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20-Jan-19 World View -- Suspension of daily World View articles

South Korea vs Japan military 'radar lock' feud continues to escalate

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

South Korea vs Japan military 'radar lock' feud continues to escalate


Japanese patrol plane launches anti-missile flares during a fleet review in 2015 (AFP)
Japanese patrol plane launches anti-missile flares during a fleet review in 2015 (AFP)

According to Japan, on December 20 a South Korean warship locked its fire-control radar onto a Japanese patrol plane, as if preparing to shoot it down. Japan made a formal protest to South Korea, claiming that it was a "hostile act."

South Korea says that it was a maritime search and rescue operation, with naval forces and supporting coast guard vessels, and that any radar that was used was only ship-to-ship between Korean vessels. Japan rejected this explanation.

South Korea then demanded that Tokyo offer a "smoking gun" -- its analysis of radar frequency data to verify whether the destroyer sent the warplane any signals from its tracking radar. Tokyo rejected the call, saying it won't offer sensitive information on its "operational capabilities."

Then, on December 28, Japan released a 13-minute video of the interior of the patrol plane at the time of the incident, where a crew member remarked on the plane’s systems picking up an “extremely strong” reading.

South Korea then became more aggressive, urging Japan to apologize for the patrol plane's low-altitude flight, which was "threatening" to the South Korean warship, and criticized Tokyo's "unilateral, misguided" claims. South Korea then released its own video, saying that it refutes Tokyo's arguments.

Now, on Saturday, Japan indicated that on Sunday it might release an audio recording of its crew at the time of the incident. South Korea is accusing Japan of planning to use it to "distort the facts" and release "incorrect" information.

Memories of World War II are still very raw between the two countries, and now that the WW II survivors are gone, younger generations are seeking revenge. Japan colonized Korea from 1905 to 1945, and used Koreans as "comfort women" during the war.

In 2015, Japan and Korea concluded a bilateral agreement which was intended at the time as the “final and irreversible” resolution of the comfort women issue. However, South Korea is now demanding that issue be reopened.

Another issue is that, last year, because of the "charm offensive" between North and South Korea, South Korea's military canceled the purchase of a number of weapons whose purpose was to defend against a North Korean invasion of Seoul. The Japanese view this as an opportunity to redirect those funds towards weapons systems that can be used against the Japanese.

The "radar lock" issue started out looking like something really trivial, but as time has passed, tensions on both sides have rapidly escalated, and the probability that the controversy or some other misunderstanding could lead to a wider conflict is increasing. Japan Times and Yonhap (Seoul, 1-Jan) and Diplomat (12-Jan) and Defense News (17-May-2018)

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Suspension of daily World View articles

I'm suspending daily World View articles because most of the work on generational theory has been completed, and because the best use of my time right now is to concentrate on finishing up my book on China.

Since 2003, I've posted over 6,000 articles on my web site, all of them well-sourced through multiple sources, and non-ideological. There is no "fake news" in any of them.

These articles contain thousands of generational analyses and predictions of over 100 countries. All of these analyses and predictions are true or are trending true. None has turned out to be wrong.

My work in the last ten years has been groundbreaking, on the behavior of how a country acts in the decades after a major civil war, a generational crisis civil war. This is a breakthrough on analyzing and predicting the behavior of the population, the generations, and the politicians, and showing how these nations all act pretty much the same as each other, though differently from countries after a major external war (invading or being invaded).

Generational Dynamics now provides the tools to government officials, historians, journalists, and geopolitical analysts -- if they want to use them -- to correctly analyze what's happening in the world, what will happen next, and what the likely outcome is of different policy decisions. No other analytical tools, besides Generational Dynamics, have ever provided successful predictions at this level of accuracy and usefulness.

Generational Dynamics development of generational theory

For most countries, the last generational crisis war was World War II. But that's not true for all countries. Many countries were relatively untouched by WW II, and had crisis wars at other times.

Many African nations (e.g., Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, etc.) had crisis wars in the 1950s-60s related to their individual wars of independence from colonialism. Some non-African countries (Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh) did as well. Many Middle Eastern countries had a generational crisis during the World War I time period, and then cycled into a new crisis war in the 1970s-90s (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan). Some countries (Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Russia) haven't had generational crisis wars for a very long time, and studying those has produced significant discoveries about suicide bombers and terrorists. The most recent generational crisis wars were in Central African Republic, Darfur (Sudan) and Sri Lanka.

Writing about these nations has provided a wealth of opportunities to make comparisons. For example, both America in the 1960s and Iran in the 2000s were in their respective generational Awakening eras. By doing detailed social and political analyses, one can find similarities (student demonstrations, anti-government protests, a social "generation gap" between survivors of the war and those growing up afterwards) and differences (occasional low-level violence versus major violent government crackdowns, using torture, rapes, beatings and arbitrary jailing). Where differences exist, it's not in kind, but in intensity.

During my research in the past 15 years, I've done many tens of thousands of such analyses and comparative analyses, systematically comparing and contrasting social and political behaviors of different countries at different times in history and during similar or different generational eras. Of these, I've written thousands of articles about them, and documented conclusions. Starting in 2010, I began writing an article every day, and I've written thousands of article since them. This has allowed me to thoroughly document generational theory research and how it is applied to hundreds of countries over many centuries, with the result that, in many ways, development of generational theory is now near-completed and empirically proved.

However, there's been a problem. Each time I write about a country, I have to say the same things over and over, with only the details changed. So, for example, when I write about Cambodia, I talk about the 1970s Killing Fields genocide, how it's affected Cambodian society since then, through Recovery and Awakening generational eras in a predictable way. So when prime minister Hun Sen commits each horrific new atrocity, the only real difference between one article and the next is the nature of the new atrocity. The core generational analysis of Cambodia remains the same. This has gotten really boring to write over and over and also boring to read, and of course I don't get paid for these articles, and so it's hard to see anymore what the point is of writing boring unpaid articles every day under those circumstances.

"What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them. -- Ecclesiastes I."

On the other hand, the book that I wrote on Iran last year was a very interesting project, and is the best book available today for those who wish to understand Iran, the history of Islam, and the nature of the Sunni-Shia split.

Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East.

I'm now working on a great book on China which is also a very interesting project, and the best use of my time right now is to complete that book, as well as possibly one more. We're headed to a world war with China, possibly very soon, and I've already done a great deal of historical research on China to determine why China's leadership is so paranoid, barbaric and incompetent, how they've completely lost their own Mandate from Heaven, why China's hard-working citizens tolerate these worthless barbarians, and what sequence of events is likely to occur in the next few months.

So I'm suspending the daily World View articles, but I'll still write occasional articles every few days, when a news event occurs that I would find interesting to analyze. Hopefully, these less frequent articles will be more interesting to read, as well. I might also post brief items on the Generational Dynamics forum. We'll experiment and see what happens and how this works out.

I know that not having me around every day will be a cause for celebration among Russian trolls and Bashar al-Assad acolytes, and I hope you enjoy your champagne. For everybody else, thank you for reading my articles, and I welcome questions and comments through my GenerationalDynamics.com web site or the Generational Dynamics forum.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Jan-19 World View -- Suspension of daily World View articles thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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19-Jan-19 World View -- Ebola outbreak in DR Congo now spreading exponentially faster

Local DRC population giving little cooperation to health officials

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo now spreading exponentially faster


A woman cries during the funeral of a child, suspected of dying from Ebola. (Reuters)
A woman cries during the funeral of a child, suspected of dying from Ebola. (Reuters)

The number of Ebola cases recorded each day in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has doubled, indicating that it may spread to other regions and other countries.

According to Jean-Philippe Marcoux, country directory for Mercy Corps in DRC:

"Now it’s doubling – it’s very possible that it can double again. If we don’t significantly increase the resources, it will keep increasing. It will spread progressively to other health areas and it will be there for a long time."

If this doubling continues, it would represent exponential growth.

The current Ebola outbreak in DRC began in July 2018, and is now the largest in that country’s history and the second largest ever recorded. According to the country’s health ministry, as of January 17, 2019 there have been 668 cases and 410 deaths in the outbreak

The cases are centered in two northeastern provinces, North Kivu and Ituru, which is a war zone in an extremely violent ongoing ethnic civil war. No cases have yet been identified outside DRC, but the increasing rapid spread of the disease is raising concerns that it will soon travel to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and even South Sudan.

The epidemic was originally centered in Beni, with a population of 232,000. But it's spread to Butembo, with a population of over a million, a densely populated trade city near the Uganda border. Further south along the highway from Butembo are the million-plus population cities Goma and Bukavu. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been focusing its efforts on preventing a spread to the latter two cities, since "all bets are off" for stopping the epidemic if it reaches there.

The problem is that the continuing war causes the disease to spread in an uncontrolled and unexpected fashion. The result is that new cases of Ebola keep popping up in unforeseen places and people.

Normally, the medical professionals use contact tracing to identify potential chains of transmission before they occur. Once a person is suspected of having Ebola, all the people that he might have had in contact with are identified and given a vaccine. But the ongoing war often makes contact tracing impossible, with the result that nearly 70% of the newly discovered cases have fallen outside of known chains of transmission. Another problem is that rape is common in any war zone, and so Ebola can be spread among women, soldiers, gangs, arms smugglers and rapists. More than one-third of the Ebola cases have been in children, and the majority of identified adult infections have been in women.

WHO is predicting that the outbreak will continue for six more months or even longer. But even if the outbreak could be contained quickly -- and it can't -- then the it could quickly be restarted because the disease can be transmitted sexually up to 18 months after an individual’s cure, and it can also pass from pregnant mothers to their fetuses. Guardian (London) and Kaiser Family Foundation and Daily Mail (London)

Local DRC population giving little cooperation to health officials

The local population in the North Kivu war zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are often refusing to cooperate with health officials to stop the epidemic. Even worse, health officials have been kidnapped or killed by armed groups, and treatment centers have been ransacked.

There are several issues:

It's interesting to trace the changes in public mood and attitude toward Ebola.

When the huge outbreak began in western Africa in 2014, there was almost international hysteria. It continued into 2015, and only really subsided when the outbreak ended in 2016.

Early in 2018, there was an outbreak in western DRC (the other end of the country from the current outbreak). This raised international concern, but world health officials ended it quickly, thanks to the new experimental vaccine.

Then in July 2018, the new outbreak began in eastern DRC, in North Kivu. Having an active outbreak of Ebola has become the "new normal" in people's minds, and so there has been little concern or media coverage. And why should there be any media coverage, when there are more important subjects -- Brexit in Europe, the border wall in America, and jailing Canadians in China.

But even among the local population in North Kivu, there seems to be little concern. Many people don't believe anything the UN says, and don't believe there's an Ebola outbreak. Others just assume that it will be quickly ended, like the previous Ebola outbreaks. Others simply have other worries on their minds -- getting beaten, raped, or shot by gangs or warring militias.

If a few cases pop up in neighboring countries, health officials will move quickly to contain them, and will probably succeed since they aren't in war zones. The real danger is that Ebola will become endemic in North Kivu and become a continuing source of infection that can go on for years. Foreign Policy and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Jan-19 World View -- Ebola outbreak in DR Congo now spreading exponentially faster thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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18-Jan-19 World View -- Zimbabwe returns to violence of Mugabe era with police beatings and abductions

It's possible that Mnangagwa is changing Zimbabwe, making it worse

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe returns to violence of Mugabe era with police beatings and abductions


Angry protesters block highway in Zimbabwe (AFP)
Angry protesters block highway in Zimbabwe (AFP)

Zimbabwe's government has reacted to public protests of high gasoline and fuel prices by a massive police and military crackdown. At least eight people have been killed in four days of sometimes violent protests, and dozens are being treated for gunshot wounds. Hundreds have been abducted in their homes and thrown into crowded jails, where they are sometimes beaten and tortured.

It's possible that there are far more casualties, as the government shut down the internet most of the week, to prevent news of the violence from being reported.

Some reports indicate that the government security forces, which are mostly members of Mugabe's Shona tribe, of which Mnangagwa is also a member, were particularly targeting the city of Bulawayo. Bulawayo is a government opposition stronghold, largely with a population from Mugabe's hated Ndebele tribe. Mugabe's violence always targeted the Ndebele tribe, including the 1980s Operation Gukurahundi, which was a massive act of genocide and ethnic cleansing targeting the Ndebele tribe.

The protests began on Monday after Zimbabwe's president Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a sharp rise in fuel and food prices. The announcement triggered panic buying that left store shelves bare.

According to one lawyer representing 30 people, including children, in the central prison in the capital city Harare, "Most said they had been abducted from homes by masked men with AK47s who dragged them out and beat them up. They are being held without charges or representation, with no food or water ... The brutality of what is going on is shocking."

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says it is “alarmed” by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating activists and labor leaders.

The protests were led by Evan Mawarire, a Christian pastor and prominent social activist, who called for a nationwide strike on Monday after the price increases were announced. He was arrested in his home early on Wednesday, charged with inciting violence. Mawarire said, "I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it is. We thought we had a new country and a new way of doing things. None of what I am being accused of is what I have done at all."

Actually, that hope was completely delusional, as I wrote in several reports in 2017 when Mugabe was being ousted. It was quite a remarkable show. One week, 93 year old Robert Mugabe was universally loved by everyone the country and would rule Zimbabwe forever, even from his grave when he died, according to his 53 year old wife, Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe. ( "19-Nov-17 World View -- Ecstatic throngs in Harare Zimbabwe demand that Robert Mugabe step down")

One week later, Mugabe was universally hated, with tens of thousands of people cheering ecstatically and marching, carrying banners that read "Mugabe must go!" and "Leadership is not sexually transmitted" -- the latter an allusion to the attempt by Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as president. Another sign read, "Mugabe must rest now!", alluding to the fact that Mugabe falls asleep during meetings.

There was never any chance that replacing Mugabe with Mnangagwa would suddenly change Zimbabwe. Mugabe was a vicious, violent racist who spent decades destroying Zimbabwe's economy, and it will take a similar amount of time to repair the damage.

Mnangagwa has been trying to convince foreigners to invest in Zimbabwe again. After the continuing violence, possibly with the worst yet to come, investors may not be interested. Mail & Guardian (South Africa) and Guardian (London) and AFP and Zimbabwe Mail

It's possible that Mnangagwa is changing Zimbabwe, making it worse

Zimbabwe was never going to be better under Emmerson Mnangagwa than it was under Robert Mugabe because both of them cooperated in four decades of horrific crimes that have destroyed Zimbabwe economically and socially, turning it from a country that used to export food into a country that can't even feed itself.

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. This was supposed to have changed with Mnangagwa, but the events of the last week show that it hasn't.

They both worked together on Mugabe's "indigenization" program, which threw out white 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. At one point, the inflation rate was in the millions of percent.

However, there are signs from this week's violence that the situation under Mnangagwa is even worse than it was under Mugabe. Mnangagwa was on a trip to Eurasia when the protests started, and is still out of the country. In his absence, the security forces have conducted large scale violence not seen in over ten years. One analyst says that what is different this time is "the open militarization of the state."

Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean lawyer and professor at the University of Kent, says, "People wanted to see Mugabe go, but they didn’t realize that they were actually creating a bigger monster. The military is now very much in control - and very powerful."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is the kind of thing that always happens to a country following a generational crisis civil war between two ethnic groups or tribes. The tribe in power after the war, usually the winner, uses the fear of renewing the civil war as a never-ending excuse to use tactics of abuse, violence, jailings, rapes, beatings and executions, supposedly to prevent another war. However, once the survivors of the civil war grow old and are no longer in charge, and are replaced by people in younger generations with no personal memory of the war, then a new generational crisis civil war starts, and it all repeats. Foreign Policy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Jan-19 World View -- Zimbabwe returns to violence of Mugabe era with police beatings and abductions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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17-Jan-19 World View -- Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens to kill opposition politicians if EU ends preferences

Brief generational history of Cambodia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens to kill opposition politicians if EU ends preferences


Employees at Cambodian clothes factory whose business is benefiting from EU trade preferences (Reuters)
Employees at Cambodian clothes factory whose business is benefiting from EU trade preferences (Reuters)

Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen is threatening to kill opposition politicians if the European Union revokes its grant of trade preferences to Cambodia.

The trade preference program, known as Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP), grants to Myanmar the right to export goods to the EU without paying tariffs. The GSP "Everything But Arms" (EBA) status allows Cambodia to sell any goods except weapons tariff-free into the EU.

The EU threat follows elections last year in July, when Hun Sen's government party won all 125 parliamentary seats up for election. In order to guarantee his victory, early last year Hun Sen jailed Kem Sokha, the leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue party (CNRP), the only viable opposition party, and then ordered the complete dissolution of the CNRP. That's how Hun Sen's party won all 125 seats.

