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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)

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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 xxx 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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Oct-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia tries to recover from Khashoggi disappearance disaster thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Oct-18 World View -- Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Oct-18 World View -- Bangladesh continues plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Oct-18 World View -- China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Oct-18 World View -- UN: We have just 12 years to prevent global warming catastrophe thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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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 Idlip 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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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Sep-18 World View -- China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Sep-18 World View -- Number of Kashmir militants surges as India's 'Operation All-Out' fails thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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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 countred 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. I 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 superiod 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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Sep-18 World View -- Zambia denies defaulting on infrastructure loans from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Sep-18 World View -- Riots in Iraq's Basra evoke fault lines of 1980s Iran-Iraq war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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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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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Aug-18 World View -- Genocide of Rohingyas in Burma (Myanmar) appears to be almost complete thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Aug-18 World View -- South Africa politics roiled by Trump tweet on killing white farmers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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20-Aug-18 World View -- Afghanistan's president Ghani announces ceasefire with Taliban

Taliban says no peace in Afghanistan until foreign 'occupation' withdraws

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Afghanistan's president Ghani announces ceasefire with Taliban


Afghan security forces stand guard in Ghazni, Afghanistan, on Aug. 15, 2018. (EPA)
Afghan security forces stand guard in Ghazni, Afghanistan, on Aug. 15, 2018. (EPA)

Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, gave an Independence Day speech on Sunday announcing a ceasefire with the Taliban, on the condition that the Taliban also announce a ceasefire.

The ceasefire is to begin on Monday, the first day of the Eid holiday, and is to end on November 19, which is Mohammed's birthday.

"As we approach Eid-ul-Adha, and to respect the wishes of different segments of Afghan society including religious scholars, political parties, politicians, women and civil society leaders, youth and members of high peace council in all 34 provinces, and to respect the wishes of the religious scholars of the Islamic world that were gathered in the holy mosques and to respect the wishes of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and the custodians of the two-holy mosques, the King of Saudi Arabia, we announce a ceasefire that would take effect from tomorrow, Monday, the day of Arafa, till the day of the birth of the prophet (PBUH) i.e., Milad-un-Nabi, provided that the Taliban reciprocate."

President Ghani further added that peace is one of the main demands of the nation. He said it would not be acceptable that there would be ceasefire in part of the country while that conflict would continue in its other parts.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement approving of the ceasefire, and saying "It is time for peace":

"The United States welcomes the announcement by the Afghan government of a ceasefire conditioned on Taliban participation. This plan responds to the clear and continued call of the Afghan people for peace....

There are no obstacles to talks. It is time for peace."

Pakistan's Foreign Office issued a statement saying: "Pakistan fully supports all such efforts that contribute to achieving durable stability and lasting peace in Afghanistan. The people of Afghanistan deserve it."

It sounds like peace for our time. I hope everyone in Afghanistan can now go home and get a nice quiet sleep. Khaama News (Afghanistan) and Reuters and Dawn (Pakistan)

Taliban says no peace in Afghanistan until foreign 'occupation' withdraws

This was the week that the Taliban surprised government forces and captured the strategic town of Ghazni long before the Afghan army could react. It took almost a whole week to recapture the town, and that was possible only because they were supported by US warplanes that conducted dozens of airstrikes.

Even today, Ghazni is still unsafe, with the roads peppered with unexploded IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and mines.

The Taliban conducted numerous other operations across the country in the last week alone. This is the middle of the annual Taliban fighting season, and the Taliban are in the ascendant, and so it's very unlikely that the Taliban will agree to a three month ceasefire.

The Taliban have said for years that they will never negotiate with the "corrupt regime" -- the Afghan government. They are demanding negotiations with the American military, with the objective of the negotiations to be the full withdrawal of the "occupying forces" -- the US and Nato forces.

On Saturday, just hours before Ghani announced the supposed ceasefire with the Taliban, Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a statement repeating all their demands:

"Afghan Mujahid Nation! This year's [Eid holiday] approaches us as our Jihadi struggle against the American occupation is on the threshold of victory due to the help of Allah Almighty. The infidel invading forces have lost all will of combat, their strategy has failed, advanced technology and military equipment rendered useless, sedition and corruption-sowing group defeated and the arrogant American generals have been compelled to bow to the Jihadic greatness of the Afghan nation...

Bringing peace and security is from among the highest priorities of the Islamic Emirate, but peace will remain elusive during an occupation and neither is salvation possible without the establishment of an Islamic authority....

This war that is has been called the longest, costliest and most futile war in American history, plunged the entire region and the world including Afghanistan into insecurity and chaos.

A war that has cost Americans loss of security, prestige and mental wellbeing globally and even inside America itself...

But the Islamic Emirate continues to call America towards understanding and sound logic instead of force and points them towards options that can guarantee the secession and end of this long war, and that lone option is to end the occupation of Afghanistan and nothing more....

The regime based in Kabul and forced upon the Afghan people at the expense of huge American military, financial and human loss has disappointed American officials and they have lost all trust in the regime due to corruption, incompetency, impotence and failure.

The leadership of this corrupt regime has been given to a figure who has spent all his time in power squabbling with officials of his government, battling his chief executive, battling his deputies, battling his cabinet and even battling his governors....

Even now if they show readiness for direct dialogue with the Islamic Emirate by accepting the ground realities of Afghanistan, we will view it as a sound step by America.

Sincere, transparent and result-oriented negotiations are an important part of our policy, But negotiations must be sincere and productive free from any fraud and deception and must revolve around the core issue and not be used for propaganda or misleading the common thinking."

The statement goes on to give additional demands for negotiations with the Americans, and for American withdrawal.

Each time I write an article about the Afghan war, it seems more and more like a Gothic fantasy. Ghani's statement and Akhundzada's are so completely out of touch with one another, that it seems clear that they can only be play-acting. Pompeo's statement that "It's time for peace" seems even more surreal. And the statement from Pakistan's foreign office seems to be mocking and making fun of all of them. Ghani and Pompeo are not stupid men, so there's no chance that they believe anything they're saying.

And we haven't even mentioned ISIS-K, the Afghanistan branch of ISIS, which is not included in the supposed ceasefire.

As I've said, the only thing that makes sense is the larger strategy for the region. If America withdraws, it would destabilize the region, and would be a political disaster for the American administration. The larger picture is that Donald Trump and the military understand that this war cannot be won, but they also understand that war with China and Pakistan is approaching. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Long War Journal and Long War Journal

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Aug-18 World View -- Afghanistan's president Ghani announces ceasefire with Taliban thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Aug-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela introduces new fantasy currency and new Socialist changes

Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that capitalism has not always existed

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Socialist Venezuela introduces new fantasy currency and new Socialist changes


Maduro holds a new sovereign bolivar note (Reuters)
Maduro holds a new sovereign bolivar note (Reuters)

Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro announced a bizarre set of new economic regulations to try to reverse the economic destruction he's inflicted for years. In his Friday night speech he said:

"I want the country to recover and I have the formula. Trust me."

The first part of his "trust me" formula was to devalue the bolivar currency by 96%, and then introduce a new currency, the Bolivar Soberano ("sovereign bolivar") which is pegged to a pseudo-bitcoin-like crypto-currency called the "petro," which is pegged to the price of oil, where oil is produced by Venezuela's collapsing oil industry.

The second part of the formula is that the minimum wage will be increased by 3000%. This means that many business owners will have to lay off employees, substantially increasing unemployment in the country.

The third part of the formula is to increase the corporate tax rate. Businesses that survive the minimum wage increase many not survive higher taxes.

The fourth part of the formula is to remove the subsidy on gasoline. Businesses that depend on transportation costs to receive or deliver goods will be hit hard. Millions of workers who have been buying gasoline at subsidized rates will be hit hard as well. But this is necessary, says Maduro, to prevent fuel smuggling. There will also be new taxes on luxury goods.

Socialist Venezuela's inflation rate is above 40,000%, and the IMF predicts that it will reach one million percent this near. The only way to stop inflation is to produce more goods. If the people need two million loaves of bread to avoid starvation, and if the country's bakeries only produce one million loaves, then one million people will go without bread, irrespective of what currency is being used. Furthermore the price of bread will soar, irrespective of what currency is being used. That's not rocket science. That Economics 1.01. The fact that Maduro and other Socialist politicians in other countries are unable to grasp that simple fact shows how incredibly stupid they are. And the results speak for themselves.

Venezuela's Socialist economy is destroying not only Venezuela, but the entire region, as more than a million migrants have fled starvation and violence in Venezuela and crossed the border into Colombia.

From there, many have continued on, planning to live in Ecuador or Peru. But Ecuador, which has been receiving 4,000 new migrants every day, crossing the border from Colombia, has closed the border, and says that no more Venezuelans will be admitted unless they have a passport. Peru has announced a similar measure to take effect next week.

Socialist Venezuela is becoming one of the top three economic hyperinflation disasters of the last century, along with Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, and 1920s Germany under the Weimar Republic. CNBC and Independent (London) and Reuters

Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that capitalism has not always existed


Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Wonder girl Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new face of the left, apparently thinks that capitalism has just been invented. Here's what she said in an interview:

"Capitalism has not always existed in the world and will not always exist in the world."

So let's be clear. Tens of thousands of years ago, when the first cavemen formed a community and started bartering with each other for products and services -- "You make me a wheel, and I'll kill a deer in exchange" -- that was a free capitalist market. So Ocasio-Cortez is an idiot.

There's also a lot of nonsense these days about Sweden and Norway being Socialist countries. No they aren't. They're capitalist countries. Maybe the government pays for some services, like doctors and education, but that's also partially true in the United States, with Medicaid and school scholarships.

Let's review. As I've written many times in the past, Socialism is mathematically impossible as population grows. Socialism may work OK when you have a feudal society of a few hundred people, but the number of regulators grows exponentially faster than the population grows, so by the time you get to, say, a million people, everyone would have to be a regulator. So the Socialist system collapses.

Furthermore, Socialism is much worse than Nazism. Nazism killed tens of millions of people in the last century, but Socialism killed hundreds of millions. There is literally nothing worse than Socialism.

Somebody should tell Ocasio-Cortez that it's Socialism that hasn't been around forever. It was invented in 1848 by Karl Marx, and it's been a disastrous failure every time it's been tried, for the reasons I just gave. Whether Ocasio-Cortez likes it or not (and I'm sure she doesn't), it's mathematically provable that Socialism will always fail.

That's why countries like Cuba, Russia, China, East Germany, Norway, Sweden and others that have tried Socialism have been forced to end it and return to free markets, and a great deal of capitalism.

The only two mostly Socialist countries that I'm aware of in the world today are Venezuela and North Korea. All others are mostly capitalistic. I keep wondering how stupid you have to be to support Socialism, which has a 100% failure record, but we only have to look at Socialist politicians like Kim Jong-un, Nicolás Maduro, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and Jeremy Corbyn for the answers. Daily Caller

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18-Aug-18 World View -- New Pentagon military assessment details China's preparations for war

The growing military threat from China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New Pentagon military assessment details China's preparations for war


China's Maritime Militia consisting of thousands of fishing vessels are trained by China's military for military action, giving deniability to Beijing (China Defense Blog)
China's Maritime Militia consisting of thousands of fishing vessels are trained by China's military for military action, giving deniability to Beijing (China Defense Blog)

The new edition of the Pentagon's annual report on China documents major advances in a number of areas where China's military is aggressively preparing for war against the United States and its allies.

As we've been reporting for years, China has been developing numerous intercontinental ballistic missile systems that have no military purpose other than to target American cities, American bases, and American aircraft carriers.

According to the new report, these capabilities are now being extended to bombers:

"The PLA (China's "People's Liberation Army") has long been developing air strike capabilities to engage targets as far away from China as possible. Over the last three years, the PLA has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against U.S. and allied targets. The PLA may continue to extend its operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the capability to strike U.S. and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam. Such flights could potentially be used as a strategic signal to regional states, although the PLA has thus far has not been clear what messages such flights communicate beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities."

Whereas a fleet of bombers is of great concern to Americans, China's neighbors are probably more concerned about China's activities in the South China Sea. The report says that China has largely completed its operation to create artificial islands, but continues to build infrastructure on the islands it's created, in order to support possible military operations in the future.

According to the report, China plans "floating nuclear power stations":

"China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute. In 2017, China indicated development plans may be underway to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020."

It's well-known that China's activities in the South China Sea were declared illegal in 2016 by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law. China claims it has the right to violate international law any time, although it laughably invokes international law when it's on their side. AFP and Dept. of Defense (PDF)

China's 'low-intensity coercion' in the South China Sea

The report documents the means by which China uses military threats to enforce its claims to the South China Sea, referring to the techniques as "low-intensity coercion." According to the report:

"China continues to exercise low-intensity coercion to advance its claims in the East and South China Seas. During periods of tension, official statements and state media seek to portray China as reactive. China uses an opportunistically timed progression of incremental but intensifying steps to attempt to increase effective control over disputed areas and avoid escalation to military conflict. China also uses economic incentives and punitive trade policies to deter opposition to China’s actions in the region. In 2017, China extended economic cooperation to the Philippines in exchange for taking steps to shelve territorial and maritime disputes. Conversely, a Chinese survey ship lingered around Benham Rise in the spring after the Philippines refused several requests from China to survey the area. Later in the spring, CCG boats reportedly fired warning shots over Philippine fishing boats near Union Bank. In August 2017, China used PLAN, CCG, and PAFMM ships to patrol around Thitu Island and planted a flag on Sandy Cay, a sandbar within 12 nm of Subi Reef and Thitu Island, possibly in response to Manila’s reported plans to upgrade its runway on Thitu Island. China probably used coercion to pressure Vietnam to suspend joint Vietnam-Spain drilling operations in a disputed oil block in the South China Sea over the summer of 2017."

The South China Sea is international waters according to international law. When American Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOs) are performed by American warships passing through the SCS, they're invariably met with harsh threats and demands to leave.

Ever since Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2006, he's sided with China in the South China Sea, saying essentially that he has no choice since China could crush the Philippines militarily. However, this position has always been contentious domestically. When Duterte first announced this position, I pointed out at the time that polls showed that polls showed an approval rating around 90% for Americans, but only around 50% for Chinese.

Duterte's policy is wearing thin. In the last week, there was an incident where a Philippines plane was flying in the South China Sea, and received a radio warning from the Chinese:

"Philippine military aircraft, I’m warning you again. Leave immediately or you will bear responsibility for all the consequences!"

This implied threat of an attack by China's military is an example of "low-intensity coercion." In response, Duterte on Friday criticized China for using "nasty words" to its pilots:

"You know very well that we will not attack.... We’re not prepared to go to war with you so why do you have to say those nasty words?"

I think it's safe to say that this whiny pleading by Duterte will not have any effect on the Chinese. ABS-CBN (Philippines)

People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM)

An important part of China's coercion technique is the use of the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM).

The PAFMM is the only government-sanctioned maritime militia in the world. In the past, the vessels in the PAFMM were from companies or ordinary fishermen. What's changed now, according to the report, is that China is building a large state-owned fishing fleet. These are like vigilante boats that harass and block fishing boats from other nations, and perform other functions in conjunction with the PLA. According to the report:

"In the South China Sea, the PAFMM plays a major role in coercive activities to achieve China’s political goals without fighting, part of broader PRC military doctrine stating confrontational operations short of war can be an effective means of accomplishing political objectives. The militia has played significant roles in a number of military campaigns and coercive incidents over the years, including the 2009 harassment of the USNS IMPECCABLE conducting normal operations, the 2012 Scarborough Reef standoff, the 2014 Haiyang Shiyou-981 oil rig standoff, and a large surge of ships in waters near the Senkakus in 2016."

The PAFMM unit operating in the South China Sea is paid salaries independent of any clear commercial fishing responsibilities, and recruited from recently separated veterans.

This appears to be similar to China's practice of establishing large communities of Chinese students or workers in other countries, keeping them under the control of Beijing's international coercive propaganda agency, the "United Front Work Department" (UFWD). As I've described in the past, there is almost a form of mind control involved in these communities, which the Chinese describe as "Magic Weapons." On command from the UFWD, these students and workers demonstrate, complain or riot to implement Chinese policy. China Defense Blog (30-Jun-2016)

China's preparations for war with Taiwan

The report says that "One of the overarching goals of the structural reforms now reshaping the PLA is to construct a military capable of conducting complex joint operations, including those that would be involved in a Taiwan contingency."

The report lists several "courses of action" that China's military could take to invade Taiwan:

If the United States should intervene in the takeover of Taiwan, China would try to delay effective intervention and seek victory in a high-intensity, limited war of short duration.

The growing military threat from China

In a sense there's nothing particularly new in this report, since it's just the next annual iteration of China's preparations for a pre-emptive attack on the United States at a place and time of its choosing, which I've been writing about for well over a decade.

As I've mentioned before, people my age have never understood how it was possible for Adolf Hitler to so thoroughly fooled the British government in 1938. The Nazis were spending enormous amounts of money building an army, navy and air force whose only real purpose was to attack the British Isles, but it was completely ignored by the British public except, famously, for Sir Winston Churchill, who warned of the approaching attack, but was scorned and ridiculed for doing so.

Today, few people want to contemplate the possibility of a pre-emptive attack by China, even though it's just as certain as the Nazi attacks that started World War II. But there are differences today. The Pentagon has been aware for years of the military buildup by the Chinese, and has been producing the annual reports for years as well.

China's activities in the South China Sea have repeated Nazi activities by annexing regions belonging to other nations. These activities have been so blatant and obvious that anyone with even the slightest knowledge of what's going on in the world is aware of it.

But even before the South China Sea became an issue, Taiwan was an issue. China has been preparing for a full-scale invasion of Taiwan at least since the 1990s, and the US has been preparing to defend Taiwan militarily for at least as long.

So the Pentagon and the United States military have been preparing militarily for war with China at least since the 1990s.

The presidency of Donald Trump has brought a new urgency to the danger from China.

As I've written many times, everything that the Trump administration has done in foreign policy since Donald Trump took office makes complete sense to me, because everything he does is consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses that I've been posting for years. Trump understands these analyses because he was educated by his former principal advisor Steve Bannon, whom I've worked with for years, and who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics. The mainstream press and mainstream analysts are always completely and totally baffled by the administration's foreign policy, which is one of the reasons that few analysts and journalists have any idea of the danger from China.

