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

16-Nov-18 World View -- Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province

China's crackdown on religions continues

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province


Car with BBC reporters stopped by Chinese police in Xinjiang in October (BBC)
Car with BBC reporters stopped by Chinese police in Xinjiang in October (BBC)

The ambassadors to China from a group of 15 Western countries are reportedly taking coordinated action to condemn China's human rights record in Xinjiang province, where evidence has been accumulating for several months that about a million Chinese citizens of Uighur ethnicity are forcibly locked up in vast "re-education centers" or "re-education prisons," where they're required to sing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) songs and pledge allegiance to the CCP.

The 15 ambassadors have drafted a letter to be sent to Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s CCP boss. The draft letter reads in part:

"We are deeply troubled by reports of the treatment of ethnic minorities, in particular individuals of Uighur ethnicity, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

In order to better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns."

The project is being led by Canada. The other 14 countries are Britain, France, Switzerland, European Union, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Denmark.

The response from China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying was both angry and bizarre. Here are excerpts:

An ambassador is supposed to promote the mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation between the receiving state and the sending state, rather than raise unreasonable requests and interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving state based on hearsay.

Maybe you could interview these ambassadors and ask them whether they have got all the facts straight before writing this letter. Do they know that we have another 54 ethnic minority groups besides the Han and the Uyghur? Do they know that China has more than 40 laws and regulations including the Constitution which have clear stipulations on ethnic minority groups' usage and development of their languages and cultures? Maybe you could ask these ambassadors whether the ethnic minority groups in their countries like the US and Canada, learn English? Is their learning of English also considered as an attempt by their governments to extinguish or assimilate languages and cultures of the ethnic minority groups? ...

I think what they have done is very rude and unacceptable. We hope that they could fulfill their duties and obligations as ambassadors, work to help their countries learn about China in a truthful, all-around and multidimensional way, and play a positive and constructive role in enhancing mutual trust, friendship and cooperation between their countries and China.

I would like to reiterate that Xinjiang as an open region welcomes those who go there with goodwill. Anyone harboring malicious intentions and prejudice and seeking to interfere in China's internal affairs will be firmly rejected."

So China's re-education prisons are being compared to Americans and Canadians learning to speak English. As far as I know, we don't beat, torture and jail people until they learn English. That's about as bizarre as you can get.

Beyond that, the statement contains no attempt to address the charges of human rights abuses in Xinjiang except to call the ambassadors' actions "very rude and unacceptable."

Finally, the description of Xinjiang as "an open region" may be true in a sense, but several BBC on-site investigations show that every word and action is rigidly controlled by the security forces. BBC reporters may be allowed into Xinjiang but they're closely followed by "minders," and prevented from approaching the re-education prisons.

The letter by 15 ambassadors will not cause China to change its behavior -- nothing ever does -- but it will embarrass the Chinese and make it more difficult for them to continue lying. CNN and Reuters and BBC (26-Oct) and China Foreign Ministry

China's crackdown on religions continues

The Uighurs are Muslims, but as I've described several times in the past, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers all non-indigenous religions to be dangerous. These include Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism and Buddhism.

The reason is that pretty much every religion has, at one time or another, been the underpinning of an anti-government rebellion in China.

So the Buddhist White Lotus Society led the Red Turban Rebellion that overthrew the Yuan Dynasty in 1358, and came close to overthrowing the Qing dynasty in the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1804). Of course the Tibetan Buddhists frightens the CCP, and the Falun Gong movement, which is also Buddhist-based, terrifies the CCP.

The CCP has been particularly heavy-handed this year in cracking down on Christianity. That's partially because of the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64). That rebellion was led by Hong Xiuquan who had been converted to Christianity by a Protestant missionary, and who had a hallucinatory vision that he was the son of God and the younger brother of Jesus. He formed the Society of God Worshippers that spread and drew converts from ethnic Hakkas to form the Taiping Army that, once again, almost overthrew the Qing Dynasty.

China, throughout its history, has rarely been able to govern itself, and was frequently conquered by outside armies. It took only small armies of Mongols to rule China for centuries, and then a small army of Manchus to do the same for centuries. When China wasn't being conquered and ruled by outside armies, it was a country of regions and warlords fighting each other. It's only since Mao's Communist Revolution in 1949 that China was finally self-governing through a central government, but even that was almost destroyed by Mao's Great Leap Forward and Mao's Great Cultural Revolution, which killed tens of millions of people through starvation and execution.

Today, the CCP is the most paranoid government on earth. They're even afraid of Winnie the Pooh because Winnie the Pool looks like president Xi Jinping, and might be used as a symbol to trigger a rebellion. Can you imagine Donald Trump or another Western leader being terrified of Winnie the Pooh? Yet, Xi Jinping is terrified of Winnie the Pooh. That's how pathetic he is as a leader. He's made himself into a total dictator, and the only way he can rule is by killing, torture, rape, abductions, massacres, atrocities, or, in the case of the Uighurs, massive re-education prisons holding millions of people.

The CCP has identified what it calls the "five poisons" of society that must be controlled or stamped out. These are Tibetans, Uighur Muslims, democracy activists, Taiwanese, and Falun Gong practitioners.

The equivalent situation in America would be if the government declared blacks and Catholics to be "poisons," along with gun owners and Jews, would need to be sent to re-education prisons to be forced to become Protestants.

In July, a group of 30 workers at Jasic Technology in Shenzen who were treated abusively and weren't being paid decided to unionize. The CCP jailed them for "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order," not even letting them see a lawyer. Last week, Marxist and Maoist students from Peking University and other colleges traveled to Shenzen to form the "Jasic Workers' Solidarity Group" to support the workers.

To the paranoid CCP, this situation is very dangerous, because it could lead to an anti-government rebellion, so naturally these groups of students have been violently rounded up and jailed. This was followed by a crackdown on student activism on campus, banning Marxist study groups, and punishing students at Peking University, Renmin University and Nanjing University. The CCP know very well that the government was brought down in 1949 by Marxist and Maoist forces, and they know that it could happen again.

So whether it's Winnie the Pooh, or the Uighurs, or the Tibetans, or the Falun Gong, the Chinese government are terrified of everything, and consider pretty much everyone to be their enemy.

Like central governments throughout China's history, the CCP is extremely weak and will end as quickly as it began. It can't govern except by developing massive weapons systems and planning for a war that it will lose, but not before it's brought catastrophe to itself and the entire world. Radio Free Asia (12-Nov) and AP and Economist

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-18 World View -- Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-18 World View -- China and Australia compete for influence at APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

500 US marines and other foreign troops arrive in PNG for APEC meeting

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

500 US marines and other foreign troops arrive in PNG for APEC meeting


The new Port Moresby International Convention Center, which will host the APEC summit, was built with Chinese aid money.
The new Port Moresby International Convention Center, which will host the APEC summit, was built with Chinese aid money.

The USS Green Bay amphibious transport dock ship arrived in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG), on Wednesday, with 500 US marines and US Navy servicemen to provide security and support for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit being held later this week.

About 4,000 military personnel, around half of them foreign, will work with hundreds of police to patrol Port Moresby for APEC, which will attract representatives from 21 nations.

There is a 1,500-strong Australian Defense Force (ADF) contingent, along with RAAF F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters, surveillance aircraft and a helicopter carrier moored in Port Moresby harbor. Vessels from Australia, New Zealand and the US will guard the capital's shores, and all three countries have provided special forces. Working alongside them in an operation that has taken more than a year to plan will be about 2,000 Papua New Guinea (PNG) troops.

Much of the summit will take place in a $35 million convention centre built with Chinese aid and Beijing has donated nine fire engines, along with 50 coaches and 35 mini buses for use at the event. However, Chinese troops were excluded from the security forces.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is an island nation near Australia, which provides it regularly with substantial aid. All of this security is considered necessary because PNG is one of poorest, most corrupt, and most dangerous countries in the world. Feared street gangs known as "raskols" have made car jackings common and the country has among the highest rates of rape and domestic violence in the world. PNG has a population of 8 million — speaking 800 distinct languages and spread out across some 600 islands. With 15,000 delegates expected at the summit, security is essential. And due to a lack of hotel accommodations, many will sleep in the three cruise liners docked at the port.

In view of the corruption, poverty and street violence, many people are concerned that PNG will not be able to pull this summit meeting off. It's hoped that the massive influx of troops from the US, Australia and New Zealand, as well as support from other countries, will make the meeting a success.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, is a forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. The 21 members are the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Donald Trump will not be attending the conference, much to the relief, according to some reports, of the summit organizers. Instead, Mike Pence will be representing to the United States. Stars and Stripes and Asia Pacific Report and AFP and Guardian (London)

China-Australia tensions high at APEC, after Australia's 'pivot to the Pacific'

Despite PNG's weak economy, high unemployment, corruption and street violence, China still has considerable interest in PNG's vast swathes of timber, and huge mineral, oil and gas deposits, which China is looking to exploit.

China's investments in the region as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) grew to $2.46 billion in the last year alone for infrastructure projects such as roads and seaports.

Australia has become alarmed by this incursion into its sphere of influence. As a result, prime minister Scott Morrison is announcing a new "Pivot to the Pacific" program, where Australia will provide grants and long-term loans for $2 billion for "high priority" projects, inclding telecommunications, energy, transport and water.

Morrison said:

"Australia has an abiding interest in a Southwest Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically. This is not just our region, or our neighborhood. It's our home."

This announcement infuriated the Chinese, who must see it as a threat to their unimpeded access to the region's resources that China wishes to exploit. China's vice foreign minister Zheng Zeguang issued a harsh response, accusing Australia of a "cold war mentality":

"The Pacific Island region is not a sphere of influence of any country.

[Australia should] objectively look at the relations between China and the Pacific Island countries and to abandon Cold War mentality and the zero-sum game mentality, which are both outdated. ...

Other countries should not obstruct China's friendly cooperation and exchanges with the island nations. Of course, they have no way to obstruct this cooperation and these exchanges."

The government of PNG says that it has no intention at all of choosing one of China or Australia over the other. It also says that it is ready to accept aid and donations from all sides.

PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill says that he is willing to play peacemaker at the APEC summit. "It's not for me to address either of those countries through the media as to what they should do, but as I have said, for us, they are great friends of this country. So we will do all we can to ensure, if we can, that there are no conflicts, to the extent possible," he said. Australian Broadcasting and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Australian Broadcasting (8-Nov) and Time

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-18 World View -- China and Australia compete for influence at APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea (PNG) thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Nov-18 World View -- Italy's Libya peace talk conference ends in drama but no resolution

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy's Libya peace talk conference ends in drama but no resolution


Fayez al-Serraj (L), Giuseppe Conte (C) and Khalifa Haftar.  Conte got them to shake hands and smile, even though al-Serraj and Haftar hate each other (AFP)
Fayez al-Serraj (L), Giuseppe Conte (C) and Khalifa Haftar. Conte got them to shake hands and smile, even though al-Serraj and Haftar hate each other (AFP)

Seven years after the fall of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya now has two governments. In the West, including the capital city Tripoli, Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj leads a weak government, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), internationally recognized by America, Europe and the United Nations.

Most of the east of Libya is ruled by Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman and former Gaddafi ally, who is considered an international "renegade." There are fears that a war will break out between the eastern and western factions at some time in the near future.

It's doubtful that most Europeans care deeply who is in charge of Libya, but one thing that they do care deeply about is the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe. For that reason, the Europeans want to see a single government in Libya, and a government with which it can negotiate to keep the migrant flow under control.

Libya's former colonial power, Italy, hosted a conference in Palermo on Tuesday, to bring all interested parties together, with the objective of having an election for the leader of a unified government.

The conference was hosted by Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte. About 20 countries are participating in the conference, including representatives from the US, European governments and Arab countries. Top names in attendance include Egypt's president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, European Council President Donald Tusk and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

The conference didn't accomplish much, but there was a lot of drama.

Originally, Haftar refused to say whether he would even come to Palermo. Then Haftar did arrive, but on Tuesday said that he would not attend the conference, choosing instead to "hold a series of meetings with presidents of regional countries to discuss the latest national and international developments" on the sidelines.

So then Haftar attended a meeting on the sidelines of conference, also attended by Fayez al-Serraj, as well as leaders of France, Russia and Italy.

However, Turkey was not invited to that particular meeting. Turkey's vice president Fuat Oktay stormed out of the international conference, blaming Conte for "attempts to keep Turkey out of the process" in Libya.

At the end of the conference, there was no statement issued. But the parties agreed that an election previously scheduled for December would not be held, but would be postponed to May of next year. And many people considered the conference a great success, simply because Fayez al-Serraj and Khalifa Haftar smiled and shook hands. Deutsche Welle and Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey) and Middle East Eye and Reuters

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

One reason that the split between east and west Libya hasn't been resolved is their supporters are split along the same growing fault line that became apparent several years ago.

Turkey, Qatar and Italy all support the western GNA government of Fayez al-Serraj, and are supportive of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Russia, France, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support Haftar, who is an anti-Islamist military man.

This split in the Arab world has been growing in recent years. Recall that in June of last year, several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke relations with Qatar and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar. The blockade is still in place, with no end in sight, despite international attempts to resolve it.

More recently, the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, apparently by a Saudi hit squad, has continued as an international incident, adding more tensions between Saudi Arabia versus Turkey and Qatar.

This deepening split among the Arab and Mideast nations makes it all the more unlikely that agreement will be reached on a unified government in Libya.

The situation is complicated still further by signs that Russia is deepening its military involvement in Libya, sending in Vladimir Putin's "private" military companies (PMCs), as he has done in Syria and Central African Republic. (See "7-Nov-18 World View -- Suspicions grow about Russia's Wagner PMC mercenary group in Central African Republic")

Putin has taken an interest in Libya at least since the overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, and has actively supported Khalifa Haftar. There have already been military clashes between Haftar's forces and militias around Tripoli in the West, and the involvement of Russia makes Syrian war situation more likely than an election. Al-Jazeera (Qatar) and Meduza (Russia) and Jamestown

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-18 World View -- Italy's Libya peace talk conference ends in drama but no resolution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Nov-18 World View -- Eight people killed in botched Israeli military operation in Gaza

Palestinians demand 'revenge', but Hamas backs off from war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Eight people killed in botched Israeli military operation in Gaza


Palestinians stand next to the vehicle used in Sunday's military operation and destroyed by Israeli aircraft missiles on Sunday after the Israeli force had fled the scene.  (AFP)
Palestinians stand next to the vehicle used in Sunday's military operation and destroyed by Israeli aircraft missiles on Sunday after the Israeli force had fled the scene. (AFP)

An Israeli army officer and seven Palestinians were killed in a gunfight that followed a botched Israeli army military undercover operation in Gaza on Sunday evening.

Israeli special forces members wore women's clothing to avoid detection, and crossed the border into Gaza. This follows another "cloak and dagger" operation on Thursday, when a car crossed into Gaza carrying three suitcases in the back seat stuffed with $15 million in cash from Qatar.

When the car was two miles into Gaza, near Khan Younis, fighters of the Izzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, stopped the car and asked to see ID cards. A gunfight ensued, killing one Israeli military officer, who hasn't been identified, and seven Palestinians. One of the Palestinians was an Al-Qassam Brigades senior command, Noureddin Mohammad Salama Baraka, 37.

Due to the secrecy of the operation, Israel has not revealed specific purpose of the mission. According to one reported, it was an intelligence gathering operation that went wrong. According to another report, the objective was to kill Baraka, although this is specifically denied by Israel, saying that the operation was "not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security."

The Israeli car fled the scene, followed by Al-Qassam fighters, who were bombed from the air by an extraction operation that rescued the Israelis with a helicopter. Guardian (London) and Jerusalem Post and International Mideast Media Center (Palestine) and AP

Palestinians demand 'revenge', but Hamas backs off from war

In the worst bout of fighting since the end of the 67-day war between Israel and Gaza in 2014, Palestinians launched over 200 rockets and mortar bombs into Israel on Monday. One mortar bomb hit a bus, wounding an Israeli. At least seven Israelis were wounded by other rocket strikes.

Israeli tanks and fighter jets retaliated by bombing sites across Gaza. Palestinian officials said that at least three people, including two militants, were killed. Israeli missiles also struck and destroyed Gaza's Al-Aqsa television station, as well as a number of apartment buildings believed to house Hamas militants.

This intense exchange of fire occurred just two days after $15 million in money from Qatar entered Gaza, paying civil service workers' salaries. This money was supposed to help bring calm, but it's worth noting that the money to pay civil service workers' salaries was blocked for months not by Israel but by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas strongly opposed the infilitration of Qatari money last week, as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause, and may be pleased with Monday's exchange of fire.

Reports are that the Israeli army is preparing for all-out war in Gaza, renewing the 2014 summer Gaza war, especially after Hamas threatened on Monday that Israel will pay a “heavy price” for the operation.

However, Egypt and the UN, which in the past have been mediators between Israel and Hamas are hoping to bring about a ceasefire. In addition, a number of analysts are saying that Hamas doesn't want a war with Israel, at least not at this time, or to give Israel an excuse to launch a major military operation in Gaza.

Besides saying that Israel will pay a "heavy price," Hamas's rhetoric has not gone further to say that the incident will affect efforts to reach a truce agreement with Israel. Also, Hamas leaders have not accused Israel of sabotaging the ongoing efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip. Nor have they indicated that Hamas views the incident, which took place near Khan Younis, as a trigger for another war with Israel.

Hamas and militants in Gaza have been attacking Israel with rockets that have no guidance systems. Reports indicate that they also possess an arsenal of middle range and long-range missiles that reach cities all across Israel, but they have refrained from using them.

Hamas issued a statement saying, "The resistance last night taught the enemy a harsh lesson and turned its intelligence system into the laughing stock of the world." The statement claimed that Hamas scored a major victory over the Israelis, who were forced to flee after being spotted by Hamas militants.

What these statements mean is that the leaders of Hamas have much to lose at this time in a war with Israel, especially with the influx of Qatari money and promises of further concessions. That means that there probably won't be a new Gaza war, at least for a while.

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. Jerusalem Post (11-Nov) and Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post and Israel National News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-18 World View -- Eight people killed in botched Israeli military operation in Gaza thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Nov-18 World View -- North Korea plays hardball to get sanctions lifted

North Korea - South Korea reunification talks continue

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea plays hardball to get sanctions lifted


Kim Jong-un at a mushroom farm (AFP/KCNA)
Kim Jong-un at a mushroom farm (AFP/KCNA)

Now that the US midterm elections have taken place, there's no longer any reason to pretend that North Korea is ever going to denuclearize, and so North Korea's child dictator may be taking hard new steps to pressure the Trump administration to get what he wants: Lifting the sanctions with no requirement to denuclearize.

Last week North Korea's lead negotiator, Kim Yong-chol, refused to show up for a scheduled meeting on Thursday with the US chief negotiator, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. This cancellation was apparently unexpected, and the State Dept. scrambled to say that the meeting had been postponed, and would take place "when our respective schedules permit."

President Trump himself kept up the pretense last week by saying: "We’re in no rush. We’re in no hurry. ... We’re very happy how it’s going with North Korea. We think it’s going fine."

This comes at a time when North Korean is becoming increasingly belligerent in threatening to resume nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development if the United States continued to refuse to back down on sanctions. China and Russia are also both pressuring the United States to agree to ease sanctions.

North Korea is taking no real steps toward denuclearization, even refusing to take the simple step of providing a list of all its nuclear development sites. The symbolic steps that it was taking, dismantling a missile test site that it didn't need anyway, have apparently ended, based on satellite imagery. And a key facility in the process of creating nuclear weapons grade uranium, is still running.

Many people believe that North Korea is continuing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, lacking only the ability to openly test the developments. Many people also believe that they have no intention of stopping that development under any circumstances, but still hoping that international pressure will force the Trump administration to left sanctions.

For the time being, the denuclearization pretense is continuing on both sides. Once the North concludes that the Trump administration cannot be pressured to lift the sanctions, then they'll probably also conclude that there's no reason not to resume public nuclear and missile testing.

North Korea has been playing hardball recently, and that may indicate that the decision to resume testing is not far off. The "North Korea crisis" has been out of the news for a while, but one way or another expect the crisis to be in the news again soon, especially now that the midterms are over. The Hill and The Diplomat and International Business Times and Daily Beast

North Korea - South Korea reunification talks continue

The office of South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in sent a gift of 200 tons of tangerines to North Korea's president Kim Jong-un on Sunday, in return for a gift of mushrooms from the North. This gift is part of a separate, but related, negotiation track going on between South and North Korea.

More significant than the tangerines is that the The North and South Korean military completed withdrawing troops and firearms from 22 front-line guard posts on Saturday. There are over 100 guard posts on both sides, and the plan is to disarm almost all of them by next year.

The Koreas have also been clearing mines from front-line areas and plan to start in April their first-ever joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the Korean War.

Moon would like to push ahead with his more ambitious plans for engagement, such as reconnecting railways and roads across the border and normalizing operations at a jointly run factory park. However, those plans would violate the existing UN sanctions.

Moon Jae-in has made it clear that he is extremely anxious to normalize relations with the North, with the eventual goal of reunification, and that he's willing to concede almost anything to the North to accomplish this. This is true even though the North has never repudiated its plan to conquer the South by force, and reunify the two Koreas under control of the North. North Korea has an unbroken record of lying and deception about almost everything, and removing the guard posts may be a goodwill gesture to the South, but it also makes it easier for the North's million-man army to cross into the South, and that's what the North wants.

The North-South negotiation track may be separate from the denuclearization negotiations, but they do affect one another. With North Korea now playing hardball in the denuclearization negotiations, which are completely stalled anyway, South Korean analysts now believe that a planned trip by Kim Jong-un to Seoul in December is becoming increasingly less likely.

According to one South Korean analyst:

"South Korea will continue to try to make room for the US and North Korea to continue negotiations and ease tensions between the countries through Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul.

But for Kim, visiting Seoul without any progress in the US-North Korea relations could be a burden because it would likely draw more opposition from South Korea’s conservatives and more skepticism from the US. I think Kim will decide on his visit to Seoul after the high-level meeting between Pompeo and Kim."

Assuming, or course, that the latter meeting takes place.

However, another South Korean analyst said that there's another way to convince Kim to make his promised visit to Seoul: "I think North Korea would want to come to Seoul on the back of some progress in its relations with the US so that it could gain economic rewards -- economic assistance, for example -- from South Korea." Korea Herald and AP and Russia Today and Korea Herald

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-18 World View -- North Korea plays hardball to get sanctions lifted thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Nov-18 World View -- Qatar provides $15 million in aid to Gaza, will mediate electricity issues and Cyprus seaport

Israel and Qatar agree to a sea route between Gaza and Cyprus

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Qatar provides $15 million in aid to Gaza, will mediate electricity issues and Cyprus seaport


Palestinian fishing boats with Gaza City in the background (AP)
Palestinian fishing boats with Gaza City in the background (AP)

On Thursday, three suitcases stuffed with $15 million in cash traveled in the back seat of a car from Israel to Gaza through the Erez crossing. This money is being distributed to Gazans, under an agreement between Qatar, Israel and Gaza, mediated by Egypt.

The money was supplied by Qatar, which is taking an increasing role in trying to make Gaza more "livable" for the people, in the hope of reducing the weekly protests.

Many employees working for Hamas in Gaza haven't been paid salaries in months, because the money for paying the salaries hasn't been made available to Hamas. It isn't Israel that made the decision to withhold the money. It was the Palestinian Authority (Fatah), headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is supposed to be the head a unity government of all Palestinians, and Abbas has cut off money to pay the salaries of Gazans working for Hamas. Israel has supported Abbas's decision, out of concern that Hamas would use the salary money to fund terrorist activities.

So Egypt's mediation has led to an agreement where Qatar provides the money to pay the salaries of Hamas employees. The $15 million that arrived on Thursday is the first installment of a $90 million total payout. 27,000 civil servants will receive 50% of a month's salary, with the amount to gradually increase over the months.

The money is not being given to the United Nations or to Hamas. Instead, civil servants' salaries are being paid individually, under the supervision of the Qataris.

Israel has not commented on the payments, but must have approved them because otherwise the three suitcases of money could not have crossed into Gaza.

However, the Palestinian Authority said that the $15 million was "cheap price that Hamas received for the precious blood" of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and that "Hamas leaders are prepared to align themselves with the devil in order to remain in power and undermine the Palestinian national project." Jerusalem Post and Reuters and Jerusalem Post and Middle East Eye and Jerusalem Post

Israel and Qatar agree to a sea route between Gaza and Cyprus

Israel and Qatar have reached agreement on the establishment of a seaport in Cyprus, under Israeli security supervision, that will be used to ship goods to Gaza.

There is a dispute over how security will be implemented. Israel has demanded that its representatives be present at the seaport for manual inspection of goods entering Gaza to make sure that there are no weapons. However, Hamas is demanding that inspections take place only electronically.

That Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is completely opposed to the plan, saying Hamas was not authorized to reach any agreement on such matters with international parties, and warning that such a move would “consolidate” the split between the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and make Gaza a separate Palestinian state in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

Qatar is also working on a number of other proposals to make Gaza more livable, including expanding fishing, establishing industrial zones, and reliable electricity.

It's hoped that by making Gaza more livable, the weekly "March of Return" protests, of Gazans trying to break through the fence into Israel and demanding to return to their ancestral homes, will be reduced. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this hope is delusional. The protests are being driven by young people just coming of age, and no agreement by their geezer leaders will change that. YNet (Israel) and Jerusalem Post and Israel National News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-18 World View -- Qatar provides $15 million in aid to Gaza, will mediate electricity issues and Cyprus seaport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Nov-18 World View -- China and India compete for influence in Sri Lanka and Maldives constitutional crises

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament


A poster in Colombo, Sri Lanka, shows Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, with President Maithripala Sirisena (Reuters)
A poster in Colombo, Sri Lanka, shows Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, with President Maithripala Sirisena (Reuters)

There are major individual government crises in progress in both the Maldives and Sri Lanka, and they are linked by China's interference in the affairs of both countries by using "debt trap diplomacy" related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Sri Lanka's president Maithripala Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday, after his administration promised that he wouldn't do that. Sirisena fired prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26, and appointed a new prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena wanted the parliament to confirm his actions, but after it became clear that he wouldn't have the votes, he dissolved parliament to prevent a vote.

An interesting angle is that the Tamil MPs specifically refused Sirisena's request that they abstain from the vote. The ethnic Hindu Tamil minority community was defeated in a generational crisis civil war that climaxed in 2009, with Rajapaksa leading the ethnic Buddhist Sinhalese majority to victory, amid charges of war crimes.

So rather than allow a vote, Sirisena dissolved the parliament and called for snap elections in January. Sirisena's opponents are saying that both the decision to fire the prime minister and the decision to dissolve the parliament are unconstitutional. So the constitutional crisis and government gridlock is expected to continue into the new year.

Sirisena has never given any explanation for why he fired his prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It's now emerged that Sirisena were in sharp disagreement over whether a seaport project in the country capital Colombo should be awarded to a Chinese firm, favored by Sirisena, or an Indian firm, favored by Wickremesinghe. Wickremesinghe was fired just after that loud disagreement, and Rajapaksa was appointed.

Rajapaksa has always had close relations with China. When Rajapaksa was president, he signed the agreement with China to build the Hambantota seaport. This was China's first major "debt trap" deal, putting Sri Lanka into so much debt that it had to hand control of the seaport over to China.

Today, Sri Lanka is still in so much debt that it will never be paid back. Still, because of Sri Lanka's strategic importance, both India and China want to be build the new infrastructure projects. The constitutional crisis may appear to be a domestic matter, but it has important geopolitical implication. Times of Sri Lanka and Reuters and Channel News Asia

New Maldives government begins untangling previous government's secret deals with China


Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean
Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean

At the time I wrote about the September 23 Maldives election, it seemed the country could be headed for its own constitutional crisis. The country was in something of a state of shock because the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen, who had never hesitated to use vote-rigging or jailings or violence to win elections, had been expected to win. Instead, his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, won decisively, by 58-41% of the vote.

It was suspected that Yameen could not step down, since a new administration would discover massive corruption in Yameen's dealings with China. China had arranged for a "debt trap" for Maldives, and Yameen's family was heavily involved in China's infrastructure projects in the five years Yameen was in power. As usual, the contractual specifics between the Maldives and China were completely secret. In other countries where situations like this have occurred, the leader and his family are often so heavily involved in bribery and corruption that they dare not lose power.

So it was feared that Yameen would use whatever tactics and power he could to overturn the election, but it seems that he was unable to do so because Solih's win was so huge.

The first thing Solih did after winning the elect was to meewith with the Chinese ambassador, where he learned that the Maldives owed the Chinese $3 billion, not the $1.5 billion he had previously been told. That’s more revenue than Maldives' government raises in two years – a staggering figure that makes the Maldives a prime example of how Chinese loans have swamped smaller economies with loans that can't be repaid.

Details of the debt – and how much might have been stolen – will only begin to emerge after Solih takes office on November 17 and his aides gain complete access to documents Yameen’s government hid from lawmakers and the public. But information already collected by Solih’s transition team indicates the liabilities are greater than initially believed and will soon outpace the country's ability to pay.

It's amazing how China has gotten away with "debt trap diplomacy" in country after country. They loan a country to build infrastructure proects that will strategically benefit China and only marginally benefit the local population. The require that the loan money be used to purchase parts and services from Chinese firms, and that almost all workers must be Chinese. So instead of benefiting the local factories and workers, the money goes back to China to benefit factories and people there. And then the country still has to repay the loan, which means that they're repaying the loan twice.

At this point, China's "debt trap diplomacy" has gotten so much publicity that many countries are now cutting back on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. Both Malaysia and Pakistan have recently cut back or cancelled BRI projects. The latest is Sierra Leone, which has accumulated more than $220 million in Chinese debt, and last month canceled a new airport project with Chinese labor and loans.

In the Maldives, Solih has promised to examine all contracts and leases to see which should be cut back or modified. Because the Maldives and Sri Lanka are both so strategically important and are both in the Indian Ocean just off the southern tip of India, both India and China have similar interests in South China Morning Post and National Herald India and Reuters (11-Oct) and Standard Times Press (Sierra Leone)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Nov-18 World View -- China and India compete for influence in Sri Lanka and Maldives constitutional crises thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Nov-18 World View -- Venezuela's refugees crisis soars, as economic disaster reaches new levels

Number of migrants leaving Venezuela reaches three million

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's refugees crisis soars, as economic disaster reaches new levels


Venezuelan migrants travel aboard a truck in Tumbes, Peru, near the Ecuador border, on November 1. (AFP)
Venezuelan migrants travel aboard a truck in Tumbes, Peru, near the Ecuador border, on November 1. (AFP)

The Socialist poster child, Venezuela, is facing increasing crises, as the country continues to crumble. Socialism has been a disaster every time it's been tried, whether it's been abandoned, as in North Korea, Sweden, Russia, China, Cuba, or East Germany, or where it's led to total financial disaster, as in North Korea.

In Venezuela, the refugee crisis and the economic crisis continue to reach fresh levels, while the overweight Socialist president, Nicolás Maduro, who stuffs himself while his people starve to death, shows no hint of wanting abandon the disaster.

On Thursday, Venezuela's year on year inflation rate was 833,997%. The International Monetary Fund predicted several months ago that Venezuela's inflation rate would reach one million percent by the end of the year, and Maduro is on track for reaching that goal. The IMF predicted that the inflation rate would exceed 10 million percent by the end of 2019, and there's nothing to stop that from happening unless Maduro is stopped.

Maduro, along with his predecessor Hugo Chávez, have implemented a perfectly functioning Socialist economy, with nationalized industries, price controls, a high minimum wage, and punishment for anyone making money. As in all perfectly functioning Socialist economies, there are shortages of food, medicines, toilet paper, and other basic goods.

What's truly amazing and even record-setting is that Venezuela should be the richest country in Latin America with the largest oil reserves in the world, and yet faces a shortage of gasoline of 80%.

Venezuela has 18 refineries throughout the world and six in national territory, but many of the refineries are in disrepair, and even when they're working, they have no oil to refine. One of the main refineries, Amuay, is operating at just 5.4% of production capacity.

Instead, what oil is available is sent to Cuba or China. According to one worker representative, oil is being sent to China rather than being refined:

"There was an order from Nicolás Maduro to the Minister of Petroleum, Manuel Quevedo, to send one million barrels of oil to China. They stopped the refineries and loaded the barrels. It is even more the amount that they send to Cuba."

Since the beginning of the year, Maduro has sent over 11 million barrels of oil to Cuba. Just between June and August, Maduro sent 4.19 million barrels, worth $248 million. If I understand this correctly, it means that Cuba is now bailing out Venezuela, just as Venezuela used to bail out Cuba.

It's noteworthy that while both Cuba and China call themselves Socialist countries for public relations purposed, both countries have largely given up Socialism and have opened up their markets. For these countries, Socialism has simply turned into a religion. That's why these countries are able to make money, which Venezuela is not. Reuters and Today Venezuela and Guardian (London)

Number of migrants leaving Venezuela reaches three million

According to the United Nations, the number of migrants fleeing Venezuela's Socialist poverty and violance has now surpassed three million. Of the three million, 2.3 million have left Venezuela since 2015, and the number keeps increasing, with 3,000 new arrivals into Colombia every day.

More than one million refugees and migrants are in Colombia. Peru has more than half a million, Ecuador over 220,000, Argentina 130,000, Chile over 100,000 and Brazil 85,000, according to the UN.

One priest in Colombia took a swipe at America: "People go crazy over the caravan of Central Americans entering Mexico, trying to reach the US. That's four, five, maybe 6,000 migrants, that's how many we get every four days."

The rate of migration has sped up in the past six months. The new figures show that about one in 12 of the population has now left the country, driven by violence, hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines. Al Jazeera and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-18 World View -- Venezuela's refugees crisis soars, as economic disaster reaches new levels thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Nov-18 World View -- The Jamal Khashoggi murder changes the direction of the Yemen war

Yemen war violence intensifies as 30-day ceasefire deadline approaches

by John J. Xenakis This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Yemen war violence intensifies as 30-day ceasefire deadline approaches


Building in Sanaa destroyed by an airstrike last week (EPA)
Building in Sanaa destroyed by an airstrike last week (EPA)

On October 31, Secretary of Defense James Mattis called for a ceasefire in the Yemen war in 30 days, or by the end of November. A first step would require Iran to stop supplying missiles to the insurgent Houthis:

"[T]alk about demilitarizing the border so that the Saudis and the [United Arab] Emirates do not have to worry about missiles coming into their homes and cities and airports. [A cease-fire arrangement should] ensure that all the missiles that Iran has provided to the Houthis are put under international watch in parks somewhere, where they can be kept accounted for."

Unfortunately, that's already delusional. Iran would never agree to that condition, or if it agreed, it wouldn't honor the commitment. In fact, Iran already claims that it doesn't supply missiles to the Houthis, so Iran could agree to this condition and then just keep doing what it's doing.

Next, Mattis said:

"[Such a truce would help] set the conditions for [Yemeni factions to] return to traditional areas inside Yemen, and a government that allows for this amount of local autonomy that the Houthis or that southerners want."

Once again, this is delusional. The traditional are for the Houthis is northwest Yemen, far outside the capital city Sanaa.

"The longer-term solution, and by longer-term, I mean 30 days from now, we want to see everybody sitting around the table, based on a cease-fire, based on a pullback from the border, and then based on ceasing dropping of bombs, that will permit the [U.N.] special envoy—Martin Griffiths, who's very good, he knows what he's doing—to get them together in Sweden and end this war.

It’s time to stop [the Yemen war]. And right now, what the Iranians have done by bringing in anti-ship missiles ... it’s interrupted freedom of navigation, they are the ones who keep fueling this conflict and they need to knock it off."

This is all fantasy. None of this is going to happen. But what's interesting is that pretty much the opposite has happened.

Fearing that US support for the war might end in 30 days, Saudi Arabia has redoubled its attacks on Yemen's al-Hodeidah seaport. Two hundred air strikes were reported in and around Hodeidah on Saturday alone. Artillery shells had also hit residential areas and temporary roadblocks had prevented people from leaving or entering the city overnight, in effect trapping them in an active conflict zone, it added.

The UN says Yemen is on the brink of the world's worst famine in 100 years. The assault on the al-Hodeidah seaport has blocked humanitarian aid, including food and medicines, from reaching much of Yemen, with the danger of a worsening humanitarian crisis. US Institute for Peace and Arab News and BBC and CNN

The Jamal Khashoggi murder changes the direction of the Yemen war

With so many people being killed in so many ways every day, it's somewhat startling to see that one particular murder, that of Washington Post columnist and Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi by other Saudi Nationals in Istanbul on October 2, has been the cause of so much international chaos.

There are three reasons for this, in my opinion. First, the murder was particularly gruesome, ordered by the highest officials in the Saudi government, and the body has not yet been produced. Second, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been dribbling out the facts of the case, so that every day there's a new revelation to embarrass the Saudi government. And third, the al-Jazeera news network, based in and funded by the government of Qatar, which has become Saudi Arabia's mortal enemy, is doing everything possible to keep the story alive, with lengthy coverage of the latest in every newscast.

The Khashoggi murder has also had geopolitical consequences. As I recently reported, Pakistan's new prime minister Imran Khan was able to use the Khashoggi scandal as leverage to convince Saudi Arabia to provide $6 billion in aid.

It now appears that the Khashoggi murder is also changing the direction of the Yemen war. The murder has strengthened the hand of activists in the UK and Washington who want Saudi Arabia to end the Yemen war. The statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, excerpted above, was an outcome of the Khashoggi murder.

The Yemen war has been a disaster for Saudi Arabia. Despite repeated promises that the war would end quickly, the Saudis are completely bogged in a seemingly never-ending war. They would love for Mattis' recommendations to succeed, but in the end that would hand Yemen over to the Iranians, and they can't agree to that.

However, we're already seeing unintended consequences, specifically Saudi Arabia doubling down on the violent assault on Hodeidah. The proposal by Mattis was a ceasefire by all parties, including Iran, the Houthis, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE), and then have a peace conference in Geneva. That was never going to happen or, if it did, it would have resulted in a "peace process" with no commitments honored by the parties. History shows that this kind of peace process will not work.

Khashoggi's murder has led to Mattis' statement, which has led to a massive increase in the violence in the Hodeidah attack. The Saudis want to bring the Houthis to their knees, and force a negotiated truce under terms favorable to the Saudis. History shows that this kind of attack will not work either. This kind of attack only works when it is at the climax of a generational crisis war, and then only when all the parties are so war-weary and exhausted that they'll agree to end the war. The Yemen war is nowhere near a climax. Saudi Gazette and Foreign Policy and New Yorker and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Nov-18 World View -- The Jamal Khashoggi murder changes the direction of the Yemen war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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7-Nov-18 World View -- Suspicions grow about Russia's Wagner PMC mercenary group in Central African Republic

Over 10,000 people displaced by new fighting in Central African Republic civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Over 10,000 people displaced by new fighting in Central African Republic civil war


Tanzanian soldier in UN blue helmet peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic in July (AFP)
Tanzanian soldier in UN blue helmet peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic in July (AFP)

Last week, the town of Batangafo in northern Central African Republic (CAR) was attacked by militias in the ongoing generational crisis civil war. Armed groups looted and burned thousands of homes, three camps hosting 27,000 displaced and a market in the city. Some 10,000 are seeking refuge in a hospital in Batangafo run by Doctors Without Borders Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF). At the same time, the town of Bambari in central CAR was attacked. Dozens of people were wounded or killed, or had to be treated for burns.

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 Séléka 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 Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. 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.

Since 2013, there's been a delusional struggle, led by the United Nations Security Council, to use "peacekeepers" to bring the fighting to an end. The idea that "peacekeepers" can stop the progress of a generational crisis war is absurd beyond belief.

In 2015, there was even a visit by Pope Francis to CAR's capital city Bangui to propose "a renewed attention to the idea of a respectful urban integration, as opposed to elimination, paternalism, indifference or mere containment." ( "28-Nov-15 World View -- Pope Francis to visit Central African Republic in middle of civil war")

Well, I'm not sure that a visit by a Pope ever ended any war. A generational crisis war only ends when everybody is completely exhausted, and then only with an "explosive climax," usually an act of genocide that's so horrific that both sides agree to end the war, and vow never to allow anything like that to happen again. The war in CAR is nowhere near such an explosive climax.

Jonathan Allen, UK's UN ambassador, recently said the following at a UN Security Council meeting:

"Civilians, peacekeepers, and humanitarian workers continue to be attacked. More than one in four Central Africans remain displaced; half of the population are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Only 36% of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan has been funded. We encourage all member states to help fill this gap. The UK has provided £63 million – or $81 million – in humanitarian aid to CAR since 2015. We believe that this aid supports progress towards a stable, secure, and peaceful CAR – something that remains in all of our interests."

No it won't. Any aid money to try and stop this generational crisis war is just money down the drain.

From the point of Generational Dynamics, 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, with a new crisis war in progress.

This war was triggered by a religious fault line between Muslims and Christians, but it's actually an ethnic war between cattle herders, such as ethnic Fulani, versus farmers, such as ethnic Gula and Runga. As I've described many times in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. 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. ReliefWeb (1-Nov) and Médecins Sans Frontières and Reuters and UK Government

Suspicions grow about Russia's Wagner PMC mercenary group in Central African Republic

In July, three internationally known reporters and war correspondents were gunned down and killed in Central African Republic after their car was ambushed.

The three were making a documentary film for TsUR, an investigative media center funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian oligarch. In 2003, Khodorkovsky announced he would run against Vladimir Putin for president. Putin destroyed Khodorkovsky, and had him jailed for life, only letting him out in 2013 in a "humanitarian gesture" before the Sochi Olympics.

The topic of the documentary film was the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), a mercenary group, sometimes known as "Putin's personal army" that Putin uses for "dirty work" when he needs deniability, most recently in Ukraine and Syria. In the West, Wagner is believed responsible for the deaths of the three journalists, while Russia's foreign ministry denies the connection.

Historically, peacekeeping efforts in CAR were led by France, which had been the colonial power in the past. But in the past year, Russia has been actively working to expand its influence in CAR, supplying hundreds of weapons to the CAR army along with 175 civilian and military instructors.

Suspicions have raised that Russians are less interested in peacekeeping, and more interested in cutting deals with rebels and deploying Wagner mercenaries to guard the extraction of gold, diamonds and uranium. There had been a previous announcement that Russia and CAR had agreed on joint "exploratory mining concessions."

France's defence minister Florence Parly said last week:

"Russia has asserted its presence in the Central African Republic in recent months, it is true, but I am not sure that this presence and the actions deployed by Moscow, like the agreements negotiated in Khartoum at the end of August, help to stabilize the country."

However, Russia's foreign ministry had defended its actions against what it said was "a certain jealousy" by other foreign powers over Russia's role in CAR. Telegraph (London, 31-Jul) and Africa News and Reuters (17-Oct) and Telegraph (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Nov-18 World View -- Suspicions grow about Russia's Wagner PMC mercenary group in Central African Republic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan's Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claims credit for killing CPEC workers

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claims credit for killing CPEC workers


Gwadar Port
Gwadar Port

The separatist terror group Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claimed credit for killing on October 31 five men working for a construction company building 70 housing developments. The housing will be populated by thousands of Chinese workers who will be working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The housing developments are on the road connecting Gwardar port to the town of Jiwani.

According to Azad Baloch, a BLA spokesman:

"The site attacked today was part of the CPEC project. ...

Today's attack is a clear message to China and all other countries that Balochistan is an occupied territory. We warn China to halt working on all the projects including a planned naval base in Jiwani, Balochistan. The BLA will continue to resist against the occupation of Baloch Ocean and coastal belt. ...

China and Pakistan are settling Punjabis and Chinese in Gwadar and other areas of Balochistan's coastal belt to turn the Baloch into a minority under their expansionist designs.

If the international community fails to fulfil their responsibilities and turn a blind eye to the Pakistani and Chinese colonization of Balochistan, then the Baloch nation will have no other option but to target all non-Baloch settlers in Balochistan."

This was only the latest in a series of BLA attacks on CPEC targets in Balochistan. On October 26, the BLA conducted a joint operation with another separatist group, the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), and killed two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers in a coordinated attack on a senior officer's convoy. In September, there were seven terrorist attacks in Balochistan. In August, the BLA claimed credit for a suicide bombing attack on a bus transporting Chinese workers, injuring three.

After the August suicide bombing, Chinese companies hired more security personnel to protect Chinese workers. However, the targets of the most recent terror attacks were not Chinese, and not Baloch. Furthermore, they were not killed with a suicide bombing. Instead, they were killed when unidentified motorcyclists opened fire at them and fled. Also, they were from other provinces in Pakistan. The BLA is insisting that with unemployment and poverty so high among Baloch people, Baloch workers should be doing the CPEC development, rather Chinese workers or workers from Punjab.

However, a Chinese investment firm has already announced a project to build homes for 500,000 Chinese professionals in Gwadar by 2023. Dawn and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Al Jazeera and Express Tribune (Pakistan, 11-Oct) and The News (Pakistan, 21-Oct-2017)

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

CPEC is a $55-60 billion 20-year project that will supposedly build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities, starting from China's easternmost city Kashgar in Xinjiang province, to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

China has always insisted that Gwadar will be a purely commercial port, with no military purpose at all. As usual, we seem to be facing the usual deception, double-talk, and lying from the Chinese.

Recall that in 2015, China's president Xi Jinping and said that his country had "no intention to militarize" the South China Sea, and that they would be tourist attractions. It was just as much a lie as when Hitler promised "peace in our time" as he was planning to invade Britain. Today, the Chinese military has turned them into bases, bristling with radar domes, shelters for missiles, warplane runways, and other heavy military equipment. No tourists are welcome.

In January of this year, there were reports that Gwadar would become a Chinese military naval base. China denied the report, but an article in the South China Morning Post reported that the military base would not be in Gwadar itself, but nearby on the Jiwani Peninsula. The article quoted a Beijing-based military analyst who said:

"China needs to set up another base in Gwadar for its warships because Gwadar is now a civilian port.

It’s a common practice to have separate facilities for warships and merchant vessels because of their different operations. Merchant ships need a bigger port with a lot of space for warehouses and containers, but warships need a full range of maintenance and logistical support services."

At a Beijing forum last week, Javaid Iqbal, Navy Secretary of the Pakistan Navy was asked whether Gwadar is the location of a future Chinese military base. He evaded the question by restricting his answer to Gwadar port: "Let me emphasize that the Gwadar port is purely a commercial venture and has no military overtones. The Gwadar port has no military dimension. It will be just a commercial port." So, no mention of a base in nearby Jiwani. Aren't these people wonderful? Diplomat (9-Feb) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, 5-Jan) and Reuters (26-Oct) and Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIS/AMTI)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan's Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claims credit for killing CPEC workers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Nov-18 World View -- US and South Korea resume some military marine drills, despite North's objections

Disarmament proceeds along North-South Korea border, opposed by US

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US and South Korea resume some military marine drills, despite North's objections


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjom, in April. (Korea Times)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shake hands in front of Freedom House at Panmunjom, in April. (Korea Times)

US and South Korea marine forces will begin on Monday joint military marine drills around the southeastern port city of Pohang on Monday. It will involve 500 troops from the South Korean Marine Corps and the U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in Okinawa. South Korea announced that it will decide next month whether to suspend next year's exercises.

Early in January of this year, at the time that North Korea was beginning its "charm offensive" and talking about participating in the Olympics games in Seoul, North Korea demanded that US-South Korea military drills be postponed until after the Olympics. The military drills have been performed for years, and they have always infuriated both the North Koreans and the Chinese. So, the US and South Korea acceded to the North Korean demand to postpone the drills until after March 18, when the Olympics and Paralympics games finally end.

However, the charm offensive continued, with numerous negotiating sessions involving North Korea, South Korea, and the United States, including personal meetings between the national leaders. North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un repeatedly insisted that he would fully "denuclearize." North Korea has even destroyed a nuclear testing facility that it doesn't need or use to "prove" it was sincere.

Many analysts, including myself, believe that North Korea has no intention to denuclearize, and that the purpose of the "charm offensive" is to apply political pressure to the United States to agree to and the sanctions with having to make any denuclearization concessions. I also believe that if Kim Jong-un tried to actually denuclearize, then he would be shot dead by his own generals.

North Korea has taken no real steps towards denuclearization, even refusing to take the simple step of providing a list of all its nuclear development sites. No reason was given by the US military why it is resuming the limited military drills, but it may be a warning to North Korea after 11 months of charm offensive that nothing has been accomplished.

Kim Jong-un appears to be replaying the same fraudulent script that his father Kim Jong-il followed in 2008. At that time, the North demolished a 60-foot-tall cooling tower to prove that it was ending its nuclear development programs. In reaction, the Bush administration agreed to remove all sanctions. As soon as they were removed, North Korea immediately and openly resumed its nuclear and ballistic missile development. They had completely defrauded the United States and the world.

On Friday, North Korea issued a statement threatening to resume nuclear development unless the sanctions are lifted. Specifically, the statement threatened to resume North Korea's "pyongjin" policy of simultaneously advancing its nuclear force and economic development.

Some analysts claim that North Korea has already won. A year ago, the US was threatening military action to halt North Korea's nuclear and missile development. Now, thanks to the charm offensive, the North had a year to continue nuclear and missile development in secret, lacking on the ability to openly test their development with hydrogen bomb tests and long-range ballistic missile tests. North Korea is believed to have an arsenal of ballistic missiles ready to be launched at the US or other targets, and at a time of its choosing it can simply start openly testing again.

The charm offensive will continue later this week, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with North Korean officials to discuss the next halluncinatory steps in the denuclearization process. Pompeo's last meeting didn't accomplish anything. Yonhap News (Seoul) and Reuters and AP

Disarmament proceeds along North-South Korea border, opposed by US

For several months, there has been a separate "peace process" going on in Korea, not well publicized outside.

South Korea's president Moon Jae-in has had several well-publicized meetings with Kim Jong-un, and they've agreed to disarm the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border that separates North and South Korea.

Two weeks ago, the two Koreas announced that firearms and military posts have been withdrawn from a portion of the DMZ, turning the "truce village" of Panmunjom into a "peace village."

This was done quickly, after Moon and Kim agreed to it, and it was the first step in fulfilling the far-reaching agreement of disarming the DMZ, removing land mines, declaring a no-fly zone over a huge region near the border, and eventually removing the 25,000 American troops stationed nearby.

There's no shortage of people calling this a super-wonderful first step on the road to peaceful reunification of North and South Korea.

However, the US State Dept. is opposing these steps. The North Koreans have never repudiated their oft-stated intention of invading South Korea and taking control. Demilitarizing the DMZ has a second purpose -- removing some of the major obstacles to a North Korean invasion of South Korea. North Korea could send its 1.1 million man army across the border into Seoul, wiping out the 23,000 American soldiers stationed there.

The US State Dept. is particularly objecting to the agreement to impose a no-fly zone over the border, because it would effectively prevent close air support drills. The agreement also bars live-fire drills involving fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground guided weapons in the no-fly area.

If you step back and look at the entire year, Kim Jong-un seems to be winning on every point. There's widespread cheating by the Chinese and Russians over the sanctions. North Korea has been free to continue nuclear development and ballistic missile development, with no restriction except open testing. And the DMZ is being demilitarized, leaving Seoul open to invasion by the North at a time of its choosing.

All of this seems pretty obvious to a lot of people. The only question is: Why is Moon Jae-in facilitating it? Yonhap News (Seoul) and Stars and Stripes and Reuters (18-Oct) and Korea Herald (19-Sep)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-18 World View -- US and South Korea resume some military marine drills, despite North's objections thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan government capitulates to Barelvi/TLP terrorists, doesn't free Asia Bibi

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan government capitulates to Barelvi/TLP terrorists, doesn't free Asia Bibi


Protester poster, 'Our demand - Hang Asia' (BBC)
Protester poster, 'Our demand - Hang Asia' (BBC)

Three days after Pakistan's Supreme Court freed Asia Bibi on blasphamy charges, the government has signed a 5-point agreement with the Barelvi sect / Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) terrorists completely capitulating to the demands of the terrorists. The TLP had mobilized massive protests across the country, blocking roads in and out of big cities, and had threatened to kill the three Supreme Court judges who had written the opinion freeing Asia. Even Pakistani media and politicians were alarmed at the extent of the government capitulation, and wondered whether the government would survive.

Here's the five-point agreement:

"1. A review petition has been filed in the Aasia Bibi case, which is the right of the petitioners. The government will raise no objections over the review petition.

2. Due process will be followed immediately to include the name of Aasia Bibi in the Exit Control List (ECL).

3. Immediate legal action will be taken over the martyrdom of any individuals during the protest campaign against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi.

4. All those arrested on October 30 or afterwards in the protest campaign against Aasia Bibi's acquittal will be released immediately.