On Monday, Hun Sen threatened to retaliate against CNRP politicians if the trade preferences were withdrawn, and that critics should be prepared to flee to other countries:

"If you (the EU) want the opposition dead, just cut it [the EBA]. If you want the opposition alive, don’t do it and come and hold talks together. People are prepared to flee, be prepared. I won’t forgive them."

At the request of Hun Sen, Cambodia's Supreme Court banned 118 CNRP party members in 2017, accusing them of working with the United States to plot a coup. These 118 people are presumably the ones who would be at risk of retaliation if EU withdraws the trade preferences.

The EU is also considering withdrawing the same EBA trade preferences from Myanmar (Burma) for the human rights atrocities associated with the government's actions, led by Buddhist Monk Ashin Wirathu, of torture, beatings, rape, ethnic cleansing and genocide of Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine State. ( EU considers revoking Myanmar's trade preferences because of Rohingya genocide (05-Jan-2019))

Hun Sen regularly threatens violence against political critics. At an ASEAN summit meeting held a year ago in Sydney, Australia, he and Myanmar leaders were both met with large groups protesting human rights violations in both countries. Hun Sen warned protesters, "I will follow you all the way to your doorstep and beat you right there ... I can use violence against you." There have been no reports that he followed up on these threats. Asia Times and Reuters

Brief generational history of Cambodia

Hun Sen is following the same generational pattern that I've described in numerous leaders from other countries, such as Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Paul Biya in Cameroon, Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, the military junta in Thailand, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Salva Kiir in South Sudan, Joseph Kabila in DRC, as well as Hun Sen in Cambodia.

What these countries have in common is that the previous generational crisis war was a bloody ethnic or tribal 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. This happens in country after country, differing only in level of violence. Bashar al-Assad in Syria exhibits the most violence, using missiles, barrel bombs, Sarin gas, chlorine gas, and other atrocities on hospitals, marketplaces, schools, and civilian neighborhood, resulting in genocide and ethnic cleansing of his Sunni Arab political enemies. ( "1-Dec-18 World View -- Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria")

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 tens of 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 2016, 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 [Accords] 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."

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Jan-19 World View -- Cambodia's Hun Sen threatens to kill opposition politicians if EU ends preferences thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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16-Jan-19 World View -- Somalia terror group al-Shabaab attacks Nairobi, Kenya, hotel complex

Al-Shabaab continues to threaten eastern Africa

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Somalia terror group al-Shabaab attacks Nairobi, Kenya, hotel complex


CCTV footage: A suspected assailant in the Nairobi hoel attack (Kenyans)
CCTV footage: A suspected assailant in the Nairobi hoel attack (Kenyans)

The Somalia-based al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab attacked the luxury hotel Dusit-D2 in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, killing at least 15.

Al-Shabaab is considered the deadliest terrorist organization in Africa, and has conducted several spectacular terrorist attacks in Somalia and Kenya.

The attack on Tuesday came three years to the day after al-Shabaab extremists attacked a Kenyan military base in neighboring Somalia, killing scores of people.

Tuesday's attack comes on the third anniversary, to the day, of an al-Shabaab ambush on the El-Adde camp in Somalia, killed 170 Kenyan soldiers.

In April 2015, al-Shabaab killed 147 students at the Garissa University College in Kenya. ( "3-Apr-15 World View -- Al-Shabaab kills 147 mostly Christian students in Kenya school")

Al-Shabaab also conducted the horrific three-day terror attack on Nairobi's upscale Westgate Mall, killing 67 people. ( "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears")

The reason that the Westgate Mall attack lasted for three days is that the Nairobi police were ill-prepared to respond to it, and received a great deal of criticism as a result. The Dusit hotel is less than 2 km away from the Westgate mall. Tuesday's attack on the Dusit hotel was handled more efficiently by Nairobi's police, though it still lasted several hours.

CCTV footage has emerged showing that there were four assailants who carried out the attack. The hotel is in a supposedly very secure part of Nairobi, but the attackers gained acccess to the hotel by hurling grenades at the security officers manning the gate.

The Dusit hotel complex consists of a number of buildings, and many of the buildings were attacked. Police went from building to building and rescued hundreds of people who were trapped in hotel rooms or offices.

One of the CCTV images captured what appears to be a US Navy SEAL rescuing civilians and then returning to the scene of the fighting. The Pentagon has US special forces in a number of countries in Africa, describing their mission as "advising and assisting." In Kenya, the US has a small presence at Camp Simba, where they reportedly train naval special forces.

Al-Shabaab has vowed retribution against Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011. The al-Qaeda-linked group has killed hundreds of people in Kenya, which has been targeted more than any other of the six countries providing troops to an African Union force in Somalia. Kenyans and AP and The Star (Kenya) and Business Insider

Al-Shabaab continues to threaten eastern Africa

Al-Shabaab is a Somalia-based terror group that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. In 2014, they debated changing allegiance to ISIS but rejected the change, resulting in the formation of a small splinter group. The group conducts massive terror attacks in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. It has an estimated 3,000-6,000 members, including members that it has successfully recruited from the Somalia diaspora in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the case of the Westgate Mall attack, three terrorists were from the United States, including two are the Somali community in the twin cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul) region of Minnesota.

Al-Shabaab's predecessors have been around in Somalia since the 1980s. During the 2000s, they were responsible for numerous pirate attacks on vessels off the coast of eastern Africa. Since 2007, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), consisting of troops from Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, have targeted the group. US drone strikes and airstrikes have killed several of the group's leaders.

Al-Shabaab's targets are usually governmental, with the stated goal of ejecting Western influence and converting Somalia into an Islamic Sharia state.

The UN Security Council had ordered the withdrawal of AMISOM troops starting in October of last year, after which Somalia security forces were expected to begin taking over. However, the withdrawal was postponed until February of this year. However, a recent spate of successful attacks, despite the presence of AMISOM troops, has given credence to the view that Somalia security forces are too weak to take over, and the departure of AMISOM would result in the complete al-Shabaab takeover of Somalia. Jamestown (12-Oct-2018) and Council of Foreign Affairs (11-Dec-2018) and International Crisis Group (21-Sep-2018)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Jan-19 World View -- Somalia terror group al-Shabaab attacks Nairobi, Kenya, hotel complex thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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15-Jan-19 World View -- Kenya's leaked BRI contract reveals shocking China debt trap details

Uganda's auditor warns that Uganda may be in similar China debt trap as Kenya

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's leaked BRI contract reveals shocking China debt trap details


Celebrations at Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). (Railway Gazeti)
Celebrations at Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). (Railway Gazeti)

China has signed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) contracts with dozens of countries, with the requirement that the details be kept secret, even from the countries' ministers or central banks.

For months I've been describing the onerous details of such contracts, based on incomplete reports or vague statements by politicians. It's always been clear that the reason why China demanded total secrecy was because these contracts are extremely favorable to China and are used for "debt trap diplomacy," allowing China to take control of a country's infrastructure when unable to make the loan payments.

The poster child for debt trap diplomacy is China's seizure of control of the Port of Hambantota after Sri Lanka was unable to pay the onerous debt payments that China had demanded. China has already acquired or is about to acquire ports and other assets in several countries -- Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Zambia, Kenya -- through its "debt trap diplomacy." Several other countries, including Pakistan and the Maldives, are at risk. Malaysia is still at risk, as well.

Now, a partially leaked BRI contract between Kenya and China reveals details that are far more shocking and onerous than have been revealed or inferred so far. With Kenya's debt repayments to China scheduled to triple this year, all of Kenya's national assets are at risk, unless public pressure forces China to relent.

The new headline revelation is that all Kenya's assets, within Kenya or abroad, are now subject to Chinese seizure if Kenya can't make its debt payments. Up until now, Kenyans had worried that its Port of Mombasa, which would be extremely valuable to China for use as a military base, was in danger of seizure by China. But the leaks reveal that any Kenyan asset can be seized.

The leaked document refers to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, a railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, funded by two separate $1.6 billion loans from China. The debt was to be repaid from revenue from the SGR, but that has been far below the optimistic estimates made in 2014. Clause 5.5 of the "Preferential Buyer Credit Loan Agreement on the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR" says the following:

"Neither the borrower (Kenya) nor any of its assets is entitled to any right of immunity on the grounds of sovereignty or otherwise from arbitration, suit, execution or any other legal process with respect to its obligations under this Agreement, as the case may be in any jurisdiction."

Strictly interpreted, this clause forfeits all of Kenya's rights, sovereign or otherwise, to any Kenyan asset, whether the Port of Mombasa, another asset within Kenya, or a Kenyan asset abroad. None of the news reports I've seen provides a list of foreign assets that might be vulnerable, except to suggest that all of them are. According to legal experts, in case of default, China can take over many critical resources — anything from airports and natural resources to embassies abroad.

Leaked clauses in Kenya-China BRI contract

Other clauses of the leaked contract reveal the following:

The agreement contains other clauses that protect China, and almost guarantee that the loan will not be repaid, allowing China to seize Kenyan assets.

Kenya's government has repeatedly promised to publicly release the contract, but has always stalled, presumably because doing so would violate the contract with China, and and would also expose massive corruption and incompetence among Kenyan government officials.

Kenya's government is promising to release the contract by the end of the week. Now that many of the clauses have already been publicly revealed, perhaps it might actually happen. The Nation (Kenya) and Mwakilishi (Kenya) and Tuko (Kenya)

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Uganda's auditor warns that Uganda may be in similar China debt trap as Kenya

Uganda's Auditor General John Muwanga is warning that Uganda may be subject to the same risk as Kenya. He points out that Uganda's national debt had gone from $3.3 billion in June 2017 to $4.1 billion in June 2018. Furthermore, according to Muwanga, Uganda's contracts with China contain exactly the same clauses as Kenya's contracts. According to Muwanga:

"These conditions include waiver of sovereign immunity by government over all its properties and itself from enforcement of any form of judgment, adoption of foreign laws in any proceedings to enforce agreements, requiring government to pay all legal fees and insurance premiums on behalf of the creditor."

However, Uganda's Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija dismissed the Auditor General's report:

"I am not worried about China taking our assets. They can do it elsewhere, I don’t know, but not here. I don’t think it will ever happen."

Tuko (Kenya)

India pledges $1.4 billion to Maldives to help with China debt trap

India will provide the Maldives with a $1.4 billion credit line, after the new president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih visited India's prime minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi last month. The credit line will permit the Maldives to avoid default on payments on its debt to China, which is estimated to be between $1.5 billion and $3.2 billion.

Solih shocked the Maldives by winning the presidential election on September 23 by unexpectedly defeating the incumbent Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Yameen had close relations with China, and had signed several BRI infrastructure contracts with China that place the Maldives into a great deal of debt.

When Solih took office, he discovered that it was almost impossible to learn the details of the contracts with China. ( "24-Nov-18 World View -- Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China")

Solih vowed that he would find out exactly what was in the deals with China, and at the time I expressed the hope that Solih would make the China deal public so that, for the first time, we could see all the details in one of China's BRI deals.

Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet, though I'm still hoping. In an interview last week, Solih said:

"Our government is still reviewing the extent of the debt incurred under the previous government. No doubt, the debt situation has put us in an extremely challenging situation. A vast number of infrastructural projects have been undertaken and we are in the process of reviewing the terms of these agreements."

Perhaps the leaking of the Kenya deal will make it possible for Solih to release the details of the Maldives' deal.

The Maldives islands occupy a major strategic position in the Indian Ocean. India's promise of $1.4 billion in aid to the Maldives has the geopolitical effect of moving Maldives away from China and closer to India. India Times and Maldives Times and Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Jan-19 World View -- Kenya's leaked BRI contract reveals shocking China debt trap details thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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14-Jan-19 World View -- Greece's government in crisis over Prespa Agreement to change name of Macedonia

Macedonia's parliament approves country's name change to North Macedonia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Macedonia's parliament approves country's name change to North Macedonia


Greek Orthodox nuns holding Greek and Byzantine flags protest the Macedonia name deal. (Deutsche Welle)
Greek Orthodox nuns holding Greek and Byzantine flags protest the Macedonia name deal. (Deutsche Welle)

After a highly tense and emotional debate lasting several days, Macedonia's parliament approved four constitutional amendments that change the country's name to "Republic of North Macedonia." This ratifies the Prespa Agreement (Prespes Agreement) made last year with Greece, and after Greece's parliament ratifies the same agreement, it will be possible for North Macedonia to join the European Union and Nato.

This has been a highly emotional issue in both Macedonian and Greece since 1991, when the Republic of Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The Kingdom of Macedon is an ancient name, dating back centuries BC, and is the birthplace, in 356 BC, of Alexander the Great.

But Greece objected to that country's use of the name Macedonia, claiming that having that name would give the country a claim to Greece's own province of Macedonia. These concerns were increased because of a clause in the country's constitution referring to "the rights of all persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expats." Although this clause refers to cultural development, Greece raised concerns that the clause could be used in the future to attempt to annex Greece's Macedonia province.

For 25 years, Greece has vetoed attempts by Macedonia to join either Nato or the EU because many Greeks consider "Macedonia" to be pure Greek name, and they oppose another other country using it as part of their own name. They are especially infuriated by Macedonia's claims that Alexander the Great was Macedonian. They claim that he was Greek because at that time the Kingdom of Macedon was part of Greece.


The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks
The statue of Alexander the Great in Freedom Square in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, infuriates the Greeks

Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). It has also been admitted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the name FYROM. The European Union and Nato also recognize only the name FYROM. However many countries, including Russia and the United States, also recognize the name Republic of Macedonia, or just Macedonia.

During the last year, there has been tremendous international pressure to resolve the dispute. A variety of alternate names for the country were proposed, including:

Last week, Macedonia's parliament voted in the four constitutional amendments with 81 votes and none against and no abstentions, as the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party boycotted the session.

During the vote, several hundred people protested in front of the parliament, chanting “Traitors”. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski joined the protests and said January 11 was “black Friday” for Macedonia.

The four amendments change the name of the country to "Republic of North Macedonia," guarantee sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and protection of Macedonian cultural and historical identity, as well as rights of diaspora. They also eliminate the ambiguity about a claim to Greece's province of Macedonia.

The constitutional amendments will take effect as soon as Greece's parliament ratifies the Prespa Agreement. After that, it's expected that the Republic of North Macedonia should be able to join the European Union and Nato. Balkan Insight and BNE IntelliNews and Greek Reporter and Nezavisen (Macedonia) and Deutsche Welle

Greece's government in crisis over Prespa Agreement to change name of Macedonia


Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki (Salonica), the capital city of Greece's administrative region of Macedonia, last year protested any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)
Hundreds of thousands of Greeks in Thessaloniki (Salonica), the capital city of Greece's administrative region of Macedonia, last year protested any name change to the Republic of Macedonia that includes the word 'Macedonia' (Kathimerini)

Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a vote of confidence on Wednesday, after the Independent Greeks (ANEL) party announced its departure from the ruling coalition. The split occurred over the issue of ratifying the Prespa Agreement (Prespes Agreement), under which the Republic of North Macedonia will be permitted to apply for membership in the European Union and Nato, having agreed to change its name from Republic of Macedonia. ANEL leader Panos Kammenos said, "The issue of Macedonia, an issue for which thousands died, does not allow me not to sacrifice the minister’s chair."

If Tsipras loses the vote of confidence, then he will have to call for new elections. New elections are scheduled for September anyway. Guardian (London) and Greek Reporter and Kathimerini (Athens)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Jan-19 World View -- Greece's government in crisis over Prespa Agreement to change name of Macedonia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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13-Jan-19 World View -- India-Iran and Saudi-Pakistan alliances form and strengthen in Asia

India takes over operations at Iran's Chabahar port, despite US sanctions

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In turnaround, Saudi Arabia will give $10 billion to Pakistan, rejecting Iran


Pakistan's president Imran Khan and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman meet in October in Riyadh (SPA)
Pakistan's president Imran Khan and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman meet in October in Riyadh (SPA)

From the first day that Pakistan's prime minister took off in August, the country has been facing an imminent financial crisis and bankruptcy, due to a lack of foreign reserves (that is, US dollars that it can use to purchase imported goods).

First, Imran Khan, self-described as "desperate," went begging to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a loan, but returned empty-handed.

Then Khan went begging to its "all-weather friend," China, but once again came back empty-handed.

What China really wanted was for Khan to get money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), so that the IMF, and the US taxpayer, would be supplying money to repay China's loans for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and the Gwadar seaport. The IMF was willing, but insisted first that all details of all contracts between Pakistan and China be made available to the IMF, and China vetoed that idea. So the negotiation with the IMF failed.

