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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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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

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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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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Aug-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela introduces new fantasy currency and new Socialist changes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Aug-18 World View -- Colombia's president Ivan Duque takes office amidst accusations from Venezuela thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Aug-18 World View -- Discontent with China's president Xi Jinping continues during 'trade war' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Aug-18 World View -- Pakistan faces imminent financial crisis threatening China's CPEC thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Aug-18 World View -- John Bolton and Marco Rubio describe North Korea strategy, as sanctions are violated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Aug-18 World View -- China mocks America's 'Indo-Pacific' strategy at ASEAN meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Aug-2018) Permanent Link
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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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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Jul-18 World View -- Australia sends refugees to Taiwan hospitals to keep them from Australian soil thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Jul-18 World View -- ISIS-K bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, targets returning vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum

ISIS-K claims credit for bomb targeting Uzbek warlord General Dostum

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS-K bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, targets returning vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum


Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghan vice president and Uzbek warlord, arrives in Kabul on Sunday, greeted by hundreds of supporters (Reuters)
Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, Afghan vice president and Uzbek warlord, arrives in Kabul on Sunday, greeted by hundreds of supporters (Reuters)

Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the vice president of Afghanistan, returned to Kabul in a chartered plane on Sunday, after a year in exile in Turkey. Hundreds of his supporters, including high ranking officials, had gathered to welcome him home.

He gave a short speech, and then shortly after his motorcade left the Kabul airport, a terrorist bomb struck at the airport, killing at least 14 people, and injuring dozens.

The reason that he was in exile was because he was accused in 2016 assaulting a political opponent, Ahmad Eshchi, a former governor. Eshchi claimed in 2016:

"I took Gen. Dostum’s hand and greeted him [at the Buzkashi grounds]. From that point, he started abusing me verbally. He told me that he knows what I have done. He told me he knows what my son has done. Who will look for you if I kill you here. I will throw you under the horses and do Buzkashi on you. He called on his bodyguards and told them to grab me and beat me. He [Dostum] lay me on the ground and put his foot on my neck."

He claimed that Dostum ordered his bodyguards to beat him up, and then Dostum threatened to kill him and sexually assaulted him.

Dostum left Afghanistan early in 2017 under pressure from Afghanistan aid donors, including the United States. Dostum denied Eshchi's accusations but, amid international demands that he face justice to show that powerful political leaders were not above the law, he left the country in May last year, saying he needed to seek medical treatment in Turkey. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and Australian Broadcasting and Tolo News (2016)

ISIS-K claims credit for bomb targeting Uzbek warlord General Dostum

The Taliban have disavowed any involvement in the bombing, which was almost certainly a failed attempt to assassinate vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum. However, "ISIS Khorasan" (ISIS-K, "Wilayah Khorasan"), the Afghanistan branch of ISIS, took credit for the bombing on the ISIS public relations web site.

In addition to being Afghanistan's current vice president, Dostum is an Uzbek warlord with a very bloody history. During the 1980s invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union, Dostum was first an ally of the Soviets, and then switched sides and fought the Soviets. During the very bloody Afghan civil war of the 1990s, Dostum led an Afghan army and switched sides in that war two times.

Every ethnic civil war, certainly including the Afghan civil war, is filled atrocities, including torture, slaughter, rape, sexual assault, and mutilation, as a matter of course. So the description of the "conversation" that Dostum had with Ahmad Eshchi described above is unverified, but is certainly not implausible.

Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, selected Dostum to be his vice presidential running mate in the 2014 presidential election, in order to appeal to ethnic Uzbek voters. Dostum is credited with delivering the ethnic Uzbek vote, and being a big factor in Ghani's victory. The next presidential election will take place in 2019, and it's thought that Ghani will try to rehabilitate Dostum in time for that election.

While in Turkey, Dostum formed an alliance with two other powerful leaders, Atta Mohammad Noor, a major force among ethnic Tajiks and Mohammad Mohaqiq, a leader of the Hazara minority, both of whom joined him in Kabul on Sunday. These three ethnic groups -- Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras -- played major roles in the Northern Alliance that defeated the Taliban with United States support in the Afghan war that followed 9/11/2001.

The Taliban consist almost entirely of radicalized ethnic Pashtuns, which is also the ethnicity of Ghani. So Ghani's choice of Dostum as vice president represents an attempt to appeal to ethnic groups across the entire spectrum.

That brings us back to ISIS-K, the Afghanistan branch of ISIS. ( "18-Jul-18 World View -- Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan")

The Taliban and ISIS-K are both jihadist groups, but they have entirely different goals. The Taliban say that their goal is simply to get all foreign troops -- the US-led coalition -- to leave Afghanistan. However, that doesn't explain their frequent terror attacks on Hazaras and other hated ethnic groups that the Pashtuns fought in the 1990s civil war.

ISIS-K have different stated objectives. Theologically, they consider the Taliban to be apostates, because they make alliances with secular governments, such as the government of Afghanistan. ISIS-K, along with ISIS in Syria and Iraq, have stated that their goals are to create the world's greatest Caliphate, eliminating all secular governments.

So that explains the most likely reason why ISIS-K, which contains Uzbeks as well as other ethnic groups, is taking credit for targeting the Uzbek vice president, General Abdul Rashid Dostum. AP and BBC and Toronto Star (1-Feb) and Afghan Bios

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Jul-18 World View -- ISIS-K bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan, targets returning vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Jul-18 World View -- Bashar al-Assad declares victory in southern Syria as opponents are bused out

Fears grow that Bashar al-Assad will attack 2.5 million people in Idlib

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bashar al-Assad declares victory in southern Syria as opponents are bused out


Erdogan and Putin have phone call last week to discuss situation in Idlib
Erdogan and Putin have phone call last week to discuss situation in Idlib

The regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is declaring a major victory over the rebel forces in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in southern Syria, in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra. The Syrian army, backed by barrages of air strikes from Russian warplanes, forced the FSA to accept reconciliation agreements that permitted them to be evacuated in a convoy of 40 busses to camps that had been set up in Idlib and Aleppo provinces in northern Syria. Under the agreement, the FSA fighters gave up their heavy weapons.

About 4,000 people are expected to be evacuated in the next three days. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is urging all parties to provide safe passage for the estimated 140,000 civilians displaced by the Syrian assault.

The Syrian army victory in Daraa and Quneitra appears to have been achieved much more quickly than the victories in Aleppo and Ghouta. In all three cases, the FSA opposition fighters and their families were finally allowed to give up their heavy weapons and be evacuated to Idlib. But in the most recent case, it almost appears to be a scripted event, where both sides fought for a little while, and then the FSA fighters were allowed to evacuate very quickly. Al-Jazeera and Al-Masdar (Damascus) and Anadolu (Turkey) and Al-Monitor

Fears grow that Bashar al-Assad will attack 2.5 million people in Idlib

Some newspaper reports have been claiming that the victory in Daraa and Quneitra means that the war is over. I can't see how that's even remotely possible.

With help from Russia and Iran, Bashar al-Assad is now in control of most of Syria but anti-Assad rebels still control Idlib in the northwest, while a Kurdish-led militia controls the northeast and a large chunk of the east.

In Aleppo, Ghouta, Daraa and Quneitra, the war was settled when thousands of FSA fighters and their families were evacuated to Idlib. In all of these cases, there are villages that are now ghost towns because all the inhabitants have been evacuated to Idlib. This was actually the objective of Bashar al-Assad, who was practicing genocide and ethnic cleansing on the opposition, and now that they've left the villages empty, al-Assad can start filling those villages with people from his own Shia/Alawite clan.

But what about Idlib itself? It has 2.5 million people, roughly half of whom were evacuated there from other theatres. Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly said that his army will retake control of Idlib. This automatically means that the war is far from over.

But more important is how one analyst described the situation: There is no Idlib for Idlib.

What that means was in the other regions, FSA fighters could be evacuated to Idlib, but for the coming battle over Idlib, there's no other place to which families can be evacuated. All 2.5 million people are trapped in there.

Turkey is expressing great concern about al-Assad's plans for Idlib. Idlib's northern western border is Turkey, its northern border is the Syrian district of Afrin, which is under Turkey's control, and its eastern border is adjacent to Aleppo.

Panos Moumtzis, the U.N.’s regional humanitarian coordinator said last month:

"We worry about 2.5 million people becoming displaced more and moving towards Turkey. These people have nowhere to go in Syria. We may have not yet seen the worst in Syria."

And that's a matter of great concern to Turkey. Al-Assad will get started with his usual genocide and ethnic cleansing tactics, performed with missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas, all particularly targeting women and children, as well as schools, markets, and hospitals. Hundreds of thousands of people will try to flee across the border into Turkey. Jordan and Israel kept their borders closed to refugees in the recent offensive in Daraa and Quneitra, and Turkey may do the same in the coming offensive in Idlib. At the very least, this will create an enormous humanitarian disaster, and may even lead to war between Syria and Turkey.

During peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May 2017, Turkey, Russia and Iran – agreed to establish de-escalation zones in Idlib, and enforce ceasefires. The de-escalation zones turned out to be a joke, since Russia ignored them, and al-Assad just used them as cover further genocidal attacks. As soon as any opposition individual was violent in any way, al-Assad would declare that everyone in the region was a terrorist, to be obliterated.

On July 14, last weekend, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin had a phone call, in which Erdogan is reported to have told Putin that if the al-Assad regime forces advance toward Idlib, then the Astana agreement would dissipate. Whether "dissipate" means that the Turks would withdraw or wage war is not clear. Daily Sabah (Turkey) and Hurriyet (Turkey) and Reuters and Al-Masdar (Damascus)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Jul-18 World View -- Bashar al-Assad declares victory in southern Syria as opponents are bused out thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Jul-18 World View -- The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China

Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on everything imported from China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on everything imported from China


Donald Trump
Donald Trump

In an interview broadcast on Friday, president Donald Trump sharply escalated the rhetoric in the trade war with China, and threatened to impose tariffs on everything imported from China. China responded to the threat with a vitriolic statement calling Trump a "wrecking ball." As I wrote a couple of days ago, the trade war with China will escalate. ( "19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply")

On Friday, Trump said that in order to match some of the tariffs that China imposes on US products, he's already announced tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products. He said in the interview (my transcription):

"I raised 50, and they matched us. I said, you don't match us, you can't match us, because otherwise we're always going to be behind the eight ball....

I'm ready to go to 500."

Tariffs on $500 billion would include all products imported from China.

Trump described how this situation began in the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations:

"Look I'm not doing this for politics. I'm doing this to do the right thing for our country. We've been ripped off by China for a long time. And I told that to president Xi. I said how did this ever happen?

And you know what happened? And you know what their answer is? because I deal with the highest echelons of china. One of the great people of China said, "There was never anybody that talked to us in the United States. We would put on a trade barrier, where you couldn't sell cars, or you couldn't sell beef, or you couldn't sell your farm products, nobody would talk to us in the United States.

"So we said that's great. Then we put on another one. We'd put on a tariff on cars, 25%, and you charge us virtually nothing 2 1/2 per cent, but they don't pay it. So we would do this, and nobody would talk. We'd start off at a lower number, we'd raise it, we'd raise it, nobody would every complain, until you came along." Me. And they said, "Now you're doing more than complaining, we don't like what you're doing." They think maybe we're doing too much."

It's widely believed that we're on the verge of a full-blown trade war with China, which was already clear from my article two days ago. CNBC and New York Magazine and Guardian (London)

China's Foreign Ministry gives a vitriolic response to Trump

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hua Chunying gave her regular press conference on Friday, and said the following in response to a question about trade:

"Third, everyone is watching when the US side behaves like this in international relations, and everyone is hearing and seeing what the US officials are saying and doing. So, we all know what the whole world thinks of the US. It is quite obvious that some people in the US are so obsessed with their conjured-up reality that they simply cannot be waken up. However, by brandishing its wanton and striking indiscriminately while depriving others' right to self-defense, by blocking its own door while demanding others to unconditionally open theirs wider, by overriding others' interests and the international rules to serve its own political needs and selfish interests, the US has really taught us something in a piercing and profound way. I have noted that many US citizens and its allies have spoken out unreservedly. The US is now the biggest wrecking ball to world stability and certainty. Its unilateralism and protectionism pose the greatest threat to the international rules and the world economic order.

I said the other day that knowing someone is intelligence but knowing oneself is real wisdom. Today I want to add that nothing could be more disastrous than chaos. As the No.1 power in today's world, the US should at least think about its responsibility before making relevant policies or saying or doing anything, because it is the "order" of the world that they are expected to promote, not "chaos"."

Hua's most significant statement was: "However, by brandishing its wanton and striking indiscriminately while depriving others' right to self-defense, by blocking its own door while demanding others to unconditionally open theirs wider, by overriding others' interests and the international rules to serve its own political needs and selfish interests, the US has really taught us something in a piercing and profound way."

I believe that the reference to "depriving others' right to self-defense" refers to America's freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, where China's activities 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. With regard to promoting "chaos," the Chinese must be aware that they've infuriated all their neighbors by their illegal activities.

China's appeal to "international law" is laughable, because China only cares about international law when it favors them. When it doesn't favor them, as in the case of the South China Sea, they claim that they're superior to everyone else, and their law supersedes international law. The same is true in trade. China has repeatedly violated and ignored World Trade Organization rules, but they complain about international law to gain an advantage.

In an interview Friday, Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow suggested that China will retaliate against individual American companies doing business in China:

"My guess is that if the plot thickens with no progress, they will start going after American companies [operating] in China....

The problem here is Xi. He doesn’t want to move, and they’ve offered the U.S. absolutely ... no options regarding the issue of [intellectual property] theft and forced technology transfer."

China could target individual American companies through new regulations.

Trump is not going to back down. And, based on the vitriolic intensity of Hua Chunying's statement, China is not going to back down either.

As I wrote in my recent article, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the US and China are in a generational Crisis era, in a tit for tat escalation sequence that leads to a full-blown generational crisis war. It's clear from remarks by Trump, Hua and Kudlow that that's exactly where we're headed. Foreign Ministry of China and Axios

The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China

Donald Trump and Russia's president Vladimir Putin had a private one on one meeting during their July 16 summit meeting in Helsinki. As usual, the mainstream media, who have absolutely no clue what's going on in the world, have been screaming hysterically, some suggesting that Trump should be tried and convicted of treason, and then executed. Others demanded that the American interpreter who sat in on the meeting should be subpoenaed and forced to testify, something that would trigger enormous international diplomatic issues.

Trump tweeted on Thursday that he would like to schedule a second meeting with Putin in the fall, this time in Washington. This drew further hysterical screaming, along with demands that no such meeting be permitted unless Trump fully describes what happened in the first meeting.

In his CNBC interview on Friday, Trump gave a brief description of his summit meeting with Putin:

"We had a tremendous discussion on many things -- terrorism, Syria, the Middle East overall, Iran, we talked about as an example nuclear proliferation -- to me there's nothing more important than that.

We had a tremendous meeting. I think it was a very good press conference, except for the fake news I think I did very well at the press conference."

As I wrote in my previous article, Trump is very well aware that we're headed for a world war against China. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this war cannot be prevented. Trump is taking whatever steps he can to prevent this war, and I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to prevent a world war, even if the war cannot be prevented.

Vladimir Putin is also well aware that Russia is headed for a war with China. The Russian and Chinese people have hated each other for centuries, especially since Russia, after conquest by Genghis Khan, became a vassal state of the China and the Mongol Empire for centuries. ( "31-Mar-18 World View -- Russia's Far East, Siberia and Vladivostok under threat from China")

So today, both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are aware that their countries are going to be allies in world war launched by China.

When they had their private summit meeting on July 16, it's inconceivable that they didn't discuss this oncoming war, and how they would defend themselves and help defend each other.

That also explains why there's so much secrecy about the meeting. Any mention that Trump and Putin discussed plans for a world war launched by China would cause a massive international uproar. So the subject of the private meeting must be kept secret. But with so much at stake for the United States, Russia, and the rest of the world, it's inconceivable that they didn't discuss this subject when they had the chance. And it will be all to the good for them to have another meeting in the fall, for further discussions on this subject. The Hill

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North Korea denuclearization talks appear to be falling apart

As I've been writing for many months, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that North Korea is going to denuclearize, either now or in the future.

On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley criticized both China and Russia for helping North Korea violate United Nations sanctions as the regime smuggles in more oil than is allowed.

According to Pompeo, "When sanctions are not enforced, the prospects for the successful denuclearization of North Korea are diminished."

It's been nearly six weeks after President Trump's summit with Kim Jong-un, and there are no signs whatsoever, that the North Koreans have any intention of denuclearizing. ABC News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Jul-18 World View -- The Trump-Putin private meeting was almost certainly about China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Jul-18 World View -- Ireland hiring 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors for hard Brexit

Britain's government in chaos as no-deal 'hard Brexit' looms

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's government in chaos as no-deal 'hard Brexit' looms


Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in House of Commons says that 'the government has sunk in a mire of chaos and division'
Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in House of Commons says that 'the government has sunk in a mire of chaos and division'

Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar says that Ireland will have to hire about 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors by 2021 in the case of a "hard Brexit," which is appearing to be more and more likely every day.

