a likelihood, so we're looking for the evidence. ...

I think [chlorine gas weapons have] been used repeatedly. And that's, as you know, a somewhat separate category, which is why I broke out the sarin as another. ...

No, I have not got the evidence, not specifically [that Sarin gas is being used]. I don't have the evidence.

What I'm saying is that other -- that groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground have said that sarin has been used. So we are looking for evidence. I don't have evidence, credible or uncredible.

That press conference occurred in February, and apparently no recent evidence of Sarin gas was found.

By the way, check out the beginning of the transcript, where Mattis mocks the NY Times for fake news, saying that the reporter interviewing him apparently wasn't even listening to him.

"I salute whatever you write. You have the right to write anything. I thought it was especially humorous that we didn't realize we were still on the -- on the video teleconference, since one of the people on the screen was talking with us at the same time. I guess we were talking to ourselves and imagining the person on the screen. Yeah, I got a kick out of it, frankly."

Later in the transcript, he says, "See, right now, we're at a point where ISIS is on the ropes. It’s obvious -- you know -- for all the questions and challenges I had in this room over the last year, I think now it's pretty much undeniable that they're in trouble. ... So we want to get back to finishing off ISIS." Newsweek (8-Feb) and Bellingcat (9-Feb) and U.S. Dept. of Defense (2-Feb)

Haley announces major change in policy regarding Russia and Security Council

On April 6 of last year, president Donald Trump ordered cruise missile attacks on the Shayrat Airbase in Syria, from which Bashar al-Assad had launched Sarin gas attacks on civilians on April 4. Trump had been moved to action after seeing pictures small children struggling to breathe, gasping for breath, and choking to death. The cruise missile attack was meant to be a warning to al-Assad not to use Sarin gas again.

Now there have been new pictures of choking children, following al-Assad's latest Sarin gas attack on civilians on Sunday, and Trump is furious again. This time, Trump went farther, blaming not only al-Assad, but also his backers in Russia and Iran:

"Very concerned, when a thing like that can happen, this is about humanity. We're talking about humanity. And it can't be allowed to happen. So we'll be looking at that barbaric act and studying what's going on. If it's Russia, if it's Syria, if it's Iran, if it's all of them together, we'll figure it out and we'll know the answers quite soon."

At the United Nations Security Council on Monday, US ambassador Nikki Haley went a lot farther in the administration condemnation of Syria, Iran and Russia:

"I could hold up pictures of babies, lying dead next to their mothers. Brothers and sisters. Toddlers and infants still in diapers. All lying together, dead. Their skin is the ashen blue that is now tragically familiar from chemical weapons scenes. Their eyes are open and lifeless. White foam bubbles from their mouths and noses. Pictures of dead Syrians who are not soldiers. People who are not armed. People who are the very definition of innocent and non-threatening – women and children hiding in basements from a renewed assault by Bashar Al-Assad. Families that were hiding underground to escape Assad’s conventional bombs and artillery. ...

I could hold up pictures of survivors. Children with burning eyes, choking for breath. I could hold up pictures of first responders washing the chemicals off of the victims. Putting respirators on the children. First responders walking through room after room of families lying motionless, with babies still in the arms of their mothers and fathers. I could show pictures of a hospital attacked by the chemical weapons. I could show pictures of hospitals struck by barrel bombs following the chemical attack.

Ambulances and rescue vehicles have been repeatedly attacked, maximizing the number of dead civilians. Civil defense centers have been attacked in order to paralyze the medical response – to increase the suffering of the survivors.

Who does this? Only a monster does this. Only a monster targets civilians and then ensures that there are no ambulances to transfer the wounded. No hospitals to save their lives. No doctors or medicine to ease their pain.

I could hold up pictures of all of this killing and suffering for the Council to see, but what would be the point? The monster who was responsible for these attacks has no conscience, not even to even be shocked by pictures of dead children.

The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims. We’ve tried that before. We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction. Russia and Iran have military advisers at Assad’s airfields and operations centers. Russian officials are on the ground helping direct the regime’s “starve and surrender” campaign, and Iranian allied forces do much of the dirty work. When the Syrian military pummels civilians, they rely on the military hardware given by Russia.

Russia could stop this senseless slaughter if it wanted. But it stands with the Assad regime and supports without any hesitation.

What’s the point of trying to shame such people? After all, no civilized government would have anything to do with Assad’s murderous regime. Pictures of dead children mean little to governments like Russia who expend their own resources to prop up Assad."

That was all by way of introduction to the following significant and explicit United States policy change:

"Russia’s obstructionism will not continue to hold us hostage when we are confronted with an attack like this one. The United States is determined to see that the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account. ...

We are on the edge of a dangerous precipice. The great evil of chemical weapons use that once unified the world in opposition, is on the verge of becoming the new normal. The international community must not let this happen.

We are beyond showing pictures of dead babies. We are beyond appeals to conscience. We have reached the moment when the world must see justice done. History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria.

Either way, the United States will respond."

The reason that this is significant is because it makes clear that the U.S. will no longer be bound by Russia's vetoes in the Security Council. As I've been writing numerous times since 2011, Russia adopted a policy of using the UNSC to control US and Nato foreign policy by demanding that any military decision be approved by the UNSC, where Russia could veto it. At the same time, Russia could invade Ukraine, invade and annex Crimea, and perform other international crimes, and go ahead with them without bothering to get UNSC approval. Not only would Russia control US and Nato foreign policy, Nato countries would turn against each other in confusion over how to respond.

So when Nikki Haley says, "Either way, the United States will respond," she's declaring the end of the policy of allowing Russia's veto to control U.S. policy. She's saying to Russia: veto the resolution or not, as you wish, but we're going ahead with a military operation. CNBC and U.S. State Dept.

Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use

As I'm writing this on Tuesday evening (ET), there are reports that a military attack may be imminent. Britain, France and Qatar are openly supporting the Trump administration's plans for a military operation in Syria.

The military attack will have to be significant and massive, since last year's "warning" attack had no effect.

Some analysts are suggesting that the military operation might be led by France, rather than by the U.S. If true, it would be a further humiliation for Vladimir Putin, who has been using the UNSC to turn the Nato countries against each other. This display of unity by France, Britain, Qatar and the U.S. would be a united front against Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin. AP

Russia's Andrey Klimov: Sarin gas attack is just a Hollywood movie

Every time one of these situations occurs, Russia unleashes its army of paid trolls to make laughable claims and spread disinformation. One of the best of these troll storms occurred after Russians in East Ukraine shot down the Malaysian Airlines MH17 passenger plane with a Russian-made Buk missile, bragged about it in a tweet, then pulled down the tweet. Russian media and trolls went into full-on troll mode, making one ridiculous claim after another: Russian commander Strelkov's tweet had never occurred; the US had shot down MH17 to embarrass Russia; the airplane was struck by a meteor; no living people were aboard the plane as it flew on autopilot from Amsterdam, where it had been pre-loaded with "rotting corpses."

So now we have a new troll storm. Andrey Klimov, a Senator in the Russia's Duma, was interviewed on the BBC, and I transcribed excerpts of the interview.

Klimov's main point is that the Sarin gas attack never happened, but was staged as a Hollywood movie:

"It looks like an artificial performance, like a kind of movie, to make that provocation visible. But I can't say for sure that it may be any real occasion of chemical weapons in this area. It looks like a provocation. It looks like a Hollywood movie.

[Referring to the images of choking children, and children having to be hosed down with water.] You're just repeating somebody's rumors. I'm speaking about facts, because there are no real facts on the ground. But we'd like to find those who produced such kinds of fake news, because those people are interested in keeping such kind of confrontation in the world. And we'd like to find that bastard, to show to the world that they're a bastard."

Well Andrey, you have control of Damascus and Douma, so don't just complain, start searching for the bastard. We'd all like to know who he or she is.

Klimov also reacted to Trump's threat of a military operation in Syria:

"They have no right to do that in any case, because no kind of power granted on the part of the United Nations. Nobody asked them from Damascus to do that. It's a kind of invasion. It's a kind of occupation. It cannot be acceptable in today's world. It is out of any kind of international law. Nobody appointed them as international policeman, or international judge, or international prosecutor. They're going to do it themselves, and that cannot be acceptable at all."

This is a laughable invocation of international law from the Russians, who ignore international law, but it's precisely the policy that Russia has been following since 2011. Russia breaks international law recklessly, never asking the UN Security Council for approval, but then demands that the West get approval for anything from the UNSC, where Russia can veto it. This is Russia's policy that Nikki Haley specifically rejected on Monday.

It's gotten to the point where these Russian officials and trolls are just plain pathetic, because nobody believes their rantings any more. Vladimir Putin really needs to come up with a new policy.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-18 World View -- Major multi-national military operation planned for Syria after Sarin gas use thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary
  • Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

Viktor Orbán's Fidesz anti-migrant party wins overwhelming victory in Hungary


Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)
Anti-immigrant leaders in Europe: Hungary's Viktor Orbán (R) with Poland's premier Mateusz Morawiecki at the most recent EU summit (consilium.europa.eu)

On Sunday, Hungary's right-wing, anti-immigrant, and anti-EU, Fidesz party won an overwhelming political victory on a high turnout, giving Viktor Orbán his third consecutive term as prime minister of Hungary.

With almost all the votes counted, Fidesz has won 134 seats in the 199 seat parliament, giving Fidesz a two-thirds "super-majority." With this super-majority, Orbán will be able to modify Hungary's constitution to give himself additional powers, possibly dictatorial powers, and to make sure that he will be reelected for many years to come.