Then there was a world-shaking event that changed everything: Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was bizarrely killed in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, and everyone in the world was blaming Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Imran Khan was able to return to return to Saudi Arabia as almost the only national leader left who was willing to support MBS. Khan leveraged MBS's embarrassment to obtain a $6 billion loan from Saudi Arabia.

However, Pakistan still needed an additional $12-15 billion in aid to survive through 2019. A renewed request to the IMF yielded the same results as before.

But now there's been a turnaround. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likely to sign memoranda of understanding for more than $10 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan this month. This will be in addition to the $6 billion in aid already agreed.

There are two major geopolitical effects from this deal.

First, Imran Khan, before he was prime minister, was one of the most vocal opponents of the proposal to send Pakistani troops to join the war in Yemen on the side of Saudi Arabia. The $16 billion in Saudi aid to Pakistan may have come with strings attached, namely that Pakistan will have to provide some sort of support, perhaps even troops, to the Saudi effort in Yemen.

The second effect is related to the first, since the Yemen war is proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Pakistan has been trying to remain neutral between the two countries, possibly even taking the lead in mediating. This situation means that Pakistan will be clearly on the side against Iran, and both the Arab and Iranian press have been saying so.

The Generational Dynamics prediction for almost fifteen years has been that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China and Pakistan would be allied with Saudi Arabia. As a result of the $16 billion in aid, Pakistan is now clearly allied with China and Saudi Arabia. Dawn (Pakistan) and Arab Weekly and Global Village Space

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India takes over operations at Iran's Chabahar port, despite US sanctions

India has taken over operations of the strategic Chabahar port, on the coast of Iran near Pakistan. India and Iran signed a deal in 2016 too develop the port, so that India can bypass Pakistan in shipping goods to Iran, and from there to Afghanistan, Central Asia or Europe. ( "25-May-16 World View -- Iran-India sign 'historic' Chabahar port deal to counter Pakistan-China")

During the last year, development of the Chabahar port faced special difficulties after the US re-imposed sanctions on Iran, making the Chabahar port project a violation of the sanctions, since it required India to import Iranian oil. However, India and Iran received one of the waivers that the Trump administration gave, so the port project could proceed.

In addition, Iran and India have signed banking agreements that allow imports and exports, as well as other financial needs, can be handled despite the sanctions. Part of these agreements allow goods to be exchanged in a barter system. For example, India can provide steel rails and locomotive engines to Iran and Iran can provide urea to India.

Just as the aid deal cemented the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the Chabahar port has cemented the relationship between India and Iran. For almost fifteen years, Generational Dynamics has predicted that America, India, Iran and Russia would be allied in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and the Chabahar port deal brings that alliance one step closer. Actually, Hindus and Shia Muslims have been allied against Sunni Muslims for centuries, going back as far as the seminal Battle of Karbala in 680. Tehran Times and India Today and Eurasian Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Jan-19 World View -- India-Iran and Saudi-Pakistan alliances form and strengthen in Asia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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12-Jan-19 World View -- China's economy destabilizes as Huawei introduces cheap smartphone

Poland arrests Huawei employee on spying allegations

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Huawei plans to become world's biggest smartphone supplier as it introduce Huawei P Smart 2019


Huawei P Smart 2019
Huawei P Smart 2019

Huawei (WHA way) has surpassed Apple as the world's second-largest smartphone supplier, behind Samsung, but aims to become the largest with the introduction of a new low-cost smartphone, the "Huawei P Smart 2019," selling for around $200.

It includes a number of features that once would have appeared only in much more expensive smartphones, including a dual-camera array, face unlocking, fingerprint scanning and AI in the camera app to identify what you’re shooting. It uses the Huawei's powerful Kirin chipset, giving it more power and performance than even more expensive competitive devices. Its only disappointment, according to reviewers, is that the camera isn't as powerful as those on competitive phones.

As I've said in the past, I've spent a part of my career as a senior software engineer developing chip-level operating system software for embedded systems, so I know exactly how any chip or any electronic device can be turned into a tool for espionage. Furthermore, I can tell you that not only is it doable, it's not even particularly difficult for someone with the right skills.

This could not be detected by tests, because the chip would work normally until a backdoor is activated by receiving, say, a secret 1024-bit code. Then it will execute commands sent to it by Chinese engineers. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei chips, and it cannot be detected until it's too late. And since Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei was previously an officer and engineer in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), there's little question that these steps have been taken.

China's biggest natural resources is its population of 1.4 billion. China sends them overseas to work or get educated, and controls them by the United Front Work Department (UFWD). China's officials even call them "secret weapons." China's fleet of fishing boats in the South China Sea and East China Sea have crews that have been trained by the military for espionage, and even to fight in battle.

This is how China works, and now China's Huawei is launching low-cost smartphones to be purchased by the millions around the world, and which can be controlled by China's military, at the right time.

As I've written in detail in the past, if Huawei really wants to convince Westerners that their products do not contain secret "backdoors," then they should invite American and Western engineers to work side-by-side with Chinese engineers in development centers in China, so that American engineers can examine all the internal code and scripts, just as Chinese workers work in development centers in America. Expert Reviews and IDC (11/2/2018) and Bloomberg

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Poland arrests Huawei employee on spying allegations

Poland's Internal Security Agency (ISA) has arrested two individuals. One is a Chinese national going by the name “Weijing W” or Stanislaw Wang, who works as a sales director for Huawei in Poland. The other is a Polish national, "Piotr D," a former high-ranking officer of Poland’s ISA. Both were charged with spying against Poland for China. ISA officers raided the homes of both suspects on Tuesday morning. They also seized documents and electronic data from the offices of Huawei and mobile phone operator Orange Polska, where Piotr D had worked recently.

This comes after the December arrest by the Canadian police, at the request of the United States, of Ms. Meng Wanzhou (Sabrina Meng), the chief financial officer (CFO) of China's Huawei Technologies, which was founded by her father Ren Zhengfei. According to reports, China has retaliated by arresting as many 13 Canadian citizens.

At the same time, many European countries are becoming more aggressive at prohibiting the use of Huawei technology, since it might have "backdoors" that permit espionage or control. This is increasingly becoming a more serious tit-for-tat escalation of actions that shows no sign of ending and may spiral into something much bigger.

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Chinese economic expert Xiang Songzuo warns that economy shows signs of crashing

In a speech given in early December by Professor Xiang Songzuo, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for International Monetary Research at China’s Renmin University in Beijing, he said:

"You can look at the history: only the Wall Street Crash of 1929 can compare to the steep decline that the Chinese stock has experienced this year. Many stocks are down 80 or even 90 percent."

In his speech, Xiang backed up his concerns with numerous facts and figures. Such speeches are normally dismissed, but in this case the speech has so alarmed Chinese officials that it was banned from the internet, though it was translated into English and posted outside of China before it was banned. Furthermore, a number of financial firms are taking Xiang's conclusions very seriously.

I've often said that, as many problems as the US economy has, China's economy is much worse because of real estate bubbles, ghost towns, shadow banks, and a hugely leveraged credit bubble that could crash at any time. While I can make a general statement like that, Xiang has backed up those concerns with specifics.

Many people believe that since China is a Communist dictatorship, they can't have a recession because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will control the economy enough to prevent it. It doesn't work that way. Like every Socialist economy, China's economy was headed for disaster until it was opened to free markets in the 1970-80s. In fact, every Socialist economy has either opened up to free markets to some extent, or ended in disaster and massive bloodshed. Today, only Venezuela and North Korea have refused to open up to free markets, and both of those are disasters, with bloodshed in the future.

China today is subject to the same market forces and the same generational forces as every other country. People fool themselves into believing that politicians can actually change things. In China, only the politics will be different, but the outcomes will be the same. China Change (28-Dec-2018) and National Interest and Naked Capitalism and Don Tai (29-Dec-2018)

Xiang's Headline statistic: At most 1.67% GDP rate of growth

The headline statistic in Xiang's speech is his claim that China's GDP rate of growth is at most 1.67%, or may even be negative. China's official National Bureau of Statistics claims that China’s rate of GDP growth is at 6.5%. This one statistic alone could explain why the CCP felt it necessary to censor Xiang's speech.

Nobody is surprised that China lies about statistics. Mao Zedong lied about agricultural statistics during the Great Leap Forward in 1958-59, with the result that tens of millions of Chinese died from starvation or were executed.

The problem is that you can lie about statistics only for a while, and then reality causes a financial crisis, which is what Xiang is predicting.

Since the CCP can pump money into any business at will, it would seem that any financial crisis can be prevented. The problem is that any business that can count on being bailed out has no motivation to become efficient, and so loses money.

Xiang says that this has happened with almost all Chinese businesses:

"Look at our profit structure. To put it plainly, China’s listed companies don’t really make money. Then who has taken the few profits made by China’s more than 3,000 listed companies? Two-thirds have been taken by the banking sector and real estate. The profits earned by 1,444 listed companies on the SME board and growth enterprise board are not even equal to one and half times the profit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. How can this kind of stock market become a bull market?

When we buy stocks, we are buying the profits of the company, not hype and rumors. I recently read a report comparing the profits of China’s listed companies with those in the U.S. There are many U.S. public companies with tens of billions dollars in profits. How many Chinese tech and manufacturing companies are there that have accomplished this? There is only one, but it’s not listed, and you all know which one that is. [Xiang is referring to Huawei, the Chinese tech company.] What does this tell us?"

Xiang says that there are major risks in the economy, and major battles to be fought:

"China’s economic decline indicates that there is a major issue with the focus on expansion and growth: It has deviated from the fundamental and moved to speculation. ... What are our current financial risks? They are hidden, complex, acute, contagious, and malevolent. Structural imbalance are massive, and violations of law and regulations are rampant. ... We have rampant speculations everywhere, in too many aspects."

According to Xiang, "Basically China’s economy is all built on speculation, and everything is over leveraged." This is significant, because when a company is over-leveraged, then when there's an economic downturn it won't be able to meet its debt payments. If every company is like that, then when one company goes bankrupt, it will create a chain reaction that sends every company into bankruptcy.

This is the basis of Xiang's statement that China's stock market is facing a huge crash greater than America's 1929 crash.

China's Five phases of consumption

According to Xiang, in the four decades following economic reform, China has undergone five phases of consumption:

According to Xiang:

"But these five waves have essentially all come to an end. Car sales have dropped sharply and real estate spending is also substantially decreasing, so we are facing serious problems. This is the crux of the six stabilities called for by the Politburo [stable employment, stable finance, stable foreign trade, stable foreign investment, stable investment and stable expectations], or as some internet users have joked, the six “tender kisses” [ , kiss, is a homophone for , stability]."

Xiang says that China made a historic mistake by relying on consumption:

"Look at these numbers. That China faces a long-term economic downturn is not a problem by itself. But you may have noticed that the consumption and the service sectors now make up 78.5 percent of GDP. Going by the government’s logic, this should be a good thing, since it means the economic transition to a consumption economy has been successful: we used to rely on investment and export, now we rely on consumption and the service sector. This sounds reasonable, but think about it: in a country like China, as investment slows dramatically, how can we maintain economic stability by solely relying on consumption?"

Xiang says that consumption and services comprise 78.5% of GDP, which is good news to some extent, but it's far eclipsed by negative implications of low investment.

Major misjudgments about China's economy

Xiang says that in the past year, China has made major misjudgments about the economy.

The first misjudgment was vastly underestimating the negative effects of the US-China trade war on China:

"First, the trade war between China and the U.S.. Did we make some inaccurate assessment? Did we underestimate the severity of the situation? Let’s recall some slogans from the mainstream media at the beginning of the year:

  • "In the trade war between U.S. and China, the Americans are lifting rocks only to smash them on their own feet"
  • "China is sure to win."
  • "China will win the trade war without a doubt, be the battles big or small.”

What’s behind this kind of thinking? To this day, we keep suffering from a cognitive dissonance between our understanding of the Sino-U.S. trade war and the international reality. This calls for deep reflection."

The second misjudgment has caused private businesses to lose confidence in the national leadership, with the result that investment by private business owners has falled substantially. According to Xiang, this has occurred because the Chinese media have been suggesting that the economic reforms of the past 40 years will be reversed, and there will be a return to full-scale Socialism:

"Since the beginning of the year, though, all kinds of ideological statements have been thrown around: statements like

  • “private property will be eliminated,”
  • “private ownership will eventually be abolished if not now,”
  • “it’s time for the private enterprises to fade away,” or
  • “all private companies should be turned over to their workers.”

Then there was this high-profile study of Marx and the Communist Manifesto. Remember that line in the Communist Manifesto? Abolition of private property. What kind of signal do you think this sends to private entrepreneurs?"

With regard to the trade war, Xiang says that it's really a clash of value systems, with no solution in sight:

"In addition to this, there are three major external challenges. The first is the trade war, which is in fact no longer a trade war but rather a clash between two opposed value systems. It can be said with certainty that the Sino-U.S. relationship has come to a crossroads right now and faces significant historic challenges. What are we to do? To be honest, I don’t think we have really found much of a solution.

You are aware that Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was recently detained in Vancouver. In the past two days, mainstream media such as BBC and CNN have been reporting on how the U.S. is going at Huawei on all fronts. What this tells us is that this issue is not simply about trade or economics."

Unless the date is postponed, China and the US have until March 1 to reach agreement on a huge list of trade and trade secret protection issues, before the US substantially increases tariffs on Chinese imports.

What this almost certainly means is that the can will be kicked down the road. This could mean that the March 1 date will be postponed, or it could mean that president Trump will simply increase the pressure on China by increasing tariffs by a small amount.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Jan-19 World View -- China's economy destabilizes as Huawei introduces cheap smartphone thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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11-Jan-19 World View -- Malta takes in 49 migrants after deal with EU that infuriates Italy

Malta - EU migrant deal splits Italy's government

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malta takes in 49 migrants after deal with EU that infuriates Italy


Migrants sit on the deck of the Sea Eye rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea (AP)
Migrants sit on the deck of the Sea Eye rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea (AP)

At total of 49 migrants in two rescue boats, including a baby and several children, who had been rescued weeks ago in the Mediterranean Sea as they traveled in dinghies from Libya trying to reach Europe, will be permitted to disembark in the island nation of Malta. The two rescue ships are the German vessel Sea Watch 3 and the Dutch boat Sea Eye.

For years, Malta has refused to take in migrants from rescue boats, forcing the boats to continue northward to Italy. This infuriated the Italians, who were receiving thousands of migrants that they were forced to take in under international and European law.

However, Italy has been closing its ports to rescue ships in the last year, and in November, Italy's parliament passed a tough anti-migrant law put forth by Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. The law restricts the conditions under which migrants will be permitted to stay in Italy, and makes it much easier to deport them.

The deal reached between Malta and the EU also took into account the fate of 249 migrants already in Malta, having been rescued in December. The 298 migrants will be distributed to other EU countries under the deal.

176 would be sent to Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy. Another 78 will be allowed to stay in Malta, while 44 Bangladeshi migrants will be repatriated.

In a tweet, Sea Watch International said: "The EU decided to release their 49 hostages. After 19 days at sea, our guests will finally reach a safe port. This represents a confession of state failure, policy must not be made at the expense of people in distress."

However, Italy's interior minister Salvini refused to authorize the deal, and said that Italy would not take in any additional migrants. Salvini said that other European countries had not fulfilled their previous commitments to accept migrants who had already reached Italy.

In July 2018, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain and Malta agreed to each take in 50 of around 450 migrants disembarked in Sicily by the Italian coastguard vessel Diciotti after being rescued at sea. According to Salvini, France has taken its 50, but Germany only 23, Spain 21, Portugal 19 and Malta none. Ireland, which said it would take in 20, has received 16 migrants, he said.

This resulting in name-calling between Salvini and Malta. The government of Malta disputed Salvini's figures, expressing "disdain and surprise at the inaccurate allegations by Minister Salvini."

Salvini responded: “We’re not going to take any lessons from Malta, which closed its eyes for years so that boats could head for Italy. The music has changed, you can only come to Italy if you have a permit. We’ve already taken in too many, it’s time for others to wake up." AFP (29-Nov-2018) and Al Jazeera and Guardian (London) and Reuters

Malta - EU migrant deal splits Italy's government

Readers may recall that when Italy held nationwide elections in March of last year, the elections failed to produce a majority party. Two particularly bitter rivals were the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S), led by Luigi Di Maio, and the right-wing La Lega (The League), led by Matteo Salvini. The two parties received a combined total of 49% of the vote and, 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. And after a lengthy period of negotiation, Di Maio and Salvini decided that neither of them could be prime minister, and they selected a technocrat, Giuseppe Conte, to fill that role.