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, even if the mainstream media are not.

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17-Aug-18 World View -- US imposes new North Korea sanctions on Chinese and Russian shipping companies

Profound connection between the sanctions on Turkey and North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US imposes new North Korea sanctions on Chinese and Russian shipping companies


North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un in a tee shirt, frolicking with his wife Ri Sol-ju and his army generals
North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un in a tee shirt, frolicking with his wife Ri Sol-ju and his army generals

As the weeks and months go by with no progress on North Korean denuclearization, harsh sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the United States continue to be imposed on North Korea. These sanctions were imposed months and years ago, and remain in effect because of North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. However, these sanctions have been weakened in the last couple of months because China, Russia and other countries have clandestine ways to conduct trade with North Korea in violation of the sanctions.

The US on Thursday announced new sanctions targeting shipping and trading firms based in China, Russia and Singapore. These firms have been active in violating the sanctions. According to the announcement issued by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC):

"OFAC designated China-based Dalian Sun Moon Star International Logistics Trading Co., Ltd. and its Singapore-based affiliate, SINSMS Pte. Ltd. These companies worked together to facilitate illicit shipments to North Korea using falsified shipping documents, including exports of alcohol, tobacco, and cigarette-related products. The illicit cigarette trade in North Korea reportedly has netted over $1 billion per year for the regime. SINSMS Pte. Ltd. is responsible for exports to North Korea and general trading of items from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Employees at SINSMS Pte. Ltd. also provided information on how to evade shipping restrictions by sending cargo SINSMS Pte. Ltd. to Nampo, North Korea, via Dalian, China.

OFAC also designated Russia-based Profinet Pte Ltd. (Profinet) and its Director General, Russian national Vasili Aleksandrovich Kolchanov. Profinet is a Russian port service agency that provides loading, bunkering, supplying, and departure arrangements for vessels calling at the Russian ports of Nakhodka, Vostochny, Vladivostok, and Slavyanka. Profinet has provided port services on at least six separate occasions to DPRK-flagged vessels, including the sanctioned vessels CHON MYONG 1 and RYE SONG GANG 1, which have carried thousands of metric tons of refined oil products. Profinet continued to offer its bunkering services to DPRK-flagged vessels even after its employees knew of oil-related sanctions on North Korea. Kolchanov was personally involved in North Korea-related deals and interacted directly with North Korean representatives in Russia."

Russia's foreign ministry said that fresh sanctions could undermine the peace process in North Korea. The ministry also said that Washington "is not aware" of how the "utmost pressure" on North Korea is "fraught with danger," without specifying what danger they had in mind. According to the statement:

"The destructive U.S. tactics, pursued beyond the framework of the U.N. Security Council and its 1718 Sanctions Committee (related to North Korea), is only able to undermine the progress, which has been made recently toward the settlement."

Nobody seriously believes that North Korea has discontinued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, short of testing them. And indeed, why should they stop development?

As we recently reported, a United Nations report says that during the last six months, not only has North Korea not stopped development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but, even worse, North Korea is stepping up plans to sell weapons to other countries, including to the Houthis in Yemen.

As I've been writing for many months, based on Generational Dynamics analyses, is that there is no chance whatsoever that North Korea will give up its nuclear development program now or in the future, after having tortured, starved and brutalized their own population for three decades, under the promise that one day North Korea would be a nuclear power on a peer with the United States.

North Korea has one and only one objective in the charm offensive since the beginning of the year and in Kim's summit meetings with Trump and South Korean leaders: To get the US-led sanctions lifted without having to give up its development of nuclear missiles targeting the United States.

Statements from the North Koreans have expressed increasing hostility toward the United States for not agreeing to lift the sanctions. Last week, North Korea's foreign ministry issued a statement saying that the North has worked to improve relations between the two countries and "make active contributions to peace, security, and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and over the world." The statement added:

"[U.S. officials] are making baseless allegations against us and making desperate attempts at intensifying the international sanctions....

As long as the U.S. denies even the basic decorum for its dialogue partner and clings to the outdated acting script which the previous administrations have all tried and failed, one cannot expect any progress in the implementation of the DPRK-U.S. joint statement including the denuclearization."

The North Koreans have used the phrase "step by step" to describe how they would like the process to go, meaning that they take some step, and then the US takes some step -- removing some of the sanctions.

The North Koreans have demolished two test sites, but it's widely believed that they were no longer needed anyway. Nonetheless, the North Koreans have expressed anger that these meaningless steps were not reciprocated by reducing sanctions.

What the US negotiators have requested from North Korea is a complete list of all their nuclear and missile development and test sites, and to permit the process of United Nations inspections of all these facilities. The North Koreans have flatly refused.

So really nothing has changed since the beginning of the year except that the North Koreans have advanced the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development by another eight months.

The Kim Jong-un administration has said in the past that nothing will stop them from developing an arsenal of nuclear missiles aimed at the United States. The Trump administration has said repeatedly that would not be allowed. This is similar to the ancient theological puzzle of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. At some point there will be an explosion. AP and US Treasury and Reuters

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Profound connection between the sanctions on Turkey and North Korea

On Thursday, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin doubled down on sanctions against Turkish officials for their refusal to free Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in 2016 on what the US claims are trumped up charges.

"We put sanctions on several of the Cabinet members. We have more that we’re planning to do if they don’t release him quickly."

It's been somewhat startling to see the harsh reaction by the Trump administration over this one particular issue -- the release of pastor Brunson -- when there are so many other disagreements, including other Americans being held hostage, that are not causing a similar reaction.

The reason, as we explained last week, is that in the particular case of Brunson, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a friendly meeting with Donald Trump early in June, and after Trump left that meeting believing that they had made a deal: Trump would convince Israel to release a Turkish citizen, and in return Turkey would release Brunson. The Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, was in fact released, but Brunson was not.

So from the point of view of the Trump administration, this is not an ordinary disagreement. They had a deal, Trump kept his part, Erdogan reneged.

At its core, this is similar to the situation with North Korea. Trump met with North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore, and they had a written agreement for North Korea to denuclearize on a step-by-step basis. Trump did in fact take an important step on the US side by canceling military drills with the South Koreans. So from Trump's point of view, he is performing his part of the deal, and Kim is reneging.

This is a serious matter because these two situations are in lockstep. If Erdogan can renege on a promise, then Kim can do the same, and vice-versa. From Trump's point of view, this is certainly an important factor in the Art of the Deal.

Turkey is in the middle of a currency crisis that began long before the Brunson issue was raised and the sanctions were imposed. Erdogan says that interest rates are evil, and insists on personal control of Turkey's central bank. The result is double-digit inflation, and that the value of the lira has been crashing against the dollar and other currencies, and this has had a knock-on effect on other developing country currencies, as investors rush to the safety of US Treasuries.

Last year, Turkey rushed to support Qatar when it was blockaded by Saudi Arabia, and now Qatar is returning the favor by pledging $15 billion dollars. The lira rallied briefly on the announcement, then began to fall again. Qatar's money will help Turkey buy time, but the core problems with the central bank will have to be fixed quickly. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Aug-18 World View -- US imposes new North Korea sanctions on Chinese and Russian shipping companies thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Aug-18 World View -- China-Cambodia grow closer militarily, as Hun Sen steals parliamentary election

China's military aid and infrastructure investments bring debt trap to Cambodia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China-Cambodia grow closer militarily, as Hun Sen steals parliamentary election


New casinos in Sihanoukville, a byproduct of Chinese investment (Bloomberg)
New casinos in Sihanoukville, a byproduct of Chinese investment (Bloomberg)

Nobody is surprised that the Cambodia People's Party (CPP), led by Cambodia's dictator Hun Sen, won the recent national parliamentary election. Still, it's breathtaking that the National Election Committee (NEC) announced on Wednesday that the CPP had a clean sweep, and had won all 125 parliamentary seats up for election.

65 year old Hun Sen came to power in 1985, in the midst of an invasion by Communist Vietnam (1979-89), which followed the "Killing Fields" civil war, where Communist leader Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge to kill some two million civilians.

Cambodia used to have reasonably fair elections. It was an ally of the United States, the European Union and the West in general, helping it on the road to a democracy with fair and free elections. Everything was swell, as long as Hun Sen was the overwhelming victor in elections.

All that changed with 2013 election, when the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue party (CNRP) came close to winning, with 44% of the vote compared to 48% for the CPP. Rather than risk losing an election, Hun Sen became increasingly authoritarian. Political opponents were jailed or assassinated, and Hun Sen took control of all the media, making the once independent newspapers nothing more than government CPP party organs, and closing all radio stations critical of the government, including Voice of America.

The coup de grâce came last year when the leader of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, was jailed on trumped-up charges of "treason." Then the court, under Hun Sen's control, ordered the complete dissolution of the CNRP, the only viable opposition party. So that explains how Hun Sen's party was able to win all 125 parliamentary seats.

These actions by Hun Sen in the last few years have come under increasing international criticism by human rights organizations, and by pressure from the West, including the United States, Australia and the European Union. The United States has already sanctioned the commander of Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, for carrying out “serious acts of human rights abuse against the people of Cambodia.”

The European Union is threatening to go farther, by threatening trade sanctions against Cambodia, particularly by withdrawing the "Everything But Arms" (EBA) trade preferences that Cambodia enjoys with the EU. The EBA grants developing countries such as Cambodia quota free and duty free access to the EU market. In 2017, Cambodia had $6.2 billion in revenue from exports to the EU, and avoided paying $676 million in duties because of the EBA.

That money would have to be paid if the EBA were withdrawn, resulting in high unemployment among Cambodia's 700,000 garment workers, many of whom are heavily indebted. Because withdrawing the EBA would hurt the Cambodian people, rather than Hun Sen and the Cambodian leaders, there is a big reluctance to do it. Reuters and The Conversation and VOA and Al-Jazeera

China's military aid and infrastructure investments bring debt trap to Cambodia

As the West has been increasingly critical of human rights abuses in Cambodia, Cambodia has gotten closer and closer to China, where human rights abuses, including torture, rape, jailings and assassinations are perfectly OK.

In March of this year, hundreds of Cambodian and Chinese soldiers held "Golden Dragon," a 15-day joint military exercise in central Cambodia, involving live-fire rocket launches from helicopters, mock tank battles, and anti-terrorism and emergency relief training.

Last year, Cambodia suspended a planned joint military exercise with the U.S. Army, called Angkor Sentinel, that was to have been held for the eighth year straight. Also canceled was a long-running U.S. Navy program that provided humanitarian assistance in the country. Cambodia said its forces were too busy to join the annual exercise.

Then in June, China pledged $100 million in military grants for training and equipment for the Cambodian military. These grants are, of course, made with no concern for human rights, as would be the case with Western grants.

China is also providing funding for major infrastructure projects, including dams along the Mekong River and hydroelectric plants. In June 2018, a leaked environmental impact assessment report on the proposed Sambor Hydropower Dam project in Cambodia revealed that constructing a dam at the proposed site could "literally kill the [Mekong] River."

Developing hydropower dams is the Cambodian government’s highest energy priority. Currently, the government is aggressively pursuing this goal with the help of Chinese companies, for which a series of dam projects have been granted approvals.

So far, all of Cambodia’s hydropower plants have been developed under 50-year build–operate–transfer contracts. Under these contracts, all revenue accrued will flow to the Chinese companies operating the dams. Only at the conclusion of the contracts will each plant’s ownership and revenue be transferred to the Cambodian government. Before this time, the current hydropower plants are creating very little income for Cambodia.

In fact, this is turning into yet one more example of a China "debt trap" situation, in many ways similar to the situation in Pakistan that I described yesterday, and in other countries as well. China has made huge infrastructure developments in the capital city Phnom Penh, and more so in the Sihanoukville seaport. One resident is quoted as saying:

"Everything has changed in Sihanoukville in just two years. Before it was really quiet here, but not any more with all the Chinese construction. I am worried that it’s very destructive to the environment, all this building.... And what will happen when all the construction is finished and thousands more people come? There will be no Cambodia left in Sihanoukville."

Sihanoukville has given itself over entirely to Chinese investment, with a $1.1 billion investment from China in just the past year. Chinese casino owners have also taken advantage of the nonexistent gambling regulation and lax money-laundering laws to set up an empire that is accessible only to foreigners – because gambling is still illegal for Cambodian locals.

The key complaint for many in Sihanoukville is that even though Chinese investment brings wealth, it is mainly kept within their own community. Chinese residents and visitors buy from Chinese businesses and visit Chinese restaurants and hotels, ensuring the trickle-down effect is minimal.

However, Cambodia has the fastest growing debt in all of Southeast Asia. The debt trap will occur when Cambodia is unable to make the payments on its debt. At that point, China will do as it's done before: Take control of the infrastructure assets it funded, and leave the country with a large enclave of Chinese workers and their families, and enclave that will be there forever. VOA and The Diplomat and East Asia Forum and Asia Nikkei and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Aug-18 World View -- China-Cambodia grow closer militarily, as Hun Sen steals parliamentary election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Aug-18 World View -- Chinese workers in Pakistan injured in terrorist bombing

War of words grows over IMF funding for Pakistan's debt

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Chinese workers in Pakistan injured in terrorist bombing


Result when bus carrying Chinese workers was attacked by a suicide bomber
Result when bus carrying Chinese workers was attacked by a suicide bomber

The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has claimed credit for a suicide bombing attack that injured three Chinese workers in Pakistan's Balochistan province, as they were working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It appears that the Chinese workers were specifically targeted. The suicide attack targeted a bus transporting Chinese workers from their work place in the mines to the city of Quetta.

The Chinese workers were working on the Saindak Copper-Gold project in a mountainous area near the border with Iran. This is a joint venture between Pakistan and China to extract gold, copper and silver from the area. The project is managed by a Chinese firm, the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC).

Since the 1990s, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has been waging an armed struggle against the government of Pakistan for equal rights and self-determination for the people of the Baloch ethnic group in Pakistan. It has conducted dozens of terror attacks against government installations, security personnel, military targets, and Pakistani laborers. In May 2017 it began attacking CPEC and Chinese targets, particularly the port at Gwadar. The BLA opposes CPEC, saying that it exploits Balochistan resources that they believe belong to the Baloch people.

Although the exact contractual agreement between Pakistan and China is a secret, it's believed that profits are distributed according to ownership. MCC owns 50% of the mine, Balochistan province owns 35%, and Pakistan's government owns 15%. The BLA claim that CPEC is allowing China and Pakistan to exploit resources that should belong to the Baloch people.

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. It will have both economic and military components. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

The security of Chinese workers in Pakistan is a big issue. China and Pakistan signed the CPEC agreement in March of last year, making CPEC a target of terror groups including BLA.

Chinese officials say that a major benefit of CPEC to Pakistan is that it employs about 2,000 local Balochistan workers. But Pakistan's ambassador to China Masood Khalid has estimated that there are some 30,000 Chinese working on Pakistan development projects, including CPEC, and that Pakistan's army has deployed 15,000 soldiers to provide security for the Chinese workers.

So China has loaned Pakistan tens of billions of dollars for CPEC, and the salaries of 30,000 Chinese workers and 15,000 soldiers are paid out of that money. But only 2,000 local workers receive any of that money. The BLA objects to these kinds of terms.

Despite all that money being paid for Pakistani army soldiers, the bus carrying Chinese workers was still attacked by a suicide bomber on Saturday.

This has alarmed Chinese officials. A Chinese police delegation arrived in Pakistan's capital city Islamabad on Monday to discuss the matter. Pakistan's interior minister said that Pakistan had left no stone unturned in providing fool proof security to Chinese citizens in Pakistan. “We are committed to fight against terrorism in all of its manifestations." There has not yet been any announcement of what additional steps will be taken to protect Chinese citizens working in Pakistan.

Li Wei, a Chinese counter-intelligence expert, said:

"The province of Balochistan is a region in Pakistan where terrorist activities are relatively intense. Separatist forces there believe that any development activity in their 'territories' violates their interests, and that is the reason why they launch terror attacks."

The solution is to hire more security personnel. One Chinese company has six security personnel escorting a single Chinese employee to ensure his daily safety. The Nation (Pakistan) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Global Times (Beijing) and The Nation (24-Aug-2017) and Dawn (Pakistan, 27-Oct-2017)

War of words grows over IMF funding for Pakistan's debt


A currency dealer in Quetta, Pakistan (AFP)
A currency dealer in Quetta, Pakistan (AFP)

As we reported last week, Pakistan is deeply in debt, and has only enough foreign reserves to cover payments for imports until the end of August. Much of Pakistan's financial problems are caused by a Chinese "debt trap," where Pakistan does not have the foreign reserves to make payments on the money that China has loaned to Pakistan for CPEC. ( "7-Aug-18 World View -- Pakistan faces imminent financial crisis threatening China's CPEC")

On Monday, it emerged that China has agreed to guarantee Pakistan's financial backing. This means that China will loan Pakistan additional billions of dollars, making Pakistan even more deeply indebted to China.

The only other possible source of money for Pakistan to stave off financial disaster is a new loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), although Pakistan has not fully repaid its last loan, made in 2013.

Imran Khan, Pakistan's incoming anti-American prime minister, used to criticize Pakistan's government for borrowing from the Washington-based IMF, but now that he's in the government with a pending financial crisis, he's suggested that his attitude may have changed.

However, attitudes in Washington have also changed. It's becoming apparent that China is setting debt traps in one nation after another as it loans tens of billions of dollars to each nation for infrastructure projects in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It's now being recognized that many of these countries are going to come to the IMF for loans when they're unable to pay their debts to China, which means that money from the IMF, which is largely funded by American taxpayers, would be paid to China in the case of each country.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of US senators expressed concern over potential bailout requests to the IMF by countries who have accepted "predatory Chinese infrastructure financing."

This has angered the Chinese, who of course would like to have the IMF bail out their debt trap countries, so that in effect the IMF would be funding China's BRI projects in all the countries.

According to a lengthy analysis in the South China Morning Post:

"Unexpectedly, just five days after Pakistan’s elections, [US Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo opposed an IMF bailout package to Pakistan. He argued that American taxpayer dollars are part of IMF funding and therefore the US government would not allow a bailout package for Pakistan that could be used to repay Chinese creditors or the government of China. This is the first time the US government has openly made a move that is tantamount to attacking Pakistan-China economic cooperation. ...