5. The TLP apologizes to anybody whose sentiments have been unnecessarily hurt during the incident."

The reference to the "Exit Control List (ECL)" means that Asia's name will be placed on the airline list that prevents someone from leaving the country. The UK had sent a plane to take Asia to Europe, but it had to leave without her. Asia is said to be in protective custody somewhere.

A number of people had been arrested during the three days of massive demonstration for destroying property and causing violence, and the agreement says that they will be freed.

The only concession made by the terrorists is that they apologize for hurting people's feelings.

A lot of people are now wondering whether Pakistan is ruled by Islamist terrorists. The new president Imran Khan initially said the following:

"I say to these people: do not confront this state ... do not damage this country for your vote bank. If you do this, I promise that the government will do its duty … I ask you: do not force the government to have to take action."

Khan did take action the next day -- total capitulation.

A lot of people congratulated the Supreme Court for its bravery in acquitting Asia, but are now wondering why Asia was not acquitted by a lower court long before this. One analyst answers as follows:

"People ask a question as to why Sessions Court and Lahore High Court convicted her for blasphemy and endorsed death penalty. There are mainly two reasons. First, it is obvious that death threats from the extremists who use Islam for their political gains that might have forced the judges; you have see the chaos by now, for which most judges were afraid of. Secondly, the judges of lower courts were not that courageous to take the risks of their lives for justice."

The following analogy might provide clarification. Imagine a high-level official in America saying that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. There would be screaming, hysterical mobs harassing him in restaurants, threatening him, and demanding his resignation. The same thing is happening in Pakistan today with respect to blasphemy. The News (Pakistan) and Deutsche Welle and The Nation (Pakistan) and Dunya News (Pakistan)

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

It's not surprising that the TLP were absolutely furious about the Supreme Court ruling, which I described three days ago. It was a scathing opinion not only that Asia was not a blasphemer, but that her accusers and, by implication, the Barelvi/TTP terrorists were themselves blasphemers, because they had blasphemed Asia's Christian belief, which Mohammed had ordered all Muslims to protect in a covenant.

Several people asked for more information about this covenant, and whether it actually exists. The text of the covenant appears in the court opinion that I quoted in my previous article, and is repeated here:

"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."

Possibly the best way to understand this covenant is to consider the phrase, "Verily, they are my allies." The word "allies" is used in a literal sense. The document was signed in 628 AD, when Mohammed was in the middle of a generational crisis war between his own Hashim clan versus the Umayyad clan in Mecca. Mohammed had nothing against the Christians and had no reason to fight them, so he promised to protect them.

Over the centuries, Muslim nations have continued to protect Christians living among them, choosing to tax them rather than kill them. So Mohammed's covenant has been followed for 1400 years.

Even today, Muslim jihadists are not killing Christians except for public relations purposes in high profile terrorist attacks. The number of Christians being killed is minuscule, compared to the number of Muslims being killed. More Christians are being killed in traffic accidents than by Muslim jihadists.

A lot of this was discussed in my book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East.

For the most part, it's Muslims who kill Muslims (Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc.), and it's Christians who kill Christians -- Nazis vs Russians, French and British, Hutus vs Tutsis, Russians vs Ukrainians and Georgians, etc. Most of the time, that's the way the world works. Islamic Supreme Council

John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan government capitulates to Barelvi/TLP terrorists, doesn't free Asia Bibi thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Nov-18 World View -- Australia moves migrant children from Nauru immigration camps to Australia

Officials of Nauru infuriated by the contemptuous remarks by NGOs and politicians

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia moves migrant children from Nauru immigration camps to Australia


Nauru immigration camp (AAP)
Nauru immigration camp (AAP)

As a result of Federal Court orders, the Australian government is in the process of moving all migrant children and their families from Nauru immigration camps to Australian cities and towns. Fifty minors and their families have come to Australia since October 15, for a total of 135 people, and the remaining 35 minors are expected to be transferred by Christmas.

Since August 3, 2013, when the government of Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of the Republic of Nauru, refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat without a visa would be sent either to Nauru or to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and would have "no chance" of being resettled in Australia as refugees.

The decision to send "boat people" to the offshore islands has been extremely controversial, both domestically and internationally, as NGOs claim that the offshore islands are filthy and unsafe. Despite the objections from activists, the policy has been extremely successful in meeting its objectives. While there had previously been tens of thousands of "boat people" per year arriving in Australia, that number has been reduced to almost none, because refugees know that they will be transferred to one of the offshore detention centers. Australian officials claim that thousands of refugees' lives have been saved, since they didn't attempt the risky boat trip with human traffickers.

Activists have been using the courts and political pressure to force the government to bring all refugees on the islands to be resettled in Australia. Different government officials since 2013 have all refused, saying that any such move would trigger a new flood of boat people from Indonesia.

New Zealand has volunteered to take 150 refugees from Nauru and PNG and resettle them. However, Home Secretary Peter Dutton has rejected this offer because intelligence surveillance of smuggling operations had detected “increased chatter” and “talk about elections and change of government here," according to Dutton. "My judgment at the moment, based on all of the advice available to me, is New Zealand would be a pull factor at this point in time." The phrase "pull factor" refers to a possible resurgence of boat people.

However, prime minister Scott Morrison said that he'd only consider the New Zealand offer if legislation were passed that would prevent the refugees from simply leaving New Zealand and coming back to Australia.

Dutton says that the government remains committed to never resettle the refugees in Australia, meaning that they will be deported to their countries of origin after hospital treatment.

As a separate issue, the Obama administration in 2016 agreed to accept up to 1,250 refugees from Nauru and Papua New Guinea. ( "6-Feb-17 World View -- Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever'")

But after more than a year of screening, only 439 have found new homes in the U.S., and dozens more have rejected the offer to resettle in the United States. According to an NGO, these were mostly people who had family in Australia and were concerned about being separated from them permanently. Sydney Morning Herald and CBS News and Guardian (London) and Australia Government (3-Aug-2013)

Officials of Nauru infuriated by the contemptuous remarks by NGOs and politicians

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison is warning NGOs and politicians to stop being offensive to Nauru: "For those Nauruans who live there, I do know that they get frankly a bit offended about the way people talk about their home." Some NGOs have called it an "open air prison."

According to Morrison, all the refugee children on Nauru are living freely in the community just like the locals, and that the island nation should not be disrespected:

"That is the home of Nauruans - their children live there, their families live there, they go to school there. We should be tempered in our discussion about the nation of Nauru and I think we should treat them with respect."

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said, "If you like living in the tropics it's a very, very pleasant island."

According to the Australian government, 65 medical professionals, including 33 mental health workers, are contracted to serve the refugees on Nauru. According to Abbott, health services are better there than in some parts of regional Australia.

However, these statements are in contrast to warnings by NGOs, the United Nations, and the Australian Medical Association about the appalling state of mental health among young refugees. It was these claims that led to the court order to transfer children to Australia.

The issue is becoming increasingly explosive. A month ago, the government of Nauru expelled the NGO Doctors Without Borders Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) which had been providing free mental health care on Nauru. According to Nauru, MSF had originally committed to providing health services for the entire population of 13,000 Nauruans, but instead focused on the refugees to further political advocacy.

According to a statement put out by the Nauru government:

"For too long, some sections of the media, refugee advocates and some NGOs, have focused only on refugees in Nauru and referred to Nauruans with disdain.

Refugees and locals live side by side as part of a homogenous multicultural community. Calls for refugee children to be removed from our country ignore the fact that Nauruan children grow up here happy, healthy and educated within strong family units. Refugee and asylum seeker children attend school and activities with Nauruan children creating friendships and familial bonds. It is disturbing and concerning that advocates and organizations with political agendas prey on the vulnerable and innocent to progress their agendas. ...

The statements made by MSF expose their ruse. It has become very clear that they were never here to help Nauruans as was their initial representation to Government to gain entry into Nauru. They were here as political activists and it was self-evident from the statement made by MSF representatives referring to our sovereign nation, which is our beloved home, as an “open air prison”. This was least expected from an organization proclaiming to be an international humanitarian organization. Nauru has opened its home to refugees awaiting resettlement options. MSF must not define our home as a prison. It speaks of the organization itself."

Nauru is a tiny island, 21 sq km, in the middle of the Pacific. Inhabited for at least 3,000 years, originally by 12 Polynesian and Micronesian tribes, its nearest neighbor, Kiribati, is 300 km of empty ocean away. Nauru was a German colony in the 19th century and an Australian protectorate in the 20th, until independence in 1969, at which time it was one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

It had a massive supply of mineral phosphate. It was strip-mined by mining companies, who packed it up and sold it overseas to be used as fertilizer. Profits were placed into a trust which, at its peak, was valued at $1 billion.

But Nauru became independent in 1969, and then the politicians took over. A series of corrupt and incompetent governments wasted the money, and left the country broke and barren by the 1980s, with an unemployment rate of 70%. Since then, Australia has had to provide aid to them.

The "boat people" situation has provided an extremely controversial opportunity for both countries. For Nauru it provided a way to earn extra millions of dollars by housing the refugees. For Australia, it provided a place to send them. Australia AP and NPR and Naura Government and News.com (Australia) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-18 World View -- Australia moves migrant children from Nauru immigration camps to Australia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Nov-18 World View -- EU splits on Iran sanctions after assassination attempt in Denmark

Trump's Iran sanctions, announced in May, scheduled for Sunday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump's Iran sanctions, announced in May, scheduled for Sunday


Iranian newspaper critical of Trump (AFP)
Iranian newspaper critical of Trump (AFP)

In May, the Trump administration withdrew America's position in the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). At that time, Trump announced that he was restoring wide-ranging sanctions on Iran's economy. He Trump gave oil buyers 180 days to wind down purchases of Iranian oil, and that the final deadline for oil purchases would be Sunday, November 4. From May to September, Iran's oil exports fell by about a third.

The Trump administration has the power to enforce the sanctions because of the way that the international banking systems are interlocked. Iran can sell oil to another country, but in order to get paid, payment sooner or later has to pass through an entity that can be sanctioned by the US for violating the Iran sanctions, or can be cut off from the US financial system altogether.

The European Union, which has expressed fury at the Trump administration for taking these actions, has been trying to set up a "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) that European countries can use to pay Iran without having to pass through a financial entity that the US can punish. The original plan was to have the SPV in place by Monday, but implementing it has turned out to be too complex so far. Furthermore, EU officials are said to want to avoid a "direct confrontation" with the Trump administration over Iran before the midterm elections on Tuesday.

The US has reportedly agreed to grant a waiver to India to permit Indian oil companies to continue importing Iranian oil for four more months, until March. The terms of the waiver are not fully clear, but India will be required to cut its imports by a third. India will make 45% of the purchase in its own rupee currency, which Iran can then use to purchase rice, drugs and other products from India. The other 55% of the payment will be made in euros, but this money will be held in escrow in India banks, until the sanctions are lifted.

There are also reports that South Korea will be granted a waiver, although the details are not known.

China and Japan are also seeking waivers, but have yet to receive them. China is Iran's biggest oil customer, but because of the US sanctions, China's biggest refiners have reportedly halted imports in November until the US provides clarity. CNBC and India Times and CNBC and AFP

EU splits on Iran sanctions after assassination attempt in Denmark

When Trump withdrew from from the JCPOA in May, officials in Denmark said they were shocked and surprised by Trump's decision. Former foreign minister Holger K. Nielsen said:

"It is catastrophic for him to do this. It could have very serious consequences for the entire region. This was a way to stay Iran's nuclear ambitions while giving more moderate forces wind in their sails. It is now a concern that hardliners [in Iran] will gain power. ...

That's why I am very, very concerned. If Iran resumes nuclear arms development, I fear that Israel or the US will attack Iran, and that will make the Iraq war look like a playground fight, because this would be much worse."

That was then. This is now. And now, Denmark is asking the European Union to impose additional sanctions on Iran.

On September 28, agents from Denmark's intelligence service (PET) saw an individual taking photos outside the home in Copenhagen of the leader of Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of al-Ahwaz (ASMLA). ASMLA is a separatist group demanding a separate Arab state in Iran's south-western Khuzestan Province, and is classified as a terrorist group by Iran. A previous leader of ASMLA had been shot dead in the Netherlands in November 2017, so PET was concerned that a new assassination was being planned.

By total coincidence, a Swedish-registered black Volvo started moving "suspiciously" outside the same house. When they tried to stop the car, it sped off. This triggered a major manhunt, during which a number of roads, bridges and ferry routes were shut down, including connections between Denmark and Sweden. It turned out that the three occupants of the Volvo had no relation to the ASMLA case, but that the Volvo was a stolen car. They were only caught because of the ASMLA case, making them "the world's most unlucky criminals," according to the Copenhagen police.

The man taking the pictures was a Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. He was arrested in Norway on October 21, and extradited to Denmark. A search of his home revealed numerous photos of the residences of members of ASMLA.

Danish security officials have accused Iranian intelligence of "planning an attack on Danish soil" against Iranian Arab dissidents.

Iran's Foreign Ministry denied the country had any role in the alleged assassination plot. It said in a statement:

"This is yet another scenario in a series of conspiracies and plots by well-known Iran adversaries in an attempt to jeopardize the good and progressive Iran-EU relations at this very important and critical juncture."

Other Iranian official suggested sabotage by the US, Saudi Arabia or Israel.

Some analysts claim that hardliners in Iran's intelligence services may plan plots in Europe without the knowledge or control of Iran's government. The rogue elements may even be trying to undermine pragmatists in the Iranian government and good relations with the Europe.

This is actually believable. As I describe in my book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, Iran is one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Iran's constitution has no checks and balances, and the only way to get ahead in the government is through bribery, extortion and corruption.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Washington stood behind Denmark, a Nato ally.

"We congratulate the government of #Denmark on its arrest of an Iranian regime assassin. For nearly 40 years, Europe has been the target of #Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks. We call on our allies and partners to confront the full range of Iran’s threats to peace and security. — Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 30, 2018"

This situation has thrown a huge stumbling block into the EU plans to keep the JCPOA deal alive.

Iran has had a long record of pursuing opponents living abroad. Last month, a series of raids in France and across Europe caught several Iranian diplomats and sleeper cells planning terrorist operations. ( "4-Oct-18 World View -- Iran diplomats and sleeper cells arrested in France and across Europe")

There's a darkly ironic twist because Iran has strongly condemned Saudi Arabia's killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul Turkey, and is now accused of the same crime. Russia has used the nerve agent Novichok to murder opponents living in Britain, but to my knowledge they've issued no statement on Iran's alleged assassination attempt in Copenhagen. The Local (Denmark, 9-May) and Deutsche Welle and The Local (Denmark, 29-Sep) and Washington Post

John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

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1-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan court reaffirms Mohammed's covenant with Christianity, acquits Asia Bibi of blasphemy

Asia Bibi acquittal triggers widespread riots and terrorist threats

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan Supreme Court acquits Asia Bibi of blasphemy, triggering widespread riots


Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman with five children who was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010, and has remained on death row since then. The court's scathing decision not only acquitted her, but also accused the two women who accused her of blasphemy, as well as the prosecutors who took the case to trial, of their own acts of blasphemy against Asia's religion, Christianity.

Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the political party of the loony Barelvi sect of hardline Sunni Islam has called for nationwide riots, and the assassination of the three Supreme Court judges, who are being given additional protection. Widespread protests erupted on Wednesday in cities across Pakistan, including Lahore and Karachi, shutting down roads.

It was feared that the government would bow to the Barelvi/TLP demands and ignore the court's decision. That hasn't happened so far, and the new prime minister Imran Khan has endorsed the court verdict, and condemned the protesters:

"These protesters are not ‘protecting’ Islam; they are just trying to fill their vote banks. They are enemies of the state that are doing politics in the name of the religion. People cannot get to their jobs. A laborer, who had to get to his work place and would be unable to feed his children because of this. ...

Do not force the government to take action. Do not clash with the state or hurt the country only for political gains."

However, there are still concerns that the Barelvi/TLP terrorists will prevent Asia Bibi from leaving the country, now that she's free and several countries have offered her asylum.

The blasphemy charge occurred when a bunch of women started arguing with each other. Several women refused to drink out of the same cup as Asia because she's a Christian. Five days later, they decided to charge her with blasphemy. She was prosecuted and has been in jail until today.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province in Pakistan, called for the release of Asia Bibi, and was shot 28 times in broad daylight in an open marketplace on January 4, 2011. The killer was his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. The motive, as described by Qadri, was to punish Taseer for objecting to Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and for calling for the release of Asia Bibi. Qadri was not just a national hero, but he was a Barelvi hero, and it's that execution that led to the rise of TLP. Since Qadri justified his murder of Taseer with a phony blasphemy charge, the TLP political movement is based almost entirely on phony blasphemy charges. Qadri was showered with roses and treated as a hero in 2011 after brutally murdering Taseer. Qadri was finally executed last year, but not before he became a national hero for killing Taseer over a phony blasphemy charge.

So Asia Bibi has been a political foil for the loony Barelvi sect for eight years. If she is successful in leaving the country, at least that part of saga may be over. BBC and Deutsche Welle and Dawn (Pakistan, 13-Oct)

Pakistan Supreme Court defends Mohammed's covenant with Christianity

The court's opinion is very long, 56 pages. Each statement or conclusion is supported by a verse from the Koran. It's in roughly three parts.

The first part is the history of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. The second part describes the evidence against Asia Bibi.

The third part is a scathing criticism of the women who accused Asia of blasphemy, and of the prosecutors who tried the case, repeated lying and ignoring exculpatory evidence. Furthermore, the court accuses the women and the prosecutors and even the trial courts of violating Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity, and of being guilty themselves of blasphemy, for having blasphemed the religion of Asia Bibi, which was Christianity.

The following are extracts from the latter parts of the opinion. According to the judgment, the Asia Bibi's prosecutors repeatedly lied, and so the prosecutors were in violation of the Koran:

"20. The glaring and stark contradictions in the evidence produced by the prosecution in respect of every factual aspect of this case, noticed by me above, lead to an irresistible and unfortunate impression that all those concerned in the case with providing evidence and conducting investigation had taken upon themselves not to speak the truth or at least not to divulge the whole truth. It is equally disturbing to note that the courts below had also, conveniently or otherwise, failed to advert to such contradictions and some downright falsehood. All concerned would have certainly done better if they had paid heed to what Almighty Allah has ordained in the Holy Qur’an:

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah: verse 8)

“So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted.” (Surah An-Nisa: verse 135)"

The court was particularly suspicious that Asia was only accused of blasphemy five days after the alleged incident occurred, and that Asia's accusers themselves had insulted her (Christian) religion. They say that the Koran demands every Muslim believe in all the holy prophets, including Jesus Christ, and that therefore Asia's accusers were themselves blasphemers:

"23. The statements made by [prosecutors] before the trial court revealed that the alleged blasphemy had been committed by the Christian appellant after her Muslim co-workers had insulted the appellant’s religion and had injured her religious sensibilities only because she believed in and was a follower of Jesus Christ. According to the Holy Qur’an a Muslim’s faith is not complete till he believes in all the Holy Prophets and Messengers of Almighty Allah including Jesus Christ (Isa son of Maryam) (Peace Be Upon Him) and all the revealed Holy Books of Almighty Allah including the Holy Bible. From that perspective insulting the appellant’s religion by her Muslim co-workers was no less blasphemous. Almighty Allah, the Creator of mankind, knew how a human being whose religion and religious sensibilities are insulted is likely to snap and retort and that is why it was ordained in the Holy Qur’an that

“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.” (Surah Al-An’am: verse 108)

The Muslim co-workers of the appellant had violated the command of Almighty Allah by insulting the Deity believed in and the religion followed by the appellant and, even if the prosecution’s allegations against the appellant were to be accepted as correct, the stated reaction to the same by the appellant was not different from that warned about by Almighty Allah."

The court went on at length to describe how Mohammed was committed to protecting Christians and Christianity, and so Asia's accusers were actually violating one of Mohammed's covenants:

"24. In view of the glaring contradictions in the evidence produced by the prosecution it has appeared to me to be equally plausible that due to the quarrel taking place between the appellant and her Muslim coworkers at the spot without any offending word having been uttered by the appellant the quarrel was reported by the Muslim ladies to others who then, after deliberating over the matter for five long days, had decided to go after the appellant with a false allegation regarding commission of blasphemy. If that were so then the Muslim witnesses in this case had violated a covenant of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) with those professing the Christian faith. [One covenant is with the] Monks of Mount Sinai. It is reported that in or around the year 628 A.D. a delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery, the world’s oldest monastery located at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt, came to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), requested for his protection and he responded by granting them a charter of rights. That charter, also known as The Promise to St. Catherine, was translated from Arabic to English language by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq as follows:

"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.

Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."

The promise made was eternal and universal and was not limited to St. Catherine alone. The rights conferred by the charter are inalienable and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) had declared that Christians, all of them, were his allies and he equated ill treatment of Christians with violating God’s covenant. It is noticeable that the charter imposed no conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges and it was enough that they were Christians. They were not required to alter their beliefs, they did not have to make any payments and they did not have any obligations. The charter was of rights without any duties and it clearly protected the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and security of person."

The court reaches its final conclusion, completely acquitting Asia Bibi:

"[25.] Blasphemy is a serious offence but the insult of the appellant’s religion and religious sensibilities by the complainant party and then mixing truth with falsehood in the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) was also not short of being blasphemous. It is ironical that in the Arabic language the appellant’s name Asia means ‘sinful’ but in the circumstances of the present case she appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Leare, “more sinned against than sinning”.

26. For what has been discussed above a conclusion is inescapable and irresistible that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. This appeal is, therefore, allowed, the conviction and sentence of the appellant recorded and upheld by the courts below are set aside and she is acquitted of the charge by extending the benefit of doubt to her. She shall be released from the jail forthwith if not required to be detained in connection with any other case."

Although not mentioned in the opinion, the implication is that TLP is also guilty of blasphemy. Pakistan Supreme Court (PDF) and Christianity Today and BBC

Related Articles

  • Pakistan's interior minister shot by member of loony anti-blasphemy Barelvi sect (07-May-2018)
  • History of blasphemy laws in UK, Ireland and Pakistan (20-Sep-2012)
  • Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated (05-Jan-2011)
  • Pakistan government totally capitulates to hardline Islamist TLYRAP Barelvi sect mob (29-Nov-2017)
  • Pakistan unexpectedly executes murderer of liberal politician Salman Taseer (01-Mar-2016)
  • (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan court reaffirms Mohammed's covenant with Christianity, acquits Asia Bibi of blasphemy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Oct-18 World View -- Sri Lanka constitutional crisis represents opportunity for China

    Mahinda Rajapaksa's return to power will be welcomed by China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka constitutional crisis represents opportunity for China


     Sri Lankan police and special forces stand guard next to a poster of the newly appointed prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa (Reuters)
    Sri Lankan police and special forces stand guard next to a poster of the newly appointed prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa (Reuters)

    Mahinda Rajapaksa, a close ally of China and former president of Sri Lanka until he was defeated in a 2015 election, may be making a comeback as prime minister.

    Last week, in a vitriolic political dispute, Sri Lanka's current president decided to fire the current prime minister, and appoint Rajapaksa to be the new prime minister.

    Note:
    - President is Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)
    - Fired prime minister is Ranil Wickremesinghe, United National Party (UNP)
    - Appointed prime minister is Mahinda Rajapaksa

    The fired prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has refused to leave the prime minister's residence, and hundreds of supporters gathered outside.

    Meanwhile, Rajapaksa has moved into the prime minister's office, and is starting to appoint a cabinet. So there are currently two prime ministers.

    The president, Maithripala Sirisena, claims that he has the right to fire the prime minister and appoint a new one. His opponents say that it's unconstitutional, and that only the parliament can fire a prime minister, and so the parliament should be called into session to decide who is prime minister.

    Sirisena responded by announcing that the Parliament will remain closed until mid-November. This will give him to time to make sure that the members of parliament are aligned behind his decision. However, the speaker of the parliament said: "We need to solve this through parliament. If we try to solve this in the streets it will lead to a major bloodbath."

    Wickremesinghe posted a defiant statement on Monday:

    "As the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, I call upon all parties to assemble in parliament to regain our country's peace, stability, and to vehemently defend the fundamental rights of our citizens. My expectation is that the Speaker [of Parliament] will exercise his constitutional rights and summon parliament within the next 2 days.

    We ask the Honorable Speaker to summon Parliament urgently- only through the parliamentary system can we can save our country from this unfortunate and dangerous situation. Let us forget our political differences and rally to re-establish democracy in our country."

    The reference to a "dangerous situation" is made because there's already been violence, including one person killed.

    On Saturday, a pro-Wickremesinghe minister was confronted by a crowd of supporters of the president. The minister's bodyguard opened fire on the crowd, killing one person and wounding two others. This followed the storming of two state-owned television stations by mobs of Rajapaksa supporters. Guardian (London) and NPR and Guardian

    Mahinda Rajapaksa's return to power will be welcomed by China

    President Sirisena and fired prime minister Wickremesinghe have had a number of disagreements, especially because Wickremesinghe is "pro-India," while Sirisena is "pro-China."

    In a bizarre manifestation of this difference, in mid-October Sirisena publicly accused India's intelligence services of plotting his assassination. However, he spoke to India's prime minister Narendra Modi on the phone the next day. Afterwards, Sirisena stated that the mischievous and malafide reports were utterly baseless and false, and seemed intended to create misunderstanding between the two leaders as well as damage the cordial relations between the two friendly neighbors.

    Rajapaksa became president of Sri Lanka in 2005, but was defeated in the presidential election by Sirisena in 2015. The two men had maintained cordial relations, so in that sense it wasn't a surprise that Sirisena decided to bring Rajapaksa back to power by appointing him prime minister after firing Wickremesinghe.

    However, there's a great deal of hostility and violence in Sri Lanka related to the 30-year civil war between the governing ethnic Sinhalese, who are Buddhist, and the minority ethnic Tamils, who are Hindu. This was actually the first generational crisis war to reach a climax in this century. This civil war climaxed in May 2009. As in the case of all generational crisis wars, especially when they're civil wars, the war was extremely brutal and blood, with atrocities committed on both sides. Mahinda Rajapaksa was president during the last years of that war, and he's been personally charged with war crimes. (Paragraph corrected, 31-Oct)

    There have been sporadic surges in violence since then. Since 2014, there have been numerous hate crime attacks by Buddhists on Muslims, including arson at Muslim-owned businesses and petrol-bomb attacks on mosques. The attacks are being blamed on a radical nationalist Buddhist organization, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS - Forces of Buddhist Power).

    Another important legacy of Rajapaksa's presidency is that he made Sri Lanka the poster child and the first country to become victim to China's "Debt Trap Diplomacy." The Seaport of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, was funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers, and all parts and services imported from China, so that the loan money never benefited Sri Lanka's industries. Rajapaksa agreed to China's demands for exhorbitant loan repayment terms. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and in December of last year, Sri Lanka was forced to give the seaport away to China. So now Sri Lanka has a large seaport owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave with hundreds of Chinese families, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

    What's more important is that the seaport is at a strategic location in the Indian Ocean, and is one of China's "String of Pearls" seaports, and is considered a major security threat to India. Rajapaksa's return to power means that China will play a dominant role in Sri Lanka's politics and development. India Today and Foreign Policy and Diplomat

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Oct-18 World View -- Sri Lanka constitutional crisis represents opportunity for China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Oct-18 World View -- Thailand and Thaksin Shinawatra prepare for new national elections

    Brief generational history of Thailand

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thailand and Thaksin Shinawatra prepare for new national elections


    Supporters hold a picture of Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck in Bangkok on Aug 5, 2017. (AFP)
    Supporters hold a picture of Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck in Bangkok on Aug 5, 2017. (AFP)

    Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has announced that a new general election will be held in 2019, possibly on February 24. Prayuth himself is prime minister because he was appointed by a military junta that overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014 in a coup. Under domestic and international pressure, Prayuth has promised five times to schedule a general election, but has always failed to do so.

    It's possible that he won't keep his promise this time either. After the 2014 coup, he promised elections in early 2015, then in 2016, and then in November 2018. Now it's 2019 - maybe.

    The reason that Prayuth may again kill election plans is because he knows that his side will almost certainly lose. The vast majority of the population are the dark-skinned lower class indigenous people, also called "Thai-Thai" and "red shirts," comprising about 3/4 of the population, living mostly in the northern and northeastern regions of Thailand, but who come to Bangkok mostly to work in menial jobs serving the Thai-Chinese.

    The Thai-Chinese, also called "yellow shirts," are the light-skinned descendants of a wave of Chinese workers that poured into the country to find jobs in the 1930s. They comprise 1/4 of the population, live mostly around Bangkok, and are extremely contemptuous of the indigenous Thai-Thai, whom they consider to be inferior. Prayuth hates the Thai-Thai people, and knows that they'll win a general election, which is why he'll probably do all he can to avoid one. Straits Times and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, 29-Dec-2017) and Channel News Asia

    The shadow of Thaksin Shinawatra

    The Pheu Thai Party (Puea Thai Party), originally called the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, is the party of the indigenous "red shirt" people, led by Thaksin Shinawatra. Thaksin was prime minister from 2001-2006, when he was ousted by a military coup. He then engineered a series of election victories for prime ministers from hie Pheu Thai party, but in each case the army used some artifice to overthrow the elected prime minister.

    In one case, the elected prime minister Samak Sundaravej was thrown out of office by a court because he previously had a cooking show on tv, and that was a conflict of interest. ( "Thailand government collapses, ending crippling riots from class war".)

    In the most recent case, Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra won the 2011 election as the first female prime minister, with her election campaign scripted by her brother Thaksin, who at that time was living in exile in Dubai. ( "Thailand's Yingluck promises to use 'femininity' to resolve disputes")

    However, Yingluck's use of femininity during her time in office didn't seem to work with the military junta that overthrew her in a coup in 2014. She was charged with corruption and convicted in 2017, but fled the country in August just before she was scheduled to be sentenced and jailed. Many observers believe that the army purposely looked the other way when she fled the country, fearing that if she were jailed there would be popular riots by her supporters. She was sentenced in absentia to five years in jail.

    Thaksin and Yingluck are still extremely popular in Thailand, and they still yield a great deal of influence in the Pheu Thai party. According to one analyst, "You have to understand how powerful the Thaksin ‘brand’ is among his supporters. For his working class supporters he is still seen as a hero, who delivered to those people who voted for him what he promised, until he was unjustly overthrown by the ‘elite’."

    Thaksin has been traveling to London, Hong Kong and Singapore, remaining out of reach of the Thai authorities. He recently gave an interview in which he said that all the "pro-democracy parties," including his own Pheu Thai, should unite behind a single candidate. "It's time for [voters] to cast their ballots ... to dump the dictatorship of Thailand."

    After giving this interview, a member of the ruling military junta in Thailand, urged the Election Commission to look into whether Thaksin exercises control over the affairs of the Pheu Thai party from abroad. If a probe takes place and finds that Thaksin still retains influence, it could lead to dissolution of the party for several years. Bangkok Post and Nikkei and South China Morning Post and Al Jazeera

    Brief generational history of Thailand

    Part of Thailand's history was made famous by Anna Leonowens, who came from London to Siam (as it was known then) to be the governess and teacher of the many children of King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the 1860s. In 1895, she wrote memoirs that were turned into a film, "Anna and the King of Siam" in 1946, and into the 1952 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, "The King and I."

    If you have a few minutes, then watch the YouTube video of "The March of the Siamese Children," from the 1956 film, "The King and I." It depicts Anna's first meeting with the children.

    The play depicts a troubled king trying to lead a small country surrounded by large enemies, and willing to use invasion, torture and other atrocities.

    King Rama had fought a generational crisis war in the early 1830s when he had invaded Laos and Cambodia, but ended up losing to a Vietnamese army.

    Siam's next generational crisis war occurred in what is now southern Thailand. For centuries, Siam's kings had felt that the Muslims in southern Siam were a major threat to the security of the country, mainly because resistance and rebellion against Thai government rule were so strong among the Muslim population, and in fact the southern Muslims had revolted during the 1830s crisis war.

    By the late 1800s this threat had been felt to be critical, and in 1902 King Rama V invaded and annexed the Malay kingdom of Patani, consisting of the four provinces of Satun, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. (Note: The kingdom is spelled "Patani," while the province is spelled "Pattani.") In 1909, an Anglo-Siamese Agreement established the present border between Thailand and Malaysia.

    During the next few decades, Siam (which became Thailand in 1939) was faced with the problem of trying to assimilate the southern Muslim population into what is essentially a Buddhist country. During the generational Awakening era that followed, the military coup of 1932 overthrew the absolute monarchy in Siam and replaced it with constitutional monarchy. This was a representative form of government that promised a high degree of political participation of the Malay-Muslims in the South. However, as World War II (an Awakening era war for Thailand) approached, the country became more Thai-nationalistic, and the country adopted a policy of forced assimilation towards the Muslims, which had little success, as resistance and rebellion have continued since then.

    The 1930s also saw a large influx of migrants from China, coming to the country to work. Over the decades, they were able to displace the indigenous people in positions of power in government, and in control of businesses. This formed an ethnic fault line between the indigenous Thai-Thai majority and the elite Thai-Chinese minority.

    The next generational crisis war was the Cambodian "killing fields" war, 1975-79, in which Pol Pot's communist Khmer Rouge government, backed by China, killed 1.7-3 million people in a massive genocide. The Cambodian war spilled over into Thailand in the form of a communist rebellion that had begun in the 1960s. King Bhumibol (Rama IX) became an essential figure in the fight against the communists, although his role became more controversial in the savage anti-leftist coup of 1976, in which dozens of students were brutally killed by the security forces and royal-backed militias, and thousands forced to flee to seek sanctuary with the Communist Party.

    The Cambodian "killing fields" civil war took place on Thailand's doorstep, though not on Thai soil. Still, it caused a split along the Thai-Thai versus Thai-Chinese fault line that continues to the present time. Today, Thailand is in a new generational Awakening/Unraveling era, and we're seeing a repeat of what happened in the 1930s.

    During the generational Awakening era of the 1930s, the military coup of 1932 overthrew the absolute monarchy in Siam and replaced it with constitutional monarchy that gave some power to the southern Muslims, only to have it taken away a few years later.

    During the current era, the 1997 constitution guaranteed free elections for everyone, including the indigenous Thai-Thai, and now that's being taken away by a military junta.

    History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Yale: Thailand’s Response to the Cambodian Genocide and Cornell: History and Politics of the Muslims in Thailand (PDF) and Communist Party of Thailand

    Related Articles

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Oct-18 World View -- Thailand and Thaksin Shinawatra prepare for new national elections thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Oct-18 World View -- Islamic Jihad agrees to Egypt-sponsored ceasefire in Gaza after night of terror

    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) accepts the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Islamic Jihad agrees to Egypt-sponsored ceasefire in Gaza after night of terror


    Smoke rises from an Israeli bombardment in Gaza on Saturday (AP)
    Smoke rises from an Israeli bombardment in Gaza on Saturday (AP)

    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) said that it's agreed to a ceasefire with Israel mediated by Egypt after a Friday night of terror.

    During Friday night, 34 rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, according to the Israeli military. It's believed that the rockets were launched by Islamic Jihad, a terror group in Gaza that is a separate entity from Hamas. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system is said to have intercepted 13 of the 34 rockets. No Israelis were reported injured by the rocket attacks.

    In response, Israeli air force missile attacks struck 80 targets across Gaza on Saturday morning, including Hamas's new headquarters for General Security Services. Gaza officials say that nine Palestinians were wounded in one of the Israeli attacks and a hospital was badly damaged.

    Gaza is under siege by both Israel and Egypt. Hamas, the nominally ruling government in Gaza, has disavowed the rocket activity and blames PIJ for sabotaging attempts to broker a long-term truce that would lift the siege. However, Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket attacks on Israel. Al Jazeera and Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia) and CNN

    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) accepts the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire

    PIJ official Khaled al-Batsh said that the rocket attacks were made in revenge for Israeli attacks on Gazans:

    "The occupation could not have been allowed to kill four peaceful demonstrators in Gaza and two in the occupied West Bank for taking part in peaceful popular marches without responding to the crimes."

    However, an Israeli army spokesman said that Iran and Syria were behind the rocket attacks: "Islamic Jihad fired dozens of missiles at Israel under the guidance of Iran and Syria. These incidents show the dangers threatening the State of Israel."

    PIJ was actually formed in the late 1970s, and was inspired by Iran's Islamic Revolution. PIJ and Hamas are both Sunni Muslim terror organizations, but PIJ has always had a much closer relationship with Iran than Hamas has had.

    Israeli security officials believe that PIJ is supplied with money and weapons from Iran, and also takes orders from Iran. These officials believe that Iran was influenced by two events in the last week to order PIJ to make the rocket attacks.

    One event was a surprise visit by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman, meeting Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos. This meeting came shortly after a similar meeting by Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Sultan Qaboos' objective was to initiate a new dialog between the two parties, which might have shut Iran and Hamas out.

    The second event was word that Hamas and Egypt have finally agreed to the terms to restore calm in Gaza, more or less under the same parameters put in place after 2014 summer war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

    PIJ has its own reasons to launch the rocket attacks -- unlike Hamas, it opposes any peace negotiations with Israel.

    However, under pressure from Hamas and Egypt, PIJ agreed to the ceasefire, and there were no more rocket or missile attacks on Saturday or Sunday. According to a PIJ spokesman:

    "After contacts between the Islamic Jihad leadership and the brothers in Egypt it was agreed that a comprehensive ceasefire will begin immediately. The Islamic Jihad will abide by the ceasefire if the occupation (Israel) does the same."

    Israel has threatened further attacks on Iranian targets Syria if the rocket attacks resume. Ynet (Israel) and Akhbrna News (Cairo)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Oct-18 World View -- Islamic Jihad agrees to Egypt-sponsored ceasefire in Gaza after night of terror thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Oct-18 World View -- Syria peace summit issues delusional call for political solution in Idlib

    Remembering previous Syria 'peace conferences' and 'peace plans'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Remembering previous Syria 'peace conferences' and 'peace plans'


    Leaders holding hands: Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Emmanuel Macron (Reuters)
    Leaders holding hands: Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Emmanuel Macron (Reuters)

    How many "peace conferences" and "peace plans" have there been since 2011, when Syria's president Bashar al-Assad launched his genocidal war against his historic Sunni enemies, including the Palestinians in refugee camps, targeting women and children in marketplaces, schools and hospitals using barrel bombs, missiles, chlorine gas, and Sarin gas, exterminating them as if they were termites?

    The first ones began in 2012 with the UN Security Council appointing a series of UN envoys to Syria. The first was former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan who came up with a six-point peace plan that I described as "farcical" on the day it was announced. ( "22-Mar-12 World View -- U.N. Security Council adopts farcical 'peace plan' for Syria")

    The first of the six points says that Syria commits to work with Kofi Annan “in an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.” That's just an example of how silly it was, as if it had been written by third graders.

    Al-Assad actually agreed to the plan, and then ignored it. He made a complete fool of Annan. The so-called "peace plan" actually made things worse in Syria, because it provided cover for al-Assad to continue his slaughter, while claiming to be negotiating peace. Similar things happened with all three UN envoys -- Kofi Annan, Lakhdar Brahimi, Staffan de Mistura. They were all useful idiots, played by al-Assad as complete fools, humiliating themselves and the United Nations. As I wrote in "3-Aug-12 World View -- Kofi Annan resigns in failure as Syria envoy", Annan was bitter and angry when he resigned, blaming his decision on what he described as Syrian government intransigence, on increasing militancy by Syrian rebels and on finger-pointing and name-calling by members of the United Nations Security Council.

    By the way, two weeks ago Staffan de Mistura announced that he would step down. He blamed Bashar al-Assad for blocking the peace process. Totally laughable.

    It was during the tenure of the envoy Lakhdar Brahimi that I learned what the term "proximity talks" means. The way this works is that the two sides don't actually talk to each other -- if they did, they'd probably end up killing each other. Instead, the two sides remain separated in different rooms, and each side only talks to Brahimi, who goes back and forth between the rooms. That's how the farcical "peace talks" worked.

    Then there were the completely fraudulent so-called "Astana talks," which were led by Russia and took place in Astana, Kazakhstan, or sometimes in Sochi.

    The Astana talks split western Syria into four "de-escalation zones" or "ceasefire zones." Russia promised there would be no fighting in any of these zones. In the case of three of them, al-Assad and Russia violated the agreement, and turned each of them into a full-scale genocide zone.

    There's only one de-escalation zone remaining: Idlib Guardian (London) and Reuters (17-Oct)

    Syria peace summit issues delusional call for political solution in Idlib

    On Saturday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan led peace talks in Istanbul, Turkey, with leaders of Russia, France and Germany. In addition to Erdogan, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron were present.

    The peace conference was considered a diplomatic victory for Erdogan, because he believes that he can get more leverage against Russia and Syria if the Europeans support him.

    Syria was not present, because Bashar al-Assad is never present at these peace conferences, since he always ignores them anyway.

    The U.S. was not present at the peace conference. According to one analyst, the Europeans are furious at Donald Trump for pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal and for the tariff policy, and didn't want the peace conference to turn into a pure Trump-bashing conference, so they didn't invite the US.

    The purpose was to make the ceasefire in Idlib permanent. There are over three million people in Idlib, and half of them are displaced people who fled al-Assad's violence in the other three de-escalation zones. Of the three million civilians, there are an estimated 60,000 or so anti-Assad rebels in Idlib, including both "moderate" rebels and jihadists in al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the al-Nusra Front.

    Bashar al-Assad has made it clear that he plans an assault on Idlib, and is willing to kill three million people to do so, since he considers them all the be "terrorists." If there is an assault on Idlib, there will be a massive humanitarian disaster, and hundreds of thousands or millions of people will pour across the border into Turkey, which is already hosting 3.5 million Syrian refugees. Some of the Idlib refugees will undoubtedly continue on into Europe, resulting in a new European migrant crisis.

    That's why Merkel and Macron are at the meeting, calling for a political solution that makes the Idlib ceasefire permanent. And that's why the meeting is considered a diplomatic victory for Erdogan, since he thinks that Merkel and Macron will pressure Putin into agreeing to a permanent ceasefire.

    On September 17, Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, and they reached an agreement to stabilize Idlib. A buffer zone would be set up, with the Syrian army on one side, and the rest of Idlib on the other. Turkey would guarantee that all rebel weapons would be removed from the buffer zone, and that Turkey would patrol the buffer zone and guarantee that it is weapons-free.

    Since then, there are been sporadic violations of the buffer zone on both sides, but Turkey claims that it has succeeded in clearing the buffer zone. So the purpose of Saturday's peace conference was to agree to make the ceasefire permanent.

    No such agreement was reached, of course. A secondary objective, to form a constitutional committee for Syria, was rejected by al-Assad. In fact, the meeting was a failure except for a few laughable expressions of hope and change.

    At the press conference after the meeting, Macron said, "We should be vigilant that the ceasefire in Syria will be long lasting." Merkel said, "A political solution is necessary besides military solutions. We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons in Syria." Haha.

    We've seen this movie several times before. Al-Assad and Putin commit to some kind of ceasefire, with absolutely no intention to keep the commitment, and use the negotiations as cover to launch a new genocidal offensive. Sooner or later, something will happen that al-Assad can use as an excuse, and the assault will begin.

    This time it will be different, however. In Aleppo, Ghouta and Daara, there were a few hundred thousand people, and many of them were permitted to escape to Idlib.

    In Idlib, there are over three million people, and they have no place to escape to. As I wrote at length earlier this month, this situation has all the makings of a traditional tragedy in the classical Greek sense. There are three major protagonists, al-Assad, Putin and Erdogan, and they're headed for a massive, tragic, calamitous ending that cannot be prevented by them or anybody else. Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Deutsche Welle

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Oct-18 World View -- Syria peace summit issues delusional call for political solution in Idlib thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Oct-18 World View -- China, facing Trump's trade challenge, appears to mend ties with Japan

    China and Japan's 'marriage of convenience' limited by bitter history

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China, facing Trump's trade challenge, appears to mend ties with Japan


    Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping (Kyodo News)
    Shinzo Abe and Xi Jinping (Kyodo News)

    There have been numerous reports in the last three months that, with the Trump administration imposing reciprocal tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of Chinese exports to the US, China has been scrambling to find new markets for its exports.

    One of those new markets appears to be Japan. As Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe visited China's capital city Beijing on Friday, the two countries signed several deals, and declare a new era of cooperation between the two countries.

    China’s President Xi Jinping on Friday rolled out the red carpet for Abe, and said:

    "Our relationship has encountered a lot of obstacles. It was not a smooth ride. But with our joint effort, the relationship has become more normalized. A healthy relationship between China and Japan serves the basic interests of both countries."

    Abe responded by saying that he hoped his trip would elevate the China-Japan relationship from competition to cooperation. "China and Japan are neighbors and partners, and we will not be a threat to each other."

    One of the deals was a currency swap deal. Under the deal, the People’s Bank of China and the Bank of Japan will be able to exchange up to 3.4 trillion yen for 200 billion yuan (about $29 billion) and vice versa over the next three years – a design that will help to ensure financial stability and facilitate financial ties, and allow commercial trade involving the two currencies without needing to go through the US dollar as an intermediary.

    The sides also signed about 50 agreements on boosting cooperation in third-party countries, while companies agreed more than 500 business deals. The third-party country deals are said to be cooperative infrastructure projects related to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    The two sides also agreed to open a hotline “as soon as possible” to prevent accidental clashes at sea and in the air in the East China Sea, where Chinese ships have been harassing Japanese ships near the Senkaku Islands. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Japan Today and South China Morning Post and Deutsche Welle

    China and Japan's 'marriage of convenience' limited by bitter history

    China and Japan have a long, bitter history going back centuries. In recent times, the Sino-Japanese war (1894-95) was a major humiliation for China, which was forced to cede Taiwan to Japan as a colony.

    Even more recently, in December 1937 Imperial Japanese troops in China perpetrated the Nanjing (Nanking) Massacre. This event, along with the Japanese army's use of Korean and Chinese women as "comfort women" during World War II. Japanese troops did not leave China until they were defeated by the Americans at the end of World War II.

    During the last ten years, Chinese ships have been constantly harrassing Japanese ships around the Senkaku Islands. These islands, in the East China Sea, are governed by Japan. Like many places belonging to other countries across Asia, China is threatening to annex them by force. However, this would trigger a war with the US under a Japan-US mutual defense treaty.

    China has its own concerns about Japan. Under Shinzo Abe, Japan has all but abandoned its defense-only policy adopted after World War II, and been strengthening its military for the first time in decades, which China sees as a threat.

    The hatred that many Chinese people viscerally feel for the Japanese runs deep. There have been frequent anti-Japan protests in China. One of the biggest occurred in 2012, when more than 70,000 Chinese staged rallies Saturday in at least 28 cities to demand that Japan surrender the Senkaku islands to China. The largest demonstration, in Qingdao, Shandong Province, attracted as many as 30,000 people and evolved into rioting as protestors torched as many as 10 Japanese enterprises, including a Panasonic factory. The protests and violence appeared to have the tacit approval of China's government.

    The current rapprochement between China and Japan may be a marriage of convenience, but the core issues separating the countries runs deep. Generational Dynamics predicts that Japan and China will fight a new generational crisis war as part of the Clash of Civilizations world war that will pit the US, India, Russia and Iran versus China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. Deutsche Welle and National Interest and BBC and Diplomat

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Oct-18 World View -- China, facing Trump's trade challenge, appears to mend ties with Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Oct-18 World View -- Mike Pence's China 'containment' speech signals more contentious US-China relations

    Post-war speeches by Churchill and Kennan defined 'containment' policy for Soviet Union

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Post-war speeches by Churchill and Kennan defined 'containment' policy for Soviet Union


    President Harry Truman and Winston Churchill in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946
    President Harry Truman and Winston Churchill in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946

    On October 4, VP Mike Pence gave a speech on US policy towards China. Since then, the speech has taken on a great deal of importance, and it's being compared to speeches by Western officials after World War II to "contain" the Soviet Union.

    On March 3, 1946, Winston Churchill gave a speech he called "The Sinews of Peace." It contained the following well-remembered excerpts:

    "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone-Greece with its immortal glories-is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy. ...

    However, in a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world, Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist centre. Except in the British Commonwealth and in the United States where Communism is in its infancy, the Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian civilisation. These are sombre facts for anyone to have to recite on the morrow of a victory gained by so much splendid comradeship in arms and in the cause of freedom and democracy; but we should be most unwise not to face them squarely while time remains."

    On February 22, 1946, America's ambassador to Moscow George Kennan sent a "Long Telegram," 8,000 words long, to the US State Department, describing his recommended policy towards the Soviet Union. The text was made public in a 1947 article in Foreign Affairs magazine as "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," by "X" (no relation to me).

    Kennan described the ideology of the Soviet Union, and by changing a few words, the same description would apply to China today. He described the history of Marxist ideology and how it led to the Bolshevik revolution. "[T]he capitalist system of production is a nefarious one which inevitable leads to the exploitation of the working class by the capital-owning class; ... capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction; ... imperialism, the final phase of capitalism, leads directly to war and revolution." However:

    "Now it must be noted that through all the years of preparation for revolution, the attention of these men, as indeed of Marx himself, had been centered less on the future form which Socialism would take than on the necessary overthrow of rival power which, in their view, had to precede the introduction of Socialism. Their views, therefore, on the positive program to be put into effect, once power was attained, were for the most part nebulous, visionary and impractical, beyond the nationalization of industry and the expropriation of large private capital holdings there was no agreed program. ...

    Let it be stressed again that subjectively these men probably did not seek absolutism for its own sake. They doubtless believed -- and found it easy to believe -- that they alone knew what was good for society and that they would accomplish that good once their power was secure and unchallengeable. But in seeking that security of their own rule they were prepared to recognize no restrictions, either of God or man, on the character of their methods. And until such time as that security might be achieved, they placed far down on their scale of operational priorities the comforts and happiness of the peoples entrusted to their care.

    As things stand today, the rulers can no longer dream of parting with these organs of suppression. The quest for absolute power, pursued now for nearly three decades with a ruthlessness unparalleled (in scope at least) in modern times, has again produced internally, as it did externally, its own reaction. The excesses of the police apparatus have fanned the potential opposition to the regime into something far greater and more dangerous than it could have been before those excesses began."

    So Kennan is saying that once these people have won the civil war and created their Socialist paradises, they turn into cruel, ruthless despots that retain power by any means possible.

    Kennan's description is so well written, and sounds so familiar, because applies to so many countries today. Of course we can see it in Venezuela, but we've also seen it in non-Socialist Paradise countries, including Cameroon, Burundi, Iran and Cambodia. This is a statement of the finding of Generational Dynamics that whenever any country experiences an ethnic civil war which is also a generational crisis war, then in the aftermath, the winning ethnic group oppresses the losing ethnic group, using torture, beatings, rape and slaughter to keep the other ethnic group in line. It also applies to all the other Communist countries that were formed during and after World War II.

    Kennan, writing in 1946, says that the Soviet leaders are still struggling to complete the 1917 Revolution:

    "As things stand today, the rulers can no longer dream of parting with these organs of suppression. The quest for absolute power, pursued now for nearly three decades with a ruthlessness unparalleled (in scope at least) in modern times, has again produced internally, as it did externally, its own reaction. The excesses of the police apparatus have fanned the potential opposition to the regime into something far greater and more dangerous than it could have been before those excesses began.

    But least of all can the rulers dispense with the fiction by which the maintenance of dictatorial power has been defended. For this fiction has been canonized in Soviet philosophy by the excesses already committed in its name; and it is now anchored in the Soviet structure of thought by bonds far greater than those of mere ideology."

    Kennan says that this dictatorial power, with all its oppression and atrocities, is so ingrained in the Kremlin's ideology that they believe they have to use force to spread the same ideology to other countries. In 1946, this observation was already to clear to many people, as described in Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.

    In response, Kennan describes his policy of containment:

    "In these circumstances it is clear that the main element of any United States policy toward the Soviet Union must be that of long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies. ...

    In the light of the above, it will be clearly seen that the Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence."

    Kennan went on to describe details of how the Soviet Union could be contained. Kennan's "Long Telegraph" had a huge impact on Washington policy, and was debated for years. Winston Churchill (5-March-1946) and History Guide - George Kennan (22-Feb-1946)

    Mike Pence's China 'containment' speech signals more contentious US-China relations

    VP Mike Pence's October 4 speech gives a scathing criticism of China's behavior. Pence's speech is being described as a "containment" speech, like those of Churchill and Kennan, but directed at China.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's important to remember that there's a big difference. In 1946, WW II had just ended, and the US, Russia and China were all war-weary, in a generational Recovery era, with absolutely no desire to fight another war. There was a war in Korea in which all three countries fought, but that war was fought so half-heartedly that it ended in a ceasefire, with no conclusion. Technically, the Korean War has never ended.