Wednesday's deal between Malta and the EU provoked something of a crisis in this governing coalition. Salvini refused to authorize the deal, or to accept any more migrants. But Salvini, Di Miao and Conte had an all-night working session on Wednesday evening, and Di Maio sided with Conte against Salvini to accept the deal, which required Italy to take in ten migrants.

Salvini was infuriated by that decision:

"There is convergence within the government on a hard line: ports closed, fight against smugglers and NGOs,” Salvini said on Thursday.

“And I add that any new arrival must not cost Italian citizens a cent. [I]t’s the interior ministry that handles immigration."

A compromise was agreed by which Italy’s Waldensian Evangelical Church would take in the 10 migrants.

In 2015, millions of migrants entered Greece. After the "Balkan route" was closed, most migrants entered Europe through Italy in 2016 and 2017. Italy's government was begging the other EU states to take their fair share of migrants, but the pleas fell mostly on deaf ears. In 2018, the new government shut Italy's ports. This caused a huge international outcry that continues to this day, but now most migrants enter Europe from Morocco through Spain. AFP and The Local (Italy) and El Pais (28-Nov-2018)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Jan-19 World View -- Malta takes in 49 migrants after deal with EU that infuriates Italy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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10-Jan-19 World View -- Trump signs Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), focusing US military on China

China threatens retaliation if US implements ARIA in Taiwan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US military focuses on China and 'Indo-Pacific' region


Patrick Shanahan arrives at the Pentagon on Jan. 2, for his first day as acting Secretary of Defense.  (DoD)
Patrick Shanahan arrives at the Pentagon on Jan. 2, for his first day as acting Secretary of Defense. (DoD)

On his first day on the job, last week on January 2, the new Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, appointed in the wake of James Mattis' resignation, told his first meeting with secretaries of the US military branches that the department's focus should always be on "China, China, China."

Word of Shanahan's statement was interpreted by the Chinese to mean that they should expect further military "provocations" by the Americans, such as Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOs) by American warships in the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait, or that American was going to take steps to "prevent China narrowing the China-US military gap."

In fact, the American military is focusing a lot more on what used to be called the "Asia-Pacific" region, and is now called the "Indo-Pacific region," which one Indian analyst colorfully described as stretching from Hollywood to Bollywood.

In August of last year, vice president Pence attended an Indo-Pacific strategy that included investments of $300 million investments for technology, energy and infrastructure in the region. ( "5-Aug-18 World View -- China mocks America's 'Indo-Pacific' strategy at ASEAN meeting")

This announcement was ridiculed by the Chinese, who attended the same meeting, because China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), 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 Breaking Defense

Trump signs Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), focusing US military on China

In December, Congress passed the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), which president Trump signed on December 31. It called for America's increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and strengthened support, including arms sales, for U.S. allies in the region.

ARIA is a good example of the U.S. Congress exercising oversight over the Executive through authorizing expenditure for specific activities, requiring annual reports on a number of security issues, and mandating specific strategies to achieve U.S. objectives.

ARIA authorizes $1.5 billion annually for 5 years to enhance U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific. This is ten times greater than the $133 million that was announced in August at the ASEAN meeting, but it's still much less than the $900 billion that China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has committed to Asian countries.

ARIA recognizes the vital importance to the security of the United States of treaty allies (Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand), strategic partners (India), enhanced security partnerships (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam), and commitment to Taiwan. With respect to Taiwan, the Bill significantly calls for the transfer of “defense articles” and high-level official visits.

ARIA identifies three major security challenges to the “United States-backed international system”:

In particular, ARIA says the following specifically about China:

ARIA expresses serious concern over the rule of law and civil liberties in five countries – Cambodia, China, North Korea, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. More significantly, ARIA highlights “unacceptable human rights developments” in Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, and China. Diplomat and IndraStra Global (India) amd US Congress

China threatens retaliation if US implements ARIA in Taiwan

Last week, China's president Xi Jinping gave the military its first order of 2019 - prepare for war:

"All military units must correctly understand major national security and development trends, and strengthen their sense of unexpected hardship, crisis and battle.

[China's armed forces must] prepare for a comprehensive military struggle from a new starting point.... Preparation for war and combat must be deepened to ensure an efficient response in times of emergency."

China's foreign ministry spokesman gave a specific answer to the portion of the new ARIA law having to do with Taiwan:

The above-mentioned Act seriously violates the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs. The Chinese side expresses strong dissatisfaction with and resolute opposition to the US insisting on signing the Act into law and has already made stern representations with the US.

I would like to remind the US side of the speech made by President Xi Jinping at the 40th anniversary of issuing Message to Compatriots in Taiwan. He stressed solemnly that the Taiwan question belongs to China's internal affairs, concerns China's core interests and the national bond of the Chinese people and allows no interference from the outside.

We urge the US side to abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques. The US must not implement the relevant contents of the Act and should carefully handle the Taiwan-related issues in a cautious manner so as not to impair the overall situation of the China-US relations and cross-Straits peace and stability."

Just as the United States laws and rhetoric are becoming increasingly belligerent, China's are doing the same.

Today, in 2019, many nations of the world are deep into a generational Crisis era. As I've been writing for years about country after country, many countries of the world are becoming increasingly nationalist and xenophobic, as the survivors of World War II have almost completely disappeared. This is true today in North America, Europe and Asia. And this is not an abstract concept. It has real consequences in that the survivors of World War II were willing to compromise, but the generations growing up after World War II are not. So most countries today have become more willing to escalate small crises into larger ones, and less willing to accept compromises to prevent war. Even a simple misunderstanding today could trigger a military response, resulting in a tit-for-tat escalation leading to war. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and China's Foreign Ministry

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Jan-19 World View -- Trump signs Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), focusing US military on China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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9-Jan-19 World View -- WSJ: China used bribery, corruption and 'leverage on other nations' in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal

Malaysia's '1MDB scandal' continues to grow as biggest financial scandal in world history

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia's '1MDB scandal' continues to grow as biggest financial scandal in world history


Wanted fugitive Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) is believed to be hiding out in China (Malay Mail)
Wanted fugitive Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) is believed to be hiding out in China (Malay Mail)

1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, was founded in 2009 just four months after Najib Razak became Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The fund was supposed to attract global investors to finance infrastructure and other economy-linked deals in Malaysia. Unfortunately, the fund was unsuccessful at attracting investors, but it did attract a lot of debt - $12 billion by 2016.

A great deal of that $12 billion was misappropriated to finance finance spending sprees by corrupt officials and their associates. An estimated $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014, according to the US Department of Justice. $681 million landed in Najib's personal bank account. Billions more were diverted into personal accounts disguised to look like legitimate businesses, and kicked back some of those funds to officials. The money was spent on things like real estate, jewelry, a luxury yacht, a Hollywood movie, "The Wolf of Wall Street," casinos, champagne and “Dustheads,” a painting by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Of the $12 billion in debt, much of it was arranged by Goldman Sachs. Between 2012 and 2013, Goldman arranged three bonds worth $6.5 billion for 1MDB with fees totalling $593 million. Malaysia has made criminal accusations against Goldman and two employees for defrauding investors, and is suing to recover the fees. Goldman denies the charges.

Questions arose about the fund’s transparency and performance as early as 2010. Suspicions about 1MDB began as early as 2013 when it asked for a six-month extension to file its annual report. The company had changed its auditors on three occasions at this point, furthering suspicions. But international exposure became more pronounced in 2015, when 1MDB’s bonds, then worth around $12 billion, were downgraded to junk status by ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s and Fitch.

By 2016, the fund was far in debt, and was threatened with bankruptcy. Wall St Journal and Bloomberg (17-Dec-2018) and Business Insider (12-Dec-2018) and Bloomberg (12-Dec-2018)

1MDB corruption mastermind Jho Low remains hiding out in China

With 1MDB close to bankruptcy in 2016, prime minister Najib Razak turned to Low Taek Jho, popularly known as Jho Low, an international investor and bon vivant, who had been born of a wealthy family in Malaysia, but had spent years embezzling and laundering billions of dollars in America, Europe and Asia. Jho Low had advised in the creation of 1MDB, but didn't hold a formal position in the fund.

Low was known since the 2000s in financial circles, but he began to have star quality when he dated Miranda Kerr, an Australian supermodel and former Victoria's Secret model. He wooed her by giving her a $1.3 million diamond necklace on Valentine's Day in 2014, and followed it up with more jewelry obtained through money laundered through energy deals and through 1MDB.

A few weeks later, at a party for Kerr's thirty-first birthday, Low hired out a venue on Chelsea Piers in New York for a nineties-themed party and flew in Salt-N-Pepa, Mark Morrison, and Vanilla Ice to perform. Jamie Foxx was on hand to emcee, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Swizz Beatz were among the hundred or so invitees.

Low had attended London's Harrow School, and had studied at Wharton's business school, so it was natural that Najib Razak would turn to him when 1MDB neared bankruptcy in 2016.

Low has been painted by U.S. prosecutors as a central figure in the 1MDB scandal. In December 2018, Malaysian prosecutors charged him with receiving more than $1 billion from the state fund in 2009 and 2011, adding to the eight counts of money laundering charges he was slapped with in August.

He's currently an international fugitive, believed to be hiding out under the protection of China. Through his public relations agency, he issued a statement on Tuesday saying, "The article is a selection of half-truths, mixed in with fiction, to create a misleading and oversimplified narrative that has been peddled by a morally-bankrupt Mahathir regime to advance its failing political cause," referring the current prime minister Mahathir Mohamad. Business Insider (19-Sept-2018) and Bloomberg (12-Dec-2018) and Business Insider (2-Jan-2019)

WSJ: China used bribery, corruption and 'leverage on other nations' in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal

Malaysia's 1MDB scandal has been called the biggest financial scandal in the history of the world. It involved corruption at the highest levels of Malaysia's government, channeling billions of dollars provided by China in 1MDB infrastructure projects into the private accounts of Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak.

Now a new report by the Wall Street Journal alleges that the scandal also involved the highest levels of China's government, including president Xi Jinping and prime minister Li Keqiang.

In 2016, Najib turned to Jho Low to negotiate the deal with the Chinese. Low set up meetings between Chinese and Malaysian officials, where the details could be worked out. According to documents examined by the Wall Street Journal:

China was clearly unsuccessful in discouraging investigations. Malaysia has filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and several employees. There are investigations in multiple countries, including the US, United Kingdom, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

These investigations would have been blocked if Najib were still prime minister. But Malaysia and the world were shocked last year when Najib unexpectedly was not reelected. ( "31-May-18 World View -- Malaysia shocked when 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad becomes prime minister")

China's embassy in Kuala Lumpur denies that it had anything to do with the 1MDB scandal, saying that it adheres to a policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries:

"China never attaches political conditions on our cooperation with other countries. We promote the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative under the principles of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, with an aim to pursue shared development and prosperity. We do not accept any groundless accusations made against China."

This is laughable. China has already acquired or is about to acquire ports and other assets in several countries -- Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Kenya -- through its "debt trap diplomacy." Several other countries, including Pakistan and the Maldives, are at risk. Malaysia is still at risk, as well.

Furthermore, China lies about everything. China has repeatedly lied about the South China Sea, claiming that there were no plans to militarize it, and now the South China Sea is bristling with Chinese military bases and weapons, and the Chinese are threatening anyone who passes through, even though the United Nations Hague Tribunal has declared that China's activities are illegal. The statement says, "We do not accept any groundless accusations made against China," but fortunately all these accusations are fully grounded. Channel News Asia and Malay Mail and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Malay Mail and Malay Mail

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Jan-19 World View -- WSJ: China used bribery, corruption and 'leverage on other nations' in Malaysia's 1MDB scandal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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8-Jan-19 World View -- Gabon has failed coup attempt as US troops arrive for DR Congo mission

Brief generational history of Gabon

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Abortive coup attempt in Gabon fails while president it out of the country


Gabon's president Ali Bongo. He is currently in Morocco recovering from a stroke (Getty)
Gabon's president Ali Bongo. He is currently in Morocco recovering from a stroke (Getty)

Days after the US began deploying troops to Gabon for a mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a failed coup attempt occurred.

Rebel soldiers in Gabon launched an abortive coup attempt on Monday. At around 4:30 am, five soldiers took over the state run radio and television station and broadcast a statement calling on the people of Gabon to "rise up," while the president, Ali Bongo, is in Morocco recovering from a stroke.

A man identifying himself as Lt Kelly Ondo Obiang, flanked by two armed men. They presented themselves as the Patriotic Youth Movement of the Defense and Security Forces. Obiang read out a statement:

"The eagerly awaited day has arrived when the army has decided to put itself on the side of the people in order to save [1]Gabon from chaos. If you are eating, stop; if you are having a drink, stop; if you are sleeping, wake up. Wake up your neighbors ... rise up as one and take control of the street."

He called on Gabonese to occupy the country’s airports, public buildings and media organizations. A few hundred people went into the streets of Libreville to support the so-called coup, but they were quickly dispersed.

Security forces stormed the state broadcasting headquarters, capturing the rebel chief, killing two of his team and freeing journalists and technicians who had been held hostage and forced to help the mutineers make their broadcast. All five members of the Patriotic Youth Movement of the Defense and Security Forces were arrested after a chase.

According to a Gabonese journalist, "The people are afraid. When the young soldiers asked everyone to come to the streets in support of the coup, nobody did, because they were in panic."

The abortive coup attempt was apparently triggered by Ali Bongo's poor New Year's eve speech. He was hospitalized in October in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke, and he went to Morocco, where the president is a long-time friend, in order to continue treatment. Ali Bongo hasn't been seen in Gabon since then, and on a televised New Year's Eve speech he slurred some words and did not move his right arm. It's unclear if he is able to walk.

Gabon's former colonial power, France, has a permanent force of 300 soldiers in Gabon. France 24 and Al Jazeera and AP and Radio France International (Translation)

Brief generational history of Gabon

Since 1910, Gabon was part of France's colony French Equatorial Africa (the equator runs through Gabon), consisting of the colonies Gabon, Middle Congo (today's Congo-Brazzaville) Ubangi–Shari–Chad (today's Chad and Central African Republic).

Gabon's last generational crisis war was World War II. All the colonies except Gabon sided with Charles de Gaulle's Free French government, while Gabon sided with the pro-Nazi French Vichy government. In October 1940, General de Gaulle issues orders for liquidation of the Vichy enclave in Gabon. The Free French forces marched into Gabon's capital city Libreville. The Battle of Libreville occurred between November 9-12, resulting in the victory of the Free French.

In 1960, Gabon became independent of France. In 1967, Albert-Bernard Bongo became president. In 1973, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Omar.

After 40 years, Omar Bongo died in June 2009, and his son Ali Bongo succeeded him after an election that many believed was rigged. Ali Bongo narrowly won reelection in 2016, after violence and rigging of the election.

Rigging an election to keep a dictator or dynasty in power for decades is nothing new in Africa, as we've described in country after country, where jailings, beatings, rapes, and killings are standard fare by leaders who wish to make sure that they win elections, while at the same time they call their elections "democratic, free and fair" in order to please international media and governments, and keep aid and investment money pouring in to benefit the country's elite.

With Ali Bongo in Morocco recovering from a stroke, there is widespread confusion about who is really making decisions, uncertainty about when the newly elected National Assembly and a new cabinet will begin work, and political maneuvers that appear designed to evade the constitutional requirement that an incapacitated President be replaced through a special election. Bongo's cronies and family members appear to be running the country for now, but as the failed coup attempt illustrates, it will be difficult to maintain stability with provisional and ad hoc measures indefinitely.

Gabon has high unemployment and a country dependent on oil exports. People accuse the government of corruption, with a wealthy political elite that benefit from the country's riches, while millions of people live in dire poverty. BBC and Council on Foreign Relations and Gabon timeline

US troops in Gabon remain focused on DR Congo mission despite coup attempt

The abortive coup attempt in Gabon comes just three days after the White House ordered 80 combat-equipped military personnel to Gabon, "to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo" in case of violence. ( "6-Jan-19 World View -- Trump announces that US troops will be sent to DR Congo")

For the time being, the abortive coup will have no effect on the mission of the US forces. “At this time there is no change in the status of our forces in Gabon,” AFRICOM spokesman John Manley said as events were unfolding Monday. The troops are not currently tasked with securing diplomatic assets within Gabon, he said. Stars and Stripes

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Jan-19 World View -- Gabon has failed coup attempt as US troops arrive for DR Congo mission thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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7-Jan-19 World View -- Hamas vs Fatah relationship deteriorates sharply on Palestinian anniversary

Bomb disposal robot detonates object carried into Israel by helium balloons

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hamas vs Fatah relationship deteriorates sharply on Palestinian anniversary


Employee inspects damage to Palestinian Authority media office in Gaza after attacks by five men (AFP)
Employee inspects damage to Palestinian Authority media office in Gaza after attacks by five men (AFP)

Tensions between Hamas, the governing authority in Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority (Fatah), the governing authority in the West Bank, have intensified substantially in the last few days.