Against this backdrop, Pompeo’s recent statement is a major blow to US-Pakistan relations. This does not bode well for peace and stability in Afghanistan because now Pakistan will not be motivated to cooperate with the US government anymore on the Afghan front.

Given that the US is a major power broker in the IMF, its opposition will effectively thwart a bailout package for Pakistan. The country will have to explore other options to secure the funds needed to stimulate its economy. Unfortunately, there are not many countries or funding organisations that can offer Pakistan a generous financial bailout. Thus, Pakistan would be left with no choice but to ask for help from its all-weather friend – China. ...

After the probable refusal of IMF bailout package, Pakistan will be seeking additional loans of US$12 billion from China. ...

Hence, Pakistan will further be pushed towards economic dependence on China. If it is unable to repay Chinese loans, it could end up leasing its assets, such as Gwadar Port, to China. This model has already worked with Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port.

The US decision to block the IMF bailout has effectively put Pakistan on the path to becoming a Chinese economic colony. This will certainly not help the US in increasing its influence in South Asia and Indochina, but will rather immensely increase the influence of China in South Asia."

The analysis refers to the Sri Lanka example, where Sri Lanka was unable to make payments on money loaned by China for the Hambantota Seaport. As a result, Sri Lanka was forced to give control of Hambantota to China for 99 years. In addition, there is now a large Chinese enclave surrounding the seaport of thousands of Chinese workers and families that will be there forever.

So the above analysis worries that all of Pakistan is on the path to becoming a "Chinese economic colony." The implied solution is that the US and the IMF should rush to Pakistan's rescue and give them the money to repay their all-weather friend China.

It's actually still possible that the IMF will lend Pakistan the money. Theoretically, the IMF is an indpendent organization, located in Washington, but not controlled in any way by Washington political policy. Theoretically, the IMF should not be swayed in its decision by the way the money will be used -- to repay China.

As I've been writing for the last ten years, 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.

Whether the IMF lends money to Pakistan or not, it is not possible for the US and Pakistan to become "friends" in anything like the sense that China and Pakistan are "all-weather friends." Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Xinhua and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Aug-18 World View -- Chinese workers in Pakistan injured in terrorist bombing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Aug-18 World View -- Taliban attack on Ghazni brings America's Afghanistan strategy into question

Afghan army, backed by US, struggles to regain Ghazni after four days

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Afghan army, backed by US, struggles to regain Ghazni after four days


Afghan troops on patrol around Ghazni City on Sunday (AP)
Afghan troops on patrol around Ghazni City on Sunday (AP)

Afghan army forces have still not fully regained control of Ghazni Proving, four days after they were surprised by an unexpected attack by Taliban militants on Friday. The sophistication and force of this attack has once again brought into question the Nato and American strategy in Afghanistan.

On Friday, Taliban militants conducted a multipronged attack on Ghazni, a city of 270,000 people, and a trading and transit hub strategically located along a major highway in eastern Afghanistan. Afghan government officials say that Taliban militants were hiding in mosques and homes in Ghazni, and were using residents as human shields. They would slip out at night and attack Afghan forces.

As is often the case in Afghanistan, there are suspicions that the Taliban militants had support and help from sympathetic civilian residents of the city. Some Afghans said the assault was not a surprise, and followed months of build-up by militants near checkpoints around the city.

It would not be surprising if a substantial number of civilians supported the Taliban. Many in the civilian population are ethnic Pashtuns, and the Taliban itself consists of radicalized Pashtuns.

The US military was actively involved in supporting the Afghan army. US warplanes delivered two dozen airstrikes, killing more than 140 Taliban fighters, according to the military. U.S. military spokesman Lt. COL Martin O'Donnell downplayed the significance of the situation and summarized it on Monday:

"Ghazni City remains under Afghan government control, and the isolated and disparate Taliban forces remaining in the city do not pose a threat to its collapse as some have claimed. That said, the Taliban's attempts to hide themselves amongst the Afghan populace does pose a threat to the civilian population, who were terrorized and harassed by this ineffective attack and the subsequent execution of innocents, destruction of homes and burning of a market."

However, video released by local TV broadcaster Tolo News showed black smoke rising in the air as buildings burn and Taliban fighters roam freely around the city. As of Tuesday morning, the situation in Ghazni is not yet clear. Military Times and ABC News and AP and Tolo News (Afghanistan)

Taliban attack on Ghazni brings America's Afghanistan strategy into question

The assault on Ghazni City comes after another assault on Farah City in the western part of the country in May. ( "16-May-18 World View -- Taliban launches major military operation in Farah province in Afghanistan")

Taliban activists and the American military have dueling narratives about how to interpret these repeated attacks by Taliban militants.

Over the past months, the Taliban have seized several districts across Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks on afghan security forces. This proves, according to the Taliban, that they can attack and take control of districts at any time of their choosing.

However, Afghan officials are claiming that this proves that the Taliban are being defeated because, even though they can attack at will, they are unable to hold group the way they used to as recently as 2016.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. COL Martin O'Donnell said:

"Tactically, operationally and strategically, the Taliban achieved nothing with this failed attack except another eye-catching, but inconsequential headline. The fact remains that the Taliban are unable to seize terrain and unable to match the Afghan security forces or our enablement, retreating once directly and decisively engaged."

Arguably, both sides make good points: The Taliban can attack as often as they want, but they can't hold against the Afghan forces.

The problem is that the second part of that statement is true only if the Afghan forces are backed by Nato military logistics and airpower. The brutal attack on Ghazni suggests that without the Nato military, the Afghan forces apparently cannot defeat the Taliban.

The Nato and Afghan government strategy is to use military force to compel the Taliban to negotiate a peace. As I've described in detail many times in the past, a Generational Dynamics analysis proves that's wrong. The Taliban are ethnic Pashtuns that have been radicalized, and they include new generations of young Pashtuns that have come of age since the bloody Afghan civil war in the early 1990s. These young people are seeking revenge against their former enemies in the Northern Alliance, and even if the Taliban leadership tries to negotiate peace, the younger Pashtuns would not be interested.

That's a summary of the analysis that I've been posting for years, but in the last year the situation has become even worse. As ISIS militants in Syria have lost their caliphate in Raqqa and have continued to lose ground, many ISIS militants have been returning to their home countries, whether in Europe, in Russia or in Afghanistan. They're forming a new terrorist network, ISIS-K, or "ISIS Khorasan" ("Wilayah Khorasan") or ISKP, the South Asian branch of ISIS.

ISIS-K has been conducting its own terror attacks in Afghanistan, sometimes cooperating with the Taliban, and at other times fighting against the Taliban. The Taliban, especially the younger generation militants, have no desire for a negotiated peace with the government, but even if they did, the militants in ISIS-K would not. So the Nato plan for Afghanistan has no chance of succeeding.

As I've written in the past, there seems to be another strategy for the American military in Afghanistan. Donald Trump and the military understand that this war cannot be won, but they also understand that war with China and Pakistan is approaching. As war with China and Pakistan approaches, president Trump wants to keep American troops active in Afghanistan, and to continue to maintain several American military bases in Afghanistan, including two air bases in Bagram and Kandahar International Airport. These bases will be valuable in any future war with China. Under these circumstances, having troops in Afghanistan is what matters, whether the Taliban are defeated or not. Asia Times and Long War Journal and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Aug-18 World View -- Taliban attack on Ghazni brings America's Afghanistan strategy into question thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Aug-18 World View -- A 'historic' Caspian Sea agreement leaves major issues unresolved

Major issues about commercial exploitation remain unresolved

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

A 'historic' Caspian Sea agreement leaves major issues unresolved


An Iranian family frolicking at the beach in the Caspian Sea port city of Gisum (Getty)
An Iranian family frolicking at the beach in the Caspian Sea port city of Gisum (Getty)

The presidents of five major countries -- the countries bordering the Caspian Sea -- all arrived in the Kazakhstan port city of Aktau on Sunday for a summit meeting to sign what is being called a "historic" agreement on settling the status of the Caspian Sea. The five countries are Russia, Iran, and three former Soviet states, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.

The five leaders signed agreements on trade and economic cooperation, cooperation in the transport sector. The leaders also agreed that the surface of the Caspian Sea would be freely available to everyone for activities like travel and fishing.

According to Russia's president Vladimir Putin, the agreement "creates conditions for bringing cooperation between the countries to a qualitatively new level of partnership, for the development of close cooperation on different trajectories." Whatever that means. BBC and Tass (Moscow) and Press TV (Tehran) and Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle

Major issues about commercial exploitation remain unresolved

There are some 50 billion barrels of oil and nearly 9 trillion cubic meters of gas in proven or probable reserves in the Caspian seabed. At today's prices, that's worth several trillion dollars. The problem is how to divide those reserves, and Sunday's "historic" agreement leaves those issues unsettled.

Prior to 1991, there were only two littoral states bordering the Caspian Sea -- the Soviet Union and Iran. When the Soviet Union split up, suddenly there were five littoral states. Starting in 1996, these five countries attempted to reach agreement on how to split up the seabed among themselves. However, they were never able to reach agreement, and apparently that's still true despite Sunday's "historic" agreement.

The problem is that the Caspian Sea is a unique body of water in the world, and so there are no examples to provide guidance. The Caspian Sea in Central Asia is the largest inland body of water in the world. From the point of view of international law, it's neither a sea nor a lake. It can't be a lake because it's too large, and it can't be a sea because it's not connected to any of the world's oceans.

International law provides formulas for dividing up the seabeds of lakes and seas. If the Caspian Sea is a sea, then the size of the region that each country gets depends on the length of the coastline bordering the sea. Under this formula, Azerbaijan, Russia and Kazakhstan would get the largest shares of the seabed, and so these countries favor it.

But if the Caspian Sea is a lake, then there are five littoral states, and so the seabed would be split up equally among them, giving them each 20% of the seabed. Iran and Turkmenistan favor this formula, because they have the shortest shorelines.

According to news reports, the agreement avoids calling either a sea or a lake, but gives it a special legal status, with an agreement in principle to a special formula for dividing up the seabed among the five countries. However, the formula is apparently close to the "sea" formula. In their closing statements, the leaders of Iran and Turkmenistan said that these issues remained unsettled, and that another summit meeting would be required within a few months.

The agreement apparently permits something that Russia had been opposing -- allowing Turkmenistan to build a "Trans-Caspian Pipeline" (TCP) to permit delivery of its gas to Azerbaijan, where it would be pumped into pipelines leading west to Turkey and Europe. For 20 years, Russia has opposed the TCP, claiming that it poses a potential environmental hazard to the Caspian's unique biosphere. However, this objection is laughable, since Russia's Gazprom has laid several pipelines in the Black Sea, which also has a "unique biosphere." It's believed that Russia simply wants to block competition.

However, Russia and Iran did get their way in one more area. The agreement specifically forbids any but the five Caspian countries from deploying military forces on the Caspian Sea.

Recall that in April I wrote "28-Apr-18 World View -- Kazakhstan to permit America to use Caspian ports to supply military in Afghanistan." Russia and Iran objected to this, claiming that the Nato would use the transit of supplies to Afghanistan as an excuse to deploy American forces in the ports in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and that the ports might turn into American military bases.

However, Kazakhstan committed that only nonmilitary supplies will be permitted to pass through the ports, and Sunday's agreement seals that commitment. According to Kazakhstan's foreign minister:

"Some representatives of Russian media and expert communities do not have a firm grasp of facts on the real situation regarding the transit of US non-military cargo via Kazakhstan.... It is about commercial railway transportation of non-lethal cargo via Kazakhstan to continue the operations to support the Afghan government, which is necessary for the whole international community.... Naturally, any military bases on the Caspian Sea are out of question."

He added that this is not a change to any existing agreements. RFE/RL and Reuters and Bloomberg and SBS (Australia) and Sputnik (Moscow)

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12-Aug-18 World View -- Colombia's president Ivan Duque takes office amidst accusations from Venezuela

Brief generational history of Colombia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Colombia's president Ivan Duque takes office amidst accusations from Venezuela


Venezuelans walk across Simón Bolívar bridge into Cúcuta, Colombia to flee violence from the Socialist government. (National Geographic)
Venezuelans walk across Simón Bolívar bridge into Cúcuta, Colombia to flee violence from the Socialist government. (National Geographic)

A new president took office in Colombia on Tuesday of last week. Right-wing Ivan Duque took office, replacing left-wing Juan Manuel Santos. The inauguration occurred in the midst of a major diplomatic clash between Colombia and Venezuela.

Last weekend on Saturday evening, a live drama unfolded on nationwide TV in Venezuela. Socialist President Nicolás Maduro, was giving a televised speech when suddenly he stopped speaking and looked up at the sky. Two drones armed with explosives detonated near Maduro, who, however, was not hurt. Three hours later, he was on nationwide tv again, saying:

"I am fine, I am alive, and after this attack I'm more determined than ever to follow the path of the revolution. ... I have no doubt that the name Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attack."

According to Maduro, Santos acted in coordination with the former president of the Venezuelan Parliament, Julio Borges, who had been in the political opposition to Maduro.

Last year, the Socialist Maduro dissolved the democratically elected parliament and replaced with a "Constituent Assembly" consisting of Maduro's political cronies. Last week, the Constituent Assembly revoked the immunity that Borges had as an opposition lawmaker, and the Supreme Court called for his arrest. However, Borges has apparently fled Venezuela. According to Maduro, Borges had fled to Colombia.

Now Maduro is demanding that Colombia and the United States extradite Borges and other opposition lawmakers that have fled to those countries. These extradition requests have been refused.

On Thursday, the European Union in Brussels issued a statement on the drone attack:

"The latest events have further inflated the tensions in Venezuela. The European Union rejects any form of violence and expects that a comprehensive and transparent investigation of Saturday´s drone attack is conducted to establish the facts, in full respect for the rule of law and for human rights.

In this regard, the EU expects the recognition of the National Assembly's constitutional powers, including the full respect of its prerogatives concerning the parliamentary immunity of its members, in line with established constitutional rights, legislation and procedures.

The EU reiterates its support for a negotiated, democratic and peaceful solution for the multiple crises affecting the country as the only way forward. This needs to encompass a return to constitutional normality restoring democratic process and the rule of law, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, release of all political prisoners, and addressing the pressing humanitarian needs of the population."

This statement infuriated Maduro. According to Maduro , Santos acted in coordination with Borges, "who receives the order, the resources, the logistics, the support and the plan [and] is the one who takes responsibility for the history of assassinating the president."

Maduro condemned the statement by the EU:

"It is truly deplorable the communique of the European Union, they go out to protect the terrorists, in their communiqué they protect the terrorists, in their communique they are not capable of condemning the attack that had as objective to assassinate the president of this country."

Thanks to Socialist policies, Venezuela is suffering the worst economic depression ever recorded in Latin America. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 16.5 percent in 2016 and 12 percent in 2017, and forecasts a 15 percent contraction for 2018. Inflation reached more than 2,600 percent in 2017, the highest in the world by a wide margin, and the IMF forecasts 13,000 percent for 2018.

Thanks to the Socialist policies, Venezuelans are starving, and are unable to feed their kids or obtain medicines to care for them when they're sick. The Socialist government of Venezuela has created a massive refugee problem that's destabilizing the entire region. By some estimates, 35,000 Venezuelan refugees flee across the border into Colombia every day, although many return after acquiring basic items, like food. Some one million are staying in Colombia. About 4,000 migrants enter Ecuador every day, fleeing violence in Venezuela. Brazil has taken in over 41,000 Venezuelans.

Every Socialist government in history has failed, either peacefully or disastrously. Even Cuba has given up Socialism. The only two Socialist governments left are Venezuela and North Korea. However, Venezuela destabilizing the entire region, and with Maduro making threatening accusations like the one last week, it's possible that Venezuela's Socialist government will end with war. AFP and Europa (EU) and Diario Las Americas (Trans) and Al Jazeera

Brief generational history of Colombia

The Trump administration has high hopes for Ivan Duque, because Duque has promised to tackle the drug problem. Last year, president Trump suggested stopping aid to countries that are "pouring" drugs into the US. In Colombia, some 209,000 hectares (516,500 acres) of land are used to grow coca, the principal ingredient used to manufacture cocaine. Colombia is the largest cocaine producer in the world.

Colombia's last generational crisis war was shared with Venezuela. It was called "La Violencia," or the Colombian Revolt, 1948-1959. More than 200,000 persons lost their lives and more than a billion dollars of property damage was done.

As we've written many times in the past, when a generational crisis war is an ethnic or tribal civil war, it really never ends. One side may force the other into submission, but the people on both sides are traumatized by the murders, mutilations, rapes, and torturing that they performed on people who lived in the same cities and even on the same streets, where the mothers exchanged recipes and the children played together. All the survivors continue to feel the lingering horror of the atrocities that were committed on both sides. After the war ends, there is continuing sporadic violence as we've described in many countries, including Syria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Burundi, Congo, and others.

In post-war Colombia, the government confiscated small farms in order to create large farms, but in doing so left large pools of unemployed people.

By the mid-1960s. two Marxist-Leninist guerrilla terrorist groups had formed: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) and the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional – ELN). Both groups have massive criminal histories, using drug trafficking, violence, bombings, murders, kidnappings for ransom, and extortion as sources of leverage and income. Billions of dollars of income have been derived from the sale of narcotics each year. In the last 50 years, as many as 220,000 people are dead, 25,000 are disappeared, and 5.7 million are displaced.

In December 2016, the government signed a peace agreement with the FARC. The agreement ended much of the violence, but it was highly controversial because it specified that all FARC members would walk free with no punishment for the 50 years of horrific crimes, which infuriated the relatives of the violence by the FARC. Duque made a campaign promise to revise and renegotiate the peacekeeping deal to provide for the relatives of the victims.

Duque has also promised to fix the drug problem:

"We will be effective in the eradication and substitution of illegal crops, accompanied by productive opportunities [for farmers]."