As the UK continues to move toward the Brexit cliff-edge on March 29, 2019, it's not possible to discern the current status of the UK-EU negotiations on the subject, because it's in total chaos, and even if you did figure it out, then you'd have to figure it out again a minute later.

Two weeks ago, UK prime minister Theresa May appeared to have achieved stability with something that's now called "the Chequers plan," because she was able to get it approved by her Tory cabinet at a meeting at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence. The proposal specified that a "common rule book" between the EU and the UK would be created. This was to be enough to satisfy the "Remainer" faction of her party, those in the party who never wanted Brexit in the first place but who could live with a set of rules that would make it seem that the UK had never left the EU.

However, it ended up angering the "Leave" or "Brexiteer" faction, who did want the UK to leave the EU, because the common rule book would force the UK would to follow all the same standards and regulations as it had never left the EU. So, even though May's cabinet voted for the Chequers plan, four days later David Davis, the Brexit secretary resigned. That resignation was followed by a second one, by international superstar Boris Johnson.

Then late last week, May was forced to accept four amendments to the Chequers plan, demanded by the Leave faction of the Tories. With so many flip-flops, it looked like the plan was dead. But on Thursday, Theresa May denied claims the trade proposals were "dead in the water" after accepting the four amendments.

So, as of today, it's not clear whether May could get agreement within her own Tory party. If she succeeds, she's have to get agreement of the House of Commons. If she succeeds, she'd have to get agreement from the other 27 nations of the European Union. (An additional issue is that Labor party leader Jeremy Corbyn is being seriously accused of anti-Semitism. This is apparently a big story, and it's causing chaos in the Labor party that may spill over into the chaos of the Brexit negotiations.)

There are still other proposals floating around, but the important point is that there is no proposal, including the Chequers proposal, that is likely to get a majority vote. If no proposal can get a majority vote, then when the UK "crashes out of" the EU on March 29, it will be a "no-deal Brexit," otherwise known as a "hard Brexit." Nobody (or almost nobody) wants a hard Brexit, but many analysts now consider that to be the most likely outcome. BBC and Irish Times and BBC (9-Jul)

Ireland border problem continues to be insurmountable

After 16 months of debate since the Brexit referendum passed, there is one particular problem has proven to be unsolvable: The status of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK and the Republic of (Southern) Ireland, which is part of the EU.

Everyone wants a "soft border" between the two regions, but if the UK is no longer in the EU, then any people and goods passing over the border would have to go through customs, have the passports and visas checked, and possibly pay customs duties and fees. No one wants this, but there is no solution to this problem. Solutions that have been proposed include:

None of these has a high probability of succeeding. So that's why Ireland's Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar is making plans to hire about 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors, to prepare Irish seaports and airports for the change of rules in case of a hard Brexit:

"That involves preparing for and hiring veterinary inspectors to carry out sanitary checks on agricultural products and plant-based products coming in from Britain and also customs inspectors.

We estimate we will have to hire about 1,000 customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit.

In the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit next March, of course it will not be possible to have 1,000 people in place for then but we will make contingency arrangements in the event that might arise."

Varadkar also warned that UK planes could be restricted from flying in EU airspace in the event of a no deal Brexit. He said UK could not take back its waters and expect to use EU skies. "You can't have your cake and eat it," he said. RTE (Ireland) and Irish Times and Business Insider (3-Jun)

IMF warns of harsh economic effects of no-deal Brexit

And International Monetary Fund (IMF) analysis of Brexit finds that that EU countries would lose 1.5% of their GDP and more than a million jobs, in the case of a no-deal Brexit. Ireland would be worst hit, losing 4% of its economy, due to its close trade ties with Britain The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg would also be hit hard, with . Germany would also suffering due to industrial supply chains.

The IMF did not estimate the costs to Britain, but an earlier Bank of England analysis put the cost at 1.5-2.0% of the economy, while other estimates put the figure at 4%. Reuters and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jul-18 World View -- Ireland hiring 1,000 new customs and veterinary inspectors for hard Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply

The growing conflict with China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply


Larry Kudlow, during Wednesday morning interview (CNBC)
Larry Kudlow, during Wednesday morning interview (CNBC)

Many people see the imposition of tariffs as temporary, and likely to end before any serious problems arise. However, Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, was interviewed on CNBC for half an hour on Wednesday morning, and made it clear that the trade war with China is likely to become a lot more serious.

Kudlow said that deals with Germany and Mexico are coming. He said that "I can report without specifics that we're making good progress [with trade negotiations] in Mexico." However, negotiations with China are not progressing at all.

Kudlow listed the problems in trade with China (my transcription):

"A. The world trading system is broken. The World Trade Organization [WTO] is broken. We just had this discussion at the G7.

B. The biggest culprit is China. And particularly since it entered the WTO, which was about the year 2000 as I recall. China has - they're still labeled an undeveloped third world country - but at WTO that's nonsense. Therefore they're trying to use Most Favored Nation status to have high tariffs, high non-tariff barriers. ...

They do in fact steal our intellectual property left and right. They do in fact have a forced transfer of technology, from the American companies that operate there. It comes from the joint ventures. They do not allow full American ownership.

You open a company on a joint venture basis, in a Chinese province. And because you only own 49%, they own 51% or more, the local party leaders, these are like Mafioso Dons, I'm told -- you have to lay your entire blueprint on the table, including the technology, and they will have their experts take it over. That's wrong."

In the past few weeks, I've seen several businessmen interviewed about opening up a business office in China, being forced to give copies of all their software and intellectual property to the Chinese government, and then having to go out of business because a Chinese business opened up right an office right across the street using the same intellectual property. The American company was simply swindled. And this happens all the time to American countries, as well as European and Canadian countries.

Kudlow said that the situation with China is so bad that he's been forced to change his own position on trade. He was in government as far back as the Reagan administration, and he's always been on record as opposing tariffs, but "I've come to this position, because the problem [with China] is getting worse."

The shocking part of the interview is the description of how intransient the Chinese are during the negotiations that have been going on for months. The interviewer (Jim Kramer) said that he had been assuming all along that there had been progress in the negotiations with China, with give and take on both sides, but Kudlow referred to the "so-called talks" as if they had been nothing more than a charade to the Chinese:

"I went to Beijing with our team, and then when China came to the US, I was involved in those discussions and a dinner, I sat next to Liu He [Xi Jinping's top economic adviser], and his young assistants, And I think they're sincere, so there's hope.

On the other hand, I do not think president Xi [Jinping] at the moment has any intention of following through on the discussions we've made, and I think the president [Trump] is so dissatisfied with China on these so-called talks, that he is keeping the pressure on, and I support that. ...

That stuff has to be fixed. We can't let China steal our technology. Those are our family jewels. What is it that makes America the greatest economy in the world? It is our innovative and inventive use of technology advances. This is Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction writ large. We can't let them do that.

They haven't responded at all. Not one basis point to our request to do something about the theft of intellectual property, and the forced divestiture of our intellectual property."

Kudlow said, "By the way, the whole world agrees with us. I mean Europe agrees with us, Canada, everyone knows this is true." He added that he has many sources in China, and even they agree.

Kudlow concluded by saying that Trump will not back down on this issue:

"Now, for POTUS -- I'm going to defend him here, lock, stock and barrel. We've had Republican and Democratic presidents in the past, make these complaints to China, even take these complaints to the World Trade Organization. But they never follow through. They say it, nothing happens, life goes on, the situation gets worse. This guy, President Trump, has the biggest backbone -- and this something I've admired for him in other places -- he will not let go of this point. Nor, should he, in my opinion."

After the interview, the interviewer Jim Kramer said that he found the interview shocking, because the Chinese are refusing to make any compromises at all. He pointed to the recent case of the Chinese company ZTE where President Trump had gone to a great deal of trouble to keep the company from going bankrupt, based on a personal request by President Xi. Kramer said that Trump must be really furious to have gone to great lengths to do that, and got nothing in return from Xi. CNBC and Reuters

The growing conflict with China

Larry Kudlow's interview on Wednesday was well-planned and well thought out, and laid out major policy objectives of the Trump administration. During the interview, there were often long pauses between sentences as he chose his words carefully. Kudlow could have simply made a general statement that the negotiations with China were on track and "we hope something will come out of them soon."

Instead, in coordination with the White House, he made a careful condemnation of China's trade practices and negotiating attitudes. This was done on purpose, and it's a shot across the bow by the Trump administration at President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party.

We live at a time in history where there's never been more hysterical nonsense in the media, and there's never been more total, abject ignorance about what's going on in the world.

One comment I've heard probably hundreds of times is: "How could Trump give Kim Jong-un prestige by meeting with him in Singapore, without getting a firm commitment in advance to denuclearize?" The question doesn't even make sense. Demanding denuclearization in advance would have been refused. Trump is a master negotiator and deal-maker, and his assessment was that the only way to convince Kim to denuclearize in the future is to build up his prestige in the present, and convince him that the US is not an enemy.

It's worth noting here that, as I've been saying for many, many months, there is no possibility whatsoever that North Korea will denuclearize, now or in the future. But I'm not going to criticize Trump for taking steps to try to prevent World War III, even if preventing World War III is impossible.

A web site reader recently asked me:

"I have to wonder whether you're serious or just pulling my leg. What possible benefit is the ad hoc Trumpist foreign policy to the US or the world at large? We need leverage with the DPRK [North Korea], and the only leverage available is China. Trump's solution: start at a trade war with them, and make it bitter."

Once again, this question makes no sense. The leverage we have against North Korea is the very harsh sanctions that Trump imposed on North Korea, with China's cooperation. China's cooperation was a huge foreign policy decision by China, requiring buy-in from many agencies in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), based on deeply entrenched objectives that won't change because of this trade dispute. In addition, master negotiator Trump gained leverage over Xi by agreeing to his request to save ZTE.

What I've seen repeatedly since Trump has been in office is that his foreign policy is completely consistent with the Generational Dynamics analyses that I've been posting for years -- that we're headed for a world war with China, and Russia will be our ally and China's enemy. Trump understands these analyses through Steve Bannon, who is an expert on both military history and Generational Dynamics. People who become hysterical because of a tweet or a press conference really have no clue what's going on in the world, but what I've seen is that Trump does -- based on actions, not words.

As I said above, Trump is well aware that we're headed for a world war with China, and he's trying to prevent him. Preventing it is impossible, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for trying.

In writing this article, I've described many bottom lines and many red lines. North Korea will not denuclearize. China will not back down from stealing America's intellectual property. And Trump will not back down from the trade dispute. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're a typical tit for tat escalation sequence that leads to a generational crisis war. The only other choice is appeasement, and that will lead to war as well, possibly even more quickly. Trump is aware of all this, and he's trying to prevent it, but it's the world that's upside down and out of control. Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jul-18 World View -- Trump administration signals that trade war with China will escalate sharply thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Jul-18 World View -- Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan

ISIS-K claims credit for killing 15 Taliban, including commander

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS-K claims credit for killing 15 Taliban, including commander


Afghan Taliban militants (AFP)
Afghan Taliban militants (AFP)

"ISIS Khorasan" (ISIS-K, "Wilayah Khorasan"), the Afghanistan branch of ISIS, is claiming credit for attacking the house of a Taliban commander in the eastern province of Nangarhar of Afghanistan, killing 15 Taliban militants, including the commander, known as Saba Gul or Mohammad Khorasani.

Fighting between the Taliban and ISIS-K has significantly escalated in recent weeks, as they vie for control of the country's east, along the border with Pakistan. In June, ISIS-K claimed the killing of 25 people with a suicide bombing at a gathering of Taliban members and local people in Nangarhar province during the three-day Eid ceasefire.

The Taliban launched offensives in the region late in June, claiming that they had cleared out bases of ISIS-K fighters in nearby villages. Dozens of fighters on both sides were killed, as hundreds of civilians were forced to flee the fighting between the two groups, as the clashes carried on for several days.

One unnamed ISIS fighter was quoted as saying:

"Yes the war between the Afghan Taliban and Islamic State branch in Khorasan has escalated. More attacks and more casualties, but in war there are casualties. [The Taliban] are not able to get firm control over [the areas they recapture] because soon they will be repelled back by the fighters of Islamic State."

The Taliban in the past have been reluctant to publicize their clashes with ISIS, believing it risks exaggerating the power of the group. But that's changing now, as ISIS-K becomes more prominent. An unnamed Taliban source says:

"The Taliban hit ISIS fighters hard and finished their presence in Laghman, while ISIS fighters were also killed in Kunar and Nangarhar. The Taliban will deal with them with an iron hand in future because they are exceeding their activities in the region. ...

ISIS has presented a negative image of Islam and created an environment of fear among the Muslims.

[ISIS attacked the Taliban] under the pretext of Islamic Shariah law and calling Taliban apostates thus creating confusion among the locals and other supporters of Afghan Taliban. In this way they are paving the way for the US and allied forces to create cracks in the unity of the Afghan Taliban, but so far they failed."

The Taliban claim that ISIS fighters are distracting the Taliban from completing their mission -- to defeat the US-led coalition. Reuters and The National (UAE)

Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan

The Afghan government estimates that there are as many as 3,000 foreign fighters in ISIS-K in Afghanistan, many of them coming from Pakistan and Uzbekistan. However, accurate estimates are difficult because the Taliban and other militant groups are fluid, and members often move from one group to another.

ISIS-K fighters began appearing in Afghanistan in 2015, when ISIS in Syria and Iraq was considered highly stylish and fashionable among the atrocity-committing set. Many Taliban militants switched allegiance to ISIS because it was a better brand name, newer and more exciting. They were joined by foreign fighters from Uzbekistan and other countries. Starting in 2016, especially as ISIS came under attack in Iraq and Syria, foreign fighters who had gone to Syria to fight against Bashar al-Assad began to return to other countries, including Afghanistan, to continue the fight.

It's not believed that there was ever much communication between ISIS-K and ISIS leaders in Iraq and Syria, as the relationship is more like a shared brand name. To some extent, there is a parallel between Syria and Afghanistan, as local militants in the two countries join al-Qaeda and the Taliban, respectively, while foreign fighters join ISIS.

In both cases, the local and ISIS militants have conflicting objectives. Generally speaking, the local militants have purely local nationalist objectives, while the ISIS militants have the objective of establishing a multinational caliphate.

In Syria, the local militant group is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), and they spent years fighting alongside moderate rebels to defeat Bashar al-Assad. ISIS, on the other hand, established a caliphate in Raqqa and took control of as much territory as possible, in Syria and Iraq. Bashar al-Assad and its principal backers in Russia and Iran indirectly supported ISIS by not targeting them, because ISIS was fighting the moderate rebels who were also al-Assad's enemies. It was left to the American forces, backing the Kurds and Iraqis, to finally expel ISIS from Raqqa and Mosul, and that fight is still going on.

In Afghanistan, the situation is similar. The Taliban are radicalized ethnic Pashtuns, fighting against their old enemies from the 1990s civil war, the Northern Alliance of Uzbeks, Tajiks and Hazaras. ISIS-K are foreign fighters and disaffected Taliban fighters who have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the name of the great multinational caliphate fantasy. The Taliban, on the other hand, have set as their primary objective forcing the US-led coalition to withdraw.

In terms of theology, ISIS considers the local nationalists to be apostates, mainly because they make alliances with other ISIS enemies, such as Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. However, ISIS saves its strongest vitriol for the Shia Muslims, as in this statement from January 2016:

"Initiated by a sly Jew, [the Shia] are an apostate sect drowning in worship of the dead, cursing the best companions and wives of the Prophet, spreading doubt on the very basis of the religion (the Koran and the Sunnah), defaming the very honor of the Prophet , and preferring their “twelve” imams to the prophets and even to Allah! ... Thus, the Rafidah [another word for Shias] are mushrik [polytheist] apostates who must be killed wherever they are to be found, until no Rafidi walks on the face of earth, even if the jihad claimants despise such."

In Afghanistan, many analysts believe that ISIS poses a greater threat today than the Taliban. There have been big spikes in terrorist violence in the last few months, and this is attributed to a competition between the two groups.

The strongest fighting force within the Taliban is the Haqqani network, which has been blamed for the most audacious attacks in Kabul. The Haqqani network has historical ties to Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency. VOA (18-Nov-2017) and Washington Post (21-Mar-2018) and The Diplomat (29-Jan-2016) and Military Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jul-18 World View -- Fighting between Taliban and ISIS-K escalates in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Jul-18 World View -- Pakistan terrorism grows as July 25 election approaches

'Ghazi Force' takes credit for attack on 11th anniversary of Red Mosque siege

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Second largest terror attack in Pakistan's history occurs at election rally


Facebook picture of Siraj Raisani, Baloch leader who was killed in terrorist attack on Friday
Facebook picture of Siraj Raisani, Baloch leader who was killed in terrorist attack on Friday

About 149 people were killed, including nine children, and hundreds injured at a terror attack on Friday in Mastung, near Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan. This was the second worst terror attack in Pakistan's history, and it occurs as a nationwide general election approaches on July 25.