The trigger for the latest fallout was apparently plans by Fatah's 83 year old leader Mahmoud Abbas to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the launchng of Fatah's first attacks against Israel, and to do so by holding several rallies throughout the Gaza strip, which is governed by Hamas.

According to Fatah, Hamas prevented those rallies from taking place by arresting 500 of its men in the Gaza strip, subjecting many of them to torture, and also by raiding the homes of many Fatah officials and activists, confiscating material and equipment that was supposed to be used during the Fatah rallies.

Then, to make matters worse, Hamas allowed Abbas's political rival, Mohammed Dahlan, and his supporters to hold their own rallies to celebrate the 54th anniversary of Fatah’s first attack against Israel, according to the Jerusalem Post.

This had led to vitriolic mutual accusations, with each side accusing the other of the being a traitor. Abbas accused Hamas being "spies" for Israel, while Hamas accused Abbas of being a dictator, senile, a liar, and mentally unstable. Abbas was called a collaborator because of the security coordination between his security forces and Israel in the West Bank.

On Friday, five armed men entered the offices of the Palestinian Authority's media headquarters in Gaza, assaulted the workers and destroyed equipment, including cameras, equipment, furniture and broadcasting equipment.

On Saturday, Hamas arrested five men and accused them of being the perpetrators, and also announced that all five men were Fatah employees whose motive was revenge for not getting paid salaries. However, Fatah leaders hold Hamas responsible.

On Friday evening, Abbas announced a halt to payment of salaries and social welfare to thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which amounts to $96 million monthly. Fatah also announced it would close all its offices in Gaza "in anticipation of any attacks on them."

On Saturday, Fatah announced that it would be withdrawing its employees from the Rafeh border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This border crossing is a lifeline to many Gazans, but it's been closed for many periods in the last ten years. Thanks to Hamas-Fatah mediation efforts by Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, the Rafah crossing has been open continuously for several months, under the condition that Fatah provides the guards to run the crossing. Egypt has not commented, and it's not clear whether Hamas will be allowed to replace Fatah in operating the crossing.

For several years, Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi has been trying to mediate a reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, so that they can form a unity government representing all Palestinians. Once that's done, the grand fantasy is that this unity government can then negotiate with Israel for the boundaries in the two-state solution, which will produce two nations, Israel and Palestine, side-by-side in peace.

As I wrote in my very first Generational Dynamics analysis on May 1, 2003, when president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace," which described the details of a two-state solution, that will never happen. Generational Dynamics predicts that the plan would fail because the Jews and the Arabs would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

All the machinations and negotiations for a unity government and a two-state solution are completely naive. Polls have shown that young Palestinians consider 83-year-old Mahmoud Abbas to be a fool. The Hamas leaders get more respect because they're a generation younger, but not much more respect. What they're all waiting for is a young obsessed fanatic, their own version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to inspire them to inspire them to become martyrs for their cause.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Iran is controlled by an ancient generation of hardliners whose policies are strongly opposed by the growing population of younger generations. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Jerusalem Post (2-Jan) and Mideast Eye and Al Arabiya (5-Jan) and Jerusalem Post (5-Jan) and Reuter

Bomb disposal robot detonates object carried into Israel by helium balloons


A police bomb disposal robot carries away a drone-shaped device from a carrot field that had been flown in from Gaza by a cluster of helium balloons on Sunday.  (Israel Police)
A police bomb disposal robot carries away a drone-shaped device from a carrot field that had been flown in from Gaza by a cluster of helium balloons on Sunday. (Israel Police)

On Sunday morning, a large object was flown into Israel from Gaza by means of a large cluster of helium balloons. The object looked like a drone glider, although it was apparently not capable of flight. The name of a Gaza engineering college was printed on the side of the object.

The device landed in a carrot field in southern Israel. A police bomb disposal robot examined the device, causing it to explode like a bomb. The drone lookalike was then carried away.

In retaliation, Israeli military helicopters attacked two observation posts in Gaza controlled by Hamas. Times of Israel

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6-Jan-19 World View -- Trump announces that US troops will be sent to DR Congo

DR Congo delays releasing election results again

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump announces that US troops will be sent to DR Congo


American soldiers in a a combined training exercise with Senegalese troops in Thies, Senegal, on July 25, 2016 (AFP)
American soldiers in a a combined training exercise with Senegalese troops in Thies, Senegal, on July 25, 2016 (AFP)

President Trump announced that US troops will be sent to Gabon, in anticipation of "violent" demonstrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) if and when the results of the December 30 presidential election are announced.

The announcement came in a Friday evening letter to House speaker Nancy Pelosi:

"Dear Madam Speaker:

United States Armed Forces personnel have deployed to Libreville, Gabon, to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This deployment of approximately 80 personnel is in response to the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in reaction to the December 30, 2018, elections there. The first of these personnel arrived in Gabon on January 2, 2019, with appropriate combat equipment and supported by military aircraft. Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or the Republic of the Congo, if necessary for these purposes. These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed.

This action was taken consistent with my responsibility to protect United States citizens both at home and abroad, and in furtherance of United States national security and foreign policy interests, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct United States foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.

I am providing this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in these actions.

The letter indicates that the U.S. is concerned with the safety of American officials and facilities in Congo, not with the DRC electoral situation itself. A State Department travel warning was issued in mid-December, urging Americans to "reconsider travel" to DRC "due to crime and civil unrest."

Gabon is a small country on the northwest border of DRC. Libreville is the capital city. White House and CBS News and CNN

DR Congo delays releasing election results again

The president of CENI, the election commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), indefinitely postponed the release of the preliminary results of the December 30 presidential election, saying that it was not yet clear when the results would be ready for release.

The election was originally supposed to take place in December 2016. Joseph Kabila, the incumbent president, is not permitted to run again, according to the constitution, and so he has postponed the election several times. The last postponement was from December 23, 2018, to December 30, when the election finally took place.

In the week prior to the election, Kabila's election commission said that the election will still be held, but will be delayed until March in three cities -- Beni, Butembo and Yumbi. The reasons given for Beni and Butembo are that there are Ebola outbreaks in those cities, and that voting would be "dangerous." However, voting has not been delayed in other cities with Ebola outbreaks. What these three cities have in common is that they are strongholds for anti-Kabila opposition. On election day, the local government of Beni held its own elections, just to prove that voting was not "dangerous."

Preliminary results were to be released today (Sunday, January 6), until the CENI announcement on Saturday, delaying the release.

There are widespread suspicions that Kabila is trying to find a way to rig the vote count so that the winner will be his hand-picked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Many people believe that if Shadary wins, then he will just be a puppet with Kabila as the puppetmaster.

Kabila has shut down the internet all week, supposedly to prevent the incitement of riots. Kabila has made it illegal for any organization to announce election results before CENI does. It's believed that these laws were specifically targeted to the Catholic Church, which had sent more than 40,000 observers to poling stations across the country.

On Thursday, the National Episcopal Conference Of Congo (CENCO) released a lengthy statement about its conclusions. It listed several irregularities in the voting procedures, and then reached a startling conclusion: From its own data, CENCO knows who won the election, but won't announce the name, in keeping with the law against announcing election results.

CENCO called on the election commission to do the following:

"In order to respect the will of the People and to dispel any suspicion, CENCO proposes the following scheme for the integrity of the results which will have to be published:

1 Only take into account the results from manual counting that were published and posted in front of the polling and counting stations;

2 Ensure that the consistency check at the Local Results Compilation Centers (CLCR) is carried out in the presence of observers and witnesses.

3 Publish the results polling station by polling station."

CENCO did not name the purported election winner, but reports indicate that it was the main opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu.

The capital city Kinshasa is very tense right now. There were almost full-scale riots in December 2016, but the Catholic Church intervened and quieted the situation. If CENI continues to delay announcing the election results, or if it announces that Shadary is the winner, there may be widespread riots again.

The situation is so serious that it's believed that this is the reason that President Trump announced the deployment of troops to Gabon, available to protect the safety of American officials and facilities in DRC. Reuters and Guardian (London) and CENCO (DRC Catholic Church)

Ebola outbreak spreads more slowly than feared in DR Congo

The Ebola outbreak in eastern DRC is still growing, but not as quickly as had been feared. The outbreak total is 613 cases, including 565 confirmed and 54 suspected cases. Health officials are still investigating 54 suspected infections.

According to Tedros Adhanom, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the DRC Ebola outbreak would have been much worse without the use of Merck's experimental Ebola vaccine, known as VSV-EBOV. He based his assessment on the fact that infections haven't grown exponentially. Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Jan-19 World View -- Trump announces that US troops will be sent to DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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5-Jan-19 World View -- Myanmar (Burma) Buddhist separatists in Arakan Army in Rakhine State kill 13 policemen

EU considers revoking Myanmar's trade preferences because of Rohingya genocide

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Myanmar (Burma) Buddhist separatists in Arakan Army in Rakhine State kill 13 policemen


Ethnic Rakhine people in Myanmar (Getty)
Ethnic Rakhine people in Myanmar (Getty)

Myanmar's army has just recently completed most of the job of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine State, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee for their lives to neighboring Bangladesh, where they're trapped in refugee camps. Myanmar's army began committing atrocities, including torture, rape, beatings and slaughter, burning down entire Rohingya villages, targeting the Rohingyas, starting as early as 2011. But they crossed the line into full-scale genocide and ethnic cleansing after an August 25, 2017, attack on Burma police outposts by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), killing 8 policemen. At that point, Burma's army began full-scale "clearance operations," sending hundreds of thousands more Rohingyas into Bangladesh.

With most Burmese Rohingyas now in Bangladesh, and with most Rohingya villages burned to the ground, Burma's army may have thought its job was done. But now they have a new problem, and they're launching "clearance operations" again against a new group, ethnic Rakhines.

Ethnic Rakhine rebels, claiming to be part of the Arakan Army (AA), which is a Buddhist ethnic Rakhine "army," as opposed to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which is a Muslim ethnic Rohingya "army," killed 14 "prisoners of war" in four police stations in Rakhine State on Friday.

This has prompted the army to launch localized "clearance operations" this time against the ethnic Rakhines. Clashes between AA and Burma's army in recent months has already forced an estimated 2,500 people to flee from their homes because of the violence. Many of them are sheltering in local Buddhist monasteries.

Myanmar officials said that four police posts in northern Rakhine came under attack from hundreds of Arakan Army fighters after daybreak on Friday, killing 13 and injuring nine, and triggering the army's new "clearance operations" in the area. Reuters and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and AP and Asia Times

EU considers revoking Myanmar's trade preferences because of Rohingya genocide

Trade unions in Myanmar are begging the European Union not to revoke its grant of trade preferences to Myanmar

The trade preference program, known as Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP), grants to Myanmar the right to export goods to the EU without paying tariffs. The GSP "Everything But Arms" (EBA) status allows Myanmar to sell any goods except weapons tariff-free into the EU. The GSP privilege was granted in 2013. Exports from Myanmar to the EU, especially in garments and foodstuffs, has risen tenfold in the past five years.

After months of pressure from rights groups, the EU is considering punishing Myanmar for "the blatant violation of human rights" referring to ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas and the failure of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi to resolve the crisis. EU’s trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom said in October, "Our trade policy is value-based. These are not just words. We have to act when there are severe violations."

However, trade unions and workers groups in Myanmar say that over one million workers might lose their jobs if GSP is revoked. According to Maung Maung, chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM):

"Over 700,000 workers from the garment industry and over 400,000 workers in fishery industry will lose their jobs and their families will be in trouble. We don’t want to see this situation. So, we request the EU not to revoke GSP."

Withdrawing GSP would also have a significant impact on foreign direct investment, since investors who invest in Myanmar to gain access to the EU export market will no longer be attracted.

Card Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon and the country’s first cardinal, said, "I am completely against any form of sanction or embargo against Myanmar. Experience shows that this type of measures only harms the poorest sections of the population. They will suffer the consequences, certainly not the rich and powerful."

An EU review team visited Myanmar in October to assess the situation, but has not yet issued an opinion.

The same team is also considering withdrawing GSP for Cambodia, because of substantial and increasing human rights violations under the Hun Sen administration. Fibre2Fashion (Myanmar) and Mizzima (Myanmar) and Reuters (5-Oct-2018) and Asia News (Italy)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-19 World View -- Myanmar (Burma) Buddhist separatists in Arakan Army in Rakhine State kill 13 policemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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4-Jan-19 World View -- Britain may establish a military base in South China Sea after Brexit

US State Dept issues elevated travel warning for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain may establish a military base in South China Sea after Brexit


Gavin Williamson
Gavin Williamson

In the 1800s, Britain was the world's superpower. Now, Britain's Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson says that Britain could return to being a "true global power" after Brexit.

According to Williamson, Britain will become a much more important world player after Brexit:

"This is our biggest moment as a nation since the end of the Second World War, when we can recast ourselves in a different way, we can actually play the role on the world stage that the world expects us to play.

For so long - literally for decades - so much of our national view point has actually been coloured by a discussion about the European Union.

This is our moment to be that true global player once more - and I think the armed forces play a really important role as part of that.

I am very much looking at how can we get as much of our resources forward based, actually creating a deterrent but also taking a British presence. We are looking at those opportunities not just in the Far East but also in the Caribbean as well."

Williamson did not specify specifically where the bases would be, but unnamed sources say that one could be sited in Singapore or Brunei, adjacent to the South China Sea. The other could be Montserrat or Guyana in the Caribbean. The bases would be created "within the next couple of years."

The U.K. already has bases in Cyprus, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and Diego Garcia. Williamson said he expected a dramatic shift in political focus after Brexit - with the UK building deeper relationships with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Caribbean states and nations across Africa.

China claims the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, based on some fantasy historical claims. During the last few months, I've been intensively studying Chinese history, and I've found that not only do the Chinese have absolutely no historical claim whatsoever to the South China Sea, but in fact they weren't even interested in the South China Sea until after World War II, when they decided to annex it in order to steal resources from other countries.

In fact, in 2016 the Philippines won a historic case in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague thoroughly humiliating China by ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law. However, as a criminal outlaw state, China has continued building illegal military bases in the South China Sea, annexing the region illegally just as Hitler annexed Poland.

The Chinese claim that they would be a great nation today if they hadn't been victimized by Britain in the Opium Wars of the 1840s. The Chinese claim that they've been repeatedly victimized and humiliated by the West for 170 years, when in fact that Chinese have repeatedly been so credulous and so incompetent at governing themselves, they actually allowed themselves to be humiliated time after time.

And so a new British military base in the South China Sea is certain to provoke the usual hysterical screams from the paranoid Chinese Communist Party, and there's no way to tell how they'll react, or whether they'll retaliate militarily. Daily Mirror (UK) and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and Bloomberg

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US State Dept issues elevated travel warning for China

The State Department has issued an elevated travel warning for people considering travel to China. Particularly alarming is China's use of exit bans to lure individuals back to China from abroad. Once in China, individuals can be arbitrarily arrested and tortured, with no access to lawyers or the outside world, and may be arbitrarily jailed for years with no trial and even no charges.

The State Department advisory says the following:

"Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.

Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively:

  • to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
  • to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
  • to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.

U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services."

Special care should be taken when visiting Xinjiang province, where China has arbitrarily jailed as many as a million Muslim Uighurs, subjecting them to "reeducation" torture, rapes and beatings. US State Dept. and CNBC and Business Insider

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Jan-19 World View -- Britain may establish a military base in South China Sea after Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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3-Jan-19 World View -- China may seize Kenya's Mombasa Port as debt repayments triple

Kenya's debt repayments to China triple in July

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's debt repayments to China triple in July


Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), from Mombasa Port to Nairobi, built with funding from China
Kenya's Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), from Mombasa Port to Nairobi, built with funding from China

Starting in July, Kenya's annual debt repayment of loans to China triples to $900 million.

Kenya has been on a borrowing binge in the last five years, having borrowed a total of $50 billion. These loans have been used to build roads, ports and railways, and were to be repaid with the revenue from this infrastructure, but as with many loans, hopes and promises were not kept.

Some $2.7 billion in loan repayments will be due to foreign lenders in 2019-20, a third of it to China. In addition, Kenya must pay $780 million for 2014 Eurobond note, including $2 billion in commercial loans in the first half of 2019. This includes retiring a $787 million loan from Britain's Standard Chartered Bank and another $371 million loan from Trade and Development Bank, formerly PTA Bank.