    But today, we're all in a generation Crisis era, with xenophobia and nationalism at a peak in all three countries. If there were a new Korean war today -- and it's a definite possibility -- then it would also certainly spread to a wider war and a world war.

    Pence says that Donald Trump's administration has adopted "a new approach to China, ... grounded in fairness, reciprocity, and respect for sovereignty."

    Pence reminded the Chinese that America has always supported China, during the so-called "Century of Humiliation" and World War II, and in the decades after World War II, when "America ensured that China became a charter member of the United Nations, and a great shaper of the post-war world." America has opened its markets to China, and "American universities began training a new generation of Chinese engineers, business leaders, scholars, and officials."

    Pence said that "After the fall of the Soviet Union, we assumed that a free China was inevitable." As I've written many times, China's reaction to the fall of the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party was not to emulate it, but to become paranoid about it, doubling down on violence and atrocities, for fear that the same thing would happen to the Chinese Communist Party. So today, says Pence, "The dream of freedom remains distant for the Chinese people"

    Pence went through a list of Chinese policies that have harmed the Chinese people.

    Pence went on to describe American's responses to these Chinese actions, including strengthening the military and implementing reciprocal tariffs.

    In the view of many Chinese, Pence's speech indicates that the United States has finally dropped its hypocritical mask and shown its true colors, which is to contain China’s rise just like it did to the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Cold War, and that the United States and China are on an irreversible course of conflict in the coming years. White House and Diplomat

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Oct-18 World View -- Mike Pence's China 'containment' speech signals more contentious US-China relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Oct-18 World View -- Pakistan's 'desperate' Imran Khan attends Saudi investment summit amid Khashoggi crisis

    Imran Khan considers the options in asking the IMF for a loan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Pakistan's 'desperate' Imran Khan attends Saudi investment summit amid Khashoggi crisis


    Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan meets Saudi King Salman (MBS's father) on Tuesday in Riyadh (AFP)
    Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan meets Saudi King Salman (MBS's father) on Tuesday in Riyadh (AFP)

    The bizarre story of the gruesome death of Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, seems to be settling down in the last couple of days, largely because Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far refused to accuse Saudi's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) of being personally involved. Now, MBS is saying that it was "a heinous crime that cannot be justified" and that "those behind this crime will be held accountable... in the end justice will prevail." It may be that Erdogan is holding back some evidence for use as leverage against MBS at some future time.

    MBS has been holding a three-day conference called the Future Investment Initiative, whose purpose is to invite investments from countries around the world. Thanks to the Khashoggi scandal, many world leaders are boycotting the conference, although many of those have sent high-level representatives in their place. Reports are that the conference is going well for MBS, despite the boycott.

    However, one national leader did attend the conference: Pakistan's new prime minister Imran Khan.

    Khan described Khashoggi's death as “sad beyond belief”, and indicated that he did not consider credible the latest official Saudi account of what happened:

    "What happened in Turkey was just shocking. What should I say? It shocked all of us. The Saudi government will have to come up with an answer… We wait for whatever the Saudi explanation is. We hope there is an explanation that satisfies people and those responsible are punished."

    However, Khan has described his situation as "desperate," and that he is attending the conference because of Pakistan's deep debt crisis:

    "The reason I feel I have to avail myself of this opportunity [to speak to the Saudi leadership] is because in a country of 210 million people right now we have the worst debt crisis in our history.

    Unless we get loans from friendly countries or the IMF [the International Monetary Fund] we actually won’t have in another two or three months enough foreign exchange to service our debts or to pay for our imports. So we’re desperate at the moment."

    Khan had previously visited Saudi Arabia in July to try to get aid, but came away empty handed. However, Khashoggi's death has changed things, and the Saudis are "desperate" as well, needing support from someone like Imran Khan. So Khan was rewarded for attending. MBS is providing $6 billion in aid to Pakistan, $3 billion in foreign currency support and another $3 billion in loans.

    Another issue is Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen. In the past, Pakistan has refused to provide military support for the war, but now it may turn out that Khan had to promise something to MBS in return for the $6 billion in aid. So it's interesting that Khashoggi's murder has provided the opportunity for all sorts of extortion and blackmail among the countries in the Mideast and Asia. BBC and CNN and Middle East Eye

    Imran Khan considers the options in asking the IMF for a loan

    When Imran Khan took office as prime minister in August, Pakistan had only enough foreign reserves to pay for imports for two months. Since then, Pakistan's "all-weather friend" China has loaned Pakistan enough additional money so that they can pay for imports into December. Now the $6 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia should give Khan several months' more breathing room.

    Khan, a Pashtun born in 1952, is extremely popular and charismatic. He was one of Pakistan's greatest cricket players of all time. In the 1990s, he was voted as the "Sexiest Man of The Year" by the Australia Magazine Oz. He's anti-American, has promised to distance Pakistan from the United States. He's been particularly critical of previous governments for borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and having to accept their austerity rules in return.

    Now that Khan is prime minister, all his previous silver-tongued promises are ignored. Pakistan has received over a dozen IMF programs in the last 30 years, and now he says he's going to ask for another one. Pakistan formally applied for IMF assistance early in October.

    Pakistan is about $90 billion in debt, with $19 billion of that owed to China, mainly because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China needs CPEC as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to have a cheap way to transfer commercial and military goods and people between China and the Indian Ocean.

    As usual, the terms are nothing but a debt trap for Pakistan. China lends the money to Pakistan. Pakistan must use the loan money to purchase goods and services from China, and to pay the salaries of the workers on the project, almost all of whom will be Chinese. So, as usual, Pakistan will have to repay the loan twice, once to pay for Chinese goods, services and salaries, and once to repay the loan, plus interest.

    So there's a lot of bad dealing going on here. Saudi Arabia is providing $6 billion in aid to Pakistan, but a lot of that money will go, in one way or another, to China in debt repayments.

    China would like Pakistan to borrow from the IMF. Since most of the IMF's money comes from the US taxpayer, tht means that the US taxpayer will be paying for the CPEC project.

    That's why US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the administration will oppose any IMF loan to Pakistan, and said, "There's no rationale for IMF tax dollars — and associated with that, American dollars that are part of the IMF funding — for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself."

    China would love having the US pay for Pakistan's debts. According to China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, "As a member of the IMF, China supports the organization in making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty."

    State Dept. spokesman Heather Nauert said:

    "Pakistan has formally requested assistance from the International Monetary Fund. In all cases, we examine that closely from all angles of it, including Pakistan’s debt position, in evaluating any type of loan program. ... I think part of the reason that Pakistan found itself in this situation is Chinese debt and the fact that there is debt that governments have incurred that they maybe thought wouldn’t be so tough to bail themselves out of, but has become increasingly tough."

    IMF director Christine Lagarde has said that any IMF loan to Pakistan would need to determine the debt sustainability of the country by having "a complete understanding and absolute transparency about the nature, size and terms" of its debt, both public and private, and including the details about the relationship between Pakistan and China.

    However, all the information about Pakistan's Chinese debt is secret, and even the State Bank of Pakistan is not privy to it. China has already signaled that the secrecy should not be breached. China welcomes IMF loans to Pakistan, but they must not affect economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily O (India) and CNBC (31-Jul) and Dawn and Committee For The Abolition Of Illegitimate Debt and International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Oct-18 World View -- Pakistan's 'desperate' Imran Khan attends Saudi investment summit amid Khashoggi crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Oct-18 World View -- European Commission rebukes Italy, after blatant budget rules violation

    Greece's elderly still face possible pension cuts in January

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Commission rebukes Italy, after blatant budget rules violation


    A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.
    A horse-drawn carriage passes a branch of Banca Monte dei Paschi bank in Rome.

    It's like writing a letter to your bank and saying that you'll be making only half your mortgage payments for three years, and that they should understand because you need the money. Your bank would have to reject your statement forcefully.

    On Monday, Italy's Economy Minister Giovanni Tria sent a letter to the European Commission (EC), clearly saying that Italy intended to violate EC budget rules from 2019-22:

    "As regards the path of the structural balance, the Italian Government is aware of having chosen a budgetary policy approach that is not in line with the application rules of the Stability and Growth Pact. It was a difficult but necessary decision ally of the persistent delay in recovering pre-crisis GDP levels and the dramatic economic conditions in which the most disadvantaged strata of the Italian society are found. The Government also intends to implement the qualifying parts of the economic and social program on which it has obtained the confidence of the Italian Parliament. The Update Note of the Economic and Financial Document, and the attached Parliament Report, clarify that the Government plans to deviate from the structural adjustment decrease in 2019 but does not intend to further expand the structural deficit in the following two years and undertakes to return the structural balance towards the medium-term objective starting from 2022. If it were to return to pre-crisis level before the forecast, the Government intends to anticipate the return path."

    This is a direct, and possibly unprecedented challenge by an EU member state to the European Commission, and it required an unprecedented response. The EC firmly rejected Italy's proposed 2019 budget, and demanded a compliant budget within three weeks.

    Readers may recall that when Italy held nationwide elections in March, the elections failed to produce a majority party. Two 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.

    Incredibly, these two parties got together and formed a governing coalition. They're far apart on many issues, but they do share similar attitudes on three issues: a nationalistic anti-euro attitude, a xenophobic anti-immigrant attitude, and a complete lack of fiscal discipline. Much to everyone's surprise, they formed a governing coalition based on these three principles.

    This new governing coalition announced a list of policy proposals, including a completely delusional list of economic proposals.

    Italian debt stands at around €2.3 trillion ($2.7 trillion), or 133% of gross domestic product (GDP), the worst in Europe. The new government does have a way of reducing the debt: spend a lot more money, and drastically reduce taxes. (As I wrote at the time, I wish I could tell you that this is a joke, but it isn't.)

    Specifically, the government would like to do the following right away:

    So now the time has come for Italy to submit a 2019 budget to the EC to fulfill these delusional campaign promises, and the budget far exceeds EC rules, as well as Italy's previous commitment to fiscal discipline.

    What we can say at this point with certainty is that, with the EU already buried in problems from Brexit and immigrants, Italy's budget is sure to create an additional huge new fracas.

    It seems pretty clear that Italy's government is out of control fiscally, and that they will be unable to stop themselves from going into more and more debt. But as the saying goes: If something can't go on forever, then it won't.

    According to an analysis by Silvia Ardagna of Goldman Sachs, Italy will not become fiscally responsible until some event forces them to be:

    "Financial market participants understand there is value in correctly pricing not just the 'end game,' but also the path to that 'end game' and the risks around it.

    From this perspective, our view is that market tensions would need to intensify in order to exert sufficient pressure on the Italian political system to trigger a change in the policy path and the political rhetoric around it.

    On that basis — and even if Italy does ultimately remain part of the Euro area — the market situation may need to get worse before it gets better."

    Some people are speculating that the event will be "Italexit," with Italy leaving the euro currency and possibly the European Union. However, prime minister Giuseppe Conte said, "I can assure that this executive will not accompany this country, Italy, out of Europe. We feel very comfortable, we feel at home in Europe and we think that the euro is our currency and will be our currency, the currency of my kid, he’s 11 years old, and the currency of my grandchildren."

    Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that "this is an unprecedented situation, and the decision should not be surprising to anyone as the Italian government’s draft budget represents a clear and intentional deviation from the commitments made by Italy last July." Italy's Economic Ministry (PDF) and European Commission and Business Insider and Politico (EU)

    Greece's elderly still face possible pension cuts in January

    Greece's elderly may not face pension cuts in January after all. The planned pension cuts are part of the austerity program that the EU and the ECB imposed on Greece in return for years of bailouts to prevent the country from becoming totally bankrupt. The pension cuts are necessary to increase the sustainability of Greece's social security system, but apparently most members of the European Commission are willing to put this measure on hold. The final decision on whether to cancel the pension cuts will be made on December 3, but in fact the pension cuts may be made anyway, since Germany opposes canceling them.

    I tell this little story to remind readers that even though Greece's financial crisis has been out of the news for a while, it has not been resolved, and there could be a renewal of the crisis at any time.

    Greece had to be bailed out in 2010 because the country was essentially bankrupt. Greece was borrowing and spending way beyond its capability to repay throughout the 2000s decade. According to one analyst,

    "The history of [Greece's National Statistical Service (NSSG)] reveals that its chief officer (general secretary) was replaced whenever a new party was elected to power. The main objective behind this practice was to control the flow of information; in this respect, the personal or political allegiance of the chief officer was the most crucial factor for the appointment."

    We can also say with certainty that if Italy goes on the spending binge, the country will be deep trouble. I don't know why it's so hard for people to understand that it's fun to borrow and spend money, but it's extremely painful when you have to pay it back.

    In order to fund its spending binge, Italy will have to borrow money, and Italy will do that by selling government bonds. Moody's last week downgraded Italy's bond rating to Baa3, which is the lowest possible rating that they can have without becoming "junk bonds." In fact, a lot of people breathed a sigh of relief because the downgrade was anticipated, and it was feared that it would be to junk status.

    Each time a bond's rating goes down, the value of the bond goes down, and the yield goes up. The yield is the interest rate that the government has to pay to investors who buy the bonds. So during Greece's financial crisis, the yield on Greek bonds went to 5%, to 7%, to 20% to 30% to 40%, and even more. Holders of Greek bonds eventually had to take a 75% "haircut" -- which means that they lost 75% of their entire investments.

    This hasn't happened to Italy yet. Italy's ten-year bond yields have gone from 2% at the beginning of the year to about 3.5% recently. If Italy's spending binge continues, then the yields will increase to 5%, 7%, 10%, and so forth, and Italy's debt will become unsustainable.

    Even worse, many other banks in Europe have purchased Italian bonds. About 20% of Italy's government bonds are held in other eurozone countries. If yields go up and values go down, then these banks will also be in trouble. That's called "contagion," Dear Reader, and the fear of contagion will cause the European Commission to be very critical of Italy's 2019 budget.

    "It is tempting to try to cure debt with more debt, but at some point the debt [becomes] too heavy and at the end of the day, you end up having no freedom at all," Valdis Dombrovskis, vice president of the European Commission, said during a press conference on Tuesday. Kathimerini (Athens) and Kathimerini and CNN and CNBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Oct-18 World View -- European Commission rebukes Italy, after blatant budget rules violation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    23-Oct-18 World View -- Trump targets China by cancelling arms control treaty with Russia

    China warns that the decision will 'cause many negative effects'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Trump cancels nuclear proliferation treaty with Russia


    China's mobile DF-41 missile would be illegal under the INF treaty
    China's mobile DF-41 missile would be illegal under the INF treaty

    Donald Trump has announced that the US will will leave the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF), that the US signed with Russia in 1987, and has been called a historic arms control treaty.

    The treaty was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It was a response to a growing missile standoff in Europe, where Soviet and American nuclear short range and cruise missiles were pointed at each other. The treaty ended a dangerous standoff.

    Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have accused the Russians of violating the treaty in the last decade with new developments of cruise missiles. According to Trump on Saturday:

    "Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.

    We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to. We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement, we’re going to pull out. ...

    Unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and they say, ‘Let’s all of us get smart and let’s none of us develop those weapons,’ but if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable. So we have a tremendous amount of money to play with with our military."

    Russia has accused the US of also violating the agreement pointing, for example, to unmanned drones that can serve the same functions as cruise missiles. This may well be a valid argument, but what it shows is that, after 30 years, the treaty is out of date anyway.

    Russian senior lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev said on Sunday said that Trump's announcement means that "Mankind is facing full chaos in the nuclear weapons sphere."

    Leonid Slutsky, who leads the Foreign Affairs Committee said that Trump is placing “a huge mine under the whole disarmament process on the planet.”

    The real risk will be borne by European allies, according to Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, a think tank. “This removes all constraints on the production and fielding of Russia’s illegal missile, thereby increasing the threat to our allies in range of the missiles, leaves the United States holding the bag for the treaty’s demise, and creates another source of division between us.”

    Mikhail Gorbachev said that the announcement "is not the work of a great mind." He added:

    "Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to? [The decision] will undermine all the efforts that were made by the leaders of the USSR and the United States themselves to achieve nuclear disarmament.

    [A]ll agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and the limitation of nuclear weapons must be preserved for the sake of life on Earth."

    Russia Today and Time and CNBC and AP

    China warns that the decision will 'cause many negative effects'

    Since the announcement, it's become increasingly clear that the real target of Trump's announcement is China. According to a CIA analysis in 1983:

    "China's position on arms control is dictated by its interests in: 1) maintaining a free hand to expand its nuclear deterrent capabilities; 2) exercising some influence over US-USSR strategic arms talks that could adversely affect Chinese security; and 3) enhancing China's status and influence in the Third World. The Chinese also have sought to promote their commercial interests through the sale of conventional arms."

    China has indeed taken advantage of its refusal to join any arms control agreement. As we've been reporting for years, China has developed one nuclear ballistic weapons system after another with no purpose except to attack American cities, American bases, and American aircraft carriers. It really doesn't make sense that an aggressive, imperial, militaristic China should have no restrictions developing nuclear missiles, when other countries are bound by arms control treaties.

    In particular, China has had a free hand developing and deploying intermediate-range nuclear missiles of its own, including missiles designed to take out US aircraft carriers patrolling the waters of the Western Pacific. China is estimated to have 2,000 ballistic and cruise missiles in its inventory, almost all of which would be in violation of this treaty.

    According to Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo:

    "China has not signed the agreement and has been producing mid-range missiles and so-called carrier killers to asymmetrically increase the costs of an American-led naval containment strategy. The US is likely withdrawing to send a message to Beijing that the US can and will produce mid-range nuclear weapons that can erode away China’s existing asymmetric advantage."

    China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the following:

    "The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is an important treaty on arms control and disarmament signed by the United States and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. It has played an important role in easing the international relations, moving forward the nuclear disarmament process and safeguarding global strategic balance and stability. It is still highly relevant today. Unilaterally withdrawing from the treaty will cause many negative effects.

    What needs to be stressed is that making an issue out of China on withdrawing from the treaty is totally wrong. We hope that the relevant country can cherish the hard-won outcomes achieved over the years, prudently and properly handle the issues related to the treaty through dialogue and consultation and think twice before withdrawing from the treaty."

    So China wants the US and Russia to be bound by the treaty, while China is not. No surprise there. However, when she talks about causing "many negative effects," we might ask, What is she referring to?

    Whenever I talk about various policies, everything from tariffs and trade to canceling a North Korea meeting, that completely baffle the mainstream media, I always come back to the same point. Trump is aware of the Generational Dynamics analysis and predictions that China is preparing for full-scale war with the United States. Trump is aware of this because he was educated by Steve Bannon, who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics.

    So as I always point out, Trump's policies, whether trade or arms control, have the objective of trying to end China's plans for a preemptive attack on the United States. And as I always point out, a war with China is 100% certain, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for trying to prevent a world war.

    But all of these policies are dual-edged. Yes, these policies might cause the Chinese to postpone their plans, but it might also cause them to bring these plans forward. Those might be the "negative side effects" that China's Foreign Ministry is talking about.

    Generational crisis wars are not based on rationality and reason. They're based on desperation and panic. China has numerous domestic problems -- increasing numbers of "mass incidents," a highly-imbalanced economy being centrally managed but poorly managed, numerous bubbles and financial distortions -- and a restive population that, along with Winnie the Pooh, strikes terror in the hearts of the Communist central committee. These are more than enough to cause desperation and anxiety, and could trigger a military panic at any time. CIA (1-Sep-1983) and Bloomberg and Russia Today and China's Foreign Ministry

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    21-Oct-18 World View -- Pro-independence rallies in Taiwan press for faster separation from China

    China's deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Pro-independence rallies in Taiwan press for faster separation from China


    Pro-independence demonstrators shout slogans during a rally in Taipei, Taiwan, on Saturday (AP)
    Pro-independence demonstrators shout slogans during a rally in Taipei, Taiwan, on Saturday (AP)

    Thousands of pro-independence demonstrators rallied in Taipei, Taiwan's capital city, on Saturday to pressure the government of president Tsai Ing-wen to be more confrontational with mainland China and to move faster towards independence.

    Tsai Ing-wen leads the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was formed as a reaction to the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, where several thousand peacefully protesting students were brutally murdered by Chinese security forces in a huge bloodbath. They have been "pro-independence" from the beginning, but in official government positions when winning elections, they've adopted the 1992 "One China Consensus" which says that China and Taiwan are one country, but which leaves the meaning of that phrase ambiguous.

    However, since winning the presidential election early in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen has gone farther than previous DPP politicians by refusing to endorse the 1992 consensus, instead saying that she "respected ... the common understanding" between China and Taiwan, without saying what that means. Her refusal to endorse the 1992 consensus has triggered the usual stream of hysterical screaming threats from Chinese officials, and relations between China and Taiwan have been deteriorating steadily.

    The rally was organized by a new pressure group called the Formosa Alliance. The rally actually represents a split in the pro-independence movement because Tsai has been taking a relatively cautious approach to China, while the Formosa group want to take steps toward independence more quickly.

    In 2005, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed. Taiwanese officials have said many things since 2005 that, arguably, could trigger the anti-secession law, and Saturday's independence rally adds one more.

    Because China's armed forces are several times bigger than Taiwan's, it's generally believed that China would easily defeat Taiwan in a war, especially if the US did not honor its commitment to mutual defense. The quick win would be achieved first by a barrage of missiles striking government and military targets, followed quickly by special forces ferried across the strait for a quick kill.

    However, Foreign Policy has published a detailed analysis by which Taiwan can win a war with China. The Taiwanese, Japanese and American leaders will have 30-60 days' notice of an impending invasion, because China will have to make preparations. So the Taiwanese will be prepared with booby traps, explosives, sea mines, and the Taiwanese soldiers will be far better prepared than their Chinese counterparts.

    China has been using money and extortion to force a number of countries and international companies to declare that Taiwan is a province of China. Since Tsai became president, five countries have ended diplomatic relations with Taiwan and begun diplomatic relations with China: Sao Tome and Principe in 2016, Panama in 2017, and the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador in 2018. Only 16 countries plus the Vatican now recognise Taiwan under its formal name: the Republic of China. China has also pressured international companies, including airlines, to remove "Taiwan" from their company web sites, or replace it with "Taiwan, province of China," if the companies want to continue doing business in China.

    With China and the Vatican having concluded a historic agreement on the appointment of bishops in China, people in Taiwan are now concerned that the Vatican will also switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Channel News Asia and and Bloomberg and Foreign Policy (25-Sep)

    China continues massive crackdown on non-indigenous religions

    By one estimate, China’s Christian population has swelled from a few million in the early 1980s to 100 million this year – in comparison, the Communist Party has 90 million members.

    China this year has become increasingly bloody and violent against the four supposedly approved non-indigenous religions, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Protestantism, as I described in a recent article: "14-Oct-18 World View -- China defends million-prisoner 'reeducation camps' and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang"

    In that article, some commenters criticized me for implying that Islam and Christianity are equivalent in some way. Actually, the article in no way implies that. The point was that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers Islam and Christianity to be equivalent, and the same for all of the non-indigenous religions.

    In China's multi-millennial imperialistic history, China has always been at war or close to it -- invading neighbors to exterminate them and take their land, or planning and preparing for such an invasion, or being invaded by a neighbor, or in the midst of a massive internal civil war. China's indigenous "religions" -- Sun Tzu's Art of War, Confucianism and Daoism -- are all aimed at unifying behind the government and winning wars.

    Each one of the non-indigenous religions has been used at one time or another, sometimes successfully sometimes not, as a belief system to create a populist movement to overthrow a dynasty or a government.

    This became particularly frightening to the CCP on June 4, 1989, when tens thousands of students from all over China traveled to Beijing and rallied in Tiananmen Square, causing the CCP to vicious murder thousands of them, creating a bloodbath. This show of mass protest showed the Chinese leadership how easy it would be for them to be toppled by a mass movement, and so they've been extremely vicious towards all non-indigenous religions. And then when the Soviet Communist Party collapsed in 1991, they went into full-scale panic.

    So to the CCP, Islam and Christianity are exactly the same, as are all the non-indigenous religions. And they all must be subject to "Sinicization," which means that they must conform to Chinese government policies or face jailing or destruction.

    In April of this year, China's government issued its Sinicization decree, called by the Orwellian name "China's Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief."

    There are six areas of Sinicization: intensifying political identification, integrating religion into Chinese culture, establishing theological thought with Chinese characteristics, setting up a management system for the church with Chinese characteristics, exploring liturgical expression with Chinese elements, and using Chinese aesthetics in church buildings, pictures and sacred music.

    According to the decree:

    "It also means guiding religious groups to support the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system; uphold and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; develop religions in the Chinese context; embrace core socialist values; carry forward China’s fine traditions; integrate religious teachings and rules with Chinese culture; abide by state laws and regulations, and accept state administration in accordance with the law."

    This paragraph gives complete administrative control of the religion to the CCP, and permits the CCP to monitor all religious activities. The crackdown has been particularly brutal this year.


    China's destruction of the Golden Lampstand evangelical mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people (AP)
    China's destruction of the Golden Lampstand evangelical mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people (AP)

    Several months ago, China's storm troopers demolished a massive evangelical church using bulldozers and dynamite. The Jindengtai ("Golden Lampstand") mega-church, which reportedly had a congregation of 50,000 people, was demolished. Last month, the Zion Protestant Church in Beijing was banned because the administration refused to install closed-circuit television cameras that the CCP could use to monitor all activity.

    In other cases, Chinese police have stormed into people's homes and replaced the pictures of Jesus Christ and other religious symbols with pictures of Xi Jinping, with the implication that people should be worshipping Xi Jinping as God.

    Any person who violates the government's rules can be tortured or jailed or sent to reeducation camps. The most extreme example of this so far is Xinjiang province, where a million ethnic Uighurs are being tortured, raped and beaten in reeducation camps.

    I was listening to a BBC report a couple of days ago, interviewing someone who had a number of Uighur friends living in Xinjiang province. He rattled off a list of the offenses that could get you sent to a reeducation camp, things like not saying "hello" to a Chinese official when you pass him in the street. He also mentioned "giving up smoking." It turns out that if you give up smoking, then it means that you're planning to become an extremist and terrorist, so you have to be sent to a reeducation camp. State Council Information Office - Protecting religious freedom and Deutche Welle (19-Jan-2018) and Reuters and China Today

    China's deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

    Another section of the sinicization document says the following:

    "Religious groups and religious affairs are not subject to control by foreign countries.... This principle is a historic choice made by Chinese religious believers in the Chinese people’s struggle for national independence and social progress, as Catholicism and Protestantism, which were known as foreign religions in China, had long been controlled and utilized by colonialists and imperialists."

    This rule has been particularly applied to Catholics, since Catholics have allegiance to the Pope in the Vatican, and the Pope is presumably either a colonialist or imperialist.

    There are about twelve million Catholics in China. Seven million of them belong to the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which is actually a CCP political organization, and is "Catholic" in name only. The other five million belong to "underground" Catholic churches, which are barely tolerated by the government, but which retain allegiance to the Pope.

    In the last few decades, many Catholic priests in China have gone to jail for years and been tortured for their refusal to reject their vows and the guidance of the Pope.

    So many of these people feel betrayed by the Pope, because the Vatican last month agreed to a "compromise" where the Vatican recognized seven bishops who were ordained by the CCP without the approval of the Vatican. There was another part to the deal, where China promised to accept some bishops in the "underground" church who had been ordained by the Vatican, but China has so far not fulfilled that promise.

    It appears that the Vatican has completely given in to China in order to gain approval from China.

    This has raised concerns in Taiwan that the Vatican will go further in giving in to China by cutting ties with Taiwan.

    Taiwan has about 300,000 Catholics, and Taiwan, unlike China, has complete freedom of religion. The Taiwanese government apparently does not fear that the Catholics will form a secret society whose purpose is to overthrow the government, which is what has happened many times in China. If, as many fear, the Vatican withdraws its recognition from Taiwan, then the Pope will lose all credibility with the Catholics in Taiwan, and will be held in contempt by millions of people in "underground" Catholic churches in China. SCMP (22-Sep) and Diplomat (21-Sep) and South China Morning Post (30-Mar) and Free Catholics in China and South China Morning Post

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    20-Oct-18 World View -- Israel backs down from full-scale attack on Gaza after family escapes rocket

    Israel adopts a go-slow strategy with new 'rules of the game'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Israel backs down from full-scale attack on Gaza after family escapes rocket


    Destroyed house after being hit by rocket on Tuesday morning in Beersheba (AP)
    Destroyed house after being hit by rocket on Tuesday morning in Beersheba (AP)

    At 3:43 am on Tuesday, a sleeping mother and father heard warning sirens, woke up their three children, and pulled them into a safe room just before a Grad rocket fell through the roof of their Beersheba home and landed in one of the second story bedrooms, almost completely destroying the structure.

    Hamas and Islamic Jihad on Tuesday denied that they were responsible for the missile attack, but their denials were not considered credible, since no one else has the type of Grad missile that struck the home.

    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman publicly called for a powerful military response to Hamas:

    "Before going to war, we need to exhaust all other possibilities, because when we’re sending soldiers to battle we know that some of them aren’t returning home. We’re obligated to exhaust every other way, every other option.

    Upon entering the Defense Ministry I said — Israel has no right, no option, no luxury to conduct wars of choice. We can conduct only wars of no choice. In the last months we made every effort, we’ve overturned every stone and at this point ‘no choice’ is behind us.

    We have arrived at the point where we have to land as strong as possible a blow on Hamas."

    Israel's Security Cabinet had convened for a midnight emergency session on Thursday morning, and many Israelis believed that they would be at war with Gaza by morning.

    However, there was no war. According to reports, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided that no such military attack would take place. Israel has invaded Gaza three times in the last ten years to put a stop to missile attacks, most recently in the 67 day summer war in 2014. Each of these wars has ended in a ceasefire, and than after another period of relative calm, another round of fighting begins.

    Generational Dynamics predicts that there will never be a resolution until there's a full-scale regional war between Jews and Arabs.

    I posted my very first Generational Dynamics analysis on May 1, 2003, when president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace," which described the details of a two-state solution. I wrote that Generational Dynamics predicts that the plan would fail because the Jews and the Arabs would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Here's what I wrote:

    "We are now in the early stages of replaying the extremely violent, bloody wars between the Jews and the Palestinians that took place between them from 1936 to 1949. So far the war has been little more than a series of skirmishes, as it was in the late 1930s. The full-fledged violent, bloody war is awaiting a generational change.

    There's an incredible irony going on in the Mideast today, in that the leaders of two opposing sides are, respectively, Ariel Sharon and Yassir Arafat.

    These two men hate each other, but they're the ones cooperating with each other (consciously or not) to prevent a major Mideast conflagration. Both of them remember the wars of the 1940s, and neither of them wants to see anything like that happen again. And it won't happen again, as long as both of these men are in charge.

    The disappearance of these two men will be part of an overall generational change in the Mideast that will lead to a major conflagration within a few years. It's possible that the disappearance of Arafat alone will trigger a war, just as the election of Lincoln ignited the American Civil War. (It's currently American policy to get rid of Arafat. My response is this: Be careful what you wish for.)"

    Since that time, Yassir Arafat died, and was replaced by Mahmoud Abbas, who was also a survivor of the 1948 war and remembered its horrors. Since then, Abbas has lost control of Hamas, which has been run by much younger leaders.

    Since 2006, there have been five wars involving Israel and Palestinians: the war between Israelis and Hezbollah, fought largely on Lebanon's soil in 2006; the war between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah in Gaza in 2008, that led to Hamas control of Gaza; Operation Cast Lead, the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza early in 2009; the two wars between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in November, 2012 and July-August 2014.

    These on-and-off clashes cannot go on forever. At some point, they'll be resolved by a full-fledged generational crisis war that engulfs the region. In the meantime, there is no chance whatsoever that any sort of Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" will succeed, and that's just as true today as it was in 2003. Jerusalem Post and World Israel News and Bloomberg

    Israel adopts a go-slow strategy with new 'rules of the game'

    By Thursday morning, after the emergency midnight meeting of cabinet ministers, the fiery rhetoric had softened. Housing Minsiter Yoav Galant said:

    "I can’t address the content of cabinet discussion but I can say one thing very explicitly — the rules of the game are going to change.

    We won’t accept more fire and [border] fence terror."

    However, the cabinet meeting decision not to launch a military operation was condemned by other government leaders. According to Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni:

    "We had every reason to deliver a serious response in a way that they would understand the message. We should have taken advantage of what happened in Beersheba to restore deterrence, but unfortunately that did not happen."

    I googled Gadi Yarkoni, and learned that he was born in 1967, which would put him in Israel's equivalent of Generation-X, much younger than Netanyahu, born in 1949, or Mahmoud Abbas, born in 1935, or Hamas head Khaled Mashal, born in 1956. When there's an all-out war between Jews and Palestinians, it will be launched by younger people, such as Yarkoni and a young Palestinian leader.

    Although no full-scale war is imminent, Israel's army has been cleared to follow more aggressive tactics. This includes a green light for troops to fire at Gazans who are farther away from the fence than previously allowed, as well a more forceful response to incendiary balloon launches. According to reports, the army will ramp up the severity of its responses gradually, but ultimately adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward rocket attacks, arson balloons and rioting along the Israeli border. Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Oct-18 World View -- Israel backs down from full-scale attack on Gaza after family escapes rocket thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    19-Oct-18 World View -- Brexit appears headed for worst of all possible worlds for UK

    The most likely deal: 'Extend and Pretend'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Brexit appears headed for worst of all possible worlds for UK


    Brexit warning sign on road running across the Ireland-Northern Ireland border (AFP)
    Brexit warning sign on road running across the Ireland-Northern Ireland border (AFP)

    Ever since the referendum passed on June 23, 2016, Brexit, the UK exit from the European Union, was never going to be anything but a disaster for the UK, and almost as much for the EU, and increasingly there's a search to mitigate the disaster as much as possible.

    A month ago, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said:

    "I’m a desperate optimist, and I very much hope and pray that there will be a deal between the European Union and the UK.

    Let me be clear, compared with today’s smooth single market, all the likely Brexit scenarios will have costs for the economy and to a lesser extent as well for the EU.

    The larger the impediments to trade in the new relationship, the costlier it will be. This should be fairly obvious, but it seems that sometimes it is not."

    Lagarde said that the IMF will issue its latest forecast for global economic growth in November, and that "clouds on the horizon have not become lighter but darker."

    The UK is leaving the EU on March 29, 2019. The most severe consequences for the UK economy would occur if the UK "crashed out" of the EU with no deal whatsoever. In this case, there would no longer be a "smooth, single market," no "frictionless trade" at all between the UK and EU. Instead, there would be a "hard border" between the UK and EU, which would damage tens or hundreds of thousands of individual trading relationships that for years have depended on frictionless trade.

    The main stumbling block in the negotiations is and always has been the problem of Northern Ireland. After Brexit, the (southern) Republic of Ireland would be in the EU, while Northern Ireland would not, but would still be in the UK. That means that there could be a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (which everyone says they want) or a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and Britain (which the UK wants, but the EU couldn't care less about), but not both.

    UK politicians in London, led by prime minister Theresa May, have for months been in chaos debating this issue, with the "Remainers" wanted as close a relationship to the EU as possible, and the "Brexiteers" wanting a full and complete break. But as the weeks and months have gone by, the London fog finally seems to be clearing, well enough that we can begin to make out the shapes of what the final deal is most likely to be. Reuters and Irish Times

    The most likely deal: 'Extend and Pretend'

    Readers may recall what happened with Greece's financial crisis, when it was clear that Greece could not meet its debt payments, and would in fact never be able to do so. The EU and the European Central Bank came up with an "extend and pretend" policy, which lowered the interest rates and stretched out the debt payments to decades, and then pretended that by 2100 Greece would be able to repay its debts. Extend and pretend.

    So everyone in the EU and the UK, not counting the hardcore Brexiteers, is in favor of a two-year Brexit transition period -- lasting until December 31, 2020. This was agreed in March, and now appears to be set in stone. It's back in the news because on Wednesday, both Theresa May and the EU said they were discussing extending it for an additional year.

    The transition period will be pretty much the worst of all worlds. The terms will be as follows:

    So the whole point of why the Brexiteers wanted Brexit was to get away from the EU regulations, EU taxes, and the ECJ. In the transition period, all of these will remain, with the additional restriction that the UK will have to obey all the regulations and pay all the money, but will have no say in changing them. That's what I meant by "the worst of all worlds."

    According to Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake saying the extension was merely “kicking the can further down the road and delaying, by a bit, driving off the cliff.” iNews (London)

    The Northern Ireland 'backstop'

    But wait! How does the transition period solve the Northern Ireland problem? Well, it doesn't, but it gives the politicians 2-3 more years to find a solution. And yet, no one that I've heard or read believes that an extra 2-3 years will solve the problem any more than the last two years have.

    That brings us to the "backstop." That's an "insurance policy" that the EU is insisting on. They want the UK to commit to a specific plan to preserve the frictionless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland when the transition period end. And they've already rejected every UK backstop proposal, including the delusional hope that in 2-3 years the technology will have been developed to enforce customs rules on the Irish border without requiring commercial vehicles to stop for inspection. Well, maybe in 2-3 years some technology will develop, but no one really believes that will happen.

    The backstop that the EU wants is that at the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland will be part of the EU customs union and single market. That means that there will be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Britain. That means that UK citizens traveling between Northern Ireland and Britain will have to go through customs, and it means that goods shipped between the two will have to be inspected.

    Britain's prime minister Theresa May says that this is unacceptable because it would split the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

    This is still a seemingly unsurmountable obstacle to achieving any sort of deal before the UK leaves the EU on March 29. Guardian (London) and BBC and Irish Times

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    18-Oct-18 World View -- Ukraine counters Russia's military buildup in the Sea of Azov

    Violent school massacre in occupied Crimea kills 19 people

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Ukraine counters Russia's military buildup in the Sea of Azov


    Ukraine.  In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea.  In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.
    Ukraine. In 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Donbas, and invaded and annexed Crimea. In 2018, Russia completed a bridge over the Kerch Strait, controlling access to the Sea of Azov.

    Readers who remember ancient history (2014) may recall a war between Russia and Ukraine. Russia invaded Donbas (eastern Ukraine) and is still occupying it, and then Russia invaded, occupied and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

    The war in Donbas has not ended, as there have been regular clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces. These clashes have occasionally been severe enough for observers to raise concerns that Russia was planning a new offensive for Russian forces to attack and occupy the seaports at Mariupol and Berdyansk, and then continue to move west in order to create a land bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea.

    That hasn't happened, but many observers believe that Russia is making preparations to accomplish the same objective through a naval attack from the Sea of Azov. In the last three years, the Russians have been doing the following:

    Many observers believe that these steps are all in preparation for a naval assault on Mariupol, Berdyansk, and other Ukrainian ports along the Sea of Azov, with the objective of creating a land bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, and to taking full military control of the entire Sea of Azov. US State Dept. and RFE/RL and RFE/RL (7-Aug)

    Ukraine prepares to challenge Russia in the Sea of Azov

    Following years of neglect, Ukraine is hurriedly tying to reinforce its naval capabilities in the Sea of Azov. Ukraine is considering buying three Danish Standard Flex 300 patrol vessels for $117 million, and has received two Island-class Coast Guard cutters from the United States. These vessels will be upgraded and deployed in the Sea of Azov.

    However, this attempt to stand up an "Azov Flotilla" will not be enough to challenge Russia's overwhelming naval presence, consisting of around 50-70 Russian "coast guard" vessels.

    For that reason, Ukraine is also formulating a diplomatic and political strategy to challenge Russia. This would include seeking support from Nato and the European Union, and lodging a complaint against Russia at the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

    With both Ukraine and Russia becoming increasingly aggressive, the Sea of Asov is becoming an increasingly important flash point that could lead to a new conflict.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both Russia and Ukraine are in a generational Crisis era. In 1932-33, millions of innocent Ukrainians – men, women, and children – starved to death as a result of the deliberate policies of the regime of Joseph Stalin. The genocidal atrocity is known as the Holodomor, which means "death by hunger." Stalin's regime seized crops and farms across Ukraine, leaving the population to starve to death. It's quite possible that Russia's president Vladimir Putin would like to find a way to repeat Stalin's achievement. Jamestown and Daily Signal and Sputnik News and Government of Ukraine and (Trans)

    Related Articles:

    Violent school massacre in occupied Crimea kills 19 people


    CCTV image of shooter Vladislav Roslyakov on Wednesday at school.  His outfit is similar to that of Columbine High School killer Eric Harris
    CCTV image of shooter Vladislav Roslyakov on Wednesday at school. His outfit is similar to that of Columbine High School killer Eric Harris

    An 18-year-old Russian student, Vladislav Roslyakov, on Wednesday exploded a homemade nail bomb and then went on a shooting rampage, killing 19 others before killing himself in the school library.

    The mass school shooting at occurred at the Kerch Polytechnic College, in the city of Kerch in occupied Crimea. The city is located on the eastern shore of Crimea on the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait.

    Russian officials initially went into their usual spin and deception mode, trying to hide what happened, or put the blame on anyone but themselves. They first reported it as a gas explosion, and then said it was a terrorist bombing.

    Russian politicians in Crimea's parliament then tried to put the blame on Ukrainian nationalists, saying, "The entire evil inflicted on the land of Crimea is coming from the official Ukrainian authorities." But friends of the shooter said that the teenager hated the school and that he wanted revenge against his teachers.

    There are similarities between this school shooting and the April 20, 1999, massacre at Columbine High School, in Columbine Colorado that killed 13 people. Roslyakov was dressed in an outfit similar to that of Eric Harris, one of the killers in the Columbine massacre. Furthermore Roslyakov killed himself in the school library, just as Harris and his partner killed themselves in the school library. CBS News and Daily Mail (London) and AP

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Oct-18 World View -- Ukraine counters Russia's military buildup in the Sea of Azov thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    17-Oct-18 World View -- Amazon's Jeff Bezos says America must be defended, while Google repudiates its 'Do No Evil' policy

    Google repudiates its 'Don't Be Evil' conduct clause, and sides with China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Amazon's Jeff Bezos says that America must be defended


    Jeff Bezos
    Jeff Bezos

    At a time when employees of high tech companies like Google and Microsoft are adopting holier-than-thou attitudes about defending the United States of America, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said on Monday that Amazon is going to work with the Pentagon, and that other high-tech companies should do the same. He said in an interview:

    "If big tech companies are going to turn their back on US Department of Defense, this country is going to be in trouble. We are going to continue to support the DOD and I think we should."

    In recent months, Google has been almost enthusiastic in its willingness to provide technology to the Chinese government and the Chinese military, while at the same time management has given in to demands that Google not supply technology needed by the US military to defend the country.

    Bezos acknowledged that Donald Trump is unpopular among some workers, and particularly expressed disapproval of Trump's immigration policy, but pointed out that this proves why America is still the best in the world:

    I like this country. I know everybody is very conflicted about the current politics and so on. This country is a gem.

    There aren't other countries where everybody is trying to get in. I'd let them in if it were me. I like 'em, I want all of them in. But this is a great country and it does need to be defended."

    Amazon is in the process of bidding for a major DoD contract call "The Joint Enterprise Defense Initiative," or JEDI, a $10 billion development project that will make a cloud computing and storage platform available to all of DoD.

    Last week, Google issued a statement saying: "we are not bidding on the JEDI contract because first, we couldn’t be assured that it would align with our AI Principles...." This might actually be a blessing in disguise. Google has said that it will accede to China's demand that all cloud passwords for Chinese citizens and businesses will be made available to the Chinese government and military, and this would represent a possible security risk to US DoD data on Google's servers. As a Senior Software Engineer, I've worked on development of these extremely large, complex systems, and I'm aware how easy it is for bugs and systemic failure to permit data and services to be hacked.

    Microsoft is being pressured to move in the same direction as Google. A recent letter by employees describes Jedi as "a secretive $10 billion project with the ambition of building 'a more lethal' military force overseen by the Trump Administration," and concludes, "Microsoft, don’t bid on JEDI." However, Microsoft management has not yet acceded to these demands.

    Fortunately, there are still some American companies not being run by children. Amazon is expected to be the lead contender for Jedi, but Oracle and IBM are also expected to bid, and Microsoft may do so as well. Wired and BBC and TechCrunch and Medium

    Google repudiates its 'Don't Be Evil' conduct clause, and sides with China

    When Google was launched in 1998, it's unofficial slogan was "Don't be evil." It was a corporate principle that "you can make money without doing evil," and "Don't be evil" was part of the company's official code of conduct until this year.

    With no fanfare, Google removed "Don't be evil" from its code of conduct sometime between April 21 and May 4, when it simply disappeared from the Google web site.

    Shortly after that, in May, Google announced that would not renew its contract with DoD for Project Maven, which provides AI technology for analyzing drone footage, because its employees objected to doing any work for the American military.

    But in December of last year, Google announced that it would open a state of the art AI development center in Shanghai, where the most advanced AI technology would be made available to the Chinese government and the Chinese military.

    The biggest public scandal this year occurred when word leaked out in July that Google for almost two years had 200 programmers working on an advanced AI search engine for China called Dragonfly that would detect users who made requests that violated Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censorship rules, and would make personal identifying information about such users available to the Chinese government and Chinese military.

    Google has refused comment about Project Dragonfly, saying that it's an experimental system, with no current plans to deploy it. But in fact, Google's search engine chief, Ben Gomes, told an internal meeting in July that the plan was to launch the search engine as soon as possible — and to get it ready to be "brought off the shelf and quickly deployed" once approval from Beijing was received.

    On Monday of this week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, an American who was born in India, defended Project Dragonfly. He said that Project Dragonfly will still be able to answer "well over 99% of the queries” put to it and that “there are many, many areas where we would provide information better than what’s available." I'm not even sure that he understood the message he was sending with that remark, but it implies that the other 1% would be subject to arrest by China's police.

    As China continues to prepare to launch a war against the United States, it's hard to avoid the impression that Google has already chosen the side that it wants to win that war, and it's not the United States.

    And somebody ought to tell Sundar Pichai that those same super-intelligent weapon systems that Google is helping the Chinese military to build will also be used against his native India. Perhaps that thought never occurred to him.

    And finally, Chinese employees working in America should realize how dangerous Google's policy is for them personally. During World War II, Japanese Americans were interned. After 9/11, Muslim Americans were jailed without trial. The path that Google is on will adversely affect all Chinese-Americans, and an anti-Chinese public mood could materialize overnight. Gizmodo (18-May) and Gizmodo (1-Jun) and CNBC (13-Dec-2017) and NY Times (16-Aug) and The Intercept (9-Oct) and Washington Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Oct-18 World View -- Amazon's Jeff Bezos says America must be defended, while Google repudiates its 'Do No Evil' policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Oct-18 World View -- WHO considers declaring Ebola outbreak as an international emergency

    American CDC Ebola experts have been blocked from the outbreak zone in DR Congo

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    American CDC Ebola experts have been blocked from the outbreak zone in DR Congo


    Ebola health worker in DR Congo (CNN)
    Ebola health worker in DR Congo (CNN)

    It has now emerged that American Ebola experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been withdrawn from the outbreak zone in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This will make the new outbreak more difficult to contain.

    There are experts on the ground from other organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF), and The Alliance for International Medical Action (Alima).

    The CDC experts are among the most experience Ebola experts on the planet. According to Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:

    "CDC has responded to nearly two dozen filovirus outbreaks in its history and has people who’ve been working on these issues for 30 years. It doesn’t make sense to have those people hundreds or thousands of miles away from where the disease is actually spreading.

    It would provide a lot of value to have experienced leaders at CDC who’ve been in the situation before contributing what they can to the larger effort. I think it’s an important moment to think about that."

    Instead of being on the ground in the outbreak zone, CDC experts are being given other assignments thousands of miles away, such as advising DRC's ministry of health in the capital city Kinshasa.

    News stories are providing few details about why they're blocked from the outbreak zone, except that it's related to the attack in 2010 in Benghazi, Libya, that killed US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The inference that we're to draw, apparently, is that Americans in the North Kivu war zone would be targets of attacks similar to those against ambassador Stevens. Stat News and CNN

    WHO considers declaring Ebola outbreak as an international emergency

    The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that it will hold an emergency committee meeting on Wednesday in Geneva. According to a statement: "The committee will meet on October 17 in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern."

    The designation "public health emergency of international concern" refers to a pandemic that is so serious that it might spread to other countries. There are now concerns that it could soon spread to Uganda and Rwanda.

    WHO has resisted that designation so far in eastern DRC, but over the weekend a "second wave" of the Ebola virus was confirmed. There are now 211 registered cases of Ebola, 176 confirmed and 35 probable, with 135 deaths. The number of cases has been expanding rapidly, more than twice as fast as in September. There were six new cases over the weekend.

    Many new cases come out of funerals for previous victims. Even if a funeral is conducted in a secure manner, the risk for Ebola transmission is high, because viral loads are at their highest level at the time of death.

    The situation in North Kivu province is the worst possible scenario. There is a major ethnic war in progress, and Ebola is now spreading in the densely populated city of Beni, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic.

    The entire region is a war zone, and over one million people have been driven from their homes by armed rebel groups, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), fighting government troops. The fighting is preventing doctors and experts from reaching infected people, in order to educate the population and do contact tracing. Without contact tracing, there is no way to stop or slow the spread of the disease. AFP and Reuters and Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Oct-18 World View -- WHO considers declaring Ebola outbreak as an international emergency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Oct-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia tries to recover from Khashoggi disappearance disaster

    Negotiations follow the pattern of N. Korea's 2010 torpedoing of S. Korean warship

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudi Arabia tries to recover from Khashoggi disappearance disaster


    Despite his boyish grin, many people believe that Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi (AP)
    Despite his boyish grin, many people believe that Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi (AP)

    Saudi officials appear to be in a state of shock over the harsh international reaction to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi almost two weeks ago.

    Khashoggi was once a close adviser to the Saudi government, but has become persona non grata since criticizing the human rights record of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and his pursuit of the Yemen war, which has been a major humanitarian disaster. The excommunication was complete when Khashoggi exiled himself to the United States, and began publishing his criticisms of MBS as a Washington Post reporter. Recently, he needed Saudi government papers in order to marry his fiancé, a Turkish citizen, Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. He made two visits to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and he completely disappeared during the second visit, on October 2.

    Turkey's government has officially taken the position that it's still investigating, but numerous leaks to the Turkish media indicate a belief that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, and that his body was dismembered, packed up in suitcases, and taken back to Saudi Arabia in private Saudi planes. It's also believed that MBS ordered the killing, and Turkism media are claiming that officials have audio recordings of Khashoggi being interrogated and killed in the embassy.

    Many people are shocked by the apparent brutality of the alleged murder, but it seems that the biggest shock of all is that international outrage is continuing and may be growing. MBS has been ruthless in committing human rights abuses, arresting and imprisoning hundreds of people without trials. There have been numerous complaints that he decreed that women would be permitted to drive, but then he ordered the arrest of some of the women who did drive. And of course he's pursued the Yemen war mercilessly. He's done all this with impunity and little uproar. What's surprising is the uproar in this case.

    There have been international public demands for the Saudis to explain what happened, and there have been threats from the White House and from officials in Britain, France and Germany, including threats of sanctions by Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia has angrily denied the accusations, and threatened sanctions in return -- presumably to use oil as a weapon. AP and CNN and Reuters and Al Jazeera (Qatar)

    Negotiations follow the pattern of N. Korea's 2010 torpedoing of S. Korean warship

    What's becoming increasingly clear is that despite all the international uproar, nobody has the stomach for an all-out war -- not a military war, not a financial war, and not a sanctions war. The US and the Europeans have demanded explanations and investigations, but haven't made any explicit threats.

    There's a recent historical event that provides an analogy to the diplomatic pattern that's emerging.

    On March 26, 2010, the North Koreans launched a torpedo at the South Korean warship Cheonan, causing an explosion that killed 46 people. Everyone knew immediately that the explosion was caused by a North Korean torpedo, almost certainly ordered by Kim Jong-il, the father of the current child dictator, but South Korean President Lee Myung-bak refused to say so. Instead Lee continued to call for more and more investigations.

    The reason was simple. If Lee had formally accused North Korea of sinking a South Korean warship, then South Korea would have been forced to retaliate militarily, or even declare war. Lee did not want to have to declare war.

    The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi today has created a similar situation, where nobody wants to let the Saudis completely off the hook, but nobody wants a full-on financial or sanctions war.

    Since the 1930s, America and Saudi Arabia have had a very specific core understanding: That Saudi Arabia will guarantee to supply all the oil that America and the West need, and, in return, America and the West must guarantee the security of Saudi Arabia.

    The exact details of the US-Saudi relationship have had to change from time to time, based on international events such as Iran's revolution, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Iraq war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, Syria's civil war, the rise of ISIS. The 1973 oil embargo, which came out of Israel's war with Egypt, cemented the US-Saudi relationship.

    Today, Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in US and Western strategy. Saudi Arabia is important for Trump's strategy with Iran, and in Trump's peace plan proposal for Israel and the Palestinians.