The attack targeted an election rally for the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP). Among the 149 killed were the BAP candidate and Baloch leader Siraj Raisani.

The worst occurred in 2014, when Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) attacked an army school in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 141 people, 132 of them schoolchildren, most of them children of soldiers. ( "17-Dec-14 World View -- Pakistan Taliban crosses a red line with mass slaughter of army children") The 2014 attack was such a shock to Pakistan, especially to the army, that the army immediately began a long-term counter-terrorism operation directed at TTP.

The new attack may not have the same effect of shock as the 2014 attack, because of a confluence of events. In the hours after the suicide attack occurred on Friday, the country was riveted by a scene going on at the other end of the country -- the return of the charismatic former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from self-imposed exile in London. Beginning in 1990, Sharif has been prime minister of Pakistan for three non-consecutive terms. But Sharif was charged with corruption early in 2017 because of revelations in the leaked Panama Papers, and he left the country after being forced to step down by the Pakistani Supreme Court. Sharif had been promising to return to Pakistan to defend himself against the charges, and on Friday his plane landed and, in the midst of crowds of thousands of supporters, he was arrested and taken off to jail.

So with all that going on, the terror attack in Balochistan didn't get much media coverage, and so there wasn't the level of public outrage and shock that had followed the 2014 terror attack. This is all the more surprising because there were two more terror attacks last week. On Tuesday, a suicide bombing in Peshawar at a rally for the Awami National Party (ANP) killed 21, including candidate Haroon Bilour. On Friday, a bomb roadside bomb killed four people in the northern town of Bannu.

Terrorist violence in Pakistan has ebbed since the military began counter-terrorism operations against the TTP after the 2014 attack. However, with three attacks in the last week alone, and with the election less than two weeks again, Pakistanis are concerned about a new surge in violence. Dawn (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and BBC and Indian Express

'Ghazi Force' takes credit for attack on 11th anniversary of Red Mosque siege

The terror group "Ghazi Force Lal Masjid," linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP, Pakistan Taliban) claimed credit for the attack. This represents a resurgence of a group linked to a major event that occurred almost exactly eleven years ago.

On July 11, 2007, a spectacular 8-day siege ended after 36 hours in a mosque complex in Islamabad known as the "Red Mosque" or "Lal Masjid." It had all begun the previous January, when dozens of female seminary students studying and living at the madrassas within the mosque complex demanded that the government impose Taliban-style sharia law and arrest the prostitutes in downtown Islamabad. After a while, the female students would come out in black burqas with long bamboo sticks and threaten the prostitutes.

The last straw came when dozens of students kidnapped nine people, including six Chinese women and a Chinese man, leading to protests from China. The result was the siege and bloodbath that ended on July 11. It turned out that the Red Mosque had a huge cache of weapons that apparently had been brought there is the last few months.

The leading cleric for the Red Mosque was Imam Abdul Rashid Ghazi who called for his own death to spark an Islamic revolution. He said that he would rather be martyred than give in to the government, and he was killed during the siege. Ghazi said that he had declared war against Pakistan's government for entering into an alliance with the United States following the 9/11 attacks. The standoff left more than 100 militants dead, along with 11 armed forces personnel. It was a significant turning point in terrorism in Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda leaders quickly demanded revenge, and Ghazi's death has become a global inspiration to other jihadist movements. Six months later, on December 14, 2007, some 40 militant leaders, commanding 40,000 militant fighters, gathered in South Waziristan to form a united front under the banner of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Now, on the tenth anniversary of the Red Mosque siege, the Ghazi Force Lal Masjid has struck again. Dawn (9-July-2017) and Khaama News (Afghanistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jul-18 World View -- Pakistan terrorism grows as July 25 election approaches thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Jul-18 World View -- Socialist Cuba moves to Capitalism, while Socialist Venezuela moves to self-destruction

Private property ownership allowed under Cuba's new constitution

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cuba's new constitution builds on ending of socialism in 2011


Homes and cars in Cuba are stuck in the 1950s, thanks to Socialism (Getty)
Homes and cars in Cuba are stuck in the 1950s, thanks to Socialism (Getty)

Cuba's new constitution will recognize private property for the first time since the fanatical Fidel Castro abolished private property after the Cuban Communist Revolution of 1959. Cuba's current constitution, adopted in 1976, recognizes four forms of property: state, cooperative, farmer, personal and joint-venture property. The new category of private property will permit Cubans to own business-related property.

Despite the insistence that Cuba is still a full-fledged, glorious Socialist state, ever since Fidel Castro stepped down in 2008, the two new leaders that replaced him have been moving Cuba in the direction of capitalism. This is in contrast to Venezuela and North Korea, whose Socialist leaders continue to move their countries toward self-destruction.

In 2010, when Cuba's economy was in shambles, and president Raúl Castro announced the end of the Socialist economy. The government would lay off 500,000 government workers (Socialist bureaucrats) and privatize many businesses.

In particular, Marx's Socialist Principle Of Distribution ("From each according to abilities, to each according to needs") was abandoned at the time, with the announcement: We must reinvigorate the socialist principle of distribution, to pay to each according to the quantity and quality of work provided."

Within two years of the 2010 announcement, the size of the state payroll had been reduced by 20%, and more than 200,000 people had moved into private enterprise. For the first time, Havana was population with street stalls selling everything from pirate DVDs to kitchen implements. The problem, however, was these self-employed small business owners were not permitted to own the street stalls that they had set up. The same was true of other entrepreneurs as well. Guardian (London, 6-Nov-2011) and Granma (Cuba, 20-Apr)

Private property ownership allowed under Cuba's new constitution

Since 2010, the number of self-employed people in areas like tourism and transport has nearly quadrupled to more than 591,000, around 13% of Cuba’s overall workforce.

In April of this year, Raúl Castro stepped down, and Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez became president. In a speech in April, Castro previewed the changes that Díaz-Canel was about to implement:

"We will continue to expand self-employed work – as I have mentioned in different speeches before this parliament – which represents an alternative source of employment within the framework of current law, and far from signifying a process of neoliberal privatization of social property, will allow the state to free itself of managing activities of a non-strategic nature to the country’s development. The experiment with non-agricultural cooperatives will also continue.

Significant results have been achieved in both areas, but also revealed are mistakes in management, control and monitoring, which have led to the emergence of various forms of indiscipline such as tax evasion, in a country where, before these measures were applied, hardly anyone paid taxes; criminal acts and regulatory violations, with the aim of getting rich quick, a problem which was not addressed in a timely manner and resulted in the need to modify various regulations linked to this sector."

This was a preview of the new constitution that was announced by president Mario Díaz-Canel on Saturday. Here is part of the announcement:

"The economic system that it reflects maintains as essential principles the socialist property of all the people on the fundamental means of production and planning as the main component of management, to which is added the recognition of the role of the market and of new forms of ownership, between they are private, in correspondence with the Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Socialist Development Model and the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, as a result of the consultation with broad sectors of society. ...

Regarding private property on the land, a special regime is maintained, with limitations on its transmission and the preferential right of the State to its acquisition through its fair price."

So the new constitution allows entrepreneurs to keep their commercial property, but the last clause means that the dictators in the government can still confiscate property at any time. The Conversation (18-Apr) and Granma (Cuba) (Trans) and TelesurTV

Mario Díaz-Canel imposes harsh regulations on the private sector

Castro's speech in April referred to "mistakes in management, control and monitoring." The fear of a quickly growing private marketplace that might threaten the power of the dictatorship has motivated harsh restrictions and regulations. The government froze issuing licenses for some popular business categories last year, and new regulations forbid a single person from holding more than one business license. This has already discouraged badly needed investment in businesses, and has even forced some business owners to close businesses because business licenses had to be returned.

Investment is the reason why the economic changes are being made in the first place. Cuba has decaying road infrastructure, a national housing deficit, food shortages, and public transport problems.

Under the fanatical Fidel Castro, Cuba's economy was a continuing disaster, first propped up by the Soviet Union, and later by Venezuela. Now that Venezuela is an economic disaster, the payments are getting smaller, and Cuba needs money.

Cuban officials want international investors, but no one is willing to invest money in Cuba unless they believe that they can make a profit and take the money out. So really, Cuba's new regulations restricting business may may actually cancel out the advantages of owning private property.

It's also good to remember that returning Cuba to capitalism does not make it a democracy. I've written about many countries that illustrate this. Nazi Germany was a capitalist dictatorship. China today resembles a capitalist dictatorship. For example, Cameroon has a capitalist economy, but the Francophone government still commits daily atrocities on the Anglophone community, including extrajudicial jailings, mass slaughter, rape, torture, and burning down entire villages. Syria has a capitalist economy, but the government of Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad continues full-scale genocide and ethnic cleaning of hated Sunni populations.

Still, Cuba and Venezuela are a study in contrasts. Venezuela is pushing forward with full-scale Socialism, destroying the country, turning it into a military fascist state, starving the population, and driving millions of families into neighboring countries as refugees. Venezuela has become a worldwide poster child for what a disaster Socialism always is, 100% of the time.

Perhaps because Venezuela is such a disaster, Cuba is taking a different path, looking for a way to maintain the dictatorship, but at the same time opening up the economy by abandoning Socialism in order to encourage foreign investments. A dictatorship without Socialism, as in the case of Cuba, isn't as disastrous as a dictatorship with Socialism, as in the case of Venezuela, so at least Cuba is choosing the lesser of two evils. Reuters and Havana Times and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jul-18 World View -- Socialist Cuba moves to Capitalism, while Socialist Venezuela moves to self-destruction thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Jul-18 World View -- Israel prepares for war on two fronts, Gaza and Syria

Egypt mediates Israel-Gaza ceasefire in biggest escalation since 2014 war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt mediates Israel-Gaza ceasefire in biggest escalation since 2014 war


A Patriot Missile launched in southern Israel on Friday afternoon hit an incoming Syrian drone as it crossed the border into Israel (Reuters)
A Patriot Missile launched in southern Israel on Friday afternoon hit an incoming Syrian drone as it crossed the border into Israel (Reuters)

Israel and Gaza appear close to full-scale war today for the first time since 2014, despite the announcement that both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza had agreed to a ceasefire mediated by Egypt. However, it's unclear whether the ceasefire is holding.

According to Israel's military (IDF), since Friday afternoon Hamas has launched 200 rockets and mortar shells across the border into Israel, causing property damage and three injuries.

As a precaution, the IDF instructed Israelis living near the Gaza border to remain within a 15-second radius from bomb shelters or safe rooms.

In retaliation, Israeli aircraft on Saturday attacked more than 40 targets in Gaza in the most extensive daytime assault since the 67 day war with Gaza in 2014. The IDF says that targets included urban warfare training facilities, weapon storage warehouse, training compounds, command centers, and offices in Hamas's Battalion headquarters. This was the first time recently that Israel struck targets in the heart of Gaza city. Palestinians said two teens were killed and 14 injured in the Israeli strikes.

Every Friday after midday prayers for several months, Gaza has been holding demonstrations along the border fence with Israel, with the stated objective for Palestinians to exercise their "Right of Return," to regain the lands where their ancestors had lived, prior to the 1947 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, but activists have also tried to break through the fence, with the intent of attacking Israelis in their homes.

In recent weeks, the protests have been supplemented by incendiary kites and balloons, which float over the border fence and land in forests and farmland, causing massive fires. Israel's army has been baffled by these devices, and has been responding by striking Hamas targets in Gaza. Saturday's attack was the biggest attack since the 2014 full-scale war.

According to an IDF spokesman, the aims of Saturday's operation were to end the large-scale border protests, end the incendiary kites and balloons, and end the rocket and mortar fire. That appears to be a great deal to hope for. Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel and BBC and Reuters

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Israel also prepares for war on Syria border with Iran and Hezbollah

Late on Saturday evening, Israel's army announced that military exercises will be taking place across the country for the next week, starting immediately on Sunday morning. The announcement said that the exercises were "planned in advance," but the abrupt nature of the announcement indicates that imminent concerns.

It's believed that the it may be in response to the following announcement that appeared in the Syrian governments al-Masdar news on Thursday:

"The Syrian Arab Army’s shock troops have moved from the Daraa Governorate to the Al-Quneitra front, following the military’s recent achievements in southwest Syria.

According to the official Facebook of Colonel Nizar Qindi, his elite shock troops from the 9th Division have moved to the Al-Quneitra Governorate, today, after a short deployment in the Daraa Governorate. ...

The 9th Division has operated in the Al-Quneitra Governorate before, but they were later redeployed to the Damascus and Daraa fronts to aid in those offensives.

Also redeploying alongside the 9th Division was the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Al-Sweida, Damascus, and Izraa.

These reinforcements should give the Syrian Arab Army and their allies a major military boost in the Al-Quneitra Governorate, as they make their final preparations for this operation.

In the coming days, the Syrian Army is expected to kickoff their long-awaited Al-Quneitra offensive, as they look to conclude their southwest Syria operations before month’s end."

The National Defense Forces (NDF) referred to in the statement are a collection of militias that the Syrian regime set up in 2012, organized by Iran and Hezbollah.

While Israel's army is struggling to deal with the increasing tensions on the Gaza border, the army is also facing the possibility of a northern war with Iran and Hezbollah along the border with Syria.

It's quite possible that Israel's army is not prepared for a two-front war. This could explain Saturday evening's abrupt announcement of military exercises in cities across Israel.

Syria's Quneitra offensive is expected to begin within the next two days, before or during the summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Al-Masdar News (Damascus) and Debka (Israel) and YNet (Israel) and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jul-18 World View -- Israel prepares for war on two fronts, Gaza and Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Jul-18 World View -- China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination'

Kenya may lose its Mombasa seaport to China because of 'Debt Book Diplomacy'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination'

Kenyan workers on Kenya railway line begin abused by Chinese masters


Chinese railway contractor punishes workers for refusing to do menial jobs that they were not hired to do (Standard Media, Kenya)
Chinese railway contractor punishes workers for refusing to do menial jobs that they were not hired to do (Standard Media, Kenya)

A series of reports in Kenyan newspapers being described as "explosive" accuse the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which is responsible for developing and operating Kenya's Special Gauge Railway (SGR), of "neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination" towards Kenya workers. The SGR train is the Madaraka Express, which operates between Kenya's Port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi.

Racism is rampant, to the point where the Chinese have apparently set up an apartheid system. At the staff canteen, Kenyans may not sit at the same tables as Chinese. Kenyans may not share the company's staff vans used by the Chinese. All the signs are written in Chinese, apparently with no translations available, to prevent the Kenyans from doing many of the jobs.

Although Kenyan workers have at least civil engineering degrees, the Chinese masters order them to perform only menial tasks, well below their skill levels. If a Kenyan refuses to perform menial work as ordered, he can be physically punished. Furthermore, when a Kenyan and a Chinese employee perform the same job, the Chinese employee's salary is four times as high.

There are 40 Kenyan locomotive drivers employed by the company, but the Chinese do not actually let them drive the train. The Chinese are supposed to be training Kenyans to do the technical jobs, but according to one Kenyan driver who has been working at the company for over a year, "We just sit at the back and watch. There is no actual transfer of skills that is happening here."

Chinese workers blatantly violate the rules -- smoking inside the trains, urinating on the tracks, and other violations that are ignored for the Chinese workers but would immediately get a Kenyan worker fired.

The Chinese contractor CRBC is apparently also guilty of corruption and financial fraud. Some employees have also discovered that the Chinese contractor has been reporting different figures to the Kenya Revenue Authority for tax purposes.

Kenya's government have apparently sided with the Chinese contractor, against the Kenyan workers, blaming the Kenyan workers for having a poor work ethic. According to government spokesman Eric Kiraithe;

"I am not saying any worker should be discriminated and humiliated in the workplace but we must all appreciate that the operation of a modern train is a profession that calls for military standard discipline.

Inward-looking, haki yetu ["our rights" in Swahili] centered personalities have no place in this kind of profession, not now or in the future. They are the first crop of Kenyans employed on this project and the culture they entrench will determine whether in less than 10 years we shall depend on them."

The news reports have caused a major scandal in Kenya. Kenya Railways, the agency mandated to supervise the Chinese operator of the railway project said it was launching an investigation into the claims, giving CRBC 72 hours to submit a report. Kenyans News and Shanghaiist and Standard Media (Kenya) and Nairobi Wire and Standard Media (Kenya)

Kenya may lose its Mombasa seaport to China because of 'Debt Book Diplomacy'

China is building infrastructure projects in many countries as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China does not build a project in a country for free. It loans the money at harsh terms with high interest rates. Furthermore, it demands that almost all of the work be done by Chinese workers, who get paid out of the money that has been loaned, so most of the money that China loans to the country is returned to China in the form of remittances and payments for services, but the country still has that debt, and has to repay the same money to China again, with interest.

Theoretically, the Chinese workers are supposed to train the local workers, and responsibility for the project is supposed to be turned over to the country within a few years. But as we're seeing in the case of Kenya's SGR, the Chinese masters are forcing the Kenyans into menial jobs, are segregating themselves from the Kenyans, are maintaining all signs in Chinese so that the Kenyans are not being trained.