The reason that payments to China are tripling in 2019 is because a five-year grace period that China granted to Kenya in 2014 is now expiring.

All of these loans are denominated in foreign currencies, usually US dollars. Payments must be made out of the country's foreign reserves, which are at $9 billion September 2018. Standard Media (Kenya) and The Nation (Kenya) and Tuko TV (Kenya)

Concerns grow that China may take control of Kenya's port at Mombasa

Kenya's government borrowed $4 billion from China to build the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), a train that would operate between the Port of Mombasa and the capital city Nairobi. It was supposed to pay for itself with revenue to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), but revenues have been far below the projections.

China requires that all the deals that China makes with countries under the umbrella of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) be kept top secret, even within the country making the deal. However, new details about the SGR deal are now coming to light in a report by Kenya's Auditor-General Edward Ouko, including a requirement that revenue of the Kenya Ports Authority would be used to clear the debt of $2.27 billion owed to the Exim Bank of China.

The auditor also notes that the contract specifies that if there's any disagreement or dispute between Kenya and the bank, then the disagreement would be referred to arbitration within China, "whose fairness is resolving the disagreement may not be guaranteed."

According to the auditor, "Exim Bank would become a principal over KPA if [Kenya] defaults in its obligations and the Chinese bank exercises power over the escrow account security."

China's foreign ministry spokesman was asked about this a week ago, and responded as follows:

"Regarding the issue you mentioned, we have checked with the relevant Chinese financial institution and found that the allegation that the Kenyan side used the Mombasa Port as a collateral in its Mombasa-Nairobi Railway payment agreement with the Chinese financial institution is not true. The report you just cited said that the Kenyan side also has made clarifications on it.

At present, the China-Kenya cooperation on the Mombasa-Nairobi railway is progressing smoothly. When cooperating with African countries including Kenya, Chinese companies and financial institutions will always conduct joint and thorough scientific study on the feasibility of the projects and then proceed to determine the construction and funding plans and scales to guard against causing debt risks and fiscal burdens for Africa."

This is an evasive answer (standard practice from a Chinese official), because the auditor's report does not claim that the port itself was used as collateral.

Kenya media is becoming increasingly concerned that China's "Debt Book Diplomacy" is going to ensnare Kenya in the way that it's forced other countries to give control of its infrastructure to China.

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.

There are examples in Africa as well.

In 2007, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) entered into a $10 billion resource-financed infrastructure agreement with China, where copper and cobalt mining licenses would be allocated to a Chinese consortium. In exchange, the consortium would secure financing of $6.56 billion worth of infrastructure projects and invest $3 billion in mining projects. The agreement came to light only when DRC could not make the debt payments, and China's Exim bank took control of a portion of the mines.

In 2010, the government of Ghana informally secured $3 billion loan from China without parliamentary scrutiny and over 15 years Ghana would supply 750 million barrels (13,000 barrels per day) for servicing the debt. When oil prices crashed, China's Exim bank demanded that the amount of oil used to service the debt would increase from 13,000 to 15,000 barrels per day, and that the agreed fixed price to be paid would be reduced from $100 to $85 per barrel According to Ghana’s then Finance minister, that $15 difference would have seen Ghanaians pay $6.4 billion to repay a $3 billion loan. Ghana was forced to cancel half of the agreed $3 billion loan.

In all three of these cases, the details of these agreements were kept secret, per China's demands, until they were revealed because debt repayments could not be met, and China then enforced repayment by seizing assets.

It's now feared that the same thing will happen in Kenya, and China will seize Kenya's Port of Mombasa. The governments of both Kenya and China insist that there's no problem, but it still remains the case that the SGR is generating far less revenue than had been assumed when the original loan agreement was signed in 2014.

China has used "debt trap diplomacy" in several countries. They loan a country to build infrastructure proects that will strategically benefit China by helping China to exploit the countries natural resources, but and only marginally benefit the local population. They require that the loan money be used to purchase parts and services from Chinese firms, and that almost all workers must be Chinese. So instead of benefiting the local factories and workers, the money goes back to China to benefit factories and people there. And then the country still has to repay the loan, which means that they're repaying the loan twice.

In the case of Kenya, China is being accuse of "neo-colonialism, racism and blatant discrimination" towards Kenya workers. Racism is rampant, and the Chinese allow Kenyans to perform only menial tasks. The Chinese are supposed to train the Kenyans, many of whom have engineering degrees, to do the jobs, but instead blatantly exclude the Kenyan workers. The Nation (Kenya) and China Foreign Ministry (24-Dec) and African Stand

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Jan-19 World View -- China may seize Kenya's Mombasa Port as debt repayments triple thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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2-Jan-19 World View -- Brexit chaos entangles issue of Iranian migrants crossing English Channel

Brexit chaos continues as Britain heads for March 29 cliff

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Brexit chaos continues as Britain heads for March 29 cliff


Migrants from France arriving in Dover, England, this week (SPLASH)
Migrants from France arriving in Dover, England, this week (SPLASH)

It's hard to overestimate what a political disaster Brexit has been ever since the referendum passed on June 23, 2016. Britain, and to some extent the EU, have been almost completely deadlocked for two years with political lockjaw. And now, the committed date when Britain will leave the European Union is March 29, 2019.

The problem has always been the border between Northern Ireland (which is part of the UK) and (Southern) Ireland (which will remain part of the EU). Ireland and Northern Ireland have an extremely violent history described as "The Troubles," which were resolved by the Good Friday agreement in 1998 which, among other things, committed to remove any physical border between the two, and allow free movement of goods and people. It's been apparent since the beginning that no solution exists to meeting the objectives of the "Brexiteers" (the people who wanted Brexit) and maintaining a barrier-free border. So that problem has always been insoluble and remains so today.

So there are four possibilities for what will happen on March 29:

There is no UK majority for any of these options, but if there's no agreement, then the default will be a no-deal Brexit. In my opinion a way will be found to avoid this, because it will be catastrophic for the economies of both the UK and EU.

I had thought that the Brexit decision was final, once Britain submitted its two-year notice on March 29, 2017. However, in the last few months, an EU court has issued an opinion that Britain can reverse the Brexit decision, provided that it does so with finality, and not just to start up a new two-year negotiation. So that's an option. However, if Britain's government invokes it, it will invoke the howls of hell from people who say that the government is violating the will of the people.

Prime minister Theresa May's plan, which I summarized in detail in October, is a transition plan that many consider be the worst of all possible worlds. The whole point of why the Brexiteers wanted Brexit was to get away from the EU regulations, EU taxes, and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In the transition period, all of these will remain, with the additional restriction that the UK will have to obey all the regulations and pay all the money, but will have no say in changing them. This plan is almost Karmic retribution for the idiocy of going ahead with Brexit in the first place.

However, few people like Theresa May's plan, and many pundits say that when it comes to a vote in Parliament on January 14, it's unlikely to pass.

That brings us to the last option -- kicking the can down the road. It's believed that if the UK requested it, then the EU would agree to extend the March 29 date. That would give time for more debate.

Some people want to use that time to hold a new Brexit referendum. The problem with that option is that even among the few people who want a new referendum, there's no agreement on what the question would be. Would it be the same two choices as the 2016 referendum? Or would it be the three choices, something like the first three options in the list above?

So really, no one knows what's going to happen out of this mess, but my bet would be that they'll find some way to "fudge," or to kick the can down the road. Bloomberg (20-Dec) and Independent (Ireland) and Guardian (London, 17-Dec) and UK News (17-Dec)

Big upsurge in migrants crossing English Channel by boat, especially Iranians

A big increase in the number of migrants illegally crossing the English Channel from Calais, France, to Dover, England, is being blamed on the chaos surrounding Brexit. There are reports that human traffickers are telling migrants that crossing from France to Britain will be much more difficult after March 29 because of Brexit, and charging the migrants €15,000 or more to cross the Channel in a cheap dinghy. At the same time, security has been toughened around ports and the Channel tunnel, and authorities have been cracking down on migrants in northern France. However, there are still many more migrants who cross to Britain by stowing away on trucks that travel through the tunnel.

This is actually a fairly small number of migrants, but it's become a major political issue in Britain. It's far smaller than the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Greece, where the EU border force has been patrolling the waters. But political pressure has forced Britain's Home Secretary to reassign to British patrol cutters from the Mediterranean to the English Channel.

Many of the migrants are from Iran. This is believed to be the result of a policy that Serbia implemented between August and October, 2017, offering visa-free travel to people from Iran for 30 days. More than 40,000 Iranians visited Serbia, but it's believed as many as 12,000 didn't return home after 30 days, but instead moved through the Schengen Zone to western Europe and, in particular, to Calais, France, hoping to reach Britain.

The trip across the English Channel is 21 miles, but cross-currents can make the trip much longer. The trip can be particularly dangerous due to high seas and busy shipping lanes. If a British patrol boat captures the migrants in British waters, then they're required to take them to Britain; otherwise, the patrol boat can return them to France. When a migrant reaches Britain, he's evaluated for eligibility for asylum. Iranians are likely to be granted asylum because of Iran's human rights record. For that reason, migrants from Iraq or Syria often claim to be from Iran. Daily Mail and Guardian (London) and Deutsche Welle

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Jan-19 World View -- Brexit chaos entangles issue of Iranian migrants crossing English Channel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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1-Jan-19 World View -- Generational Dynamics 2019 Forecast: The Camel versus the Can

The future of Generational Dynamics

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Generational Dynamics 2019 Forecast: The Camel versus the Can


The straw that broke the camel's back
The straw that broke the camel's back

In forecasting the events of 2019, we're going to use two metaphors.

One is "the straw that breaks the camel's back." This commonly used metaphor suggests a scenario where someone is piling one straw after another onto a camel's back. You know with 100% certainty that the weight will eventually break the camel's back, but it's impossible to predict when. You won't know which straw breaks the camel's back until after it happens.

Putting that into analytical terms, if you have a long-term trend that gets worse and worse, then there's a new saying that applies: "If something can't go on forever, then it won't." At some point, the long-term trend ends with a growing or full-scale panic, resulting in a financial crash or a war.

The other metaphor is "kicking the can down the road," which means taking some action that postpones a problem, but makes the problem worse in the long run. If we stretch the camel metaphor a little farther, we can imagine adding protein to the hay we feed the camel, in order to strengthen the camel's back while we're piling on straw. It will take longer for the camel's back to break, but when it does, the poor camel will be almost destroyed. In analytical terms, this means that some action is taken to permit the long-term trend to continue for a while longer, albeit with even worse consequences when the panic finally occurs.

In each of the forecasts in the following sections, there is trend for something that's getting worse or more dangerous, because this is a generational Crisis era, because the survivors of World War II are almost completely gone. The trend may continue to worsen in 2019 with no major consequence, or there may be a full-scale panic leading to a financial crash or a war, or the international community may take steps to kick the can down the road.

If any one of these leads to a panic, then a panic may be triggered in the others, leading to a world war.

Separatist violence in India's Kashmir and Jammu

Kashmir and Jammu are the two provinces of colonial India that were the epicenter of the massive 1947 Partition War between Muslims and Hindus that followed the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Starting in the 1980s, Pakistan-supported separatist groups have been conducting terrorist attacks in the Indian-government portion of Kashmir.

The situation on the ground has worsened substantially in the last two years, in the terrorist attacks have become much more "organic," meaning that they're being perpetrated by young Muslims growing up in Kashmir, rather than by jihadists imported from Pakistan.

This is an archetypical example of how the generational cycle works. The 1947 Partition War was one of the bloodiest and move horrific wars of the entire century, and anyone who survived that war, whether Muslim or Hindu, would have vowed to spend their entire lives making sure that nothing like that happened again. And the survivors succeed, but eventually the survivors die off, and younger generations with such inhibitions come to power, and start a new horrific war, repeating the cycle.

In Kashmir, the trend line is that there is a growing number of young Muslims coming of age without the influence of survivors of the 1947 Partition war, and are attracted to the separatist movement. At the same time, there is a growing number of Hindu members of the Indian army and police coming of age. The young Muslims are willing to commit increasingly serious terrorist acts in their separatist cause, while the young Hindus are are willing to be increasingly violent with the separatists, in the vain hope of ending the separatist movement completely.

So there are two trend lines here, with both the young Muslims and the young Hindus becoming increasingly xenophobic and violent. Indian security forces try to kick the can down the road with a variety of techniques, such as spending money on social outreach to Muslims or such as implementing curfews. But these two trend lines cannot increase forever, and at some point the situation will spiral out of control into a larger war. That might happen in 2019.

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The Mideast - increasing ethnic and secular tensions

There are so many trend lines of increasing tension and violence in the Mideast, that it's almost impossible to count them, in Syria, between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and between Israelis and Palestinians. These trend lines were particularly exposed by the 67-day war in 2014 between Israel and Hamas. The increasing hostility behind these trend lines was further exposed on June 5, 2017, when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.

President Trump's recent announcement of a quick American troop withdrawal from Syria -- which has recently been modified to a "slow withdrawal" -- has further hardened these fault lines, as different factions compete to fill the vacuum in eastern Syria tha the US withdrawal will leave behind. There are three major sets of alliances among the Mideast countries:

From the point of view of Generation Dynamics, the Mideast is particularly difficult to analyze because of multiple generational timelines. The last crisis war climax for Saudi Arabia occurred in the 1920s, for Israel and the Palestinians in the late 1940s, for Syria and Lebanon in the early 1980s, and for Iraq and Iran in the late 1980s. Each of these timelines and their interactions has to be analyzed separately to get precise forecasts for the future of the Mideast.

The general Generational Dynamics forecast is that there will be a larger regional Mideast war that is coming with 100% certainty, pitting Arabs vs Jews, Sunnis vs Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. This will be part of the Clash of Civilizations world war, and nothing can be done to prevent it. It might begin in 2019. Jerusalem Post

Russia's existential threats to Ukraine

Russia is not an existential threat to America, but it is an existential threat to Ukraine.

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, Russia has conducted one act of war after another against Ukraine, including invading Crimea, annexing Crimea, building the Kerch Strait bridge and blockading the Sea of Azov and, most recently, seizing three Ukrainian ships in international waters, and abducting and torturing the 24 crew members. Ukraine has retaliated by implementing martial law and prohibiting Russian men aged 16-60 from entering Ukraine.

A dramatic development occurred late in 2018 when there was a historic split between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox Churches with the blessing of the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. This is a huge loss of prestige to Moscow, and the Russians are furious.

The trend lines are that Russia is perpetrating increasingly belligerent military actions targeting Ukraine, and Ukraine is desperately looking for ways to retaliate. Fears are growing that Russia is planning a new invasion of Ukraine in 2019.

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North Korea continues nuclear weapons development

2018 was a remarkable year of kicking the can down the road by means of a charm offensive, starting with North Korean participation in the Seoul Olympics.

But the "North Korea problem" has become objectively much worse than it was a year ago. The North Koreans have been continuing development of nuclear weapon and ballistic missile technology, with the one exception that they haven't been able to publicly test their new developments.

The charm offensive has also changed the border between North and South Korea. And the DMZ is being demilitarized, with military posts and land mines being removed along the border. Those were put there to prevent or slow an invasion by North Korea of Seoul in South Korea. North Korea has never repudiated its stated intention of unifying North and South Korea under military control by the North.

So the North Korean charm offensive has kicked the can down the road for a whole year, in that there have been no public tests of nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. But that could change in 2019, and North Korea has become considerably more dangerous in the last year.

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China continues to prepare for war

As I recently wrote in "30-Dec-18 World View -- Xi Jinping's speech on 'the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries'", China's government blames the world for 200 years of "humiliation of the Chinese nation." China is becoming increasingly nationalistic, xenophobic, and militaristic. Whether it's militarizing the South China Sea or developing and deploying new nuclear missile systems, China is preparing to launch an attack on the United States at a time of its choosing. It may choose 2019.

Preparations for a global pandemic

The rapidly spreading Ebola pandemic in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) caught a lot of people by surprise, and it will be continuing well into 2019.

On average, in one corner of the world or another, a new infectious disease has emerged every year for the past 30 years: Mers, Nipah, Hendra, swine flu, bird flu, and many more. Researchers estimate that birds and mammals harbor anywhere from 631,000 to 827,000 unknown viruses that could potentially leap into humans.

The international community, led by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have defined protocols and procedures to prevent outbreaks of new diseases from becoming pandemics. However, wars and mass migrations can defeat these protocols.

It was exactly a century ago, in 1918, that the Spanish flu pandemic began (though probably not in Spain). In two years, it killed as many as 100 million people, 5% of the world's population, and far more than the number who died in World War I. There could be a new pandemic in 2019. The Atlantic

Stock market bubble continues


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 19.60 on December 28, indicating a huge stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 19.60 on December 28, indicating a huge stock market bubble (WSJ)

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (December 28) was at an astronomically high 19.60 This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time.