    The core has always remained the same: The Saudis will guarantee oil, the Americans will guarantee security. The Khashoggi disappearance is just one more event that threatens the US-Saudi accords that have been in place since the 1930s, but all signs are that the parties will find a way to keep the Khashoggi crisis under control. Daily Sabah (Ankara) and BBC and Al Arabiya (Riyadh) and Reuters and Washington Examiner

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    14-Oct-18 World View -- China defends million-prisoner 'reeducation camps' and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang

    Brief history of China's religions

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China defends million-prisoner 'reeducation camps' and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang


    Uighur people mingle in the old town of Kashgar, Xinjiang, China on March 22, 2017 (Reuters)
    Uighur people mingle in the old town of Kashgar, Xinjiang, China on March 22, 2017 (Reuters)

    Since the end of World War II, China's atheist government has been on a "Sinicization" program of all religions. Typically this means brutal suppression of followers who display allegiance to anything not approved by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For example, in April of this year, the CCP declared:

    "The core and soul of Sinicization of Christianity are the Sinicization of theological thought. Only by the realization of Sinicization of theological thought will there be Sinicization in the true sense. Otherwise, the Sinicization of Christianity will be empty slogans like trees without roots, water without a source."

    In practice, China's storm troopers in recent years have invaded churches and torn down posters of Jesus and replaced them with posters of Xi Jinping.

    As has been widely reported, the Sinicization of Islam in has meant sending millions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province to "reeducation centers," where they are imprisoned, raped, tortured, and forced to recite Chinese Communist propaganda at the tops of their lungs. When the existence of these camps was first reported, the Chinese vehemently denied that they existed. But in the last few days they've admitted their existence, but say that the camps are necessary, for the same reason that they give for the violent suppression of all religions: to prevent "extremism" and "splittism," and to promote ethnic solidarity and religious harmony.

    In August, China declared a war against "halalization." Everyday halal products, such as food and toothpaste, must be produced according to Islamic law.

    As part of the sinicization of Islam, the government is pulling down mosques that have Islamic domes that look too much like Arab mosques. All Arabic script must be removed. The mosques must look like Chinese religious temples, presumably Daoist temples.

    Books on Islam and copies of the Koran have been removed from souvenir shops. Private Arabic schools have been forced to shut down. It's also forbidden to have a long beard.

    Although Islam is the main current target, the same kinds of harsh measures are being applied to the other non-indigenous religions -- Catholicism, Protestantism and Buddhism. According Xi Jinping last year, "[We] should adhere to the direction of Sinicizing religion in our country, and actively guide religion to adapt to a socialist society." Reuters and CNN and South China Morning Post (14-May) and Al Jazeera

    Brief history of China's religions

    Recently I've been doing my own research on China's teachings and religions, and this is a summary of what I've learned so far.

    As an imperialistic country throughout its multi-millennial history, China's religions have always been heavily tied in with war -- either wars of conquest or internal civil wars.

    China's core cultural teachings, developed around 500 BC, are Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Confucius' Analects. These teachings tell the harsh rules for winning wars, and the harsh rules for maintaining a "Mandate from Heaven" for a unified, harmonious society. Insofar as they can be called religions, they are the pro-government religions.

    Daoism as a religion was a reaction to Confucianism. It teaches peasants how to maintain harmony with nature without the harsh Confucian rules, whether you're pro-government or anti-government, and so Daoism has sometimes been the core of anti-government protests.

    Buddhism: As a religion imported from India, not indigenous in China, Buddhism has historically been the most important vehicle for anti-government protests. Subjugated people in particular have adopted Buddhism, because in Buddhism all people are equal, and someone who is evil in this life will be punished when he is reincarnated in the next life. Major historical anti-government branches of Buddhism were the White Lotus Society, Tibetan Buddhism, and Falun Gong, all of which have been violently suppressed by the government as major threats.

    Catholicism has existed in China since the 600s AD. It became very popular in China, thanks to Jesuit missionaries, but the Chinese government has always considered it a major threat because it requires allegiance to an outsider -- the Pope. Since 1949, the government has been harshly hostile to Catholicism, and has demanded to control all functions, including appointments of bishops and priests. So today, there are two Catholic churches in China, the Chinese Catholic Church, and the underground Catholic Church, with allegiance to the pope.

    Chinese leaders fear Protestantism because the massive Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) was launched by a Protestant convert who believed he was the brother of Jesus. Since 1949, China has harshly controlled Protestantism, even to the point of replacing worship of Jesus with worship of Xi Jinping.

    Islam: China's wars with the Mongols and the Turkic tribes in Central Asia have been against Muslims. Today, the Chinese government has opened "reeducation camps" for millions of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province, and Uighurs are regularly raped, tortured and slaughtered.

    Throughout Chinese history, all the internal rebellions or external invasion have had as their underlying motivation a widespread popular religious belief. Therefore the non-indigenous religions (Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Islam) have been permitted only when carefully (and violently controlled by the government.

    Starting in 1949, China's government has controlled the non-indigenous religions, but the control took a turn and became extremely harsh starting in the early 1990s, because of two traumatizing events.

    The first traumatizing event was the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre, a massive peaceful student anti-government demonstration that China's security forces brutally repulsed, killing thousands of innocent students, creating a bloodbath. Today, a Chinese person can be thrown into jail for even mentioning the Tiananmen Square massacre.

    The second traumatizing event was the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. This terrified the CCP because they realized that the same thing could happen in China, and the massive Tiananmen Square protests showed the way.

    So today Xi Jinping is terrorized by Winnie the Pooh, because he looks like Winnie the Pooh, and he's terrorized by all the uncontrolled religions, since they could lead to an internal rebellion. He fears Islam because it might be used in an invasion of China from Central Asia. He fears Tibetan Buddhism because the Tibetans have never accepted Chinese rule since China viciously invaded the nation of Tibet in the 1950s.

    Xi Jinping and the CCP feel a special terror of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. This is an offshoot of Buddhism that began in 1992 in reaction to the government's bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square. In 1999, when there were tens of millions of practitioners, China began to arrest, torture, rape and kill practitioners. Human rights advocates claim that hundreds of thousands of practitioners have been killed for the purpose of organ harvesting -- to provide fresh organs to be transplanted into other people. China's State Council Information Office and Union of Catholic Asian News and Council on Foreign Relations and US State Dept.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Oct-18 World View -- China defends million-prisoner 'reeducation camps' and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Oct-18 World View -- N. Korea's Kim Jong-un met Pompeo in a new Rolls-Royce Phantom, violating sanctions

    Growth of Ebola cases suddenly surges in DR Congo, threatening Uganda, Rwanda

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    N. Korea's Kim Jong-un met Pompeo in a new Rolls-Royce Phantom, violating sanctions


    Kim Jong-un arrives at meeting after stepping out of a new black Rolls Royce Phantom limousine (CNN)
    Kim Jong-un arrives at meeting after stepping out of a new black Rolls Royce Phantom limousine (CNN)

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to North Korea's capital city Pyongyang on Sunday, for a meeting with the child dictator Kim Jong-un.

    A smiling Kim was driven to the meeting in a new black Rolls Royce Phantom limousine. The car costs $500,000, with an additional $200,000 investment to provide security.

    This car could not have been acquired without violating United Nations sanctions, probably with delivery from China. Ostentatiously driving this car to the meeting appears to have been a slap in the face to Pompeo.

    Not surprisingly, the meeting appeared to accomplish little.

    North Korea is demanding that the US sign a peace treaty that would officially end the 1950s Korean War, and offered in exchange to destroy a nuclear test site that was unusable anyway. Signing the peace treaty might lead to the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea, which Pompeo refused.

    Pompeo demanded demanding a list of all nuclear and ballistic missile development and test sites in North Korea, in return for reducing or eliminating sanctions, and Kim refused.

    South Korea, China and Russia are increasing international pressure on the Trump administration to agree to reduce sanctions on North Korea, despite the fact that the North has made no irreversible concessions. The US has made a reversible concession, by suspending all military drills with South Korea.

    The objective of the North Korean regime from the beginning has been to use reversible concessions, a charm offensive and international pressure to force the Trump administration to reduce or eliminate sanctions. That would be an enormous victory for North Korea and a total humiliation to America, as it was when a similar North Korea strategy worked against the Bush administration in 2007. Chosun (Seoul) and UPI and CNN

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    Growth of Ebola cases suddenly surges in DR Congo, threatening Uganda, Rwanda

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that there are now 200 cases of Ebola in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with 165 of them confirmed, and the other 35 considered probable.

    There were 33 new cases between October 1-9, compared with 41 cases in the entire month of September. The number of new cases each day has more than doubled in October, compared to September.

    There are a couple of reasons for the sudden surge in the growth of the number of cases. The main reason is that Ebola is spreading into a war zone for a major ethnic war in DRC's North Kivu province, and so it's often impossible for WHO health workers to even enter these areas or, if they do, they're receive opposition from the local population, who fear and distrust them.

    A second, related reason, is that most of the new cases are now in the densely populated city of Beni, and Beni is also in the war zone.

    Sometimes health workers are targeted by armed opposition groups, but even when they're not, they may be forced to stay out of an infected area because of continuing gunfights or because of protests by groups opposing the violence.

    The city of Beni is near the border with Uganda, and it seems increasingly likely that Ebola will spread into Uganda, and possibly into Rwanda, Burundi, and South Sudan. World Health Organization (WHO) and Relief Web and Punch (Nigeria) and AFP and Canadian Broadcasting

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Oct-18 World View -- N. Korea's Kim Jong-un met Pompeo in a new Rolls-Royce Phantom, violating sanctions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Oct-18 World View -- Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia

    Russia says that Constantinople's decision is 'catastrophic'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia


    The Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev must now change its allegiance from Moscow to Kiev.  There are fears that this struggle will lead to violence.  (Sputnik)
    The Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev must now change its allegiance from Moscow to Kiev. There are fears that this struggle will lead to violence. (Sputnik)

    Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Constantinople Patriarchate and "first among equals" leader of all Orthodox Christian churches and of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, announced on Thursday that he will be issuing a "Tomos of autocephaly" (charter of independence) to the Orthodox Christian Church of Ukraine in Kiev.

    Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko quickly hailed the decision. "This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness," he said, adding that Ukraine has been waiting for this "historic event" for more than 330 years.

    The "330 years" refers to another part of the Bartholomew's announcement:

    "4) To revoke the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through oikonomia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, elected by the Clergy-Laity Assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the First hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople."

    In granting independence to Ukraine's church, Bartholomew it taking control of Ukraine's church from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). This has infuriated the Russians, and is a political and financial disaster for the ROC and for Russia's Patriarch Kirill, since about a third of the parishes controlled by Kirill are in Ukraine.

    In anticipation of Thursday's announcement, the ROC last month broke all relations with the Constantinople. ( "16-Sep-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue")

    Thursday's announcement is the culmination of decades of tension between the Ukraine and Russian churches since the time of the Soviet collapse in 1991. The ROC took control of the Ukrainian church, which was headed by Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret Denisenko, an ardent proponent of independence from the ROC. The ROC excommunicated Filaret, who formed his own unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is now the second largest in Ukraine.

    Thursday's announced by Bartholomew also reverses the excommunication of Filaret:

    "3) To accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church."

    It is now considered likely that Filaret will be chosen to lead the new Ukraine Orthodox Church.

    The Constantinople Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate are two of several dozen Orthodox Patriarchates in the world, but they're the two most influential. The city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul when it was conquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. The offices of the Constantinople Patriarchate are located in today's Istanbul.

    According to Ukrainian media, a scholarly study of the history of the ROC reveals that it never received a "Tomos of autocephaly," and therefore may itself not be a legitimate church. Constaninople Patriarchate and AFP and Russian Today and Unian (Ukraine)

    Russia says that Constantinople's decision is 'catastrophic'

    There are thousands of churches in Ukraine that have pledged allegiance to the Moscow Patriarchate, and who will now be under pressure to pledge allegiance to the new Ukrainian Church.

    Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, calls the decision "catastrophic," and says, "Of course, people will take to streets and protect their sacred sites." Hilarion in the past has warned,

    "If the schismatics begin to seize the laurels, thousands of people will gather, they will defend these monasteries, blood will be shed, ... If, God forbid, there will be a legitimization of the split, it is difficult even to imagine what consequences this can lead to. This would mean a split, similar to the split of 1054."

    This alludes to the historic, bloody split between the Catholic Church, led by Rome, and the Eastern Othodox Church, led by Constantinople, in 1054. In 1204, in a new Crusade, the Catholic army sacked sacked Constantinople, starving and murdering its citizens, and plundered the Orthodox Church's treasures accumulated over the centuries, capping the deed by placing a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia, at that time the most beautiful church in Christendom. It was not until the year 2001, after facing large anti-Catholic protests in Athens, that Pope John Paul apologized to the Greeks for the incident, and made a plea for forgiveness.

    So Hilarion's warning that Constantinople's Ukraine decision is similar to the split of 1054 illustrates how furious the Russians are that this decision was made. It's expected that Kiev and Moscow are going to be fighting for control of every one of the churches affected by the decision, but whether those fights lead to violence between the parishioners remains to be seen.

    Another consequence might be Russian violence against the Churches in Russian-occupied Crimea. Russia may attack these churches in retaliation for Kiev's attempts to control the churches in mainland Ukraine. AFP and Tass (Moscow) and Unian (Kiev) and Washington Post

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    11-Oct-18 World View -- Bangladesh continues plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island

    The island of Bhasan Char - 'floating island' - rose from the sea 20 years ago

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Bangladesh continues plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island


    Bhasan Char island (Reuters)
    Bhasan Char island (Reuters)

    Bangladesh last week again postponed plans to begin relocating 100,000 Rohingyas from refugee camps on the Burma (Myanmar) border to the remote island of Bhasan Char in the Sea of Bengal, about an hour's boat trip from the mainland. However, planning and implementation is continuing, and a new start date announcement is expected soon.

    Today, there are over one million Rohingyas living in refugee camps near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh -- the world's largest population of stateless people, not citizens of Burma, not citizens of Bangladesh. The Buddhists in Myanmar have been incredibly successful in committing almost complete genocide and ethnic cleansing, though they're still in second place this century, behind the genocide and ethnic cleansing being committed by Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

    Since 2011, Burma's mostly Buddhist security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, in what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. Myanmar's genocide is reminiscent of the Buddhist on Buddhist genocide that occurred in Cambodia in the late 1970s, under Pol Pot. Burmese Buddhist leader Aung San Suu Kyi has become the 21st century Pol Pot.

    In August 2017, Rohingya terrorists took revenge by killing several Burmese security forces in attacks against 30 Burmese police outputs. Using this attack as an excuse, the Buddhist Burmese army began conducting massive slaughter and atrocities against the Rohingyas, causing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border into Bangladesh.

    The refugee camps around Cox's Bazar have been extremely crowded, and are subject to large mudslides during monsoon season. When refugees started arriving several years ago, the Bangladeshis initially welcomed them with sympathy, but have been getting increasingly resentful.

    The plan to relocate 100,000 refugees to the island of Bhasan Char was originally proposed in 2015, but it has been postponed several times. In the most recent attempt, prime minister Sheikh Hasina was scheduled on October 3 to officially open newly-constructed shelters for the refugees on Bhashan Char, but the announcement was postponed again. Finance Today (Bangladesh) and Daily Star (Bangladesh) and Quartz (27-Feb)

    The island of Bhasan Char - 'floating island' - rose from the sea 20 years ago


    Infographic: Construction on Bhasan Char
    Infographic: Construction on Bhasan Char

    Bhashan Char, which means "floating island" in the Bengali language, emerged from the sea about 10-20 years ago. It was formed in the last 20 years by silt from Bangladesh’s Meghna River.

    According to some reports, half the island goes underwater every time there's a full moon, and 60% of the island is underwater during a monsoon.

    So Bangladesh's navy has fast-tracked construction of shelters and water barriers. Each shelter will be a metal-rooted brick building, raised on pylons, to house 16 families. Each family (4 people) will be allotted a 3.5x4 meter room for sleeping, with bathrooms and kitchens down the hall. There will be solar panels on the roof, and water filters below deck.

    Chinese and British engineers are building a 13 km embankment, with the entire habitable area surrounded by a wall 2.47 meters high. An offshore structure will protect the structures from the waves.

    The construction is only partially complete, which is probably the reason for the latest postponement.

    Many NGOs are objecting to plan to transfer 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char. Human Rights Watch gives the following reasons: 1) it is not sustainable for human habitation; 2) it could be seriously affected by rising sea levels and storm surges; 3) it likely would have very limited education and health services; 4) it would provide extremely limited opportunities for livelihoods or self-sufficiency; 5) it would unnecessarily isolate refugees; 6) the Bangladeshi government has made no commitment to allow refugees’ freedom of movement in and from Bhasan Char; 7) it is far from the Myanmar border; and 8) the refugees have not consented to move there.

    Nonetheless, construction on the island is continuing, and Bangladesh will probably announce a new relocation date soon. Dhaka Tribune/AFP (18-Sep) and Reuters (22-Feb) and NewsClick (24-Feb) and Human Rights Watch

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    10-Oct-18 World View -- China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent

    Venezuela migration crisis continues to grow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent


    During his televised speech last year, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)
    During his televised speech last year, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)

    In mid-August, Nicolás Maduro, president of the Socialist government of Venezuela, announced a new package of economic reforms that were supposed to stop the country's slide into economic disaster. ( "19-Aug-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela introduces new fantasy currency and new Socialist changes")

    At that time, Maduro said:

    "I want the country to recover and I have the formula. Trust me."

    To the surprise of few if any people, his "formula" has only sped up the economic disaster.

    The first part of Maduro's formula was to devalue the bolivar currency by 96%, and then introduce a new currency, the Bolivar Soberano ("sovereign bolivar"). Well, that doesn't seem to have stopped inflation.

    There are no longer any official Venezuelan government figures on inflation, because the figures were so embarrassing to the Socialists there, they decided to stop publishing them three years ago. So the opposition congress has been computing its own figures, and publishing them.

    According to opposition legislator Angel Alvarado, daily inflation is now 4%, which comes to 1.7 million percent per year. During the past year, prices rose a mere 488,865%, but the inflation rate continues to accelerate.

    On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its own estimate of Venezuela's inflation rate, saying that it would rise 1.4 million percent in 2018, and up to 10 million percent in 2019.

    The second part of Maduro's magic formula was to raise the minimum wage by 3000%. Maduro has raised the minimum wage 24 times since 2013. I always have to blink my eyes in disbelief when I read stuff like this, since apparently Maduro and his Socialist acolytes are too stupid to understand that when you increase wages then you increase inflation proportionately. So that's one more reason why the inflation rate increase has been accelerating.

    But it's worse than that, in this case. Within a month it was clear that the minimum wage increase was causing an additional economic disaster: Few companies or shops were able to pay the increased minimum wage, so massive numbers of people lost their jobs.

    In September, Maduro paid a visit to Xi Jinping in Beijing, and apparently came back home to Caracas with a lifeline.

    China agreed to invest an additional $5 billion, and the investment would boost oil production, and nearly double its oil exports to China. "We are taking the first steps into a new economic era," said Maduro. Reuters and Reuters and Bloomberg (19-Sep) and Al Jazeera (19-Sep)

    Venezuela migration crisis continues to grow

    Some six million people have fled from Syria since the war began in 2011, and that's currently the worst migration crisis in the world. The second worst is the Venezuelan crisis, where some 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled from the Socialist paradise.

    Unable to feed their children or provide medicines for illnesses, or running from violence, there are 4,000 more Venezuelans crossing the border into Colombia each day. Colombia has called for a regional response, saying the migrant crisis was costing it about 0.5% of GDP – around $1.5m. Thousands travel on to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, This has placed an enormous financial burder on neighboring countries, and many have been closing their borders. The migrants are willing to work for little pay, and so they take the jobs of each country's citizens, further destabilizing the region. UNHCR and Guardian (London) and Merco Press and Fair Observer

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    9-Oct-18 World View -- UN: We have just 12 years to prevent global warming catastrophe

    Fallacies in the climate change story

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UN: We have just 12 years to prevent global warming catastrophe


    China's largest open-pit coal mine is in Inner Mongolia, and is estimated to contain 1.7 billion tons of coal.  It has an estimated life of 75 years. (MiningGlobal)
    China's largest open-pit coal mine is in Inner Mongolia, and is estimated to contain 1.7 billion tons of coal. It has an estimated life of 75 years. (MiningGlobal)

    According to a new report issued on Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change scientists are saying that the world is approaching climate change catastrophe much faster than climate change scientists have said in the past.

    In the past, the climate change scientists were saying that the temperature of the earth would increase by 3 degrees by 2100, if nothing changes. They said in the past that we have to cut carbon emissions so that the temperature of the earth would only increase by 2 degrees. But according to Monday's report, even a 2 degree increase leads to world catastrophe.

    Typical media headlines read, "UN report on global warming carries life-or-death warning" and "Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn" and "Trump ‘poses the single greatest threat’ to our climate, bombshell UN report makes clear."

    What to do? What to do? The BBC World Service interviewed Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat, a key architect of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. Figueres was asked what people should do now, and she listed "four things that we all can do":

    I wonder if it ever occurs to anyone at the United Nations how ridiculous and incompetent it looks to have this spokesman making these truly idiotic statements. Nobody's going to give up meat because this lady says so. Nobody's going to give up their cars for her.

    Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Treaty because, among other things, it allows China, the biggest polluter in the world, to continue polluting, while imposing enormous financial burdens on the United States and Western Nations.

    The principal purpose of the Climate Change Treaty is to specify money payments from "developed countries," like the United States, to "developing countries" like Costa Rica. Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat, so we can assume that Costa Rica will benefit financially from the treaty, and she may even personally benefit financially from the treaty, and we can assume that's why she supports it. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and CNN and Vox and Mining Global

    Fallacies in the climate change story

    Climate change treaty supporters like to claim that anyone who disagrees with them is denying established facts.

    So let's assume that all the climate change assumptions are true:

    Let's assume that all of this is true. Then there are still major fallacies in the climate change argument.

    There are two major flaws in the climate change argument that I've pointed out on several cases to climate change advocates. They do not make any attempt to respond, but all these people just blow me off.

    If they had a response, they would respond. By just ignoring me or blowing me off, they prove that they don't have a response.

    Fallacy #1 in climate change story: Ignoring war

    The climate change scientists say that if nothing changes, then the earth's temperature will increase by 3 degrees. We're assuming that's true, but the climate change scientists are failing to take into account things that will certainly change.

    First, there's war. There were two world wars in the last century, as well as numerous other massive wars (Russian civil war, Spanish civil war, Cambodian civil war, Rwandan genocide, etc.) on every continent, and in every region.

    The 20th century was not unique. In every century for millennia, there have been massive wars on every continent in every region, such as China's Taiping rebellion, Africa's Mfecane, India's sepoy rebellion, the 30 years war, 100 years war, and so forth.

    It's 100% certain that there will be massive wars, including one or two world wars, before 2100. A world war in the 21st century will kill 20-50% of the population, through nuclear war, ground war, starvation and disease. Since we're assuming that carbon emissions are caused by human activities, that means that carbon emissions will be reduced by 20-50%.

    When I ask climate change scientists about this, they just blow me off.

    Climate change scientists won't even consider this, but it completely blows away their theories. If you don't believe me, then ask them about it, and see them duck the question.

    Fallacy #2 in climate change story: Technology

    There are probably hundreds of thousands of companies, big and small, around the world, developing solutions to carbon emissions, because everyone knows that a working solution will make billions of dollars. In the United States, emissions are down to their lowest point since 1991, thanks to many new technologies, including everything from fracking to better windmills to better batteries. Climate change scientists can't stand to even think about new technologies, because it blows all their theories out of the water.

    Several years ago, when thousands of East Anglia e-mail messages by climate change scientists were hacked, I did a search for the word "Singularity," and it never appeared once. You'd think that these scientists would have at least asked one another, "Hey, what about the Singularity?" But apparently it was such a forbidden subject that it couldn't be mentioned.

    Even if you've decided that the Singularity won't occur, there will still be nanotechnologies, materials technologies, advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, and lots of new technologies that will tackle the emission problem.

    So go ahead and ask climate change scientists how new technologies will affect their climate change predictions. What they'll answer is: Climate change is 100% certain, and world war is 100% impossible, and new technologies are irrelevant. Once again, you'd have to be a complete idiot to believe that.

    At the start, I said we would assume that all the climate change scientist conclusions are true, including the one that says that if nothing changes, then the earth's temperature will increase by 3%.

    Well, we've identified two changes that are 100% certain, and will affect their conclusions: technology and war. Here's a riddle: How do you make a climate change scientist run for his life? Answer: Ask him about war and technology.

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    8-Oct-18 World View -- Suspicious disappearance of Saudi journalist in Turkey threatens to upset Mideast relations

    Khashoggi incident threatens Saudi relationship with the West

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Suspicious disappearance of Saudi journalist in Turkey threatens to upset Mideast relations


    The Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Sunday (AP)
    The Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Sunday (AP)

    Turkey's media are now saying with increasing certainty that that the Saudi journalist who visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday and never came out was murdered by the Saudis and that his body was removed by a group of 12 Saudi officials.

    The sequence of events was as follow. Jamal Khashoggi, 59, is a Saudi journalist who writes for the Washington Post, and who has been increasingly critical of Saudi's participation in the war in Yemen, and of the human rights record of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been running the country since 2015. Fearing for his life, Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for the last year.

    On September 28, he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get marriage documents related to his planned marriage to his fiancé, a Turkish citizen, Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. On Tuesday of last week, October 2, he returned to the consulate. Before entering the consulate, he told his fiancé, who was going to wait in the car, that if he wasn't out within 20 minutes, she should alert the Turkish authorities.

    He didn't come out, and she raised the alarm. The situation reached the top diplomatic levels between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia claimed that Khashoggi had left the embassy without anyone noticing. Turkey's forensic analysis examined all the CCTV footage for the consulate entrances and exits, for the area around the consulate, and at the airport, and could find no sign of Khashoggi.

    On Sunday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Khashoggi a "journalist and a friend," and said,

    "God willing, we will not be faced with an undesirable situation we do not want. His fiancé hopes the same. Whatever comes of this, we will be the ones to declare it to the world. It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country."

    However, according to media reports, Turkish officials are increasingly convinced that the Saudis killed Khashoggi. Investigation revealed that on Tuesday morning, the day when Khashoggi was scheduled to return to the consulate, 12 Saudi officials arrived in Istanbul in two private jets, and went to the consulate. Shortly after Khashoggi entered the consulate, never to be seen again, the 12 Saudi officials returned to the airport and flew back to Saudi Arabia.

    Turkish officials reportedly believe that those 12 Saudi officials killed Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then transported his dead body back to Saudi Arabia.

    The president of Turk-Arab Media Association, Turan Kislakci, said on Sunday that his organization has confirmed through multiple sources that Khashoggi was murdered:

    "There is evidence that he was murdered. We initially thought Jamal Khashoggi was kept at the guest house [at the consulate] and that he was taken out afterwards. However, we have confirmed through multiple sources that he was killed. The details will be explained."

    However, a Saudi official is saying that the Turkish accusations are "baseless," and that a team of Saudi investigators will take part in the investigation.

    In addition, Saudi media are claiming that the woman named "Khadijah" is "promoting herself as Jamal’s fiancé," but is not known to Jamal's family and she is not his fiancé. Hurriyet (Turkey) and Globe Post (Turkey) and Washington Post and Saudi Gazette

    Khashoggi incident threatens Saudi relationship with the West

    The Turks are furious at this, and if it's true that the Saudis performed an assassination of a journalist on Turkish soil, then they expect to treat it as a major international incident.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia relations are already at a deep low.

    Recall that in June of last year, several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke relations with Qatar and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar. Amazingly enough, that blockade is still in place. International attempts at mediation have failed, and the rhetoric has, if anything, gotten worse.

    From the beginning, Turkey has been highly critical of the blockade, and has helped Qatar by sending troops to Qatar in support, and by increasing trade with Qatar, circumventing the blockade.

    Saudi Arabia has made a number of demands on Qatar to end the crisis. These include ending all relationships with Iran and Turkey, ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and shutting down al-Jazeera, which has been highly critical of Saudi Arabia -- things that are never going to happen.

    In the current febrile atmosphere in the Mideast, the Khashoggi incident could have larger implications. It could cause the US and Europe to reevaluate their relationships with Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish officials so enraged by this, it could trigger a more serious response. Al-Jazeera and France 24 and Al Monitor and AFP

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    7-Oct-18 World View -- Zimbabweans on panic buying spree as 'bond notes' crash

    Bond note currently on the path to inflation or hyperinflation

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Shops in Zimbabwe have bare shelves after panic buying


    Zimbabwe Bond Note
    Zimbabwe Bond Note

    Shops in Zimbabwe have bare shelves as people, fearing a new round of hyperinflation like the one in the 2000s decade, are panic buying beer, bread, cooking oil, and other essentials.

    Pharmacies have run out of medication for diabetic patients, high blood pressure patients. There are long queues of cars at petrol stations, with drivers hoping to get petrol before the station runs out.

    The panic was triggered when Zimbabwe's "bond note" currency crashed to 2.5 bond notes to the dollar, at the end of a week when the government imposed a new 2% tax on all electronic transactions. The result all week was protests and panic over the price increases and shortages of goods.

    Zimbabwe's central bank governor on Saturday John Mangudya blamed himself for the panic:

    "The problem is that we did not explain things. This economy is a sentiment driven economy so we need to communicate more with the society."

    Mangudya, told reporters that people should not be worried and that he expected an improvement in the next 48 hours.

    At the same time, there is a new cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, and 49 people have died so far. Independent Online (South Africa) and Reuters and Eyewitness News (South Africa

    Bond note currently on the path to inflation or hyperinflation

    Readers may recall that in 2016 then-president Robert Mugabe introduced a new currency called the "bond note." Each bond note would be worth exactly one US dollar. This was necessary because Zimbabwe's banks were running out of US dollars with with to purchase imports.

    In the 1990s, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa and Namibia are planning are now planning confiscating white-owned farms and giving them to his cronies in the Shona tribe who knew nothing about farming. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    By 2009 the Zimbabwe currency was more worthless than toilet paper, and so the US dollar became the official currency. But Mugabe continued with his destructive racist policies, and by December 2016, Zimbabwe was running out of US dollars. So Mugabe introduced the bond note, with each bond note worth $1.00.

    This cause large street demonstrations by Zimbabwe's public, because they knew that the bond notes would suffer the same inflation or hyperinflation that Zimbabwe's original currency did. But Mugabe promised that wouldn't happen, since no more than $200 million in bond notes would ever be printed, so hyperinflation was impossible.

    During 2017, Zimbabwe's central bank printed more and more bond notes, and by August 2017, the value of the bond note fell 50% compared to the US dollar. The central bank announced that it would print another $300 million in bond notes, bringing the bond note total up to $500 million, or half a billion.

    Since then, Robert Mugabe has been ousted, and has been sent to his palatial farm, where he has plenty of money at his disposal. Zimbabwe now has a new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is left to clean up the 40-year mess that Mugabe left behind. So far, things have only gotten worse. Maybe the Chinese will give him some money if he sells them a part of the country. Daily News (Zimbabwe) and Bulawayo24 (Zimbabwe) and News24 (South Africa, 3-Aug-2017) and eNews Channel Africa

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    6-Oct-18 World View -- China's spy chip attacks shock the computer industry

    Google is repeating the mistakes that IBM made in helping the Nazis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's spy chip attacks shock the computer industry


    How China's attack worked (Bloomberg)
    How China's attack worked (Bloomberg)

    The announcement this week by Bloomberg News that an investigation has found that China is installing backdoor chips on server motherboards is making the public aware of a major security issue that will affect a wide variety of electronic products, from iPhones to televisions to automobile components.

    The attack worked as follows:

    Apple and Amazon initially denied they were victims of this attack, but apparently later confirmed that they were.

    China's foreign ministry denied that they would ever do such a thing, but said that they were victims of such attacks themselves.

    These revelations have exposed only a tiny part of the problem, which is being described as the "supply chain problem." These days, any electronic device contains chips and components from many sources, and those components themselves may be made up of chips from many sources. A complex electronic device might contain over 100 chips, sourced from different locations. If just one of those chips has been infected by China's military, then the entire device could be compromised. As soon as the device is turned on, then the malware chip "calls home" to the Chinese military, which then has access to the entire device, whether it's an iPhone or a helicopter. Bloomberg and Bloomberg and Krebs on Security and Mashable

    Industry reactions to China's spy chips

    For months, American intelligence agencies have been advising Americans not to do business with Chinese chip manufacturers Huawei Technologies Co. or ZTE Corp.

    China goes out of its way to tempt Americans to buy their products, by offering a lot of features and setting very low prices. The Chinese undoubtedly lose money on these sales, but the sales support a national effort for China to control as many American electronic devices as possible, for future warfare.

    As a Senior Software Development, I've developed embedded operating systems for chips, and I personally know how easy it would be for the Chinese to implement this policy. Huawei could develop a chipset that works fine during tests, but Huawei could install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by China's military. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei or ZTE chips. This is not only doable, it's easy to do. The "backdoor" could not be detected until an attack had been launched, and then it would be too late. So there's never been any doubt in my mind that China COULD do this, and if China CAN do it, then they WILL do it, because they've engaged every part of the nation to prepare for war with the United States.

    That's a different kind of situation than the one that's been revealed this week. In this week's case, the hacking was done not by "invisible" software, but by a visible but tiny piece of hardware.

    SecurityWeek took a survey of reactions by security experts to the announcement of China's spy chips, and what was remarkable is that no one was the least surprised.

    Sanjay Beri, CEO, Netskope, said: "Chinese cyber infiltration is nothing new, as proven by ongoing recent attacks from elite Chinese institutions diligently working to gain access to assets from the west."

    Itzik Kotler, CTO and Co-Founder, SafeBreach, said: "Like many recent attacks, this is low-level, stealthy, and widespread. The combination of these three makes it especially frightening at first, and it certainly is rare to see such an attack in the wild."

    Rick Moy, Chief Marketing Officer at Acalvio said: "While there’s a lot of denial about the attacks, it’s completely plausible that China did in fact seed certain hardware with these backdoor chips. One can imagine the liabilities that firms would rather not take on by admitting this kind of a breach. However, it is entirely within the capabilities and mission scope of nation state intel armies to infiltrate supply chains in this way."

    Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic said: "We are one step away from a major cyber conflict or retaliation that could result in serious implications. This could be one of the biggest hacks in history. What is clear is that it is a government behind this cyber espionage and I believe it is compromised employees with privileged access that are acting as malicious insiders selecting specific targets so the supply chain has been victim of being compromised."

    Malcolm Harkins, Chief Security and Trust Officer, Cylance: Unfortunately the only surprising element about this attack is that it’s taken so long to be uncovered in a report." Security Week

    Google is repeating the mistakes that IBM made in helping the Nazis

    In the late 1930s, Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM Corp. had to decide whether to sell Hollerith card tabulating equipment to the German Nazis, at a time when they were persecuting Jews and even dropping bombs on London. Nominally, the equipment was to be used to count things like cars and cows, but it was obvious that it could also be used to count Jews. Watson did business with the Nazis even during the war, and helped the Nazis with the Holocaust.

    Now Google appears to be making the same mistake with China.

    Google recently announced it would not help the Department of Defense with AI technology, even for purely defensive purposes. (Paragraph corrected, 13-Oct)

    At the same time, Google announced a major new Google AI research center in China. “I believe AI and its benefits have no borders” said Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud. Well that's a lie. Google's AI technology will only be used outside the United States border, and inside China's border.

    China is preparing for war with the United States, and has developed numerous weapons systems with no other purpose than to attack American cities, bases and aircraft carriers. Google is willing to provide AI technology to China that can be used in these weapons to attack the United States, but refuses to allow the U.S. to use its AI technology to defend itself from China's weapons. That's verging on treason.

    A separate issue is Google's Dragonfly project. Google is using AI technology to develop a search engine for the Chinese government that will automatically track Chinese citizens who make unapproved searches, and then report those individuals to the government. Vice President Mike Pence this week called on Google this week to stop development of Dragonfly, because it would "strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers."

    China's persecution of the Uighurs and Tibetans in China is worse than the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Recent reports indicate that over a million Uighurs are imprisoned in reeducation camps. AI software provides facial recognition capabilities that permit China to track the movements of all Uighurs in Xinjiang province (or other Chinese citizens) for arrest or persecution.

    My guess is that during the 1930s it was young German-Americans who promoted selling IBM technology to the Nazis. Today, with Google located in Silicon Valley, it's probably young Chinese who are promoting selling AI technology to the Chinese military, but opposing its sale to the U.S. military. These Chinese workers will certainly come to grief for this betrayal of America. Guardian (London, 29-Mar-2002) and Atlantic (April 2001) and Task and Purpose (19-Jun) and The Verge

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    5-Oct-18 World View -- As October 25 deadline approaches, Syria's Idlib is set up for a classic Greek tragedy

    The inevitable clash of the protagonists

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    As October 25 deadline approaches, Syria's Idlib is set up for a classic Greek tragedy


    Idlib Syria (AFP)
    Idlib Syria (AFP)

    For months, international observers have been fearing a massive humanitarian disaster in Syria, as the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad prepares to launch an attack on Idlib province, the last stronghold of the opposition rebels, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

    The al-Assad regime has already recaptured Aleppo, Ghouta and Daara, using Vladimir Putin's "Grozny Model," which forces all the women and children out into the open so that they be slaughtered en masse. Al-Assad enhanced and upgraded the technique into what we might call "Grozny Model 2.0," using chlorine gas to force women and children out of their basement hiding places, and then use Sarin gas and barrel bombs as needed to slaughter as many as possible.

    Many of the civilians and opposition forces in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daara fled with their families to Idlib province, as possibly the only safe place left in Syria, with the result that the population of Idlib province doubled to about 3 million people. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and an assault on Idlib would create a massive humanitarian problem, with perhaps a million people flooding across the border into Turkey, and from there into Europe, creating an international crisis.

    Turkey was desperate to stop al-Assad's Idlib assault because it would be a disaster for Turkey, so Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lobbied Putin to cancel the assault. Turkey, Russia and Iran held a meeting in Tehran on September 7, but Turkey's proposal was rejected by the other two parties. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria") Reuters and Irin News and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

    Turkey and Russia reach an agreement to prevent the Idlib assault

    However, on September 17, Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, and they reached an agreement:

    "The Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation, as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic, ... in order to stabilize the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area as soon as possible, have agreed on the following:

    1. The Idlib de-escalation area will be preserved and Turkish observation posts will be fortified and continue to function.

    2. The Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and the existing status quo will be maintained.

    3. A demilitarized zone, 15-20 kms deep in the de-escalation area will be established.

    4. The delineation of exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined through further consultations.

    5. All radical terrorist groups will be removed from the demilitarised zone by October 15.

    6. All tanks, MLRS, artillery and mortars belonging to conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarised zone by October 10, 2018.

    7. Turkish Armed Forces and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will conduct coordinated patrols and monitoring with UAVs along the boundaries of the demilitarised zone. ...

    8. Transit traffic on the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored by the end of 2018.

    9. Effective measures will be taken for ensuring sustainable ceasefire regime within the Idlib de-escalation area. In this regard, the functions of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center will be enhanced.

    10. The two sides reiterated their determination to combat terrorism in Syria in all forms and manifestations."

    Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government were not part of this agreement, but it has become Russia's responsibility to hold al-Assad back from launching the assault.

    The heart of this agreement is that it places an enormous responsibility on Turkey. All rebels in the demilitarised zone must withdraw heavy arms by October 10, and radical groups must leave by October 15, and Turkey is reponsible for making that happen. Unfortunately, with only 5 days left until the first deadline, little has changed on the ground since the September 17 agreement except for contentious negotiations among the groups in Idlib. There's been almost no handover of weapons or territory.

    Of the 3 million people in Idlib, it's estimated that about 60,000 are in anti-Assad militias controlling different cities and villages. Some of the moderate rebel groups have begun withdrawing their forces and heavy weapons from parts of the buffer zone. But the biggest jihadi group, the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls 60% of Idlib, has not yet agreed to withdraw, although it's still negotiating with Turkey. The National (UAE) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

    The inevitable clash of the protagonists

    The Greeks invented tragedy, and three of four great tragic artists of all time were Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides of ancient Greece, with the fourth being Shakespeare. As a Greek, I understand tragedy very well. The essence of Greek tragedy is that the tragic event it not random, but is inevitable, because of the nature, the personality, the character of the protagonists. A true tragedy cannot be prevented, even by those who foresee it, because the forces bringing about the tragedy are too powerful for anyone to stop.

    We can see those powerful forces in Syria today.

    First we have Bashar al-Assad, a psychopathic monster and a member of the Shia/Alawite community in Syria, a group that has had many wars with Sunni Arabs, including Turks. Al-Assad has repeatedly made it clear that he considers all Sunni's in Idlib, even the women and children, to be terrorists who much be exterminated like cockroaches. Al-Assad is the most Shakespearean of the protagonists in that he's driven to commit a bigger genocide than his father, Hafez al-Assad.

    Reports indicate that the al-Assad regime has been massing its army on the border with Idlib. Putin has been holding al-Assad back from assaulting Idlib, and al-Assad is looking for any excuse to attack. If the agreement deadlines pass and Turkey has not completed its tasks, then al-Assad will have the excuse he needs.

    Second, we have Russia's president Vladimir Putin. I don't get the feeling that Putin has any particular animus against either side in Syria. He seems to view the war in Syria the same way that Henry David Thoreau watched in astonishment the war between the two armies, one army of red ants and another army of black ants.

    Instead of ethnic animus, Putin seems to be have an entirely different kind of motive for supporint al-Assad. Russia was completely shut out of the Mideast in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, for the first time in decades, Russia has two military bases in the Mideast -- the Tartus naval base, and the Hmeimim airbase, both of them in Syria, in return for supporting al-Assad.

    So Russia is holding al-Assad back for now, but when the dam breaks and the Syrian army pours into Idlib, Russia will support al-Assad in order to continue to control the two military bases.

    And the third major protagonist is Turkey's president Erdogan. Al-Assad and Erdogan share a deep vitriolic hatred of each other, as do their respective populations. Erdogan truly wants to prevent al-Assad's assault on Idlib because it will be a disaster for Turkey.

    Iran is like Russia, having little vitriolic hatred for either side in Syria, but wanting to establish an overland route from Iran through Baghdad through Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. For that, Iran is supporting al-Assad.

    Hezbollah is like a mindless puppet, where Iran is the puppetmaster. Hezbollah will do whatever Iran tells it to do.

    There are also lesser forces in Syria, including the United States and Saudi Arabia. They play their parts in support of one group or another, but they're subordinate to Syria, Russia and Turkey.

    One day soon, all of these forces will clash and the inevitable final act of the Greek tragedy will begin. Al Jazeera and Digital Journal and Deutsche Welle and Al Jazeera

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Oct-18 World View -- As October 25 deadline approaches, Syria's Idlib is set up for a classic Greek tragedy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Oct-18 World View -- Iran diplomats and sleeper cells arrested in France and across Europe

    Iran blamed on the foiled June 30 attack on anti-Iran MEK group

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran diplomats and sleeper cells arrested in France and across Europe


    Gouasmi Yahia (R), founder of the Zahra Center France religious association, speaks to reporters after his offices were raided by police on Tuesday (AFP)
    Gouasmi Yahia (R), founder of the Zahra Center France religious association, speaks to reporters after his offices were raided by police on Tuesday (AFP)

    On Monday, a German court agreed to extradite Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomatic, who is accused accused of handing a bomb to the attackers who were planning a June 30 bombing of a meeting near Paris of an anti-Iran regime group, the MEK. Although Assadi is based in Vienna Austria, his actions took place while he was on vacation in Germany, so the German court stripped him of his diplomatic immunity, and allowed him to be extradited to Belgium.

    Assadi is an Iranian diplomat and intelligence agent. He is accused of meeting a Belgian husband and wife sleeper cell in Luxembourg, where he handed them the explosives. The explosives were discovered in Beligum by Belgian police when they stopped a Mercedes car driven by the Antwerp-based Iranian couple and found the explosives hidden inside a toiletries bag. The police took the husband and wife team into custody, and requested extradition of Assadi from Germany.

    The planned target of the June 30 attack was in Villepinte, northeast of Paris, and another man, accused of being an accomplice, was arrested in Paris on Monday.

    France also seized assets in Paris belonging to Tehran's intelligence services and the Iranian husband and wife arrested in Belgium.

    A French official said that Iran's deputy minister and director general of intelligence, Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, had ordered the attack and Assadollah Asadi, who is still in Germany to be extradicted to Belgium, had masterminded the plot. According to the official:

    "Behind all this was a long, meticulous and detailed investigation by our (intelligence) services that enabled us to reach the conclusion, without any doubt, that responsibility fell on the Iranian intelligence ministry."

    However, after Belgium announced on June 30 that they had foiled the Iranian bombing operation, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted the following:

    "How convenient. Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its "plotters" arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy. 3:57 PM, Jul 2 2018"

    Zarav and the Iranians have continued to deny any connection to the June 30 plot, but Monday's arrests indicate that police in France, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg now believe that they've connected the dots to prove the Iranian terror plot.

    On Tuesday, the French government issued the following statement:

    "An attack attempt was foiled in Villepinte [near Paris] on June 30. This act of extreme severity planned on our soil could not remain without response. By an October 2, 2018 order from the Minister of State, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Economy and Finance... France has taken ... preventative measures by freezing the assets of Iranian nationals Assadollah Asadi and [Iranian deputy minister of Intelligence in charge of operations] Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, as well as of the Directorate of Internal Security of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. In taking this decision, France reiterates its determination to fight terrorism, especially on its own soil."

    On Tuesday, French police raided the al-Zhara mosque in the small town of Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk in northern France. Police had been monitoring the activities of the mosque, especially its leader, Yahia Gouasmi, who is known for anti-Zionist views and ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. However, it's not clear whether this arrest is also related to the June 30 bombing attempt.

    This series of arrests across Europe is going to bring Iran-EU relations, especially Iran-France relations, to a new low. This is highly significant at a time when Iran is begging the Europeans to find a way around the US sanctions on Iran that the Trump administration imposed after withdrawing from the nuclear agreement. BBC and The National (UAE) and Deutsche Welle and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

    Iran blamed on the foiled June 30 attack on anti-Iran MEK group

    The foiled June 30 attack was targeting a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the dissident group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / Mujahideen-el-Khalq, MEK), which Iran says is a terrorist organization -- as did the US State Department from 1997 to 2012.

    The MEK was formed in the 1960s to overthrow the Shah of Iran. As I described in my new book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, the MEK helped Ruhollah Khomeini overthrow the Shah in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but then turned against Khomeini because he was worse than the Shah.

    In July 1988, Khomeini's ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners and political enemies, especially those in the MEK. He issued this decree:

    "Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the PMOI must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately! ...Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for PMOI are waging war on God and are condemned to execution. ... It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God."

    It's laughable for Khomeini to compare himself to God. I described in my book how he did this -- modifying Shia Islam theology by naming himself to the be modern version of Shia Islam's infallible Imams. However, the infallible Imam Khomeini used his power to conduct torture, rape, multilation and slaughter of his political enemies, including members of the MEK.

    In my article on the December protests in Iran, I listed about 20 of the protests that were being chanted, many of them quite vicious. These chants were collected and publicized by MEK activists.

    The MEK has remained an anti-government protest organization, and it's not at all surprising that Iran would sponsor explosions and other terror attacks on the MEK in Paris and elsewhere. The MEK has been extremely effect in exposing the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, and in encouraging anti-government protests within Iran. Al-Jazeera and AFP and Washington Examiner and Euro News

    John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

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    3-Oct-18 World View -- Namibia may follow South Africa with land confiscation without compensation

    Brief generational history of Namibia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Namibia may follow South Africa with land confiscation without compensation


    Namibia white-owned farm (Pixabay)
    Namibia white-owned farm (Pixabay)

    Namibia's president Hage Geingob announced on Monday that he would push ahead with "land distribution," following the example of the announcement by its close neighbor, South Africa.

    According to Geingob, the practice of expropriating land with "fair compensation" will be revisited, since it hasn't delivered results, and that 43% of farmland will be transferred from white farmers to "disadvantaged blacks" by 2020. In making the announcement, Geingob said:

    "Many Namibians were driven off their productive land. The fundamental issue is the inequality. We also share a burning land issue and a racialized distribution of land resources with South Africa.

    This comes from a common history of colonial dispossession. What we also agree to is that the status quo will not be allowed to continue."

    The phrase "colonial dispossession" refers to genocide and ethnic cleansing by German colonists of tens of thousands of ethnic Herero and Nama people from roughly 1895 to 1907. According to published statistics, white Namibians today own 70% of agricultural land and blacks 16%. The rest, about 250 farms, are under foreign ownership, mostly by Germans.

    Geingob added that by redistributing land from white farmers to blacks, it will reduce inequality, and will be "an investment in peace":

    "We need to revisit constitutional provisions which allow for the expropriation of land with just compensation, as opposed to fair compensation, and look at foreign ownership of land, especially absentee land owners.

    It is in all our interest, particularly the 'haves,' to ensure a drastic reduction in inequality, by supporting the redistributive model required to alter our skewed economic structure. We should all be cognizant of the fact that this is ultimately an investment in peace."

    According to Geingob, the "willing-buyer, willing-seller" approach has not worked to redistribute the land, and now a more aggressive approach must be used. Deutsche Welle and The South African and Al Jazeera

    Namibia government opposition calls the land reform proposal a 'sham'

    The proposal for land confiscation without compensation is being made at the Second National Land Conference, held in the capital city Windhoek. Opposition figures have called for a boycott of the conference because documents leaked prior to the conference indicated that the outcomes were predetermined, and because opposition parties, including representatives of white farmers, were not even invited. Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila denied that the outcomes were predetermined, because all delegates coming to conference will "share their honest views towards the debate to help our country make progress towards the land reform program."

    None of the news reports that I read about this proposal even mention the Zimbabwe experience, so apparently that experience has been forgotten. In the 1990s, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa and Namibia are planneg. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    The lack of transparency, and shutting out of the opposition are signs that Zimbabwe's experience will be copied in another way. When Mugabe confiscated the white farmers' farms, they were supposed to go to poor blacks, but instead went to Mugabe's wealthy political cronies, people who didn't even know how to farm. That's why Zimbabwe faced such a financial disaster.

    Namibia's new land reform program is supposed to confiscate white farmers' farms and give them to "disadvantaged blacks," but the lack of transparency and shutting out of the opposition indicates that Geingob will do what Mugabe did -- give the farms to his élite wealthy political cronies, who know nothing about farming. Why would anyone expect anything else? Those cronies worked hard to get Geingob elected, so shouldn't they be rewarded with all the farmland? It's only fair.

    So that's what happened to Zimbabwe when it was a relatively wealthy country in the 1990s. But Namibia is not a wealthy country. As of the second quarter of 2018, Namibia's economy had shrunk for nine consecutive quarters. Earlier this year, the government had to stop feeding the army, or paying the water and electricity bills for its military bases.

    Namibia is a mineral-rich country, and was considered to be stable and democratic. But when president Hage Geingob took office in 2015, he borrowed money and went on a spending spree, greatly expanding the public sector, with a huge wage bill for 100,000 civil servants. Geingob has also taken on billions of dollars in debt from China, where the terms of the deal are being kept secret, raising fears of yet one more Chinese debt trap.

    Namibia has been hit with other problems. A drought across southern Africa has been disastrous for the Namibian economy. The fishing industry has suffered due to overfishing and depletion of fish stocks. The mining industry suffered because of the fall in the prices of minerals, particular uranium, which Namibia relies on.

    So Geingob is going to solve all of Namibia's economic problems by confiscating the farmland from productive people who produce food for people to eat, and give the farms to his cronies who don't have a clue. Sounds like a great plan. Namibian (21-Sep) and The Villager (Namibia, 24-Sep) and Deutsche Welle (1-Feb) and Namibian (14-Sep)

    Brief generational history of Namibia

    Archeological evidence shows that people inhabited Namibia for at least 25,000 years. Little was known about life there until the colonists arrived and started writing things down. The first known European to visit Namibia was the Portuguese Diogo Cao in 1485.

    The most valuable real estate in Namibia to the colonists was Walvis Bay, a large deep water port on the Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch Authority took control of Walvis, and Britain took control of it in 1797.

    The Europeans in Namibia lived in relative peace with the dominant tribe, the Herero, until the "Scramble for Africa" among the European colonists occurred in the late 1800s. In 1886, Germany and Portugal negotiated the border between Angola and German South West Africa. By 1890, the German colonists had been a military fort in Windhoek, which became Namibia's capital city.