In celebrating his victory, Orbán said:

"There is a big battle behind us. We have won. Today Hungary had a decisive victory. We have the chance to defend Hungary."

By "defend Hungary," Orbán meant defend it from migrants.

Poland is congratulating Orbán on his victory. Poland’s deputy foreign minister and envoy to the European Union, Konrad Szymanski said:

"It’s a confirmation of Central Europe’s emancipation policy. Emancipation not directed at fighting anybody but at making Central Europe visible as a very constructive European and European Union partner."

By "emancipation," Szymanski is not talking about freeing some slaves. He's talking about emancipating Poland from the policies of Brussels, particularly policies about resettling migrants that arrive in Greece or Italy. Poland's nationalist government shares Orbán's view that Muslim migrants threaten Europe's "Christian" heritage.

In 2015, the EU adopted a migrant quota system last year that was supposed to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other EU countries. The plan fell apart because few countries were willing to accept their quotas, and several countries, led by Hungary and Poland, refused to resettle any refugees at all. In the end, only about 30,000 refugees were ever resettled under this plan.

Some observers have accused Orbán of using anti-semitic "dog whistle' remarks during the campaign. They point to Orbán's frequent use in campaign ads of the Hungarian Jewish billionaire George Soros as the symbol of foreign influence in Hungary. In March, Orbán said:

"We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world."

Many observers believe that these remarks were anti-semitic, intended to target Soros as a Jew. Reuters and Forward and BBC

Europe as a whole moves steadily to the right

Orbán's Fidesz party won an overwhelming victory with a 134 seat super-majority in the 199 seat parliament.

In second place was the Jobbik Party, with 25 seats. Jobbik is considered to be even farther right than Fidesz, though in recent years the party leaders have tried to move the party towards the center, and to shed its anti-semitic and xenophobic image.

In third place, with 20 seats, was the center-left Socialist party. The significance of this situation is that in Hungary, the two major parties are both on the right, and the center left in Europe is in collapse.

EuroIntelligence summarized the situation as follows:

"The slide of the social democratic party from its peak of power in 2006 is both a long-term trend in Hungary and a broader trend in the EU as a whole. Hungary is now one of a long list of countries where the two main parties are both on the right, because the collapsing social democrats have not been replaced by a party on the left but one on the right. Poland and the Netherlands are firmly in that list. Whether to include France and Italy depends on where one puts Macron's En Marche and the Five Star Movement, but asked about the right-wing economic policies of his government Édouard Philippe quipped "what did you expect?" Spain and Austria - and even Germany - seem to be moving in the same direction. In many of these cases - Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Austria - the party replacing the social democrats could be classed as far-right. This doesn't look like a Europe where Orbán should feel particularly uncomfortable."

Hungary-based Péter Krekó of Capital Institute agrees, saying that Orbán is providing support to populist tendencies in western Europe: "The populist right wing in western Europe deems Orbán as a hero, he represents an alternative model for Europe. He is the 'anti-Merkel' and that makes him popular with many."

However, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn says that won a clear election victory because of a "tumor" of scaremongering: "Today it is Hungary and Poland, tomorrow others in eastern and central Europe, even a big founding country of the EU, could develop a taste for undermining values and scaremongering."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the atrocities that occur in one generational crisis war appear again in similar forms decades later in the next generational crisis war, as the survivors of the last war die off. With Europe's shift to the right, we're beginning to see the revival of the xenophobia that brought about World War II, such as xenophobic attitudes towards Jews, Muslims and Roma Gypsies. As the next world war approaches, we'll see a return to the genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes that occurred in World War II, and which we're already seeing to some extent in the Mideast. EuroIntelligence and EU Observer and Budapest Business Journal and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-18 World View -- Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party victory in Hungary signals strong European move to the right thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds
  • Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria
  • Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

New chemical weapon attack in Syria kills 48, hospitalizes hundreds


Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)
Medical workers treat toddlers following chlorine gas attack in Douma, Syria, on Sunday (AP)

At least 48 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack on Saturday on the town of Douma in in eastern Ghouta, believed by international officials to have been perpetrated by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

In addition to those killed, at least 500 more people brought into overwhelmed medical centers and hospitals. Videos recorded by rescue workers known as the White Helmets, show a number of men, women and children lying lifeless, many with foam at their mouths.

The chemical weapon in the attack was chlorine, which is particularly used by al-Assad to attack and kill women and children. Chlorine is repeatedly used by al-Assad because it is heavier than air. Therefore it seeps into basements where women and children are likely to be hiding from al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs. Once the chlorine seeps into the basements where women and children are hiding, the women and children are forced out into the open, where al-Assad's missiles and barrel bombs can slaughter them en masse. The foaming at the mouth by victims suggests that Sarin gas was also used.

Syrian state media accused "terrorist" media of fabricating reports about a chemical attack.

Russia's foreign ministry said reports of a chemical attack by Syrian forces on Douma had been "planted" in order to create a pretext for a possible military intervention in Syria:

"The purpose of these mendacious conjectures, which are without any basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which rejects a political settlement, while at the same time trying to justify possible external use of force."

So we're going through the usual song and dance of listening to Russian officials make these laughable statements, as if the rest of us are stupid enough to believe them. Russian officials have lied so many times about almost every subject, so anything that Russia says has no credibility, and is as worthless as garbage.

And we can expect the usual flood of Russian internet trolls repeating the same nonsense supplied by their trollmasters.

During the past 15 months, since Donald Trump took office, there Bashar al-Assad has launched at least eight chemical weapons attacks, including one Sarin gas nerve agent attack on April 4 of last year. BBC and AP and CNN and USA Today

Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria

President Donald Trump called Bashar al-Assad an "animal" in a series of tweets on Sunday, and appeared to commit the US to retaliating to Sunday's attack, not only against Syria but possibly also at Russia.

In 2012, President Barack Obama announced a "red line" that threatened an American military retaliation if Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. The US military even sent troops to Jordan to take action against the use of chemical weapons. However, when Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people in 2013, Obama backed down from his threat, signaling to al-Assad that he could continue to use chemical weapons with impunity. And he has done that, with eight verified uses of chlorine gas and Sarin gas in the last 15 months alone.

A year ago, Donald Trump responded to al-Assad's Sarin gas attack with a surprise cruise missile attack on al-Assad's airports, wiping out part of his air force. However, that did nothing to stop al-Assad from continuing to use chemical weapons on women and children, or to stop Russia from supporting his use of chemical weapons on women and children.

Sunday's chemical weapons attack drew a very angry twitter response from president Trump:

"Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price...

....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!

If President Obama had crossed his stated Red Line In The Sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago! Animal Assad would have been history!"

Trump appears to be setting a new red line, and is blaming Russia's president Vladimir Putin for the first time, as well as referring to "Animal Assad." If Trump shows weakness after issuing these tweets, then his negotiating position in North Korea will be very weak.

The US has also called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday.

The most likely response, if any, is a missile attack similar to the one launched last year. However, some analysts are suggesting that Russia should be sanctioned directly by withdrawing the highly prestigious international World Cup Football (soccer) competition sponsored by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) from Moscow, where it's scheduled to begin on June 14. Some people are suggesting that Vladimir Putin should not be permitted to glory in sponsoring the FIFA World Cup just two months after sponsoring the use of chemical weapons by war criminal Bashar al-Assad. CNN and NBC News and Guardian (London)

Syria reports that it's under missile attack, 'likely' by the US

As this article is being written on Sunday evening (ET), Syria's state media is reporting that Syria's T4 airbase (Tayfur airport) near the city of Homs is under missile attack, with resulting casualties, in a "likely attack by the United States." Reports say that 12 people have been killed, and that eight missiles were shot down by Syrian air defenses.

Senior US officials are not denying that a missile attack is taking place, but are denying that the US is responsible. Assuming that it's not the US launching missiles, then it suggests that another country in the American-led coalition is launching the missile attack.

Governments from both Britain and France on Sunday both joined in America's strong condemnation of al-Assad's use of chlorine gas on his own people, including women and children. Both countries have also issued strong condemnations of Russia for the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok, in Salisbury, Britain. Trump and France's president Emmanuel Macron issued a "strong joint response" to al-Assad. So it's possible that either Britain or France is launching the attack. It's also possible that Israel is launching the attack. BBC

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-18 World View -- Trump threatens 'big price to pay' after Assad's chemical weapons attack in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II

Taiwan and Japan respond to China's militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan
  • Japan launches first marine brigade since the end of World War II

Trump administration approves selling submarine technology to Taiwan


Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)
Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen on a Dutch-built submarine last year. (AP)

In a further challenge to China, the Trump administration has approved a marketing license that will allow US manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan.

For years, Taiwan has tried to acquire submarines from other countries, but China has repeatedly used pressure and threats on those countries to prevent the sales. Taiwan purchased two submarines from the Netherlands in the 1980s, but China has successfully blocked other sales since then. In 2012, Taiwan began a program to build its own diesel submarines, but that program still required the purchase of submarine technology from other countries.

Early in 2017, US manufacturers expressed an interest in working on the project with Taiwan, but needed approval in the form of a "marketing license" from the US State Department. That license was finally issued this week.

The decision also means that the U.S. will be able to provide Taiwan with so-called “red” parts, or technology which the island is unable to produce itself, including torpedoes and missiles. Taiwan News and Reuters and Jamestown (30-Mar-2012) and Focus Taiwan (31-May-2017)

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Japan launches first marine brigade since the end of World War II

In a ceremony on Saturday, Japan launched the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), its first marine brigade since the end of World War II.