This is being called "Debt Book Diplomacy" (as opposed to "checkbook diplomacy," which the US used to be accused of). The poster child for how it works is the Port of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and the government was forced to give the Port to China. So now Sri Lanka has a large seaport owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave with hundreds of Chinese families, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

Kenya has been going on a public borrowing binge. Kenya's public debt is over $50 billion, including $4 billion in loans from China for the SGR.

Theoretically, the Madaraka Express, the SGR train that operates between the Port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi, is supposed to pay for itself, just like Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport. The World Bank in 2013 warned Kenya that the railway project was a bad deal, but Kenya went ahead with it anyway.

However, it now emerges that in the first year of operation, the only managed to bring in $10 million in revenues, far short of the fantasy amounts that were originally promised. Furthermore, even that amount is dependent on the government forcing businesses to use the railway, even when it's not the best choice.

According to David Shinn, a former diplomat and a professor of international affairs at George Washington University:

"Keep in mind that this is a loan from a Chinese bank. A Chinese company by contract is required to build the projects on an enormous amount of that loan money that’s going to go straight into the pocket of a Chinese state-owned company. It’s going to have a percentage of Chinese labor.

And most of the material that goes into the project will be manufactured in China. So, Chinese companies are making a profit on that. There are two or three wins for China, you know, [and] one win for Kenya and Ethiopia, being that they get a railway built that no other country is offering to build for them."

Kenya is not able to make its debt payments in these circumstances. Rumors are beginning to spread that Kenya will be forced to give up the Mombasa seaport to the Chinese, just as Sri Lanka was forced to give up the Hambantota seaport. The government is denying these rumors, but has not explained how the debt will be paid. Soko Directory (Kenya) and Standard Media (Kenya) and VOA and Center for Global Development (4-Mar-2018)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jul-18 World View -- China's railway contractor in Kenya accused of 'neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Jul-18 World View -- Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children

Cameroon continues on path to full-scale civil war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children


Screen shot from video shows soldier pushing blindfolded woman with baby to the ground, just before he shoots both of them dead.
Screen shot from video shows soldier pushing blindfolded woman with baby to the ground, just before he shoots both of them dead.

A horrendously graphic video that has gone viral on social media depicts Cameroon Francophone (French-speaking) government soldiers in uniform blindfolding, shooting and killing two women, as well as the two babies that they're carrying. One of the uniformed men says in French that it is a heavy burden executing people but they don't have another option.

According to Amnesty International:

"The Cameroonian authorities’ initial claim that this shocking video is fake simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. We can provide credible evidence to the contrary. Given the gravity of these horrific acts – the cold blooded and calculated slaughter of women and young children – these hasty and dismissive denials cast serious doubt over whether any investigation will be genuine. It is imperative that a proper, impartial investigation is undertaken and those responsible for these abhorrent acts are brought to justice."

The claim by Cameroon's government that a "proper, impartial investigation" will be conducted is not credible, in light of repeated atrocities by the Francophone government over the last two years.

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. For example, schoolteachers in the Anglophone regions were forbidden from teaching any courses in English.

The Cameroon government, led by the 85 year old president Paul Biya, has stepped up the torture, slaughter and other atrocities continually since then, with numerous videos and reports on social media documenting the atrocities. The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia.

There have been numerous videos posted on social media showing atrocities committed since then. Another video, posted by the BBC, is a compilation of verified videos from social media accounts showing everything from torture to entire villages being burned down. Africa News and Amnesty International and YouTube - Extrajudicial execution of women and children and YouTube - BBC - Cameroon military atrocities, village burnings

Cameroon continues on path to full-scale crisis civil war

It's increasingly clear that the Francophone government in Cameroon is conducting genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Anglophone people in the Southern Cameroons. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes, and tens of thousands have fled across the border into Nigeria. Nigerians who used to conduct business in Southern Cameroons are now abandoning their businesses and returning home in droves.

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 has found that 58 years is the minimum and most common time period from the end of one crisis war till the beginning of the next, since 58 years is exactly the point where the survivors who were traumatized by the war almost all disappear (retire or die), all at once, and are replaced in positions of power by younger generations of people with no personal memory of the atrocities of the previous crisis war, and therefore have no fear of starting a new one.

Because of the flood of Anglophones from Cameroon entering Nigeria, some Nigerian activists are urging Nigeria's government to try to mediate in Cameroon, even though Nigeria has to deal with Boko Haram and bloody fights between farmers and herders that have been widely reported in the news. Abdul Oroh, a lawyer and civil rights activist from Nigeria, summarizes the situation:

"Specifically, the Francophone Cameroon is trying to dominate and super-impose itself on the Anglophone Cameroon. They had two legal systems but there is a policy of assimilation which is threatening to obliterate the Anglophone culture and legal system. One of the lawyers told me that as a lawyer, if you file a case at the Ministry of Justice in Cameroon, unless it us written in French, they won’t treat the case. What you now do is to go and look for somebody who can translate it into French. There is so much anger and bitterness in that country. ...

We were under military rule when we intervened in apartheid South Africa. We were under military rule when we stepped out to restore democracy in Sierra Leone and Liberia. We have been carrying out peace-keeping operations, not just within but even outside Africa. We are talking about our immediate neighbors whose citizens are pouring into our country as refugees on daily basis. These refugees are putting pressures on our lean resources. If we don’t help them to solve that problem, it will continue and could get to a stage when it could even become a threat to our own security too. So, it is not a question of moral right because human lives are involved in this conflict. It is true that we have our own challenges but I am not saying we should deploy our troops there to help one side to defeat the other side. I am saying we should help them to get to talk, negotiate peace and resolve their differences amicably."

Unfortunately, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, attempts to mediate and negotiate will not work. What is happening in Cameroon is the beginnings of a generational crisis civil war. A crisis war is a force of nature that cannot be stopped until it burns itself out, typically after around five years, with an explosive genocidal climax of some kind that horrifies everyone so much that it brings the war to an end. Cameroon is nowhere near that explosive climax at this time. New Telegraph (Nigeria) and AFP and Deutsche Welle and Task and Purpose

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jul-18 World View -- Viral video shows Francophone Cameroon soldiers killing women and children thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Jul-18 World View -- Haiti blames IMF for fuel price increases triggering riots

Haiti people riot after announcement of fuel price rises during World Cup match

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Haiti people riot after announcement of fuel price rises during World Cup match


People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. (NPR)
People dump trash and raw sewage into canals that run through Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When it rains, the canals overflow and flood poor neighborhoods. (NPR)

On Friday, as Haitians were watching the World Cup game between Brazil and Belgium, Haiti's government announced the end of large subsidies on fuel prices, resulting in dramatic price increases -- 38% for gasoline, 47% for diesel fuel, and 51% for kerosene. The increases were blamed on the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The price increases for fuel appeared to affect everyone. The gasoline prices affected those in the middle or upper classes who own automobiles, the diesel prices affected businesspeople who use diesel fuel for trucks and heavy equipment, and the kerosene price increases hit poor people especially hard, as they burn kerosene to light up their homes, lacking electricity.

Haiti was the poorest country in the world, even before the major earthquake the country suffered in 2010. There was a huge outpouring of international aid after the earthquake, including a large fund organized by former president Bill Clinton, but none of the people seem to have benefited, and almost all the money was apparently lost in corruption.

The government had apparently hoped that by announcing the price increases during Friday's World Cup game, nobody would notice. That turned out to be a major miscalculation. Most Haitians fervently supported Brazil over Belgium in Friday's World Cup game, and were shocked when the game ended in a loss for Brazil. The rioting began five minutes after the game ended. Burning tires blocked major routes in Haiti's capital city Port-au-Prince, and sporadic gunfire could be heard around the city. Store and car windows in the affluent sections of Port-au-Prince were reportedly smashed. Affluent hotels were also targeted. Three people were killed on Friday.

As the rioting became increasingly violent, Haiti's president Jovenel Moïse, accompanied by his wife Martine, appeared in a televised address to the nation on Saturday evening:

"You sent me the message and I got it. I corrected what needed to be corrected.... I asked the Government to reconsider the decision to withdraw subsidies on the prices of petroleum products. The Prime Minister did it. The price of fuel remains what it was before, throughout the national territory. There is no longer an increase in gas prices. ... Now I ask you to stay calm and go home. ... I know that it is to me that you gave the power, but I cannot run alone. I have to have a lot of people around me before making a decision."

The protests didn't end. On Monday, workers went on strike and shut the capital down. Many analysts have stated that the continuing riots are being caused by massive government corruption. According to one NGO analyst:

"Having had over ten deployments to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010, including during their elections, I do not think that the increase in fuel prices is the root cause of this crisis.

They know that sacrifices have to be made to improve their economy, and they have made them in the past. However, after suffering for so long, the Haitian people hate being tricked

Their political candidates promised to address mismanagement and corruption if they were elected. The people expected improvements in government efficiency, and arrests of those accused of corruption, before being targeted for austerity.

However, to have austerity forced on them, without the promised efficiency and arrests, appeared to be too much for the people to bear from a government that promised to be different."

The United States has warned Americans living in Haiti to shelter in place in their homes, to avoid the violence. A marine security detachment of 13 marines has arrived in Haiti to provide security at the US embassy there.

Both the United States and Canada have policies to deport Haitians who fled from the violence following the 2010 earthquake. Activists in Canada is demanding that because of the current violence, deportations back to Haiti should immediately end, and Haiti should be put back on the government list of countries to which migrants may not be returned. AFP (7-July) and Barbados Today and Military.com and Canadian Broadcasting

International Monetary Fund blamed for austerity triggering riots

The fuel price increases announced on Friday were caused by a termination of subsidies as demanded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for $96 million in loans and grants from the IMF and the World Bank.

When the price increases were announced, Prime Minister Guy Lafontant said, “I ask for your patience because our administration has a vision, a clear program." He defended the price increases because the subsidies make Haiti's fuel prices the lowest in Latin America among the non-petroleum producing nations. Furthermore he claimed that many people regularly crossed the border from neighboring Dominican Republic, where oil prices are 43% higher, to take advantage of the subsidized prices in Haiti, which meant that the subsidies were supporting both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The austerity demands were in an agreement that Haiti signed with the IMF in February. The agreement defines a "Staff-Monitored Program" (SMP), where IMF closely monitors government activities in Haiti in return from the loans and grants. The agreement requires that it is necessary "to eliminate excessive subsidies, including on retail fuel." According to the agreement:

"“Under the SMP, fiscal policy will focus on mobilizing revenues and rationalizing current expenditure, to make room for critical public investment in infrastructure, health, education and social services. This will include measures to improve tax collection and efficiency, and to eliminate excessive subsidies, including on retail fuel. Other reforms will focus on stemming the losses of the public electricity company (EDH), which in recent years have amounted to a sizeable portion of the public deficit, by improving the efficiency of billing, and by reforming contracting practices. Fiscal reforms also aim to increase the transparency of public accounts. These reforms are to be accompanied by a substantial package of mitigating measures to protect the most vulnerable members of society. ...

IMF staff will work closely with the authorities to monitor progress in the implementation of their economic program.."

By Wednesday, relative calm had been restored in Haiti. The president and prime minister are under pressure to resign, and it's not known how the IMF will react, now that the subsidies have been restored. Atlanta Black Star and IMF (27-Feb-2018) and Miami Herald

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11-Jul-18 World View -- Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave

Tensions grow between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan enclave

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tensions grow between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nakhchivan enclave


Azerbaijan.  The disputed enclaves are Nagorno-Karabakh in mid-Azerbaijan, and Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), in the southwest corner of the map, separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory.  Not shown on the map, Turkey has a 10 km border with Nakhchivan. (CIA World Factbook)
Azerbaijan. The disputed enclaves are Nagorno-Karabakh in mid-Azerbaijan, and Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), in the southwest corner of the map, separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by Armenian territory. Not shown on the map, Turkey has a 10 km border with Nakhchivan. (CIA World Factbook)

Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been rising quickly in the last month, as the result of the movement of Azerbaijan military forces in the enclave of Nakhchivan closer to the border with Armenia.

In recent years, most of the military tension between the two countries has been related to Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Armenian citizens in the midst of Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan were both part of the Soviet Union empire, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, led to a bloody war between the two countries. The war ended in a cease-fire, with the Armenians in control of several Azerbaijani regions, including Nagorno-Karabakh.

In April 2016, the continuing low-level conflict between the two countries spiraled into a major clash, the worst since 1994, with tanks, heavy artillery and helicopters. ( "3-Apr-16 World View -- Armenia-Azerbaijan escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh threatens the entire region") Although that clash ended once again in a cease-fire, low-level violence has been almost continuous since then, with each side typically accusing the other of hundreds of cease-fire violations every week.

The new increase in tensions is not in Nagorno-Karabakh, but in Nakhchivan (Naxçivan), an enclave shown in the southwest corner of the above map. Nakhchivan is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but it's separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by part of Armenia.

Both of the enclaves Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan were created by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, but supposedly for similar reasons -- to maintain tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia so that Russia could use its time-tested approach of divide and rule. More important, Stalin wanted to deprive Turkey of a direct land bridge to Azerbaijan and Turkic Central Asia while giving Armenia an external Soviet border to Iran.

Starting in 1993, after Turkey and Azerbaijan closed their borders with Armenia, a railway connecting Kars, in far eastern Turkey, to Central Asia to the Caucasus was proposed. Since October 2017, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) Railway has been transporting goods between Kazakhstan and central Europe, with plans to increase its capacity. Jamestown (12-June) and Vice (8-May-2013) and EurasiaNet (29-June)

Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave

Some Russian analysts are raising concerns that Azerbaijan is about to invade Armenia from Nakhchivan, based on movements by Azeri troops. If that happens, it would not be long before other countries in the region would begin choosing sides.

During the 1800s, Azerbaijan was a province of Iran, and there's a large Persian population in Azerbaijan, which is particularly heavy in Nakhchivan.

Iran would be able to exert a great deal of control over Nakhchivan if the invasion takes place. Iran controls the only land bridge between Nakhchivan and the rest of Azerbaijan, and so limit the supplies being sent to Nakhchivan. Furthermore, Iran supplies much of the water and electricity to Nakhchivan, and could shut them off if desired. However, Iran might support the invasion in return for concessions from Azerbaijan, particularly ending support for the separatist ethnic Azerbaijanis in northern Iran.

Turkey has close relations with Azerbaijan, because of the latter's large Turkic population. Turkey also has a long, bitter history with Armenia, especially after the slaughter and displacement of millions of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. So Turkey might support an Azeri invasion of Armenia.

However, despite the love-fest between Turkey and Russia in Syria in recent years, Turkey and Russia are bitter historic enemies, with centuries of crisis wars in the southern Caucasus, and that enmity would quickly be revived in the case of a new Caucasus war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

On the other hand, Orthodox (Armenian Apostolic) Christians in Armenia are culturally linked to Russian Orthodox Christians, and so Russia would choose the side of Armenia against Azerbaijan.

In the case of an Azerbaijan attack on Armenia, Armenia could invoke a 1997 mutual defense treaty with Russia, and as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia's version of Nato for the former members of the Soviet Union, Armenia has the right to request assistance of any kind, including direct military, from the entire bloc or from its individual member countries. Russia has also promised to provide Armenia with air-defense radars and missiles.

Furthermore, the "Armenian-Russian United Group of Forces," formed after April 2016 clash, could enter the war. A Russian analysis provides a vitriolic response to complaints from Turkey and Azerbaijan when this force grouping was formed in 2016:

"For example, it is widely known that the creation of the Armenian-Russian grouping of troops from the very first days was sharply criticized by Turkey and Azerbaijan, whose policies agitated Moscow to abandon this idea and see exclusively "devoted allies" in Ankara and Baku. It seems that considering all the "knives in the back" that the Turks of Russia have stumbled upon (from the shot down planes in Syria, the murders of pilots to the brazen act of terrorism against the Russian ambassador to Karlov in Ankara) from 2015-16, the hypocrisy of the opponents of creating and operating the Armenian- Russian groupings of troops are more than noticeable. As well as the fact that Moscow was not and does not intend to listen to the pharisaic calls of Ankara and Baku."

The statement alludes to Turkey's shooting down of a Russian warplane in Syria in November 2015, and the assassination of a Russian diplomat in Ankara in December 2016. Jamestown and Regnum (Russia, 28-June) (Trans) and EurasiaNet (3-July) and Azerbaijan Ministry of Defense

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jul-18 World View -- Concerns grow that Azerbaijan plans Armenia invasion from Nakhchivan enclave thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Jul-18 World View -- Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites

The incendiary kite attacks began with 'The Great March for Return'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites


Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Gate of Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza, whose closure was announced on Monday. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday the close of the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza. The crossing is located near the Egyptian border and serves as the main entry point for commercial goods and humanitarian aid. The closing will lead to sharp cuts in the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, although humanitarian aid, food and medicine will still be allowed through, approved on an individual basis.