That remains to be seen. Other attempts to reduce coca production have failed. Coca production surged to historically high levels in 2017, and among the reasons is a crop-substitution program tied to Colombia’s peace deal that offered incentives to coca farmers to switch to legal crops. Those incentives were so lucrative that some rural dwellers planted more coca to earn more cash. In addition, Colombia in 2015 banned aerial spraying of coca crops after a determination that the herbicide being used could cause cancer in humans. Duque is committed to be much more aggressive, including a return to using the banned herbicide. Stanford Univ and Insight Crime and Council on Foreign Relations (11-Jan-2017) and Washington Post

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11-Aug-18 World View -- Turkey's lira currency crumbles as Trump turns the screws after Erdogan double-cross

How Erdogan apparently double-crossed Trump

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's lira currency crumbles as Trump turns the screws after Erdogan double-cross


Presidents Trump and Erdogan shaking hands when they were still friendly (Reuters)
Presidents Trump and Erdogan shaking hands when they were still friendly (Reuters)

Turkey's lira currency has been falling steadily for the last year because of a clearly stated view by Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that interest rates are "evil," and because he has been controlling Turkey's central bank consistent with that belief.

The lira has already lost 40% of its value in the past month. On Friday, the currency fell another 20%, before settling at being down 14% from Thursday's level.

The result is that any imported item now cost two or three times as many liras as they did a few months ago. The inflation rate is above 15%.

Many economists had been predicting for months that Erdogan's actions would lead to a currency crisis, which is what's happening now. There are concerns that unless Erdogan adopts sensible policies, the result will be a full-scale national economic crisis.

During the campaign for the June 24 elections, Erdogan said the following:

"If my people say continue on this path in the elections, I say I will emerge with victory in the fight against this curse of interest rates. Because my belief is: interest rates are the mother and father of all evil."

In July he appointed his son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, to run the central bank, and said, "We will see inflation and interest rates decline in the coming period."

These statements caused concern among investors for two reasons. First, an interest rate decline will cause higher inflation, not lower inflation, and combined with his statement that interest rates are "the mother and father of all evil," it's reasonable to conclude that Erdogan does not have the vaguest clue how economics works.

We've seen this kind of thing in other countries. In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro followed and are following policies which have meant economic destruction for their country. In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's policy of throwing white farmers off farms and giving the farms to political cronies who know nothing about farms ended up destroying Zimbabwe's economy, and it's unclear whether this policy is still continuing. I've written about many other examples where a clueless idiot leader politician destroys a country's economy and the country itself.

That hasn't happened to Turkey yet, but Erdogan has become so fanatical that it will if he continues the path he's on.

The second reason that investors are concerned is that Erdogan seems determined to control the central bank even though it should be an independent institution, like America's Federal Reserve. So now you have delusional politician, Erdogan, who says that "interest rates are the mother and father of all evil," and is also running the central bank. What could go wrong?

So that's why the lira currency has been falling steadily for a year, and then started falling even more rapidly after the June 24 election, when he was reelected president, along with a constitutional change that gave him almost dictatorial powers. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Business Insider and Deutsche Welle

Trump turns the screws

So there have been an interesting series of statements from both Erdogan and US president Donald Trump in the last couple of days.

On Thursday evening, Erdogan that there was nothing to fear if the lira was falling against the US dollar:

"If they have their dollars, we have our people and God."

However, on Friday morning, Trump tweeted the following:

"I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!"

This caused the lira to start plummeting, ending up the day having lost 14% of its value.

Erdogan apparently went into a panic, because he gave one of his televised national rants where he screams every sentence furiously at the top of his lungs. He said the following:

"If there is anyone who has dollars or gold under their pillows, they should go exchange it for liras at our banks. This is a national, domestic battle.

Some countries have engaged in behavior that protects coup plotters and knows no laws or justice. Relations with countries who behave like this have reached a point beyond salvaging."

Erdogan also warned of “economic war.”

However, there is a greater concern that the falling lira will lead to contagion. A number of banks, especially in Spain and Italy, are holding Turkish government bonds, and they are going down in value with the lira. A bigger concern is that many companies in Turkey have borrowed money in international markets, and the debts are denominated in dollars. A typical company's income would be in lira, while debt payments must be made in dollars. A weakening lira means that companies may default on their loans. CNBC and Hurriyet News (Ankara) and Bloomberg

How Erdogan apparently double-crossed Trump

A lot of people were shocked on Friday morning at the harshness of Trump's tweet when he said that he was doubling Turkey's tariffs on steel and aluminum, and at the same time he apparently mocked Turkey's falling lira currency.

It appears that this highly confrontational statement was retaliation for what Trump saw as a double-cross by Erdogan.

Trump met Erdogan at a Nato meeting early in June. Their discussions were very friendly, and after they ended, Trump thought they had made a deal: Trump would ask Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release a Turkish citizen, Ebru Ozkan, arrested because of alleged terrorist links to Hamas, and then Turkey would release pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey on October 2016 on charges of espionage, which the US considers are bogus charges.

So on July 14, Trump called Netanyahu and requested that Ozkan be released, and she was released the next day. But Brunson was not released, and Turkish officials said that no such deal had ever been made. Instead, they began piling more demands that would have to be met in exchange for the release of Brunson, including the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdogan blames for the attempted coup in Turkey in 2016, but without any evidence.

Needless to say, Trump was infuriated, and this led to a first round of sanctions in July, and then Friday's announcement of more sanctions. The Trump administration is now saying that Brunson must be released, to resolve this situation. Furthermore, reports indicate that because Trump believes he was double-crossed, the administration is also requiring that all further conditions and demands from Turkey be put into writing, to avoid future misunderstandings.

Trump is now involved in highly contentious sanctions disputes with Turkey, Russia, Iran and China. Any one of these situations could spiral into something much larger, including an actual war. Also, since the global financial system is currently one huge Ponzi scheme, one of these situations could also trigger a chain reaction leading to a global financial crisis. Washington Post and Hurriyet News (Ankara) and Ynet News (Israel) and Middle East eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Aug-18 World View -- Turkey's lira currency crumbles as Trump turns the screws after Erdogan double-cross thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Aug-18 World View -- Discontent with China's president Xi Jinping continues during 'trade war'

China uses increasing violence to suppress criticism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Discontent with China's president Xi Jinping continues during 'trade war'


China is banning the new film Christopher Robin because it contains the character Winnie the Pooh, which many Chinese online compare to Xi Jinping (Getty)
China is banning the new film Christopher Robin because it contains the character Winnie the Pooh, which many Chinese online compare to Xi Jinping (Getty)

Although Xi Jinping's power and credibility as president of China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) does not seem to be threatened, there are signs of growing discontent, especially under pressure from the trade war initiated by the Trump administration.

Since coming to power in 2013, Xi Jinping has claimed to be champion of the fight against corruption in the CCP. In line with that fight, Xi has purged many government officials whom he accused of corruption, but it always turned out that the purged officials were not his strongest supporters, and the people who replaced them were all indebted to Xi in some way. Thus the first against corruption for the last five years has appeared more and more to be a purge of Xi's political enemies -- which would itself be the ultimate form of corruption.

Public or online criticism of Xi is de facto a crime in China. A few months ago I told the story of how I repeatedly challenged a Chinese troll to make even the tiniest criticism of Xi, or even to reference an article in Chinese media that has any criticism of Xi. He kept changing the subject, and finally I pointed out that if he did criticize Xi, then he would be thrown into a pit, hung by his thumbs, and have his tongue removed with a pair of pliers. Well, I was being overly dramatic, but he would certainly have risked going to jail.

So it certainly was remarkable in February of this year when a leading commentator and a prominent businessman openly criticized Xi for his plan to amend the constitution so that he could run independent. Li Datong, a former editor for the state-run China Youth Daily, wrote: "If there are no term limits on a country's highest leader, then we are returning to an imperial regime. My generation has lived through Mao. That era is over. How can we possibly go back to it?"

Indeed, I've written about country after country to describe what happens when a leader refuses to relinquish power. We've seen this in Cambodia, Syria, Iran, Cameroon, Congo, and Burundi, among others. In each case, the leader becomes increasing authoritarian and oppressive, ordering peaceful opposition protesters to be slaughtered, tortured, raped or jailed, and shutting down media outlets including newspapers and the internet.

Xi's claim to be the hero in fighting corruption has been badly tarnished by various scandals. The piece of bad news this summer was the discovery that a pharmaceutical company with deep connections to Xi has been responsible for producing substandard vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough, and had faked data for its rabies vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese children nationwide have been given the faulty vaccines. Many in China are blaming Xi for this. Japan Times and CBS News and South China Morning Post (6-Mar)

Backlash from the US-China 'trade war'

The greatest damage to Xi's reputation is the "trade war" initiated by the Trump administration. The US announced tariffs on Chinese products, and China retaliated with tariffs on American products. The tit for tat war has shocked many Chinese, and has triggered a major debate in China over Xi's foreign and domestic policy leadership.

Many in China are questioning Xi's absolute refusal to negotiate with the Americans to get the trade dispute resolved. Many fear that China will indeed be much worse off from a full-blown trade war. There's a deeper criticism that Xi is violating the advice of 1980s 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." Since taking power, instead of taking this advice, Xi has been increasingly arrogant foreign policy, and his policies are seen as costly, ambitious, risky and confrontational.

Many Chinese also fear that China has become too dependent on stealing American intellectual property, and can't develop it on their own.

Xi has reacted by ordering an extensive campaign to "enhance patriotism" among intellectuals. A key aspect is to strengthen the “political guidance” of intellectuals and bring their “ideological and political identification” in line with goals set out by the party and the nation.

There are even demands that CCP members get back to basics and study Karl Marx's 1848 Communist Manifesto, the tract that predicted the triumph of Socialism. Socialism has a 100% failure rate, and China abandoned any pretense of following the dictates of Communist Manifesto decades ago. Even Cuba in the last few years has almost completely abandoned the Marx's tenets, since it was becoming clear that Socialism was destroying Cuba, as it has destroyed every other place it's been tried. Most CCP members, it turns out, have never read the Communist Manifesto, so ordering them to read it now appears to be a true move of desperation. South China Morning Post and Inside Story (Australia) and Radio Free Asia and South China Morning Post

China uses increasing violence to suppress criticism

As in the other countries I've listed, Cambodia, Syria, Cameroon, and so forth, the CCP in China is using violence increasingly to control groups that don't adhere closely to the party line. Whether it's violent reprisals in Tibet, or violent education camps in Xinjiang, or the threat of a massive military invasion of Taiwan, the CCP have shown themselves increasingly willing to use jailings, torture, rape and murder to force the public into the CCP line.

Two major events occurred about 25 years ago that are the driving forces in CCP policy today. One was the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, where Chinese security thugs killed thousands of peacefully demonstrating college students. The other event was the collapse, in 1991, of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party. These events put the members of the Chinese Communist Party into a high state of anxiety, from which they've never come down. They use massive violence by police thugs to suppress any protests before they can get out of hand and threaten the existence of the CCP. Self-preservation of the CCP is more important the China itself.

China's government used to report the number of "mass incidents that occurred each year. These are incidents where dozens of Chinese citizens protest or get into fistfights with one another. There were hundreds of these protests each year in the 1990s. The number of mass incidents kept growing exponentially, reaching 100,000 in the year 2008. If even one of these "mass incidents" occurred in the United States, it would be international news, but China has hundreds of them every day.

After 2008, China stopped reporting them. However, there was one activist named Lu Yuyu who compiled the data himself from news reports, and published it online. He was arrested and is currently serving time in jail.

China's CCP is frightened of social instability that could lead to a revolution that would threaten the CCP. China's history is filled with huge, massive internal rebellions (civil wars), the most recent of which were the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805), the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64) and Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49). China is now overdue for a new massive civil war, and CCP officials fear that any small anti-government protest could spiral into a new rebellion and revolution. Guardian (London) and China Change (6-Jul-2016) and Foreign Affairs (3-Oct-2016) and Hong Kong Free Press

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9-Aug-18 World View -- Italy threatens EU with immigration fight to get budget concessions

Spain becomes the major destination for migrants from Africa

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Italy threatens EU with immigration fight to get budget concessions


Migrants disembark at a beach in Tarifa, southern Spain, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (Spiegel)
Migrants disembark at a beach in Tarifa, southern Spain, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (Spiegel)

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:

As wonderful as these proposals are, they have a serious problem: Implementing them would violate EU rules by pushing Italy's annual deficit above 3% of GDP.

Italy's deputy prime minister and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio has a solution: The EU should change the rules, so that Italy can spend as much as it wants on these social problems. According to Di Maio:

"It is possible to introduce both this measure and a flat tax and to respect European Union deficit limits, because this is a structural reform for Italy. The European Union must listen to us in this phase when we want to protect citizens facing a social emergency."

He added that his request to change the EU deficit limit rules comes with a threat:

"We want to discuss these reforms with the European Union to obtain the margin for maneuver that will allow us to implement those measures. That means doing the same as we did on immigration. There shouldn’t be a clash with the EU, but a frank discussion."

In the case of immigration, the "frank discussion" was accompanied by an order closing all Italian ports to immigrant rescue ships. This forced the EU government in Brussels to adopt new rules for immigrants, giving Italy at least a portion of what it was demanding. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of La Lega, claimed that his government had gotten 70% of what it wanted from the EU.

So Di Maio is demanding that the EU change its deficit rules, or Italy will "do the same as we did on immigration." What that means remains to be seen.

It should be noted that Di Maio's delusional plans and demands are not being met with unanimous agreement even within Italy's government. Prime minister Giuseppe Conte is insisting on a "realistic" budget, and that the new measures will be introduced gradually. Bloomberg and Reuters and Bloomberg and Guardian (London)

Spain becomes the major destination for migrants from Africa

At first, the major route for migrants into Europe was through Turkey into Greece. When the EU closed the so-called "Balkan route" for migrants, and then signed the EU-Turkey migrant deal in 2016, the number of migrants reaching Greece fell sharply.

Then the major route moved westward, with migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Africa. However, in 2017 Italy paid money to Libyan warlords and the Libyan government to prevent migrants from crossing.

So the preferred route to Europe has moved westward again. The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe has fallen drastically from previous years, but now the major route is to cross the strait between Morocco and Spain.

So far in 2018, 27,614 migrants arrived in Spain, 18,475 arrived in Italy, and 16,142 arrived in Greece. Der Spiegel and El País and Euro News and Guardian (London)

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8-Aug-18 World View -- Iran's protesters blame bad economy on Supreme Leader, not on US sanctions

The international demand for regime change in Iran

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US reimposes US sanctions against Iran that ended with 2015 nuclear deal


A mural painting on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran, where the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis originally occurred (AFP)
A mural painting on the wall of the former US embassy in Tehran, where the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis originally occurred (AFP)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued an executive order reimposing economic sanctions that had been eased by the 2015 nuclear deal. The sanctions target Iran's automotive industry, the purchase of commercial aircraft and metals including gold, and the selling of Persian carpets.

Trump tweeted:

"Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!"

The action appears to have thrown the European Union into a new level of chaos.

The sanctions bar any company which does business in Iran from doing business in the US - under far reaching secondary sanctions - and they also forbid any company that does business in the US from doing business with any company that does any business with Iran. This means, for example, that under certain circumstances a bank may have to deny a company doing business with Iran access to its own dollar-based bank accounts. But in that case, the bank could be sued by its own customers.

Trying to cope, the EU has passed so-called "blocking laws" that would make it illegal for banks to withdraw services to companies doing business with Iran or even with other companies that do business with Iran. The laws are designed to limit the potential damage to European companies conducting legitimate business with Iran directly or indirectly.

However, these laws have not been particularly effective. Germany's carmaker Daimler immediately announced a halt to its business activities in Iran. France's oil and gas giant Total has already indicated it intends to shelve a multi-billion dollar investment in Iran. France's automaker Renault, which had an 8% share of Iran's automotive market, announced last week it would comply with the sanctions. Peugeot withdrew in June. More than 100 international companies have also said they would comply.

However, China's auto companies are rushing to fill the gap left by departing European companies. Chinese cars already have a nearly 10% share of Iran's auto market, and a 50% share of auto parts imported into Iran. Iran Khodro, Iran's largest car manufacturer and assembler of foreign cars, recently told its salesmen to promote to customers China’s H30 Cross, made by Dongfeng Fengshen, as a replacement for Renault’s Tondar 90.

Other Chinese car manufacturers present in Iran include Chery and Brilliance, whose H330, assembled in Iran by Saipa, is among the top 10 best-selling cars in the country. China has also lifted monthly oil imports from Iran by 26%. China is the world’s top crude oil buyer and Iran’s biggest customer. RFE/RL and BBC and VOA and Deutsche Welle

Iran's protesters blame bad economy on Supreme Leader, not on US sanctions

Iran's economy is in serious trouble. The rial currency has been plummeting against the dollar since May, when the US announced that sanctions would be imposed on August 7.

Since that time there have been growing street protests in cities across the country. However, they're not anti-American protests, which is something we as Americans have come to expect for decades. Instead, the protests are blaming their own government.

Here's a list of street protesters chants collected by RFE/RL in the last few days:

“Death to high prices and inflation.”
“We don’t want incompetent officials.”
“Not to Gaza, not to Lebanon. May my life be sacrificed for Iran.”
“Death to the dictator.”
“Our enemy is right here. They lie when they say it’s America.”
"Reza Shah, bless your soul.”
“Iranians, shout out your demands.”
"Police forces, support [us], support [us].”
“Death to Hizballah.”
“Iranians die, [but] they don’t accept abjection.”
“Death to Khamenei.”
“Mullahs must get lost.”
“Don’t be scared, we’re all together.”

If you want to understand what's going on, the easiest model to keep in mind is the street protests in America in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the several things were protested, they were mainly anti-war protests against the war in Vietnam.

Logic might indicate that since the North Vietnamese in Hanoi were the enemy, Americans should be on the side of the Americans, not the North Vietnamese. It's true that few Americans were openly on the side of the North Vietnamese (Jane Fonda and John Kerry come to mind), but few Americans were on the side of America either.