In a speech, Tomohiro Yamamoto, vice defense minister, said:

"Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate."

Yamamoto is thought to be referring to the Senkaku Islands, which are threatened by China, and where China makes its usual unsupported claims of "indisputable sovereignty."

The brigade is the latest component of a growing marine force that includes helicopter carriers, amphibious ships, Osprey tilt-rotor troop carriers and amphibious assault vehicles, meant to deter China as it pushes for easier access to the Western Pacific

The ARDB is controversial, since it appears to go beyond the Article self-defense clause of Japan's postwar "pacifist" constitution, which forbids any military action except for "self-defense" on Japanese soil.

However, military provocations by China and North Korea have been changing public opinion in Japan to make elimination of the self-defense clause more publicly acceptable.

In 2015, prime minister Shinzo Abe was able to get parliament to reinterpret the self-defense clause to mean "collective self-defense," which means that military action would be permitted anywhere in the world when an ally (such as the United States) is attacked. That means that the ARDB can be used even in overseas military actions, provided that the US or any other Japanese ally is under attack. Kyodo News and Reuters and Russia Today

Related Articles:

  • Japan will shoot down N. Korean missiles via 'collective self-defense' (13-Aug-2017)
  • Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea (14-Mar-2017)
  • Japan debates 'collective self-defense' to protect America and Japan (05-May-2014)
  • China reacts harshly to Japan's plans for 'collective self-defense' (18-Jul-2015)
  • Japan's troops in South Sudan become first test of new 'collective self-defense' policy (19-Nov-2016)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-18 World View -- US will sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as Japan launches first marine brigade since end of WW II thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army
    • Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army


    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)
    A Gaza protester wears a tire on his head with an onion (to protect himself from tear gas) dangling from it (al-Jazeera)

    In the Muslim world, protests usually occur on Fridays, when worshippers pour out of mosques after Friday prayers.

    On Friday, March 30, Land Day protests in Gaza led to numerous violent clashes with Israel's army, when Gaza protesters threatened to break through the border fence with Israel. The first used teargas to stop the protesters, then live gunfire. 16 Palestinians were killed, and 1,400 wounded.

    On Friday, April 6, the number of protests appeared to be considerably reduced, although the protesters used new tactics. Protesters burned tires creating massive conflagrations at five different points along the border.

    The purpose of burning the tires was to create black, thick smoke that would make it impossible for Israel's army to see where the protesters were attempting to break through the border fence. The army used water cannons to put out the fires, and giant fans to disperse smoke. Live gunfire was also used to stop the protesters, with the result that seven Palestinians were shot dead and over 200 more were wounded. The only good news about this situation is that these numbers were sharply lower than last week.

    Although Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, is encouraging protests on a continuing basis, the protests are all relatively minor except for the final one: The major event will occur on May 15, Naqba Day (Catastrophe Day), commemorating the creation of Israel in 1948. YNet News (Israel) and Reuters and Al Jazeera

    Hamas and Fatah/PLO criticized for contradictory strategies

    Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, has come under increasing criticism for the policies it's pursuing in Gaza. Even Arab analysts on television have criticized Hamas for having no apparent strategy at all except to encourage protesters, including women and children, to attempt to break through the border wall and risk getting shot and killed, with no advantage to them, to the Palestinians or to Hamas for the bloodshed.

    The Hamas government in Gaza has an entirely different strategy than the Palestinian Authority (PA) - Fatah - Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) government in the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas.

    Hamas's strategy is the elimination of Israel, and so the Gaza protests are being pursued with the intention of leading to an armed conflict that Israel would lose. By contrast, Abbas's strategy is full recognition of the state of Palestine existing side-by-side with Israel, and is pursuing peaceful protests in order to gain international support for Palestine.

    The problem for the Palestinians is that they can't make any progress at all unless Hamas and Fatah have a joint strategy. Negotiations for a Hamas-Fatah unity government that began after the 67 day Israel-Gaza war in 2014 have failed completely, largely because Hamas and Fatah have completely different intentions about destroying Israel versus living with Israel.

    The 27th conference of the Arab Parliament Federation met on Friday in Jeddah and stated the usual policies -- support for an independent state of Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem, and condemnation of Israeli attacks on Palestinian people and their land, sanctuaries and properties. They also demanded that the international community put pressure on Israel to stops its crimes in Palestine.

    But all of that is completely meaningless, because those policies are subordinate to the major policy: unifying the Arab position toward major issues — the Palestinian cause and combating terror.

    And there is no unity on the Arab position. What's the "Palestinian cause," when the Palestinians don't even know what it means. What does "combating terror" mean when Hamas is internationally considered to be a terror organization, calling for the destruction of Israel.

    And then of course there's the issue of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president. Abbas is 82 years old, was born in 1935, and lived through World War II and the bloody wars between Jews and Arabs that followed the 1948 partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Having lived though that horrific war, Abbas has been a major force in maintaining a semblance of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the reason that Abbas and Fatah are far more moderate than Hamas is because Abbas lived through the horrors if the Arab-Jewish war of 1948, and does not want to see it happen again. Younger leaders, in both Gaza and the West Bank, would have no such inhibitions. I believe that Abbas himself understands this, and that's why he hasn't stepped down even though he's been in declining health. But his death or retirement would bring new, younger leadership into power, and that could well mean a new, massive, bloody war between Jews and Arabs.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Al Monitor (13-Mar) and Arab News and AFP and i24 News (Israel)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinians burn tires to hide protests from Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine
    • Ukraine threatens seizure of ships in Sea of Azov travelling to and from Crimea

    Russia builds bridge over Kerch Strait to Crimea, blocking commercial traffic to Ukraine


    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.
    The Kerch Strait is in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    Ever since Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, Russia has had the problem of shipping goods between Russia and Crimea.

    Russia has taken control of Luhansk and Donetsk in far eastern Ukraine, as well as Crimea itself, but the region along southern Ukraine through the Mariupol and Bardyansk seaports is still under control of Ukraine's government in Kiev.

    For a while, the international community was wondering whether the Russian invaders would continue their invasion through those seaports, in order to connect a land route from Russia to Crimea, and giving them complete control of the Sea of Azov. For whatever reason, possibly because Russia's president Vladimir Putin feared that such a drastic move might provoke military action from the European Union, no such invasion occurred.

    Apparently the Russians considered several possible solutions, with the obvious choices being a tunnel under or a bridge over the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait is shown in the above map in the lower right corner, as the tiny strait that separates Crimea and Russia at their closest points, and also separates the Sea of Azov in the north from the Black Sea in the south.

    In May 2015, Russia began constructing an 11.8 mile bridge across the Kerch Strait, said to be the longest bridge in Europe once it's completed. The project will cost an enormous $5 billion, and there are concerns that the strait is not sufficiently geologically stable enough to support the bridge safely. Nonetheless, construction has gone ahead, and the plan is for the bridge to be open to car traffic this year, and open to railroad traffic in 2019.

    The construction of the bridge has already had a severe effect on Ukraine's economy. Russia has several times closed the Kerch Strait to maritime traffic, trapping commercial vessels docked in Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports. During 2017, freight traffic was reduced 43% and transshipments shrank by 30%, totally $54 million in 2017. The losses are expected to be significantly higher in 2018. Jamestown (22-Feb) and Russia Today (3-Mar) and Guardian (London, 31-Aug-2017) and Völkerrechtsblog (10-Jan)

    Ukraine threatens seizure of ships in Sea of Azov travelling to and from Crimea


    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)
    The bridge over Kerch Strait (Russia Today)

    On March 26, Ukraine's border service in the Sea of Azov seized the fishing vessel Nord, on charges of violating Ukraine's territorial waters. The Russians claim the ship was in international waters. The Ukrainians claim it illegally entered Ukrainian waters when it docked in Crimea without Ukrainian permission.

    On Wednesday, April 4, Ukraine's Border Service spokesman Oleg Slobodyan commented on the detention of Russia's Nord vessel, and said that Ukraine will detain all the ships travelling to and out of Crimea without Kiev’s consent, Slobodyan said:

    "Ukraine’s position is unequivocal, it considers Crimea to be an occupied part of its territory so law enforcement agencies will promptly respond to violations committed by those travelling in and out of Crimea."

    So the situation is this:

    • Russia is building the bridge over the Kerch Strait, and is using it to strangle commerce into Ukraine's seaports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, resulting in substantial economic damage to Ukraine.
    • The issue of the seizure of the Nord fishing vessel has not been resolved, although some late reports indicate that the crew have been released from jail.
    • Ukraine does not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea, and still considers Crimea to be part of Ukraine, and this week has retaliated against Russia, announcing a new policy in the Sea of Azov where Russian ships docking in Crimea will be seized.

    There is potentially a major confrontation brewing here, especially if Ukraine goes through with its new threat of seizing all ships docking in Crimea. So far, this confrontation has been going on relatively quietly, but it could change into a full-blown crisis at any time. Unian (Ukraine) and Sputnik (Russia) and Tass (Russia) and EurAsia Daily (Russia)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-18 World View -- Ukraine seizes Russian ship in Sea of Azov in retaliation for Kerch Strait blockade thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Apr-18 World View -- China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy
    • China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    China's tariff retaliation plan would devastate China's economy


    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)
    A Chinese farmer gathering bundles of wheat (Getty)

    The Trump administration imposed tariffs earlier this week on some 1,300 products in a broad range of sectors, from electronics components to medical devices, and from false teeth to detergent chemicals.