The move is retaliation for a wave of incendiary kites and balloons with firebombs attached that have been launched in recent weeks from Gaza into Israel. Israeli authorities say that the firebombs have set fire to 7,000 acres of forest and farmland in southern Israel.

Netanyahu said that additional steps will be taken to try to stop the kites and balloons:

"About Gaza, I have been telling you for some time that I do not intend to publicize in advance all the steps that we are taking or planning. But the Defense Minister and I agree that we will be heavy-handed with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip – immediately. In a significant step, today we are closing the Kerem Shalom crossing. There will be additional steps; I will not go into details."

An Israeli army statement announced an additional member to be taken immediately. Gaza’s designated fishing zone will be reduced from nine to six nautical miles off the coast throughout the duration of the season. This is a reversal of a decision to expand the fishing zone. The fishing zone is usually six naval miles wide but was temporarily expanded to nine miles three months ago.

The statement added the following:

"If Hamas continues in this direction, these decisions will continue and will intensify. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for what is happening inside the Gaza Strip and coming out of it. Hamas is dragging the population of Gaza into the abyss, and the Israeli Defense Forces will continue to work to preserve Israel's security interests."

A Hamas spokesman said that closing the crossing point was "a new crime against humanity added to the black record of the Israeli occupation against our Palestinian people and our people in the Gaza Strip." He added:

"International and regional silence for the crime of the suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip for (nearly) 12 years has encouraged the Israeli enemy to carry on with its criminal measures that violate human rights and international laws. Therefore, Hamas calls on the international community to act immediately and prevent this crime and its dangerous consequences."

However, Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the incendiary kites and balloons deserve even harsher punishment that Israel inflicted on Gaza in Operation Protective Edge, the 2014 war in Gaza which killed 74 Israeli soldiers and thousands of Gaza civilians: "The way Hamas is conducting itself, it could pay a heavier price than it did in Protective Edge. This situation, in which every day our woodlands are being burned every day cannot continue,"

Liberman on Monday also announced that he was designing the Lebanon-based al-Quds television network as a terrorist organization, accusing it of being an arm of Hamas. This will permit Israel to impose economic sanctions on the network. However, a spokesman for the network said, "The decision on the al-Quds channel is another step of terror that joins the other violent decisions Israel has taken against the Palestinian people." World Israel News and Middle East Eye and YNet News (Israel) and Times of Israel

The incendiary kite attacks began with 'The Great March for Return'

The "Great March for Return" began on March 30 of this year, when thousands of Gazans demonstrated near the border fence separating Gaza from Israel and sometimes attempting to break through the fence. The objective was for Palestinians to exercise their "Right of Return," to regain the lands where their ancestors had lived, prior to the 1947 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

When the Great March for Return began, Israeli authorities were concerned that if a group of Gaza activists broke through the fence, they would attack Israeli homes. Israel's army retaliated first with tear gas and then with live gunfire. During the first march, 16 Palestinians were killed, and hundreds were wounded.

The demonstrations peaked on May 14, which the Palestinians commemorate as "Naqba Day" or "Catastrophe Day," commemorating the founding, in 1948, of the state of Israel. In addition, May 14 is the day announced by the Trump administration when the official US embassy to Israel will move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

After that, the demonstrations on the Gaza border began to diminish, but there were replaced by a new tactic, the incendiary kites and balloons, which have been in use to this day.

The incendiary kites and balloons appear to have baffled the Israeli military, which has not found a way to deal with them, putting the Netanyahu government under pressure to solve the problem. The announcements on Monday, including closing the Kerem Shalom crossing point between Israel and Gaza, is retaliation for the kites and balloons, but it remains to be seen whether the retaliatory acts will prevent them. Reuters and Israel National News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jul-18 World View -- Israel will close crossing point to Gaza in retaliation for incendiary kites thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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9-Jul-18 World View -- India's Kashmir locked down after 3 civilians killed by police

Violence sparked by death of Burhan Wani continues to grow

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India's Kashmir locked down after 3 civilians killed by police


Villagers in Kashmir carry the body of a youth, Faizan Ahmed, 15, during a funeral on June 30, 2018. (AFP)
Villagers in Kashmir carry the body of a youth, Faizan Ahmed, 15, during a funeral on June 30, 2018. (AFP)

A 16-year-old girl was among three people who died in Kashmir on Friday, after security forces opened fire at stone-throwing protesters. India's army says that it's "investigating" the deaths of the three civilians, but says that they had to resort to controlled firing after a patrol unit was attacked by a crowd of nearly 500 people. In a statement, the army that soldiers were injured from terrorist gunfire.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in the entire Kashmir Valley, over fears that of widespread unrest, particularly as July 8 is the two-year anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, the commander of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen.

Hizbul Mujahideen is a separatist terror group of Muslims demanding independence for India-governed Kashmir, and that it be permitted to merge with Pakistan-governed Kashmir, so that all of Kashmir is under Pakistan control. Hizbul Mujahideen was formed in 1989, funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. It's been very popular in Kashmir, with thousands of anti-India protesters as members, and is demanding that Kashmir be separated from India and made part of Pakistan. New Delhi TV and India Times and The Independent (Bangladesh) and Hindustan Times

Violence sparked by death of Burhan Wani continues to grow

The death of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016, triggered a major surge in violence that lasted throughout the summer and then into the fall, resulting in the deaths of 80 people. The violence ebbed only when the cold of winter set in. Then the violence began again in summer 2017, continuing into the winter.

The violence has been greater so far this year. Since January this year, 210 people including 58 civilians, over 104 militants, and 48 security forces personnel have been killed in the Valley in different incidents of violence.

There's also been a change in the membership of the separatist groups in the last two years. In the past, the members of the separatist groups had infiltrated from the Pakistan-governed side of Kashmir, but recently young people from India-government Kashmir have been announcing their joining the militants on social media, with pictures of themselves holding guns.

On May 25 of this year, Shamsul Haq Mengnoo, 25, the younger brother of a police officer, announced on social media that he had joined Hizbul Mujahideen. Shamsul is the fourth highly-educated youth to join militant ranks this year, and the 50th youth to join altogether. On Sunday alone, the anniversary of Wani Burhan's death, over a dozen newly recruited militants posted pictures on social media.

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 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.

As the weather has warmed in the last few weeks, the violence has been increasing. Generational Dynamics predicts that Kashmir is returning to full-scale war, re-fighting the extremely bloody partition war of 1947. Tribune India and First Post (India) and CNBC (5-July)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jul-18 World View -- India's Kashmir locked down after 3 civilians killed by police thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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8-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks

The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks


Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)
Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang after his meetings on Saturday (AFP)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korean on Friday and Saturday, where he was snubbed by not having a meeting with the child dictator Kim Jong-un.

Pompeo characterized the meeting as "successful," but the North Korean news agency KCNA issued a 1,300 word vitriolic anti-US rant, criticizing the "gangster-like demand for denuclearization," and then contradicting itself by threatening to end its alleged "unshakable will for denuclearization." Here are some excerpts:

"It was, however, so regretful to mention what the U.S. side had shown in its attitude and stand at the first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks held on 6 and 7 July.

The DPRK [North Korea] side, during the talks, put forward the constructive proposals to seek a balanced implementation of all the provisions of the Joint Statement out of its firm willingness to remain faithful to the implementation of the spirit and agreed points of the DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks. ...

But, the U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization just calling for CVID, declaration and verification, all of which run counter to the spirit of the Singapore summit meeting and talks. ...

The issues the U.S. side insisted on at the talks are all roots of troubles, which the previous administrations also had insisted on to disrupt the dialogue processes, stoke the distrust and increase the danger of war. ...

The first DPRK-U.S. high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.

In the last few months, we displayed maximum patience and watched the U.S. while initiating good-will steps as many as we can.

But, it seems that the U.S. misunderstood our goodwill and patience.

The U.S. is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, the demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset. ...

But, if the U.S., being captivated in a fidget, tries to force upon us the old ways claimed by the previous administrations, this will get us nowhere. ...

We still cherish our good faith in President Trump.

The acronym CVID refers to "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization," which has been the stated objective of the Trump administration from the beginning. KCNA (North Korea) and AP

The North Korean demands: total American withdrawal from South Korea

As I wrote two days ago ( "6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened"), the objective of Pompeo's trip was to press Kim to provide a complete list of all nuclear and ballistic missile production sites, and a timetable for shutting them down. Obviously the North Koreans balked at that request.

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

Saturday's KCNA statement is exactly in line with that objective. The North Koreans made the "reasonable" demand that the Korea war be officially ended (as opposed to the current status, officially still at war after an armistice was signed in 1953):

"The U.S. side never mentioned the issue of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula which is essential for defusing tension and preventing a war. It took the position that it would even backtrack on the issue it had agreed on to end the status of war under certain conditions and excuses.

As for the issue of announcing the declaration of the end of war at an early date, it is the first process of defusing tension and establishing a lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, and at the same time, it constitutes a first factor in creating trust between the DPRK and the U.S. This issue was also stipulated in Panmunjom Declaration as a historical task to terminate the war status on the Korean peninsula which continues for nearly 70 years. President Trump, too, was more enthusiastic about this issue at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks. ...

The U.S. side, during the talks, made a great publicity about suspension of one or two joint military exercises. But suspension of one action called exercises is a highly reversible step which can be resumed anytime at any moment as all of its military force remains intact in its previously-held positions without scraping even a rifle. This is incomparable with the irreversible step taken by the DPRK to explode and dismantle the nuclear test ground."

This is all a demand that the US withdraw all its forces from South Korea before any denuclearization can take place. Related to this are other demands, including removal of the THAAD defensive anti-missile system from South Korea, and removal of American forces from Okinawa. At one time in the past, a North Korean official was quoted as saying that North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons after the US gives up its nuclear weapons.

It's true, as the North Koreans claim, that the suspension of the joint military exercises is reversible, but the claim about the exploding and dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Mount Mantap is also reversible, and may be completely fraudulent. The North Koreans did not permit nuclear experts to witness the explosions, and so the explosions may only have been a big show to gain negotiating leverage. Furthermore, as we discussed at the time, other parts of Mount Mantap can be used as nuclear test sites, and there may be dozens of other locations in North Korea. This is probably one of the reasons why Pompeo's request for a list of test sites was denied on Saturday.

The purpose of the KCNA statement was to make a "reasonable" request, in order to get the Trump administration to lift the sanctions, with no significant concessions by the North. At the end of the day on Saturday, the sanctions were still in full force.

The future of the denuclearization negotiations

There's no doubt that the denuclearization "negotiations" have now taken a sharp turn.

Recall that Trump canceled the summit negotiations six weeks ago. ( "25-May-18 World View -- North Korea suffers diplomatic defeat as Trump cancels summit")

One of the things that triggered Trump's cancelation was continued criticism of and contempt for Trump in the North Korean media. Since the cancelation, the NK media have been consistently "nice" to Trump and the US.

So Saturday's criticism is extremely significant because it's the first hostile comment in the NK media since the cancellation. In a sense it represents NK's first real counter-response to Trump's cancellation.

One thing that's notable about the KCNA statement on Saturday is that it came a few hours after Pompeo had said the meetings had gone well, so there was no need to make this statement right away. I've said in the past that if Kim tried to really denuclearize, then he'd be shot and killed by his own generals. The denuclearization negotiations must have, at the very least, caused bitter disagreements in NK's leadership, much like what's happening in London with Brexit or in Berlin over the migration issue.

So the statement, when it wasn't even necessary, is a sign that the faction opposing the negotiations has just gained the upper hand. This is probably the real significance of the statement, and it means an end to current track of negotiations.

The South Korean's must have seen this coming, because they've been urging the US to soften its demands on NK. Going along with the South Koreans would have meant making concessions without any denuclearization steps by NK, so it had to be rejected, but now we're facing the inevitable outcome.

There's one more thing that has to be remembered: From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational Crisis era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical high points. So it wouldn't take much to reach a tipping point for the North Koreans to abandon the negotiations.

(People always point to the East-West Germany reunification talks in 1991 as examples that could be followed for Korean reunification. But that example is completely irrelevant, since those talks occurred during a generational Unraveling era, where nationalism and xenophobia are at historical lowest points.)

The other thing that's going on, as I pointed out in my article two days ago is that the Chinese are furious about the tariffs that president Trump has been imposing. The Chinese are liars and cheaters and criminals, but like the Nazis, they consider themselves to be the Master Race who have the right to lie and cheat and extort to get whatever they want, because they have such total contempt for the West. The statement that NK issued Saturday may have been encouraged by the Chinese, because of their fury over the tariffs.

I also pointed out that there's an analogy with the sanctions imposed on Japan on July 24, 1941, which infuriated the Japanese and motivated the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7. I can't prove this, of course, but with nationalism and xenophobia at their historic peaks, I have the feeling that a similar dynamic is going on with China and North Korea towards America and the West.

What choices are now available to the Trump administration? Here are some possibilities:

Any of these choices have unpredictable results, because the North Koreans have absolutely no intention of agreeing to denuclearization, and that will have to become clear at some point. Furthermore, with xenophobia and nationalism at historic highs in both China and North Korea, any action might produce a hostile reaction.

It's well to remember that we've only had these negotiations because of a remarkable coincidence: Just as things were heating up to a boil in January, it was time for, of all things, the Olympics games in Seoul. This permitted the North to continue nuclear and ballistic missile development, while putting on a charm offensive that lasted several months. The charm offensive is now completely derailed.

For those who would like a thin reed of hope to grasp onto, let me offer one. In my article "12-Feb-18 World View -- What was Kim Yo-jong thinking as she returned to North Korea from the Olympics?", I speculated that Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong, might have been so overtaken with the vibrancy and high standard of living of South Korean society, compared to the deadliness and near starvation as a constant in the North, she might have taken it upon herself to convince her brother to give up his nuclear program, for the good of the North Korean people. In that article, I described how Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin had decided to give up Communism after visiting the United States in September, 1989.

I wrote that article in February, and since that time dozens of top North Korean leaders have visited the South, and have seen for themselves how the NK people have suffered enormously under Communism. Trump himself has frequently pointed out to the North Koreans that they could have a great future if they give up their nuclear program.

So the thin reed of hope that I'm offering is that Kim Jong-un and his generals take the same lesson that Yeltsin took, and decide that, for the good of the North Korean people, it would be best to give up not only the nuclear program, but Communism. Something like that would be truly historic, but don't hold your breath waiting for it. Reuters and The Hill and Fox News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jul-18 World View -- North Korea issues vitriolic anti-US rant, collapsing denuclearization talks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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7-Jul-18 World View -- Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine's Donbas war continues, as US supplies Javelin anti-tank missiles

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine


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.

The Russian navy in recent weeks has boosted its presence in the Sea of Azov to approximately 40 ships, giving it the ability to control that body of water and to strike virtually at will along Ukraine's coastline there. This is the latest in a series of Russian threats and acts of harassment direct at crippling Ukraine's economy, and possibly preparing for new military actions.

Ever since 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine (Donbas), and then invaded and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, there have been continuing fears that Russia would launch a new invasion and annex another portion of Ukraine.

It's been thought that the most likely target of a new Russian invasion would be the port cities of Mariupol, Berdyansk, and the entire strip of land along the Sea of Azov connecting Russia to Crimea, creating a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, and taking total control of the Sea of Azov.

No such invasion has occurred, but starting in May 2015, Russia began constructing an 11.8 mile bridge across the Kerch Strait, from Russia to Crimea, to allow transport of goods and people between Russia and Crimea, and also to control access to the Sea of Azov. The construction of the bridge immediately had a severe effect on Ukraine's economy. Russia several times closed the Kerch Strait to maritime traffic, trapping commercial vessels docked in Mariupol and Berdyansk seaports. During 2017, freight traffic was reduced 43% and transshipments shrank by 30%, totally $54 million in 2017.

The Kerch Strait bridge officially opened on May 16, a year earlier than initially announced. Many vessels that used to deliver goods to Azov seaports can no longer do so at all because the Russians have deliberately made the passageways under the bridge too small for many vessels. The Russians have all but blocked the Ukrainian seaports on the Sea of Azov, stopping international vessels from shipping goods to and from Ukrainian cities. Russia's security forces stop and search dozens of vessels, and delay them for days. In the four days last week from July 2-5, Russia's security forces detained seven cases. Jamestown and Hromadske (Ukraine) and Eurasia Review and Maritime Bulletin and Jamestown

Ukraine's Donbas war continues, as US supplies Javelin anti-tank missiles


In Kiev, a metal silhouette of a girl with a balloon, dotted with bullet holes, a reminder of the war in Donbas. (Getty)
In Kiev, a metal silhouette of a girl with a balloon, dotted with bullet holes, a reminder of the war in Donbas. (Getty)

The war in Ukraine began in 2014 when Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine, a region known as the Donbas. The war is entering its fifth year, and with no end in sight. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 2,800 civilians. Nearly two million people have been internally displaced or put at risk if they remain in their homes.

Because of a fear of a further major Russian military invasion, the Donald Trump administration last year approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missile systems. A $47 million U.S. military-aid package approved last year specified 210 Javelin antitank missiles and 37 Javelin launchers, two of them spares. Ukraine announced on April 30 that they had been delivered.