    Things changed in 1897 when the rinderpest, an ancient plague dating back to at least Roman times, arrived in South West Africa and devastated the flocks of cattle owned by the Herero, who depended on cattle for their livelihood. Many Herero sold their land to the Germans for a very low price. This situation backfired in 1904, when there was a Herero uprising against the German colonists, killing over 100 Germans. This triggered a generational crisis war, and genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Herero.

    Another tribe, the Nama, rose up in support of the Herero, but the Germans rounded them up and sent them to labor camps to work on the railways. All in all, about 80% of the Herero were killed, and 50% of the Nama. It's sometimes call the first genocide of the 20th century. Germany only lost control of South West Africa at the end of World War I, when the Treaty of Versailles gave control to South Africa.

    The Herero have filed a lawsuit in the US against Germany over the genocide and demanded reparations. Germany acknowledges that a genocide occurred, but the government denies that it is under any legal obligation to reparations. Deutsche Welle (28-Jul) and RhinoAfrica and SAHistory and HistoryWorld

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    2-Oct-18 World View -- Cameroon's Paul Biya continues ethnic cleansing of Anglophones in Southern Cameroons

    Cameroon Anglophone separatists act to block 86 yo Paul Biya's reelection

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon's Paul Biya continues ethnic cleansing of Anglophones in Southern Cameroons


    Ambazonia Defense Forces fighters (Vice)
    Ambazonia Defense Forces fighters (Vice)

    Cameroon’s Francophone (French-speaking) President Paul Biya is the favorite to win reelection as president on Sunday. A poll reveals that none of the nine opposition candidates would be able to defeat Biya, even though the economy is tanking, and most voters are opposed to Biya's war and atrocities on the Anglophone (English-speaking) population in the Southern Cameroons region of the county.

    The atrocities 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. Court cases had to be held in French, and it was against the law to provide English translations of the laws.

    The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October 2017, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia. A video emerged 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.

    The Anglophones began forming their own army called the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), 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. In September of last year, activist separatists began using small bombs to target local security forces.

    In December of last year, Biya declared full scale war on the separatists, with this announcement:

    "I learned with emotion of the murder of four Cameroonian soldiers and two policemen in the south-west of our country. I think that things are now clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming to be part of a secessionist movement.

    Faced with these attacks of aggression, I assure the Cameroonian people that all measures are being taken to end these criminals’ ability to do harm."

    Human Rights Watch issued a report in July saying that the violence in Cameroon has reached a crisis level, and could still get much worse. The report Abuses by Government and Separatist Groups in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions":

    "found that both government forces and armed separatists have abused civilians in the western part of the country, displacing over 180,000 people since December 2017. Anglophone separatists have extorted, kidnapped and killed civilians, and prevented children from going to school. In response to protests and violence by armed separatists, government forces have killed civilians, used excessive force against demonstrators, tortured and mistreated suspected separatists and detainees, and burned hundreds of homes in several villages."

    According to claims by the separatists, within the last month the Francophone army has been burning down villages, and killing anyone from 13 years to 50 years old.

    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. It has now been exactly 58 years since the ending climax of the UPC Revolt. Generational Dynamics research shows that 58 years is the point where the generations of survivors of the previous crisis war have retired or died in sufficient number that they no longer hold enough power to stop the excesses of the younger generations. Cameroon is spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war, and there is nothing to stop it. Journal du Cameroun and Africa News and Human Rights Watch and Vice News

    Cameroon Anglophone separatists act to block 86 yo Paul Biya's reelection

    Paul Biya has been campaigning in Francophone Cameroon for a seventh term in office, which he has held since 1982.

    Cameroon's Francophone government has declared a 48-hour curfew in the Southern Cameroons region, occupied by the Anglophones. October 1 is the first anniversary of the day when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, triggering an army massacre that killed hundreds of people.

    Separatist activists have vowed to block the presidential election in any of the Anglophone regions. On Thursday, separatist militants raided a prison and freed about 100 inmates, claiming that the prisoners were innocent people that the army arrested at random on the street.

    Separatists have set up check points blocking traffic on major roads, helping to paralyse activity across the region. According to Cho Ayaba, a separatist leader, "There will be no election in Ambazonia. We want to make sure there is no movement from Cameroon into Ambazonia, including election materials." The Nation (Kenya) and AFP and Reuters

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    1-Oct-18 World View -- UK to challenge Russia in Arctic, at time of tensions over Skripal poisoning

    Russia says that UK violates its commitment to the Arctic Council

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UK to challenge Russia in Arctic, at time of tensions over Skripal poisoning


    British troops heading for the Arctic (Getty)
    British troops heading for the Arctic (Getty)

    At a time when tensions between the UK and Russia are extremely high because of the poisoning of the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok, UK's defense secretary Gavin Williamson on Sunday announced that British armed forces will confront Russia in the Arctic.

    Williamson said that Russia was reopening Soviet-era bases in the arctic and he warned that Britain's military must assert itself in the newly navigable region.

    According to Williamson:

    "We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it's right that we start responding to that.

    If we could turn back the clock 10 years many people thought that the era of submarine activity in the High North, in the North Atlantic, and the threat that it posed did disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This threat has really come back to the fore. If we want to be protecting our interests in what is effectively our own back yard, this is something we need to be doing."

    Well, the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago, not ten years, but who's counting?

    Williamson indicated that global warming was exposing Britain to new military threats from Russia:

    "As the ice melts and new shipping routes emerge, the significance of the High North and Arctic region increases.

    Russia, with more submarines operating under the ice and ambitions to build over 100 facilities in the Arctic, are staking a claim and militarising the region. We must be ready to deal with all threats as they emerge."

    Britain is planning to open a new military base in the northern part of Norway and deploy 800 Royal Marine and Army troops to the country every winter for 10 years from 2019. They are to operate with the US and Dutch troops there. Together with 3,000 commandos, sent to take part in the NATO drills, the total number of the deployed troops will top 40,000. In addition, four Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter planes will patrol Icelandic Skies.

    "Our Poseidon aircraft submarine hunters, based in Lossiemouth, will track Russian submarines. They will keep us safe at home and assist our NATO allies," said Williamson. That should be reassuring. Daily Mail (London) and UK Government and Sputnik News (Russia)

    Russia says that UK violates its commitment to the Arctic Council

    Russia's embassy in London criticized Britain's announcement, promoting the idea of a threat from Russia. In fact, Russia claims that Britain is violating its own policy statement as an observer at the Arctic Council. According to a spokesman:

    "These speculations are yet another attempt to promote the idea of military build-up in the Arctic under imaginary pretexts. They run counter to the existing international legal framework and completely undermine huge efforts undertaken in the Arctic Council, where the UK is an observer state.

    We hope the British media notices the impressive prospects for trade, economic and infrastructural cooperation in the Arctic and stops echoing those who can’t wait to engage in saber-rattling in this part of the globe."

    According to the US State Department:

    "Established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, the Arctic Council is the preeminent intergovernmental forum for addressing issues related to the Arctic Region. The members of the Arctic Council include the eight countries with territory above the Arctic Circle (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, and the United States) plus six Permanent Participants (PP) groups representing the indigenous people of the Arctic, which include Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the North, and Saami Council. The Arctic Council is not a treaty-based international organization but rather an international forum that operates on the basis of consensus, echoing the peaceful and cooperative nature of the Arctic Region. The Council focuses its work on matters related to sustainable development, the environment, and scientific cooperation; its mandate explicitly excludes military security. Traditionally, the Council is chaired by the foreign minister of the country holding the chairmanship. Its day-to-day work is carried out by the eight Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) and six PP representatives, with input from working groups, expert groups, and task forces."

    Although the mandate of the Arctic Council specifically excludes military security, Russia claims that an observer state like the UK must "recognize Arctic States’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic," and that the UK Foreign Office specifically committed to doing so in 2013.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Russia and Britain are not headed for war. Historically, the Russians love the British, and the British have no particular ill feelings towards any Russians except Putin and his cadre of officials who are going around poisoning people on British soil with the nerve agent Novichok. However, eastern Europe is extremely volatile, and it's possible at some point that Russia will be involved in a war with Ukraine or other east European countries, as has happened many times in the past few centuries. For that reason, Britain's decision to set up a new military base in northern Norway could be quite significant. Russia Today and US State Dept. and Arctic Council and Sputnik News (Russia) and Daily Express (London)

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    30-Sep-18 World View -- University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes

    The Sayings and Aphorisms of Confucius

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes


    Confucius
    Confucius

    The University of North Florida announced that it will cut ties with the China-funded Confucius Institute on its campus. Others of the approximately 100 colleges and universities hosting Confucius Institutes are considering doing so as well, or have already done so.

    Ostensibly, Confucius Institutes are apolitical partnerships between American and Chinese universities, giving American students opportunities to learn to speak Chinese or study abroad. But the Chinese themselves say that they serve as "an important part of China's overseas propaganda," and they also serve as outposts of China’s intelligence and surveillance operations, as FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the US Senate in February.

    In addition to the 100-plus Confucius Institutes in the US, China runs about 500 "Confucius Classrooms" at American K-12 schools. In Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and other countries, China runs 1,500 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, with 40% of them in the US, more than any other country.

    The Confucian Institutes are one of the programs of Beijing's international coercive propaganda agency, the United Front Work Department (UFWD). Every aspect of the Confucian Institutes is tightly controlled by the Hanban agency, the Chinese Communist Party agency that oversees all Confucius Institutes. Teachers and teaching materials are all supplied by China. Taiwan and Tibet are portrayed as undisputed territories of China, with no alternate views permitted. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the one million Uighurs in re-education camps, the human rights abuses in China are all forbidden subjects.

    The Pentagon has been working with Confucius Institutes in some colleges, and even co-funding some programs, in order to develop Chinese-speaking students. However, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed in August, contains provisions barring any U.S. university from using Pentagon resources for any program involving Confucius Institutes. In many cases, this will forces universities to choose between receiving funding the Pentagon and funding from Hanban. Folio Weekly and Washington Post (14-Aug) and Washington Examiner (29-Apr)

    Confucius and the roots of China's imperialism

    The Confucian Institutes really have nothing to do with Confucius, but if they were called the "Chinese Communist Propaganda Institutes," then they would be rejected. However, most Americans associate Confucius with wisdom, or cutesy aphorisms, so the use of the name Confucius Institutes has been a great success for China.

    In recent weeks, I've been doing my own research on China's ancient philosophers, including Confucius, and this is a tentative summary of what I've learned so far.

    Confucius lived around 500 BC, and was a contemporary of Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War, a book that is so popular that it's probably the closest thing that the Chinese have to the Bible.

    Sun Tzu was a brilliant war strategist and tactician. From deception to beheadings, every tactic is on the table for winning wars. Compromise or mercy are never possible.

    If Sun Tzu's work was the recipe for imperialist warfare, Confucius' work was the theology of imperialist warfare. Confucius lived at the time of the Zhou Dynasty, about five centuries after it had beaten the Shang Dynasty. How were the Zhou able to defeat the Shang? Much of Confucius' work is devoted to answer that question in a theological framework.

    The Shang worshiped a heavenly ancestor called Shangdi ("the Lord on high"), and kings were permitted to rule under the power of this god. When the Zhou defeated the Shang, they replaced (or merged) Shang Di with their own god, Tian, a sky god, a "deity above who rules the Heavens."

    Under the Zhou doctrine, a king is the Son of Heaven, and is allowed to rule under a Mandate from Heaven, provided that he rules reverently and virtuously. Thus, if the Zhou defeated the Shang, then the Shang king must have lost his Mandate from Heaven. An excerpt from an ancient history classic is the Zhou explanation of what happened:

    "We do not presume to know and to say that the lords of Yin (Shang) received Heaven's Mandate for so many years. ... But they did not reverently attend to their virtue and so prematurely threw away the Mandate. ... Now our king has succeeded and received the Mandate. ... Being king, his position will be that of a leader of virtue. ... The Son of Heaven could not properly fulfill his functions unless his moral nature was pure and his conduct above reproach. Heaven could not be served by a tyrant or a debauchee, the sacrifices of such a ruler would be of no avail, the divine harmony would be upset, prodigies and catastrophes would manifest the wrath of Heaven."

    Confucius formalized and strengthened this doctrine of Tian and the Mandate from Heaven. He wrestled with the same "theodicy" contradiction that every religion faces: If God created everything, the God created Good and Evil, so how could God be good if God created evil?

    For Confucius, this contradiction and its apparent manifestation in the Zhou conquests, applies to Tian. He finds that Tian is an absolute power in the universe, and he accepts three assumptions:

    Since Tian depends on human actors to implement its will, Confucius insists on moral, political, social, and even religious activism. Only through this activism will a society maintain a harmonious order.

    When you look at the work of Sun Tzu and Confucius, and use their work to analyze modern events, you see that both philosophers lack any idea of a "peace conference" or a "United Nations." Since the Chinese king was the Son of Heaven and received its Mandate from Heaven to rule, it would not make sense to sue for peace with anyone else, because no one else had the Mandate from Heaven.

    But if there's no peace, it's still possible to take advantage of a "peace process." Sun Tzu said that "All warfare is based on deception," and he advocated the use of deception first, and actual war as a last resort.

    So for China today, the United Nations is not a tool to bring about peace, but a tool to be used with deception to win the war. For example, China treats international law with contempt, saying that its own law supercedes international law as in the South China Sea, where China is criminally violating international law, but still references international law when it favors China. This is a perfect example of deception and manipulation. China is contemptuous of international law, but still uses it as a tool of deception.

    We might assume that the North Koreans are following the same kind of strategy, with the child dictator Kim Jong-un having received his own Mandate from Heaven. Kim will never denuclearize, and treats the peace talks with South Korea and Trump with contempt, but will still use them as tools to provide political pressure to get the sanctions lifted, and make fools of and humiliate the US, as his father did ten years ago. New World Encyclopedia and University of Tennesee and Wolfram Eberhard, History of China

    The Sayings and Aphorisms of Confucius

    Many people know nothing about Confucius except his sayings, whether or not he actually said them.

    "Confucius say" sayings are often meant to be funny, and can often be found as sayings in fortune cookies served after meals in a Chinese restaurant. Here are some examples: "Confucius say: Man with one chopstick go hungry." or "Confucius say: Man who cut self while shaving, lose face. " or "Confucius say: Man who jump off cliff, jump to conclusion! " or "Confucius say: Man should not sleep with woman with more troubles than he have."

    Those sayings are meant to be funny, but he probably never said them.

    However, there is a large body of real Confucius sayings that carry a great deal of wisdom, even though they were written down 15 centuries ago. In fact, many of them have become common sayings. Here are some examples:

    Famous Confucius Quotes

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Sep-18 World View -- University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Sep-18 World View -- China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted

    North Korea denuclearization negotiations appear headed for another crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted


    China's foreign minister Wang Yi (AP)
    China's foreign minister Wang Yi (AP)

    Russia and China are starting to demand that the sanctions on North Korea be reduced.

    As I've said for many months, the objective of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un has been to get the sanctions removed, without having to denuclearize. His father was very successful at that, having resumed nuclear development when the sanctions were lifted, based on his promise to end nuclear development. The child dictator wants to prove that he's as good as his father at tricking and humiliating the West.

    As I've said in the past, after they starved and viciously abused their own people for decades, based on a promise to make North Korea a great country, a world peer to the United States, it's my personal opinion that if Kim actually did denuclearize, then he would be shot dead by his own generals.

    Since the beginning of the year, Kim has adopted a "charm offensive" strategy, working with the Russians, Chinese and South Koreans to put international pressure on the US administration to agree to reduce sanctions. He's taken easily reversible "confidence building steps," including destroying a nuclear test facility that could easily be rebuilt, and returning the remains of American Korean War soldiers, when he has thousands more. He's also suspended open testing for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, but he's continued development of these weapons and, even worse, is selling them to other countries.

    At the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, America's secretary of state Mike Pompeo repeated previous criticisms of Russia and China for violating the internationally agreed sanctions on North Korea, and said that the sanctions must be continued to maintain pressure:

    "It is imperative for members of the United Nations to take that to heart. Enforcement of UN Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearization. The members of this council must set the example on that effort, and we must all hold each other accountable."

    However, Wang Yi, China's foreign affairs minister, responded by saying the sanction measures could be "modified":

    "A provision in the Security Council resolutions that the council is prepared to modify the sanction measures in light of the DPRK’s [North Korea’s] compliance. Now given the positive developments in the inter-Korean and DPRK- US relations, and the DPRK’s important pledges and actions on denuclearization, China believes that the Security Council needs to consider invoking in due course this provision to encourage the DPRK and other relevant parties to move denuclearization further ahead."

    Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov added to Wang Yi's remarks by criticizing Western nations for "stubbornly" refusing to agree to reduce sanctions. He said that, "Any negotiation is a two-way street. Steps by the DPRK (North Korea) toward gradual disarmament should be followed by the easing of sanctions," and that the continued imposition of sanctions must not become “a hindrance” to dialogue between the two Koreas. CBS News and Sputnik News and Guardian (London) and Reuters (17-Sep)

    North Korea denuclearization negotiations appear headed for another crisis

    The North Koreans have made some easily reversible "confidence building" concessions, as described above.

    The US has also made an easily revisible concession: The US has suspended all joint military drills with the South Koreans.

    Mike Pompeo is supposed to have another meeting with Kim Jong-un in the near future.

    The major demand that the US will make is for Kim to provide a list of all nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development sites, and then to allow UN IAEA inspectors to visit the sites and verify that denuclearization is in progress. I would be shocked and surprised if Kim agreed to that.

    The major demand that the North Koreans will make will be to sign a peace treaty formally ending the 1950s Korean War, and then to withdraw thousands of American troops from South Vietnam. I would be shocked and surprised if Trump agreed to that.

    However, if both Kim and Trump shock and surprise me, then undoubtedly some agreement would be reached to ease some sanctions.

    Trump claims, in the spirit of The Art of the Deal, that he expects North Korea to fully denuclearize by the end of 2019. I would be VERY shocked and surprised if that happened.

    This situation has seemed so benign for months that almost nobody has been paying attention, especially with the distraction of people being thrown to the lions in the great Washington Colosseum.

    However, my expectations haven't changed. At some point, there will be a renewal of the "North Korea" crisis, and the choice will be either war, or else allowing North Korea to build an arsenal of nuclear ballistic missiles pointed at the United States. AP and Asia Times

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    28-Sep-18 World View -- Number of Kashmir militants surges as India's 'Operation All-Out' fails

    Clashes in Kashmir after Indian police brutally kill innocent shepherd

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Clashes in Kashmir after Indian police brutally kill innocent shepherd


    Mohammad Saleem Malik's mother grieves at the funeral for her son on Thursday (AP)
    Mohammad Saleem Malik's mother grieves at the funeral for her son on Thursday (AP)

    Details are scarce, but Mohammad Saleem Malik, a 26 year old shepherd boy, was found dead in a courtyard by his family on Thursday morning, near his home in Srinigar, the capital city of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Two hours earlier, he had left his room and entered the cattle shed to check his sheeps and goats. Indian government security forces had been conducting a "cordon-and-search operation" (CASO), and allegedly fired indiscriminately at the neighborhood houses before dawn.

    According to his father Muhammad Yaqoob Malik:

    "My son was fond of rearing sheep and pigeons and never in his life he had picked up a stone in his hand [to fling at police]. Why was he killed when he was not a militant, with clean police record? Why was he killed when no militant was present in the area and there was no encounter at all?"

    Clashes erupted soon after the news of the killing spread in the area with the locals alleging that Malik was killed in forces’ firing. In the ensuing exchange of fire, a militant was killed and three soldiers were wounded, one of whom died.

    A Kashmir separatist group, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), is calling for a shutdown of Kashmir on Friday. First Post (India) and Kashmir Watch and Rising Kashmir

    Number of Kashmir militants surges as India's 'Operation All-Out' fails

    In May of last year, with tit-for-tat violence between Kashmir separatist insurgents and Indian security forces escalating, Indian security forces launched a massive house-to-house sweep in Kashmir, using 3,000 security forces to root out terrorists.

    Then in June Indian security forces launched "Operation All-Out." According to India said that this would "deliver a lethal blow to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir with a long-term plan for a lasting peace in the trouble-torn Valley."

    At the time that Operation All-Out was announced, Indian security forces had identified 128 militants in Kashmir who would be targeted.

    However, that was then. Earlier this month, the list of militants kept by the Indian security forces had more than 300 names on it. According to a senior police officer:

    "There has been a significant increase in the number of militants. The main reason for the high number of militants has been local recruitment since 2017. Last year 126 Valley youths picked up guns- which was the highest number since 2010 and this year over 130 have been inducted into militancy."

    The significance of this statement is that it indicates a major change. In the past, militants came from Pakistan. In most cases, they were in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was formed in the 1990s by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu. LeT was the perpetrator of the horrific "26/11" three-day attack on Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more. ( "After Mumbai's '26/11' nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis" from 2008)

    The major change, as the police officer's statement indicates, is that militants are now being recruited indigenously. Most of them join Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), a Kashmir-based terrorist group that has been leading the anti-Indian stone-throwing riots, triggered by the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. Since then, thousands of Kashmiris have been blinded in one or both eyes by pellet guns used by Indian security forces, and thousands of youths have been arrested.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template. India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and then the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

    Now, as the survivors of the 1947 Partition War have almost all died off, leaving behind younger generations with no fear of repeating past disasters, Kashmir is repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947. Generational Dynamics predicts that Kashmir is returning to full-scale war, re-fighting the extremely bloody partition war of 1947. Tribune India and DailyO (India)

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    27-Sep-18 World View -- Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world

    Today's major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world


    Bill and Melinda Gates
    Bill and Melinda Gates

    Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, may be ideologically on the left, but it's hard to criticize someone who is taking a global view for the good of mankind, and is spending his own money to try to solve world problems like poverty and HIV aids.

    I met Bill Gates a few times during my past as a Senior Technology Editor and technology journalist. I found him to be a brilliant man at both marketing and technology. I recall digging into the code and functionality of Windows 95 when it came out in 1995 and being extremely impressed that so complex a product could work so well and in so many diverse environments.

    So when Melinda Gates was interviewed at length on CNBC on Tuesday, I was curious to hear some specifics of her plans for how she and Bill were going to save the world, and to analyze what she said from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

    Like many people, she is completely oblivious to the growing nationalism and xenophobia in the world, to the growing military threats around the world, to the growing global financial crisis in countries around the world, and how these things completely negate her Pollyannaish view of the world, and how they make the investments she's proposals either impossible or else completely worthless if they occur, in this generational Crisis era.

    I'll start with something she said near the end of the interview that really caught my attention: (my transcription):

    As I traveled the world, I asked myself: is there anywhere in the world where we have true equality for women, and the answer is no, not even in the United States. ...

    One of the places that have 40% women parliamentarians is Rwanda. It's because President [Paul] Kagame said we will have 40% of parliamentarians. They're way over that now."

    In fact it is true that over 50% of the members of parliament in Rwanda. Ms. Gates' point was that Paul Kagame is a great pro-woman humanitarian who has bravely taken the political step to make sure that there's gender equality in parliament.

    But even someone without knowledge of generational theory can see that's not what's going on here. Rwanda is in a region riven by centuries of tribal war, particularly between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis. In a three month period in 1994, Hutus massacred close to a million Tutsis in the most brutal way.

    I've described many times what happens in country after country in the decades following a crisis ethnic civil war. Whoever comes to power after the war uses brutal police power to suppress the opposition, using the excuse that a new civil war must be prevented. This has happened in DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, Venezuela, Libya, and other places.

    Paul Kagame was a Tutsi military leader who was killing Hutus in the 1980s, and continued doing so both before and after the 1994 genocide. This is a person who has perpetrated some of the most horrific things that one human being can do to another. Like many leaders in such countries, he's refusing to give up power, and he's using violence to suppress the opposition. Even today, there are reports that he's using terror attacks to subvert the Hutu government in Burundi. So he's no humanitarian, and if he supposedly supported gender equality. There must be something else going on.

    An NPR article in 2016 described what happened:

    "Following 100 days of slaughter in 1994, Rwandan society was left in chaos. The death toll was between 800,000 and 1 million. Many suspected perpetrators were arrested or fled the country. Records show that immediately following the genocide, Rwanda's population of 5.5 million to 6 million was 60 to 70 percent female. Most of these women had never been educated or raised with the expectations of a career. In pre-genocide Rwanda, it was almost unheard of for women to own land or take a job outside the home.

    The genocide changed all that. The war led to Rwanda's "Rosie the Riveter" moment: It opened the workplace to Rwandan women just as World War II had opened it to American women. ...

    The call for equality was led not by thousands of women but by one man — President Paul Kagame, who has led the country since his army stopped the genocide. Kagame decided that Rwanda was so demolished, so broken, it simply could not rebuild with men's labor alone. So the country's new constitution, passed in 2003, decreed that 30 percent of parliamentary seats be reserved for women. The government also pledged that girls' education would be encouraged. That women would be appointed to leadership roles, like government ministers and police chiefs. Kagame vowed to not merely play catch-up to the West but leapfrog ahead of it."

    So in a country whose population is 60-70% female, Paul Kagame sought to appoint women to high positions. So when Ms. Gates uses Rwanda as a model country to be emulated by other countries, you have to wonder what she's thinking, or whether she knows anything about Rwanda before the last six months.

    I would assume the latter. I don't know anything personal about Ms. Gates, but I would assume that she's like most Americans, and thinks that "history always begins this morning."

    The next question to ask is whether Rwanda is fundamentally different from other countries, besides having a lot of women in parliament. The same NPR article provides some answers:

    "But even though the change was dramatic and swift, how deep was its impact? Can a country truly transform its core culture from the outside in?

    Justine Uvuza wondered that, and decided to find out. A Rwandan herself who had grown up in a refugee camp in Uganda and then moved back to Rwanda in 1994, after the genocide, she worked for a while for the Kagame government promoting Rwanda's pro-women policies. She was curious how much progress had been made. So when she was getting her Ph.D. at Newcastle University, she returned to Rwanda to interview female politicians about their lives — not just their public positions but their private lives, with their husbands and children. She found with rare exception that no matter how powerful these women were in public, that power didn't extend into their own homes.

    "One told me how her husband expected her to make sure that his shoes were polished, the water was put in the bathroom for him, his clothes were ironed," Justine says. And this husband wanted not only his shoes laid out in the morning, but his socks placed on top of the shoes. And he wanted it done by his wife, the parliamentarian."

    So really, having women in parliament is great for show, but it makes little difference in people's lives.

    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.

    It's certainly commendable that Bill and Melinda Gates want to spend their own money to promote gender equality. But I think that it's unfortunate that they're wasting their money, time and effort on programs that have a zero percent chance of succeeding.

    Generational theory is not easy to understand, but Bill Gates is capable of doing so. Gates and his wife should focus their attention on programs that might actually work. NPR (29-Jul-2016) and Newcastle University (PDF,2014)

    Bill and Melinda Gates' programs for contraception availability

    I'll give one more example from Ms. Gates' interview:

    "There's a youth boom in Africa - 60% of the population is under the age of 25. If we invest in their health and their education, they'll lift up their economies. They have huge potential. They'll lift up the continent.

    But the converse could also happen. If we don't make those investments, you're going to see more HIV Aids, more deaths. So we need to keep our eye on the ball and make these investments, as a world. ...

    I met women all over the world, and when I sit down and talk to them, in their homes, in their villages, in a township, and really listen to them ... they would say to me, "What about that tool, what about that [contraceptive] shot. Why can't I get it?" They would say, "I have five children, it's not fair to my youngest child for me to have another women."

    Somebody has to answer those cries, and somebody has to rise above the politics, and say that this is important, has to be on the global agenda.

    I'm Catholic, I had many discussions with my family, my parents, my siblings, with former priests and nums, and at the end of the day I decided, I use these tools, I counsel all three of my children, my sons, my daughter, to use these tools and know about them, and I thought I have to follow my conscience. Women's babies are dying because they're coming too quickly, and women's bodies can't sustain what's going on. So at the end of the day, I had to wrestle my conscience and my conscience says, this is the right thing to do."

    These are great objectives. And perhaps making contraceptive shots available to women will will reduce population growth, especially if the husband also thinks it's unfair to his five children to have a sixth.

    My personal opinion is that this kind of program will not work under any circumstances, because the rate of population growth is deeply embedded in the culture. Consider that in America there was a reduction in fertility before WW II, and then a Baby Boom after WW II. This had nothing to do with availability of contraceptives. There are other examples of this type as well.

    But even if the program worked, the effort would be totally wasted. With nationalism and xenophobia increasing around the world in this generational Crisis era, the world is headed for a world war, and these contraceptive programs will simply fall off a cliff and be totally irrelevant.

    This should not be too difficult for Bill and Melinda Gates to understand. Instead of wasting their effort on programs that a 100% probability of failure, they should devote their efforts to preparing for the world to come, after a world that has to be rebuilt by the 4-5 billion people who survive the world war, and then have to find their way when the Singularity occurs. CNBC

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    Concerns grow about an approaching global financial crisis

    In the last four or five years, I've noticed a major change in the commentary of financial experts and analysts on television. It used to be that the only view that was expressed was that the financial system had recovered nicely from the financial crisis of ten years ago, and that the worst that could happen is a mild recession, from which the economy would recover quickly.

    Ironically, even that hasn't happened. There has been a bull market on Wall Street for years, much longer than history tells us is possible.

    So now what I'm hearing more and more is that analysts are strongly hinting that a major financial crisis is coming.

    In an interview on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday morning, JPMorgan's Mary Erdoes was asked whether there are things in the global economy that are too good to be true. She replied (my transcription):

    Oh lots of things. I mean everything from housing prices in certain parts of the world, to currency prices in certain parts of the world.

    You can't possibly think we're in a normal world, when you have an $11 dollars that was thrown at the market to buy whatever, to keep things propped up.

    Add to that a nice little tax reform in the United States of America to help that, and you have negative yields in 40% of europe. This is just not normal. You have not normal things, and not normal things don't end well.

    The problem is all of this stress testing in the world isn't telling us what's going to manifest itself. next, because everything - it seems too benign, everyone is so comfortable, and that's exactly when you need to be the most uncomfortable."

    Other panelists concurred, mentioned other issues: inflexibility of euro currency to meet crises, and closing of open borders.

    I'm hearing this kind of thing a lot more these days. They clearly are expecting a major global financial crash, triggered by something completely unexpected - not a surprise to my readers. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio is at 24.55, which is astronomical by historic standards, where the historic average is 14, and it was around 5-6 as recently as 1982, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble.

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    Today's major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door


    Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)
    Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)

    Former "Suits" star Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, the new wife of Prince Harry, made big news on Wednesday when she closed a car door.

    She was driven to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the opening of an exhibition of works from the Oceania region.

    She stepped out of the car, and closed the door. She's supposed to wait for someone else to close the door for her.

    This is now a major "moment" in the UK. The big question is: Will she close her own car door again the next time she's driven to an event? BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Sep-18 World View -- Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Sep-18 World View -- World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo

    Violence escalates in North Kivu, DRC, along with Ebola

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo


    A makeshift site for internally displace people in North Kivu province of DRC (UNHCR)
    A makeshift site for internally displace people in North Kivu province of DRC (UNHCR)

    The latest outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was identified on August 1 in North Kivu province of DRC, near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Since then, Ebola has been spreading fairly rapidly. As of Tuesday, there are 119 confirmed cases, and 69 confirmed deaths from Ebola.

    This outbreak has already become the seventh largest Ebola outbreak in history.

    As we reported a month ago ( "25-Aug-18 World View -- In dreaded scenario, Ebola spreads to densely populated war zone in Congo"), Dr. Peter Salama, from the World Health Organization (WHO), said that WHO was extremely concerned because the disease was already spreading, and had reached an "area of very high insecurity," because it was in densely populated tribal war zone.

    Now Salama's level of concern appears to have grown considerably. At a news conference on Tuesday he said:

    "We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a potential perfect storm: A perfect storm of active conflict, limiting our ability to access civilians, distress by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder."

    Salama is particularly concerned about attacks on ordinary civilians and on WHO personnel in and around the territory of Beni, which is the base of WHO's operation. “We’ve seen attacks now on August 24, September 3, 9, 11, 16, 21 and most recently and most dramatically September 22 in the city itself of Beni. The ADF in particular has enormous capabilities. They’ve been able to overrun entire FARDC-bases in and around Beni, they’ve been able to ambush (UN) forces." United Nations and Times Live (South Africa) and Reuters and AFP

    Violence escalates in North Kivu, DRC, along with Ebola

    The militia that Salama named as having "enormous capabilities" is the ADF, which is the Alliance of Democratic Forces, a group of Islamists formed in the late 1990s in western Uganda to fight the government of Uganda. Since then they've taken their mayhem and murder to North Kivu province in DRC, and joined with other militia groups, as well as elements of Congo's own army. The UN was particularly stunned in December of last year, when the ADF attacked UN blue helmet peacekeepers, killing 15 and wounding 54 in one evening.

    The fighting in North Kivu has been escalating in all six territories of North Kivu, according to the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR. Thousands of civilians have fled their burned out villages, bringing reports of brutal attacks. It is estimated that more than a million people are displaced in North Kivu. An estimated half a million people have been forced from their homes this year alone.

    The WHO's Dr. Salama mentioned a "perfect storm" of multiple risks. One of those risks is attacks by the ADP and other armed militias. A second risk is that politicians are attempting to exploit the situation, with elections scheduled for December.

    A third risk is "pockets of reluctance, refusal and resistance" by civilians contacted by WHO workers. Many of the new cases of Ebola are being generated by people who are refusing to accept an Ebola vaccination. On Monday 80 percent of Ebola contacts — people at risk of developing the disease and so requiring monitoring — and three suspected cases in and around Beni could not be reached for disease monitoring. This kind of contact is the only way to stop the further spread of Ebola. If WHO workers cannot perform vaccinations or contact tracing, and cannot isolate people who have already contracted the disease, there is nothing to stop it from spreading rapidly.

    Salama says that neighboring Uganda is now facing an “imminent threat”, and social media posts were conflating Ebola with criticism of the DRC government and the United Nations and “a range of conspiracy theories”, which could put health workers at risk.

    WHO currently has no plans to evacuate its health workers, but that could change if the danger to them increases. "If WHO and its partners had to leave North Kivu ... we would have grave concerns that this outbreak would not be able to be well controlled in the coming weeks or months." UNHCR and WHO Situation Reports for DRC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Sep-18 World View -- World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

    Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan


    S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)
    S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)

    The Israeli security cabinet will meet in urgent session on Tuesday over the crisis in relations between Israel and Russia, a day after Russia officially blamed Israel because Syrian surface to air missiles shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane on September 17, killing all 15 Russians onboard.

    On September 17, Israeli F-16 warplanes were carrying out airstrikes in Syria to prevent Iran from deploying advanced weapons that the Syrian regime or Lebanon's Hezbollah could use to strike Israel. Earlier this month, an Israeli official admitted that Israel had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

    The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attempted to use an an S-200 anti-aircraft missile battery, previously supplied by the Russians, to shoot down the Israeli warplanes, but instead shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 (IL-20) reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 Russian service members onboard.

    Shortly after the incident occurred, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said that the shootdown was caused by a "series of tragic mistakes."

    But on Sunday, Russia's Defense Ministry said:

    "Objective data says that the actions of Israeli pilots, which led to the death of 15 Russian military personnel, point to either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence. This is why we believe that the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy is solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force and those who made decisions concerning such actions. ...

    This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that Russia has done for Israel and the Israeli people recently."

    The Russians describe how extremely clever and tricky Israeli pilots flew into the region and out again, tricking the hapless Syrians into shooting the Russian reconnaissance plane before they even knew what they were doing. The Foreign Ministry continued:

    "The Israeli pilot could not but understand that since the Il-20 aircraft has a far larger radar cross-section compared to an F-16 jet, it would be a preferred target for air defenses. [Israel is aware that] Russian and Syrian militaries use different friend or foe identification systems so Syrian radars could have identified the Il-20 as a group of Israeli fighter jets."

    So, in other words, the Syrians couldn't identify Russian planes using friend or foe identification systems, and Syrian radar operators couldn't tell the difference between a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane and an Israeli F-16 warplane, even though the F-16 is one-third as big as the IL-20. So the Syrians shot down the Russian plane, and therefore, the shootdown was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force." Those Israeli pilots were pretty clever, weren't they?

    Even some Russian commentators are saying that the Russian explanation is ridiculous, and that the fault is with the total incompetence of the Syrians. According to sarcastic commentaries in the the liberal Russian media Echo Moskvy:

    "How could the Syrian air defense, upon seeing on their radars a large IL-20 coming to a low speed landing, release the S-200 on a small Israeli Air Force fighter, who was in same air space sector?! Are there brainless ‘dummies’ sitting behind the radars?"

    "We always blame someone else. Anyone but us. [The Boeing MH17 passenger plane] was hit by Ukraine, the British themselves poisoned the Skripals, White Helmets poured chlorine on the Syrian insurgents, sanctions were imposed by Russophobes, doping was planted by other Russophobes. ...

    With whom have we not yet quarreled? Who else is still not to blame for all our troubles? Israel - it is now on the line. Let's go after the Jews! Moreover, our people have long suspected that the true culprits of all misfortunes are the Jews and the Masons who joined them."

    A growing number of Russians are opposing Russia's involvement in the war in Syria, and so Putin cannot afford to admit that it was the incompetence of the Syrian military and the Russian military that led to the deaths of the 15 Russian soldiers. Tass (Moscow, 23-Sep) and Reuters (4-Sep) and The Hill and Echo Moskvy (Trans)

    Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

    After saying that Syria shooting down a Russian plane was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force", Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Mondayk that advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems will be supplied to Syria within two weeks. According to Shoigu:

    "The S-300 is capable of intercepting air threats at a range of more than 250 kilometers and simultaneously hitting several aerial targets. Russia will also jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria."

    This announcement has alarmed Israel's government. Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday initiated a phone conversation with Putin to attempt to reverse the decision. However, Putin rejected the plea, saying that "Russia’s decisions to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense meet the current situation and are geared, first of all, to avert any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen who are fighting against international terrorism."

    National Security Advisor John Bolton called the decision “a significant escalation” of the seven-year war, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the matter.

    The S-300 systems could potentially be a game-changer in the potential conflict between Iran and Israel. Israel has sought for years to convince the Russians not to supply S-300s to the Syrians or the Iranians, and Russia has cooperated with the Israelis to the extent of permitting them to conduct airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria which could threaten Israel.

    But right now it looks like that cooperation may be changing. The S-300 missiles, combined with jamming of electronic communications, will make it easier for Iran to deploy weapons in Syria or Lebanon that could be used by the Iranians or Hezbollah to attack Israel.

    Israel does not have the capability to defeat Russia's electronic jamming technology, but some reports indicate that the US does, and Israel may request aid from the US. Reuters and Debka (Israel) and Tass (Moscow) and Al-Jazeera

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    John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Sep-18 World View -- Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election

    Yameen's defeat is also a defeat for China's 'debt trap diplomacy'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election


    Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean
    Map showing strategic location of Maldives and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean

    People in the Maldives islands today are in something of a shock, as the results of Sunday's presidential elections appear to indicate that the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen has decisively lost to his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

    With more than 80% of the ballots counted on Sunday night, Solih was winning by 58-41% of the vote. The results will be announced officially on Friday, but this lead 17% lead is thought to be insurmountable.

    The Maldives is a 1,200 island archipelago in the India Ocean at the southern tip of India. More than 260,000 of the Maldives' 400,000 people were eligible to vote at about 400 polling stations across the islands. Voters also stood in long lines in Malaysia, the U.K., India and Sri Lanka, where the opposition had encouraged overseas Maldivians to participate.

    The reason that everyone was expecting Yameen to win easily is because he's used violence, human rights abuse, and suppression to guarantee his victory. He jailed many of his political opponents on phony "terrorism" charges, and rolled back press freedom.

    Some political opponents have been in jail since 2015, including Yameen's own half-brother. In February of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that they should be set free. Yameen first announced that he would honor the court's decision, but then changed his mind. He declared a national state of emergency, and then sent the police to arrest two of judges. The other three judges then decided that they would reverse their decision and leave the political opponents in jail.

    On Saturday evening, the night before the election, police raided the main campaign office of the opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Saturday, saying they had acted to prevent "illegal activities."

    Even so, Sunday's election went a lot better than anyone expected, without a lot of obvious election-rigging, because the United States and the European Union had threatened sanctions. The European Union said in July it was ready to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals if the situation did not improve. The US State Department this month warned it would "consider appropriate measures" if the election was not free and fair.

    Solih declared victory on Sunday evening:

    "This is a moment of happiness, a moment of hope, a moment of history. For many of us this has been a difficult journey, a journey that has led to a prison cells or years of exile.

    It's been a journey of a breakdown of government institutions. But it's also been a journey that has ended at the ballot box. I must thank all those people who have struggled for this cause."

    However, Yameen has not made any statement. There's a great deal of tension and a sense of crisis in Malé, the capital city, because many people are afraid that Yameen will do something violent in the next couple of days to reverse the election results. Mihaaru.com (Maldives) and Washington Post and Al Jazeera and CNN

    Yameen's defeat is also a defeat for China's 'debt trap diplomacy'

    Both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, both in the Indian Ocean just south of the tip of India, have long had close relationships with India. However, both countries have become closer to China in the last ten years, alarming India.

    The debt trap story of Sri Lanka has been told many times. China funded the development of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport, and when Sri Lanka couldn't pay its debt, China took control of the seaport and substantial land in the region, creating a large enclave of Chinese workers and their families.

    Many in the Maldives are acutely aware of what happened to Sri Lanka, of course, and they're afraid that Abdulla Yameen has already put their country on the same course, with a debt trap of its own. Already, China has loaned $830 million for an upgrade to the airport. The Chinese are also building a 25-story apartment complex and a hospital. These Chinese projects account for some 70% of the country's total debt, and $92 million a year in payments to China, roughly 10% of the entire budget.

    Then there's the question of corruption. In 2014-15, Yameen's tourism minister leased out more than 50 islands and lagoons to developers without public bidding. There are signs that members of Yameen's own family are heavily involved in China's infrastructure projects.

    We've written about many countries where the leaders refuse to step down, and corruption is often the reason. Typically, the leader's family and cronies benefit from fat kickbacks and bribes, but those are never revealed as long as the leader is in power, and can use violence and human rights abuses to suppress that information. But once somebody else takes power, the corruption can be revealed, and the cronies become eligible to be jailed or executed.

    So that's another reason why some people fear a major crisis in the Maldives in the next few days. If Yameen has followed this corruption path, and there are signs that he has, then turning power over to Solih puts himself, his family and his cronies at risk of losing their freedom or their lives. Guardian (London) and BBC and Foreign Policy (21-Mar) and AFP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Sep-18 World View -- Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    23-Sep-18 World View -- Gunmen massacre IRGC soldiers and their families during military parade in Ahvaz, Iran

    Attack blamed on a local Arab terrorist group, al-Ahvazi separatist movement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Gunmen massacre IRGC soldiers and their families during military parade in Ahvaz, Iran


    IRGC soldiers marching in military parade on Saturday, prior to terrorist attack (AFP)
    IRGC soldiers marching in military parade on Saturday, prior to terrorist attack (AFP)

    Dozens of people, including women and children, were killed in a terrorist attack on a military parade in Iran, in the city of Ahvaz, the capital city of Khuzestan province, which is in southwest corner of Iran, bordering Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

    The attack occurred during a military parade marking the beginning of the Sacred Defense Week, a nationwide ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the start of the Iran/Iraq war that began with an invasion by Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and continued from 1980-88. Some 1.5 million people were killed in the Iran/Iraq war, and it ended in 1988 with Saddam Hussein using the WMD mustard gas on Kurds and Iranians.

    The attack targeted members of the Iran's powerful paramilitary group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and their families. Four gunmen dressed in fake IRGC uniforms sprayed random gunfire into a crowd of marching soldiers, bystanders and government officials. The military parade was being televised live, saw Iranians saw marching soldiers suddenly scramble to flee, or fall to the ground to escape gunfire, many of them shielding children.

    Ahvaz is the capital city of Khuzestan province, which has the country's largest oil reserves. With its proximity to Iraq and the presence of a large Arab minority, the area has seen ethnic violence in the past. It was also a frontline in the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, as Saddam Hussein was trying to gain control of Khuzestan province and its oil wealth. Mehr News (Tehran) and AP and Press TV (Tehran)

    Iran reflexively blames Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, Mossad, and United States

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei immediately said "This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country."

    The "regional states" that Khamenei alluded to are Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made a similar claim in a tweet:

    "Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives."

    At some level, these accusations are justified. Ministers from Saudi Arabia and UAE have at times incendiary statements targeting Iran, just as Iran has threatened Saudi Arabia and UAE.

    A year ago, John R. Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, made a proposal to President Trump get out of the nuclear deal with Iran, which was a subject still under discussion at that time. Bolton recommended going beyond simple abrogation of the agreement to take steps "to limit Iran’s malicious activities and global adventurism." These actions included:

    Bolton's plan, which he says is for discussion purposes only, is extremely belligerent and threatening, and specifically recommends providing assistance to groups that have had terrorist elements, including Khuzestan Arabs, Pakistan's Balochis, and Iraq's Kurds.

    Furthermore, although is not generally believed that the US funded any such groups, some analysts believe that Saudi Arabia has funded Khuzestan Arabs.

    Iran's accusations against Israel and the United States are made entirely without evidence. However, Iranian officials reflexively blame everything on Israel and the United States, and in today's febrile international environment, it's not surprising that Iranian officials make those claims. Times of Israel and National Review (28-Aug-2017)

    Attack blamed on a local Arab terrorist group, al-Ahvazi separatist movement

    Two groups claimed credit for the attack.

    The first to claim credit was ISIS. But ISIS claims credit for many attacks in which it played no part, in order to puff up its own brand name. So the ISIS claim is not generally believed.

    An Arab nationalist separatist group, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz (al-Ahwaz or al-Ahvaziya or al-Ahvazi) also claimed responsibility for the assault, and their claim is generally believed. A statesman issued by a spokesman said that the attack on Saturday "was in response to the repression of Ahvazi Arabs. We do not have a choice but to carry out a resistance."

    Little is known about the al-Ahvazi, except that it's an Arab separatist group based in the city of Ahvaz, the site of Saturday's attack. It's believed to be funded by Saudi Arabia.

    In the past, the group has attacked only unguarded pipelines, so this is a major escalation by the group.

    However, the IRGC made its own escalation last week, attacking Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq with missiles. Saturday's attack is almost a mirror image of last week's missile attack on the Kurds, so this may be a tit-for-tat escalation.

    Some analysts are suggesting that Saturday's attack was the Saudis laying a trap for Iran. According to this conspiracy theory, the Saudis would like Iran to retaliate militarily in some way, to create a wider war, forcing the United States military to get involved. My response to this suggestion is the usual one: Be careful what you wish for. Times of Israel and Guardian (London)

    John J. Xenakis is author of the book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, available on Amazon for $5 for the digital version or $7 for the paperback version.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Sep-18 World View -- Gunmen massacre IRGC soldiers and their families during military parade in Ahvaz, Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    22-Sep-18 World View -- China threatens multiple Western nations militarily over South China Sea

    China's claims to the South China Sea are amazingly vacuous

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China threatens multiple Western nations militarily over South China Sea


    Radar towers, hangars and five-story buildings can be seen on Fiery Cross Reef from an onboard camera on a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane. (NY Times)
    Radar towers, hangars and five-story buildings can be seen on Fiery Cross Reef from an onboard camera on a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane. (NY Times)

    Two weeks ago, the HMS Albion, a British Royal Navy flagship amphibious assault ship, was traveling through the South China Sea, en route from Tokyo to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. On August 31, the ship exercised its "freedom of navigation" rights as it passed near the Paracel Islands. The Paracel Islands have been ruled by the courts to be in international waters, but China has used military force to annex them, in clear violation of international law. China immediately launched a military challenge in the form of a frigate and two helicopters, although both sides remained calm.

    However, the Albion's freedom of navigation operation continues to trigger hysterical, irrational threats by the Chinese. In the aftermath of the incident, China made the usual threats, and these statements have been growing more hysterical and threatening as time goes on.

    China's embassy in London issued this statement:

    "The [Paracel Islands are] an inherent part of the Chinese territory. In accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese government promulgated the baseline of the territorial sea of the [Paracel Islands] in May, 1996. The relevant behavior of the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty. China is firmly opposed to this. We have lodged stern representations with the British side and expressed our strong dissatisfaction.

    The Chinese side strongly urges Britain to stop this kind of provocation lest it should undermine the overall picture of bilateral ties as well as regional peace and stability. China will continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security."

    The claim that the Paracel Islands are an inherent part of Chinese territory is really laughable, as I'll explain below. China has NO sovereignty there.

    China's Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming has said that the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem, warning that no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold "peace and stability" in the region:

    "Yet to everyone’s confusion, some big countries outside the region did not seem to appreciate the peace and tranquility in the South China Sea. They sent warships and aircraft all the way to the South China Sea to create trouble. ...

    This was a serious infringement [of China's sovereignty]. It threatened China's security and put regional peace and stability in jeopardy.

    "Freedom of navigation is not a license to do whatever one wishes. ...

    "Such 'freedom' must be stopped. Otherwise the South China Sea will never be tranquil."

    This is a military threat. The ambassador claims that it's about warships making trouble, but it's also about fishing boats and oil. China has repeatedly used military force to prevent Vietnam and the Philippines from fishing in international waters, and as we recently reported, China threatened war with the Philippines if the latter drills for oil in its own territorial waters.

    In the last five years, islands near the Philippines have turned into Chinese military bases, bristling with radar domes, shelters for missiles, and warplane runways.

    In 2015, Xi stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and promised, "there is no intention to militarize" the South China Sea, which is exactly what happened. Xi's lie is standard Chinese policy, as advised by 1980s Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: "Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

    But since 2015, China has completely abandoned Deng's advice, and is now openly militaristic and threatening, and preparing to launch a war.

    According to a Pentagon assessment, China's military bases in the Spratly Islands will be completed by the end of the year, and presumably ready for full-scale war. The only question is what will China do next -- take immediate military action, or else start building military bases in Scarborough, in Philippines territorial waters, an act of war in itself.

    In May, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. Philip Davidson said, "In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

    China does not recognize international law except when it favors China. China believes that its own law supersedes international law. China has been pursuing the Nazi Lebensraum objective, at least since the time of Chiang Kai-shek after World War II. The Chinese Communist Party view of Han Racial Superiority is no different than the Nazi view of the Aryan Master Race.

    The "freedom of navigation operations" (FONOPs) are being conducted by the US, Britain, Australian, and Japan. There's a temptation just to abandon them, and just let China have its way. But then China would just declare victory, and make further demands, prohibiting any other country's vessels of any kind to pass through the South China Sea without explicit permission of the Chinese.

    So the Chinese make their hysterical statements and military threats to "prove" their claims. The FONOPs are necessary to refute China's hysterical statements and military threats. This is exactly the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that leads to war during a generational Crisis era.

    The same thing is happening with trade policy between the US and China. Neither the Trump administration nor Xi Jinping is going to back down. Perhaps some intermediary can work for a truce of some kind, but it's more likely that the tit-for-tat trade escalations will also continue.

    As I've written in the past, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for full-scale war with China with 100% certainty, and Donald Trump is well aware of this. Many of his policies, which are totally inscrutable and incomprehensible to the media, make perfect sense when you realize that they're intended to try to prevent a world war. Preventing a world war is impossible, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for trying. Chinese Embassy in UK and Xinhua and NY Times and South China Morning Post

    China's claims to the South China Sea are amazingly vacuous

    As we all know, in 2016 the Philippines won a historic case in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague thoroughly humiliating China by ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

    The Chinese ambassador's statement quoted above says that "the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty." China has no sovereignty in the South China Sea. China's use of the phrase "relevant international law" is laughable, since China believes itself superior to international law.

    In recent weeks, I've been doing my own research on China's claims to the South China Sea.

    First, let's address the name, "South China Sea." This does not mean that China owns it, any more than India owns the Indian Ocean. The name South China Sea was invented by Westerners, around 1900. Prior to that, different countries used various names, including Cham sea, Luzon sea, Clove sea, South sea, East sea, and West Philippine sea. According to historian Philip Bowring:

    "Do not imagine that the term “South China Sea” ever implied Chinese ownership. It is a Western construction that dates to about 1900. Previously, European maps referred to it as the China Sea, and before that as part of the Indian Sea. When the Portuguese arrived there in the early sixteenth century they called it the Cham Sea, after the maritime kingdom of coastal Vietnam. Other names at various times include Luzon Sea and (by early Arab traders) the Clove Sea. To China it has long been the South Sea and to Vietnamese the East Sea. The Philippines now refers to it as the West Philippine Sea.