    When China retaliated on Wednesday, its list contained only 106 items, mostly agricultural products. American soybeans as the number 1 target, followed by corn products, two types of cotton exports, wheat and meat. The list also includes frozen orange juice and whiskey, tobacco and cars. As a number of analysts have pointed out, while the Trump administration is targeting strategic products, China's reciprocal tariffs are not strategic but political, specifically targeting products that are developed in states where Trump is politically popular, in the hope of applying political pressure to Trump to drop the tariffs altogether.

    What seems clear from both sets of items is that these mutual tariffs may harm small segments of America's economy, they will devastate China's entire economy, mainly because of China's enormous and growing food security problem.

    China has only 7% of the world's farmlands, but has to feed 20% of the world's population. In order to improve yields, China's farmers have been using massive amounts of chemical fertilizers. The increasing use of these fertilizers has followed the economy Law of Diminishing Returns, in that additional use of fertilizers has been less and less effective and even counterproductive, as some farmland is being poisoned with overfertilization.

    Exacerbating the shortage of farmland is the shortage of water. China's available water supply per person is only 25% of the average available globally. In parts of China, groundwater is being depleted for agriculture. The growing and excessive use of fertilizer and groundwater indicate that China's domestic ability to feed its growing population is lessening.

    That means that China has to import enormous amounts of food from other countries. Many people were surprised to see soybeans at the top of China's tariff list, because importing massive amounts of soybeans is essential to China's economy. Of all the globally traded soybeans in the world, China imports 60% of them, including $12 billion worth of American soybeans.

    If China stopped buying American soybeans, it would be almost impossible to replace them from another source. If China did find another source, perhaps in Brazil or Argentina, then these countries would raise their own soybean prices -- and, indeed, soybean futures prices in Brazil have already been increasing. But then the people who could no longer get their soybeans from Brazil or Argentina would turn to America's soybeans.

    On the other hand, if China kept purchasing American soybeans but imposed its threatened 25% tariff, then the cost of the soybeans would be prohibitive for many Chinese, and would lead to price inflation. And price inflation would lead to social instability. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). China is overdue for a new massive civil war, and a soybean tariff could be the trigger. Xinhua and Reuters and Nature and Zero Hedge

    China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930

    Chinese officials keep saying that they don't want a trade war, but they're not afraid of a trade war. Well, the first half of that statement is true, anyway, but the second half is definitely not true. America's economy would be slightly hurt, but China's economy would be devastated.

    When America passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, during the Great Depression, it was particularly devastating to Japan, as it cut off Japan's exports to America of silk, its greatest cash crop.

    I've written many times in the past that the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act could be considered the beginning of World War II, so I was interested in a speech given by Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WW II, where he explained how Japan was affected by a "major blow" -- the Smoot-Hawley act -- and how it led to Japan's invasion of Manchuria a year later:

    "[After World War I] Japan kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow [Smoot-Hawley]. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

    With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

    And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated."

    The Smoot-Hawley act devastated Japan's silk industry, and its entire economy, causing it to take desperate measures a year later, invading Manchuria. Later, America and the League of Nations imposed a punitive oil embargo on Japan in 1941, and just a few months later, Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor.

    It's quite possible that we're on a similar path with China today. China's economy is already in dire straits, with huge debt bubbles that could burst at any time, and anything resembling a trade war could lead to social instability, which would cause China to take desperate measures, such as invading India, Japan, Vietnam or the Philippines.

    One could argue that China is a victim. They were victimized by Americans and the Europeans, who made it too easy for the Chinese to cheat on trade with illegal tariffs and to steal American's intellectual property, with the result that China became addicted to the drugs of illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property. Now those drugs are being taken away, and China is at risk of showing the signs of drug withdrawal which, in this case, means launching a world war.

    China is on a very dangerous path -- to itself and to the world. China's illegal tariffs and stealing intellectual property will not be allowed to continue. It's up to China to fix this problem, but we know that the Chinese people are so nationalistic and so xenophobic that they will not.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Cato Institute

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Apr-18 World View -- China on path to repeat Japan's experience after Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey
    • Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey


    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)
    Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system (Tass)

    In the course of a joint press conference by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin, held in Turkey's capital city Ankara on Tuesday, Erdogan and Putin announced that the previously scheduled delivery of Russia's advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missiles at the end of 2019 would be moved up.

    At the press conference, Putin said:

    "We have decided with President Erdogan in our meeting to speed up the delivery of the S-400 systems. Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.

    This is an issue of commerce. Companies are working on it."

    According to Turkish and Russian media, the S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets including aircraft, and ballistic and cruise missiles. The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers (17 miles). In addition, the system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles).

    So there are some unanswered questions about this deal:

    What is the intended target of these S-400 missiles? Is Erdogan planning to target American warplanes? Israeli warplanes? Iranian warplanes? Syrian warplanes? Armenian warplanes? Nato warplanes?

    And what's the rush? Which of these potential targets has become so imminently dangerous that Erdogan needs to accelerate the delivery of the missiles?

    In an interview before the press conference, Putin said:

    "A priority task in the sphere of military technical cooperation is the implementation of the contract for supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems to Turkey.

    We hope that the sectoral intergovernmental commission will look into the prospects for further supplies of Russian-made military hardware to Turkey at its next meeting."

    So the obvious question is: Why is Putin so anxious to sell these systems to Turkey?

    According to other reports, Russia is delivering the same S-400 systems to China. Whom does Putin think that Turkey and China will be using these anti-aircraft missiles against?

    Is Putin really so certain that Turkey and China won't use the S-400 missiles against Russia? Or maybe something deeper is going on -- like a secret way for Russia to disable these missiles remotely?

    Nato officials are strongly opposed to this deal between Turkey and Russia, because Turkey is member of Nato, and so it's important that all weapons systems of all Nato countries be interoperable with each other. However, Russia's S-400 system is not interoperable with other Nato weapons systems, so deploying S-400 systems represents a sharp rejection by Turkey of its relationship with Nato.

    This also provides one more reason why Putin is anxious to deliver S-400 systems to Turkey as quickly as possible -- to make sure that Turkey cannot militarily cooperate with Nato. Anadolu (Ankara) and Tass (Moscow) and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Tass

    Mainstream media emphasize the love-fest between Turkey and Russia

    One media story after another on Tuesday described how Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are developing a close personal friendship that is bring Russia and Turkey closer together, shutting the U.S. out. For example:

    "Ties between Russia and Turkey are growing closer than ever, as Russia runs into widespread diplomatic fallout from the poisoned spy scandal and Turkey's relations with its Western allies worsens over human rights issues and its military operations against Kurdish militia in Syria."

    The "deepening friendship" between Putin and Erdogan can only be described as bizarre. This is a good time to remind readers that from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that the behavior of two nations towards each other depends not on the attitudes of the politicians, but on the attitudes of the two populations. And historically, the people of Russia and the people of Turkey hate each other.

    During the last millennium, one of the most bloody and vicious relationships in the world was the relationship between the people who have become today's Turks and Russians. As I described in November 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and brought the two countries close to military conflict, the Crimean Peninsula was the site of several generational crisis wars between the two.

    The Tatars were a tribe of Mongols who, under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, defeated China, then Russia, where they occupied Crimea. In 1571, the Crimean Tatars attacked and sacked Moscow. In 1783, Russia under Catherine the Great annexed Crimea in a war in which the Ottomans (Turkey) were defeated. The Crimean War (1853-55) was a disaster for both the Russians and the Turks, though more so for the Russians, who lost Crimea and other territories on the Black Sea. World War I saw the destruction of Russia's Tsarist empire and Turkey's Ottoman Empire.

    So it's particularly significant today that Russia has invaded and annexed Crimea, and has treated the current Tatar population brutally. The Tatars are historically close to the Turks, and although we don't read much about this in the media, the Russian treatment of Tatars must infuriate many Turks.

    So it's quite a reasonable question to ask what's going on here, when these two politicians, Putin and Erdogan, are behaving in ways that must upset many of the people they represent.

    In the past I've described the reasons why China and Russia, whose populations also respectively hate each other, are allying -- because both countries are supporting each other in annexing other countries' territories, as Hitler did prior to World War II. Russia and China need each other because they need each other's support, in the sense of "honor among thieves."

    Putin and Erdogan have also reached the conclusion that Russia and Turkey need each other, for several reasons:

    • Turkey's military operation in Afrin, Syria, is only possible because Russia is permitting it, as Russia controls the airspace.
    • Turkey has given its blessing for Russian bases in Syria, and is no longer insisting that the hated Syria's president Bashar al-Assad must step down.
    • Turkey has refused to go along with the accusations by the UK, the EU and the United States that Russia is responsible for the recent nerve gas poisoning of a former Russia agent on British soil.
    • Turkey is a transit country for Russian natural gas shipments to Europe.

    In addition, on Tuesday, Putin and Erdogan broke ground on a $20 billion Russian-made nuclear power plant being built on Turkey's Mediterranean coast at Akkuyu. The project was already launched once before in February 2015, but was canceled after Turkey shot down the Russian warplane. Putin said on Tuesday, "This scale of the project is difficult to exaggerate. This marks a new stage in the development of Turkey's economy."