It made no difference what the Nixon administration did. The young protesters were opposed to everything. And it made no difference what Hanoi did either. There was nothing that Hanoi could have done to make the young protesters say, "Gee, maybe Nixon is right. I'm going to support him now." Violent street protests in Los Angeles and Detroit, and the 1968 riot at the Democratic convention in Chicago, and the shootings of students at Kent State College in 1970 were blamed on Johnson and Nixon. (Paragraph corrected, 10-Aug)

This is what always happens in a generational Awakening, starting around 20 years after the end of a generational crisis war, in this case World War II. The survivors of the war traumatized by its horrors, and vow to keep it from happening again. The generation that grows up after the war have no personal memory of it, and they turn against the generations of survivors in what's called a "generation gap"

Exactly the same thing is happening in Iran today. The first major anti-government protest began in 1999, about 20 years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some 10,000 students rioted in Tehran University, chanting anti-government slogans. The police reacted violently, leaving at least 20 people hospitalized and 125 students jailed.

There were sporadic protests every few months after that. The next round of major protests, large enouch to threaten the government occurred after the 2009 presidential election. The violence that followed was bloody and massive. Largely peaceful street protests by hundreds of thousands of mostly young people occurred in Iran’s main cities and provincial capitals, including Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz. They were met with unrestrained violence by the police and security forces. Dozens were killed, and 4,000 people were jailed. The police particularly targeted journalists and other government critics with widespread torture, beatings, and threats against family members.

A new round of protests began in December 2017, and they've been continuing intermittently since then.

Just as there's almost nothing that Hanoi could have done in 1960s America to cause young people to support Richard Nixon, there is nothing that the US can do today that would cause Iran's young people to support the Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei. Every problem will be interpreted through the filter of opposing the current government.

And there are plenty of things to protest against, as you can see from the anti-government chants listed above.

There's a big antiwar factor. Young people want Iran out of Syria. Young people want Iran out of Gaza. Young people want Iran to stop funding Hezbollah. Young people want Israel to be left alone. Young people blame the poor economy on massive military spending abroad. In fact, Iran received tens of billions of dollars when sanctions were lifted in 2015, but ordinary people saw little of it. It mostly benefitted government cronies, and the rest was spent on foreign wars.

That leads to the second major factor: Corruption. According to Transparency International, Iran's government is among the most corrupt in the world. According to its transparency index, Iran has an extremely low score of 30 out of 100. By comparison, the worst performing region in the world is sub-Saharan Africa, with a score of 32, which is a better score than Iran's.

Corruption has become so endemic and so bad in Iran's government that even government officials have been expressing alarm. The reason that Iran is so steeped in corruption can be found in its constitution, which was written by Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 revolution. Khomeini wrote the constitution to give himself and any future Supreme Leader with almost unlimited powers.

Khomeini's constitution is almost completely lacking in the kinds of checks and balances that the US Constitution is full of -- three branches of government, with each branch given specific powers that can be curtailed by other branches of government. Iran has an Assembly of Experts that is supposed to provide oversight to the Supreme Leader, but it never has seriously performed that function. The way the constitution is set up, with no real checks and balances, the only way to succeed in government is to be more corrupt than anyone else. Radio Farda (24-Feb) and Bloomberg and Fox News

The international demand for regime change in Iran

There is a great desire in the West for something called "regime change" in Iran, although it's rarely specified what that means.

Regime change did occur in America in 1974, with the forced resignation of Richard Nixon. The current Supreme Leader is Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, 79 years old, born 1939. Many people are hoping that he'll be replaced soon, although he might live for another 10-15 years. But would that qualify as "regime change"?

Corruption is thoroughly embedded in Iran because corruption is almost demanded by the constitution for survival in government. Real regime change would require a new constitution. Perhaps the Assembly of Experts might form a "Constitutional Convention," like the one in America in 1787, and lock the participants in a room and not let them up until they come up with a new constitution for Iran, filled with checks and balances. However, there's little hope for that. In fact, any real regime change may not come for many years.

For almost 15 years, I've been saying, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that that Iran will be America's ally in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war.

This can be seen by connecting the dots. China is very closely allied with Pakistan, which is very closely allied with the Sunni states, including Saudi Arabia. China and India are bitter enemies, as are Pakistan and India. Russia and India are very closely allied, and India is very closely allied with Iran, as Hindus have been allied with Shia Muslims going back to the Battle of Karbala in 680. So the US is going to be allied with India, Russia and Iran, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim states. Just remember that Russia was our bitter enemy before WW II, was our ally during WW II, and was our bitter enemy after WW II. You can't make judgments from today's fatuous political alignments to how nations will act when they're forced to make hard choices in the context of a generational crisis war. These major decisions are made by the populations, large generations of people, not by a few politicians when a nation and its way of life are threatened.

So that's a brief summary of the geopolitical linkages. But there's another way we know that Iran will be an American ally. Iran's college students have been holding pro-American and pro-Western protests for almost 20 years, starting with the first major protest in 1999. The Iranian regime brutally and violently ended those protests, but they didn't change minds. Today, those college students are 30-40 years old, moving into positions of power. When the time comes and Iranians are forced to choose, they'll decide that they'll have no choice but to side with America and the West. CNBC and Fox News and Slate

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7-Aug-18 World View -- Pakistan faces imminent financial crisis threatening China's CPEC

Pakistan elects anti-American far right religious Imran Khan to be prime minister

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan elects anti-American far right religious Imran Khan to be prime minister


Imran Khan (Getty)
Imran Khan (Getty)

Imran Khan, who will be taking the oath of office as prime minister of Pakistan in a few days, as his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (Movement for Justice), seems poised to form a governing coalition, following the July 25 national elections.

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.

Khan's views are strongly Islamist, closely associated with Pakistan's religious far right, even to the point of supporting Pakistan's draconian blasphemy law which allows any Pakistani citizen to kill another person with impunity, provided that he first accuses the person he's going to kill of blasphemy. He's anti-American, has promised to distance Pakistan from the United States, has condemned NATO airstrikes on terrorists in Pakistan, and has promised to resolve the Kashmir issue with India in Pakistan's favor. This could be important when the army and intelligence services ask for a favor in return for helping to get him elected. The News (Pakistan) and Washington Post

Pakistan faces imminent financial crisis threatening China's CPEC

Like all politicians, Khan made plenty of campaign promises that he won't be able to fulfill. He promised to create an "Islamic welfare state," with big public spending on health and education. In fact, his campaign speeches were totally delusional.

Imran Khan will not have much time to celebrate his victory, as Pakistan is so short of foreign reserves that it could be forced into bankruptcy within a month, and his "Islamic welfare state" is just a distant dream.

Pakistan and China like to say that they're "all-weather friends," but the reason for Pakistan's enormous mountain of debt is the $52 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which China has been using to force a number of countries into a debt trap.

The goal of the CPEC is to connect China's western Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan by means of a collection of highways and railways. The project is to be completed by 2030.

We've described a number of these projects in the past, and they have common elements. China lends tens of billions of dollars to a country to build an infrastructure project. China supplies thousands of workers and their families to do the building. Chinese companies are used to provide equipment and supplies. The country must pay for all these Chinese workers and equipment with money from the loan, which means that most of the money gets sent back to China. The country must still repay the loan, which means that it's paying China twice for the same loan. And the country is left for decades with a large Chinese community of workers and families controlled by Beijing's international coercive propaganda agency, the "United Front Work Department" (UFWD).

Pakistan has been borrowing money "like crazy" for the last five years. Imports for energy, machinery, transport equipment and metals have skyrocketed because of CPEC and because of rising oil prices. Meanwhile exports, mainly textiles, have increased only slightly. As a result, the country's foreign currency reserves have declined to about $10.3 billion, enough to cover less than two months of imports. If Pakistan cannot pay for imports, then the entire CPEC project would be in danger.

In June, China granted an emergency loan to Pakistan for $1 billion to cover payments for imports till the end of August.

According to one analyst, Pakistan was unable to turn to Saudi Arabia for a loan because Pakistan had refused in 2016 to join the Saudi-led coalition waging a war in Yemen.

So Pakistan has been forced to turn to its all-weather friend China for one loan after another. This has alarmed even some Pakistani officials, because the country has become so dependent on China.

In the past, Pakistan has borrowed from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for emergency funds, and wants to do so again. But there are several issues:

As a private citizen, Imran Khan has criticized the IMF in the past, and has criticized Pakistan's government for borrowing from the IMF. Now that he's going to be prime minister, he may have to change his tune. Dawn (Pakistan) and AFP and Dawn and South China Morning Post and Al Jazeera

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6-Aug-18 World View -- John Bolton and Marco Rubio describe North Korea strategy, as sanctions are violated

UN report: North Korea nuclear and missile development continues

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN report: North Korea nuclear and missile development continues


North Korea foreign minister Ri Yong Ho slammed the Trump administration for refusing to lift sanctions (AFP)
North Korea foreign minister Ri Yong Ho slammed the Trump administration for refusing to lift sanctions (AFP)

A confidential report to the United Nations Security Council says that during the last six months, not only has North Korea not stopped development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but, even worse, North Korea is stepping up plans to sell weapons to other countries, including to the Houthis in Yemen. Now when we talk about the war in Yemen, instead of the "Iran-backed Houthis," we can refer to the "Iran-backed and North Korea backed Houthis."

According to the report:

"[North Korea] has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018."

North Korea also violated a textile ban by exporting more than $100 million in goods to China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay within the same time period.

North Korea has also offered "a range of conventional arms, and in some cases ballistic missiles to armed groups in Yemen and Libya," and particularly to the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. There is no report on whether the sales were actually made.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the ASEAN conference, said in response to the reports:

"If these reports prove accurate, and we have every reason to believe that they are, that would be in violation. I want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions that this is a serious issue and something we will discuss with Moscow.

[The US expects] all countries to abide to the UN Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea. Any violation that detracts from the world's goal of finally, fully denuclearizing North Korea would be something that America would take very seriously."

Pompeo did not specify what action or retaliation the US would take against every country violating the sanctions, but there have been widespread reports of violations by several countries, and no action has been taken. In particular, Russia has been accused of bringing in thousands of North Korean "guest workers," who act as virtual slaves, and whose salaries are sent back to the North Korean regime.

However, Pompeo's remarks were met with sharp rebukes by the representative of North Korea, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who said that Washington was "raising its voice louder" in anger, despite goodwill measures by North Korea.

North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho slammed the United States for insisting on sanctions, and prioritizing them higher than "confidence-building," which apparently refers to removing sanctions:

"Confidence is not a sentiment to be cultivated overnight. In order to build full confidence between the DPRK [North Korea] and the US, it is essential for both sides to take simultaneous actions and phased steps to do what is possible one after another."

He said that North Korea had done its part with goodwill measures such as the moratorium on nuclear testing and the dismantling of a nuclear site. But instead of reciprocating these goodwill measures, he accused the US of "raising its voice louder" for maintaining sanctions against North Korea, and was "showing the attitude to retreat even from declaring the end of war, a very basic and primary step for providing peace on the Korean peninsula." Declaring an end to the Korean War, which is still theoretically in progress, though under a ceasefire, would require removing American troops from South Korea, a key objective of North Korea. It would also require removing the THAAD missile defense system, a key objective of China. Reuters and Deutsche Welle and Straits Times

John Bolton and Marco Rubio describe administration's North Korea strategy

As I've written many times, everything that the Trump administration has done in foreign policy since Donald Trump took office makes complete sense to me, which is in contrast to Obama's foreign policy, which never made sense. The reason that Trump's foreign policy makes sense is because everything he does is consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses that I've been posting for years. Trump understands these analyses because he was educated by his former principal advisor Steve Bannon, whom I've worked with for years, and who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics. It's worth mentioning this because the mainstream press and mainstream analysts are always completely and totally baffled by the administration's foreign policy, even though it is consistent and makes complete sense, provided you focus on actions, not PR tweets.

On Sunday, responding to questions about the UN report, national security adviser John Bolton and Senator Marco Rubio described the administration strategy toward North Korea at the present time.

As I've been writing for many months, based on Generational Dynamics analyses, is that there is no chance whatsoever that North Korea will give up its nuclear development program now or in the future, after having tortured, starved and brutalized their own population for three decades, under the promise that one day North Korea would be a nuclear power on a peer with the United States.

North Korea has one and only one objective in the charm offensive since the beginning of the year and in Kim's summit meetings with Trump and South Korean leaders: To get the US-led sanctions lifted without having to give up its development of nuclear missiles targeting the United States.

Saturday's statements by North Korea's foreign minister harshly criticizing the US for not reciprocating North Korea's "goodwill measures" and instead demanding that sanctions be continued is in line with this objective.

During John Bolton's interview on Sunday, he said the following:

"As I've said to you and others before, there's nobody in his administration starry eyed about the prospects of North Korea actually denuclearizing.

But I think what's going on now is that the president is giving Kim Jong-un on a master class on how to hold a door open for somebody. And if the North Koreans can't figure out how to walk through it, even the president's fiercest critics will not be able to say it's because he didn't open it wide enough.

We are going to have to see a performance from the North Koreans. There's no question about it."

This is a very interesting statement, and reflects a strategy that I haven't heard previously from the administration. As I've suggested in the past, North Korea will continue nuclear missile development no matter what the Trump administration does, and since it doesn't make any different what action is taken, the administration should choose actions that when the inevitable nuclear confrontation happens, the North Koreans and the Chinese will be blamed for it, not the United States. This is crucial from the point of view of historians ten or twenty years from now, looking back and saying that it was North Korea, not the United States, that was to blame for what happened. Bolton's remarks on Trump giving "a master class on how to hold a door open for somebody" are exactly in line with that objective.

Senator Marco Rubio, who is on the Senate and Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees, was also interviewed on Fox News, and gave additional strategic information:

"Well, I'm about to tell you I hope I'm wrong about, but I do not believe that he is ever going to give up his nuclear arsenal. What I do believe he will do is a series of unilateral concessions that do not undermine his capabilities in the long term. For example, I think he's more than willing to tear apart facilities that are no longer necessary for old missiles because he's got newer ones that work better. I believe he has undisclosed sites that he thinks he can shield from the world. I believe that he believes that even if he gets rid of some of the new enrichment capabilities, he already has existing weapons and existing enriched capabilities that he can hide from the from the world.

And every single time that he does one of these productions he is engendering goodwill internationally, which is ultimately his goal, to undermine international support for sanctions by arguing, "Look at all these things I'm doing, the Americans are not reciprocating," and undermining sanctions at the U.N. and internationally. That's his goal in my opinion."

The interviewer Chris Wallace said: "Isn't Kim succeeding in lowering the temperature, breaking apart the alliance of sanctions, and isn't president Trump being played?"

Rubio responded, "I don't know if the president is being played. I think he's hoping for the best but prepared for the worst. The sanctions remained in place. We haven't changed a single sanction on North Korea."

Once again, this makes complete sense because it's consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses that I've been posting for months. As I've said in the past, Trump can't prevent a world war, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to try to prevent a world war, even if doing so is impossible.

One more related subject that the mainstream media is completely baffled about is the issue of Russia. I must hear reporters ask the same question a dozen times a day: Why is Trump so "nice" to Vladimir Putin and Russia, when he's not so "nice" to China and in fact is conducting a trade war?

Once again, this makes perfect sense, as I've been describing for years. Russia will be our ally in the coming world war, just as the Soviet Union was our ally in World War II, even though it was a bitter enemy before and after World War II. Generational Dynamics predicts that this bit of history will repeat itself, so of course it makes sense for Trump to be "nice" to Russia. This will be of help later.

As for the trade war against China, this is a dangerous game. An American oil embargo against Japan in 1941 led to Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor several months later, and this trade war might trigger a similar response from China today. In a sense it doesn't make any difference, since China has been arming itself militarily to pre-emptively attack the United States at a time of its choosing, so the trade war might force China to move up the attack to a time when it will not be as well prepared. However, there's no question that this is a dangerous move.

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. Fox News

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5-Aug-18 World View -- China mocks America's 'Indo-Pacific' strategy at ASEAN meeting

Concerns grow over China's debt strategy for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China mocks America's 'Indo-Pacific' strategy at ASEAN meeting


Donald Trump meets Vietnam's leader Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi last year (Reuters)
Donald Trump meets Vietnam's leader Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi last year (Reuters)

Neither China nor the United States is a member of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), but both had representatives present, and their competing strategies were the main subjects of discussion. ASEAN has ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

For lexicographers and cartographers, the main news is that Western nations, including Australia and the US, have given a new name to their strategies, referring to the "Indo-Pacific strategy" instead of the old name, "Asia-Pacific strategy."

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had earlier discussed a plan to invest $113 million in technology, energy and infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region. On Saturday he added:

"As part of our commitment to advancing regional security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is excited to announce nearly $300 million in new funding to reinforce security cooperation throughout the entire region."

The reason for the change in terminology is to emphasize that the Pacific Ocean and the India Ocean form a combined strategic region. However, the terminology change is annoying to the Chinese, who prefer the China-centric name "Asia-Pacific," while the name "Indo-Pacific" gives more emphasis to China's historic enemy, India.

Chinese media were bitterly scathing in their response to Pompeo's announcements:

"What is the Indo-Pacific strategy? Many complain about its vagueness. Its most innovative part may be the name itself. Washington probably hopes the rest of the world would stop asking questions, tacitly understand Washington's intentions and firmly gather around the US after a few exchanges of glances and together begin to counter China's rising influence....

ASEAN members are not sure what the US Indo-Pacific strategy entails. The US announced only an investment of $113 million, which also includes India. The amount seems only sufficient to build an overpass perhaps in the center of Mumbai. Washington is using a strategic gimmick. It is insincere about pushing forward economic prosperity of Indo-Pacific region....

As a concept, Indo-Pacific strategy generated some media and psychological impact. But this is perhaps the only points it can score. If the US wants more, this strategy will be the abyss that consumes much US resources and its output can hardly match its input.

What's more important, this is not the era where geopolitics rules all. The US has treated China's Belt and Road initiative, which focuses on mutually beneficial cooperation, as strategic expansion, and is trying to prohibit Asia from marching forward through connectivity. Washington's move is against historic tide. Even if it plans to invest 100 times its current amount, the investment will be devoured by the historic trend."

The commentary mentions China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), where China has committed $900 billion (with a "b") to Asian countries, in contrast to America's "paltry" commitment of $133 million (with an "m"). Reuters and Global Times (Beijing) and Asia Times and ASEAN

Concerns grow over China's debt strategy for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Many ASEAN countries were disappointed at the lack of specifics in Pompeo's promise that "The United States will continue to create the conditions for mutual prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific."

However, many of these countries are quite concerned about the numerous problems associated with BRI, including corruption scandals and concerns about opaque financing, delays and mounting debt problems linked to the loans Beijing has provided to its partner countries.