The P/E ratio fell to the range of 5-6 three times in the last century, in 1919, 1949 and 1982, and it's overdue to do so again. When that happens, the DJIA will fall to around the 3000 range.

If we use 1929 as an example, there was an initial panic, then a partial recovery. John Kenneth Galbraith's 1954 book The Great Crash - 1929 described what happened next:

"A common feature of all these earlier troubles [previous panics] was that having happened they were over. The worst was reasonably recognizable as such. The singular feature of the great crash of 1929 was that the worst continued to worsen. What looked one day like the end proved on the next day to have been only the beginning. Nothing could have been more ingeniously designed to maximize the suffering, and also to insure that as few as possible escaped the common misfortune.

The fortunate speculator who had funds to answer the first margin call presently got another and equally urgent one, and if he met that there would still be another. In the end all the money he had was extracted from him and lost. The man with the smart money, who was safely out of the market when the first crash came, naturally went back in to pick up bargains. ... The bargains then suffered a ruinous fall. Even the man who waited out all of October and all of November, who saw the volume of trading return to normal and saw Wall Street become as placid as a produce market, and who then bought common stocks would see their value drop to a third or fourth of the purchase price in the next twenty-four months. ... The ruthlessness of [the stock market was] remarkable." (p. 108-109)

Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

I hear more and more analysts express concern about a "20-30% correction," with the expectation that once the correction reaches bottom, the stock market will recover to new highs. These analysts always advise people to "buy into the dips," which is what Galbraith was describing above.

With the P/E ratio so high, at some point there will be a full-scale panic, and the process described by Galbraith will happen again. It might happen in 2019.

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U.S. debt continues to become increasingly unsustainable

I used to worry about U.S. debt, but on this issue I've turned into Alfred E. Neuman. Does it really matter whether US debt is at $20 trillion, $30 trillion or $50 trillion? It's unsustainable either way.

The Trump administration is issuing $1.3 trillion in US government debt this year, more than twice the 2017 amount. This can't go on forever, and if something can't go on forever, then it won't. When the bond panic occurs, it will be a massive global financial disaster, and $20 trillion or $30 trillion won't make much difference. It will be a disaster either way.

Issuing more and more US debt depends on foreign buyers and investors willing to buy US debts. But in the last couple of months, demand for US debt, particularly 30 year Treasury bonds, has fallen to the lowest level in almost ten years. Will foreigners start buying US debt again, or could this be the start of a bond panic? What, me worry? Fiscal Times

The future of Generational Dynamics

The trend line for me is that because of my age I'm unable to get a job, and since my only income is social security, I'm going to run out of money in 2019, which will be the end of both me and Generational Dynamics. Job descriptions in the computer industry often mention pizza parties and exercise rooms as a way of telling people over 30 not to apply. What I need is for someone to hire me and pay me a regular salary as a journalist, or as an analyst, or as a Senior Software Engineer. Help would be appreciated. Dice.com and Resume

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Jan-19 World View -- Generational Dynamics 2019 Forecast: The Camel versus the Can thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Jan-2019) Permanent Link
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31-Dec-18 World View -- Burundi's president Nkurunziza says Rwanda is no longer a partner but an enemy

Fears grow of a new Hutu-Tutsi war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Burundi's president Nkurunziza says Rwanda is no longer a partner but an enemy


Pierre Nkurunziza and Paul Kagame (AFP)
Pierre Nkurunziza and Paul Kagame (AFP)

Centuries of tribal warfare between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in east Africa are once again threatening to return, as relations deteriorate between Burundi, which is led by Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza, and Rwanda, which is led by Tutsi president Paul Kagame.

Two weeks ago, Nkurunziza wrote a letter to Uganda's Tutsi president Yoweri Museveni, listing a series of accusations by Rwanda against Burundi, and asking for a meeting of the East African Community (EAC):

"It is, therefore, very urgent for the East African Community to focus on the real problem that is jeopardizing peace and security throughout Burundi.

It is Rwanda, a state party to the treaty establishing the East African Community, which is not at its first attempt to destabilize its neighbor, Burundi, in violation of the fundamental principles of the community. ...

In short, Rwanda is the only country in the region that is one of the main destabilisers of my country and, therefore, I no longer consider it a partner country, but simply as an enemy country."

Nkurunziza in particular is accusing Kagame of instigating an April 2015 coup attempt against Nkurunziza. The coup attempt was triggered when Nkurunziza refused to step down after announcing that he would seek a third term as president, which is not permitted under Burundi's constitution. His announcement triggered protests, and the police responded with bullets and teargas, killing ten people in four days of violence between youthful Tutsi protesters and police. Continued clashes killed hundreds of people. ( "30-Apr-15 World View -- 20,000 refugees flee violence in Burundi, fearing Hutu-Tutsi war")

Museveni is the current president of the EAC, which has six members: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. It was formed in 2000 to improve relations among the member nations, and particularly to prevent a repeat of something like the 1993-94 Hutu-Tutsi genocide in Burundi and Rwanda.

Museveni selected Tanzania's former president Benjamin Mkapa to evaluate Nkurunziza's accusations. Mkapa investigated and submitted a report that rejected Nkurunziza's accusations against Kigali, and recommended talks between Nkurunziza’s government and dissidents, including the alleged coup plotters.

Nkurunziza responded with a decree that no outsider should interfere in his country’s internal matters, and that any such interference "would be to overthrow this institution elected by the people [of Burundi]."

Museveni then responded to Nkurunziza that he was manipulating the EAC, and that "you use it when it suits you and discard it when it does not." The Nation (Kenya, 14-Dec) and News 24 (South Africa) and AP

Burundi orders the UN to close its human rights office in Burundi

A United Nations human rights report in September said that Burundi officials were committing crimes against humanity in 2017 and 2018.

"These crimes include murder, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and persecution on political grounds," according to the report. It's believed that the Hutu government of Pierre Nkurunziza is specifically targeting Tutsis for the crimes. Tens of thousands of refugees, mostly Tutsis, have fled and are staying in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

The BBC has confirmed the worst of the accusations in its own investigations. According to the BBC, Burundi's government was running secret detention houses to silence dissent. A video, widely shared on social media, showed blood flowing from the drain of a house in the capital city Bujumbura. An eyewitness said that the blood was from beheadings.

Early in December, Burundi ordered the United Nations Human Rights Council to leave the country. "All international staff must be redeployed immediately, and the Office has two months to pack its bags and close its doors permanently," according to the order.

In October 2017, judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation into crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015. Burundi officials reacted by withdrawing from the ICC. Burundi was the first ever country to leave the ICC. Reuters (5-Sep) and BBC and AFP (6-Dec) and Human Rights Watch (18-Jan)

Fears grow of a new Hutu-Tutsi war

The event overshadowing many countries in Africa, particularly in east Africa, is the 1994 Rwanda genocide, when ethnic Hutus slaughtered close to a million ethnic Tutsis in a period of about three months. The threat of a new Rwanda genocide has influenced policy in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Sudan, and in discussions outside of Africa.

Rwanda's president Paul Kagame said a year ago said that Nkurunziza's third term as president and his refusal to step down threatened a repeat of the 1994 genocide. “They should have learned the lesson of our history,” said Kagame.

Kagame's criticism is laughable because Kagame himself, as well as Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni, have all refused to step down after serving the maximum time permitted by the respective constitutions. This, of course, is similar to what we've seen in country after country in Africa.

However, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's way too soon for another full-scale Hutu-Tutsi genocide. There are too many survivors still alive who remember the incredible horrors of the last genocide, and they will prevent their children from letting things get out of hand. However, the resurgence of low-level and sporadic violence is occurring right on schedule in this generational Awakening era. Newsweek and Global Security

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Dec-18 World View -- Burundi's president Nkurunziza says Rwanda is no longer a partner but an enemy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Dec-18 World View -- Xi Jinping's speech on 'the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries'

China's history since the May Fourth Movement

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Xi Jinping's speech on 'the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries'


Xi Jinping gives his speech to the Great Hall of the People on December 18 (AP)
Xi Jinping gives his speech to the Great Hall of the People on December 18 (AP)

Last week on December 18, China's president Xi Jinping gave a solemn speech in the Great Hall of the People, marking the 40th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s policy of reform and openness.

In my opinion, the most important part of that speech was his goal of "wiping out the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries."

He made the same allusion in March of this year in a major speech to the National People's Congress -- a meeting where he made himself a dictator for life, and modified the consititution to incorporate "Xi's Thoughts" on "Socialism with China Characteristics (SWCC)."

In the March speech, he said "China has continuously striven for its dream of realizing great national rejuvenation for over 170 years," alluding to the Opium Wars of the 1840s. This is a theme I've seen frequently in Chinese statements -- that China would be a great nation today, if it hadn't been humiliated by the West, particularly Britain and Japan.

For the past few months, I've been deep into studying China's history, back to ancient times, but particularly focusing on the time since the 1840s Opium Wars. And there's a big puzzle about China that becomes starkly apparently when you compare China and Japan in the late 1800s.

Both China and Japan had generational crisis civil wars that climaxed in the 1860s (Taiping Rebellion and Meiji Restoration, respectively). Both countries were devastated by those crisis civil wars, and each had to reconstruct a shattered country. But those reconstructions proceeded in vastly different directions.

Japan embraced the West, including culture, government and technology, and by the early 1900s Japan was considered a "developed country" and even a "Western country," although the people became imbued with a militaristic attitude that resulted in disaster in World War II.

China did not embrace the West. China rejected the West (or at best had a love-hate relationship with the West), and even declared war on the West in the Boxer Rebellion. As a result, China had no idea what was going on in the world. The Chinese leaders were repeatedly "conned" by Japan and the West in World War I, and they never seemed to learn what was going on. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" is the old saying. But the Chinese were fooled over and over, and never seemed to learn anything. While Japan's government was highly competent and driven, China's government was totally incompetent, and stumbled from one disaster to another.

This created the "New Culture Movement" in the late 1910s, which was a rejection by young people of all of China's culture under previous governments, including Confucianism and the classical Chinese language. This created a vacuum that might have been filled by Western ideas, except that China was fooled and humiliated once again by Japan and the West in the Versailles Treaty of Paris, the agreement that ended World War I. The result was that a large segment of China's society began adopting anarchism, socialism and communism from Russia's Bolshevik Revolution, leading to the formation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the 1920s.

That triggered the May 4th movement (May 4, 1919), a massive anti-government protest by millions of students in Tiananmen Square, that the government brutally put down, but which turned the people into a driven population seeking revenge against Japan and the West.

(It's no coincidence that the May 4th movement was repeated exactly 70 years later, in May 1989, leading to the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. It's also going to be a big problem next year for the Chinese leadership that May 4 and June 4, 2019, will be anniversaries of the May 4th Movement and the Tiananmen Square massacre.)

The riddle about China is why the Chinese people are so naive and credulous. For three hundred years, from 1640 to 1912, they were governed by a small army of foreigners -- the Manchus -- that they could easily have overthrown at any time, but never bothered to do so. Then during the 1910s and World War I, their incompetent government was humiliated time after time by Japan, Britain, Russia and France. In World War II, the huge Chinese empire would have been defeated by the small island of Japan if the West, principally the Americans, hadn't saved China's butt.

After the war, the disasters continued under Mao Zedong, with the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and then, in 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre. Even today, under Xi Jinping, China's government (the CCP) seens like a child lost in the woods, with no idea how to deal with its own population except through brutality or how to deal with the other countries of the world, except through deception and military threats. China Daily and Xinhua and Diplomat (5-May-2015) and RadiiChina

China's history since the May Fourth Movement

Xi Jinping sees the May Fourth Movement (May 4, 1919) as a major turning point in China's history, and he lists three major outcomes in the last century of the May Fourth Movement:

I believe that we can reasonably assume that Xi would identify the fourth major outcome of the May 4th Movement as his own anointment as dictator for life and the incorporation of "Xi's Thoughts" in the constitution, in March of this year.

In terms of intent, Deng's "Reforms and Opening Up" are comparable to the kinds of actions that Japan took in the decades following the Meiji Restoration. So one might say that in 1978, China lagged a century behind Japan.

However, there is still a big difference. Japan is a democracy, while nobody would ever call China's government a democracy.

According to the minutes of the "Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee," meeting from December 18-22, 1978, where the reforms were presented, China must implement "socialist modernization":

"Socialist modernization requires centralized leadership and strict implementation of various rules and regulations and observance of labour discipline. Bourgeois factionalism and anarchism must be firmly opposed. But the correct concentration of ideas is possible only when there is full democracy. Since for a period in the past democratic centralism was not carried out in the true sense, centralism being divorced from democracy and there being too little democracy, it is necessary to lay particular emphasis on democracy at present, and on the dialectical relationship between democracy and centralism, so as to make the mass line the foundation of the Party's centralized leadership and the effective direction of the organizations of production. In ideological and political life among the ranks of the people, only democracy is permissible and not suppression or persecution. ... The constitutional rights of citizens must be resolutely protected and no one has the right to infringe upon them.

In order to safeguard people's democracy, it is imperative to strengthen the socialist legal system so that democracy is systematized and written into law in such a way as to ensure the stability, continuity and full authority of this democratic system and these laws; there must be laws for people to follow, these laws must be observed, their enforcement must be strict and law breakers must be dealt with. ... Procuratorial and judicial organizations must maintain their independence as is appropriate; they must faithfully abide by the laws, rules and regulations, serve the people's interests, keep to the facts; guarantee the equality of all people before the people's laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law."

There are two important concepts here: "socialist modernization" was necessary to open China to the world, and "democratic centralism" meant that the country was centrally controlled, but democratic in the sense there must be no suppression or persecution. Elsewhere, the same document says: "The Party members' right to make criticisms within the Party concerning the leadership at higher levels, up to Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, must be guaranteed and any practice that does not conform to the Party's democratic centralism and the principle of collective leadership should be resolutely corrected."

This is what was meant by Socialism with Chinese Characteristics at the time of Deng Xiaoping in 1978, but none of this is recognizable in today's China, where members of the CCP are clearly above the law, and anyone who criticizes the CCP can be thrown into jail.

When Xi Jinping listed the three major outcomes of the May Fourth Movement, he is probably leaving out the most important: the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square massacre.

In May 1989, exactly 70 years after the May 4th movement, millions of young Chinese students crowded into Beijing to demand greater democracy and less repression, exactly what Deng Xiaoping had called for. On June 4, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Thousands of students were killed, and tens of thousands were arrested.

That wasn't the only thing that happened around that time. On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was collapsed, and all the former Soviet republics became independent self-governing nations.

Arguably, the collapse of the Soviet Union was more traumatic to the CCP than even the Tiananmen Square massacre. Suddenly, the leadership of the CCP were staring death in the face, as they considered the fact something like that Tiananmen Square protests could force the Chinese Communist Party to collapse as well. Ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian communism had always been the role model for Chinese communism. If Russian communism could collapse, then so could Chinese communism.

In the 1990s, Socialism with Chinese Characteristics began to take on a whole new and far darker and more sinister meaning. The CCP leadership became increasingly paranoid, and began seeing ghosts. Centralism was still in play, but democratic centralism was gone. The "right to make criticisms" was gone, and any criticism of the CCP leadership could lead to torture, rape and jailing.

Religious persecution surged. The Buddhism-based Falun Gong movement was and is particularly targeted, after millions of people became practioners of their form of meditation. The CCP has increasingly cracked down on Christianity and even Daoism, for fear their practice could lead to overthrow of the CCP. Beijing Review (26-May-2009) and Economist and China Global Television Network and South China Morning Post

Xi Jinping's 'China Dream': revenge for centuries of humiliation

Deng Xiaoping's reforms are almost completely unrecognizable in today's CCP, led by Xi Jinping. Consider Deng's "24-Character Strategy" (24 Chinese characters):

"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."

Xi Jinping is certainly not following Deng's advice. China today is belligerent, boastful, and militarily threatening to anyone who does not do as China demands. It's the opposite of Deng's advice.

The May 4th Movement led immediately to two disastrous Chinese leaders -- Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Zedong -- and to China's bloody civil war (the Communist Revolution) and then to disastrous domestic policies, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

Today, China is led by the CCP and Xi Jinping, and the government is insanity on steroids, and is completely delusional and out of touch with reality. There are a couple of examples I like to point to.