    This "marriage of convenience" between Putin and Erdogan cannot last, in view of the centuries of bitter, bloody conflict between the two countries. At some point, Russia will be forced to choose between the West versus China and Turkey, and they will choose the West.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. AP and Daily Mail and AFP and RFE/RL

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-18 World View -- Russia accelerates delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants
    • Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants


    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)
    Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Israel, protest against deportation on 24-Feb (AP)

    Israel's government is in turmoil after a major policy for dealing with African migrants collapsed within a few hours.

    On Monday morning, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major new policy for dealing with 16,250 of what it considers to be illegal immigrants from African nations, mostly Eritrea and Sudan.

    The policy was reached as a deal with the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) which is the agency that handles issues with refugees and migrants. Under the deal between Israel and UNHCR, 16,250 African migrants under threat of being either jailed or deported to another African country, would instead be absorbed and resettled into a Western country. The deal also specifies that another 16,250 similarly threated migrants would be permitted to remain in Israel as "temporary residents." According to UNHCR, Israel is home to about 40,000 asylum seekers including 27,500 from Eritrea and 7,800 from Sudan. The deal left 7,000 unaccounted for.

    Netanyahu originally said that the agreement was a "landmark achievement," allowing 16,250 migrants to be taken to "developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy."

    Human rights organizations were pleased with the deal, since migrants would be resettled in Western countries. However, other officials objected to the fact that 16,250 migrants would be resettled in Israel. A city councilman in Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants would be resettled, called the agreement a "disaster that will reverberate for generations and cause irreversible damage to the country."

    A Canadian minister said that Canada was already in contact with UNHCR and Israel about accepting more refugees. However, Italy quickly issued a statement saying that they were not a part of this agreement, and had not even been consulted. Germany issued a similar statement. The Prime Minister’s Office then clarified that Netanyahu had just named those countries as examples of Western countries.

    By late Monday evening, Netanyahu wrote on Facebook that he was suspending implementation of the agreement for the time being. YNet News and Canadian TV and BBC and Haaretz

    Netanyahu: We fell into a 'trap' with failed deportation plan

    The previous deportation plan was announced in January. Each migrant would be given a choice to be jailed, or to receive a check for $3,500 and a plane ticket to another country. Migrants received the following letter in January:

    "We would like to inform you that the state of Israel has signed agreements allowing you to leave Israel for a safe third country that will absorb you and give you a residency visa that will allow you to work in that country, and promises not to remove you to your country of origin."

    The "third safe countries" were not named, but they were known to be Rwanda and Uganda. The deadline to leave or be jailed was to be April 1.

    According to a poll in late January, 66% of Jewish Israelis, and half of Arab Israelis, who make up 20% of Israel's population, favored the deportation plan. However, the plan received a huge backlash from human rights organizations, both internationally and within Israel.

    Due to international pressure, both Rwanda and Uganda announced that they wouldn't take part in the deportation plan. On Monday, Netanyahu explained in a Facebook post why the whole plan had to be canceled:

    "In the past two years I have been working with Rwanda so that it will serve as a third country' that absorbs infiltrators who will be deported without their consent. This is the only legal way for us to deport infiltrators without their consent, after the rest of our moves have been legally disqualified. Rwanda agreed to this and began the deportation operation.

    In recent weeks, under tremendous pressure on Rwanda by the New Israel Fund and elements in the European Union, Rwanda withdrew from the agreement and has refused to absorb infiltrators from Israel who are forcibly removed.

    From the moment that it became clear in the last few weeks that the third country as an option does not exist, we in effect entered a trap that meant all of them would stay."

    Falling into this "trap" represented a danger to Israel, according to education minister Naftali Bennett:

    "[G]ranting legal status to 16,000 infiltrators will turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators and is a surrender to the false campaign spread in the media in recent months.

    The original outline was moral and just, and we must follow it, alone. Refugees from dangerous places will be absorbed in Israel, work migrants will be sent back. In the new plan, work migrants who didn’t even apply to be refugees will be absorbed. By signing this agreement, we are sending a dangerous message to the whole world: Whoever succeeds in infiltrating Israel illegally will get a prize of legal residence here or a Western country."

    He added that that the government must "proceed to a new roadmap will remove the illegal infiltrators from Israel." Reuters (3-Jan) and The Atlantic (30-Jan) and Al Jazeera (4-Feb) and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-18 World View -- Israel's government in turmoil over failure to deport African migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths
    • Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths


    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)
    Kashmiri villagers during a funeral at Shopian, South Kashmir, during the anti-Indian protests (Hindustan Times)

    Sunday was one of the bloodiest days in Indian-controlled Kashmir in recent months, after a new generation of separatist Kashmiri youths led massive anti-India protests and violence in several parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiris were in the streets chanting anti-India slogans and demanding an end to Indian rule over Kashmir. Some 20 people were killed, including 3 soldiers and 17 Kashmiris, with dozens more injured.

    A spokesman for Hurriyat, a Kashmiri separatist organization, is calling for continued protests in the days to come:

    "The joint resistance leadership calls for a shutdown tomorrow against the killings and atrocities on people in south Kashmir. Hundreds have been injured in pellet and bullet firing."

    Separatists are calling for strikes on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities have ordered all schools to be shut.

    The protests and clashes were triggered by a series of counter-insurgency operations, based on tips to police about where militant separatists may be hiding. Many civilians living in Kashmir support these militants and demand that Indian-governed Kashmir be allowed to merge Pakistan-governed Kashmir, and become part of Pakistan.

    In June 2017, India announced 'Operation All-Out,' in which thousands of security forces were involved in a massive house-to-house sweep to "deliver a lethal blow to terrorism." Operation All-Out went on for months and was responsible for killing over 200 militants, according to Indian authorities. The violence has already escalated in 2018, with 51 alleged militants already killed so far this year. Geo TV (Pakistan) and AFP and Hindustan Times and AP

    Uprising in Kashmir continues to grow into war between India and Pakistan

    As I've described several times in the past, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growing violence in Kashmir is following a fairly standard historical template that always ends in a major war. I've written in the past to distinguish between "organic" genocides that come from the people, such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide, versus "government-led" genocides, such as occurring today in Syria and South Sudan.

    Although there's little doubt that Pakistan-based groups are inciting violence in Kashmir, that isn't enough to start a generational war unless the mood of the population is that such a war is necessary. What we're seeing in Kashmir is an "organic" war that's leading unstoppably to a generational crisis war.

    As I described in the past, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war.

    The 1857 rebellion is also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians.

    India remained a British colony, and there was little or no violence for decades, as always happens after a generational crisis war, since the traumatized survivors do not wish anything so horrible to happen again. However, as younger generations with no personal memory of the war rise to power, conflicts begin again.

    In the 1910s, Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The generational Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

    By 1946, there was a debate centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, British, Muslim and Hindu officials all agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan. In particular, the 1857 rebellion was still in everyone's mind, and it was hoped that the two-state solution would lead to peace.

    There's an old saying that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." In this case, the massive violence of the 1857 rebellion was repeated, but not between Indians and British. Instead, it was between Hindus and Muslims, and with the same ferocity.

    In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan, and no sooner did that happen then there was a massive new generational crisis war. But with the British colonists gone, this war pitted the Hindus against Muslims, in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

    Once again, there was relative peace following the war, but once again, younger generations have been rising, and have no fear of a new war. The accusation today that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite violence is undoubtedly true, but India media are no better.

    Since the 1947 Partition war, there have been three non-crisis wars fought between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. Those wars fizzled, but now in a general Crisis era, all the participants -- Pakistanis, Kashmiris and Indians -- are becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. As the protests and violence grow, this would spiral into a much larger war, just as the initial protests did in 1857 and 1947, and turn into a war between Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Benar News and Greater Kashmir

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-18 World View -- Massive new anti-India violence in Kashmir leads to 20 deaths thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army
    • Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army


    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)
    Palestinians shout during clashes with Israel troops on Friday (Reuters)

    Thousands of Palestinians on Friday commemorated "Land Day" by marching near Gaza's border fence with Israel, apparently threatening to break through the fence into Israel. In the resulting confrontation with Israel's army, in which tear gas was first used to stop the march and then live gunfire, 16 Palestinians were killed. In addition, 1,400 Palestinians were also wounded on Friday, according to Gaza officials, with 758 wounded by live fire and the remainder hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation. No casualties were reported among Israelis.

    The original Land Day occurred on March 30, 1976, after Israel's government announced plans to build new Jewish settlements. This triggered Palestinian marches and demonstrations, and in the ensuing confrontation with Israel's army, six unarmed Palestinians were killed, and dozens injured. The original Land Day is a generational Awakening era climax for the Palestinians, and is consider a highly symbolic day, as the day when a new generation of Palestinian youth first united to oppose Israel.

    Hamas, the government authority of Gaza, and considered a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, is calling the demonstration the "Great March for Return," meaning that it's accompanied by demands for "Right of Return," the demand that Palestinians be permitted to return to the land that they lost in the Arab-Jewish war in 1948.

    The violence continued on Saturday, when Palestinian youths hurled stones at Israeli troops, drawing gunfire that wounded 70 people. Reuters and Middle East Eye and AP

    Fears grow of resumption of 2014 Gaza war

    Hamas has announced plans to continue the demonstrations for six weeks, until May 14, which is "Naqba Day" or "Catastrophe Day," commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official US embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

    Although there was a slight lessening of tensions on Saturday, there are concerns that tensions will grow during the six week period. On Saturday, Israel's military spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis said that the Palestinian events were "an organized terrorist activity" by Hamas:

    "If it continues, we shall have no choice but to respond inside the Gaza Strip against terrorist targets which we understand to be behind these events."