    “Malay seas” is another term that has been applied to it and its immediate neighbors, the Java, Sulu, and Banda seas. The South China Sea itself is predominantly a Malay sea, as defined by the culture and language group of the majority of people living along its shores. Until European imperialism from the sixteenth century onward gradually snuffed out these trade-based kingdoms and sultanates, they were the region’s principal traders."

    The Chinese claim sovereignty going all the way to the Han Dynasty in the 2nd century BC. Once again, this is laughable.

    Starting from the beginning of the first millennium BC, there were Malay-Polynesian people settling in all the Pacific islands from Madagascar to Taiwan, conducting trade. This continued through most of the 1st and 2nd millennium AD.

    Ironically, China had no interest in these islands throughout this period, and in fact discouraged its own traders from venturing out, preferring to wait for foreign traders to come to China.

    China was busy looking westward, conquering Central Asian lands, including the Tibetans and the Uighur Turks. Today, these ethnic groups the ones that China is treating as violently as possible. It's even now emerging that China has locked up a million Uighurs in reeducation camps, and has separated Uighur children from their parents and locked them up in indoctrination camps.

    This is standard Chinese practice. During Mao's Great Leap Forward, 500 million peasants were taken out of their homes and put into communes, with children, wives and husbands all living separately. Husbands and wives were allowed to be alone only at certain times of the month and only for brief periods. All workers took part in ideological training sessions. The purpose was to turn the population into a giant machine, proving that Communism was better than anything else. It was a disaster, resulting in tens of millions of deaths. Now the Chinese are using the same techniques on the Uighurs, though with different objectives, but just as likely to end in disaster.

    Significantly, China's historical conquests were all to the west, but never to the east. China tried to conquer Korea, but failed. China apparently made no attempt to conquer the Philippines the way they conquered the Uighurs. If they had, then the Chinese claim to the South China Sea might actually have some validity.

    So the historical evidence indicates that China wanted absolutely nothing to do with the South China Sea until recently. It was only after WW II that they decided that they had gotten enough Lebensraum to the west, and now wanted Lebensraum to the east. They backed up their claims by dredging up old maps and documents that were supposedly created centuries ago, but those are meaningless. If having a map of something means you own it, then the British Geological Survey owns the whole world. National Geographic (18-Jun-2014) and New York Review of Books (13-Sep-2017) and Ancient History Encyclopedia

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Sep-18 World View -- China threatens multiple Western nations militarily over South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    21-Sep-18 World View -- Myanmar signs 'debt trap' agreement with China in response to Rohingya genocide censure

    Myanmar (Burma) and China agree to build China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Myanmar (Burma) and China agree to build China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)


    Map of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor - CMEC (The Irrawaddy)
    Map of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor - CMEC (The Irrawaddy)

    Earlier this month, Myanmar (Burma) signed a series of memos of understanding (MOUs) for joint construction with China to build the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CMEC will focus on 12 areas including basic infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, finance, human resource development and telecommunications.

    According to the CMEC proposal, construction will begin with 24 projects costing $2 billion at the beginning, increasing later. The corridor will start from Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province. It will continue for 1,700-kilometers, through Myanmar’s major economic hubs, ending at Myanmar's deep sea port in Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State on the Bay of Bengal, leading to the Indian Ocean.

    The project will create thousands of jobs for Burmese workers, but it will provide far larger benefits for Chinese companies and workers. The proposal claims that the CMEC would allow a direct flow of Chinese goods into the southern and western regions of Myanmar and that Chinese industries could transfer into Myanmar in order to abate the rising labor cost and overcapacity of China’s industries. It said that Myanmar would become a major trade hub for Chinese goods, between China, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

    Thus, the proposal indicates that this will be a huge boon for China's industries. China is already developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), connecting Xinjiang province in northwest China through Pakistan to the Gwadar port and the Indian ocean. CMEC would provide a second corridor for transporting Chinese goods to the Indian Ocean, this time from Yunnan province in southwest China.

    CPEC and CMEC provide two routes to the Indian Ocean, thus reducing China's reliance on the Malacca straits — the narrow passage that links the Indian Ocean with the Pacific, and which is dominated by the United States. Global Times (China) and The Diplomat and The Irrawaddy (6-Jul)

    Myanmar signs 'debt trap' agreement with China in response to Rohingya genocide censure

    Since November 2017, when China announced the proposal to build CMEC, Myanmar's public and media have raised a number of concerns.

    First, the CMEC project runs ethnic conflict zones in Shan and Kachin states near the border with China, and and in Rakhine State, near the border with Bangladesh, where ethnic Rohingyas have been subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing by the Burmese army. The project could provoke further conflicts in these ethnic areas, and even subject the project and the Chinese workers to terrorist attacks. This is already happening in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, affecting the CPEC project.

    Second, the Burmese public is very aware of the "debt trap" issue, where China funds the infrastructure project with billions of dollars that have to be paid back, or else forfeit land and infrastructure that has been put up as collateral for the loans. The Burmese are very well aware Sri Lanka lost its $1 billion Hambantota seaport in exactly that way, and now the seaport and a substantial amount of land around the seaport are occupied by the Chinese and thousands of Chinese workers.

    As I've described in the past, China structures the aid agreements without concern for whether the loan can be repaid, since China then has the option of taking control of the country's infrastructure in case of default.

    As I explained, it's actually worse than that. China loans the money to the country, and requires that it only be used to pay the salaries of Chinese workers, and to purchase parts and equipment from Chinese factories. So the money is immediately returned to China, but still has to be repaid, so the country is effectively forced to repay the loan twice. After default, and the Chinese take control of the infrastructure project, there is an enclave of Chinese workers and their families who will be there forever.

    Myanmar's Kyaukphyu seaport is not the only project facing debt-trap concerns. For the CMEC agreement, there are industrial zones, railways, roads and other infrastructure projects to be built along the corridor for which Myanmar cannot find financing.

    In a bit of black humor, Ning Jizhe, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) claimed that China's BRI projects are not a debt trap. He said the countries with debt problems have long-standing high debt levels which shouldn’t be blamed on the BRI. But of course it's exactly people with debt problems that loan sharks and payday loan operators prey on by offering extortionary loans and then sending thugs out to collect the loans in whatever way they can.

    Myanmar's government in fact dropped a couple of projects related to the Kyaukphyu seaport in July, in order to reduce the amount of debt. However, the initial loan will still be $2 billion.

    However, there are several reasons why Myanmar felt forced to go ahead with CMEC proposal, even though it's almost impossible that the debt will be repaid.

    First, Myanmar is an economically weak country which, even in the best of times, is unable to borrow money due to lack of transparency in its government expenses and its relationship with China. According ton one analyst, "Raising capital overseas will also likely be challenging given that foreign investors will likely find it difficult to determine Myanmar’s creditworthiness due to the lack of information."

    Second, the United States is imposing sanctions on Myanmar, and Australia is considering doing the same, because of the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in the last seven years. Myanmar has been extremely successful in its genocide and ethnic cleansing efforts. Genocide and ethnic cleansing efforts by Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Joseph Kabila in DR Congo have not yet been successful, and are still ongoing. But Myanmar appears to have pretty much completed the job.

    The sanctions mean that whatever Myanmar's chances of borrowing money internationally in the past, it will be almost impossible after the sanctions are imposed. The threat of sanctions is isolating Myanmar even further, so that its closest friend in China, where government officials really don't care about such things as genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    So if the word "trapped" applies to any country, then it certainly applies to Burma. China will certainly use its leverage to control policies and developments in Burma in whatever way it feels necessary, and will apparently receive full cooperation. The Irrawaddy (Burma) and Myanmar Times (7-Jul) and The Hindu

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Sep-18 World View -- Myanmar signs 'debt trap' agreement with China in response to Rohingya genocide censure thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    20-Sep-18 World View -- Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person?

    The international #MeToo movement continues to harm women

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    The international #MeToo movement continues to harm women


    Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford
    Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford

    We're told that the #MeToo movement is becoming an increasingly global phenomenon.

    In May, the International Labor Organization held a conference to debate whether or not to legislate for a global convention on sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. Thousands of women in many countries have signed a letter urging international legislation, and saying that a job should never ever include sexual harassment, exploitation, coercion or abuse.

    When I wrote about the #MeToo movement late last year, I described how much it was hurting women, just as women in the workplace were enormously harmed by the 1991 hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, where Anita Hill accused Thomas of asking her out when they were both single and of telling her a couple of dirty jokes. ( "7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule'")

    Just as the Anita Hill accusations damaged women in the workplace for a decade, because many men didn't want to work with women, the #MeToo movement is having a similar effect today.

    According to a recent survey, 63% of women are "How concerned ... about men being falsely accused of sexual assault and harassment." The same survey showed that 60% of women are "concerned ... about the #MeToo movement causing women to be denied professional opportunities because men are reluctant to work with them."

    This corresponds to what I found talking to men in the 1990s, and talking to men today. Earlier this year, after several MeToo scandals broke, one man told me that "working with a woman is like working with an unexploded land mine -- you never know when you'll say the wrong thing a trigger an explosion."

    Women need experienced men to be mentors, but today you can't turn on the television without hearing some feminist saying that all older men are automatically guilty, and all should be punished. Hatred of older men is rampant today.

    And men know this. Researcher Sylvia Ann Hewlett at the Center for Talent Innovation found that men aren’t comfortable taking female protégés under their wings. "Our research shows that some 64% of senior men avoid solo interactions with junior women because they fear rumors about their motives." And as I said, fearing rumors about the men's motives isn't the half of it, as the quote above about the land mine illustrates.

    In my lifetime, I've seen feminist politicians do enormous damage to women. It's OK with them that Bill Clinton allegedly violently raped seven women, but Clarence Thomas committed a crime by telling a dirty joke. That's completely screwed up, and it's feminists who are screwed up, and it's women that they're damaging. Guardian (London) and Law.com and Vox and World Economic Forum

    Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person?

    If the #MeToo movement in general is a circus, then the circus act going on in Washington today is disgusting and pathetic beyond belief.

    There's a woman, Christine Blasey Ford accusing a Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of having attempted a failed sexual assault when they were in high school thirty years ago. This is the kind of pathetic situation that makes so many Americans completely disgusted with politicians and the media, and makes one wonder how the country will ever survive.

    There are some statistics about rape that can clarify this situation, but which feminists don't talk about. I'll get to these statistics below.

    I spent much of the 1990s decade doing research for a book on gender issues called Fraternizing with the Enemy - A book on gender issues for men and for women who care about men. I researched the whole range of gender issues - divorce, domestic violence, rape, teen motherhood, sexual harassment, child abuse, incest, including detailed discussions of the discussions of Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton, and the "victims," including Anita Hill and Juanita Broaddrick. The book was based on thousands of interviews and online conversations, as well as extensive research into such things as "feminist legal theory" and "feminist social theory."

    The book is available as a free PDF, on my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download/.

    So here are the most important facts about the Kavanaugh situation, as I understand them:

    Most people think that either Ford or Kavanaugh must be lying, but that's not true. There's a perfectly reasonable scenario in which both are telling the truth. NBC News

    The rape statistics

    So here are the statistics about rape that feminists don't talk about:

    It's this last statistic that may be relevant here. 25% is a very high number, and it's plausible that Ford was assaulted in the way she described, but not by Kavanaugh.

    Based on all I've heard about the sincere statements from both Ford and Kavanaugh, a misidentification by Ford seems extremely likely to have happened. This is a perfectly reasonable explanation, and it would mean that both Ford and Kavanaugh are telling the truth, as they know it.

    The above statistics about rape were not pulled out of the air. We know these figures because of a remarkable development that occurred in the 1990s -- the use of DNA evidence to identify rapists. In many cases in the 1980s, a man was convicted of rape simply because some woman accused him, and feminists would pipe up and say, "Women are never wrong about rape."

    In the 1990s, Barry Scheck's Innocence Project was able to go back and perform DNA tests on the rape kits that had been preserved. Of the first 18,000 DNA tests, 5,000 accused suspects were eliminated -- 27.8%.

    Here's a quote from my book, describing a story that was widely publicized in the 1990s:

    "One disturbing story was presented on PBS's Frontline. In 1985, Ronald Cotton, a black man with a record, was convicted of raping two women, based on an identification by one of the victims, Jennifer Thomson, who was a very convincing and compelling witness during the trial.

    In 1995, DNA tests were performed, and Cotton was exonerated and set free. Who was the real rapist? DNA tests showed it was Bobby Poole, someone whom Jennifer had actually watched testify in court, but who was excluded based on her eyewitness testimony.

    According to Jennifer, "I remember feeling just an overwhelming sense of just guilt that if, indeed, we had made a mistake and I had contributed to taking away 11 years of this man's life.... I felt so bad. I fell apart."

    But amazingly, she still doesn't recognize Poole as the man who actually raped her. She adds, "I have to accept the answer that's been given to me and put faith in our system that the DNA tests, the science, tells me we had the wrong guy. I just wish I had some answers. I still see Ronald Cotton. And I'm not saying that to point a finger. I'm just saying that's who I see. And I would love to erase that face out of my mind. I would do anything to erase that face out of my mind, but I can't. It's just .. it's in my head. Sometimes it's more fuzzy than others because my mind now says, 'Well, it's Bobby Poole.' But it's still the face I see."

    When Bill Clinton was credibly charged by seven women as being a violent serial rapist, the feminists threw the women under the bus. Then Hillary Clinton raped them all again (to use the feminist phrase), along with Monica Lewinsky, by trashing all the women.

    Now the feminists are throwing Ford under the bus as well. Senator Dianne Feinstein handled this whole situation in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on Ford. I cannot think of any way she could have harmed Ford more.

    She received Ford's letter in July, and sat on it. Then she revealed it at the last minute, and is now refusing to release an unredacted version to the Republicans. This is disastrous for Ford because it suggests that when the letter is finally revealed, it will make Ford look bad, and maybe even exonerate Kavanaugh.

    There's another comparison that had to be made. Anita Hill was hated by half of America in the 1990s. Bill Clinton's rape accusers, the ones who were publicly known, were hated by half the country and trashed by Democrats. And now, Ford is saying that she's receiving death threats and have to hide out. Once again, I blame the feminists for this. They're using her as a pawn, and they don't care how much she's hurt. Book: Fraternizing with the Enemy (PDF) and University of Florida and PBS Frontline and Fox News and Chicago Tribune

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Sep-18 World View -- Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy

    Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East

    by John J. Xenakis

    Announcing a new book on Iran and Islam by John J. Xenakis

    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy

    Subtitle: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East


    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy, by John J. Xenakis
    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy, by John J. Xenakis

    $5 -- Buy the digital version on Amazon

    $7 -- Buy the paperback on Amazon

    I've kept the price low - $5 or $7. If you buy it, please write a 5-star amazon review. Thanks.

    Book Description

    Iran wants to be the master of the Mideast. It's threatening war with Saudi Arabia. It's supporting wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. It's supporting the Lebanon terror army Hezbollah to wage war in Syria and to attack and eliminate Israel, and to attack the United States. This book describes how a former United States ally has turned into a radical, corrupt, theological regime threatening the entire region.

    This book also addresses the controversies in Islam itself, including the Sunni-Shia split, the authenticity of the Koran and Sharia Law, polygamy and pedophilia in Islam, and whether the Koran commands all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims.

    About the author: John J. Xenakis is a historian, journalist and analyst and a developer of generational theory, who has written prolifically on geopolitical events, historical analysis, and technology.

    Supporting Generational Dynamics

    Thousands of people start each day by reading the latest Generational Dynamics World View article, which is provided each day free of cost and ads.

    This service has been provided, without income or funding, for 15 years as a public service. But this service will not be able to continue much longer unless it receives a source of funding or income to keep it alive.

    This is a great book, and you can help support Generational Dynamics by buying this book from Amazon and then writing a 5-star review so that other people will buy it as well.

    Book Contents - More Information

    Most people in the West have little understanding of Islam and Iran, even though both of these subjects are part of major news stories almost every day.

    The author, John J. Xenakis, has written thousands of articles on Iran and Islam over two decades, and has written a book that provides, for the serious reader, a serious, balanced, respectful history of Islam and Iran.

    Here are some of the topics covered in this book:

    Furthermore, this book was written in a respectful, balanced, non-ideological way that will be accessible to all points of view.

    Some people may wonder whether it's possible or "appropriate" for a non-Muslim to write a book on Islam and Iran. The opposite may be true. A Muslim author might be able to write a balanced treatment of Islam, but will suffer from the handicap that people within his own religion or sect may criticize him if he's totally non-ideological, and particularly if he discusses the very real controversies within Islam itself, such as the validity of the Koran and Hadith, polygamy and pedophilia in Islam, and whether the Koran commands all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims.

    The author is able to describe Islam and Iran in a respectful, balanced, non-ideological way, but also describing the controversies within Islam that Muslims themselves feel obligated to avoid mentioning.

    The author admits that he is biased against the current leadership in Iran. An American cannot be indifferent to a leadership whose security forces massacre, jail, rape and torture peacefully protesting college students. And of course the book is also biased against al-Qaeda, ISIS and other jihadist groups committing terror acts.

    The ordering of the sections of this book is like "peeling an onion," starting with the most accessible political news about Iran over the last 20 years, and then proceeding step by step to the core of Iran's Shia Islam theology. A summary is as follows:

    By the time we reach the end, we'll have circled back to the beginning, with what is hopefully a complete understanding of Iran today.

    This book also draws on the methodologies provided by advanced generational theory as developed for 15 years on the GenerationalDynamics.com web site. These methodologies explain, for example, why there's a big generational split today between Iran's old government leaders versus young people, and they explain such things as the transition from Iran's Constitutional Revolution in 1905-09 to Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Sep-18 World View -- Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria

    The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria


    Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin held a summit meeting on Monday at Russia's Sochi Black Sea resort. After the meeting, the two leaders held a press conference and announced that there would be no attack on Idlib province in Syria, at least for the time being.

    This would have to be viewed as a diplomatic victory for Erdogan, after a recent summit meeting in Tehran on September 7 with Russia and Iran where Turkey's attempt to avert the Idlib operation was rejected by the other two parties. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria")

    Turkey has been desperate to stop the Syria-Russia offensive, because it would be a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and because it would be a humanitarian disaster for Turkey. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and there are potentially 3 million more in Idlib who would try to flee across the the border into Turkey, and possibly further on into Europe.

    It's believed that Russia backed down from an immediate assault on Idlib because of international pressure. After the Tehran meeting two weeks ago, Erdogan said:

    "If the world turns a blind eye to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people to further the regime's interests, we will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game."

    Since then, Turkey has been supplying additional weapons to "moderate" rebels in Idlib, to prepare them for the assault. Separately, the US and other Nato countries have repeatedly warned Russia and Syria. President Donald Trump said that the assault would be a "grave humanitarian error," while Nikki Haley said that it would provoke "dire consequences."

    And Russia's decision may have been swayed by the prospect of the enormity of the humanitarian disaster, when al-Assad starts perpetrating Putin's own "Grozny Strategy," exterminating women and children in Idlib with attacks on hospitals, markets and schools, with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals and chlorine gas, and with Sarin gas, causing massive slaughter and massive crowds of fleeing refugees.

    There's one more reason why Putin might be reluctant to go ahead with the mass slaughter in Idlib. Putin has said at least 9,000 people from the republics of the former Soviet Union have gone to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda or ISIS or other extremist groups. It's possible that many of them are still in Idlib, and the Syrian-Russian assault would allow them to join refugees pouring into Turkey, and from there continue on to return home to their native countries to continue the jihad there. Russia Today and AP and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

    The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

    The agreement between Erdogan and Putin is a big relief to a lot of people, especially the people in Idlib, because it buys time. But it buys little more than that, because the terms are delusional.

    According to the agreement, Russia and Turkey will set up a 10-15 km wide demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib province, to be policed by Russia and Turkey.

    All the anti-Assad "rebels" in this buffer zone are required to lay down their arms, leave behind heavy artillery, and depart for other enclaves. These include both "moderate" rebels, and also those in al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the al-Nusra Front.

    It will be Turkey's responsibility to separate the 60,000 or so rebels from the other three million civilians in Idlib. It would be nearly impossible anyway, but these are people who will not want to be found, and are willing to die rather than surrender.

    But main objection to this temporary peace agreement is the same as all the others in Putin's "Astana process." You have a ceasefire agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran. These are supposed to be Syrian peace agreements, but there are never Syrians involved in the agreement -- either al-Assad or the opposition.

    The whole Astana process has been nothing more than a farcical cover for al-Assad's genocidal actions. The Astana process identified four "de-escalation zones," or "ceasefire zones," but Russia never had any intention of meeting his own commitments. The ceasefire zones were set up so that there would be a ceasefire until al-Assad was ready for his extermination assaults, as we've seen in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa.

    The last de-escalation zone is Idlib, and it's different from the others in that Turkey has been responsible for enforcing the ceasefire. Al-Assad and Russia could attack at will in the other de-escalation zones, because there was nobody opposed. But in Idlib Turkey is opposed, and wants to enforce the ceasefire.

    Russia and al-Assad never had any intention that Idlib would remain a ceasefire zone, but now they've been forced by international pressure to wait a while before going in for the kill. And when they do, whether they will have to face Turkey's military is an unknown.

    Perhaps the biggest delusion of all, shared by many politicians and journalists, is that the Syrian war is almost over. Al-Assad said that the war would end after Aleppo was assaulted. Then he said that the war was over after Daraa was assaulted.

    As I've written many times, al-Assad is a psychopathic monster, the worst genocidal war criminal so far this century, comparable to Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot from the last century. For al-Assad, the extermination of the women and children in Idlib would be the climax of his life, proving that he was better than his father Hafez al-Assad was at committing mass slaughter and atrocities. Thanks to Monday's agreement between Russia and Turkey, al-Assad is going to have to wait a little longer to prove how much more of a man he is than his father. BBC and Al Jazeera and Asia Times and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    17-Sep-18 World View -- Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris

    Kurds' anti-Iran Komala party denies involvement with Paris attack

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris


    Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul in 2016.  These forces are now turning against Iran.  (Reuters)
    Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul in 2016. These forces are now turning against Iran. (Reuters)

    Pro-Kurdish protesters attacked Iran's embassy in Paris on Friday. Iran says that 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy. They threw stones, fire extinguishers and computers at the embassy gate in an attempt to enter the premises, but were unable to do so.

    It's thought that the protests were triggered by last week's major escalation by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) when it launched a missile attack on anti-Iran opposition groups in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The IRGC used seven missiles in the attack, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more.

    The IRGC attack occurred at the same time there had been several days of violent anti-Iran protests in Basra in southern Iraq. However, the IRGC attack apparently took several weeks to prepare, and so the two events are not directly connected.

    Iran confirmed that its embassy had been attacked, but Iran's foreign ministry blamed the France's police for not acting quickly enough to stop the attack:

    "It is necessary for France to take serious and necessary measures and preparations to protect all Iranian diplomatic missions in that country."

    Iran is complaining that some French police refused to protect the embassy and were not present at the time of the attack despite the fact that it was aware of the assault.

    Iran has to walk a fine line in not going too far to criticize France. Iran has been demanding help from France and other European countries in mitigating the damage to Iran's economy of President Trump's action in pulling out of the nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions. Press TV (Iran) and AP and Reuters

    Kurds' anti-Iran Komala party denies involvement with Paris attack

    Iran accused the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan of being behind the attack on Iran's embassy in Paris. The statement issued by the Komala party alluded to Iran's missile attack on Kurdistan last weekend:

    "Komala rejects the accusations of being behind the attack on Iran’s embassy in Paris.

    [Our members in France took part] in a peaceful gathering outside the Iranian embassy to protest Iran’s despicable actions against the Kurdish nation [on September 8].

    Unfortunately, some individuals from the gathering started to violate the embassy, and even if we understand people’s anger, we completely condemn this type of uncivilized acts."

    The Komala party has an armed wing known as the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga became internationally cheered in 2014-16 because it provided many of the militias fighting ISIS after the latter overran Mosul.

    Once ISIS was defeated, last year the Peshmerga resumed, for the first time in 25 years, being stationed just a few miles from Iran's border, to threaten terror attacks on Iranian soil.

    Komala is a Marxist-Leninist pro-Communist party that was originally formed to oppose the government of the Shah of Iran, and in 1983 joined other Communist groups to form the Communist Party of Iran.

    Over the years, there have been frequent clashes between the Komala and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), which was one of the targets of last week's missile attack by Iran. Trend News (Azerbaijan) and Kurdistan 24 and Rudaw (Kurdistan, 30-Apr-2017) and Middle East Research and Information Project

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Sep-18 World View -- Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Sep-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue

    Consequences of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue


    Putin's dream of an 'Orthodox Vatican' would be a major tourist and religious center in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow (BBC)
    Putin's dream of an 'Orthodox Vatican' would be a major tourist and religious center in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow (BBC)

    The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has taken the first steps in what is being described as a "historic schism" in the Orthodox Christian Church.

    The ROC announced on Friday:

    "We have decided to suspend joint performance of church services with the hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate, to suspend our membership in all structures, which are headed or co-chaired by the representatives of Constantinople."

    An ROC spokesman said that this was only a "warning," and that the ROC would break all relations with Constantinople if it grants independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is currently subordinate to the Russian Church.

    The Constantinople Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate are two of several dozen Orthodox Patriarchates in the world, but they're the two most influential.

    The city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul when it was conquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. However, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians is still considered to be the Constantinople Patriarchate. All Patriarchates are considered to be equal, but Constantinople is "first among equals."

    Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are officially part of the Russian Orthodox Church. There is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev that was formed in the 1990s, but it's not recognized by other Orthodox churches.

    After Russia invaded Ukraine, and then invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, there was a movement in Ukraine to make the Ukrainian Orthodox Church an "autocephalous church" or independent church. Instead of being subordinate to the Russian Church, the Ukrainian church would then be a peer to the Russian and Constantinople churches.

    Right now, Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople is leading a debate about whether he should issue what is called a "Tomos of autocephaly" (charter of independence), which would give the Ukraine church the independence that it wants. It's believed that Bartholomew favors doing so, and that a decision will be reached by the end of the year. At that time, Patriarch Kirill in Moscow is expected to completely sever all relations with Constantinople. Russia Today and Moscow Times and BBC Russian (Trans) and Telegraph (London)

    Consequences of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church

    Although the current split was triggered by the Ukrainian church's request for independence, following Russia's invasion, occupation and annexation of Crimea, the chances of a split between Russia and Constantinople have been growing for years, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The Soviet Union was officially atheist. Nonetheless, during the time of the Soviet Union, there was one Russian Orthodox Church, and all Orthodox Christians in the Soviet Empire belonged to it. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, independent Orthodox churches were formed in Estonia and other former Soviet republics. Constantinople recognized the Estonian church as independent, resulting in enormous friction between Moscow and Constantinople.

    Those disputes became even more prominent when Russia's president Vladimir Putin came to power. Putin's dream is that the Russian Patriarchate should replace the Constantinople Patriarchate as the "first among equals." Furthermore, Putin dreamed of creating an "Orthodox Vatican" in the ancient city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow.

    In line with this dream, Putin has been enticing, bribing and threatening various Orthodox churches to pledge loyalty to the Russian church, rather than the Constantinople church.

    Putin's dream sounds reasonable when you consider that the Russian church is the largest Orthodox Church in the world, in terms of numbers of members and parishes. However, if Ukraine becomes an independent church, then the Russian church will lose almost half its parishes, and that will be the end of Putin's dream. It will also cost the Russian Patriarchate a great deal of money. It will also encourage other former Soviet republics, like Belarus and Georgia, to follow the same path.

    So this pending decision by Bartholomew is far more than symbolic. It has major religious and geopolitical implications. Putin would certainly retaliate. He might retaliate in Ukraine with a renewed invasion. He might retaliate by trying to convince his new pal, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to take some action in the Phanar, the portion of Istanbul still occupied by the Constantinople Patriarchate. So Bartholomew's decision, expected by the end of the year, should have major consequences. Jamestown and Moscow Times and BBC Russian (Trans) and Window on Eurasia

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Sep-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    15-Sep-18 World View -- Zambia denies defaulting on infrastructure loans from China

    Zambia faces long term corruption concerns

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Zambia denies defaulting on infrastructure loans from China


    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe (Lusaka Times)
    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe (Lusaka Times)

    Several days ago, reported that Zambia is negotiating with China over a possible takeover of the country's electricity company, ZEWASCO, after defaulting on loan repayment from a previous loan. That report was based on a news story from Kenya.

    There have actually been numerous news stories in the last couple of weeks claiming that Zambia has fallen victim a China "debt trap," and is being required to give not only ZEWASCO, but also Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda International Airport [KKIA].

    In addition, a subscriber-only newsletter called Africa Confidential has published reports detailing embezzlement by Zambian officials, led by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

    Zambia officials are claiming that the news stories, including those in Africa Confidential, are "fake news," that there is no debt trap, and Zambia will have no problem making payments to China.

    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe, issued a statement on Friday:

    The problem with Mwanakatwe's protestations is that she's unable to provide any evidence to support them, because the entire relationship between Zambia and China, including all contracts, is completely secret. So if there's corruption and embezzlement going on, as Africa Confidential claims, then Mwanakatwe is unable to deny those claims.

    In situations like this, there's a test that I always like to apply, namely to ask what the politician would say if all the accusations are true. For example, if a politician is charged with murder, and he says, "I didn't do it," then you could ask what he would say if he did, and would say "I didn't do it." In other words, the politician would say the same thing whether he committed murder or not. That doesn't mean he did it, but it does show that everything that comes out of the politician's mouth is 100% worthless, because he'd say exactly the same thing under all circumstands.

    So let's apply this test to Margaret Mwanakatwe. Suppose all the charges of debt trap and embezzlement are true. What would Mwanakatwe say? The answer is that she would issue a statement exactly like the one that she did issue. In fact, the statement is filled with statements that are empty claims because the details are secret, giving me the (unprovable) feeling that the statement is an act of desperation.

    This has now become a major international scandal -- not in the West, but in Africa. Many African governments are now facing embarrassing questions about revealing the terms of their contracts with China, and about why interest rates are so high, and why default terms are so harsh. Officials will also be asked a lot more questions about whether they're skimming China's loan money off the top -- something they could easily do since all the terms of the contracts are kept secret. Lusaka Times (Zambia) and Zambia Reports and Lusaka Times and VOA

    Zambia faces long term corruption concerns

    In June, the Geneva-based NGO, Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, suspended $300 million in health funding to Zambia because of alleged corruption in Zambia's health ministry. Previously, Sweden and the Netherlands stopped health aid and the EU halted road-building funds.

    Zambia's story is a familiar one. Zambia made huge amounts of money from copper mining in the 2000s decade, due to high prices for copper, which makes up 80% of exports. When copper prices fell in 2011, instead of decreasing government spending to match reduced income, the new government, led by the Patriotic Front (PF) went on a spending binge. According to the Economist, the PF funded new roads, hospitals and airports, doubled civil-service wage expenses in the process, and also expanded the number of districts from 72 to 115 so as to dole out more patronage.

    Furthermore, the borrowed money was not well spent. In building roads, for example, the World Bank in 2017 found that Zambia paid $360,000 per kilometre, which is more than twice the African average. And since upkeep has been neglected, many new roads are already potholed.

    Today, nearly a quarter of government spending goes to make debt payments. The government is broke. The government is delaying salary payments to civil servants, as well as to contractors. Apparently the government is forced to make debt payments to China, even if it means not paying its own civil servants.

    Furthermore, president Edgar Chagwa Lungu is following the same corrupt path that occurs in country after country in Africa -- jailing opposition leaders, shutting down newspapers that criticize him, packing the courts with his supporters, and demanding that he stay in power indefinitely, in violation of the constitution.

    So even though the country is broke and the government is corrupt, officials say that reports of debt default are "fake news." Unfortunately, government officials have little credibility and, as in the case of the statement by Margaret Mwanakatwe, there is absolutely no reason to believe anything they say. Economist and BBC and Economist

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    14-Sep-18 World View -- Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa

    Turkey, desperate to stop Syrian Idlib offensive, is supplying weapons to rebels

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa


    Houthis perform a demonstration using traditional daggers in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2015 (European Pressphoto Agency)
    Houthis perform a demonstration using traditional daggers in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2015 (European Pressphoto Agency)

    The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are claiming that they've cut off the main supply routes connecting al-Hodeidah seaport and city to to Sanaa, Yemen's capital city under control of the Houthis.

    The Saudis and their coalition partner United Arab Emirates (UAE) were the targets of intense international criticism after their warplanes killed at least 26 children and four women in al-Hodeidah seaport, and after another airstrike two weeks earlier killed dozens of children traveling in a school bus.

    The international criticism led the Saudis to enter peace talks with the Houthis and reduce the airstrikes. However, the peace talks failed, and Saudi Arabia resumed the airstrikes on Wednesday.

    Al-Hodeidah is home to Yemen’s largest seaport and the main gateway for food, fuel and humanitarian aid to the rest of the country. An estimated 80 percent of Yemen’s commercial supplies go through al-Hodeidah. The Saudi-led coalition have been trying to retake the al-Hodeidah city from the Houthis for the past few months, displacing 470,000 people since June. But it is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians, half of them children.

    Taking control of roads linking al-Hodeidah to Sanaa will mean that supplied needed by the Houthi fighters will be less available, but it will also cut off food, fuel, medicines and humanitarian supplies to much of Yemen.

    Ms. Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement:

    "Hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance in Hodeidah. The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few days. Families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes.

    People are struggling to survive, More than 25 percent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk. Families need everything--food, cash, health care, water, sanitation, emergency supplies, specialized support and many need shelter. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people who need so much."

    The Saudis have said that taking control of al-Hodeidah and the main supply routes would force the Houthis to the negotiating table. Reuters and Save the Children and Relief Web and Al Jazeera

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    Turkey, desperate to stop Syrian Idlib offensive, is supplying weapons to rebels

    There are reports that Turkey is sending more military aid to anti-Assad rebels in Idlib, after a summit meeting last week with Russia and Iran failed to agree to a deal to avert a Syria-Russia assault into Idlib. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria")

    Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has vowed to take control of every inch of Syria, with no compromise. In previous battles, in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, his regime joined with Russia to use missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas to kill the "terrorists" in each territory, following Vladimir Putin's "Grozny Model." Entire neighborhoods are flattened, and schools, markets and hospitals are particularly targeted in order to kill as many women and children as possible, as part of Bashar al-Assad's genocidal campaign.

    However, Idlib is different. It has over 3 million people, many of whom fled there from the violence in other locations. They will have nowhere to flee from Idlib, except across the border into Turkey, which Turkey has closed. Turkey is already host to 3.5 million Syrian refugees.

    Turkey is desperate to stop the Syria-Russia offensive, because it would be a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and because it would be a humanitarian disaster for Turkey. Turkey would be faced with the choice of keeping the border closed and allow al-Assad to slaughter the civilians like trapped animals, or to open the border and permit a million more refugees enter Turkey, and possibly go on from there to Europe, posing a security risk in both places.

    This is Turkey's justification for providing more weapons to anti-Assad rebels in the Free Syrian Army (FSA). According to FSA commanders who have been in talks with senior Turkish officials, said:

    "“They pledged complete Turkish military support for a long, protracted battle. These arms supplies and munitions will allow the battle to extend and ensure our supplies are not drained in a war of attrition."

    The weapons, already spotted in convoys crossing the border from Turkey into Idlib, include large quantities of ammunition and GRAD rockets. Hurriyet/AFP and Reuters and AP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Sep-18 World View -- Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Sep-18 World View -- EU Parliament censures Hungary for breaching 'core EU values'

    EU proposes a new free trade agreement with Africa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    EU Parliament censures Hungary for breaching 'core EU values'


    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán points to a document during Tuesday's speech to European Parliament (EPA)
    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán points to a document during Tuesday's speech to European Parliament (EPA)

    In what some analysts are considering a historic action in the development of the European Union, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU's core values. The phrase "core values" refers to values on which the EU was founded.

    More than two-thirds of MEPs voted for the censure motion, the first in EU's history. A similar motion to censure Poland has not yet reached the European Parliament.

    There were numerous charges leveled against Hungary's president Viktor Orbán, including the following:

    However, the most divisive charge was Orbán's extremely hardline attitude toward migrants. Germany MEP Manfred Weber, who has announced his bid to become the next president of the European Commission, accused Orbán of running a hate campaign against Muslim migrants:

    "One thing must be clear - if we say generally that you have to be afraid about Muslims, and attack a religion, then we do the job of jihadis, who want to create a clash in our societies. We have invented human rights and not Christian rights on this continent."

    On Tuesday, Orbán spoke to the Parliament, and condemned the expected vote:

    "I know that you have already made up your minds. I know that a majority will approve the report and I know that my speech here today will not manage to change your opinion.

    But still I have come here today because you are not going to condemn a government but a country as well as a nation. You are going to denounce Hungary that has been a member of the family of Christian nations for a thousand years."

    After the vote, Hungary's foreign minister called the vote fraudulent and vowed to challenge it.

    As I've been writing for over ten years, almost every nation in the world is becoming increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic as the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era. This is happening because the survivors of the horrors of World War II vowed never to allow anything so horrible to happen again, and they've spent their lives doing everything they could to prevent it. But those survivors continue to disappear, and people in younger generations, with no personal knowledge of the horrors of World War II, adopt increasingly xenophobic and nationalistic behaviors that will lead to a new world war.

    Orbán's remark saying that Hungary "has been a member of the family of Christian nations for a thousand years" is interesting. Xenophobia, which is derived from a Greek word meaning "fear of strangers," really has nothing to do with religion, although for Orbán the issue is Christians versus Muslims.

    But a big part of Britain's campaign has been xenophobia directed at Christians from countries like Poland and Hungary in Eastern Europe, and xenophobia in America has been directed at Christians from Mexico. The xenophobic "fear of strangers" can apply anyone, such as the mutual xenophobia between China and each of Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the way the world works is that population grows exponentially, growing faster than the resources such as food and water, resulting in mass migrations. Today we're seeing huge human migrations around the world, in the Mideast, Africa, South America, and Asia. These huge human migrants cause problems that can be resolved in only one way -- a new world war. A new world war will reduce the population 30%, 40%, 50% -- through nuclear war, ground war, starvation and disease. That will reduce the need for mass migrations, will solve the problem of insufficient food for everyone, and will even reduce the amount of "human activity," making climate change activists happy. European Commission and EU Observer and BBC and EU Observer and Daily Mail (London)

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    EU proposes a new free trade agreement with Africa

    Jean-Claude Jüncker, the outgoing president of the European Commission, announced in his State of the Union speech on Wednesday a proposal for a new "Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs."

    The intent is to create "a comprehensive continent-to-continent free trade agreement between the EU and Africa." During the period 2021-27, overall funding will increase by €123 billion, creating 10 million new jobs in Africa.

    The major motivation for this proposal is to try to slow the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe, by providing jobs in Africa that will reduce the motivation to migrate. According to press release:

    "The joint efforts on jobs and growth under the Alliance, by African and European partners, will also contribute to address challenges and opportunities linked to mobility and migration. The efforts will address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, building resilience, providing jobs and enabling the integration and reintegration of some of the most vulnerable parts of the population. The proposal therefore supports and contributes to the implementation of the EU Agenda for Migration."

    This proposal appears to be highly delusional. EU member states would object to the proposal, particularly in the area of opening agricultural markets, where Africa would have a price advantage.

    Furthermore, Africa does not appear ready to negotiate as a 54 member bloc. There are existing negotiations for an African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) where the countries are unable to agree on ending tariffs among African nations. Reuters and European Commission and RFI

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Sep-18 World View -- EU Parliament censures Hungary for breaching 'core EU values' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Sep-18 World View -- Russia's 'strategic alliance' with China evokes memories of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

    Russia's Vostok-2018 war games send a message to China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia, with China's participation, launches biggest war games in decades


    Putin and the Vostok-2018 war games
    Putin and the Vostok-2018 war games

    Russia on Tuesday launched Vostok-2018 ("East-2018"), its biggest military exercise in decades, involving 300,000 personnel, 36,000 armored vehicles, 1,000 aircraft, and 80 naval vessels from two Russian fleets. Three brigades of Russian paratroops will play a key role. The war games will last until September 17.

    An important symbolic change this year is that 3,200 Chinese troops will participate alongside the Russian troops. Mongolia is also sending an undisclosed number of units.

    One message being sent to the West is that Russia will be prepared to respond to US military action in Asia, if such every occurs. A key aim of the exercise is to practice the rapid deployment of thousands of troops, as well as aircraft and vehicles, from western Russia to eastern regions, across thousands of miles, including in-flight refuelling of fighter jets.

    A second message being sent to the West is that Russia and China are "forming deep bonds," to counter America's international influence. Jamestown and Tass and Reuters and South China Morning Post

    Russia's Vostok-2018 war games send a message to China

    There massive Vostok-2018 war games, the largest since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, are also sending a message to China that Russia is prepared to defend its Far East region from a Chinese military incursion. This in fact was the original purpose of the Vostok war games during the days of the Soviet Union.

    This is the first time that any nation outside of the former Soviet Union has been included in the Vostok exercises. Many analysts believe that Russia decided that including a small number of Chinese and Mongolian troops in the war games is the best way to send the message that Russia is STILL prepared to defend the Far East, as well as to reassure both countries that the war games are not the precursor to an imminent invasion of either country.

    Russia has been openly concerned about Russia's at least since 2012, when Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that a huge influx of immigrants from China threatened Russia's control of Siberia and Far East. ( "31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China")

    In particular, Russia's Lake Baikal in Siberia, the deepest lake in the world, is being buried in huge mountains of garbage from 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.

    Also, many Chinese on social media are suggesting that China should reclaim Vladivostok, the home of Russia's Pacific Fleet, from Russia, just as China reclaimed Hong Kong from Britain. That's not going to happen without a war, and that's why Russia is sending China a message.

    When Russia holds war games in the west, they are obviously aimed at Nato. But the Vostok games are held in the east, and there's no clear enemy in sight, so naturally the media assume that they're aimed at the United States. But in fact, Russia has a far more immediate enemy in the region, and that's China. So even though China is participating in the war games, it's most likely that the war games are aimed at China. Moscow Times and Asia Times

    Has Vladimir Putin forgotten the lessons of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?

    Much of what President Trump does is extremely perplexing because of his stated intention to not reveal what he plans to do. So many questions are left unanswered.

    Why does Trump keep complimenting Kim Jong-un, when he must know that North Korea will never denuclearize? Does Trump really want to fire Jeff Sessions, or does he keep threatening to fire Sessions to protect Sessions, and allow him to implement Trump's programs without criticism from the Left? When Trump met with Putin privately in July, did they discuss China's plans for war with both the US and Russia?

    The reality of today's international politics is that a lot of people are playing "The Art of the Deal," and one can't be sure that anyone says what he means.

    The Russians have hated the Chinese ever since the Mongols defeated the Chinese in 1206, and then went on to attack and conquer 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. There is no possibility that China and Russia will remain "strategic partners" for long. In fact, Soviet Russia and China almost went to full-scale war as recently as the 1960s.

    If Trump and Putin really did discuss plans for mutual defense after China's military attack, then Putin must also be aware that China is planning war with Russia, and so this mutual "strategic alliance" between Russia and China is all a charade.

    Probably the biggest diplomatic blunder in Russia's history was Josef Stalin believing that Adolf Hitler would honor the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which the two had signed on August 23, 1939.

    That pact was a mutual non-aggression treaty that obligated the two countries "to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other Powers." Stalin was completely shocked and totally unprepared when Hitler violated the pact and invaded Russia to get some Lebensraum ("living space").

    We know that China has also been pursuing the same Lebensraum objective, at least since the time of Chiang Ki-shek after World War II. The Chinese Communist Party view of Han Racial Superiority is no different than the Nazi view of the Aryan Master Race. So it's absolutely certain that Xi Jinping will double-cross Vladimir Putin, just as Adolf Hitler double-crossed Josef Stalin.

    So has Putin learned the lessons of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? If so, then Putin and Trump certainly did discuss China's plans for war in their private meeting, and Vostok-2018 is much less a message to the US than it is a message to China that Putin won't be a sucker like Stalin was. Jewish Virtual Library and Breitbart National Security

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Sep-18 World View -- Russia's 'strategic alliance' with China evokes memories of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    11-Sep-18 World View -- Tensions grow in Philippines as Duterte turns against China in South China Sea

    Zambia becomes the next nation to fall victim to China's 'debt trap'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Tensions grow in Philippines as Duterte turns against China in South China Sea


    Xi Jinping and rodrigo Duterte meet in Hainan, China, in April 2018 (EPA)
    Xi Jinping and rodrigo Duterte meet in Hainan, China, in April 2018 (EPA)

    Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte was taking office in 2016 at just about the time that the Philippines won a historic case in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague thoroughly humiliating China by ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

    Duterte's first acts in office were to cutoff relations with the United States, and to take a trip to Beijing, where he was given the red carpet treatment by China's president Xi Jinping. Duterte indicated that he would not enforce the Tribunal ruling, and in fact appeared to be giving Scarborough Shoal away to the Chinese.

    The international headlines at the time were things like "Duterte's flip-flop into bed with China is a disaster for the United States." ( "23-Oct-16 World View -- Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte in comic dance with China")

    As I wrote at the time, the "flip-flop" couldn't possibly last, for several reasons: Among the Philippine people, 54% have a favorable view of China, while 92% have a favorable view of the United States. Also, the Philippine people historically hate the Chinese, while the Chinese people historically hate the Philippine people. In 2012, a Chinese television anchor 'accidentally' claimed that the Philippines "is China's inherent territory and the Philippines belongs to Chinese sovereignty, this is an indisputable fact."

    So the leaders of China and the Philippines can make deals if they like, but we know from generational theory that major decisions like that are made by the people, entire generations, not by the politicians. So there was never any chance that the "flip-flop" would last.

    Duterte's decision on China was never really popular, and generated immediate backlash at home, but it was reluctantly accepted by the Philippine people because the alternative appeared to be war with China if the Philippines tried to enforce the Tribunal's ruling in the South China Sea.

    In fact, in May of last year, Duterte explained his decision by recounting a conversation he had with Xi Jinping a year earlier, in which Xi threatened war:

    "Duterte: Mr. Xi Jinping, I will insist that it is ours and we will drill oil. [T]hat is ours and we intend to drill oil there. My view is I can drill the oil.

    Xi: Well we are friends. We don’t want to quarrel with you. We want to maintain warm relationship, but if you force the issue we will go to war.

    Duterte: I’ll drill the oil.

    Xi: Please do not do that because that is ours.

    Duterte: That is according to you. But I have the arbitral [referring to the Hague tribunal ruling].

    Xi: Yes, but ours is historical and yours is legal of recent memory.

    Duterte: But that’s too far away. It’s almost alien to us to hear those words because we were never under Chinese jurisdiction.

    Xi: Well, if you force the issue, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth.

    Duterte: So what is the truth?

    Xi: We will go to war. We will fight you."

    After recounting the conversation, Duterte added:

    "Are they willing to fight? Because if they are willing to fight, we are. But why would I do that? It will result in a massacre and it will just destroy everything."

    So Duterte decided that he had to accede to China's threats.

    As part of Duterte's agreement with China, China promised to deliver $24 billion investments in 27 different projects. Duterte repeatedly touted China’s financial help as a key reason for pivoting away from the U.S. and Europe, which he said haven’t produced material gains for the Philippines.

    But by 2018, it turns out that the $24 billion investment promise was an empty promise. A $1 billion, 300-megawatt hydropower plant was never begun. A $700 million stainless steel plant was put on hold. A project to raise three islands from a waterlogged area was canceled. ABS-CBN (19-May-2017) and Bloomberg (25-Jul-2018)

    China increasingly rejects Duterte's 'diplomatic actions'

    Since 2016, Duterte has tried with some success to use bilateral negotiations to resolve the South China Sea disputes. However, a series of belligerent Chinese actions in 2018 had caused Duterte to be increasingly critical of China in public statements:

    Duterte's honeymoon with China, if it ever existed, appears to be over. Duterte now says that he plans to talk to US President Donald Trump about the possible purchase of military equipment for the military and the police. Philippine Star

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    Zambia becomes the next nation to fall victim to China's 'debt trap'

    Zambia is one of 50 African nations whose leaders visited Beijing last week to hear Xi Jinping promise $60 billion in aid to Africa for infrastructure projects. This aid is in the form of loans that must be repaid.

    Now Zambia is in talks with China over a possible takeover of the country's electricity company, ZEWASCO, after defaulting on loan repayment from a previous loan.

    As I described in my article last week, China structures the aid agreements without concern for whether the loan can be repaid, since China then has the option of taking control of the country's infrastructure in case of default.

    As I explained, it's actually worse than that. China loans the money to the country, and requires that it only be used to pay the salaries of Chinese workers, and to purchase parts and equipment from Chinese factories. So the money is immediately returned to China, but still has to be repaid, so the country is effectively forced to repay the loan twice. After default, and the Chinese take control of the infrastructure project, there is an enclave of Chinese workers and their families who will be there forever. Pulse Live (Kenya)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Sep-18 World View -- Tensions grow in Philippines as Duterte turns against China in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    10-Sep-18 World View -- In major escalation, Iran's missiles strike Kurdish targets in northern Iraq

    Iran's missile attack displays the rising power of the IRGC in Iran

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In major escalation, Iran's missiles strike Kurdish targets in northern Iraq


    Protesters outside the burning Iran consulate in Basra on Friday (Reuters)
    Protesters outside the burning Iran consulate in Basra on Friday (Reuters)

    Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) took credit on Sunday for Saturday's sophisticated missile attack on the bases of two military anti-Iran opposition groups in Koya near Erbil in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The two groups are fighting for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community.

    The two groups are the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I). Referring to the dissidents as "criminal groups," the IRGC statement said:

    "In a successful operation, the Guards’ aerospace unit, along with the army’s drone unit ... targeted a criminal group’s meeting and a terrorist training centre with seven short-range surface-to-surface missiles.

    [The group's leaders decided] to ignore serious warnings by officials of the Kurdistan Regional Government about Iran’s determination to dismantle their bases ... and the need for an end to terrorist and aggressive actions against Iran."

    The missile attacks were apparently very well planned for several weeks in advance. The attack on the meeting room was very precise, and occurred when the meeting was in progress. Seven missiles were used in the attacks, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more.

    As we reported yesterday, anti-Iran rioters in the southern Iraqi city Basra stormed and burned down Iran's consulate in Basra. This act infuriated the Iranian officials in Tehran, who summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Tehran to protest the attack, and issued this statement:

    "The Persian Gulf Director General of Iranian Foreign Ministry [Mohammad Farazmand] voiced surprise over immobility of Basra police and said that despite the promises given by the Iraqi officials through diplomatic channels reassuring about the safety of Iran’s consulate general which was threatened by the provocation of some suspicious elements, the Iraqi government did not deliver on its promises."

    Even though Iran's missile attack on Erbil occurred a day after the Basra rioters' attack on the Iranian consulate, it's not believed that the two incidents are directly related, since the missile attack had apparently been in preparation for weeks. Nonetheless, anti-Iran protests have been simmering for a long time in Basra, and Iran may have wanted to send a message that the anti-Iran protests will not be tolerated.

    On Sunday, Iraqi officials issued a statement condemning Iran's missile strike -- not because the strike occurred, but but because it occurred without first warning Iraq's government and coordinating with the Iraqi military:

    "The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses its rejection of the artillery shelling that targeted Koy Sanjaq district in Erbil on Saturday, leaving scores dead and wounded.

    The ministry strongly refuses the breaching of Iraqi sovereignty without prior coordination with Iraqi military authorities to avoid the fall of civilian victims."

    So, the second message that Iran is sending is that it can strike deep into Iraqi territory any time it wants, without notifying the Iraqi military in advance.

    The two countries fought an extremely bloody war, the Iran-Iraq war, killing 1.5 million people, and climaxing in 1988 with Saddam Hussein and Iraq using chemical weapons against both the Kurds and the Iranians. Iran's missile attack on Erbil is a major escalation in the tensions between the two countries, and a further evocation of memories of the Iran-Iraq war.

    Iraq's government is in complete disarray, with a parliament that has had only two sessions since the inconclusive elections in May, and is unable even to elect a speaker.

    As I described yesterday, even though it's mostly Shia Muslim government, Iraqi Shiism has a different theology than Iran's Shiism, and there are political splits over aligning with the United States or with Iran.

    So the second message that Iran sent along with its missiles is that siding with the US against Iran id going to have a cost.

    The third message being sent by the missile strike is to Israel. The missiles used on Saturday were extremely precise and coordinated with the drone surveillance. These missiles are considerably more sophisticated than Iran has used in the past, and they may have been distributed to Syria or Hezbollah, to be used against Israel. Iraqi News and Mehr News (Tehran) and Reuters and Jerusalem Post

    Iran's missile attack displays the rising power of the IRGC in Iran

    Saturday's missile attack was launched by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which has become increasingly powerful.