The missiles are to be used only for defensive purposes. According to a US statement at the time of the sale last year:

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Ukraine.

The Javelin system will help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity in order to meet its national defense requirements. Ukraine will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region."

The U.S.-made FGM-148 Javelin is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile that uses infrared guidance to hit armored targets. The guidance system is contrasted to wire-guided anti-tank missiles, which require a shooter to actively guide the weapon until it hits its target. A Javelin shooter can immediately seek cover after firing its shot.

Russia's foreign ministry reacted to the sale by accusing the United States with "fomenting a war." Such statements from Russia are always laughable, since Russia has absolutely no credibility. Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea, lying about it every step of the way, and continually supplied weapons to the forces in the Donbas. In particular, it was a Russian-made Buk missile that shot down the Malaysian Airlines passenger plane in July 2014, killing hundreds of passengers. Washington Post and RFE/RL and Newsweek and Defense News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Jul-18 World View -- Russia's actions in Sea of Azov raise fears of another invasion of Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened

Commentary: The US imposes tariffs on Chinese imports

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened


Kim Jong-un makes a big show of taking notes at a factory in this North Korean media photo
Kim Jong-un makes a big show of taking notes at a factory in this North Korean media photo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo headed to North Korea for another meeting with Kim Jong-un on Thursday, amid reports that sanctions will be softened, either by the US or by China.

According to a Japanese report on a meeting last week in Beijing between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and China's president Xi Jinping, Kim asked Xi to help end sanctions targeting North Korea. The report quotes Kim as telling Xi:

"We are feeling great pain due to economic sanctions. Now that we have concluded the US-North Korea summit in success, I want (China) to work toward early lifting of the sanctions."

According to the report, Xi said that he would do his "utmost" to satisfy the request.

However, since the June 12 summit meeting between Kim and president Donald Trump, there has been no evidence that North Korea intends to keep its promise to denuclearize.

At the same time, there were reports last week, based on satellite imagery, that North Korea has been rapidly building new infrastructure at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, where plutonium for nuclear weapons is produced.

Since China has always been North Korea's main trading partner, China has had to take responsibility for implementing many of the sanctions. However, there have been reports in recent weeks that China has already partially weakened its own enforcement of the sanctions.

Some analysts are claiming that Trump has already given up a lot by agreeing to cancel the joint military drills with South Korea, without getting anything in the return from the North.

The State Dept. on Thursday denied that it has softened its approach to North Korea denuclearization. According to State Department spokesman Heather Nauert:

Nothing could be further from the truth. Our policy toward North Korea has not changed.

We are committed to a denuclearized North Korea and Secretary Pompeo looks forward to continuing his consultations with North Korean leaders to follow up on the commitments made at the Singapore summit."

Many people, including myself, are skeptical that Kim Jong-un has any intention at all of denuclearizing. The purpose of Pompeo's current trip is to get some specific commitments. According to Pompeo, "On this trip I’m seeking to fill in some details on those commitments and continue the momentum toward implementation of what the two leaders promised each other and the world." AFP (1-July) and Reuters and 38 North (26-June) and Joongang Daily (Seoul)

Pompeo's visit will test Trump's negotiating strategy

The reality of the situation is that the negotiations could break down very quickly, and we could very quickly be as close to war as we were in January, before Kim Jong-un's charm offensive at the Seoul Olympics.

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

North Korea is said to be asking for "staged denuclearization." This means that North Korea and the US alternate in making concessions on a step by step basis, with the US removing each sanction in return for North Korea taking a denuclearization step.

If this is Kim's strategy, it doesn't seem that he's following it. The satellite imagery that shows infrastructure development at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility cannot be a surprise to Kim. The North would have been aware that the infrastructure changes would be detected by satellite imagery, and it's therefore reasonably to conclude that Kim wanted this development to be made public, perhaps as a warning to the US that unless concessions are made rapidly, the North will continue developing nuclear weapons.

According to reports, Pompeo is going to press Kim to provide a complete list of all nuclear and ballistic missile production sites, and a timetable for shutting them down. If, as expected, Kim refuses to produce such a list, then there might be a major confrontation, or they may kick the can down the road to a later meeting.

Trump said on Thursday,

"I really believe that he sees a different future for North Korea. I hope that’s true. If that’s not true, we’ll go back to the other way."

In other words, the North Korean situation could blow up into a full "crisis" again for the first time in months. The real disaster would be if Trump gives in and reduces sanctions, getting nothing in return. Korea Times and Channel News Asia

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Commentary: The US imposes tariffs on Chinese imports

The US has gone ahead with tariffs on Chinese imports, as of 12:01 am on Friday.

China's statements in response to these tariffs have been getting increasingly angry in tone. The Chinese appear to be infuriated and humiliated by the tariffs, much more strongly that Europe, Canada or Mexico.

If you're looking for a historical analogy, one place where you might start is the sanctions that the US imposed on Japan on July 24, 1941. The sanctions were in retaliation for Japanese occupation of French Indo-China (Vietnam). Four and one-half months later, on December 7, 1941, Japan's bombers attacked Pearl Harbor. History.com

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jul-18 World View -- Sec of State Pompeo visits North Korea amid reports that sanctions will be softened thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Jul-18 World View -- Al-Assad's attacks on Daraa threaten clashes with Israel and Jordan on Syria's border

Jordan and Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria and Russia resume full-scale assault on Daraa


Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled  Golan Heights (AFP)
Displaced Syrians camp near border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights (AFP)

After a brief lull in the attacks to provide an opening for negotiations, Syria and Russia have resume full-scale attacks on rebel-held areas in Daraa province. As in the attacks on Aleppo and Ghouta, women and children are particularly targeted. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad uses the technique of attacking peaceful protesters and then, when there's some sort of violent revenge attack, uses that as an excuse to call the entire population "terrorists," and then perform genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Daraa has played a special part in Syria's war, and is considered the place where it started. In spring of 2011, two 15-year-old boys posted graffiti in Daraa saying, "Freedom. Down with the regime. Your turn, Doctor," suggesting that al-Assad would suffer the same fate as as leaders in Egypt and Tunisia during the "Arab spring." The word "Doctor" refers to the fact that al-Assad, had been a ophthalmology student when he attended college in London, at a time when his father Hafez al-Assad had been conducting genocide in Syria. This graffiti infuriated al-Assad, who is a psychopathic killer. He ordered the two boys to be tortured and imprisoned, and he launched a furious attack on the people of Daraa. Now he wants to finish up the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Daraa. There's no hope of a negotiated peace in Daraa because al-Assad has every intention of completing the genocide and ethnic cleansing.

That's presumably the reason that al-Assad and the Russians aren't giving the people of Daraa the same choices they gave to the people of Aleppo and Ghouta. In the latter two cases, the rebels were allowed to leave with their weapons and their families and travel to Idlib province. But in the case of Daraa, al-Assad and Russia are demanding that the rebels immediately give up their weapons, and are prohibiting the families from going anywhere. We can expect to see a bloody genocidal attack of monumental proportions.

EU foreign affairs spokesman Maja Kocijancic said on Saturday that the attacks by al-Assad and the Russias are violation of international law:

"Such attacks are clear violations of international law and international humanitarian law that also put at risk any progress in Geneva for the resumption of the political talks under UN mediation."

I assume that Kocijancic must be a comedian in her spare time, because this statement will only bring laughter from al-Assad and the Russians. Over the years, I've documented several attempts at peace talks, and each time, al-Assad has made complete fools of the peace mediators, by making promises and then immediately ignoring them. Al-Assad uses peace talks as a cover for further genocide and ethnic cleansing. Al-Assad is the worst genocidal monster and war criminal so far this century. (I always receive comments from people who say that al-Assad is a nice guy because he supposedly protects Christians. That's like saying Hitler was a nice guy because he protected Christians -- except that he didn't. Al-Assad may protect Christians now because he considers them to be useful idiots, but he wouldn't hesitate to kill all of them if he had no further use for them.)

About 300,000 people in Daraa and in the adjacent Quneitra province have been fleeing their homes and heading to the borders with Jordan and Israel. Both Jordan and Israel have closed their borders to the refugees, but are providing humanitarian aid. More people are moving to the Israeli border because they believe that al-Assad and Russians will not risk a war with Israel by attacking them there. AFP and Arab News and Middle East Online and World Bulletin (Turkey)

Jordan fears repercussions from Syria's military offensive in Daraa

There's a great deal of international pressure on Jordan to allow the Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Daraa to cross the border into Syria. A spokesman for Human Rights Watch said:

"The abject refusal by Jordanian authorities to allow asylum seekers to seek protection not only goes against their international legal obligations, but against basic human decency. Jordanians themselves are appealing to their government’s basic decency and calling for those in need to be let in."

The European Union is making a similar plea.

However, Jordan estimates that it is already hosting some 1.3 million refugees, and earlier this week said that it is unable to host a new wave of refugees, and so the border will remain closed, although Jordan is providing humanitarian aid.

However, Jordan has several major concerns about the military action in Daraa.

First, closing its border to refugees fleeing violence is a great embarrassment for Jordan, which maintains good relations with all Western powers and human rights organizations.

However, Jordan believes that the world has given up on refugees, and are no longer willing to provide funding for the support of refugees in refugee camps. There is particular concern that earlier this year the Trump administration cut funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, but there are 193 countries in the United Nations, and those other countries aren't stepping up to fund Palestinian refugees either. The cut in funding is particular hard on Jordan, which hosts more than two million Palestinian refugees, and Jordan's economy is already in serious trouble.

Another concern for Jordan is the lack of security along the border. Jordan has suffered previous terrorist attacks in 2005 and 2016 when jihadists entered Jordan along with waves of refugees.

Jordan is also concerned about a demographic change in Daraa. In particular, Jordan is concerned that al-Assad's ethnic cleansing and genocide will empty the region of its Sunni population, to be replaced by people from Iran and Hezbollah. Jordan Times and Human Rights Watch and Middle East Eye and Jordan Times

Israel concerned about infiltration from Iran and Hezbollah

Like Jordan, Israel is keeping its border closed to the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing violence from al-Assad and Russia. Syrians are coming to the area because they hope e that the proximity to Israel will protect them and that al-Assad's troops and warplanes will not bomb them there.

Israel has technically been at war with Syria since 1948, and there is a UN peacekeeping force on the border between Syria and Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israel has been working with the peacekeeping force to set up "safe zones" within Syria that will be safe from al-Assad's ground forces and Syria's and Russia's warplanes.

On Friday, the Israeli army announced that it had taken 300 tents and several tons of food, medicine and clothing to the other side overnight, as humanitarian aid for the Syrian refugees. However, Israel will not allow Syrian refugees to cross the border because of the fear that Iranians and Hezbollah will infiltrate.

Debka, an analyst service based on Israeli military and intelligence sources, but which sometimes gets things wrong, is reporting that the US and Israel have begun launching military actions along the border, to counter infiltration by Iran and Hezbollah.

It had been hoped that Iran and Hezbollah would not take part in the Daraa and Quneitra attacks, but Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday, "Iran is one of the key powers in the region and it would be absolutely unrealistic to expect it to abandon its interests." Times of Israel and Deutsche Welle and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jul-18 World View -- Al-Assad's attacks on Daraa threaten clashes with Israel and Jordan on Syria's border thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Jul-18 World View -- German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria

Egypt refuses to build refugee camps for migrants deported from Europe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria


 A migrant holds a sarcastic protest sign after failing to enter the EU (Reuters)
A migrant holds a sarcastic protest sign after failing to enter the EU (Reuters)

The government of Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to be near collapse on Monday, because of a challenge by the leader of another party in her governing coalition. Horst Seehofer, leader of the Bavarian CSU party, was demanding that Merkel agree to tough new rules regarding migrants -- that migrants crossing the border from Austria into Germany who are registered in another EU country will automatically be rejected and sent back.

Since Seehofer is also Minister of the Interior, he has the power to enforce that rule by himself, without Merkel's permission. But if he had done so, then Merkel would have been forced to fire him, resulting in the withdrawal of the CSU from the governing coalition, and the collapse of Merkel's government.

This situation has resulted in a great deal of anger and shouting in Berlin, according to reports. At one point Seehofer threatened to resign, saying angrily, "I won’t let myself be sacked by a chancellor whom I made chancellor in the first place," referring to the fact that the CSU joined Merkel's governing coalition last year.

However, let's face it, Merkel and Seehofer are both politicians who crave power, and the collapse of Merkel's government would put both of them out of power. So a way had to be found that would save face for both of them, and allow them both to remain in power.

The solution was a fudge, kicking the can down the road in a remarkable manner: Germany will set up migrant refugee camps on the border, and border controls will be set up to stop registered asylum seekers at the border. If there's a bilateral deal with the country of registration, the refugees will be sent back.

But here's the really amazing part: The refugee camps will be deemed to be part of the border and not part of either country, which means that the refugees will not be legally deemed to have crossed the border into Germany. Germany would be allowed to expel them from Germany because they never legally were in Germany.

This deal doesn't solve anything, but supposedly it kicks the can down the road to the Bavarian elections in October, at which time the government may collapse anyway. The deal may not even be legal -- officials in the European Commission have said that they'll be reviewing it.

But we've had so many proposals for refugee camps for migrants in the last few months, and I don't believe any of them have succeeded, so there's no reason to believe that refugee camps on the border between Germany and Austria will succeed either. Austria has already said that it will refuse to take back refugees under any circumstances, and so these new border refugee camps will presumably just become flooded with refugees, until the government is forced to let them all go. Whether Merkel and Seehofer have a solution to that problem remains to be seen.

This proposal could make things worse for the entire European Union in that it may cause a chain reaction of border closings by different countries, essentially bringing the Schengen Zone agreement to an end. Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic have already threatened to introduce controls on their borders in response to the new German plan. Handelsblatt (Germany) and Reuters and Irish Times and Sky News

Egypt refuses to build refugee camps for migrants deported from Europe

It was just a few days ago that a summit of EU leaders came up with a plan for "Regional Disembarkation Platforms." These would be, once again, migrant refugee camps. But this time, they would be located in countries in northern Africa, away from the EU. ( "30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting")

The idea is that migrants would be rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, but instead of being taken to Italy or another EU country, they would be taken to a Disembarkation Platforms in northern Africa. Their asylum requests would be processed, and if rejected they would be sent back to the countries of origin.

Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia immediately announced that they would not permit Disembarkation Platforms to be hosted on their soil, and on Tuesday, Egypt announced that it would not permit them in Egypt. Egyptian Parliament Speaker Ali Abdul Aal said:

"EU reception facilities for migrants in Egypt would violate the laws and constitutions of our country. Our capacities are already utilized today; therefore, it is important that Egypt receives support from Germany and the EU."

The same EU Summit meeting also agreed to set up "Controlled Centers" in EU countries, "on a voluntary basis." Once again, this would just be another name for a migrant refugee camps. France and Austria immediately announced that they would not be willing to host Controlled Centers on their soil.

There have been many proposals in recent weeks, in Europe and the United States, and these proposals all have some kind of refugee camp or refugee prison or refugee detention center as a core proposal. These proposals always result in enormous national and international outrage, as well as political chaos. It remains to be seen if any of them will work. Middle East Monitor and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jul-18 World View -- German leaders agree to migrant refugee camps on border with Austria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Jul-18 World View -- Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption

Generational explanation for the violence in Mexico

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption


Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) In Mexico City on Sunday night (AFP)
Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) In Mexico City on Sunday night (AFP)

Far left politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), 64 years old, won a landslide victory in Mexico's presidential election on Sunday, with about 53% of the vote -- more than double the total of his nearest rival.

AMLO's victory is being seen as the latest of large populist victories, comparable to the Brexit referendum, Donald Trump's victory, and the right-wing victory in Italy. As the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, and the survivors of World War II continue to disappear, the old orders and institutions are disappearing with them, and younger generations are creating a new world order that ignores the lessons of World War II.

AMLO told his supporters:

"I'm very aware of my historical responsibility. I don't want to go into history as a bad president. Now we are going to transform Mexico."

Well that claim would have to be placed in the category of "major fantasy." Mexico is infested with murders, crime and corruption, and no transformation is possible in the near future.

More than 110 politicians have been murdered since September. Last year, a record 25,000 people were murdered, and 13,000 have been killed so far this year. The 112th political candidate to be killed was Fernando Puron, a congressional candidate in the border city of Piedras Negras, who was taking a selfie with a supporter when a gunman shot him in the head from behind.

Corruption is endemic. Outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government and party were mired in a seemingly bottomless series of scandals. AMLO promises to end corruption quickly.

The wave of murders, kidnappings and gang-related violence began during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), who launched the government’s war against drug cartels in 2006. Instead of defeating the drug cartels, however, organized crime, predominantly drug trafficking, exploded into broader criminal activities including theft, extortion, murder and state-level corruption. Despite billions spent and massive cash injections from the U.S., Mexico has become only more dangerous.