    However, Palestinian leaders are calling for revenge, and it's feared that this could lead to a resumption of the 2014 Gaza War.

    The 67 day 2014 Gaza war was a disaster for Hamas. When the war began, Hamas's popularity surged to its highest levels, which is similar to what happens to any society when a war begins, but before there are setbacks. Militarily, the war was a disastrous defeat for Hamas, since Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system blocked almost every Hamas missile entering Israel, while Hamas could put up almost no resistance to the Israeli warplanes bombing Gaza. Hamas had to agree to a ceasefire that was, effectively, a return to the status quo ante from before the war, something that it had promised it wouldn't do. At the end of the war, Gaza was in ruins, and the Gaza Palestinians were worse off than when the war was started.

    Hamas is not known to have any new technology that would defeat Israel's Iron Dome system and, without that, they would be unlikely to wish to begin another war, and risk humiliation again. However, Iran and Hezbollah are also preparing for war with Israel, and it seems likely that Hamas would delay a war resumption until it could be coordinated with those two entities. BBC and Asharq Al Awsat and Al Jazeera and AFP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-18 World View -- Gaza Palestinian 'Land Day' demonstrations lead to violence with Israel's army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia's Far East under growing threat from Chinese settlers and tourists
    • Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage
    • Popular pressure grows in China to 'reclaim' Vladivostok (Haishenwai) from Russia

    Russia's Far East under growing threat from Chinese settlers and tourists


    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia.  Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory
    Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Like regions in the South China Sea, India and Central Asia, the Chinese are claiming that it's their sovereign territory

    In 2012, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning that a huge influx of immigrants from China into Siberia and Far East threatened Russia's control of the region and its rich resources. He said that it was "important not to allow negative manifestations ... including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens."

    Medvedev even went so far as to invite the victims of Japan's 2011 earthquake to migrate there, at least partially over concern about Chinese migrants. Medvedev discussed offering supplies of food and medical equipment to the Japanese, and added, "In general we must now think about the use, if necessary, of some of the employment potential of our [Japanese] neighbors, especially in sparsely populated areas of Siberia and the Far East."

    Medvedev was right to be concerned. Russia's Far East suffered rapid depopulation since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. During the 1990s, there was enormous poverty and no support from the chaotic Moscow government. As a result, population fell by as much as 50% in the region, as millions migrated east, mostly to the European part of Russia. According to Medvedev, "More than eight million foreign citizens came to Russia in the first six months of 2012 alone."

    And the flow has continued since then. In just one city, Khabarovsk, about 20 miles from the Chinese border, more than 300 Chinese companies have business operations, investing in almost every major sector of the city’s economy such as trade, construction, lumber and natural resources exploration, hiring thousands of Chinese migrant workers.

    It's estimated that 1.5 million Chinese illegal migrant workers arrived in the region between June 2016 and June 2017, most of them doing manual labor. Russia's Far East is home to only seven million Russians (or just 1.3 per square kilometer), while there are ten times as many people living across the border in the northeastern region of China. Obviously, there's no way for Russian authorities to halt the flow of migrant workers from China. Jamestown and South China Morning Post (8-Jul-2017) and ABC News (14-Jul-2015)

    Russians increasingly fear losing Lake Baikal to China - and to garbage

    The deepest lake in the world is Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia. Its surface area is the size of Belgium. It draws tourists from all over the world, but particularly from China.

    Russians are worried that Lake Baikal is drowning in garbage -- mostly from the Chinese migrants and tourists. According to Ivan Loginov, head of the public organization New Energy, the problem of garbage around Lake Baikal is a huge problem:

    "Literally next to any village or place of congestion people form huge mountains of garbage. And the saddest thing is that neither the volunteers nor the municipalities have enough strength to fight garbage. Vicious circle. People come and litter, but they do not have enough understanding that this garbage needs to be cleaned. And if they even collect it for themselves, they leave it on the bank, where it gradually accumulates.

    The municipalities do not have enough money to fight garbage. Moreover, the question arises: where should we take this garbage? In Buryatia garbage is not processed, roughly speaking, it is buried underground. And the situation is very deplorable. ... And garbage remains on the shores of Lake Baikal."

    The rising mountains of garbage are just one of the reasons that local Russians are appalled by Chinese tourists. Chinese guides tell Chinese tourists that Baikal is China’s northern sea, that their ancestors used to live there, and that the territory only belongs to Russia for the time being. These guides also reportedly encourage Chinese visitors to buy property and businesses in order to make money over the next decade. Many are doing so.

    Chinese involvement in the region has inspired outrage among Russians for several reasons. First is the massive influx of tourists who often behave badly, use only Chinese facilities and so bring little money to Russian firms, and are hated by the local population. Second, Chinese citizens have been buying up land on Lake Baikal that Russians are not allowed to purchase as well as acquiring various Russian companies. All this has been leading to an influx of Chinese permanent residents. And third, the entirely illegal Chinese logging operations in the region are being protected by Russian criminal groups and Russian officials allied with them.

    Chinese tourists, businesses and migrants are taking control of the region around Lake Baikal. This is not a trivial matter, and will lead to war when the time is ripe. Hong Kong Economic Journal (20-Sep-2017) and NY Times (24-Jul-2016) and Eurasian Business Briefing and Regnum (Russia) and (translation)

    Popular pressure grows in China to 'reclaim' Vladivostok (Haishenwai) from Russia

    The Chinese are increasingly claiming "indisputable sovereignty" over many countries' regions, including India, several Central Asian states, and of course the South China Sea, where the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has ruled that all of China's activities are illegal.

    International law means little to the Chinese, who say that their own laws supersede international law, and give them the right to invade and annex any region they choose, and back it up with their massive and growing military, threatening to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

    Media reports indicate that Chinese people are asking this question, especially in social media:

    "If China was able to take back Hong Kong from the British on the grounds that the territory was ceded to Britain under an unequal treaty concluded in the 1840s, then why didn’t it reclaim Vladivostok as well, which was also ceded to Russia under another unequal treaty signed in the 1860s?"

    Vladivostok is the home of Russia's Pacific Fleet. It's the farthest point east in Russia, and it's connected to Moscow by the Trans-Siberian Railway that runs to and from Moscow in a week-long trip.

    Although the Chinese are now claiming Vladivostok as a historically Chinese city, that's provably not true, as it was a city controlled by Manchuria, not China. The Chinese call the city by its Manchurian name, Haishenwai. After China was defeated by the British Opium wars of the 1840s-50s, China was forced to cede Hong Kong to the British, and Vladivostok to the Russians. China annexed Manchuria after World War II, but Vladivostok remained in Russian (Soviet) hands.

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin takes a great deal of pride in Vladivostok and the Pacific Fleet. There is no possibility at all that Vladivostok will be ceded to the Chinese without a full-scale war, despite the demands of the Chinese social media.

    As long-time readers have known for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the world is headed for a new Clash of Civilizations world war, with the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran.

    I'm frequently asked how it's possible that Russia will be a US ally, rather than a Chinese ally. The current alliance between Russia and China is a "marriage of convenience" between the countries, because they are both repeating Hitler's actions of annexing other countries' regions, and then they support each other in the United Nations.

    As we reported last year, China has placed nuclear missiles near the Amur River, which separates China from Russia's Far East. The nominal purpose of these Chinese missiles is to attack the US, but these and other missile systems can also conveniently target Moscow and other Russian targets.

    Historically, the Russian and Chinese people hate each other. In the 1200s, the Mongols under Genghis Khan conquered and dominated China, in a generational crisis war that climaxed in 1206, forming the Mongol Empire, the largest empire in history. In the next generational crisis war, Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan, conquered all of China, and created the Yuan Dynasty in 1271.

    From there, the Mongol Empire attacked and conquered almost all the Russian principalities, and made them bitter vassals of the Mongol Empire, in a relationship called the "Mongol Yoke." This hated period, two centuries long, has defined the relationship between the Russian and Chinese people forever. The Mongol Yoke was only thrown off in September 8, 1380, in the seminal Battle of Kulikovo, a generational crisis war where the Russians decisively defeated the Mongols, and the Russian nation was born.

    The Mongol Yoke still defines Russian-Chinese attitudes today. Even as recently as the 1960s, China and the Soviet Union almost went to war in the border region with Siberia and the Far East.

    There's a certain ironic truth that comes through when you read Russian history. The Russian people and the Chinese people hate each other, but the Russian people like the American people, and they love the European people, despite the rhetoric of politicians. In the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, when Russia is forced to choose between China and the West, they will choose the West. Russia Beyond the Headlines and Way To Russia

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence
    • Kenya's government vs the judiciary -- tensions mount over farcical deportation spectacle

    Ethiopia chooses Oromo leader, Abiy Ahmed, hoping to reduce violence


    Ethiopian protesters facing the military
    Ethiopian protesters facing the military

    Ethiopia has been without a prime minister since February 15, when prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned, saying, "I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy."

    Since late 2015, there have been massive anti-government protests in Ethiopia's Oromia region, which later spread to the neighboring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests. A state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, allowing mass detentions, and imposing numerous restrictions on people’s movement and communication. The state of emergency ended in August 2017, but massive protests began again, with millions of protesters by February, leading to Hailemariam's resignation.

    The situation has worsened considerably since Hailemariam's resignation. Almost 10,000 Ethiopians, mostly ethnic Oromos, have fled across the border into Kenya, after Ethiopian government soldiers began shooting civilians indiscriminately, even in their homes and shops.