    As I described yesterday, at the time of the 1979 revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini reinterpreted Shia theology to make himself equivalent to an infallible Imam, and therefore essentially a dictator. He created the IRGC to prevent any outside coups, and to give himself absolute power.

    The death of Khomeini in 1989, and the succession as supreme leader by Ali Khamenei, allowed the IRGC to expand its power. The IRGC led the extremely bloody and violent crackdown against peaceful protesters after the fraudulent 2009 presidential election, and then again in the widespread anti-government demonstrations that erupted in late 2017 and early 2018.

    Since January, the IRGC has become even more belligerent, particularly in the face of the Trump administrations plans to re-implement sanctions on Iran that were removed following the 2015 nuclear deal.

    Recently General Alireza Tangsiri, the head of the IRGC Navy, said that Iran had full control of the Gulf of Hormuz, and that it could take military action to block other countries' oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. According to Tangsiri:

    "We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here.

    All the carriers and military and non-military ships will be controlled and there is full supervision over the Persian Gulf. Our presence in the region is physical and constant and night and day."

    The IRGC was originally created to protect the regime from a coup. Although there have been no overt signs of it, there are some fears that the IRGC will itself launch a coup and create a military dictatorship. Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia) and Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Sep-18 World View -- In major escalation, Iran's missiles strike Kurdish targets in northern Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Sep-18 World View -- Riots in Iraq's Basra evoke fault lines of 1980s Iran-Iraq war

    Dozens killed in five days of riots in southern Iraq's Basra

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Dozens killed in five days of riots in southern Iraq's Basra


    Protesters trample a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during the storming and burning of the Iranian consulate in Basra on Friday (AP)
    Protesters trample a portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during the storming and burning of the Iranian consulate in Basra on Friday (AP)

    Riots have continued for five days in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, in southern Iraq. Protesters have attacked or set fire to nearly every government building, including the headquarters of the Iran-linked ruling Dawa Party and the offices of the state-run Iraqiya TV station — as well as the Iranian consulate. They also attacked almost every office belonging to the Iran-backed Shia militias known as the "Popular Mobilization Forces" or "Hasheed." At least 15 people have been killed in the riots in the last week. On Saturday, assailants fired Katyusha rockets at Basra airport.

    There have been occasional anti-government protests in Basra for years. The latest protests were triggered by brownish water coming out of the water taps, making people sick who try to drink it, and by a crippling electricity shortage at a time when temperatures are reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

    By Saturday afternoon, Iraqi security forces and troops began deploying in the center of Basra and on street intersections. Dozens of gun-mounted black pick-up trucks belonging to the Interior Ministry and carrying masked security forces in combat fatigues were seen. Iraqi News and AP and Vox and CNN

    Riots in Iraq's Basra evoke fault lines of 1980s Iran-Iraq war

    Basra is home to some of the largest oil fields in Iraq. These oil fields are contributing enormously to Iraq's economy, but none of the money seems to help Basra. Basra used to be called the "Venice of the East" because of its network of waterways and canals, which should be providing it with plenty of fresh water. But the canals were bombed by Iran during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, and have not been repaired since then.

    Most Iraqis are Shia Muslims, with Sunni Muslims in the minority. After the war, Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, neglected and marginalized the mostly Shia Basra population, causing considerable dissent. When Saddam was deposed by the 2003 American invasion, an Iran-linked Shia government came to power, and they have also largely neglected and marginalized the Basra population. The Basra Shias have returned the favor by forcing the few Sunnis living in Basra to leave.

    Although the split between Sunni and Shia Muslims is a defining feature of the Mideast, there are also ethnic alliances that override the sectarian fault lines. Iraq had two generational crisis wars during the last century, the 1920 Iraqi Revolution and the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. In both of those wars, the Iraqi Sunnis and Shias united behind the war effort against the enemy -- the British colonists in 1920 and the Iranians in the 1980s. So even those the Muslims in Basra are Shia Muslims, they have bitter memories of the atrocities committed by the Iranians in the 1980s. Those bitter memories are revived every time someone is killed by a land mine planted by Iran during the 1980s war.

    So the current riots in Basra are about more than drinking water and electricity. There is a great deal of fury directed at Iran's "meddling" in the current government, which is in a state of chaos anyway.

    Politicians in Baghdad have not agreed on a government following inconclusive elections in May. The new parliament met for the first time on Monday, but failed to elect a speaker, much less name a prime minister, so the former prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, continues in power. Parliament convened an emergency session on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Basra, but no action was taken.

    Another interesting fact is that there are differences between Shia theology in Basra and Shia theology in Iran.

    When Ruhollah Khomeini set up his Islamic Revolutionary government after Iran's 1979 civil war, he reinterpreted centuries of Shia theology to include a doctrine called Wilayat al-Faqih, which means Guardianship of the Jurist. The effect of this doctrine was that the Supreme Leader was considered to be as infallible as the 12 infallible Imams that had led Shia Islam over a millennium ago. This meant, of course, that Khomeini was the infallible leader of all Shia Muslims.

    Needless to say, Shia Muslims in Iraq do not accept Khomeini or the current Supreme Leader, Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, as infallible leaders. So the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist) is rejected by Iraq's Shias in Basra, and so Iran's Shiism and Iraq's Shiism are effectively two different sects.

    This difference goes to the core of the protests, as the government in Baghdad is linked with Iran and Iranian Shiism. This will have to be settled as part of the resolution to the current riots. Reuters and Al Monitor and Middle East Eye (16-July)

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    8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria

    The Greek Tragedy in Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria


    Rouhani, Erdogan and Putin, the three amigos, hold hands prior to their meeting (Reuters)
    Rouhani, Erdogan and Putin, the three amigos, hold hands prior to their meeting (Reuters)

    The leaders of the three countries in the so-called "Astana Group" met in Tehran on Friday with to decide the fate of Syria's Idlib province. No Syrians participated in the meeting. Representatives of the three countries, Russia, Turkey and Iran, have met several times in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

    Russia, Syria and Iran have been preparing for weeks, massing troops and tanks, for an assault that will create a massive humanitarian disaster among the 3.5 million civilians in Idlib. ( "5-Sep-18 World View -- Syria and Russia prepare to inflict massive bloodbath on Idlib")

    At the summit meeting, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued for a ceasefire, and no invasion at all. At the press conference following the meeting, he said, "We don’t want Idlib to turn into a bloodbath," and said:

    "Idlib is not only about the future of Syria, it is also about the peace of the whole region. Any attack launched or to be launched on Idlib will result in a disaster, massacre and a very big humanitarian tragedy.

    "If we can declare a cease-fire here, it will be one of the most important steps of the summit, and it will relieve the civilians."

    Iran's president Hassan Rouhani rejected Erdogan's plea, saying that the fighting in Syria must continue until all "terrorists" are "uprooted," especially in Idlib. He added, "fighting terrorism in Idlib is an unavoidable part of the mission of restoring peace and stability to Syria."

    Russia's president Vladimir Putin also rejected the plea, saying that "the legitimate Syrian government has a right and must eventually take control of its entire national territory". Daily Sabah (Turkey) and BBC and Vox

    Turkey prepares for massive refugee problem

    Idlib has a population of about 3.5 million people, including several tens of thousands of jihadists belonging to al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), or less than 2% of the population. Many of the jihadists are hiding out in the same homes as the civilians. There are reports that many civilians are demanding that the jihadists leave the homes and go elsewhere, though that's unlikely to happen.

    Bashar al-Assad intends to kill all "terrorists," but he's made it clear in the past that he considers the entire population of Idlib to be "terrorists," meaning that he will be targeting the entire population.

    In a sense, Turkey has the most at stake in the Astana Group decision about Idlib. In the press conference on Friday, Erdogan said that there are already 3.5 million Syrian refugees hosted by Turkey, and: "Idlib's population is now 3.5 million. We do not have power and facilities to host another 3.5 million."

    Bashar al-Assad's regime, along with Russia, will be using missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas to kill the "terrorists" in Idlib following Vladimir Putin's "Grozny Model." Entire neighborhoods will be flattened, and schools, markets and hospitals will be particularly targeted in order to kill as many women and children as possible, as part of Bashar al-Assad's genocidal campaign.

    This means that hundreds of thousands or even millions of civilians will be abandoning their homes, trying to flee the violence. When al-Assad was conducting a similar slaughter on Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, many thousands of civilians fled to Idlib. Now, there's no Idlib for Idlib, meaning that people who want to flee have no place to go.

    Idlib borders Turkey, and undoubtedly many of them will try to flee across the border into Turkey. It's possible that millions of refugees will succeed in reaching Turkey, and a few hundred thousand of them may then travel to Europe. According to Turkey's Red Crescent, this would be the beginning of a "new immigration wave" into both Turkey and Europe.

    One thing that's clear is that Russia and Vladimir Putin are in charge now. Putin can delay the assault, or launch it immediately. He can also use the threat of an assault to get leverage. For example, Putin has been demanding that the US and EU pay billions to rebuild Syria, after Russia played the biggest part in destroying Syria. Russia could use the Idlib assault in a negotiation that says, "Pay up or else!" Anadolu (Turkey) and Yeni Safak (Turkey)

    Syria and Russia launch a big, new disinformation campaign

    There have been reports that Syria and Russia have been launching a new disinformation campaign, to hide al-Assad's use of chemical weapons and other atrocities. My personal experience is that the article that I wrote three days ago generated a much higher level of troll attacks than I've been seeing recently. So it may well be that Russia's troll factory, the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, is on the march again.

    The trolls generally try to paint Bashar al-Assad as a sweet, gentle opthamologist (his college major), a sensitive guy who now runs a country and is trying to bring peace, justice and stability to Syria and the world.

    So for trolls and for those readers with short memories, here's an article from last year from the London Guardian, summarizing a report by Amnesty International:

    "[In Bashar al-Assad's Saydnaya prison in Damascus,] thousands of civilians considered opponents of the regime are systematically starved, deliberately dehumanised, mercilessly tortured and finally hanged in the utmost secrecy in the dead of night, 20 to 50 at a time. These witnesses have described executions and the conditions in the prison before December 2015 but they could be continuing.

    It’s like something from a grindingly bleak horror film – a grotesque series of depraved acts that almost defies description. ... Amnesty has gathered testimony from 31 former Saydnaya detainees as well as former guards, and we calculate that between 5,000 to 13,000 people have been hanged at Saydnaya since the uprising against Assad began, possibly many more.

    On top of that witnesses have described deaths through sadistic beatings, starvation and disease. They have said that food and water are regularly cut off for prisoners at Saydnaya. When food is delivered, it’s often dumped in the blood, puss and dirt of the cell floors. The prison also has its own set of “special rules”. Prisoners are not allowed to make any sounds, speak or even whisper, even when being brutally beaten. They’re forced to assume certain positions when the guards come into the cells and merely looking at the guards is punishable by death.

    Here’s how one former detainee described the terrifying beatings that those about to be hanged are made to endure: “We would hear a huge sound. From 10pm until 12, or from 11pm until 1am, we would hear screaming and yelling come from below us … This is a very important point. If you keep silent, you will get less beating at Saydnaya. But these people were screaming like they had lost their minds ... It wasn’t a normal sound – it was not ordinary. It sounded like they were skinning them alive.”

    As for the hangings themselves, witnesses have described how they are carried out in the basement of a place called the White Building. After hours of beatings, groups of up to 50 blindfolded men at a time are taken to the execution site by white delivery trucks (called “meat fridges” by other prisoners) and made to stand on a metre-high platform. Here a noose is placed over their heads and they’re bundled to their deaths.

    Not all the hangings result in quick deaths. Some of the lighter men are still alive several minutes into the hangings, and two prison officials have the job of pulling on the bodies of those still alive to break their necks. One former detainee, Hamid (not his real name), told me how he could hear the sounds of the hangings as he and other prisoners slept on the floor of the rooms above: “There was a sound of something being pulled out – like a piece of wood, I’m not sure – and then you would hear the sound of them being strangled ... If you put your ears on the floor, you could hear the sound of the gurgling. This would last around 10 minutes ... We were sleeping on top of the sound of people choking to death. This was normal for me then.”"

    Bashar al-Assad is not a sweet opthamologist. He's a perverted, depraved, sociopathic monster who is running a country with the intention of inflicting the same depraved, sociopathic acts on millions of people. Guardian (London, 7-Feb-2017)

    The Greek Tragedy in Syria

    It's pretty obvious now that the massive impending Idlib disaster is completely preordained and unavoidable, and nothing can be done by anyone to prevent it. It's like a mile high tsunami that's headed for land. Nothing can stop it. But for how long has it been unavoidable? Six months? Six years? Could it have been prevented seven years ago?

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, an argument can be made that the coming humanitarian disaster has been unavoidable since the 1980s.

    Syria's last generational crisis war was the civil war that climaxed in 1982 with the massacre at Hama. There was a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria's president Hafez al-Assad, the current president's father. In February, 1982, al-Assad turned the town to rubble, 40,000 deaths and 100,000 expelled. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It is regarded as perhaps the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East. But once Hama was destroyed, the anti-government movement against Hafaz al-Assad pretty much ended. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this was a generational crisis war climax, like the nuking of Hiroshima at the climax of World War II, bringing the war to an end.

    Since then 36 years have passed, and new generations have grown up. I've described what happens in country after country in the decades following a crisis ethnic civil war. Whoever comes to power after the war uses brutal police power to suppress the opposition, using the excuse that a new civil war must be prevented. I've described this in DR Congo, Burundi, Cameroon, Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, and other places.

    What makes the Syria situation exceptional is the level of violence. There are various levels of oppression that can be used, but Bashar al-Assad is conducting full-scale genocide and ethnic cleansing. By comparison with other countries in similar situations, that level of violence is not necessary.

    In Iran for example, since the 1979 revolution, which was really just another civil war, the two Supreme Leaders have felt free to punish political opponents with gunfire, torture, rapes, jailings, and other atrocities.

    The two Supreme Leaders, Ruhollah Khomeini and Seyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, are psychotic monsters, but those punishments just described -- torture, rape, etc. -- have only been used against tens of thousands of people, mostly young college students. There's been no attempt to exterminate entire cities. Of course tens of thousands is a horrific number, but I say "only" in comparison to Bashar al-Assad. Al-Assad has perpetrated the same genocidal atrocities, but has gone much farther with barrel bombs and chemical weapons targeting millions of women and children, something that Khomeini and Khamenei did not do.

    Particularly after those 50,000 prison photos came out of years of gruesome, depraved, systematic torture of political opponents on an "industrial scale," I see Bashar al-Assad as a sociopathic monster, as I've described him many times.

    So, given what happened in Hama in 1982, followed by the sociopathic nature of Bashar al-Assad, sooner or later there would have been anti-government protests, and al-Assad would have launched his genocidal attacks on peaceful protesters, focusing on women and children to exterminate the next generation. This is something that was triggered by the "Arab Spring" in 2011, but it had to happen sooner or later, and it would have led the same way to the same kind of genocide that al-Assad has been performing for the last eight years.

    So that's why, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it could be argued that the Idlib massacre was preordained since the 1980s. It could have been stopped at any time in the last 30 years if al-Assad had been removed from power at any time, and replaced with someone less sociopathic. Even then, there would have been some violence, as in the case of Iran, but probably not to the extent pursued by al-Assad.

    The Greeks invented tragedy, and as a Greek, I understand tragedy very well. It's in my bones. Tragedy is not some random event, like a child being hit by a car. The essence of Greek tragedy is that the tragic event is not random. The tragic event is inevitable: it MUST occur, and the reason it must occur is because of the nature, the personality, the character of the protagonists. A true tragedy cannot be prevented, even by those who foresee it, because the forces bringing about the tragedy are too powerful for anyone to stop. That's what's happening in Syria today.

    My heart breaks every day, when I see what's happening in the world.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    7-Sep-18 World View -- Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea

    China's 'nine-dash line map' makes absurd claims to South China Sea

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Britain 'provokes' China by sending warship into South China Sea


    Military vehicles in the loading dock of the HMS Albion (Reuters)
    Military vehicles in the loading dock of the HMS Albion (Reuters)

    Late last month, the HMS Albion, a British Royal Navy flagship amphibious assault ship, was traveling through the South China Sea, en route from Tokyo to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. The 22,000 ton amphibious warship was carrying a contingent of Royal Marines.

    On August 31, the ship exercised its "freedom of navigation" rights as it passed near the Paracel Islands. The Paracel Islands have been ruled by the courts to be in international waters, but China has used military force to annex them, in clear violation of international law.

    China immediately launched a military challenge of the British ship by dispatching a frigate and two helicopters. However, both sides remained calm during the encounter.

    In 2016, China claimed "ironclad proof" of the sovereignty of the Paracel Islands. The proof consisted of a 600 year old handwritten book by fisherman Su Chengfen, who uses the book as a guide to the various routes between the islands.

    The BBC decided to investigate, and tracked down the fisherman. As I reported at the time, the BBC found that the book did not exist, and China's claim to the Paracel Islands is a hoax.

    This didn't stop China's foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday from saying, "The relevant behavior of the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty. China is firmly opposed to this."

    This is a lie on several levels. The Chinese think that their laws are the laws of the world, and they specifically repudiate international law when it goes against them. The invoke international law as a kind of word game when they believe it favors them.

    In 2016, China was thoroughly humiliated when all of their activities in the South China Sea were declared illegal 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.

    China's response to the court ruling at the time was that it was "completely a political farce staged under legal pretext," and it was "plotted and manipulated by certain forces outside the region," which could mean either the Europeans or the Americans or both. The spokesman at the time continued, "Its purpose is clearly not to seek proper settlement of disputes with China, but to violate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and put peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy."

    The logic of the Chinese statement is that China's "territorial sovereignty" over the region are a given, and any challenge puts "peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy."

    That of course is a threat: Any challenge will be met with a military response. Reuters and China Foreign Ministry (6-Sep-2018) and China Foreign Ministry (13-Jul-2016)

    China's 'nine-dash line map' makes absurd claims to South China Sea


    China's 'nine-dash line' encompasses the entire South China Sea, going as far away as Indonesia's Natuna Island, which is nowhere near China (BBC)
    China's 'nine-dash line' encompasses the entire South China Sea, going as far away as Indonesia's Natuna Island, which is nowhere near China (BBC)

    China's "historic" claims to the South China Sea are either hoaxes, like the claim to the Paracel Islands described above, or worthless, or challenged by equally valid historic claims from other countries, including Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia.

    The arbitrariness of China's claims is shown by its claim to Indonesia's Natuna Island. In 2016, China sent its coast guard warships to ram Indonesian vessels in the Natuna Sea. What's going on here is that the Natuna Sea is extremely rich in fishing grounds. The Natuna Sea is clearly Indonesia's territory, since it's very far from China, but that makes no difference to China. It's amazing in the 21st century that a country feels it's perfectly OK to steal another country's assets, and even feels entitled to them.

    China's "historic claims" to the South China Sea really go no farther back than to 1947. According to one historical analysis:

    "And finally, China’s so-called “historic claims” to the South China Sea are actually not “centuries old.” They only go back to 1947, when Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalist government drew the so-called “eleven-dash line” on Chinese maps of the South China Sea, enclosing the Spratly Islands and other chains that the ruling Kuomintang party declared were now under Chinese sovereignty. Chiang himself, saying he saw German fascism as a model for China, was fascinated by the Nazi concept of an expanded Lebensraum (“living space”) for the Chinese nation. He did not have the opportunity to be expansionist himself because the Japanese put him on the defensive, but cartographers of the nationalist regime drew the U-shape of eleven dashes in an attempt to enlarge China’s “living space” in the South China Sea. Following the victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war in 1949, the People’s Republic of China adopted this cartographic coup, revising Chiang’s notion into a “nine-dash line” after erasing two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1953."

    What's interesting about this analysis is the relationship of Chiang to Hitler's "Lebensraum" concept, where Hitler felt entitled to invade and annex larger regions of Russia for German expansion. In other words, Chiang felt that the Chinese were the Master Race, just as Hitler's Nazis felt they were the Master Race, entitled to take anything they wanted.

    I've written in the past that Xi Jinping is following in the footsteps of Hitler, adopting a government similar to Hitler's National Socialism, and feeling entitled to annex regions that have historically belonged to other countries. ( "24-Oct-17 World View -- Xi Jinping's 'Socialism with Chinese characteristics' is identical to Hitler's National Socialism")

    This analysis makes it clear that this attitude is not recent, and didn't start with Xi Jinping. Apparently the Chinese were quite impressed with Hitler in World War II, and the 1947 map was meant to copy Hitler.

    Today, 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. World Affairs Journal (June 2013) and CSIS (12-Jun-2015) and Diplomat (21-Jun-2016) and BBC (20-Oct-2014)

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    6-Sep-18 World View -- Latin American countries open their borders to migrants from Socialist Venezuela

    Venezuela's Socialist president Maduro refuses humanitarian aid

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Latin American countries open their borders to migrants from Socialist Venezuela


    Latin American countries meeting in Quito on Tuesday (AFP)
    Latin American countries meeting in Quito on Tuesday (AFP)

    As the flood of 2.3 million refugees have fled Socialist Venezuela, with no end in sight, much of central and south America is becoming destabilized, and neighboring countries are looking for ways to mitigate the disaster.

    Migration officials representing eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries, attending a two-day meeting in Quito, Ecuador, have signed a joint declaration to make it much easier for refugees fleeing from Venezuela to enter their countries.

    Last month, Ecuador began refusing entry to Venezuelas who didn't have valid passports, after receiving a stream of 4,000 new migrants every day. However, that decision was later overturned by a court because it contravened a regional agreement on free travel.

    The decision to require a valid passport would have shut out the vast majority of Venezuelan refugees, since getting a valid passport in Venezuela can cost from $1,000 to $5,000 in bribes demanded by Venezuelan government officials. Under the rules specified by the Quito declaration, refugees will be allowed to enter the eleven countries even if their travel documents have expired.

    According to the Quito declaration:

    "5. Urge to the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to give priority to make the necessary measures for the timely provision of identity and travel documents of its citizens. Providing priority to identity cards, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates and certificates of criminal records, as well as apostilles and legalization of documents required by its citizens. In view of the fact that the lack of such documents has generated: limitations on the right to free movement and mobility, difficulties in immigration procedures, impediments to extra-regional circulation, effects on social and economic integration in the host countries and, on the contrary, it has encouraged irregular migration.

    6. In accordance with the national legislation of each country, to receive expired travel documents as identity documents of Venezuelan citizens for immigration purposes."

    The eleven countries that signed the joint declaration are: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

    There were thirteen countries meeting in Quito, but two of them didn't sign the declaration. Venezuela's left-wing ally Bolivia refused to sign, while the Dominican Republic was unable to do so immediately for administrative reasons. BBC and Reuters and Quito Declaration (PDF)

    Venezuela's Socialist president Maduro refuses humanitarian aid

    The same group of 11 Latin American countries are urging Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro to "accept the cooperation of the governments of the region and international organizations," who are expressing a willingness to provide humanitarian aid, in order to help alleviate the migration crisis.

    According to the signed Quito Declaration:

    "13. They reiterate their concern about the serious deterioration of the internal situation caused by the massive migration of Venezuelans, addressed during this meeting, and call for the opening of a humanitarian assistance mechanism that will allow decompressing the critical situation, providing immediate attention to the origin of the citizens affected.

    14. The States agree to cooperate with each other to assist their fellow citizens and urge the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to accept the cooperation of the governments of the region and international organizations, in order to address the situation of their respective communities established in Venezuela."

    However, Maduro's close associate Diosdado Cabello, president of the Constituent National Assembly, called the offer "disgusting" and "shameful," suggesting that the offer of humanitarian aid is unlikely to be accepted.

    Maduro is calling the entire refugee crisis a hoax, claims that the videos of Venezuelan's fleeing on foot are a Hollywood style campaign designed by Americans to embarrass him. He says that most of the refugees that have left now want to come back

    "More than 90 percent are regretting it, of this group that isn’t more than 600,000 Venezuelans who have left the country in the last two years, according to confirmed, certified serious figures. ...

    I sometimes feel pain for the Venezuelans who left. We will hug you again, come to Venezuela, come back to the homeland. We Venezuelans are here, with our big, big Bolivian hearts."

    Actually, the real confirmed, certified serious figures are well into the millions.

    Maduro has urged departed refugees to "stop cleaning toilets abroad" and return home. In August, he sent a plane to Peru to pick up around migrants who had been duped into abandoning Venezuela, but only 100 returned. More airlifts are being scheduled. Channel News Asia and Reuters and LA Times and VOA

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Sep-18 World View -- Latin American countries open their borders to migrants from Socialist Venezuela thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    5-Sep-18 World View -- Syria and Russia prepare to inflict massive bloodbath on Idlib

    Syria and Russian forces prepare to 'clean out' the 'terrorists' in Idlib

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Syria and Russian forces prepare to 'clean out' the 'terrorists' in Idlib


    Syrian firefighters try putting out a fire in a building that was hit by Russian air strikes in Idlib, on Tuesday (AFP)
    Syrian firefighters try putting out a fire in a building that was hit by Russian air strikes in Idlib, on Tuesday (AFP)

    Ever since Syria's army took control of Daraa in southern Syria, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and Russia's president Vladimir Putin have been declaring the war almost over and won. ( "22-Jul-18 World View -- Bashar al-Assad declares victory in southern Syria as opponents are bused out")

    There's just one more quick battle to be fought, they've been suggesting, the battle to take control of Idlib province.

    Airstrikes by Russian warplanes struck targets in Idlib on Tuesday, after a lull of several weeks, although Syrian warplane airstrikes had been ongoing. According to reports, the warplanes bombarded the countryside around Jisr al-Shughour on the western edge of Idlib, killing 13 civilians but no fighters.

    Syria was losing the war in 2016, but Russia saved al-Assad by actively joining the fight. Russia's military had been completely shut out of the Mideast after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. But now, for the first time in decades, Russia has two military bases in the Mideast -- the Tartus naval base, and the Hmeimim airbase, both of them in Syria, in return for supporting al-Assad.

    In the last month, Russia has launched a large naval deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria. The naval force has more than a dozen vessels including destroyers, frigates and submarines, some armed with Kalibr cruise missiles. It's expected that the naval force will participate in the assault on Idlib, and remain at the Tartus naval port indefinitely.

    Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday:

    "It goes without saying that this problem (terrorists in Idlib) must be straightened out. We do know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready for tackling this problem."

    Iran's forces have also supported al-Assad in the war. Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that all the "terrorists" in Idlib must be "cleaned out":

    "All of Syrian territory must be preserved and all the sects and groups should start the round of reconstruction as one collective and the displaced should return to their families.

    And the remaining terrorists in the remaining parts of Idlib must be cleaned out and the region should be placed back under the control of the Syrian people."

    Al-Assad has made it clear that he considers the entire population of Idlib to be "terrorists." Moscow Times and Tass (Moscow) and National Interest and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

    Syria and Russia prepare to inflict massive bloodbath on Idlib

    With Syrian army forces massing on the border with Syria, a full-scale assault is expected to start at any time.

    There are 3.5 million people in Idlib. About half of them arrived there after fleeing from the violence in earlier battles in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa. There are probably around several tens of thousands of "rebels," including some belonging to al-Qaeda based Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and others belonging to ISIS.

    In Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, al-Assad has been using Vladimir Putin's "Grozny strategy," where warplanes attack hospitals, schools and markets with the objective of creating millions of refugees, who can then be attacked while they're out in the open. A refinement developed by al-Assad's forces is to drop barrel bombs filled with metals, explosives, and chlorine gas. The metals would kill as many people as possible, and the chlorine gas, which is heavier than air, would fall into basements and bunkers where women and children were hiding. Once they were forced out into the open, additional barrel bombs and missiles or Sarin gas could kill the women and children en masse.

    In the case of earlier targets, international pressure caused Russia and Syria to agree to allow many people to flee the violence, and take refuge in Idlib. But there is no Idlib for Idlib, which means that there is no place in Idlib for people to go to flee. So there are 3.5 million people, including about one million children, all trapped in Idlib.

    Russia and Syria claim that they're only going to be targeting "terrorists" in Idlib, but al-Assad considers everyone in Idlib to be a terroris, and so many people are expecting a massive bloodbath. Possibly over a million people will try to cross the border into Turkey, a country that already hosts about three million refugees from Syria. That may result in a new surge of refugees into Europe.

    A big unknown is what role Turkey's military will play.

    Idlib is supposed to be one of the four de-escalation ceasefire zones, set up by agreement of Russia, Turkey and Iran in meetings in Astana, Kazakhstan last year. However, the de-escalation process turned out to be a hoax, to provide cover for al-Assad's attacks.

    Idlib is the one of the de-escalation zones that Turkey is responsible for. Turkey has a string of observation posts around Idlib, and has been fortifying them with tanks and personnel in recent days. It's not known whether Turkey would take any military action to block Syria's ground forces.

    The United State has warned Syria that there will be a military reprisal if al-Assad uses chemical weapons in Idlib. According to reports, US intelligence and military targeting experts have created a list of Syrian chemical weapons facilities that could be struck if Trump decided to order a new round of airstrikes in the country. BBC and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and CNN and Jerusalem Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Sep-18 World View -- Syria and Russia prepare to inflict massive bloodbath on Idlib thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    4-Sep-18 World View -- China courts African nations as charges of 'neo-colonialism' grow

    Why China's mothers are refusing to have a second child

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China courts African nations as charges of 'neo-colonialism' grow


    Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast at the beginning of the welcoming banquet at the Great Hall of the People during the first day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017 (Reuters)
    Chinese President Xi Jinping makes a toast at the beginning of the welcoming banquet at the Great Hall of the People during the first day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, May 14, 2017 (Reuters)

    China's president Xi Jinping is hosting, on Monday and Tuesday, the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), attended by leaders of more than 50 African countries. At the meeting, he announced that China will offer a huge $60 billion in aid for African nations, mostly to develop infrastructure projects for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    Xi was eager to refute the growing concerns that China's BRI investments are a form of "neo-colonialism," using the aid money as a "debt trap" as leverage to exert control over the internal affairs of the countries involved and, when the debt money can't be paid back, to gain control of valuable assets, as has already happened when Sri Lanka was unable to repay its debt for the building of the valuable strategic Hambantota seaport.

    So Xi may a point of saying the following:

    "China’s investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached. China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa."

    The claim was laughable, as proven by this very conference. Every African nation but one was invited. The one that was excluded was Swaziland, which just happens to be the only African nation left that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than China.

    China refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China has been using every tool available to it, including bribes, threats and extortion, to force countries to end relations with Taiwan. The most recent success was Burkino Faso. But Swaziland, recently renamed eSwatini, is the last remaining holdout in Africa. According to government spokesman Percy Simelane:

    "The people of eSwatini have been benefiting from the cordial relations existing between Taiwan since independence 50 years ago. The nation is benefiting and by extension as expected the leader benefits.

    Taiwanese doctors continue to be pillars of our health system. To say it is the king alone who benefits is a projection of political bankruptcy on the part of the accuser.

    Everywhere in the world, culture is the soul of a nation, only a political imbecile would put a regional meeting above the soul of the nation."

    According to one senior Chinese diplomat recently, China has been upping the pressure on the country, and they expect the eSwaziland to change policies soon.

    So Xi's claim that aid comes "with no political strings attached," and "China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa" is really an insult to everyone's intelligence. AP and AFP and Reuters

    Is Kenya the next Sri Lanka?

    Xi Jinping also sought to reassure African leaders that he is not leading them into a "debt trap," where the objective of China's policy is to put a country into a position where it's forced to give up valuable asset in lieu of paying off its debt to China.

    Many Kenyans in particular are concerned that they are going to be forced to give up the Mombasa seaport, just as Sri Lanka was forced to give up the Hambantota seaport. And indeed, I doubt that few people would be surprised if that were China's actual unstated policy. As I described last month in "14-Jul-18 World View -- China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination'", China's infrastructure projects are set up contractually to make this kind of default as likely as possible.

    Chinese officials have been bragging that China is charging low interest rates on its latest loans, but interest rates are actually a small part of the problem.

    Researcher Anne Stevenson-Yang describes the problem succinctly as follows: China's loans are quoted in dollar terms, "but in reality they're lending in terms of tractors, shipments of coal, engineering services and things like that, and they ask for repayment in hard currency."

    This one-sentence description is highly significant, as becomes apparent with the lengthier explanation I've given in the past:

    According to one analyst:

    "This debt acquired from China comes with huge business for Chinese companies, particularly construction companies that have turned the whole of Africa into a construction site for rails, roads, electricity dams, stadia, commercial buildings and so on."

    So China provides aid for its own companies and workers to build infrastructure projects, but since the countries have to pay for the loans twice, the countries pay substantially more for the infrastructure projects themselves. So why don't they do that? Because they can't afford it, just as they can't afford to pay back China's loans.

    According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Chad, Eritrea, Mozambique, Congo Republic, South Sudan and Zimbabwe were considered to be in debt distress at the end of 2017 while Zambia and Ethiopia were downgraded to "high risk of debt distress."

    When America loans money to a country, either directly or through the IMF, it's a small enough amount that one can be certain that it can be repaid. One thing that's clear from China's policies is that they're making loans without any guarantee that they will be repaid and, in fact, where it's all but certain that they WON'T be repaid. It appears to be China's policy to make loans that can't be repaid, and then take control of infrastructure and land in the target country. That's why China has control, or will soon have control, of seaports across the Indian Ocean, in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Djibouti and Kenya. BBC and The Nation (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

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    Why China's mothers are refusing to have a second child

    Last week, I wrote "29-Aug-18 World View -- China ends two-child policy, but considers a 'wacky' three-child policy", about why mothers weren't having a second child, even when the one-child policy ended. It seems that there are a lot of reasons why China's mothers don't want more than one child, according to a web site reader who sent me the following:

    My Chinese wife was an elementary school teacher in Xi'an, China. She says that the biggest reasons why the two-child policy would fail were mostly economic. Consider the following:

    In short, even one child is too expensive for a couple in China.

    Then comes the fact that now, a married couple also has to support *two* sets of parents. My wife has four sisters and a brother, so they have no problems taking care of her parents. But her son, and her nieces and nephews, will have to support *two* sets of parents because of the one-child policy in place for their generation. Add to that the costs of bribing their children through the education system, and you have a completely broken economic system at the family level.

    That is why an increasingly large number of Chinese children are delaying marriage, and often forsaking the entire concept.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Sep-18 World View -- China courts African nations as charges of 'neo-colonialism' grow thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    3-Sep-18 World View -- Libya declares state of emergency, closes Tripoli airport

    The deterioration of Libya since the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Libya declares state of emergency, closes Tripoli airport


    Tripoli, Libya (Libyan Express)
    Tripoli, Libya (Libyan Express)

    Libya's government in Tripoli, the country's capital city, announced a state of emergency in Tripoli and closed the Mitaga airport, the only remaining airport in operation in Libya, since the Tripoli International Airport was destroyed by militia warfare in 2014.

    The announcement follows several days of fierce fighting between various militias and armed groups from within and around Tripoli. Rockets appear to be falling at random into densely populated areas, fired by one or more of the militias. At least 39 people, including civilians, have been killed in the violence and nearly 100 others wounded.

    Libya today has two completely separate governments. The western government, based in Tripoli, is the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is internationally recognized by the United Nations. However, the real power in Tripoli lies with the warlords and militias inside and outside the city.

    The second government is the eastern government, based in Tobruk, is the House of Representatives, led by a renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

    The Libyan state in Tripoli has been almost totally "captured" by a cartel of militias in central Tripoli, the main ones being the Tripoli Revolutionaries' Brigades and the Nawasi Battalion. They use violence, fraud and embezzlement to control state institutions, banks, businesses, and the only functioning airport. A major source of funding has been kidnapping victims from wealthy families, who provide substantial rewards to free the victims.

    The militias inside and outside Tripoli also formed an "alternative economy" -- receive payment from Italy in return for preventing migrants from crossing the Mediterranean to Italy by locking them up in horrific refugee camps.

    Because of the excessive violence and corruption, the cartel controlling central Tripoli has angered many of the tribes on the outskirts of Tripoli. The battles last week were the Seventh Brigade, or Kaniyat, from Tarhouna, a town 40 miles southeast of Tripoli.

    There are also al-Qaeda militias in Misrata, a city 125 miles east of Tripoli, who are threatening to attack central Tripoli as well. But they've lately been occupied with fighting ISIS-linked militias in Sirte, which is east of Misrata.

    Finally, renegade General Haftar has been staying out of Tripoli, but it's thought that he's making plans to conduct his own attack. Libyan Express and Al Jazeera and Reuters and Times of Malta

    The deterioration of Libya since the 2011 'Arab Spring'

    The "Arab Spring" in 2011 was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, followed by massive protests and gun battles in Tunisia, forcing the president to flee the country. There were violent protests in Egypt, and there were anti-government demonstrations in Yemen. There were fears that instability would continue to spread. Lebanon's government collapsed.

    A major refugee crisis had already began in Tunisia and Libya, with hundreds of thousands of people pouring into neighboring countries, and thousands crossing the Mediterranean to Italy. Libya's dictator Muammar Gaddafi declared war on the protesters and was threatening genocide, especially in Benghazi. It was this refugee crisis that caused Libyans to demand a no-fly zone, and for the Arab League to do the same, after which the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone. As fighting continued, this turned into the 2011 military intervention, and the assassination of Gaddafi. ( "5-Mar-16 World View -- A look back at Libya in 2011 as the West debates another military intervention")

    Gaddafi came to power in Libya in 1969 in a generational Awakening era. As we've described in Syria, Cambodia, Burundi and a number of other countries in the decades following a generational crisis civil war, Gaddafi kept an iron grip on power by committing human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial executions and revenge attacks. However, even with these methods, he lost control of the population in a new civil war triggered by the Arab Spring, and was threatening the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Benghazi.

    Since the fall of Gaddafi, the deterioration of Libya's government that was originally triggered by the Arab Spring has continued. According to a June analysis by the Small Arms Survey:

    "Since state institutions split in two in mid-2014, the armed groups in Tripoli have undergone far-reaching changes in their financing patterns. Protection rackets and large-scale fraud, which are both contributing to a deepening economic crisis, have replaced state salaries as their principal source of income.

    Over the past two years, the large Tripolitanian militias have transformed into criminal networks straddling politics, big business, and the administration. They have infiltrated the bureaucracy and are increasingly able to coordinate their actions across different state institutions. The government is powerless in the face of militia influence.

    For the average citizen, security in Tripoli has improved substantially, as clashes between rival forces have receded and the cartel has focused on controlling the administration and the economy. But this state of affairs is fuelling resentment among powerful forces in the capital and beyond. It could provoke a new war over the capital."

    That analysis was published in June, and it predicted that the Tripoli cartel would provoke sufficient anger that it could lead to a new war in Tripoli. The first signs of that have begun to appear in the last week. Small Arms Survey and Libyan Express and BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Sep-18 World View -- Libya declares state of emergency, closes Tripoli airport thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    2-Sep-18 World View -- Worldwide alarm as the US ends aid to UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency

    US military cancels $300 million in aid to Pakistan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Worldwide alarm as the US ends aid to UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency


    From 2011: Latakia Palestinian refugee camp being bombed and destroyed by Bashar al-Assad.  Since 2011, Shia/Alawite al-Assad has been committing genocide against Sunni Arabs, including Palestinians (AFP)
    From 2011: Latakia Palestinian refugee camp being bombed and destroyed by Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011, Shia/Alawite al-Assad has been committing genocide against Sunni Arabs, including Palestinians (AFP)

    International governments are expressing alarm that the decision to end all US aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) could destabilize the Mideast and create increased radicalism.

    UNRWA provides services to Palestinian Arabs living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank. There are 1.5 million registered Palestinians living in 58 recognized Palestinian refugee camps. An additional 3-4 million Palestinian refugees and descendants live in "unofficial camps where Palestine refugees are concentrated, such as Yarmouk, near Damascus," according to UNWRA.

    UNRWA's services include education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, and support in times of armed conflict. UNRWA provides these services to all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

    UNRWA is dependent on funding from UN Member nations, with the United States having been the biggest donor. In 2017, the US provided $364 million to the agency, with other member states donated $650 million. The US on Friday announced that it would cut all aid, giving as a reason that UNRWA programs are "irredeemably flawed."

    UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness expressed "deep regret and disappointment" at the U.S. decision:

    "We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA's schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are 'irredeemably flawed.'

    It is the failure of the political parties to resolve the refugee situation which perpetuates the continued existence of UNRWA.

    A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the decision as "a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of UN resolutions." He added, "Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution."

    PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said that the US decision would backfire and draw strong reactions from several countries that oppose the “American policy of thuggery.” He said that the Palestinians, together with Jordan and EU countries, will launch a diplomatic campaign to urge many countries to fund UNRWA.

    In fact, the German government on Friday said that it will significantly increase its support for UNRWA, although it would not be enough to make up the agency's current shortfall of $217 million.

    Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said:

    "It is therefore all the more important that we, as the European Union, jointly undertake further efforts. ... The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction."

    Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the US decision violates international law and the UN resolution that established UNRWA. He added:

    "[The US is] not entitled to support or bless the theft of Palestinian lands and illegal Israeli colonialism. It has no right to act at the whim of [American business magnate, investor and philanthropist] [Sheldon Adelson and [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu. ... The US decisions regarding Jerusalem, the settlements and the refugees destroy the international law and undermine security and stability in the region. They are a gift to the forces of extremism and terrorism in the region."

    Other Palestinian officials made several angry accusations directed at the Trump administration:

    So as it turns out, these three accusations are pretty much true. UNRWA and Deutsche Welle and Haaretz and Jerusalem Post

    UNRWA's support for exponentially growing Palestinian population is unsustainable

    On Friday, the US State Department issued this statement:

    "The Administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA. When we made a U.S. contribution of $60 million in January, we made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years. Several countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Sweden, Qatar, and the UAE have shown leadership in addressing this problem, but the overall international response has not been sufficient.

    Beyond the budget gap itself and failure to mobilize adequate and appropriate burden sharing, the fundamental business model and fiscal practices that have marked UNRWA for years – tied to UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries – is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years. The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation. We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business. These children are part of the future of the Middle East. Palestinians, wherever they live, deserve better than an endlessly crisis-driven service provision model. They deserve to be able to plan for the future.

    Accordingly, the United States will intensify dialogue with the United Nations, host governments, and international stakeholders about new models and new approaches, which may include direct bilateral assistance from the United States and other partners, that can provide today’s Palestinian children with a more durable and dependable path towards a brighter tomorrow."

    The reference to "UNRWA’s endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries" refers to the fact that UNRWA is providing services to all descendants of the original 1948 refugees. UNRWA was set up to provide services to about 750,000 refugees of the bloody war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. These refugees were moved into camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

    It was thought at the time that these refugees would move out of these camps and become citizens of the various countries in the region. Instead, UNRWA's services have made it possible for the refugees to stay in the camps, and for their children and grandchildren to stay there as well. And so there's an exponentially growing population of descendants of the original refugees, and the entire population now totals 5.1 million, and is continuing to grow exponentially. The means that the amount of aid that's required is also growing exponentially at the same rate. The State Department announcement says that this "business model," which depends on exponentially growing donations, is unsustainable, and that's true.

    For the same reason, the "right of return" is delusional. When UNRWA was first formed, providing services to 750,000 refugees, perhaps it might have been possible for Israel to absorb a signficant number of them. But now the number of "refugees" is at 5.1 million, and is growing exponentially, and it's not reasonable to expect Israel to absorb the exponentially growing population.

    Early in August, leaked January e-mail messages emerged from Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, indicating that the Trump administration does indeed want to do away with UNRWA. According to published excerpts:

    "It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA. ... This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace."

    The logic behind this statement is that the existence of UNRWA, which is dependent on exponentially growing donations to service an exponentially growing population of refugee descendants, is giving this population a false hope that they might one day leave their refugee camp and go home again to their grandparents' houses in Israel. This is obviously never going to happen, and so the best way to get to a new peace agreement is to begin by removing the agency that makes a peace agreement impossible.

    As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that there is an approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, pitting the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Part of it will be a major new war between Jews and Arabs, 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. The Trump administration is generally aware of all this, having been educated by Steve Bannon, whom I worked with off and on for many years.

    Trump believes that he can get a peace deal in the Mideast. Every president for decades has tried to do the same, with no success. Trump's approach is to create political chaos, to destroy the status quo, so it will be necessary to renegotiate everything to bring peace. That's why the US Embassy was moved to Jerusalem and why now aid to UNRWA is ending. This is the approach he's taken with China, North Korea, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. As I've said many times, I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to prevent a world war -- or a Mideast war -- even if preventing such a war is impossible. US State Dept. and Al Jazeera and Fox News and Jerusalem Post

    Related Articles:

    US military cancels $300 million in aid to Pakistan

    The U.S. military said it has made a final decision to cancel $300 million in aid to Pakistan that had been suspended over Islamabad's perceived failure to take decisive action against militants. In the past, Trump has accused Pakistan of rewarding past assistance with "nothing but lies and deceit." Reuters

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Sep-18 World View -- Worldwide alarm as the US ends aid to UNRWA Palestinian refugee agency thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    1-Sep-18 World View -- Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, is assassinated

    Alexander Zakharchenko was increasingly annoying to his masters in Moscow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, is assassinated


    Alexander Zakharchenko (Getty)
    Alexander Zakharchenko (Getty)

    Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the Russian troops in eastern Ukraine and prime minister of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), was killed on Friday in a terrorist bomb blast at a local restaurant. The bomb had been deliberately planted in the restaurant, the Separ in central Donetsk, which was frequented often by Zakharchenko.

    Russia's defense ministry initially blamed the bombing directly on Ukraine, but this accusation was not repeated as a DPR official announced that the suspects had already been detained within Donetsk itself. However, Ukraine Security Services and the United States were still blamed for organizing the attack. In view of the attack, a state of emergency was declared, and the borders were closed.

    It's worthwhile providing a brief catalog of Russian statements about the war in Ukraine, almost all of which have been provable lies. The war in Ukraine began in 2014 when Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine. Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just "volunteers." That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80% of Russia's army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are "volunteers" is like saying that America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "volunteers."

    In July 2014, the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia, as was confirmed in 2015 by a Dutch report following a lengthy investigation. Russia made one moronic claim after another, everything from the claim that MH17 fell out of the sky by itself to a claim that the US shot down MH17 to embarrass Putin.

    After Putin's Russian forces invaded Crimea, Putin denied that there were Russian troops in Crimea, but later he awarded a medal to the leaders of the successful invasion. Putin said there were no plans to annex Crimea, but then Russia annexed Crimea soon after.

    So he war in east Ukraine is being fought by Russian troops -- "volunteers" -- supplied with heavy Russian weapons, including tanks. Alexander Zakharchenko web site and Sputnik News (Moscow) and BBC and Sputnik News

    Alexander Zakharchenko was increasingly annoying to his masters in Moscow

    Although the Russian government reflexively blamed Ukraine and the United States for the explosion, there are plenty of reasons to look elsewhere for a culprit, especially Moscow.

    Zakharchenko was said to have as many lives as a cat, because he survived numerous assassination attempts. Friday's successful attack was believed to be the ninth assassination attempt, which meant that on Friday he used up the last of his nine lives.

    According to numerous analysts, Zakharchenko was a major annoyance to his masters in Moscow, and was also facing dissension within his officers in Donetsk, people who would like to replace him. He repeatedly declared that he would attack Kiev, and the DPR would replace the government of Ukraine, but he received no backing from Moscow. In January 2015, he announced a large-scale offensive aimed at capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol. But after receiving a phone call from Moscow, he gave a rushed press conference canceling the operation.

    According to Igor Girkin, a former commander in eastern Ukraine, Zakharchenko had many enemies: "He could have been taken out because of criminal schemes or maybe his Kremlin curators grew tired of him or the Ukrainians may have done it. He was a problem for everyone."

    Another analyst, Michael Bociurkiw, a global affairs analyst and former spokesman for the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said: "This looks like an internal operation because for the past few weeks and months, Zakharchenko has been critical of some of his colleagues and deputies in the so-called DPR parliament. So, I think the writing was on the wall for him."

    In February 2015 in Minsk, Belarus, negotiators reached a ceasefire agreement. The negotiators were Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine's leader Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President François Hollande.

    It was noteworthy that the negotiations did not include Zakharchenko or any east Ukraine Russian leader, whereas Putin's presence made it clear that he was in charge of the Russians in east Ukraine.

    The so-called "Minsk Agreement" did not bring about a ceasefire. Since then, there has low-level violence almost every day, and people are being killed almost every day. Analysts are expressing concern that the assassination of Zakharchenko will destablize the region, and be the final end of the Minsk agreement. Al Jazeera and RFE/RL and Washington Examiner

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Sep-18 World View -- Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, is assassinated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    31-Aug-18 World View -- US court seizes Venezuela's Citgo, as Argentina's peso crashes

    Argentina's peso collapses after central bank raises interest rate to 60%

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    US court seizes Socialist Venezuela's Citgo as compensation for mine nationalization


    The Citgo sign has been a Boston landmark since its Cities Service predecessor sign was erected in 1940 (Boston Globe)
    The Citgo sign has been a Boston landmark since its Cities Service predecessor sign was erected in 1940 (Boston Globe)

    A US court has awarded Citgo, the Houston Texas based subsidiary of Venezuela's nationalized state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), to a Canadian mining firm Crystallex.

    Allowing Crystallex to seize Citgo gives the mining company a kind of revenge against the Socialist government of Venezuela. In 2008, when Hugo Chávez was running Venezuela, Chávez ordered the seizure and nationalization of Las Cristales, the local mining operation run by Crystallex.

    In 2016, a World Bank arbitration tribunal awarded Crystallex $1.2 billion plus $200 in interest, totaling $1.4 billion, which is the amount that a US court judge is ordering Venezuela to pay to Crystallex. In lieu of that payment, the judge has awarded Citgo to Crystallex.

    Citgo is valued at $8 billion, a lot more than the amount owed to Crystallex. However another nationalized state-owned oil company, Russia's Rosneft, claims that it owns 49.9% of Citgo. Rosneft received the stake in Citgo in 2016 as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan to Venezuela. Rosneft is asking the judge to split up Citgo into pieces, rather award the whole thing to Crystallex. Venezuelanalysis and OilPrice.com and Mining.com and Reuters and Boston Globe

    Argentina's peso collapses after central bank raises interest rate to 60%

    As we reported in June, Argentina forced to beg the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $50 billion loan to prevent the country from going bankrupt. The IMF is extremely unpopular in Argentina, since the people blame the IMF for causing a major economic crisis in 2000, when the IMF pulled the plug on another load because Argentina was failing to live up to the austerity commitments it made as a condition for receiving the loan.

    Argentina is heavily in debt, having gone on a spending spree the last decade. Since it's now impossible for Argentina to pay its debts, the value of the peso has been falling continually against the dollar all year. When the IMF agreed to loan the $50 billion in June, it was hoped that the value of the peso would stabilize, but it hasn't. People have been selling their Argentina bonds, denominated in pesos, for US dollars to prevent personal losses, which has caused the peso to fall.

    On Thursday, the government increased its astronomical 45% interest rate to an even more astronomical 60% interest rate, in the hope that investors would stop selling bonds, since they could get 60% interest. Furthermore, president Mauricio Macri announced that he was going to ask the IMF to provide the $60 billion loan earlier than had been previously agreed. Macri had hoped that these two announcements would stabilize the peso.

    Instead, investors seemed to have decided that the government was desperate and panicking, so the peso ended the day down an additional 12% against the dollar.

    IMF managing director Christine Lagarde says that revisions to the timeline for the loan are being considered favorably, because of "the more adverse international market conditions, which had not been fully anticipated in the original program."

    She added: "I am confident that the strong commitment and determination of the Argentine authorities will be critical in steering Argentina through the current difficult circumstances, and will ultimately strengthen the economy for the benefit of all Argentines." CNBC and NPR and Forbes

    Turkey and Argentina lead the world's developing countries in falling currencies

    Turkey's lira currency fell another 4% against the dollar on Thursday, totalling 40% since the beginning of the year. Thursday's loss was triggered by reports that a Turkish central bank deputy governor is about to resign.

    Like many countries, Turkey is deeply in dollar-denominated debt that it can't repay, and investors holding Turkish lira are exchanging them for dollars to preserve value. However, as we reported earlier this month, Turkey's economic problems are exacerbated by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who says that interest rates are "evil," and who believes that lower interest rates cause lower inflation, which is the opposite of the case, and who is imposing his delusional economic theories on the central bank. No wonder a central bank government may resign.

    When we say that Turkey's lira currency has fallen 40% against the dollar, we can say it a different way: that the value of the dollar has been rising against Turkey's currency, as well as other national currencies.

    Developing country currencies have been particularly hard hit by the strengthening dollar. Many of them have borrowed heavily in dollar-denominated loans, which they can't repay with their weaker currencies.