In the past couple of years, we've seen how these projects work, in countries like Sri Lanka, Kenya, Djibouti, Malaysia and Pakistan:

Malaysia has suspended a $14 billion rail line because of graft and corruption. Pakistan cancelled a $14 billion dam project last year because of excessive debts. Kenya accused China of "neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination." Other countries are extremely anxious about Chinese investments.

The US offer of $113 million plus $300 million is paltry compared to China's offer, but the US offer is aid, not a loan, and it's the local workers who will build the infrastructure project.

That's why, when announcing these aid packages, Pompeo emphasized "partnership, not domination" in Asia, and promised to "create the conditions for mutual prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific." Nikkei and Malay Mail and Washington Examiner

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4-Aug-18 World View -- South Africa announces plans for unpaid confiscation of white-owned farms

Zimbabwe's post-election violence raises concerns about economy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe's post-election violence raises concerns about economy


Zimbabwe Black Power Farm. Starting in 2000, Zimbabwe's government confiscated thousands of white-owned farms without compensation, leading to economic disaster. (AFP)
Zimbabwe Black Power Farm. Starting in 2000, Zimbabwe's government confiscated thousands of white-owned farms without compensation, leading to economic disaster. (AFP)

Early Friday morning the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of Sunday's presidential election with 50.8% of the vote -- just enough to avoid a run-off against Chamisa, who received 44.3% of the vote.

Chamisa declared the result fraudulent, and urged his supporters to hold peaceful protests, avoiding violence. However, a Chamisa press conference was broken up by government riot police. On Wednesday, the army opened live fire on protesters in the capital city Harare, killing six people.

Whether or not the election was fraudulent, these and other acts of post-election violence by government security and military forces against protesters are raising concerns in the international community that Zimbabwe is not a stable country, and that therefore commercial investments in Zimbabwe are too risky.

Mnangagwa repeatedly made it clear during the campaign that he wanted the election to be fair and free of controversy, specifically so that international investors would help boost Zimbabwe's collapsing economy.

Zimbabwe's disastrous economy is blamed on tribal and racial violence by Mnangagwa's predecessor Robert Mugabe. Mugabe's Shona tribe conducted genocide against the hated Ndebele tribe, killing tens of thousands, and marginalizing them ever since. Then he conducted racial warfare starting in 2000 by confiscating hundreds of farms owned by white farmers, and turning them over to his Shona cronies who didn't know how to run a farm. A lot of the racist confiscation was performed through "land invasions," where a group of Shona tribesmen would invade a white-owned farm, throw the white farmers off the farm, and confiscate it through force.

The result was an economic disaster that changed Zimbabwe from the breadbasket of southern Africa into a basket case. The currency collapsed with an inflation rate over 231 million percent, as people were forced into starvation. Mugabe continued his "indigenization" program by confiscating commercial businesses and turning them over to Shona cronies who didn't know how to run businesses.

During this year's election campaign, Mnangagwa actually acknowledged Mugabe's disastrous policies by attempting to woo white farmers with promises to return some of their land.

Mnangagwa conceded that much of the land stolen from white farmers had been given to powerful politicians, soldiers or tribal leaders who knew little or nothing about farming:

"I know of some chiefs who have moved from one farm to another. Then they run it down. Then he leaves that farm and he is issued another one. He runs it down. That time is gone."

However, that speech was given by a politician to wealthy Zimbabweans during election campaign. Why would anyone believe anything that a politician says during an election campaign? At his core, Mnangagwa is a Shona tribesman still at war with Ndebele tribesmen and whites.

Now that Mnangagwa has been declared winner of the presidential election, he has to find a way to get international investors to invest in Zimbabwe. And this will have to be done with actions, not promises. Whether he can do that remains to be seen. Zimbabwe Mail and Deutsche Welle (7-Jul)

South Africa announces plans for unpaid confiscation of white-owned farms

South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the governing African National Congress (ANC) political party, made a surprise announcement on Tuesday that the ANC would go ahead with aggressive plans to confiscate white-owned farms without compensation:

"The ANC reaffirms its position that the Constitution is a mandate for radical transformation both of society and the economy.

A proper reading of the Constitution on the property clause enables the state to effect expropriation of land with just and equitable compensation and also expropriation without compensation in the public interest.

It has become patently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation, as demonstrated in the public hearings. ...

Accordingly, the ANC will, through the parliamentary process, finalize a proposed amendment to the Constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.

The intention of this proposed amendment is to promote redress, advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security."

Blacks claim that farmland was owned by whites during the apartheid era, but since South Africa achieved independence in 1994, blacks own very little farmland, while whites own massively more. In 1994, the ANC promised to expropriate 30% of the white-owned farms "with just and equitable compensation," as provided for in the constitution, and redistribute that land to black farmers.

However, 25 years later, the government has acquired only 7.9% of the white-owned farms, and even those have mostly not been redistributed to blacks. Therefore, there have increasingly belligerent demands within the ANC to take action to confiscate white-owned farms. Furthermore, rather than have the ANC provide "just and equitable compensations," the new constitutional amendment will permit confiscation with no compensation whatsoever.

This is exactly the policy that Zimbabwe followed, and in fact confiscation with no compensation opens the way to the same kinds of "land invasions," where blacks invade a white-owned farm and throw the white farmer out. The result that the value of the South African rand currency has been falling sharply since Ramaphosa's announcement.

Ramaphosa, of course, is just another ordinary politician making a campaign promise in advance of next year's election. Ramaphosa made the completely empty promise to "advance economic development, increase agricultural production and food security," even though he has absolutely no clue how to do that and, in fact, the Zimbabwe experiences indicates that the outcome will be disastrous.

The ANC have been forming committees and holding meetings for over a year on the question of land confiscation without compensation, but they still haven't even come up with a description of how the land confiscation would work. Questions that they've been unable or unwilling to answer include the following:

Even under the most benign circumstances, why would a black farmer with no experience as a farmer do anywhere near as well as a white farmer who has been farming for decades? He won't.

Zimbabwe used to produce enough food to feed itself, and export the rest. After Robert Mugabe's farm confiscation program, Zimbabwe was forced to import food, and Zimbabwe was saved by food from South African farms. After South Africa's farm confiscation program is put into effect, who's going to save South Africa? News24 (South Africa) and CNBC and News24 and Eyewitness News (South Africa) and The South African and News24

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Aug-18 World View -- South Africa announces plans for unpaid confiscation of white-owned farms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Aug-18 World View -- DR Congo has new outbreak of Ebola just as the previous outbreak ends

Reasons for quick containment of last Ebola outbreak

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DR Congo's last Ebola outbreak officially ended on July 24


Camps for displaced people, North Kivu province, DR Congo (UN)
Camps for displaced people, North Kivu province, DR Congo (UN)

As we reported in May, there was a potentially explosive outbreak of Ebola in the city of Mbandaka, a large heavily populated urban city of about 1.2 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where an outbreak could spread rapidly. Furthermore, Mbandaka is a port city on the Congo River, creating the potential of transmission along the Congo River to other cities and other countries.

On July 24, the World Health Organization (WHO) was proud to announce that the outbreak had officially ended. The doctors who had been sent to the region had been extremely vigilant, and had been aggressively using "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 vaccine had been developed, and suspected victims were treated with the vaccine, to prevent development of the full virus. Teams went to remote villages to vaccinate some 3300 people likely to have been exposed to Ebola. However, it's still not known whether the vaccine actually protected against infection, although it clearly boosted morale.

On July 24, all known contacts had completed their 21 day isolation period, and there were no new cases. There had been 53 cases of Ebola, and 29 deaths.

This was a striking contrast to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, sickening over 28,000 and killing over 11,310. Guardian (24-Jul) and Science Magazine (18-Jul) and World Health Organization (24-Jul)

DR Congo has new outbreak of Ebola in North Kivu province

The last outbreak of Ebola occurred in the far western region of Equateur province which is in in far western Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Now the World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring a new outbreak. This one is in North Kivu province, in far eastern DRC, 2,500 km (1,500 miles) from the previous outbreak.

The new outbreak has been spreading rapidly. Already, 20 people have been killed, including four health workers, and four other people have tested positive for the virus.

There are three known strains of the Ebola virus -- the Zaire strain, the Sudan strain, and the Bundibugyo strain. The last outbreak was the Zaire strain, and the vaccine that had been developed was specific to that strain. Which of the three strains is in the new outbreak has not been identified, but the vaccine can be used only with the Zaire strain.

A more dangerous problem, beyond the possible unavailability of a vaccine, is that that that North Kivu province is a war zone for a tribal civil war. Armed groups backed by government forces have been burning down and pillaging villages, torching houses, shutting down schools, hospitals and churches, forcefully recruiting young men, abducting and kidnapping innocent citizens, raping women and girls. This has already driven hundreds of thousands of refugees from North Kivu province of DRC into refugee camps in Uganda. ( "13-Feb-18 World View -- Thousands of DR Congo refugees pour into Uganda to escape tribal violence")

The WHO has been rapidly transferring its people and assets from Equateur province, the site of the previous Ebola outbreak, to the site of current outbreak in North Kivu province. However, it remains to be seen how effective they'll be in this midst of an extremely violent tribal war situation. Guardian (London) and Reuters and World Health Organization

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Reasons for quick containment of last Ebola outbreak

The Ebola outbreak that began in May and ended on July 24 was defeated by the WHO extremely quickly, much more quickly than in the past. There are several reasons for this:

The new outbreak, which takes place in the midst of a tribal civil war, may not be as easy to contain. And if it is, then the next big disease outbreak may be from an unknown pathogen that can't be contained with existing strategies. Vox

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Aug-18 World View -- DR Congo has new outbreak of Ebola just as the previous outbreak ends thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Aug-18 World View -- Report: EU and UK ready to accept 'fudge' to get through Brexit

Opposition grows to the 'fudge' proposal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Report: EU and UK ready to accept 'fudge' to get through Brexit


An anti-Brexit placard at the Ireland - Northern Ireland border crossing in Killeen (AFP)
An anti-Brexit placard at the Ireland - Northern Ireland border crossing in Killeen (AFP)

Brexit has been a pending disaster ever since the referendum passed on June 23, 2016, and many people in the UK and EU continue to look for ways to make the disaster as small as possible. So now the news is full of talk of a "fudge."

As I explained a few weeks ago, "fudge" is being increasingly used as a stylish, fashionable word for what used to be called "kicking the can down the road."

So in the last couple of days, there are reports that the EU negotiators are ready to agree to a "fudge" based on the so-called "Chequers plan" proposal by UK prime minister Theresa May a month ago.

May was able to twist a lot of arms to get the plan approved by her Tory cabinet at a meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence. But the euphoria didn't last long, as two of her ministers resigned four days later, David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and Boris Johnson, the foreign minister.

The endless chaos in the UK government caught the attention of the EU negotiators, as officials in both governments increasingly realize the following:

It's become increasingly clear among EU officials in Brussels that May will be unable to navigate an agreement between the "Remainers" and the "Brexiteers," and there is no majority in Commons for any proposal. This would mean that the likelihood of a hard "no deal" Brexit is increasing by the day.

For that reason, EU officials are increasingly willing to "fudge" the negotiations. The plan for future EU-UK ties will not be a formal agreement, but will be an aspirational statement to say as little as possible, to get past the March 29 deadline.

The main condition would be a watertight backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The backstop would require setting up a customs border in the Irish Sea, which separates the Irish Isles from the British Isles. Such measures would in practice keep much of Northern Ireland’s economy under EU legal control, something that Theresa May has said is intolerable.

One senior EU official said:

"The political declaration cannot violate our principles. But with the rest, whatever helps pass a withdrawal bill is fine. You can talk about many things because the backstop is the insurance if all these nice perspectives don't work out."

Besides the backstop, the UK will have to pay the "divorce bill," estimated to be around 39 billion pounds ($50 billion).

Other things, like the complex trading rules, the "common EU-UK rulebook," and court jurisdiction would be left as vague as possible, to be negotiated in the transition period following formal Brexit.

And that's what we used to call "kicking the can down the road." Evening Standard (UK) and Politics (UK) and FT and UK Government Brexit White Paper (PDF, 13-July)

Opposition grows to the 'fudge' proposal

Almost as soon as the report emerged that EU officials might accept a "fudge" of Theresa May's Chequers proposal, opposition grew in both the UK and the EU.

Foreign minister Boris Johnson, a strong Brexiteer, considered the Chequers proposal to be the worst of all worlds. In his resignation letter to Theresa May last month, Johnson wrote the following:

"The British government has spent decades arguing against this or that EU directive, on the grounds that it was too burdensome or ill-thought out. We are now in the ludicrous position of asserting that we must accept huge amounts of precisely such EU law, without changing an iota, because it is essential for our economic health - and when we no longer have any ability to influence these laws as they are made."

Although Johnson is a strong member of the Brexit Leave camp, people in the Remain camp, who never wanted Brexit in the first place, agree with Johnson's opinion of the Chequers proposals.

The Remain camp is now calling it the "blind Brexit." According to Chris Leslie, an MP in the Remain camp:

"A blind Brexit would take the UK to the same place as a no-deal Brexit, but without the clarity. The idea that the fundamental contradictions of the government’s Brexit policy can be more easily resolved after the UK has left the EU is simply ludicrous.

A blind Brexit is being talked about because some see it as a short-term face-saving deal for both the British government and the European Union, both of which are now terrified that concluding with a failure to agree a deal will result in a humiliating no-deal Brexit.

With the EU27 governments and the EU commission wanting to spare Theresa May’s blushes, there is a risk we end up with a fake deal to save face."

Leslie's statement is that it's ludicrous to think that issues that can't be resolved before Brexit, will be more easily resolved after Brexit is true, but he misses the point. The whole point of a "fudge" is to "kick the can down the road," and if that can keep happening over and over, then the issues will never be resolved, and will never have to be resolved.

Readers may recall what happened with Greece's financial crisis. The EU and Greece would have a major crisis meeting every few months, usually running all night, and they would announce a "fudge," a way to postpone the crisis till the next meeting. The problems with Greece's unsustainable debt were never resolved -- it's still unsustainable. But they've found a way to kick the can down the road indefinitely.

So that's the idea behind the Brexit fudge. Leslie is right that there will be no agreement during the transition period, but if the politicians are clever enough, no agreement will every have to be reached, and every problem will be postponed. As the Peanuts character Charlie Brown used to say, no problem is so big that it can't be run away from.

The Remain camp is now calling itself "The People's Vote" because it's focused on a second Brexit referendum on leaving the EU. People in the Leave camp would never agree to that, but as I understand it, even if everyone did agree, a referendum takes a long time to set up, and so it's impossible before the March 29 Brexit deadline.

For that reason, the Remain camp is seeking out its own fudge. They're trying to convince EU leaders, especially from Germany and France, to agree to a postponement of the March 29 day to give enough time for a second referendum. Guardian (London) and Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Aug-18 World View -- Report: EU and UK ready to accept 'fudge' to get through Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Aug-18 World View -- Iran's anti-government protests expand as rial currency plummets

The Grand Bazaar and the prospects for regime change

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's anti-government protests expand as rial currency plummets


The Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran (OrigIran)
The Grand Bazaar in Tehran, Iran (OrigIran)

Massive demonstrations that began in December 2017 have been continuing intermittently in cities across Iran since then. On Tuesday, the protests spread to the history central city of Isfahan.

The protests a month ago were triggered by the collapse in the value of Iran's currency, the rial. At the end of 2017, the exchange rate was 42,000 rials to the US dollar. A month ago, the exchange rate had fallen to 90,000 rials to the dollars. One of the chants that protesters used in last months demonstrations was "We don't want the dollar at 100,000 rials!"

Well, on July 29 the exchange rate crossed the 100,000 milestone, and by Monday, the exchange rate was 110,000 rials to the dollar. The rate has been falling since May, when the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal, and announced that US sanctions would be imposed on August 7.

The plunge in the value of the rial means that goods imported into Iran from other countries now cost two times or even three times as much as they used to.

As Americans, we're so used to being blamed for everything in the world, it's startling that the protesters are not blaming America for this increase in prices. Instead, they're blaming their own government.

Protesters blame the government for wasting the tens of billions of dollars that Iran received when sanctions were lifted after the nuclear deal was signed in 2015. From the point of view of protesters, that money simply vanished into thin air, and they blame that on the Iranian government, not the Americans. The protesters blame Iran's massive corruption, especially among the clergy, and the money that's being spent on foreign wars in Syria and Lebanon.

Marchers on Tuesday were seen in video clips chanting "Leave Syria and think about us," and "No to Gaza, No to Lebanon — I give my life to Iran." The latter refers to billions of dollars being given to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and to Hamas in Gaza.

Other slogans were much more personal: "Death to the dictator," referring to the Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei. VOA and AP and Arab News

The Grand Bazaar and the prospects for regime change

The frequency of protests in Iran since the beginning of the year has raised hopes in the West that regime change was close at hand.

Earlier this month, there were protests for a very different reason -- water shortages and pollution, and lack of water management. A vast agricultural area in Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran lacks irrigation water. This is a region that was devastated by the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s, and has a largely Arab population, which suffers official discrimination, as opposed to the majority Persian population. About 40% of Iran has been suffering from a serious drought since last year.

There is a great desire in the West for something called "regime change" in Iran, although it's rarely specified what that means. It could mean that Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, gets replaced, but his replacement may be worse. In terms of violent repression, Khamenei actually isn't very different from the Shah of Iran (Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi) who was deposed by the 1979 revolution.

As we described last month in "Brief generational history of Iran's protests," Tehran's Grand Bazaar has played a pivotal role in protests and regime changes in the past.

Tehran's Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world, with origins that go back as far as 1660 BC. It occupies over 8 square miles, and has hundreds of shops. So when there's a widespread protest and strike supported by the shop owners, and suddenly all the shops are closed, it is a significant event.

The Tobacco Revolt of 1890-92 was led by tobacco merchants in the Grand Bazaar, but quickly spread to other merchants. The revolt fizzled because of violence from the Shah. But in 1905, there were new protests, led this time by the sugar merchants in the Grand Bazaar. These protests led to a generational crisis civil war, the Constitutional Revolution, which was a major "regime change" for Iran in that the Shah was then bound by laws defined in the new constitution.