    In the hopes of ending the chaos and bloodshed, Ethiopia's ruling government coalition chose an Oromo, Abiy Ahmed, 42, to be a leader of the coalition. He is now expected to be voted in by parliament as the country’s next prime minister.

    Abiy is being described as a "polyglot," because he's a speaker of three Ethiopian languages and English He holds a doctorate from Addis Ababa University in traditional conflict resolution and has represented his Oromiya hometown of Agaro in parliament since 2010. He is a retired lieutenant-colonel who previously served as director of the nation’s Information Network Security Agency, which says it provides technical intelligence to support the government.

    The obvious hope is that by selecting an Oromo as leader, Abiy will be able to "reason with" the Oromo people and end the massive protests.

    An analogy can be drawn with the situation in Myanmar (Burma). The Burmese army, under the leadership of Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu using Buddhism, began conducting massacres, rapes and torture against ethnic Rohingyas. When Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi effectively became the country's leader, it was welcomed by the entire international community with the hope that the Burmese army would then allow the Rohingyas to live in peace. Instead, the violence has only gotten worse, to the point of ethnic cleansing and genocide, with some 800,000 Rohingyas forced to flee the violence by crossing the border into Bangladesh. You can argue whether Suu Kyi approves of the ethnic cleansing, or whether she disapproves but is forced to approve by the Burmese army. Either way, Suu Kyi has effective turned into a new Hitler, who is providing cover for the continued ethnic cleansing and genocide.

    We may be seeing the first signs of a similar situation in Ethiopia. Abiy Ahmed is just one person, while the existing government, dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, holds all 547 seats in parliament. Abiy is going to be lone voice in the wilderness, compared to the traditional opposition.

    There may be a brief pause, but we can expect the protests and violence to start again and continue. What will Abiy do then? Will he be another Aung San Suu Kyi and provide cover for continued Tigrayan violence against Oromos and Amharas? Or will he resign, just as Hailemariam Desalegn, and denounce the violence?

    It really doesn't make much difference. Either way, we can expect the violence to continue, and we can expect millions more Oromos and Amharas to flee across the border into Kenya, further destabilizing the region. Africa News and Al Jazeera and Reuters and The Nation (Kenya, 14-Mar) and Bloomberg

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    Kenya's government vs the judiciary -- tensions mount over farcical deportation spectacle

    While Ethiopian Oromos are seeking fleeing violence into Kenya, there's also chaos in Kenya's capital city Nairobi, where a farcical deportation spectacle highlighted an increasing conflict between the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and the judiciary.

    Uhuru Kenyatta and his major opposition are from two ethnic tribes that have been at war in the past -- respectively the Kikuyu tribe and the Luo tribe. The enmity between the two tribes has affected the political sphere, and from there it's spread into a conflict between the government and the judiciary.

    The first major split occurred last year, when Kenya's Supreme Court shocked pretty much everybody and sided with Odinga in claiming that the August 8 presidential election was "invalid, null and void," forcing a new election. Kenyatta was furious, as he began calling the judges "crooks," saying that there was problem with the court, and promising to "fix it" after he was reelected.

    Kenyatta did win the election, but has been cracking down on Odinga's supporters, and arresting many of them. One of those supporters is political activist Miguna Miguna. In February, the court ordered the government to release him from jail, and the government ignored the court order.

    Now there's been a farcical new chapter in this drama. Earlier this week, a court held several top Kenyan government officials in contempt for refusing to release Miguna Miguna from custody. Instead of releasing him, the government thugs allegedly drugged him and bundled him onto a plane to Dubai. He wrote in social media:

    "I was dragged, assaulted, drugged and forcefully flown to Dubai. I woke up in Dubai and the despots are here insisting that I must travel on to London. ...

    I woke up in Dubai. I’m sick. I need medical treatment. A Mr Njihia is threatening me. I need urgent help here. I want to take a flight only to Nairobi. Nowhere else!"

    Video of security guards manhandling Miguna as they tried to force him onto a plane the same day went viral, while a number of journalists covering the story were allegedly assaulted.

    The chief justice, David Maraga, criticized the government, saying: "Disobeying court orders is inimical to the rule of law." The interior minister, inspector general of police and head of immigration have been convicted of contempt of court. Standard Media (Kenya) and BBC and Standard Media

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-18 World View -- Ethiopia chooses an Oromo leader, as Kenya has farcical confrontation with the courts thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working

    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working
    • The West reacts to Russia's poisoning of double-agent Skripal
    • China reacts furiously to Western expulsion of Russian diplomats
    • China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working


    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal
    Early March: Vladimir Putin smirks when a BBC reporter asks him whether Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal

    In 2011, massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia spread to Libya, and by February, the bloodbath in Libya spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. This caused a massive refugee crisis in Libya, with hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into Egypt and neighboring countries, and across the Mediterranean into Europe. That led the Arab League to demand that the West implement a no-fly zone, and approval by the UN Security Council. The no-fly zone eventually led to the war in Libya, and the death of Muammar Gaddafi.

    As I wrote in 2011, Russia adopted a specific policy of using the UN Security Council as a tool to control the foreign policy of the United States, Europe and NATO, while leaving itself free to pursue any policy it wanted. ( "22-Apr-11 News -- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics")

    The way it works is that Russia demands that any military action taken by the United States or Nato must be approved by the UN Security Council, giving the Russians an effective veto of the US and Nato foreign policy. On the other hand, Russia can invade Ukraine, invade Crimea, annex Crimea, support war crimes by Syria's Bashar al-Assad, all without getting any UN approval. So Russia has complete military freedom, while the West is constrained by Russia's UNSC veto. It's really a remarkable plan, and it's been incredibly successful, completely crippling the UN, and turning it into a body that provides cover for international criminals, rather than stopping them.

    China has adopted a variation of the same strategy. China has built artificial islands in the South China Sea, annexing other countries' regions or blocking access by other countries to their centuries-old fishing grounds, and has turned those artificial islands into massive military bases. The United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague eviscerated all of China's claims in the South China Sea, in July, 2013, and ruled that all of China's activities are unambiguously violations of international law.

    China's reaction is to say that international law doesn't apply to them. China has also been using its military to bully other nations into supporting them. It's as if the KKK lynched 10 black men and then bullied cops and judges into supporting them.

    So Russia and China have made it clear that international law doesn't apply to them, and they can do anything they want, and they'll kill anyone who tries to stop them.

    Two recent international events, both major and remarkable, have made it clear that this strategy is no longer working.

    The first is the North Korea situation, where the Donald Trump administration had made military threats that are actually credible. A lot of people have said publicly that they think that Trump is crazy, but that's a negotiating strategy that's worked to his advantage, since both China and North Korea think he's crazy enough to carry through with his threat. And it's clear that any military action taken by the Trump administration will not be subject to a Russian or Chinese veto in the UN Security Council.

    The West reacts to Russia's poisoning of double-agent Skripal

    The second remarkable international event is the Western reaction to the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok. At this writing, both of the poison victims are in hospital, and are not expected to survive.

    From the beginning, there was little doubt that Russia was responsible, and that they were sure they would get away with it, because of Russia's veto power in the UN Security Council. As I reported in my article, Russia's president Vladimir Putin smirked and gave a sarcastic answer when a BBC reporter asked about it.

    This was followed by a massive disinformation campaign by Russia by Russian trolls, calling the accusations a "circus show," a "fairy tale," and a "plot to victimize Russia." On the BBC a couple of days ago, I heard a Russian official claim that this was the latest in 200 years of Western attacks on Russia.

    Britain's foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave a furious response to this:

    "There is something in the kind of smug, sarcastic response that we’ve heard that indicates their fundamental guilt. They want to simultaneously deny it, yet at the same time to glory in it.

    There is very little doubt in people’s minds that this is a signature act by the Russia state – deliberately using novichok, a nerve agent developed by Russia to punish a Russian defector as they would see it, and in the run up to Vladimir Putin’s election.

    This was a former Russian agent living in this country who had been singled out already by the Russian state as an object for revenge and retaliation, and Vladimir Putin has been on the TV only recently saying that such people deserve to be poisoned, to choke on their own 30 pieces of silver. This is a way of showing look at what happens to people who stand up to our regime."

    An investigation of the evidence by scientists from Britain and several other European countries led to the conclusion that Russia, and probably Putin himself, were responsible for the poisoning.

    That much isn't remarkable at all. Putin has had other former agents poisoned in the past, and has violated international law many times, and there were the same kinds of investigations, and the same kinds of disinformation campaigns by Russian trolls. And there was always the same smirk, because Putin knew that he would get away with it.

    What is remarkable this time is that Western nations were united in backing Britain's prime minister Theresa May in taking action against Russia. Over 20 countries, including the US, Canada, and several European Union countries, have expelled Russian diplomats.

    Expelling diplomats is not going to do much damage to Putin. The shocking thing is that all of these Western nations were unified in condemning Russia, something that hasn't happened in the past. This was meant to send a signal to Russia, and to China as well, the days of using the United Nations to have veto power over Western foreign policy are coming to an end. Guardian (London, 15-March) and Reuters (18-March)

    China reacts furiously to Western expulsion of Russian diplomats

    The expulsion of the diplomats by so many countries was a big surprise to both Russia and China. China's state-controlled Global Times responded with a furious editorial:

    "The fact that major Western powers can gang up and "sentence" a foreign country without following the same procedures other countries abide by and according to the basic tenets of international law is chilling. During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease. Such actions are nothing more than a form of Western bullying that threatens global peace and justice."