AMLO wants massive spending on multi-billion dollar national infrastructure projects, but has not specified where the money will come from in Mexico's already weak economy. When asked he says that he can pay simply by reducing corruption and waste. That's what every politician says, but there's no chance that he will succeed.

Questions are being asked about how well AMLO and Donald Trump will get along, but they spoke on the phone on Monday, and both say they're in agreement on many things. AMLO had campaigned on Mexico leaving NAFTA, but Mexico really needs NAFTA, and so that campaign promise will be renegotiated with Trump. NBC News and AFP and Washington Examiner

Generational explanation for the violence in Mexico

Mexico's last generational crisis war was the Mexican Revolution of 1910-21. Mexico and Turkey are the only two major countries that have gone more than 90 years without a generational crisis war.

The time since the last generational crisis war has a profound effect on the society of a country. After the London subway bombings of 2005, we were able to show from published data that most Mideast suicide bombers overwhelming came from Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia's last crisis war was the Ibn Saud conquest, ending in 1925, and Morocco's was the Rif War, ending in 1927. There appears to be a correlation between the time since the last crisis war and likelihood of suicide bombings and other suicide terrorist acts.

This phenomenon is explained theoretically in yesterday's article "2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America".

As described in the article, a generational crisis war, whether it's World War II or the Mexican Revolution or other, causes a core body of "lessons learned," a set of beliefs that are deeply held by all the survivors of the war. After the war, survivors in different political parties may differ on many policies, but there are deeply held core beliefs that allow them to cooperate on major policies. For example, in America in the 1980s, the Republicans and the Democrats cooperated with each other to change the Social Security system to make it a sounder system. After that, they cooperated again to specify new rules to control the budget deficit. That kind of cooperation became impossible in the 2000s.

Once the survivors of the crisis war die off, then the younger generations take power, but have no common deeply held core beliefs. Previously held core beliefs shatter into fragments. Each group in the population selects from those fragments, and uses them to develop its own set of core beliefs, and makes commitments to those beliefs. When those core beliefs conflict with reality and cause cognitive dissonance -- with a disconfirmation event as described yesterday in Festinger's theory -- each group doubles down on its unrealistic beliefs, and in many cases this means becoming violent.

This theory is still under development, but it does provide a solid theoretical explanation of the increasing violence in Mexico, and why it will continue to grow until the next crisis war, probably a re-fighting of the Mexican Revolution. A generational crisis war unifies a country into a common set of core beliefs. As the decades pass after the crisis war, this body of core beliefs shatters into fragments adopted by different groups, resulting in conflicts that can include violence. The next crisis war unifies the country again.

More on the generational explanation of vitriolic divisiveness in America

In yesterday's article, I described a "regeneracy event" as one that regenerates civic unity in the population for the first time since the end of the previous crisis war. In the American Civil War, it was the Battle of Bull Run. In World War II, it was Pearl Harbor and then the Bataan Death March. When these events occur, people with different political beliefs unite behind the leader to fight to preserve the country and its way of life.

During the days of the Barack Obama administration, I would write that if a regeneracy event occurred, then all the people would drop their political leanings, and become united behind Obama. This was greeted with horror by some commenters, where some people said that he and his friends would never unite behind Obama.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and I'm hearing from commenters who say that they would never become united behind Trump.

Neither of these claims is realistic. If a nuclear missile landed on California, anyone who refused to defend the country would be branded as a traitor, and would be treated as such.

A regeneracy event is a disconfirmation event in the sense of Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance, as described yesterday. It forces everyone to reevaluate all their deeply held beliefs, and either reject them or double down on them. A few people will double down and become perceived as traitors, but even they will be convinced as the weeks pass. In time, almost everyone will support the president, whether it's Obama or Trump.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jul-18 World View -- Mexico elects far left president amid skyrocketing murders, crime and corruption thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America

Leon Festinger and Cognitive Dissonance

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America


Celebrity Kathy Griffin and her bloody Donald Trump head
Celebrity Kathy Griffin and her bloody Donald Trump head

My father was a Greek immigrant who was a fairly objective observer of American society. When I was a kid, he once told me that in the 1930s there had been so much violence by Communists and the left that he hadn't thought that America would survive. Unfortunately, I didn't ask him what he meant by that, although the comment obviously made an impression on me since I remember it to this day.

The 1930s was America's last generational Crisis era, previous to the current one. In the one before that, the 1860s, America was "engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."

So today's vitriolic divisiveness is not unique to today, nor is it unique to America. We're seeing it today in Europe, where the European Union is being torn apart by issues such as Brexit and immigration. It's fairly common in any country during a generational Crisis era.

This week's mass shooting by Jarrod W. Ramos at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, has focused the public on the vitriolic divisiveness. Ramos's motive apparently has nothing to do with politics, although some in the mainstream media are blaming it on various comments by president Donald Trump that could have incited violence, especially his tweets about fake news, or his "punch him in the face" remark during the 2016 campaign.

However, if Ramos was motivated by political incitement at all, it's much more likely to have been the much more recent incitement by Maxine Waters, specifically inciting her supporters to target Trump officials and physically "push back on them!"

There's a "dog whistle" aspect to incitements to violence. If, like Trump or Waters, you say something to incite violence by supporters against opponents, then most people would consider your statement to be a meaningless rant. But just as a dog whistle can only be heard by a dog, your statement could serve as a "dog whistle" that would only be heard by people who are moved to commit actual violence. And the problem with inciting violence is that you can't control the result, since you don't know how many dogs on either side are going to hear that dog whistle and act on it with actual violence. In other words, if Ramos was moved to act by political incitement, it might have been the incitement by Trump during the campaign, or by Maxine Waters during the last few days, or by numerous other people on the left who are calling for various forms of confrontations and violence against Trump supporters.

The mainstream media are pointing to various statements by Trump that could have incited violence in the sense of a "dog whistle":

On the other hand, I've seen far more serious incitements to violence from the left, and I've written about them many times in the last ten years, including the following:

I've been following this trend line since the George Bush administration, and there has been a steady increase in left-wing violence and incitement to violence for about 15 years, during the Bush and Obama administrations, and long before Trump ran for president.

The vitriolic divisiveness occurs on both the left and the right. But violence and incitement to violence are almost entirely on the left-wing side. USA Today and Washington Post and Hollywood Reporter (30-May-2017)

Leon Festinger and Cognitive Dissonance

I've been searching for years for an explanation for the growing vitriolic divisiveness in America today, as well as in other countries, and it suddenly occurred to me that the key to understanding it is a book that I read decades ago.

The 1956 book When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger can be purchased from online booksellers, or is available from https://archive.org/details/pdfy-eDNpDzTy_dR1b0iB as a free PDF. I read this book decades ago, and it made an enormous impression on me. I strongly urge everyone to read it.

First I'll describe the book's methodology and conclusions, and then I'll explain how it applies to America today.

Festinger was interested in religious cults that predict the end of the world on an explicit date, commit themselves fully to it by giving up their families and belongings, and then have to face the world again when the world doesn't end.

This is called "cognitive dissonance," when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by incontrovertible facts.

Festinger found that people in such a situation do not simply give up their beliefs because their beliefs were proved wrong. Instead, they double down on the beliefs, and look for any way to justify them. In the case of end world predictions, the most likely way is to believe that God provided the world with a reprieve provided that the chosen people begin to proselytize the new belief system. From this brief description, you can get an idea of how this applies to the vitriolic divisiveness in America today.

Festinger was aware of a religious sect that was predicting the end of the world on a specific date. Two members of Festinger's team infiltrated the religious sect. The predictions were based on messages from extraterrestrials known as the "Guardians" that one cult member, Mrs. Marian Keech, started receiving. The members of the sect would be rescued by flying saucers and then, four days later, there would be a huge flood drowning everyone left behind. The members of the sect were highly committed to this belief: Many had given up their families and all worldly belongings to join the other sect members in a vigil in a member's home, waiting for the end.

The first disconfirmation came when the flying saucers didn't show up at the predicted time. There were four wrenching days of waiting, as the saucers failed to come at each newly predicted hour, as specified by Mrs. Keech as she continued to receive "messages." The final and biggest disconfirmation came after the four days were up, and the world did not end.

Although the group were a private sect, what they were doing had become known, and they received ridicule through the newspapers, and they received visits by people who believed them and people who ridiculed them. During the four-day wait, a couple of people, the people who had joined most recently, left the group, but everyone else stayed. Here's what happened:

Chaotic though they may seem, the days immediately preceding December 21 [the day that the floods were supposed to appear] were at least loosely organized around a dominant theme -- cataclysm and salvation. By dawn on the 21st, however, this semblance of organization had vanished as the members of the group sought frantically to convince the world of their beliefs. In succeeding days, they also made a series of desperate attempts to erase their rankling dissonance by making prediction after prediction in the hope that one would come true, and they conducted a vain search for guidance from the Guardians."

Another change of behavior was equally familiar in today's politically divided world: Led by Mrs. Keech, the cult members began actively proselytizing. They had previously kept information about the cataclysm secret, "in order to prevent panic." But now they sought out even the most skeptical nonbelievers, in order to convert them. For example, one sarcastic commentator whom Mrs. Keech had repeatedly refused to speak with suddenly was welcomed with open arms. In fact, Mrs. Keech couldn't stop talking, as he recorded the interview, and she answered all his questions in detail.

Another reporter who hosted a program on women's issues asked her to comment, and she spoke at length on what's wrong with education, and how the messages from the Guardians explained how to straighten it out.

Hordes of reporters and visitors came to the house, resulting in an "amiable, manic uproar."

One further trend was noticeable on December 21. As the day wore on, Mrs. Keech began to make more and more of the importance of some recent news items. The morning newspapers contained an article about an earthquake in Nevada that had occurred about five days earlier, pointing out that if the quake had happened in a populated area, the destruction would have been enormous. Mrs. Keech showed the story excitedly to the members of the group, emphasizing the fact that, indeed, cataclysms were happening.... Here, she declared, was evidence for the validity of the prediction. This theme ... grew in importance in response to further disaster news."

The next day, the group put out a press release saying that the Guardians had postponed the cataclysm, "Due to the confusion which has arisen from the prophecy we have decided to unite forces to complete the prophecy." In other words, they were proselytizing in a press release.

Festinger found that when deeply held beliefs are contradicted by incontrovertible facts, the result is not to abandon the beliefs, but to double down on them, with any possible explanation, even bizarre fantastical explanations. This is the result of cognitive dissonance.

Festinger's book lists five conditions that lead to this "cognitive dissonance" response to disconfirmation:

"1. A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he behaves.

2. The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual's commitment to the belief.

3. The belief must be sufficiently specific and sufficiently concerned with the real world so that events may unequivocally refute the belief.

4. Such undeniable disconfirmatory evidence must occur and must be recognized by the individual holding the belief. ...

5. The individual believer must have social support. It is unlikely that one isolated believer could withstand the kind of dis-confirming evidence we have specified. If, however, the believer is a member of a group of convinced persons who can support one another, we would expect the belief to be maintained and the believers to attempt to proselyte or to persuade nonmembers that the belief is correct."

These are Festinger's five conditions for the disconfirmation of a belief in the end of the world by a religious cult. What has occurred to me is that we can make slight adjustments to these conditions so that they apply to political parties, and explain the divisiveness and left-wing violence in America today. Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails and Psychology Today (22-May-2011) and IMDB

The explanation: Commitment, disconfirmation and Cognitive Dissonance

As I've said in the past, the survivors of World War II, the GI Generation and the Silent Generation, did great things -- they created the United Nations, World Bank, Green Revolution, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and so forth. They created these organizations and managed them for decades with one purpose in mind: That their children and grandchildren would never have to go through anything so horrible as the Great Depression or World War II.

Throughout their lives, they worked together, even when they were on opposite political sides, to protect America and the world from the excesses that led to the Great Depression and World War II.

In the 1980s, the Republicans and the Democrats cooperated with each other to change the Social Security system to make it a sounder system. After that, they cooperated again to specify new rules to control the budget deficit. And in 1996, Democratic President Bill Clinton, saying that "the era of big government is over," cooperated with the Republican congress to eliminate the welfare entitlement.

These politicians had deeply held beliefs that policies must apply the lessons learned from the Great Depression and World War II. Democrats and Republicans differed in some policies, but these differences were minor compared to the shared beliefs of the WW II survivors.

These deeply held beliefs meet Festinger's five conditions, prior to the point where the disconfirmation occurs.

As the generational Crisis era began in 2003, these WW II survivors were rapidly disappearing, replaced by younger generations of people with no shared deeply held beliefs. What deeply held beliefs did they have? This requires more study, but young people do seem to have rearranged themselves into groups, with each group having some deeply held belief. Each of these groups meets Festinger's condition, except for disconfirmation.

There is one major example of disconfirmation of a deeply held belief that we've seen in modern times. Prior to November 8, 2016, almost everyone in the country, Republican or Democrat, believed that Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election.

Democrats were particularly deeply committed to this belief, and supportive of one another in that belief. Many made financial commitments, personal commitments, commitments to live in Washington, and so forth.

The unexpected Trump victory caused a psychological crisis among a minority of Democrats that looked very similar to the crisis that Mrs. Keech and her cult suffered when the world didn't end. There was a doubling down on beliefs and widespread proselytizing in some of the most fantastical claims -- just as fantastical as claims that flying saucers would be coming to save the earth. This explains the demands for impeachment, the demands for a special prosecutor, the calls for violence against Trump and his supporters, and so forth.

What I'm saying is that the concepts and principles that Leon Festinger applied to small religious cults could also be applied to larger political groups and political parties during a generational Crisis era, when there's no unifying experience (like WW II). This is a rich area for research, with results that could explain a great deal that would help America's democracy at times like this. I've only scratched the surface.

Finally, let me remind readers of the "Regeneracy" concept from generational theory. A regeneracy event is one that creates civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war. In 1861, the regeneracy event was the Battle of Bull Run. In 1941, it was Pearl Harbor and then the Bataan Death March. It's impossible to predict what the regeneracy event(s) will be this time -- perhaps a major military defeat overseas, or perhaps a North Korean nuclear missile landing in California. But whatever it is, it will unite people in all political parties behind the president, as they fight to preserve the country and its way of life.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jul-18 World View -- Generational explanation of today's vitriolic divisiveness in America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Jul-18 World View -- Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa

Number displaced by Syrian and Russian bombing in Daara triples to 160,000

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa


Displaced Syrians camp near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday (AFP)
Displaced Syrians camp near Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Saturday (AFP)

The assault that began on June 19 of the combination of the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and bombs from Russian warplanes is threatening a massive humanitarian disaster greater than the combined sizes of the the humanitarian disasters at Aleppo and Ghouta.

Daraa is supposed to be part of a "de-escalation zone," based on peace talks last year in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Russia, Iran and Turkey. An outcome was that Russia and the US agreed that the US would oversee the ceasefire in Daraa.

Promises and agreements mean nothing to Russia and Syria, and they never intended to honor the ceasefire. The US does usually honor its promises, but in this case has chosen not to intervene, rather than get pulled into yet another war, this time a full-scale war with Syria and Russia.

Bashar al-Assad has already begun the process that he's used in the past in Aleppo and Ghouta. He begins by bombing peaceful protesters, particularly women and children. As soon as someone become violent in revenge, he declares the whole community or ethnic group to be "terrorists," and uses that as an excuse for full-scale genocide and ethnic cleansing. The genocide is performed with missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas, all particularly targeting women and children, as well as schools, markets, and hospitals.

The ethnic cleansing is accomplished by making it impossible for refugees to return to their homes. Last month, Syria's government passed 'Law #10', which makes it almost impossible for refugees to return to their former homes. There are millions of Syrian refugees who have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Europe and other countries who will not be able to return home, and are effectively stranded in the country they fled to.

The situation in southwestern Syria is perfect for al-Assad. By the time it's over, millions of people will flee their homes, but they'll have nowhere to go, as they'll be blocked by Jordanian and Israeli authorities from going south. The refugees will be amassed on the borders, where al-Assad can kill them like fish in a barrel.

Refugees from Aleppo and Ghouta were able to flee to Idlib province in northwestern Syria. Idlib is in another de-escalation zone, with Turkey having the responsibility to oversee the ceasefire.

Turkey is currently worried that it is facing the worst possible scenario in Idlib. There are currently 2.5 million people living in Idlib, and 1.2 million people from this figure were displaced and took refuge in Idlib. As one analyst put it, "Idlib has no Idlib," which means that when Bashar al-Assad begins genocide and ethnic cleansing in Idlib, then people who try to flee will have no place to go, except possibly north through the border into Turkey. Turkey already hosts millions of Syrian refugees, and is very concerned that it might be forced to open its borders again to millions more. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Guardian (London) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Number displaced by Syrian and Russian bombing in Daara triples to 160,000

According to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, the number of people displaced by Syria's army and Russia's warplanes in southern Syria is now at 160,000 -- more than triple what it was on Monday, when the figure was 45,000.

Most are headed south to Jordan, but are trapped at the border, since Jordan has closed the border. A smaller number have gone west and are on the border with Israel-controlled Golan Heights. That border has also been closed by Israel.