The White Revolution protests in 1962 were begun by a different set of élites -- the clergy, led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. This was too soon after the Constitutional Revolution to spread widely, and it fizzled quickly.

However, it led to the Great Islamic Revolution in 1979. Once again, the merchants in the Grand Bazaar were among the leaders that brought about a major regime change -- overthrowing the Shah and replacing him with Khomeini.

So now there are new protests by the merchants in the Grand Bazaar, thanks to the plunge in the value of the rial, something that affects them directly. Does that mean that regime change is at hand?

No, it doesn't. If there's some kind of widespread revolt, it will almost certainly fizzle, like the Tobacco Revolt and the White Revolution protests.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there is a different kind of change at hand, an Awakening era climax similar to the one that forced president Richard Nixon to step down in America in 1974. This will be the climax of the political confrontation between the generations of old geezer survivors of the revolution and the people in the younger generations growing up after the revolution -- the same young people who have been protesting in cities across Iran.

Depending on who is in charge after this change, it's possible that Iran will once again be the ally of the United States, just as it was prior to 1979. Reuters and Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya and OrigIran and The Conversation (3-Jul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Aug-18 World View -- Iran's anti-government protests expand as rial currency plummets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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31-Jul-18 World View -- Attacks on Saudi tankers expose twin Iran military threats to international oil shipments

US considers military options for Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Attacks on Saudi tankers expose twin Iran military threats to international oil shipments


Map of Mideast, highlighting Yemen's Hodeidah seaport, and shipping choke points Strait of Hormuz and Bab el-Mandeb Strait
Map of Mideast, highlighting Yemen's Hodeidah seaport, and shipping choke points Strait of Hormuz and Bab el-Mandeb Strait

The US military is looking at options to keep two vital waterways, the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandeb strait, open to commercial shipping.

The increased concern comes about after Saudi Arabia suspended its oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb strait, after a Saudi oil tanker was struck by a missile launched by the Iran-backed Shia Houthis in Yemen.

The missile's warhead only partially detonated, causing a 2-3 meter hole in the hull, but if it had penetrated deeper and reached the 2 million barrels of oil in ship’s hold, it would have caused a massive environmental disaster.

Saudi Arabia immediate suspended all oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb strait. To date, no other exporters have followed suit. A full blockage of the strait would halt shipment to Europe and the United States of about 4.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and refined petroleum products, or result in substantial shipping delays as vessels are rerouted around the southern tip of Africa. The Bab al-Mandeb Strait controls access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean.

Few people doubt that the missiles were provided to the Houthis by Iran. However, Debka is going further and reporting that the attack was orchestrated by a disguised Iranian vessel, the Saviz, a weapons-carrying spy ship, which had been under surveillance by Western naval sources for some time, as it was in a holding pattern in the Bab al-Mandeb strait. Debka's reports are written from Israel's point of view, based on military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do sometimes get some things wrong.

The Houthi attack is related to the Saudi-led offensive on the Port of Hodeidah, which is used by NGOs as the major port for humanitarian supplies for the Yemen population, and is also used by the Houthis for the importation of weapons. The purpose of the offensive is to recaptured the port from the Houthis. The offensive began on June 12, but has been going badly, and has made little progress, except to deepen the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, which is considered the world's worst.

The Houthis have targeted Saudi tankers in at least two other attacks this year. According to a Saudi energy consultant, the Saudi announcement about suspending oil shipments was done for security reason, but also has a political dimension, to gain international cooperation in the offensive on Hodeidah:

"Rather than allowing these hostile maneuvers to go unnoticed in the eyes of the world, the Saudi (energy) minister has placed Iran’s subversions of the whole global economy under the spotlight for everyone to see. The capture of the port of Hodeidah will go a long way towards putting an end to these disruptions."

Saudi Arabia transports crude oil from its fields in the east, through the Strait of Hormuz, then through the Bab al-Mandeb strait, through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal to Europe and North America. The Saudis have other choices for delivering oil. One possibility is to use the Petroline, and east-west pipeline that can transport crude from fields in the east to the Red Sea port of Yanbu, bypassing both of the narrow straits. It could also charter non-Saudi ships to carry the oil through Bab al-Mandeb, which it already with Asian customers using different routes. Reuters and Debka and CNBC

US considers military options for Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb

Tensions between the US and Iran have been increasing since the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal in May. Since then, Iran's rial currency has been plunging to record lows, in anticipation of the imposition of new US sanctions on August 7. Some of those sanctions may limit Iran's ability to sell its oil, and this has led to tit-for-tat threats between the Trump administration and Iranian officials, including a threat by Iran to take military action to shut down the Strait of Hormuz.

It's now clear that Iran is not just threatening the Strait of Hormuz, but is also threatening Bab al-Mandeb.

There have reports over the weekend that the US military was considering what options can be used to keep both Hormuz and Bab al-Mandeb open to commercial traffic, particularly oil tankers.

For example, military studies suggest that an obstruction of Hormuz, by mines, small submarines, “swarming” attacks by boats, and land-based missiles, would be defeated within a few weeks at most by US and allied naval forces. It would also be a casus belli for the US to make a much wider-ranging strike against Iranian military and other targets.

US military officials emphasize that if any military action is taken, it would be carried out by other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and not by US forces. The National (UAE) and CNN and Haaretz and National Interest (28-Jun)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jul-18 World View -- Attacks on Saudi tankers expose twin Iran military threats to international oil shipments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Jul-18 World View -- Operation Gukurahundi genocide becomes major Zimbabwe election issue

Robert Mugabe endorses the opposition candidate

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Operation Gukurahundi genocide becomes major Zimbabwe election issue


Operation Gukurahundi grave from 1984 (bulawayo24.com)
Operation Gukurahundi grave from 1984 (bulawayo24.com)

For years, it was forbidden in Zimbabwe to talk about Operation Gukurahundi genocide of the 1980s, and if you did, then you risked being arrested, beaten and tortured by the security forces of president Robert Mugabe, head of the Zanu-PF party, dominated by Mugabe's tribe, the Shona.

But last year Mugabe was ousted and replaced by Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, another Zanu-PF Shona, the man whom Mugabe had fired as vice-president just weeks earlier. After becoming the new president, Mnangagwa said, "The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy."

On Monday there's a new presidential election with 75 year old Mnangagwa facing, as a principal challenger, Nelson Chamisa, head of the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), representing the interests of the Ndebele tribe, historic tribal enemies of the Shona tribe. Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF are expected to win, either by popularity or election-rigging, depending on whom you ask.

If Chamisa does better than expected it may be because Mnangagwa was a major architect of Operation Gukurahundi, the bloody genocide of tens of thousands in the Ndebele tribe conducted by the Shona tribe in the 1980s.

Operation Gukurahundi was mostly based on the historical enmity of two tribes -- Mugabe's Shona tribe, and his enemies, the Ndebele tribe. Genocidal warfare occurred between these two tribes in previous generational crisis wars -- the Mfecane war that climaxed in 1828, the Matabele Wars that climaxed in 1897, and the Rhodesia civil war, climaxing in 1979. It was the last war that gave Zimbabwe independence, making Mugabe the President.

Mnangagwa received military training in China in the early 1960s as a teenager. As Mugabe's right-hand man, Mnangagwa is widely blamed for leading the genocide against the Ndebele tribe. "Operation Gukurahundi" (Shona language for "The rain that washes away the chaff (from the last harvest) before the spring rain") was accomplished with the help of the army's 5th Brigade of 3,000 élite Shona troops, which had been trained by North Korea. Tens of thousands from the Ndebele tribe were tortured and slaughtered, under orders from Mugabe and Mnangagwa. Some families were pushed into huts that were set on fire and they either burned to death or were shot dead when they tried to escape.

That wasn't the end of it. Since the 1980s, Mugabe and Mnangagwa have systematically won every election by marginalizing, jailing and torturing opposition politicians, marginalizing the members of the Ndebele tribe, and rigging elections. This has continued to the present time, and few opposition politicians believe that it will end now.

Mnangagwa has refused to apologize for his part in Operation Gukurahundi. According to one opposition politician, "What we need from Mnangagwa is an admission of what happened, an apology and communal reparations for the victims of that time."

Both Mugabe and Mnangagwa for decades worked together on Mugabe's "indigenization" program, which threw out farm and business owners who knew how to run a farm or a business, and replaced them with thugs and cronies from Mugabe's and Mnangagwa's Shona tribe who didn't know how to run a farm or business. Over three decades, Mugabe and Mnangagwa turned Rhodesia, which was a wealthy country and the breadbasket of southern Africa, into today's Zimbabwe, which is an economic basket case. They turned Zimbabwe's stable currency into a worthless hyperinflated currency, with an inflation rate reaching over 231 million percent, so that the only trustworthy currency in Zimbabwe today in the American dollar.

Because of the economic self-destruction, investors have abandoned Zimbabwe. With all of his talk of a "new Zimbabwe," Mnangagwa's principal objective to get international money to flow into Zimbabwe for him to spend. Guardian (London) and Newsday (Zimbabwe) and AP and Reuters and Bulawayo News (Zimbabwe)

Robert Mugabe endorses the opposition candidate

In a bizarre twist on Sunday, ousted president Robert Mugabe unexpectedly gave a speech saying that he could not support the man who had ousted him, Emmerson Mnangagwa. He did not say whom he would vote for, but expressed some support for the main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, the leader of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"I cannot vote for those who tormented me," said Mugabe.

It's hard to believe the enormous irony of that statement. Mugabe is a war criminal, and has tormented, tortured, jailed and slaughtered his tribal and political opponents for decades, and now he's whining because he no longer has sufficiently palatial living quarters. However, this is the kind of self-serving attitude we expect of all politicians at all times in all countries.

Mnangagwa responded with an equally self-serving statement, implying that a vote for the opposition would indicate evil intentions: "It is clear to all that Chamisa has forged a deal with Mugabe, we can no longer believe that his intentions are to transform Zimbabwe and rebuild our nation." BBC and Reuters and The Citizen (South Africa)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jul-18 World View -- Operation Gukurahundi genocide becomes major Zimbabwe election issue thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Jul-18 World View -- Cambodia's China-backed dictator Hun Sen expected to win fraudulent election on Sunday

Brief generational history of Cambodia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cambodia's China-backed dictator Hun Sen expected to win fraudulent election on Sunday


Prime minister Hun Sen signs Paris Peace Accords for Cambodia in 1991; last year he declared the accords to be dead 'ghosts' (AFP)
Prime minister Hun Sen signs Paris Peace Accords for Cambodia in 1991; last year he declared the accords to be dead 'ghosts' (AFP)

Cambodia is holding a supposedly democratic election on Sunday, but there's little doubt which party is going to win: the party is the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), and its leader is China's man, Hun Sen.

China has done everything possible to ensure a Hun Sen victory. As the three-week election campaign began, China announced that it would provide $259 million in loans to fund an infrastructure project in the capital city Phnom Penh. China's ambassador Xiong Bo attended a CPP party rally to support Hun Sen.

China has provided more direct election aid as well. China provided funding for the election in the form of $20 million for equipment, including polling booths, laptops and computers. This month, U.S. security-research firm FireEye said it found evidence of a Chinese hacking team infiltrating computer systems belonging to Cambodia’s election commission, opposition leaders and the media.

There used to be an opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). It came close to winning during the last election in 2013. But then in June 2017, in a local election on the outskirts of Cambodia's Kampong Cham town, it decisively defeated Hun Sen's CPP. CNRP leader Kem Sokha has been jailed on phony charges of treason. Hun Sen arranged for the Supreme Court to declare the CNRP to be illegal. So there's no longer a major opposition party, and party activists have been forced to flee the country.

In the past year, Hun Sen has also destroyed the free press. Hun Sen closed 30 radio states, as well as the Cambodia Daily, one of Cambodia's two independent English-language newspapers. Radio Free Asia was banned, and of its reporters were jailed. The Phnom Penh Post, the last remaining independent newspaper, was sold to a businessman tied to Hun Sen.

Hun Sen has repaid China by making Cambodia an important strategic ally of China. While Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and other countries oppose China's massive illegal annexation and militarization of the South China Sea, Cambodia strongly supports China, especially in international forums like ASEAN. China returns the favor by fully supporting Hun Sen's human rights atrocities -- jailing opposition politicians, shutting independent newspapers, and so forth. There's honor among criminals. Reuters and Bloomberg and Asia Times and The Atlantic

Brief generational history of Cambodia

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Hun Sen is following exactly the same pattern that many other countries have followed after a tribal or ethnic civil war. After the war ends, the leader of the country, usually from the winning tribe or ethnic group, refuses to give up power, and becomes increasingly violent and authoritarian, using as an excuse that peaceful protests or negative news articles can turn into a new civil war. This excuse provides justification for mass slaughter, rape, torture, mass jailings, mutilations, and so forth. I've described this behavior in Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who has gone to the extent of using Sarin gas and barrel bombs packed with explosives and metal and laced with chlorine gas onto civilian neighborhoods and markets in order to kill as many women and children as possible. Other leaders that I've described exhibiting this type of behavior include Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Joseph Kabila in DRC.

Cambodian culture dates back to at least 5000 BC. During the period 500 BC to 500 AD, the Khmer people in Cambodia were strongly influenced by Indian culture, via India traders, bureaucrats and priests. When Khmer became a written language in about 300 AD, Indian characters were adapted for its alphabet. Cambodia adopted some Indian gods, but not the caste system of Hinduism. In the 1200s, there was a mass conversion of Cambodians to Theravada Buddhism, a religion that was also adopted by the neighboring Thais. There were several centuries of wars between the Khmer and the Thais, until the French arrived in the 1860s.

Cambodia became a French protectorate in 1863. Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953, and supported the North Vietnamese against the South Vietnamese and the Americans in America's Vietnam war. It's easy to underestimate the horror of what happened next, since in the vitriolic political atmosphere following the Vietnam war, leftists like Jane Fonda vocally denied it was even going on, saying "I will never criticize a Communist government."

And yet, the Buddhist society of the China-backed Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in 1975-79, led by Pol Pot, perpetrated one of the three or four top mass genocides of the 20th century, comparable to the huge genocides of Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Mao Zedong.

The Buddhist Cambodian "Killing Fields" genocide, 1975-79, killed something like 1.7 to well over 2 million people, out of a population of 8 million. So around 20% of Cambodia's population were killed, making it possibly the worst genocide, on a percentage basis, of the 20th century. By contrast, the Nazi Holocaust killed around 5 million, which was less than 3% of Germany's population. Pol Pot was trying to imitate Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward in China, which was a genocide that killed millions of people out of some two billion. Mao Zedong and Pol Pot may be comparable in their genocides. In all cases, these millions of people were the subject of almost unimaginable atrocities, including torture and rape.

By January 1979, the Khmer Rouge had so destroyed Cambodia that the country was too weak to fight off an invasion by Vietnamese forces. At the time, many Cambodians welcomed the Vietnamese invasion, because it freed them from the Khmer Rouge. The war between the Vietnamese and Cambodians was extremely bloody, until the Vietnamese finally withdrew in 1989.

In 1991, prime minister Hun Sen signed a peace agreement called the Paris Peace Accords, a document that guaranteed democracy and human rights in Cambodia. However, like other leaders we've described following an ethnic or tribal civil war, Hun Sen has become increasingly authoritative and dictatorial, using as an excuse that unlimited violence is justified to avoid returning to the violence of the civil war.

In October of last year, as Hun Sen was brutally cracking down in preparation for these new elections, he said the following in a speech:

"Don’t imagine you can hold a meeting like the Paris Peace conference again because the Paris Peace agreement is like a ghost."

He told people to stop "dreaming" and harking back to the ideals of the agreement, because the Khmer Rouge were gone now, and so the agreement was useless "unless the Khmer Rouge returns." BBC (14-Sep-2014) and Diplomat (4-Nov-2016) and Phnom Penh Post (12-Dec-2017) and Cambodia Tribunal Monitor

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jul-18 World View -- Cambodia's China-backed dictator Hun Sen expected to win fraudulent election on Sunday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Jul-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia suspends Red Sea oil shipments after Yemen Houthi missile strikes tanker

Saudis renew airstrikes on Houthis in Yemen's Hodeidah seaport

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudi Arabia suspends Red Sea oil shipments after Yemen Houthi missile strikes tanker


File photo of vessels sailing in Bab al-Mandeb Strait
File photo of vessels sailing in Bab al-Mandeb Strait

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, temporarily suspended all oil shipments through the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, which controls access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean.

The announcement was made after Saudi oil tankers were attacked by missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen. It's believed that the missiles were supplied by Iran. The Iran-backed Shia Houthis, which represent about 15% of Yemen's population, invaded and took control of Yemen's capital city Sanaa in late 2014, driving out the Saudi-supported Sunni government. A war began in March 2015, which the Saudis claimed they would win quickly. However, the war is still going on three years later, with no end in sight.

On Wednesday, the Saudi oil company Saudi Aramco issued the following statement:

"As confirmed a short while ago by the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, H.E. Khalid Al-Falih, two Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), each with a two million barrels capacity, operated by the Saudi National Shipping Company, Bahri, and transporting Saudi Aramco crude oil were attacked by terrorist Houthi militia this morning in the Red Sea. One of the ships sustained minimal damage. No injuries nor oil spill have been reported.

In the interest of the safety of ships and their crews and to avoid the risk of oil spill, Saudi Aramco has temporarily halted all oil shipments through Bab El-Mandeb with immediate effect. The Company is carefully assessing the situation and will take further action as prudence demands."

Saudi Arabia has been sending 600,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Persian Gulf to buyers in Europe and North America.

Saudi Arabia says that the closure is temporary, and there are currently no plans to permanently close the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, but if it were closed then tankers would have to take a much longer trip by traveling around the southern tip of Africa. For example, a voyage from Saudi Arabia to Rotterdam takes about 22 days via the Bab el-Mandeb and Suez Canal, compared with 39 days around Africa, According to one analyst, the announcement had already added $1 to the cost of a barrel of oil on stock markets.

Bab al-Mandeb is a very important shipping lane, and permanent closure would have much greater consequences than just the price of oil. Egypt, Europe and the United States would have to intervene, according to one analyst:

"They have significant interests in protecting the freedom of the seas through the passageway. An international intervention against the Houthis may be just what Saudi Arabia wants."