    The following table shows the amount that different emerging country currencies have fallen against the dollar this year:

    Argentine peso -53.9%
    Turkish lira -43.5%
    Brazilian real -20.2%
    South African rand -16.1%
    Russian ruble -15.6%
    Indian rupee -9.7%
    Chilean peso -9.3%
    Hungarian forint -7.7%
    Indonesian rupiah -7.6%
    Philippine peso -6.6%
    Polish zloty -5.6%

    The United States has one of the worst borrowing and spending records in the world, but so far investors haven't punished us for this. When investors decide to do that, it won't be pretty. CNBC and Bloomberg and Daily Express (London)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Aug-18 World View -- US court seizes Venezuela's Citgo, as Argentina's peso crashes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    30-Aug-18 World View -- Diplomats fear that proposed Serbia-Kosovo peace deal will lead to Balkans war

    Former Balkan diplomats say that land swap proposal ignores 1,000 years of bloodshed

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Diplomats fear that proposed Serbia-Kosovo peace deal will lead to Balkans war


    Serbia president Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci (Reuters)
    Serbia president Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci (Reuters)

    The breakup of Yugoslavia led to the Balkan wars of the 1990s, which were the bloodiest European wars since the end of World War II, and have not been completely settled. In particular, there is still a border dispute between Kosovo and Serbia, and there are still Nato peacekeepers in the region.

    Neither Serbia nor Kosovo is a member of the European Union, although Serbia is going through the accession process. Kosovo claimed its independence in 2008 and is recognized by the EU, Nato and the US, but five countries -- Russia, Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Spain, and Azerbaijan -- consider it to be a "fake country," and do not recognize its independence.

    But now the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia have say that they have reached a peace agreement between the two countries.

    Serbia president Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci announced an agreement on Saturday to swap some territories and reach a permanent peace agreement. Part of the deal would involve unspecified "border corrections" or "territory swaps" between the two countries. It's believed that the proposal is that four municipalities in the north of Kosovo which host a majority Serbian population could be given to Serbia while Bujanovac and Presevo, municipalities in Serbia with mainly ethnic Albanian populations, might be divided and given to Kosovo.

    This proposal has caused something of a panic among the people living in the areas involved. For example, a Serb living in a mostly Albanian region of Serbia would suddenly find that suddenly he's a citizen of Kosovo, and no longer in Serbia.

    Another issue is that the deal could set a precedent that other countries might try to follow, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro.

    Kosovo's president Thaci said on Saturday:

    "Kosovo is determined to reach a binding legal agreement with Serbia. The time to do this is now. We have a short window of opportunity. It is not easy at all; it is very, very difficult. That’s why everybody has to be behind it."

    Despite the widespread opposition to the idea, it may be adopted anyway because it would allow both Serbia and Kosovo to join the European Union. The (laughable) theory is that once both countries are in the EU, then the border adjustment won't make any difference because borders will no longer matter. Euro News and B92 (Serbia) and Bloomberg

    Former Balkan diplomats say that land swap proposal ignores 1,000 years of bloodshed

    There are certainly plenty of historical examples to show that setting borders to separate different ethnic groups doesn't always work, and may never work. An example that comes to mind is the 1947 agreement to partition the Indian subcontinent, supposedly putting all the Hindus into India and all the Muslims into Pakistan. The result was the Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth centuries, when Muslims in India traveled to Pakistan, and Hindus in Pakistan traveled to India, with any property disputes settled by murder. That war has not been settled to this day, with the threat of a new war in Kashmir and Jammu.

    Another example is the United Nations partitioning of Palestine in 1948, creating the state of Israel. That led to the extremely bloody war between Arabs and Jews. That war also has not been settled to this day, with the threat of a new war between Arabs and Jews.

    So it's not surprising that three former High Representative’s for Bosnia and Herzegovina -- Carl Bildt, Paddy Ashdown, and Christian Schwarz-Schilling -- are expressing strong objections to the land swap proposal. In the letter they wrote jointly, they said:

    "We know Bosnia and Herzegovina well enough to know that this will give comfort and support to those who would break up the country, who are already calling for a return to the status quo ante in Dayton, unravelling all we and our Bosnian partners have worked for over more than two decades.

    We know the EU and Europe well enough to know that our principles and our bloody history teach us that sustainable peace can only come when we learn to live in multi-ethnic communities, rather than re-drawing borders to create mono-ethnic ones;

    We can in short, think of no policy more likely to lead us back to division and conflict in the Balkans than the one which some are apparently now supporting."

    Paddy Ashdown, interviewed on the BBC, added the following about the border adjustments (my transcription):

    "But in reality, I think it will set in train a series of events that will certainly add to those who want to destabilize Bosnia Herzegovina, certainly undermine the possibility of the solution in Macedonia, and if it should happen, it will certainly institute a movement of population of minorities from all of those areas back to their home territory, and by the way it will be hugely comforting to Vladimir Putin who is trying to do exactly the same thing in Ukraine. It's a very, very very bad thing, and a very dangerous one.

    I've been the high representative in Bosnia for four years in this matter, and I could have always, in a heartbeat, in a murmer, have got all of the national leaders, the ethnic leaders of their populations, to divide the country up into little ethnic pockets to preserve their ability to exercise control over their people. But the founding principle of Europe, one that we have learned for over a thousand years of bloodshed, is that we do not redraw borders to make nationally or ethnically homogeneous areas. We can make peace in a multi-ethnic spaces that are already there. And this is going exactly against what the practice in the Balkans have so far been, it will institute a round of border changes and I have no doubt whatsoever that it will destabilize states, it will move towards more ethnically pure states that are bound to come into conflicts with each other, and will offend the European principle that we do not redraw borders.

    The positive suggestion is that we continue to try to make sure that the borders that have been drawn in Kosovo are ones in which everybody across the whole of Kosovo can join the European Union, and if they achieve standards to do so, then borders won't matter."

    It's interesting that those who support territory swaps and those who oppose territory swaps predict the same outcomes -- that borders will no longer matter. I know of no historical precedent to support that assumption, and it's hard to believe that Ashdown or anyone who is familiar with the history of the Balkans could possibly believe that.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, The Balkans region, which has been the site of repeated crisis wars throughout history between the Christian civilization and the Muslim civilization, may well provide the start of the next major European war. Balkan Insight and Paddy Ashdown and N1 (Balkans) and Map Universal

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Aug-18 World View -- Diplomats fear that proposed Serbia-Kosovo peace deal will lead to Balkans war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Aug-18 World View -- China ends two-child policy, but considers a 'wacky' three-child policy

    China evaluates the failure of the two-child policy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China ends two-child policy, but considers a 'wacky' three-child policy


    China's new Year of the Pig stamps
    China's new Year of the Pig stamps

    For four decades, China has been attempting to control family planning decisions for individual families through the "one-child policy," announced in 1979, which called for forced abortions, forced sterilizations, and harsh fines to prevent families from having more than one child, and which was revised to a "two-child policy" in March 2016, allowing two children instead of just one.

    Early in August, China's government announced new postage stamps to be used starting in the Year of the Pig, next year. One of the stamps displays a happy family of five pigs, a mama pig, a papa pig, and three little baby pigs.

    To many Chinese, these Year of the Pig stamps appeared to confirm long-rumored plans to eliminate even the two-child restriction. This claim was reinforced by the memory that in 2016, the Year of the Monkey, China had released a similar stamp showing two baby monkeys.

    However, Chinese officials denied this claim about the 3-piglet stamps when they were announced three weeks ago. In particular, the designer of the stamps, 81-year-old Chinese folk artist Han Meilin denied this claim through his spokesman, who said that Han decided to draw three piglets because they made the composition of the painting more balanced. Moreover, the five pigs on the stamp echo an auspicious Chinese proverb "five blessings gathering together" and the design is set to bring good luck to the public in the coming year, according to the spokesman.

    Well those denials are now turning out to be false. China announced in a Weibo social media post on Monday that all family planning matter has been removed from the new draft civil code that is scheduled for enactment in March 2020.

    This means that all family planning controls should end. There will be no more one-child policy, no more two-child policy, no more forced abortions, no more forced sterilizations, and no more harsh fines.

    According to Zhang Juwei, director of the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Population and Labor Economics, "It has become an irresistible trend to allow people to make their own decisions on fertility, which will be the direction for the adjustment of population policy in the future." Daily Mail (8-Aug) and Reuters and South China Morning Post

    China evaluates the failure of the two-child policy

    The one-child policy was arguably a disaster for China's society. Women who had unapproved pregnancies could be violently dragged from their homes and forced to abort and be sterilized. If an unapproved child was born, then the child could not be registered, and essentially did not exist, so could not get schooling or other social benefits.

    The negative consequences of the one-child policy were apparent almost as soon as it was adopted in 1979. The policy accelerated the aging of the population, and a decline in the working-age population, which threatened economic growth. Furthermore, with fewer children, fewer elderly people could be cared for by their children.

    The one-child policy did have an effect on the demographics of China's population. The most well-known is that many parents aborted their unborn babies when ultrasounds showed that the babies were girls, because many parents wanted a boy who would take care of his parents when they got old, something that girls rarely did. The sex ratio peaked at 121/100 (121 boys for each 100 girls) in 2005, with recent estimates at 116/100, and as high as 140/100 in parts of rural central China.

    Aborting girl babies creates a vicious cycle. The number of births in a population grows exponentially based not on the total size of the population, but rather on the number of females in the population. So if there are fewer girls, then there will be fewer females, and fewer births. This vicious cycle is in fact occurring, as statisticians are predicting a sharp fall in China's population in the next decade for exactly this reason.

    The two-child policy did little to improve these figures. Many couples chose not to have a second child simply because they don't trust the authorities, and feared reprisals. For those who do have a second child, the birth ratio problem is exacerbated. Those with a daughter, knowing that they could have only one more child, almost universally aborted a female baby.

    The population growth rate is below what was promised, and is far from satisfactory. In fact, in some regions the number of births is decreasing. In the first six months of this year, the number of births in many provinces in mainland China fell by 15-20% from the year before. East Asia Forum and US National Institutes of Health

    China may adopt a 'wacky' policy with a 'reproduction fund'

    With the failure of the one-child policy and the two-child policy, one of the proposals being considered, sometimes called the three-child policy because of the three piglets, is receiving massive outrage in China.

    The proposal is to impose a brand new tax on all working adults under age 40, and put the money into a "reproduction fund." The money would go to subsidize families with more than one child.

    Although it's only a proposal, many women fear that it's a return to forced family planning by China's government. Whereas the Chinese government used fines, forced abortions and sterilizations to prevent unapproved births under the one-child policy, under the new policy the Chinese government would use heavy taxes to effectively force women to have a second child, whether she wants it or not. So the government would be back in the family planning business as soon as it got out.

    According to one female journalist commenting on the new Year of the Pig stamps, "However, we are not pigs. And when it comes to having babies, we should have free will, and the freedom to choose." South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Global Times (Beijing) and South China Morning Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Aug-18 World View -- China ends two-child policy, but considers a 'wacky' three-child policy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Aug-18 World View -- Saudis target women and children in Yemen to make them 'shiver' for generations

    US Military under pressure to end support of Saudis in Yemen

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudis target women and children in Yemen to make them 'shiver' for generations


    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

    The war in Yemen between a Saudi Arabia backed coalition and Iran-backed ethnic Houthis has been going on since 2015, with no end in sight. The Saudis and their coalition partner United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been under increasing international pressure to avoid civilian casualties.

    Now the United Nations says that airstrikes launched by Saudi Arabia on Friday killed at least 26 children and four women in al-Hodeidah seaport, which is controlled by the Houthis. Two weeks earlier, another airstrike killed dozens of children traveling in a school bus.

    UN official Mark Lowcock wrote:

    "I echo the recent statement by the Secretary-General on Yemen, condemning such attacks on civilians and calling for an impartial, independent and prompt investigation into these most recent incidents. I am also deeply concerned by the proximity of attacks to humanitarian sites, including health facilities and water and sanitation infrastructure. The UN and partners are doing all they can to reach people with assistance. Access for humanitarian aid workers to reach people in need is critical to respond to the massive humanitarian crisis in Yemen. People need to be able to voluntarily flee the fighting to access humanitarian assistance too."

    On Monday, Lise Grande, another UN official, called for an “independent and impartial investigation” into the attacks on civilians. Grande stated that “what is happening in Yemen is unimaginable” and added that “the time has come to wake up to the terrible reality of the war and its human cost and the need to work together to end hostilities.”

    According to unnamed "informed sources," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) ordered his coalition military generals to ignore the international pressure:

    "Do not care about international criticism. We want to leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations. We want their children, women and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned."

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, whether MBS actually uttered this statement or not, it's quite likely that it reflects his attitude. MBS is young, 32 years old, and has been extremely aggressive and belligerent since taking power two years ago. Furthermore, the world was shocked in years past when video emerged of atrocities, such as the beheading of a civilian by a jihadist, or by the abduction of numerous girls to serve as sex slaves. Today, as we've gone deeper and deeper into a generational Crisis era, these kinds of atrocities are the new normal, and do not shock people anymore.

    One thing that characterizes a generational Crisis era is that the value of an individual human life goes down continually, while increasingly the only thing that matters is the survival of the entire nation and its way of life. So, for example, in 1944 Americans were willing to send tens of thousands of their soldiers onto the beaches of Normandy, despite knowing that thousands would be immediately killed.

    Both the Saudis and the Houthis have been increasingly willing to use civilians, including women and children, s cannon fodder in the cause of fighting the Yemen war. The Houthis use children as human shields to protect military installations, and the Saudis kill the children in order to strike at the military installations. That's what always happens in a generational crisis war. Relief Web and NY Magazine and Bellingcat (9-Aug)

    US Military under pressure to end support of Saudis in Yemen

    Although the US military is not part of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, the US military does provide help in the form of air refueling for Saudi aircraft and intelligence support. In addition, the US sells weapons to the Saudis.

    The recent spate of news stories about civilian deaths in Yemen has caused international pressure on the US to reduce or end military support to the Saudis. In addition, there are claims that the weapons that have killed civilians in recent weeks are American made, but this claim has been challenged, as the Saudis also obtain weapons from other sources.

    Reports indicate that the Pentagon is warning the Saudis that the US will reduce military and intelligence support if the Saudis don't demonstrate they are attempting to limit civilian deaths in airstrikes. And Democrats in Congress want to amend the defense appropriations bill to make American support contingent on the U.S. defense secretary certifying that the coalition air campaign is not violating international law and U.S. policy related to the protection of civilians.

    However, reducing American support to Saudi Arabia would probably just hand a victory over to Iran and the Houthis. In fact, the Saudis have provided evidence to the UN Security Council that Iran is sponsoring Hezbollah militants in the Yemen war, so that a Houthi victory in Yemen would give Iran almost complete effective control of the country -- insofar as it's possible for anyone to control Yemen.

    It seems unlikely that President Donald Trump, who views the Saudis as an essential ally, would agree to a reduction of military support. In fact, because of the strategic importance of the al-Hodeidah seaport, whose recapture is the current objective of the Saudi coalition's current military operation, Trump is said to be considering increasing U.S. military support for that operation.

    The UN has repeatedly described Yemen as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The al-Hodeidah seaport is crucial to whatever humanitarian efforts are possible in Yemen. NGOs use this seaport 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. Defense News and CNN and The National (UAE) and Gulf News

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Aug-18 World View -- Saudis target women and children in Yemen to make them 'shiver' for generations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    27-Aug-18 World View -- Genocide of Rohingyas in Burma (Myanmar) appears to be almost complete

    Syria, Cameroon, Sudan Darfur genocides follow the same pattern

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Genocide of Rohingyas in Burma (Myanmar) appears to be almost complete


    6,000 acres of Bangladesh land, valued at $86.67 million, have been deforested to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.  (United News of Bangladesh)
    6,000 acres of Bangladesh land, valued at $86.67 million, have been deforested to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees. (United News of Bangladesh)

    If a government wants to commit genocide and ethnic cleansing against an ethnic or religious population, then the old ways that our grandfathers' generations used are no longer practical. Sending people to concentration camps and setting up an elaborate extermination system is way too expensive these days. And starving an entire population, as Stalin did to the Ukrainians in the 1930s and Mao did to the Chinese in the Great Leap Forward, could not be kept hidden from the global media, as it was in those days.

    Today's generations of genocidal leaders have new, modern ways for a government to commit genocide now, and we've seen them practiced in Syria, Chechnya, Cameroon, and elsewhere. The basic technique is to make up some excuse to selectively target members of the group to be exterminated with bombs, missiles, jailings, rape, torture and slaughter, saying that the people being targeted are ordinary criminals. Then when activists in the target group do something in retaliation, then the government can declare the entire target ethnic group to be terrorists, including women and children, and use massive force to kill as many of them as possible, and force the rest to flee to other countries.

    These new techniques appear to be spectacularly successful in Myanmar (Burma).

    Since 2011, Burma's mostly Buddhist security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, in what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign.

    In August of last year, the Buddhist security forces got the excuse that they wanted, when a group of activists calling themselves the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and armed with machetes killed several Burmese security forces in attacks against 30 Burmese police outputs. Using this attack as an excuse, the Burmese army began conducting massive slaughter and atrocities against the Rohingyas, causing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border into Bangladesh.

    Today, there are about 700,000 Rohingyas living in refugee camps in Bangladesh -- the world's largest population of stateless people, not citizens of Burma, not citizens of Bangladesh.

    The Buddhist army in Burma burned down Rohingya villages as part of the atrocities, and after the population left, the army bulldozed the villages. This was a purposeful act to make it impossible for the Rohingyas to return.

    So you have these farcical situations where Burmese authorities claim that the Rohingyas burned down their own villages, or even bulldozed them.

    However, in September of last year, BBC reporter Jonathan Head was on a trip through Rakhine state sponsored by Burma's government. The reporters were closely monitored by Burmese minders, but he happened to see smoke rising through the trees and was able to escape his minder and arrive at the village. He actually interviewed the Buddhists who were burning down the village, who said that they were helped by the Burmese police. He was able to see one house after another go up in flames, as the Buddhists burned them down.

    It was really a pathetic sight. And yet we hear from Burmese officials that the Rohingyas burned down their own villages, and mainstream media reports dutifully report this as if it were some kind of reality. That's how far the farce of fake news has gone today.

    Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel prize winner, has played an important role, a kind of 21st century Hitler. She sweetly tells reporters, "Oh, it's not so bad" or "No that's wrong, it isn't ethnic cleansing," and so Adolf Aung San Suu Kyi Hitler is just part of the genocide farce. She previously spent several decades under arrest by the army, but today it seems that the reason they let her go is because she promised to support the genocide.

    Bangladesh and the international community are demanding that the Rohingyas be permitted to return to their homes in Burma. But of course that's impossible, since the homes have been burned down and bulldozed.

    In fact, Human Rights Watch has been interviewing Rohingyas who are newly arrived in Bangladesh. They report that the Buddhist security forces in Burma are still raping, torturing, mutilating, and killing Rohingyas.

    So the Burmese genocide and ethnic cleansing has been wildly successful. They "cleansed" the area of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas, who will no longer be around to ignore them. It's the modern way of doing things, and the results speak for themselves. Reuters and United News of Bangladesh and Dhaka Tribune and Economist

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    Syria, Cameroon, Sudan Darfur genocides follow the same pattern

    Over the past few years, we've reported Generational Dynamics analyses of countries following exactly the same kind of pattern. The government targets an ethnic or religious population with rape, torture, jailings or other violence, in order to provoke some kind of violent reponse, even an extremely minor one. Once that happens, the government declares the entire population to be terrorists, and launches full scale genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    After peaceful protests began in Syria in 2011, the country's president Bashar al-Assad launched air attacks on women and children in schools and markets. Once there was a violent reaction, al-Assad could do what he wanted. He began by massacring thousands of innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia in August 2011. He used missiles and barrel bombs, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas, to kill his hated Sunni enemies, and to destroy their homes, markets, hospitals and schools. In 2015, Russia's president Vladimir Putin joined in with his "Grozny strategy," where warplanes attack hospitals, schools and markets with the objective of creating millions of refugees, who can then be attacked while they're out in the open. Between the two of them, al-Assad and Putin have destroyed and flattened villages and cities, and has forced millions of innocent Syrian civilians to flee the violence into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Europe. 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.

    Then, to complete the ethnic cleansing, al-Assad in April passed "Law #10," which requires anyone wishing to return to Syria to provide paperwork immediately proving ownership of his or her property. The obvious intent is to make it impossible for these millions of people to return to their homes.

    In Cameroon, the Francophone (French-speaking) government has used extremely repressive measures to marginalize the Anglophone (English-speaking) population in the region known as the Southern Cameroons. These government atrocities 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.

    The government got what it wanted in November 2016, when Anglophone Cameroonians began peaceful protests. The Francophone security forces began violently attacking Anglophone protesters. In September of last year, activist separatists began using small bombs to target local security forces.

    The government announced that "President Paul Biya has declared war on these terrorists who seek secession." In the increasingly violent Francophone government crackdown that followed, hundreds of people were arrested, and helicopter gunships were used to fire on innocent civilians and kill them. At least 5,000 people have fled across the border to neighboring Nigeria to escape the violence.

    Back in 2006, I wrote a generational analysis of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, following the statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, that the Darfur genocide was caused by global warming, and therefore by America and Europe.

    That fatuous reasoning led me to write an extensive generational analysis of what happened in Darfur, starting in the 1970s and continuing forward. That analysis is still correct, but I now realize that a part of it is in exactly the same pattern we've been talking about in Burma, Syria and Cameroon.

    In April 2002, a Darfurian farmer complained to the local authorities that they were being harassed by a local herder militia group. Instead of listening, the farmers were jailed. This had the effect desired by Sudan's government. The farmers were infuriated, activists attacked a police station. The response from Sudan's government was to unleash the Janjaweed militias for a full scale genocide of the Darfurians.

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    26-Aug-18 World View -- China, North and South Korea confounded by cancellation of Kim Jong-un meeting

    Trump pursues risky strategy, trying to avoid a greater risk

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China, North and South Korea confounded by cancellation of Kim Jong-un meeting


    Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un shake hands prior to their May 9 meeting in Pyongyang (Reuters)
    Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un shake hands prior to their May 9 meeting in Pyongyang (Reuters)

    President Donald Trump announced on Friday morning that he was canceling the planned meeting of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with North Korea's president Kim Jong-un in three tweets:

    "I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula...

    ...Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions which are in place)...

    ...Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!"

    This is the first time that I'm aware of that Trump has tied together these two major issues -- denuclearization of North Korea and the trading dispute with China. Significantly, he seems to imply that negotiations with North Korea will be put on hold until some resolution is reached on the trading issue.

    Finally, the tweets imply that China is at fault, and that Kim is just doing what China is telling him to do.

    By ending negotiations with North Korea, these tweets undercut repeated demands by the North Koreans for the US, North Korea, South Korea and China to sign a peace treaty officially ending the 1950s war in Korea, which ended in 1953 with a ceasefire armistice agreement.

    The Chinese would very much like to get an agreement officially ending the Korean war, since such an agreement would then be followed by demands to remove American troops from South Korea, and particularly to remove the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) currently deployed in South Korea. Nominally, THAAD is an anti-missile system deployed to protect South Korea from North Korean missiles, but the Chinese particularly object to the THAAD's powerful radar capabilities that see far into Chinese territory and could provide an early warning of a Chinese missile attack.

    China's foreign ministry issued a statement saying the following:

    "China's position on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is consistent and clear. We are committed to achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and resolving this issue through dialogue and consultation. For all these years, China has been making unremitting efforts for this issue's proper settlement. We have been playing an important and constructive role and comprehensively and strictly implementing the DPRK-related resolutions of the Security Council. All these efforts are witnessed by the international community."

    South Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying the following:

    "It’s most important to maintain a long-term view while maintaining a momentum for dialogue and concentrate diplomatic efforts to faithfully implement the agreements from the summits between South Korea and North Korea and between North Korea and the United States, instead of attaching meaning to each change in the situation.

    While we consider the delay of the visit to North Korea as unfortunate, we believe it’s most important for the North Korea-U.S. dialogue including Secretary Pompeo’s visits to North Korea to contribute to substantial progress in complete denuclearization and the establishment of a permanent peace regime in the Korean Peninsula."

    Regular readers know that Generational Dynamics predicts that China and the US are headed for a major world war with 100% certainty. Furthermore, North Korea will never agree to denuclearization, after decades of having starved, tortured and brutalized the North Korean people, promising that it was all worth it because one day North Korea would be nuclear power and would be a great nation, a peer to the United States. The Hill and Foreign Ministry of China and AP and South China Morning Post (28-Jul) and VOA

    Trump pursues risky strategy, trying to avoid a greater risk

    The media is filled with the usual statements about Trump's unhinged policies borne out of personal frustration, or about how State Department personnel were blindsided by the announcement. So it's pretty clear that the mainstream media don't have even the slightest clue what's actually going on.

    On the other hand, Dear Reader, if you're one of the ones who believe that Trump is the grandmaster at "The Art of the Deal" and you want to learn something, the best way to proceed is from the assumption that there's an actual rational strategy behind the tweets.

    If you want to try to make sense of what Trump is doing, then you have to start with the Generational Dynamics predictions that we're headed for a world war with China, and that under no circumstances will North Korea agree to denuclearize, and that their only objective is to get the sanctions lifted while continuning development of nuclear missiles targeting the United States. Donald Trump is aware of these predictions, because he was educated by Steve Bannon, who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics, since I worked with him off and on for a number of years.

    What's been obvious from the day that Trump took office is that everything he's done in foreign policy is based on being aware of these predictions and on his determination to keep them from actually coming to pass. And as I've said many times, I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking actions to try to prevent a world war, even if preventing a world war is impossible.

    Trump's aggressive tariffs and trade policy toward China makes sense if you understand it as a strategy of trying to throw China's entire entire political strategy off-balance, in order to derail continued preparations for war. China keeps insisting that it wants nothing but stability, in North Korea and in trade, and that's true, because they don't want to be distracted in war preparations. Trump's imposed tariffs are causing significant economic disruptions to China's economy -- which is already in a great deal of trouble -- while North Korea's threats to the United States are keeping US military forces deployed in the region, and THAAD anti-missile and radar systems deployed in South Korea.

    Trump's strategy makes sense, but that doesn't mean it's going to work. It's highly risky in the sense that it could trigger an earlier war. I've mentioned on several occasions that we're already in a tit-for-tat escalation pattern with China, and so is Taiwan. This is exactly the pattern that leads to a major war in a generational Crisis era. But the "soft diplomacy" strategy employed by the Obama administration was certain to lead to war as well. Every strategy today leads to unavoidable war.

    The negotiations have been completely stalled for weeks. North Korea has shown no sign of denuclearization. According to some reports, Mike Pompeo was demanding that the North Koreans should produce a list of all its secret nuclear and missile development sites, so that inspections can begin. According to another report, Pompeo is asking that North Korea hand over 60-70% of its nuclear warheads, so that another country can remove them from North Korea. Intelligence officials say that North Korea is unwilling to agree to either of these steps, even under considerable concessions from the American side, and furthermore that North Korea has been continuing nuclear and missile development all year.

    Furthermore, the US has found that shipping and trading firms based in China, Russia and Singapore have been using clandestine methods to cheat on the United Nations sanctions.

    So there was really no point to the Pompeo-Kim meeting anyway, so cancelling the meeting makes sense just from that point of view alone. But it also shows that -- take your pick -- Trump is completely unhinged or a hardheaded negotiator. Whichever one the politicians in Pyongyang, Beijing and Seoul believe, they still have to deal with Trump, and maybe North Korea will be willing to get rid of at a least 10% of its nuclear arsenal. It's possible that's what Trump is hoping for. South China Morning Post and Vox and Politico and Vox (8-Aug)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Aug-18 World View -- China, North and South Korea confounded by cancellation of Kim Jong-un meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Aug-18 World View -- In dreaded scenario, Ebola spreads to densely populated war zone in Congo

    The dreaded tribal war zone scenario

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    In dreaded scenario, Ebola spreads to densely populated war zone in Congo


    A health worker gets ready to perform Ebola medical checks in North Kivu (AFP)
    A health worker gets ready to perform Ebola medical checks in North Kivu (AFP)

    Dr. Peter Salama, from the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Friday:

    "For the first time really we have a confirmed case and contacts in an area of very high insecurity. It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem at same time that we were dreading."

    The reason for the statement of concern is that several simultaneous conditions in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have given rise to a situation where an explosion of new infections is likely, in a densely populated tribal war zone.

    The new outbreak of Ebola was identified on August 1, just one week after the previous outbreak of Ebola officially ended on July 24.

    The earlier outbreak had occurred in far western DRC province of Equateur, centered on a port city on the Congo River. Applying lessons learned from the huge Ebola pandemic of 2014-16 in West Africa, the WHO moved very quickly contain and eliminate that outbreak. WHO medical personnel barely had time to relax when they received word of the new outbreak in the far eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Both the previous and current outbreaks were caused by the "Zaire strain" of the Ebola virus. However, scientific evidence shows the two outbreaks are unrelated. This means that the virus has again made a jump from the environment (through bats or animals) to people. Daily Mail and BBC and AFP

    The dreaded tribal war zone scenario

    The earlier outbreak occurred in one large city, but mostly in small villages, where doctors could easily and aggressively use "contact tracing" to prevent the virus from spreading. When an Ebola patient is identified, then all that person's contacts and contacts of contacts are tracked down, and are warned to remain indoors for an incubation period of 21 days. A newly developed vaccine can be given to suspected victims to prevent illness.

    So far, 63 people are believed to have died in the outbreak that began on August 1. There are about 103 confirmed and probably cases.

    The biggest cause for concern is that one of the confirmed cases is that of an unidentified WHO physician who has been identifying and diagnosing Ebola patients. However, he wasn't infected by one of his patients. He was infected by his own wife when she returned from a nearby city.

    The doctor had been in contact with over 100 people in the town of Oicha, about 50 km from DRC's border with Uganda. About 97 of these people have been identified, and WHO officials have been using contact tracing and vaccinations to stop the spread. The problem is that the spreading could go out of control.

    North Kivu province is rich in mineral sources, including gold. In August 2007, DRC government forces attacked civilians in order to obtain these mineral sources, creating an enormous refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing intorefugee camps in Uganda. In 2017, the number of refugees has been surging, because of tribal violence between DRC government forces and a rebel coalition known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

    Currently, the city of Oicha itself is not under ADF control, but the entire region surrounding Oicha is under ADF control, where aid workers, priests and government officials are being held hostage. North Kivu is the most densely populated province in DRC, so there are many scenarios where the virus could spread explosively -- into a region controlled by the AFD, or into a refugee camp in Uganda.

    The situation is even further complicated by the fact that the ADF has used violence against US peacekeepers in the region. United Nations officials were stunned in December by the worst attack on United Nations peacekeepers in recent history, when 15 people were killed and 54 wounded in Kivu state, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda. World Health Organization and International SOS

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Aug-18 World View -- In dreaded scenario, Ebola spreads to densely populated war zone in Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Aug-18 World View -- South Africa politics roiled by Trump tweet on killing white farmers

    Cyril Ramaphosa defends land expropriation policy

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    South Africa politics roiled by Trump tweet on killing white farmers


    White farmer in South Africa (Reuters)
    White farmer in South Africa (Reuters)

    South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday reconfirmed that the country plans to go ahead with a land reform constitutional amendment that would explicitly permit confiscation of farms without compensation. The amendment is believed to be targeted at farms owned by white farmers, but some in the government dispute that.

    Ramaphosa's government was thrown into turmoil on Thursday after president Donald Trump issued a tweet condemning the land reform plan:

    "I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews"

    Trump's tweet is based on a Wednesday evening segment by Fox News analyst Tucker Carlson, which was highly inflammatory and misstated some facts.

    The South African government responded with an inflammatory tweet of its own rejecting this claim:

    "South Africa totally rejects this narrow perception which only seeks to divide our nation and reminds us of our colonial past. #landexpropriation @realDonaldTrump @PresidencyZA"

    I've written a few articles about South Africa's land expropriation issue in the past, so I'm aware of the frequent claims that there's a mass killing or even a genocide of white farmers going on, but I never mentioned that in my articles because the claim is so outlandish, with no basis in fact.

    According to published figures, 47 white farmers were killed in 2017, and that was a 20-year low, with a peak in 1998 of 153. Now 47 murdered white farmers might seem like a lot, and indeed it is a lot, but other published figures indicate that 30-40 people in South Africa are murdered every day.

    So say what you want about South Africa -- that it's a very dangerous country with a very racist population and a very high murder rate, and even mass killings across the country -- but 47 in one year is a minuscule number compared to the total number of murders, and is nowhere near the level of mass killings or genocide of white farmers.

    This controversy has provoked the usual hysterical name-calling on the right and the left. The left claims that Trump's tweet is racist and white supremacist, and the right claims that it proves that South Africa is racist and black supremacist.

    Julius Malema, the popular young politician that heads the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), advocating land seizures without compensation, responded to Trump's tweet on Thursday: "They will kill us for that. There’s a group of white right-wingers who are being trained by Jews in Pretoria to be snipers." Times Live (South Africa) and CBS News and Guardian (London, 27-Jun) and The Citizen (South Africa)

    Cyril Ramaphosa defends land expropriation policy

    While Malema was his usual hysterical and incoherent self, other South Africa politicians said that Trump's tweet raised valid concerns.

    Government official Lindiwe Sisulu issued a statement saying that she "has noted the unfortunate comments on Twitter by [Trump]."

    The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) issued a statement pointing out that the policy of land confiscation without compensation would create enormous problems for South Africa, particularly in trying to attract investment funds:

    "Seen alongside South Africa’s decision to terminate its bilateral investment treaties‚ expropriation without compensation has prompted a great deal of concern about the security of their assets‚ particularly among the European investors most directly impacted.

    Even President [Cyril] Ramaphosa’s investment envoys have referred to the difficulties that expropriation without compensation has created for them in attempting to attract desperately needed funds to South Africa."

    Indeed, after Trump's tweet the rand currency weakened against the dollar by 1.7%, and some officials raised concerns that Trump would impose sanctions on South Africa, as he's done with Turkey. Many outside investors are concerned that South Africa will go the way of Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe confiscated white-owned farms and turned them over to his tribal cronies who knew nothing about farming, with the result was that a country that was exporting food in the late 1990s was facing almost total starvation ten years later.

    Ramaphosa has been dealing with very explosive land reform issue in South Africa, which is divided not only by race but by tribe. Black South Africans account for 91% of the population, but they own just 1.2% of the land. Since independence in 1994, attempts to acquire white-owned farms with fair compensation and distribute them to black farmers has been an almost total failure.

    Ramaphosa has insisted that South Africa has learned from the experience in Zimbabwe, and it would not be repeated. On Wednesday, he told parliament that increasing access to land for the poor would happen in an orderly fashion and would initially focus on making state property available.

    Ramaphosa outlined some instances where expropriation without compensation might be justified:

    "unused land‚ derelict buildings‚ purely speculative land holdings‚ or circumstances where occupiers have strong historical rights and title holders do not occupy or use their land‚ such as labour tenancy‚ informal settlements and abandoned inner-city buildings."

    Ramaphosa insists that the proposed amendment to the constitution would prohibit "the arbitrary deprivation of property."

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's highly unlikely that South Africa will ever reach the point where it's confiscating farms. South Africa is in a generational Crisis era, and an explosive racial issue like land reform is more likely to trigger a tribal war. Times Live (South Africa) and Bloomberg and Times Live

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    23-Aug-18 World View -- Russia demands that US and EU pay to rebuild Syria

    Bolton says that Iran must withdraw from Syria

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia demands that US and EU pay to rebuild Syria


    Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are demanding that the West pay $250 billion to rebuild Syria (Getty)
    Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are demanding that the West pay $250 billion to rebuild Syria (Getty)

    Ever since the "Arab Spring" began in 2011, Bashar al-Assad, the Shia/Alawite president of Syria, has used peaceful demonstrations as an excuse to use missiles and barrel bombs, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas, to kill his hated Sunni enemies, and to destroy their homes, markets and schools. In 2015, Russia's president Vladimir Putin joined in with his "Grozny strategy," where warplanes attack hospitals, schools and markets with the objective of creating millions of refugees, who can then be attacked while they're out in the open. Between the two of them, al-Assad and Putin have destroyed and flattened villages and cities, and has forced millions of innocent Syrian civilians to flee the violence into Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Europe.

    Now Vladimir Putin is demanding that Europe and the US should pay billions of dollars to rebuild Syria, and to repair all the destruction that Putin and al-Assad caused. Putin combines his demand with a threat: If you don't pay to rebuild Syria, then those millions of refugees that fled to Europe will never go home.

    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. Estimates are that it will cost $250 billion to rebuild Syria.

    Lebanon is strongly in favor of the policy of allowing the West to pay for rebuilding Syria, so that the million or so refugees in Lebanon will leave Lebanon and return home.

    Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Monday thanked Russia “for putting forward an initiative aimed at resolving the refugee issue,” and said Lebanon wants "quick, gradual, safe return of displaced Syrians that is in no way linked to a political solution."

    Bassil just wants the EU and US to pour the money in, without demanding a "political solution" in return. The "political solution" would be a process that removes Bashar al-Assad from power. What's the point in rebuilding Syria, if some group is just going to start peacefully protesting, and that will cause al-Assad to destroy Syria all over again?

    In fact, Russia is accusing the United States of holding up the process of rebuilding Syria. Russia would get agreement from the US. According to the US State Department, the United States and other countries would not contribute to Syria’s full reconstruction until there was a “credible and irreversible” political process underway to end the conflict.

    However, the State Department has also said that it has reached agreement that other countries would provide $300 million to begin rebuilding Syria, including a $100 million commitment from Saudi Arabia. The National (UAE) and Reuters and Washington Post

    Putin pressures Germany's Angela Merkel to fund rebuilding Syria

    Vladimir Putin has been particularly applying pressure to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel has suffered considerable backlash from her 2015 decision to allow over a million Syria refugees to arrive in Germany. Merkel's political position would presumably be helped if many of these refugees could return to Syria.

    Last weekend, Vladimir Putin met with Angela Merkel in her elegant retreat at Meseberg Palace north of Berlin.

    Saying that the population of refugees is "potentially a huge burden for Europe," he said:

    "We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict. By that, I mean above all humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and help the regions where refugees living abroad can return to. I think it’s in everyone’s interests, including Europe’s."

    Unsurprisingly, Merkel made no commitment to aid, but reiterated the need for constitutional reforms that would be opposed by al-Assad and elections in Syria. Merkel said the priority in Syria was "to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe," particularly in the Idlib region, which is held by rebel groups and militants. AFP and iNews (UK) and Middle East Eye

    Bolton says that Iran must withdraw from Syria

    US national security advisor John Bolton is demanding that Iran be compelled to withdraw from Syria before any negotiations on rebuilding Syria can take place, but that Putin on Wednesday said that Russia cannot compel Iran to leave.

    Bolton also said that Putin is "stuck" in Syria, and wants to get out:

    "But he also told us that his interest and Iran’s were not exactly the same. So we’re obviously going to talk to him about what role they can play.

    We’re going see what we and others can agree in terms of resolving the conflict in Syria. But the one prerequisite there is the withdrawal of all Iranian forces back in Iran.

    [The] Russians are stuck there at the moment. And I don’t think they want to be stuck there. I think their frenetic diplomatic activity in Europe indicates that they’d like to find somebody else, for example, to bear the cost of reconstructing Syria - which they may or may not succeed in doing."

    Russia and al-Assad have been announcing, and sending out their trolls to say that the war in Syria is now pretty much over, after the reconquest of Daraa in southern Syria. However, nobody serious believes that, since Idlib province still has some 2.5 million civilians, and is still controlled by thousands of anti-Assad rebels, including both "moderate" rebels and militants in al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

    In each of al-Assad's previous targets, including Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, Putin's "Grozny strategy" was used. One particularly effective technique was to drop barrel bombs filled with metals, explosives, and chlorine gas. The metals would kill as many people as possible, and the chlorine gas, which is heavier than air, would fall into basements and bunkers where women and children were hiding. Once they were forced out into the open, additional barrel bombs and missiles or Sarin gas could kill the women an children en masse.

    In each of these regions, al-Assad and Putin were forced by international pressure to permit civilians and rebels to leave the region on buses and travel to Idlib. In this way, the horrific slaughter in those regions was brought to an end though a kind of negotiated settlement.

    Hundreds of thousands of people who fled to Idlib are trapped there, just south of the border with Turkey. Al-Assad has vowed to recapture Idlib in the same way as Aleppo and the others, and this certainly means the same kinds of attacks with barrel bombs, missiles, chlorine gas and Sarin gas.

    But as analysts have been saying, "There is no Idlib for Idlib." This means that the al-Assad will have to kill most of the 2.5 million people living there, since they'll have nowhere to go. This would be a major new humanitarian crisis of gargantuan proportions. In some scenarios, Turkey might open the border and allow the refugees to flow through Turkey into Europe, creating a new European refugee crisis. This is what Angela Merkel, quoted above, meant when she said that the priority in Syria was "to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe."

    It's well to remember, as we've been reporting for years, that Bashar al-Assad is a sociopathic monster, the worst war criminal so far this century, comparable to Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot from the last century. Whatever fantasy Vladimir Putin is having to end the war and rebuild Syria, al-Assad will not end the war until either he's forced to or until he's slaughtered most of the millions of people in Idlib. Reuters and Washington Examiner and The National (UAE)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Aug-18 World View -- Russia demands that US and EU pay to rebuild Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    22-Aug-18 World View -- Taiwan says that China is 'out of control' after El Salvador switches allegiance

    El Salvador receives harsh criticism for switching allegiance from Taiwan to China

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    El Salvador receives harsh criticism for switching allegiance from Taiwan to China


    El Salvador's foreign minister Carlos Castaneda and China's foreign minister Wang Yi share a toast in Beijing on Tuesday (Reuters)
    El Salvador's foreign minister Carlos Castaneda and China's foreign minister Wang Yi share a toast in Beijing on Tuesday (Reuters)

    El Salvador's president Salvador Sanchez Ceren announced Monday night in a televised address that his country would end diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and will establish diplomatic relations with China. China refuses to have diplomatic relations with any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and force countries to choose.

    China has been using a variety of economic incentives, threats and sanctions on numerous countries to force them to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Since the beginning of 2016, when Taiwan's current president Tsai Ing-wen took office, four other countries previously switched -- Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama.

    The Pacific Ocean island of Palau, which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, is under tremendous pressure from China to switch. In order to pressure Palau, China banned tour groups from China from using Palau as a destination. The ban has devastated the tourist industry in Palau, cutting the number of tourists in half.

    China's foreign ministry defended their practice of using economic pressure with a statement saying, "The one China principle is the pre-condition and political foundation for China to maintain and develop friendly cooperative relations with all countries around the world."

    This wording is similar to statements by Chinese officials with regard to China's illegal activities in the South China Sea. China has militarily threatened other nations and has prevented other nations from exploiting fishing and drilling for oil in their own territorial waters. China says that there's no problem as long as each country maintains friendly, cooperative relations, which is China's way of saying, "Do as I say or we'll kill you."

    The announcement by El Salvador's president was particularly contentious, since Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said El Salvador repeatedly asked for a “large amount of funding” to develop its La Unión port, but Taipei declined since it decided it was an unrealistic project and could generate high debts for the two states.

    El Salvador's presidential spokesman said that Taiwan's allegations were totally false, but then seemed to confirm the allegations by saying, "We cannot turn our back on the world, ignore that China is the second largest power in the world and the leading export economy on the planet. It is key for our country."

    Opposition lawmaker Margarita Escobar said: "The position from Taiwan is that [the El Salvador governing party] asked it for money to finance the campaign in 2019. That is called selling sovereignty and allowing another state to intervene in the internal affairs of El Salvador."

    The United States ambassador to El Salvador, Jean Manes, is expressing concern that China plans to use the new relationship with El Salvador to build a Chinese military base there. "Without a doubt, this will impact our relationship with the government. We continue supporting the Salvadoran people." Senator Marco Rubio is planning a bill to end foreign aid to El Salvador. AP and Hong Kong Free Press and Reuters and South China Morning Post

    Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen says that China is 'out of control'

    Since 1992, China, Taiwan and the US have adopted the "One China Consensus," which says that there is just one China, be leaves ambiguous what that means. However, since winning the presidential election early in 2016, Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse the 1992 consensus, instead saying that she "respected ... the common understanding" between China and Taiwan, without saying what that means.

    This refusal has infuriated China, which has mounted a series of increasingly belligerent measures to threaten Taiwan. These measure include staging naval and warplane military drills around Taiwan, and also waging economic warfare by blocking Taiwan from attending a growing list of international events, and by using economic threats to force countries to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.

    In July, China forced the East Asian Olympic Committees (EAOC) to cancel Taiwan as host of the 2019 East Asian Youth Games. The EAOC made the announcement with no prior notice and no explanation.

    Last week, the 85C Bakery, a Taiwan coffee chain with stores in America and China, was dropped from all Chinese meal-ordering platforms, after Tsai Ing-wen visited one of its stores in Los Angeles. The firm earns more than 60 percent of its revenue in China, and losing its presence on food delivery apps would be devastating.

    In 2005, China passed the Anti-Secession Law, which orders the army to invade Taiwan if any Taiwanese official makes any move toward independence, whether by word or by deed. So Taiwan authorities have been careful since then not to say anything that might trigger the Anti-Secession law although, in fact, over the years of things have been said which could arguable trigger it.

    So Tsai's words following El Salvador's announcement were considerably harsher than we usually hear from Taiwanese officials. She vowed to fight China’s "increasingly out of control" behavior:

    "China nowadays is not only a threat to cross-strait peace. What China has been doing now globally – interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and destroying the order of the international market – have caused high levels of global instability....

    We have to remind the international community once again – that this is not only a matter for Taiwan. The situation is so dire that we cannot tolerate it anymore."

    The question here is whether Tsai's remarks fit the requirements to trigger a Chinese invasion under the anti-secession law. The statement that China is interfering in "other countries' internal affairs" could refer to Taiwan.

    At any rate, it's significant that the level of harshness is increasing. Taiwan is now discussing taking retaliatory measures against China. The particular issue is that China has suddenly begun demanding that any international airline that lists "Taiwan" as a destination must change it to "China Taiwan" or be blocked from landing in China.

    This has infuriated the Taiwanese, and has led Taiwan to consider counter-measures against airlines that comply with China's demands. According to Taiwanese media:

    "The Civil Aviation Administration of China recently sent a letter to 44 foreign airlines requesting that Taiwan not be reclassified as a "state" and must be named "China Taiwan". 44 foreign airlines have all changed on the July 25 deadline. The Ministry of Communications recently studied the countermeasures against the airlines that added the name of "China" to Taiwan's title, and considered punishing the practice of not allowing bridges and adjusting time zones [forcing airline passengers to board and deplane farther from the terminal, and at less convenient times]....

    Officials from the Ministry of Communications said that foreign airlines have ignored reality and succumbed to China's political pressure, which has seriously hurt Taiwan's dignity and national sentiments. There are many counter-measures that we can take, and various schemes will be evaluated by the Ministry of Communications....

    [Taiwan official] Wu Hongmou said in an interview today that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country, but it has been renamed by foreign airlines. "We can't accept it, and it is necessary to counter it."

    The statement that "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country" is accepted as truth by many Taiwanese, but saying it represents a major hardening of positions on the Taiwan side, just as China is becoming increasingly arrogant and contemptuous, and taking increasingly offensive and belligerent actions. This is a typical tit-for-tat pattern that leads to a major war in a generational Crisis era, when xenophobia and nationalism are at a peak in all countries.

    By the way, I hope that there's nobody left who believes that China will never invade Taiwan because it's bad for business. History has shown that a business relationship makes a war MORE likely, since the business relationship can be used as an additional weapon of war, through such things as tariffs, blockades and boycotts. I doubt that a business relationship has ever prevented any war in history. Hong Kong Free Press and Focus Taiwan and AFP and Hong Kong Free Press and United Daily News (Taiwan) (Trans)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Aug-18 World View -- Taiwan says that China is 'out of control' after El Salvador switches allegiance thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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    21-Aug-18 World View -- ISIS claims credit for coordinated attacks across Russia's Chechnya region

    Brief generational history of Chechnya

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    ISIS claims credit for coordinated attacks across Russia's Chechnya region


    Grozny, Chechnya, after massive slaughter and destruction by Russians in 1999
    Grozny, Chechnya, after massive slaughter and destruction by Russians in 1999

    ISIS is taking credit for a series of coordinated terror attacks on security forces in several suburbs of Grozny, the capital city of Russia's autonomous republic of Chechnya.

    In one incident, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a police station, injuring several policemen. The attacker survived and was hospitalized.

    In another incident, two men with knives entered a district police department and wounded two policemen and a female bystander with knives. The two assailants were shot dead.

    In another incident, two assailants tried to blow up a truck loaded with gas canisters in a suicide mission, but the vehicle failed to explode. The two were shot dead by police.

    In yet another incident, an attacker was allegedly shot dead after hitting a traffic policeman with his car. There were also reports of a shoot-out between police officers and attackers in the street, killing one officer.

    All of the assailants were teenagers, aged 11-17. Five were shot dead.

    Amaq, the public relations agency for the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed credit for the coordinated attack. ISIS frequently claims credit for terror attacks in which it didn't participate, and that appears to be true in this case. However, executing several coordinated attacks at separate locations requires a moderate amount of sophistication, and since the terrorists were all teens, they might have had help from someone.

    Chechnya is one of Russia's provinces in the North Caucasus region, which is largely populated by Muslims. Xenophobic tensions between the Christian Orthodox ethnic Russians and the Muslim Caucasians have been growing in recent years.

    Ramzan Kadyrov is president of Chechnya. He's bloody and brutal, and will use any means necessary to keep the region stable, and he is also extremely loyal to Russia's president Vladimir Putin. International human rights groups, however, have accused Kadyrov of rampant rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings by his feared security forces.

    Kadyrov played down the importance of the terror attacks on Monday, said that extremist propaganda that "confuses the young men" was to blame for the assaults. He said the attacks were staged to "darken" the festivities as Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday. Tass (Moscow) and RFE/RL and Al Jazeera and AP

    Brief generational history of Chechnya

    The fact that Monday's coordinated terror attacks were perpetrated by teenagers aged 11-17 is a lot more significant than Chechnya's president Ramzan Kadyrov is saying.

    But first, let's briefly look at the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

    Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were ethnic Chechens (from Chechnya), but they were born in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. What were ethnic Chechens doing in Kyrgyzstan?

    Chechnya and Russia had fought numerous wars for centuries, but Russia's dictator Josef Stalin finally decided to adopt a "final solution." In 1944, there was a mass deportation of ethnic Chechens, forced to move from Chechnya to Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan. It was apparently this forced deportation that radicalized the Tsarnaev brothers, and caused them to carry out the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

    In August 1957, six years ago this month, ethnic Russians living in Chechnya revolted against the authorities when Moscow allowed the Chechens who had been deported from there in 1944 to return and take back property and power that had passed from that ethnic community to Russians the authorities had moved in to occupy the territory. Of course, the returning Chechens found that their former homes were occupied by ethnic Russians.

    Going back to the 1990s, there were two major "Chechen wars" between Russian forces and Chechen separatists. In December 1994, the Russian army was sent into the capital city Grozny to take care of some protesters. They expected the operation to take no more than a day or two. Instead, the Russian army forces were ambushed by Chechen separatist forces. A bloody battle ensued that lasted into February, and although the Russian forces finally won, it was extremely humiliating for the Russians, since tens of thousands of combatants and civilians were killed before it ended.

    Russian troops got their revenge in 1999, when they had to respond to a new insurgency of pro-separatist activists. In Russia's 1990s war Chechnya, Russian warplanes bombed schools and hospitals in order to create a refugee crisis, and to empty the urban residential areas. Once that was achieved, heavy weapons could be deployed to eradicate opposing forces, entailing widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure.

    This is the same strategy, known as the "Grozny Model," that Putin and Syria's president Bashar al-Assad have been using in Aleppo, Ghouta, Daraa and other Syrian battlegrounds, although al-Assad is speeding up the creation and slaughter of refugees by using chemical weapons, including Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

    So Monday's terrorist attackers are all teenagers, aged 11-17. Ramzan Kadyrov played down the attack, saying that the attackers were "confused young men," but that's far from the truth. This is a new up-and-coming generation of kids growing up after the Grozny mass slaughter in 1999.

    In fact, authorities reportedly identified the 17-year-old attacker as Ali Akhmatkhanov -- a younger brother of Khizir Akhmatkhanov, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his involvement in a terrorist attack in the Chechen city of Gudermes in 2001.

    So this is not a generation of confused kids. This is a generation of kids is looking for revenge. It would not be surprising to see more terrorist acts by Chechens in the months to come. Eurasia Review and Global Security and Rand Corp.

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Aug-18 World View -- ISIS claims credit for coordinated attacks across Russia's Chechnya region thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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