Jordan estimates that it is already hosting some 1.3 million refugees, and earlier this week said that it is unable to host a new wave of refugees, and so the border will remain closed. Several thousand Syrians gathered near sealed crossing on Saturday, pleading to no avail to enter Jordan.

However, Jordan's army began delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced Syrians along the border. According to government spokesman Jumana Ghunaimat, "This is in line with Jordan's stance to help our Syrian brothers. These include essential foodstuffs and drinking water."

Israel has transferred several dozen tons of humanitarian aid to refugee encampments in southwestern Syria. According to Israel's army, the humanitarian aid contained some 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby food, three pallets of medical supplies and 30 tons of clothes and shoes. Israel's defense minister Avigdor Liberman said that Israel was prepared to provide humanitarian assistance, but that “we will not accept any Syrian refugees into our territory.” Times of Israel and Middle East Eye and Anadolu

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jul-18 World View -- Syria and Russia create humanitarian catastrophe in Daraa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jul-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting

Italy backs down from threat to veto the agreement over Dublin regulation

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting


Angela Merkel speaks with other country leaders at EU Summit on Thursday and Friday (Getty)
Angela Merkel speaks with other country leaders at EU Summit on Thursday and Friday (Getty)

As we reported a week ago, the Europeans were desperately searching for a solution to the migration problem, and they were considering a form of detention center called "Disembarkation Platforms," to be located in northern Africa, where newly arrived migrants could be taken initially for processing of asylum requests.

The promise was that a detailed plan would be worked out during the the major EU Summit meeting held in Brussels the last two days. The leaders met all day Thursday and then long into the night, finally announcing an agreement at 4:30 am. However, the agreement had no more details than the original proposal, and appears to be a fudge.

(Note to lexicographers: I've been seeing the word "fudge" a lot more lately. Besides a chocolate goodie, a fudge is something that's ambiguous, deceitful or a compromise. It seems to have replaced the phrase that was commonly used during Greece's financial crisis: "kicking the can down the road." In either case, they refer to a non-agreement that let's everyone congratulate one another on having reached a deal, and then go home and get some sleep, while postponing the search for a real solution to a later date.)

The new agreement tells almost nothing about how the Disembarkation Platforms would work:

"5. In order to definitively break the business model of the smugglers, thus preventing tragic loss of life, it is necessary to eliminate the incentive to embark on perilous journeys. This requires a new approach based on shared or complementary actions among the Member States to the disembarkation of those who are saved in Search And Rescue operations. In that context, the European Council calls on the Council and the Commission to swiftly explore the concept of regional disembarkation platforms, in close cooperation with relevant third countries as well as UNHCR and IOM. Such platforms should operate distinguishing individual situations, in full respect of international law and without creating a pull factor."

That paragraph contains just over 100 words, and it manages to do so while saying absolutely nothing.

No country has volunteered to host a Disembarkation Platform. Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have explicitly refused, and a spokesman for one of the three governments in Libya also refused, and said that he thought the other two governments would refuse as well. One concern that all of these countries have is that a Disembarkation Platform would encourage jihadist attacks.

Even if an African country considered hosting one of these Disembarkation Platforms, there would be international outrage from human rights activists.

The next paragraph of the agreement extends the detention center concept to "Controlled Centers" within the EU itself:

"6. On EU territory, those who are saved, according to international law, should be taken charge of, on the basis of a shared effort, through the transfer in controlled centers set up in Member States, only on a voluntary basis, where rapid and secure processing would allow, with full EU support, to distinguish between irregular migrants, who will be returned, and those in need of international protection, for whom the principle of solidarity would apply. All the measures in the context of these controlled centres, including relocation and resettlement, will be on a voluntary basis, without prejudice to the Dublin reform."

This paragraph says almost nothing. The one thing that it does say -- twice -- is "on a voluntary basis," which means that no country would have to allow a "Controlled Center" on its soil.

France and Austria, two countries that border Italy, immediately said that they would not be willing to host Controlled Centers on their soil.

France's president Emmanuel Macron said that his reading of the agreement indicated that Controlled Centers would only be set up in "frontline states," which means Italy and Greece, but certainly not France. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte issued a rebuke, saying that "Macron was tired," and did not understand the agreement, since it said that all EU states could set up the centers, "including France."

One analyst I heard, who obviously liked this deal, painted a picture of dozens of these little Controlled Centers located all across the EU. These people are truly living in Fantasyland. European Council - agreement and Vice News and European Council - Disembarkation Centers

Italy backs down from threat to veto the agreement over Dublin regulation

Italy had threatened to veto the entire agreement unless the "Dublin regulation" was modified. This regulation specifies that the EU country that a migrant enters first is the country that must house the migrant and process his asylum application.

This regulation obviously places almost the entire burden of housing and processing migrants on Italy and Greece. Italy had demanded that the regulation be changed so that other countries would have to take a portion of the migrants entering Italy, but obviously no one wants to agree to that, and in fact, Hungary, Poland and Austria are opposed to any change at all to this regulation. So the agreement is silent on the Dublin regulation.

The rules of the European Council specify that no agreement can be issued unless it's unanimously agreed. Italy had threatened to veto any agreement that didn't modify the Dublin regulation. All Italy got was some vague wording that migration is a European problem, not just an Italian problem. But the agreement was not vetoed, so apparently Italy backed down from its threat. Italy's prime minister Giuseppe Conte may be rebuked by other Italian leaders for this.

The agreement was also silent on "secondary migration," whereby many migrants that entered Italy went on to settle in Germany. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a challenge from Horst Seehofer, the leader of another member of her governing coalition. Seehofer wanted the agreement to specify that migrants in Germany who entered the EU in Italy should now be sent back to Italy. This would require a bilateral agreement between Germany and Italy, and obviously Italy will not agree to such a deal. Seehofer has threatened to bring down Merkel's government if he doesn't get his way, and he may do so early next week. However, there have been some reports that Seehofer is softening his position, so he may back down also.

At any rate, the only thing that's certain is that even though all the EU leaders were congratulating themselves and each other for reaching such a fine agreement, nonetheless that agreement is a fantasy. The EU is no closer to solving the migration problem than it was a week ago. AFP and Reuters and Al-Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jun-18 World View -- EU leaders agree on fantasy migration plan after all-night meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Jun-18 World View -- Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China

China activists accuse Australia of anti-China racism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China


Chinese students in Sydney Australia
Chinese students in Sydney Australia

Australia's parliament on Thursday passed sweeping new foreign influence laws targeting secret attempts by foreign spies to influence Australia's politicians, media, ethnic groups and civil society organizations. Espionage, treason and treachery offences will be expanded, with harsh criminal penalties. The bills also set up a register of foreign lobbyists, forcing anyone working in Australia “on behalf” of a foreign government to publicly reveal themselves.

The laws respond to allegations that foreign countries are trying access classified information about Australia's global alliances and military, as well as economic and energy systems.

Australia's Attorney-General Christian Porter said:

"This sends a strong message to those who would seek to undermine our way of life that Australia is acutely aware of activities against our national security and will continue to take the steps necessary to thwart their activities."

The laws do not mention China, but it's clear that China and Chinese agents are the targets of the laws.

Lawmakers who opposed the laws said that they would criminalize free speech and non-violent protest, and would allow prosecution of journalists for simply possessing classified information, though some amendments were added to the original bill to answer these concerns.

Relations between Australia and China have been in crisis for over a month, after an Australian MP, Andrew Hastie, delivered a speech to parliament accusing a prominent wealthy Australian politician, Dr. Chau Chak-wing, of being linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and of bribing a United Nations official to obtain UN backing for a number of multi-billion dollar Chinese infrastructure projects. According to Hastie, Chau Chak-wing was a prominent member of Beijing's "United Front Work Department" (UFWD), which is an international Chinese coercive propaganda organization described by Chinese leaders as "Magic Weapons." Sydney Morning Herald and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and BBC

China's tech giant Huawei considered a threat to Australia's security

Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, behind only Apple and Samsung. It is also the world's largest supplier of wireless and telecommunications networking equipment. It was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army (PLA) engineer, and is suspected of developing projects that the PLA could use for identity theft worldwide, and take control of wireless networks worldwide from China.

As I've described previously, in the past I spent several years developing embedded software in C for microprocessors, and so I know personally that the capabilities described above can be implemented and, in fact, can be implemented easily. Furthermore, if the code is written so that the secret functions are only invoked when the device receives a secret 1024-bit code, then it's impossible to detect the functions through testing. And in view of China's illegal actions in the South China Sea and elsewhere, we have to assume that if it can be done easily, then it will have been done.

Australian security agencies are saying that Huawei products are a threat to Australian security. Huawei has been bidding to take a role in as Australia's high-speed internet provider, but has been facing distrust from Australian politicians and security agencies.

At the same time, a new report finds that Huawei is the biggest corporate sponsor of overseas travel for Australian politicians.

Huawei paid for 12 trips by Australian federal politicians to the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, including business class flights, local travel, accommodation and meals since 2010. Politicians who took those trips include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and former Trade Minister Andrew Robb.

Solomon Islands dropped plans for a billion-dollar internet cable connecting Australia with the Solomon Islands after Australia this month promised hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure Huawei did not build the cable, because of security risks. News.com (Australia) and Reuters

China activists accuse Australia of anti-China racism

Australia has a long history of antipathy towards Chinese in Australia since European settlement, starting with race riots amid the gold rush of the 1850s and '60s. With hundreds of Chinese prospectors injured and evicted from mining sites, the unrest prompted immigration rules that led to the infamous "White Australia" policy, which existed in various forms from 1901 until 1973.

Chinese activists have increasingly been saying that anti-Chinese racism is rising again, and that it's the cause of anxiety about Chinese influence in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Europe, and other countries.

However, there are plenty of reasons for anxiety about China's intention that have absolutely nothing to do with racism. China is conducting well-publicized illegal activities in the South China Sea, building a massive military force with the intention of taking control of the whole region. China is also making military threats against India, Japan and other countries where the government wish to confiscate a portion of the regions they govern.

Equally troubling is China's "United Front Work Department" (UFWD), which is an international Chinese coercive propaganda organization described by Chinese leaders as "Magic Weapons." The UFWD is in contact with over a million Chinese expats in countries around the world, and uses a variety of techniques to coerce them to influence local politicians and media to support China's policies in a variety of areas, including Taiwan policy, criminality in the South China Sea, One Belt One Road, the Dalai Lama, and so forth.

There are 150,000 Chinese students in Australia, and there have been numerous incidents where Chinese students complained to school officials that lectures or course materials made them "feel uncomfortable" because they didn't "show respect" for China. They've complained about materials that describe Taiwan as a country, about a map that shows Indian territory claimed by China as Indian territory. These complaints were accompanied by demands that the materials be changed.

Now imagine any Western country trying the same thing. Imagine an agency in the Trump administration telling American students in universities overseas to complain when the university lectures and course materials contradict American policy as defined by the Trump administration. The international outrage would be enormous, and none of the American student expats would do as they has they had been told anyway.

By Western standards, what China is doing appears to be almost like mind control. It's amazing that an agency like the UFWD exists, and it's amazing that Chinese students around the world do as they're told -- although the latter could be explained by the fact that China can threaten punishment for any student that disobeys orders.

America does have an agency that sends people to countries around the world -- the Peace Corps. "The Peace Corps is a service opportunity for motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation."

I've never heard anyone describe the Peace Corps as a "Magic Weapon" or as any kind of weapon. America has the Peace Corps, to help bring peace, and China has the "Magic Weapon Corps" to coercively spread Chinese propaganda.

So if people in Australia, Canada, the US or any other country are anxious about the Chinese, the Chinese have only themselves to blame, and it has nothing to do with racism.

China's policies could have serious consequences for Chinese expats. In World War II, the American government interred Japanese-American citizens but not German-American citizens. There are probably a lot of reasons for that, not the least of which is that there were too many German-Americans to even think about interring. But the main thing is that there was a great deal of mutual American-Japanese xenophobia prior to the war, and that turned into internment during the war. China's coercive propaganda policies applied to Chinese expats to the point of apparent mind control could, in some future circumstances, lead to the internment of Chinese expats in Australia, Canada or the United States. So the Chinese policies may be "Magic Weapons," but they could have severe consequences for the Chinese themselves. BBC and The Diplomat and Australian Broadcasting and Peace Corps and Australia-China Student Association

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jun-18 World View -- Australia passes foreign influence laws, targeting China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Jun-18 World View -- Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally

Zimbabwe elections overshadowed by the country's dark past

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally


Three presidential candidates (L to R): Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, Nelson Chamisa (Independent-zw)
Three presidential candidates (L to R): Emmerson Mnangagwa, Joice Mujuru, Nelson Chamisa (Independent-zw)

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa is blaming a political group linked to Grace Mugabe, the wife of former president Robert Mugabe, for a bomb explosion that occurred last Saturday (June 23) during a Mnangagwa rally, killing two and injuring dozens. The obvious target was Mnangagwa, but he escaped unharmed.

Fearing a new terror attack on Wednesday, Mnangagwa canceled a rally scheduled for Wednesday, his first campaign rally since the attack on Saturday.

Wednesday's rally took place without him. It was in the city of Hwange, which is an opposition stronghold, like Bulawayo, which is where Saturday's attack occurred.

Although Mnangagwa did not directly accuse Grace Mugabe of being in involved in Saturday's bombing, he accused the Generation 40 (G40) group of Grace Mugabe supporters of being behind the bombing. The G40 group is a group of younger members of Mnangagwa's and Mugabe's Zanu-pf political party. Grace Mugabe is 52 years old, while her husband Robert Mugabe is 94.

A former member of the G40 group, former government minister Jonathan Moyo, said that the explosion "smacks of an inside job."

The implication is that the Mnangagwa election team staged the explosion in order to justify a crackdown on the opposition prior to next month's general elections, scheduled for July 30. It seems unlikely that the bombing was an inside job, however, because of the large number of casualties.

Even so, there's a widespread suspicion that Mnangagwa will use the explosion as an excuse for security crackdowns that will guarantee the election of him and his Zanu-pf party. Under Robert Mugabe, extreme violence was used for decades to keep Zanu-pf in power.

Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, head of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has directly suffered election related violence under the Mugabe regime. He said on Wednesday:

"It shows you that things can turn ugly, it has been ugly in the past and over the past 38 years we have had disputed elections, violent elections, state-sponsored violence and we are likely to see that ugly feature rearing its head once more.

Zimbabweans are vulnerable ... the electorate is vulnerable, political players like myself are vulnerable. I have scars on account of political violence in the past, so it's something we have budgeted for."

However, Mnangagwa is trying to reassure the international community that Zimbabwe has changed, and that it's once again a good idea for foreign investors to invest in Zimbabwe. In particular, he's promised that the election will be free and fair, and open to international observers. He has invited election observers from the United States, the European Union and elsewhere for the first time in 16 years. Mugabe rejected Western observers, accusing them of bias.

In order to reassure both voters and foreign investors, all 23 president candidates running in the July 30 elections signed a "peace pledge" on Wednesday committing themselves and their political parties to a peaceful campaign ahead of the elections. BBC and Herald (Zimbabwe) and Reuters and Guardian (London) and AP

Zimbabwe elections overshadowed by the country's dark past

During last year's chaos in Zimbabwe's capital city Harare, president Robert Mugabe fired his vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, so that Grace Mugabe could succeed him. This triggered a series of events that led to the forced resignation of Mugabe, and his replacement with Mnangagwa as the new president.

There was a great deal of vitriolic hostility between the two men last year, and it was joined by Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe, who blamed Mnangagwa for her husband's downfall.

However, the vitriol was only recent, since the two men worked closely together since independence in 1981.

They're both in the Shona tribe, and they both are responsible for Operation Gukurahundi, the genocidal war crime that brought in North Korean soldiers to help exterminate tens of thousands of civilians in the hated Ndebele tribe in the early 1980s.

They've both cooperated in turning Zimbabwe into a police state, where anyone who speaks against the government was likely to be arrested, tortured and killed. This is particularly true of the members of the Ndebele tribe that managed to survive Operation Gukurahundi.

They both 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.

Mnangagwa is now trying to convince foreigners to invest in Zimbabwe again. In order to do that he's going to have convince investors that Operation Gukurahundi and indigenization are in the past, and won't be repeated in the future, so that investors' money will be safe. This is going to be a tough sell for Mnangagwa, since there are still a lot of people in Zimbabwe, especially people in the Nbdele tribe, that believe that there is continuing violent discrimination against people in the Nbdele tribe, and that Mnangagwa will not hesitate to use "indigenization" to confiscate a farm or a business to aware to one of his Shona cronies in return for political favor. The Zimbabawean and Al Jazeera and Independent (Zimbabwe)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jun-18 World View -- Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa blames Grace Mugabe for bomb blast at rally thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jun-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Jun-18 World View -- Tens of thousands fleeing Syrian bombs trapped at closed Jordan border

Israeli missiles strike Iranian cargo plane near Damascus

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Tens of thousands fleeing Syrian bombs trapped at closed Jordan border