The Houthis have also claimed that on Thursday they struck Abu Dhabi international airport in United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a drone. However, UAE officials deny that such an attack occurred. Saudi Aramco and Bloomberg and Al-Jazeera and Press TV (Iran)

Saudis renew airstrikes on Houthis in Yemen's Hodeidah seaport

The Saudi-led coalition launched heavy air strikes on Houthi targets in Hodeidah seaport in Yemen on Friday. The Saudis had agreed to stop the airstrikes on July 1, at the request of the United Nations, to give the UN envoy an opportunity to negotiate with both sides and reach a ceasefire.

On June 13, Saudi Arabia and UAE launched a "catastrophic" assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen, to regain control of it from the Houthis, who had captured it in 2015. The Saudis expressed the hope that the attack on Hodeidah could convince the Houthis to sue for peace in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However now, six weeks later, the battle for Hodeidah has ground to a halt. The Houthis had been much better prepared for the battle than the Saudis had expected. The Houthis had heavily planted landmines, and positioned snipers everywhere. The Saudis had simply underestimated the Houthis.

The Houthi missile attack on the Saudi oil tankers has changed the scope of the war somewhat, since it's now a more international war than it had been. The Saudi-UAE coalition is using the missile attack as justification to resume the airstrikes on Hodeidah, and by closing the Bab al-Mandeb strait, they may hope to receive additional international support for the war. Al-Jazeera and Reuters and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jul-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia suspends Red Sea oil shipments after Yemen Houthi missile strikes tanker thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Jul-18 World View -- ISIS terror attack kills hundreds of Druze in southern Syria

History of the Druze religion

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS terror attack kills hundreds of Druze in southern Syria


Mourners carry a coffin of one of Wednesday's victims (SANA)
Mourners carry a coffin of one of Wednesday's victims (SANA)

A series of gruesome terror attacks on Wednesday by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in the Druze-majority province of Sweida in southern Syria has killed at least 250 people.

At least 56 militants carried out the attack. The militants went from home to home, stabbing civilians, killing families as they slept, before launching several suicide bombings. ISIS claimed credit for the attacks on its web site.

The attacks targeted the community of 800,000 Druze in Sweida. The Druze religion is a splinter variant off of Shia Islam, and the Druze are considered apostates by extremist jihadists.

The total Druze community in the region consists about one million living in Syria and Lebanon, 104,000 living in Israel, and 40,000 living in Jordan. They're an important political force in both Israel and Lebanon. In Syria, they've stayed neutral in the civil war. They've lived peaceful among the Sunni and Shia Arabs in Syria and Lebanon for over a millennium.

However, ISIS consists mostly of foreign fighters who came to Syria from over 80 countries to fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, after al-Assad began committing genocide and ethnic cleansing among innocent Sunni women and children who opposed him politically. The foreign fighters in ISIS have no historic relationship with the Druze, so they were an easy target.

In the early years of Syria's civil war, al-Assad's army provided protection to the Druze. Some Druze are now accusing al-Assad of having withdrawn that protection because the neutral Druze refused to join al-Assad's army.

ISIS has lost a great deal of territory in Syria in the last year. They were driven out of their Caliphate in Raqqa by the Kurdish YPG, backed by the United States. And they were driven out of the region near Damascus by the Syrian army. There are still ISIS pockets in southern and eastern Syria. Some pundits had declared that ISIS had been completely defeated, but Wednesday's massive attack shows that's far from the truth, and additional attacks can be expected. AFP and CNN and Irish Times and Syria Direct and Sana (Damascus)

History of the Druze religion

The Druze came into existence as a secret society, and only announced itself to the world in the early 1000s (11th century). There was a brief period of proselytizing that ended in 1050. Since then it has been impossible to convert to Druze from any other religion. Druze marry inside their religion, with less than 1% marrying people of other religions.

Within Israel, Druze are subject to military draft, unlike Israeli Arabs, who are exempt.

The Druze creed arose from a branch of Shia Islam, but it incorporates concepts from Christianity and Judaism, as well from Greek philosophy and Hindu and Buddhist influences.

Like any other society, they have had their generational crisis wars, during some of which they were victims of genocide, and in others they were perpetrators of genocide, making them no different from anyone else. A particularly bloody generational crisis war occurred in 1860 with the Maronite Christians, which is considered a victory by the Druze, resulting in the deaths of 10,000 Christians. It's only been in recent years that the two groups have attempted to reconcile. Pew Research and Jewish Virtual Library

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Jul-18 World View -- ISIS terror attack kills hundreds of Druze in southern Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea appears to dismantle its Sohae satellite launch site

North Korea's denuclearization timeline seems to be extending out indefinitely

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea appears to dismantle its Sohae satellite launch site


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifying to Senate on Wednesday (AP)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifying to Senate on Wednesday (AP)

Analysis of commercial satellite pictures by the 38 North website shows that North Korea has apparently taken a first step in dismantling facilities at its Sohae satellite launch site.

This site has been used in the past to conduct multiple rocket engine tests, including at least two tests of the engines that ended up powering the first stage of its two flight-tested intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

According to 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez:

"Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North's intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea."

The action is being described as a "confidence building measure," following the June 12 summit meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore. It's also being described as a step in fulfilling the promises made by Kim Jong-un to Donald Trump during that summit.

Adam Mount, a defense analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said that North Korea is giving up little in its actions.

Mount was particularly concerned that North Korea did not even invite foreign journalists to watch the dismantling, to verify that it had actually occurred. Instead, the North did whatever it did in broad daylight knowing that it would be detected and reported by analysts like those at 38 North from commercial satellite pictures that show actions on the ground that might be purposely deceptive.

A South Korean official expressed puzzlement for the same reason: "We need further analysis to figure out why the North didn't turn the dismantlement activities into an event and whether the country is trying to control the speed of the process to maintain a pace it wants."

Furthermore, it's not clear that anything significant was accomplished at all, according to Mount:

"The actions at Sohae are a helpful signal that Pyongyang wants to continue negotiations, but do not in themselves advance nuclear disarmament. North Korea still has not disclosed or offered to dismantle facilities that produce or store nuclear or missile systems, or the means to transport the missiles. So far, the facilities dismantled have been peripheral to these core functions."

Furthermore, according to unnamed US government official referencing assessments by US intelligence agencies, the site "can be reconstituted within months."

U.S. military intelligence has similarly concluded in May that North Korea’s dismantlement of the tunnel network at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site with explosives was also reversible in a matter of "weeks to months." In that case, North Korea invited journalists to watch the dismantlement, but refused to invite experts who could verify what had happened. There was the possibility that the explosions that occurred at the entrance to the tunnels did not damage the insides of the tunnels. 38 North and AP and The Diplomat

North Korea's denuclearization timeline seems to be extending out indefinitely

As I've been writing for many months, there is no chance whatsoever that North Korea will give up its nuclear development program now or in the future, after having tortured, starved and brutalized their own population for three decades, under the promise that one day North Korea would be a nuclear power on a peer with the United States.

North Korea has had only one objective in the charm offensive since the beginning of the year and in Kim's summit meetings with Trump and South Korean leaders: To get the US-led sanctions lifted without having to give up its development of nuclear missiles targeting the United States.

All of the events since the June 12 summit meeting have been in pursuit of that one objective. Other than two reversible actions, nothing has been done to denuclearize or to end ballistic missile development.

Furthermore, gasoline prices being charged in North Korea have been cut in half since March, suggesting that either China or Russia is supplying petroleum products to North Korea that are in violation of sanctions imposed the U.N. Security Council in December. US officials believe that these and other "maximum pressure" sanctions have forced North Korea to come to the negotiating table. However, a sharp drop in prices could indicate either that the sanctions are not being properly implemented, or that North Korea has found ways internally to adapt to them. Either way, they lose their effectiveness.

The US State Dept. on Monday issued a 17-page advisory listing "deceptive practices" used by the North to bypass the sanctions, including the sending of slave trade abroad. It lists 42 countries where North Korean laborers are still being exploited, including Algeria, Angola, China, Equatorial Guinea and Russia, adding that the U.S. is monitoring them to see whether they violate UN Security Council resolutions. Washington has also singled out 239 North Korean companies involved in illegal trade and warned against doing business with them.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Senate foreign relations committee. He confirmed that North Korea is still producing fissile material for nuclear bombs in spite of its pledge to denuclearize. He declined to respond when asked whether North Korea was continuing to pursue submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The timeline for North Korea's denuclearization has yet to be specified, but Pompeo said that the US goal was for North Korea’s complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) by the end of Trump’s current term in office, which runs until January 2021, "more quickly if possible." Pompeo said that no sanctions will be lifted until CVID is completed. Reuters and Chosun (Seoul) and US State Dept. and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea appears to dismantle its Sohae satellite launch site thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Jul-18 World View -- Defector in Kazakhstan reveals explosive information about China's 'reeducation centers'

The explosive testimony: thousands of Kazakhs in China's reeducation camps

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Defector in Kazakhstan reveals explosive information about China's 'reeducation centers'


Sayragul Sauytbay, enclosed in a glass cage in courtroom, awaiting trial (AFP)
Sayragul Sauytbay, enclosed in a glass cage in courtroom, awaiting trial (AFP)

A defector from China, who is on trial in Kazakhstan for breaking the law by crossing the border from China, has revealed explosive information about ethnic Kazakhs in China being forced into "reeducation centers."

This information is explosive for three reasons.

First, China has always denied the existence of "reeducation centers," although there have been plenty testimonies and official documents proving their existence. Since 2016, Chinese authorities in the have ensnared tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Xinjiang province, even foreign citizens, into mass internment camps. The program aims to rewire detainees' thinking and reshape their identities. Chinese officials say ideological changes are needed to fight Islamic extremism.

Second, the testimony revealed that China is forcing thousands of ethnic Kazakhs into these reeducation centers. This is polarizing the Kazakh public against China at a time when the Kazakh government is trying to convince China to invest more money in Kazakhstan infrastructure projects.

Third, China is demanding that the defector be returned to China. If she is returned to China, then she would be killed or permanently "disappeared," and the Kazakh "people will say the government cannot protect its own people," according to an activist. If she isn't returned, then the Chinese will be furious, and the investments might be in jeopardy. AFP

The explosive testimony: thousands of Kazakhs in China's reeducation camps

The defector is 41 year old Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh who is a Chinese citizen. She had been working as a Kindergarten teacher in China for several years. According to her public testimony, she was forced to work in a camp system in Xinjiang region, which is heavily populated by Muslims. Her testimony became explosive when she said:

"In the center where I was, there were more than 2,500 ethnic Kazakhs. And I know that in that region, there were several other similar camps."

According to news reports, everyone in the courtroom gasped when she said this. The exceptions were two men who had arrived from the Chinese embassy to watch the trial, and who remained silent.

She testified that she was arrested and sent to a camp after her husband and children returned to Kazakhstan, which the Chinese authorities consider to be suspicious behavior, even though it had been commonplace for years:

"In 2018, they sent me to work in a political reeducation camp in the mountains. Officially, this is a training center where people study Chinese ideology. But in reality this was a prison."

Unlike Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs had long moved freely between China and Kazakhstan, and there are some 200,000 ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang. However, the freedom to move back and forth disappeared late in 2016 in a crackdown by Chinese authorities, who took the unprecedented step of requiring all Muslims to turn in their passports. This meant that anyone who wanted to travel back to Kazakhstan had to file an official request, and hope for approval.

At the time of the crackdown, Sauytbay's husband and children were in Kazakhstan. According to her testimony, she was not allowed to return to Kazakhstan, but was "tricked" into working in the reeducation center, where she lost contact with her family.

Finally, on April 5 of this year, she used forged documents to illegally cross from China into Kazakhstan in order to reunite with her family. On May 22, she was arrested by the National Security Committee, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB.

Sauytbay testified on July 13:

"I fully accept my guilt and I am willing to endure any punishment. I only ask one thing – that you do not send me to China. A death sentence awaits me there."

Since she has admitted guilt, the government is faced whether to decline to deport her, and anger China, or to hand her over to China, which may trigger anti-government riots and demonstrations in Kazakhstan.

For two decades, Kazakhstan's government has cast itself as a protector of Kazakhs abroad. It now must take a tough stand or lose credibility with the domestic population. At the same time, when China might have expected to gain real influence in Kazakhstan, the court trial is going to make that almost impossible in the near term. The Kazakh people are also extremely suspicious of Russians as well.

As we reported in April, Kazakhstan is already permitting America to use Caspian Sea ports to supply military in Afghanistan, a move opposed by Russia because it changes the balance of power in Central Asia.

With nationalism and xenophobia towards both Chinese and Russians increasing, Kazakhstan may have to seek friends and allies elsewhere, perhaps in the West or in the Muslim world. EurasiaNet and Jamestown

China's 'reeducation centers' are described as torture centers

According to a Congressional report in April of this year, reeducation centers are prisons where torture is standard:

"There are credible media reports that as many as 500,000 to a million people are or have been detained in what are being called “political education centers,” the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today. Thousands are being held for months at a time and subjected to political indoctrination sessions. Many have reportedly been detained for praying, wearing “Islamic” clothing, or having foreign connections, such as previous travel abroad or relatives living in another country. Reports have emerged of the deaths of detainees in these centers, including the death of a well-known Muslim religious scholar who may have been held in such a facility, and there are reports that torture and other human rights abuses are occurring in overcrowded centers secured by guard towers, barbed wire, and high walls.

Survivors of these reeducation camps have described starvation, torture and a system of indoctrination akin to what China saw at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Sauytbay said inmates are required to read ideological literature, memorize the national anthem and study Chinese. Detainees are predominantly Uyghurs and Kazakhs, whose cultural distinctness is taken as a sign of “lack of patriotism.”

Another ethnic Kazakh named Omer has described how he was constantly tortured, including the following:

"There, he and 40 people were locked in a room. I get up every morning and I sing "red songs", they have to learn Chinese and Chinese history, especially how the Communist Party "liberated" Xinjiang. Before eating, you should shout "thank you for the party" and so on, when you are in class, repeat the slogan several times."

The Chinese can be pretty stupid, but it's hard to believe that even they are stupid enough to believe that the above actually works. No wonder the Kazakhs, Uighurs and Tibetans all hate the Chinese, and certainly don't consider them to be "liberators." US Congressional-Executive Commission on China (3-Apr) and Epoch Times (19-Jul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Jul-18 World View -- Defector in Kazakhstan reveals explosive information about China's 'reeducation centers' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Jul-18 World View -- Australia sends refugees to Taiwan hospitals to keep them from Australian soil

Once secret refugee deal sends refugees to Taiwan's hospital

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia sends refugees to Taiwan hospitals to keep them from Australian soil


The East Lorengau Refugee Transit Center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (AP)
The East Lorengau Refugee Transit Center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (AP)

The government of Australia recently revealed a previously secret agreement with Taiwan, allowing refugees and asylum seekers in detention but requiring hospitalization to be sent to Taiwan's hospitals, rather than to Australia's hospitals.

On July 19, 2013, then prime minister Kevin Rudd signed an agreement with Papua New Guinea (PNG) called "the regional resettlement agreement." Under this agreement, refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat without a visa would be sent to Manus Island in PNG, and would have "no chance" of being resettled in Australia as refugees. Another agreement signed with Nauru provided for refugees to be send to refugee centers there as well.

Last week was the five year anniversary of that agreement. It's estimated that there are almost 800 refugees in the male-only facilities in Papua New Guinea and almost 900 men, women and children in Nauru.

The policy has been extremely controversial, and has been opposed by humanitarian organizations, who claim that the refugee centers in PNG and Nauru are filthy and unsafe, with numerous stories of beatings, torture and sexual abuse.

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.

One of the loopholes in the policy had to do with treating serious illnesses among the refugees. If the refugee or a family member requires hospitalization, then there was no choice but to transfer him to a hospital on Australian soil.

Once on Australian soil, the vast majority have been able to stay indefinitely by preparing applications for High Court injunctions against their return. The court has yet to hear a case, apparently for fear of a ruling that would grant permanent asylum within Australia to a much larger group of asylum seekers. Instead, the government has avoided court cases by granting these refugees bridging visas that permit them to stay without a court case.

However, last month, a 14 year old girl in a Nauru detention center from Iran who had attempted suicide was moved under court order, along with her family, to a psychiatric hospital in Australia. The case was about to be heard in federal court but, just as proceedings commenced, the Australian government agreed to move her and her family to Australia.

The United Nations human rights agency has repeatedly condemned as arbitrary and illegal Australia's indefinite detention of refugees. The longest in detention is an Afghan asylum seeker, who has been held in Australian detention centers continuously since 2009. According to Australian human rights lawyer Alison Battisson

"Australia’s policies are against international law and are inhumane,” she said. “In a modern society this practice is unacceptable. Despite numerous opinions and reports from the UN and other human rights bodies, Australia has consistently failed to address arbitrary detention."

Battison adds: "The Australian government’s lack of response is shameful. It is also insulting to the UN." Catholic Outlook and AP and Guardian (London)

Once secret refugee deal sends refugees to Taiwan's hospital

Last month, it was revealed that in September of last year, Taiwan and Australia had signed a secret deal to send asylum seekers from Nauru to Taiwan for medical treatment.

According to Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu, the refugees will receive medical care, and will return to Nauru after recovering, with all expenses paid by Australia's government:

"We are offering our cutting-edge medical technology to help these poor refugees. They are all part of a deal we made with the Australian government. ...

This is something we in Taiwan should be proud of. We are sharing our medical resources with other countries and these unfortunate people."

Under the agreement, Taiwan Adventist Hospital has received ten refugees so far, starting in January. Australia's Home Affairs Department spokesman said that Taiwan was "consistently ranked as having some of the best hospitals and medical technology in the world."

Australian officials apparently had been talking to several Pacific countries to make this kind of deal. Taiwan was chosen because of its political predicament -- China is a member of the United Nations, but Taiwan is not. Since Taiwan is not a UN member, it is therefore not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, meaning it is not automatically bound to hear asylum applications. Therefore, the refugees cannot claim protection in Taiwan, and can be returned to Nauru. Sydney Morning Herald (22-Jun) and Focus Taiwan (26-Jun) and Lowy Interpreter (Australia)

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