    It's laughable to read about the Chinese appealing to international law. Keep in mind that what the Chinese are whining about is expelling some diplomats. Contrast that to China's actions in the South China Sea, which are violations of international law thousands of times more serious than just expelling diplomats.

    However, the article is right to say, "During the Cold War, not one Western nation would have dared to make such a provocation and yet today it is carried out with unrestrained ease." That was during a generational Unraveling era, when everybody's behavior is far more compromising. Today, the world is deep into a generational Crisis era, and as I've written many dozens of times in recent years, populations are becoming increasingly nationalistic, belligerent and xenophobic.

    "Over the past few years the international standard has been falsified and manipulated in ways never seen before. The fundamental reason behind reducing global standards is rooted in post-Cold War power disparities. The US, along with their allies, jammed their ambitions into the international standards so their actions, which were supposed to follow a set of standardized procedures and protocol, were really nothing more than profit-seizing opportunities designed only for themselves. These same Western nations activated in full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies to defend and justify such privileges."

    This is a typical Chinese anti-American rant. I don't know what "full-force public opinion-shaping platforms and media agencies" this is referring to, but in the West we have news sources expressing all points of view, while in China if you express a view not approved by the Chinese Communist Party, then you can get yourself abducted, thrown into a pit, tortured and killed.

    "As of late, more foreign countries have been victimized by Western rhetoric and nonsensical diplomatic measures. In the end, the leaders of these nations are forced to wear a hat featuring slogans and words that read "oppressing their own people," "authoritarian," or "ethnic cleansing," regardless of their innocence."

    Who are these Chinese talking about? Maybe they're talking about the officials in Myanmar (Burma) who are performing genocide and ethnic cleansing on the Rohingyas.

    "It is beyond outrageous how the US and Europe have treated Russia. Their actions represent a frivolity and recklessness that has grown to characterize Western hegemony that only knows how to contaminate international relations. Right now is the perfect time for non-Western nations to strengthen unity and collaborative efforts among one another. These nations need to establish a level of independence outside the reach of Western influence while breaking the chains of monopolization declarations, predetermined adjudications, and come to value their own judgement abilities.

    It's already understood that to achieve such international collective efforts is easier said than done as they require foundational support before anything can happen. Until a new line of allies emerges, multi-national associations like BRICS, or even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, need to provide value to those non-Western nations and actively create alliances with them.

    What Russia is experiencing right could serve as a reflection of how other non-Western nations can expect to be treated in the not-to-distant future. Expelling Russian diplomats simultaneously is hardly enough to deter Russia. Overall, it's an intimidation tactic that has become emblematic of Western nations, and furthermore, such measures are not supported by international law and therefore unjustified. More importantly, the international community should have the tools and means to counterbalance such actions."

    This gets to the heart of the matter. The Chinese are proposing to create another international organization, perhaps a competitor to the United Nations, where they would be in control. This idea is completely delusional, since even if such an organization existed, it would run into the same kinds of conflicts that occur in the UN Security Council.

    Russia and China in particular were almost in full-scale war with each other in the 1960s. Today they have a marriage of convenience because they're both annexing other countries' regions, doing what Hitler did prior to WW II, and using each other to justify their actions. Russia and China are basically two criminal countries, applying the rule of "honor among thieves."

    But the real message here is that China and Russia wish to formalize their rejection of international law, which has formed the basis of peace since the end of World War II.

    As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Global Times

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    China 'prepares for war' with massive naval/air force drills in South China Sea

    China has begun conducting massive maritime combat drills, including dozens of vessels mobilized in the South China Sea as part of what the military said would be bigger, more frequent exercises in the tense region.

    It appears increasingly that China is preparing its population for war. This is an essential first step before actually launching a war.

    Satellite photos show an aircraft carrier and dozens of Chinese naval vessels in a large show of force. The Air Force said on its social media account that the exercises were "rehearsals for future wars and are the most direct preparation for combat." Global Times and Telegraph (London) and Newsweek and Stars and Stripes and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-18 World View -- Russia-China strategy to use the UN to control Western foreign policy has stopped working thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure
    • Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure


    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends.  From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker
    After a tense meeting that accomplished nothing, the EU and Turkish leaders posed for a silly photo opportunity where they pretend to be friends. From left to right: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, European Council President Donald Tusk, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker

    Tensions between the European Union and Turkey have been tense in the last year, including EU referring to Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "dictator," and Erdogan comparing the Dutch and German governments to the Nazis.

    So there was a summit meeting on Monday in Varna, Bulgaria, attended by Erdogan, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker, as well as Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The purpose of the meeting was to mend relations between Turkey and the EU.

    There was a lot of angry rhetoric, and there were whole lists of issues on both sides that were left unresolved. However, neither side wanted to risk a total breakdown on relations, so they agreed to continue the EU-Turkey refugee deal, at least in part:

    • To control the flow of migrants from Turkey to Greece, across the Aegean Sea, the agreement specified that Turkey would patrol its Aegean Sea beaches and prevent migrants from leaving shore. Turkey's actions reduced the flow of migrants from millions in 2015 to hundreds of thousands in 2017.
    • The EU had promised to provide €6 billion to Turkey, for humanitarian assistance to Syrian migrants living in Turkey, in two separate €3 billion payments. However, only €1.8 billion has been provided so far, and Erdogan is demanding that the EU fulfill its promise.
    • Visa liberalization: The EU promised to allow all citizens of Turkey to have visa-free travel throughout Europe's Schengen zone by the end of June 2016. The EU has never fulfilled this promise.

    Erdogan has repeatedly expressed fury in particular that the visa-free travel has not been permitted. RTE (Ireland) and EU Observer and Reuters and Kathimerini (Athens)

    Other unresolved issues from the EU-Turkey summit meeting

    At the conclusion of Monday's summit meeting, European Council president Donald Tusk said:

    "If you are asking me if we achieved some solutions or compromises, my answer is no. What I can say that is that I raised all our concerns, as you know it was a long list."

    EU accession continues to be a major point of hostility -- the process of allowing Turkey to become a member of the European Union. There have been talks since 2005, but there has been enormous hostility on both sides historically rooted from the time when Turkey's Ottoman Empire and European nations were at war. The talks were frozen completely following the failed coup in July, 2016.

    The most recent major new disagreement occurred two weeks ago, when Turkey sent warships to block gas and oil exploration in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Cyprus has been bitterly divided since a 1974 war, with Greek Orthodox Christian Greeks governing the south, and Muslim Turks governing the north. The two sides are partitioned by a "no-man's land," a strip that stretches 112 miles across the entire island. Today, it's only the Greek government of Cyprus that is recognized by the EU, and is a member of the EU.

    Turkey has condemned actions by the Greek Cyprus government to drill for oil and gas without an agreement that Turkey should receive a share of the revenue.

    In February, Turkish warships blocked an Italian company that was scheduled to drill in Cyprus's territorial waters. Turkey said it would prevent any further drilling off Cyprus without the direct involvement of the Turkish Cypriots.

    EU leaders made clear that the EU was in solidarity with Cyprus, and that it was necessary for Turkey to improve its relations with both Greece and Cyprus.

    Another recent disagreement is related to the war in Syria, and to Turkey's Operation Olive Branch, whose purpose is to take control of Syria's northern border city of Afrin. The message from the EU has been mixed. Afrin was controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The PKK has conducted numerous violent terrorist acts on Turkish soil, and is recognized as a terrorist group by the United States and the EU. So the mixed message from the EU in recent days was "you have a right to protect your border, but don't go too far in killing or displacing civilians." EU officials are giving the Afrin operation as another reason for a delay in further accession talks.

    However, with regard to the military operation in Afrin, Erdogan said he expects the EU’s support in dealing with terrorists. Erdogan said:

    "It would be a grave mistake for Europe, which claims to be a global force, to push Turkey out of its expansion policy.

    Our operations against terrorism not only contribute to the security of ourselves and the Syrians but also to the security of Europe.

    We now expect strong support [from Europe] on sensitive issues such as the fight against terrorism instead of rambling and unjust criticism.

    I hope that we together have taken the first step of restoring confidence between the EU and us [Turkey] today, but it is not enough to say that we took this step; it has to be taken in concrete terms.

    We hope that we have left a difficult period in Turkey-EU relations behind."

    Other issues raised by the European Union include concerns about the rule of law in Turkey, the mass jailing of journalists, and the jailing of two Greek soldiers who accidentally crossed the border from Greece into Turkey.

    With regard to the Greek soldiers, European Commission president Jean-Claude Jüncker said that they should be released from jail before the Greek Orthodox Easter on April 8. (The Catholic Easter this year is on April 1.) To Vima (Athens) and AP (22-Mar) and Cyprus Mail and EU Observer and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-18 World View -- Tense Turkey-EU summit in Bulgaria once again ends in failure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Mar-18 World View -- Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    • Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities
    • Al-Houthi missile attack on Saudi cities sharply escalates the Yemen war

    Yemen's Iran-backed al-Houthi rebels launch barrage of missile attacks on Saudi cities


    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)
    Light show over Saudi capital city Riyadh, as American-supplied Patriot missiles intercept ballistic missiles launched by al-Houthis in Yemen (CNN)

    The Yemen war sharply escalated on Monday when the rebel al-Houthis launched a barrage of seven ballistic missiles from Yemen across the Saudi Arabia border. Three of them targeted the capital city Riyadh, while the other four targeted other nearby cities. In all cases, civilian neighborhoods were targe