One is the fear of Winnie the Pooh, who looks like Xi Jinping. This is actually a real fear, because the deeply paranoid CCP leaders are actually afraid that Winnie the Pooh can be used as a symbol for an internal revolt to overthrow the CCP. Can you imagine Donald Trump or any other national leader being afraid of Winnie the Pooh or some other cartoon character? But that's the state of insanity of China's CCP government.

Another example is the policy of locking up a million Muslim Uighurs in reeducation camps in Xinjiang province. This has got to be the stupidest policy in the history of any country in the world. One would have to be insane to believe that this policy would work to convert the Muslim Uighurs into compliant Han Chinese.

Xi Jinping's own father, Xi Zhongxun, was dragged by Red Guards in front in front of a mob, and jailed in what might be called a "reeducation center" during the time of the Cultural Revolution. In his recent speech, Xi Jinping says that the Cultural Revolution was a "mistake," but that doesn't stop him from the insane policy of doing to a million Uighurs what was done to his own father.

Those are domestic policies. Foreign policies are equally delusional, and are characterized by deception and simple lying. I've studied China's historic claims to the South China Sea, and they're completely nonexistent. China's claims are a complete hoax. When Hitler illegally annexed Sudentenland, he could at least claim that he was protecting ethnic Germans. But there are no ethnic Chinese in the South China Sea. China's claims are a hoax.

In 2015, Xi told Barack Obama that China would not militarize the South China Sea. Today, the South China Sea is bristling with Chinese military bases and weapons. Xi's statement was a complete lie, just like Hitler's promise of "peace in our time."

At first, China pitched the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an exciting new version of the ancient Silk Road that connected China to Europe. However, it's increasingly seen as a policy of building infrastructure in other countries for the purpose of allowing China to exploit each country's natural resources. The Chinese "debt trap diplomacy" model is to send in thousands of Chinese workers, lend money to the government and demand that they use the money to pay the salaries of the Chinese workers, who then use the money to send to their families back home or to purchase Chinese products within their enclave. The country cannot afford to pay back the loan, and the Chinese workers stay there forever.

One can see the elements of revenge in these policies. Xi Jinping and the Chinese blame the world for "the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries," and now are adopting policies to exploit and humiliate the other countries of the world.

This brings us back to understanding how incompetent China is to governing itself. When the Manchus governed China, there was some sanity. Today, Xi Jinping and the CCP have no clue how to govern their own country or how to navigate in the world. Today, the meek, naive, credulous Chinese people are being governed by another monstrous authoritarian government, led by an incompetent leader Xi Jinping, who has adopted one insane policy after another, with no idea what to do next.

The most insane policy of all is its preparation for war. China has developed one nuclear ballistic weapons system after another with no purpose except to attack American cities, American bases, and American aircraft carriers. China has nothing to offer the world except that it has become an aggressive, imperial, militaristic nation that will launch a war that it will lose, but not before it's brought catastrophe to itself and the entire world. Financial Times and American Thinker

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Dec-18 World View -- Xi Jinping's speech on 'the humiliation of the Chinese nation for centuries' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Dec-18 World View -- DR Congo in election chaos, as Ebola continues to spread

DRC anti-government protesters attack Ebola clinic in Beni

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DR Congo in election chaos, as Ebola continues to spread


Leading opposition DRC candidate Martin Fayulu - campaign poster showing him buttoning or unbuttoning (I can't tell which) his shirt cuffs (Al-Jazeera)
Leading opposition DRC candidate Martin Fayulu - campaign poster showing him buttoning or unbuttoning (I can't tell which) his shirt cuffs (Al-Jazeera)

There was supposed to be a presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday, December 23, but it got postponed. The current president, Joseph Kabila, was supposed to step down in December 2016, but he refused to step down and postponed the presidential election for a year. Then, in December 2017, he refused again to step down, and postponed the presidential election for a year, until December 23 of last week.

Kabila himself will not be running, since the constitution limits him to the two terms he's already served. Instead, he has a hand-picked successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary. Many people believe that if Shadary wins, then he will just be a puppet with Kabila as the puppetmaster.

So Joseph Kabila's election commission (CENI) postponed the December 23 election for a week, until December 30. The reason given is that there weren't enough voting machines.

This week, there are new tactics. Kabila's election commission said that the election will still be held on Sunday, but will be delayed until March in three cities -- Beni, Butembo and Yumbi. The reasons given for Beni and Butembo are that there are Ebola outbreaks in those cities, and that voting would be "dangerous." However, voting has not been delayed in other cities with Ebola outbreaks.

The reason given for Yumbi is that there's violence in Yumbi. Of course there's violence in many DRC cities.

But what's special about these three cities -- Beni, Butembo and Yumbi -- is that all three cities are strongholds for anti-Kabila opposition. Voting will continue as usual in other cities where there is Ebola or violence. So there are 1.2 million votes in these three cities, and there are 40 million registered voters in all of DRC. So Kabila has disenfranchise over a million opposition supporters.

On Friday, Kabila's election commission had some further news. About 20% of the polling stations in the capital city Kinshasa will not be open because of lack of voting machines. There's no word on whether those polling stations will all be in opposition strongholds of Kinshasa. However, the election commission says that voters will be directed to other polling stations in the city.

Kabila cannot afford to simply step down, thanks to rampant, massive corruption. Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise. With tentacles reaching into so many businesses, it's not surprising that Kabila is willing to use any method -- massacres, atrocities, jailings, torture -- to stay in power. If he were out of power, he and his family and friends might well be jailed or executed.

DRC's foreign ministry has unexpectedly announced the expulsion of European Union ambassador Bart Ouvry, saying he has 48 hours to leave in retaliation for the EU's decision to renew sanctions against DRC officials, including Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is Kabila's hand-picked successor. As Minister of the Interior and Security, Shadary was first sanctioned in 2017 for arrests and violent suppression of Kabila's political opposition. AP and Al Jazeera and Reuters and Africa News

DRC anti-government protesters attack Ebola clinic in Beni

Protesters angry with the postponement of Sunday's presidential election in Beni attacked an Ebola clinic in that city on Thursday. During the attack, shots were fired, some tents were burnt down and tables and chairs were stolen. About 21 people fled the clinic though most returned after that attack ended.

This attack is emblematic of the problems that the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are having in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces of DRC, where the current outbreak of Ebola continues to spread.

As of December 26, a total of 591 Ebola cases, including 543 confirmed and 48 probable cases, have been reported in the two neighboring provinces of North Kivu and Ituri. Of these cases, 54 were healthcare workers, of which 18 died. Overall, 357 cases have died (case fatality ratio 60%).

WHO health officials might have already ended the Ebola outbreak, but they are being prevented from doing their work by the civil war in progress, and now by the demonstrators protesting the cancellation of elections in Beni and Butembo.

In particular, the teams in Beni are unable to carry out critical field work, including vaccinations, contact tracing, and following up on alerts of potential new cases.

WHO is concerned that if there is a period of prolonged insecurity, then there will be increased transmission of Ebola. Fortunately, many people in the local communities, including the local health authorities, are helping the WHO workers. World Health Organization and BBC and World Health Organization and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Dec-18 World View -- DR Congo in election chaos, as Ebola continues to spread thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Dec-18 World View -- UAE reopens embassy in Syria to counter influence from Iran

Arabs scramble to regain influence in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UAE reopens embassy in Syria to counter influence from Iran


The UAE embassy in Damascus Syria on Thursday (AP)
The UAE embassy in Damascus Syria on Thursday (AP)

In a dramatic turnaround, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it is restoring diplomatic relations with Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria, and reopening its embassy in Syria's capital city Damascus. On Thursday afternoon, the UAE’s chargé d’affaires Abdul Hakim Naimi visited the Damascus embassy and watched the flag being raised again.

UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the UAE hopes to contribute to a political solution to the war:

"[The reopening of the embassy] reaffirms the keenness of the UAE to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.

It will strengthen and activate the Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian Arab affairs."

The "regional interference" being referenced is thought to be interference from Turkey, Iran and Hezbollah.

It may already be too late to "prevent the dangers of regional interference" from Iran and Hezbollah. In the past seven years, Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, have brought about then genocide and ethnic cleansing of vast portions of the Syria's Sunni Arab population, and is repopulating the cleansed areas with Shia Muslims families from Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah. ( "1-Dec-18 World View -- Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria")

Al-Assad's Shia/Alawite Syrian army has always fought the civil war half-heartedly, with crippling defections and desertions. The army almost collapsed in 2015, until al-Assad begged for help and was saved by the massive intervention by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. That massive intervention continues until the present time, in the form of the "regional interference" that UAE's foreign ministry was referring to. So that's why preventing "the dangers of regional interference" may no longer be possible. The National (UAE) and Reuter and AP and The National (UAE)

Arabs scramble to regain influence in Syria

Al-Assad's massive attacks on the Sunni Arabs had several major consequences. One was that Syria was expelled from the Arab League, something that may now be reversed, beginning with the restoration of diplomatic relations by UAE.

Officials from some Arab countries are now expressing regret that Syria was expelled from the Arab League, since it meant a complete loss of influence by the other Arab League members. But these crocodile tears ignore the reality of what was going on in 2011.

By August of 2011, it was becoming clear that al-Assad was conducting genocidal and ethnic cleansing attacks on Sunni Arabs, and this was shocking and repulsive to the other Arab states. Arab nations stayed silent for several months, hoping that the carnage would end, but finally they broke their silence in August, after the Syrian army first attacked Homa and then began attacking the city of Deir Ezzor. The technique being used in each of these cities is that tanks first surround the city to prevent anyone from fleeing and then, once the city is sealed, the tanks start flattening residential neighborhoods and the snipers kill anyone on the street, even children. This is a classic ethnic cleansing technique.

Al-Assad's actions were so shocking that finally the Arab League Secretary-General issued a statement strongly condemning al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE recalled their ambassadors to Syria.

Al-Assad's ethnic cleansing continued to worsen as he attacked the El-Ramel Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia killing many women and children and shocking the entire Sunni Muslim world. By mid-November, the Arab League suspended Syria -- the first such suspension since it expelled Egypt in 1979 for signing a peace treaty with Israel. To claim today that Syria should never have been expelled completely ignores the fury and chaos at the time.

The attack on the Latakia refugee camp also led to the creation of ISIS. Al-Assad's attacks drew tens of thousands of young Sunni jihadists from over 80 countries to Syria to fight al-Assad, and by 2014 they had formed the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS or ISIL), and took control of a large region of eastern Syria, with the headquarters of its Caliphate in the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, with a population over 300,000. It took a joint operation by American forces leading the Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) to recapture al-Raqqa.

With the recent announcement by President Trump that American troops will be withdrawn from Syria, UAE's decision to restore relations with Syria takes on a much greater significance and urgency than before. The American withdrawal will create a vacuum in the huge eastern part of Syria, and that region will might now be taken over by Iran and Hezbollah.

It's also increasing calls across the Arab world to re-admit Syria into the Arab League. With millions of Sunni Arabs slaughtered or expelled from Syria, and their homes replaced by Shia Muslim families from Iran, it now seems likely that Iran will have a great deal of influence in Syria.

The war in Syria is far from over. With American troops withdrawing, Turkey has promised to invade Syria and attack the Kurdish SDF, which might bring Turkish troops into conflict with Syrian troops.

Even worse, Idlib province in northwest Syria is currently hosting over three million Sunni Arabs. Al-Assad has vowed to regain control of Idlib, which would amount to genocide and ethnic cleansing of the three million Sunni Arabs currently living there. Idlib is a "de-escalation zone," with Turkey responsible for maintaining the ceasefire. An attack by al-Assad could lead to a full war between Syria and Turkey. Also, it could create a new humanitarian disaster, with millions of Sunni Arabs pouring across the border into Turkey, and from there into Europe, bringing back the days of 2015. The National (UAE) and Sky News and Press TV (Iran) and The National (UAE) and Al Jazeera

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27-Dec-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's oil output plummets as refugee outflow surges

UN prepares Venezuelan refugee crisis, the largest in modern Latin American history

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Socialist Venezuela's oil output continues to crash -- except for China joint venture


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

Venezuela's economy desperately needs to be able to sell oil in order to survive. But Venezuela's Socialist presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro have done what many might consider to be an almost impossible feat -- turned the country with the largest oil reserves in the world into a country that can't produce oil. When you see something like this, it's almost impossible to believe it happened, but this is always what happens with Socialism. Other "Socialist paradise" countries, including China, Russia, East Germany, Cuba and Sweden, have partially or completely turned to free markets as their economies spiraled into disaster, but only two countries in the world haven't -- Venezuela and North Korea. And both are economic disasters as a result.

In Venezuela, Maduro has fulfilled his Socialist dreams by turning the country's nationalized oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) over to army generals and other political cronies to run, lest some dirty capitalist make a profit on Venezuela's oil. Well, Maduro has made sure that nobody is making money on Venezuela's oil, including Venezuela.

Oil accounts for about 98% of Venezuela's export revenue, and in November 2017, Maduro put Major General Manuel Quevedo in charge of PDVSA, in the hope of stopping its collapse.

Quevedo is a Maduro crony but knows nothing about the oil industry. In July, Quevedo joined his wife, a Catholic priest and a gathering of oil workers in prayer to ask God to boost oil output. Prayer is a great management technique, but unfortunately, God wasn't listening this time. The collapse has continued, and production has dropped 20% since Quevedo took over, and is now at the lowest level in nearly 70 years.

And now there are reports that Maduro is thinking of firing Quevedo and replacing him with another army general who has no oil industry expertise. Ironically, Quevedo is scheduled in January to assume the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for one year.

There is one subsidiary of PDVSA that that has increased oil production this year. Sinovensa is jointly owned by PDVSA and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), and it accounts for about 10% of Venezuela's oil output.

China has lent over $50 billion to Venezuela through oil-for-loan agreements over the past decade. China has not been producing enough oil to make the debt repayments, and so earlier this year China took over additional control of Sinovensa, and now owns 49% of the joint venture. The result is that oil production from Sinovensa increased 46% since April. Reuters and S&P Global and Hellenic Shipping and OilPrice.com

UN prepares Venezuelan refugee crisis, the largest in modern Latin American history

The problem of refugees fleeing from Venezuela into neighboring countries has become so massive that the United Nations refugee agency has created a Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) involving 95 organizations in 16 countries to respond to the humanitarian needs of the refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

Almost 3.3 million Venezuelans have fled into neighboring countries and beyond. This exodus is already the largest in the modern history of Latin America and the Caribbean and involves both refugees and migrants from Venezuela. UNHCR expects that another two million Venezuelans will flee in 2019, with the result that about 5.4 million Venezuelans, or 17% of the country's total population, will be living abroad by the end of 2019.

The RMRP organizations are also asking for $738 million in financing in hopes of providing assistance to 2.2 million Venezuelans and 500,000 people in the host communities. The United States has earmarked more than $95 million in aid to Colombia, Brazil and other host nations to deal with the Venezuelan crisis since fiscal year 2017.

It's interesting to compare Venezuela and North Korea, the only two major Socialist countries left in the world. Both have devastated economies and enormous poverty. Both of them are supported by Russia and China. Both are international pariahs. There are some differences. Unlike North Korea, Venezuela doesn't have nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and people are permitted to leave the country without getting shot to death. Miami Herald and UNHCR and Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP, PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Dec-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela's oil output plummets as refugee outflow surges thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Dec-18 World View -- Sudan police crack down violently against anti-government protesters

Recent generational history of Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sudan police crack down violently against anti-government protesters


Anti-government protesters in Atbara, Sudan, on 20-Dec wave their hands at security forces (Sudan Tribune)
Anti-government protesters in Atbara, Sudan, on 20-Dec wave their hands at security forces (Sudan Tribune)

As of Monday, at least 37 people have been killed by Sudan's security forces attempting to quash anti-government protests that began in the suburbs on Wednesday of last week, and spread to the capital city Khartoum. Security forces have been shooting live fire and teargas into crowds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators.

On Tuesday, police fired into the air, used teargas and hit demonstrators with batons to disperse them as they marched to the presidential palace to demand that Omar al-Bashir, who has been president of Sudan for 29 years, step down. Four members of the Central Doctors Committee, including a doctor, surgeon and medical student -- were shot by snipers Tuesday and were recovering in the hospital.

The protests began last Wednesday, initially over rising prices and shortages of food and fuel, but later escalated into calls for al-Bashir to step down. As we've seen in one African country after another, the leader who has been in power for decades refuses to step down and uses the army and security forces to bash, arrest, torture and kill anyone who opposes him. There's nothing new here.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Darfur conflict in western Sudan.

Sudan's last generational crisis war was World War II, and so it's deep into a generational Crisis era. The current widespread protests could possible spiral into a full conflict.

Sudan is a country of more than 40 million people, and is a special case in one sense. It depends on oil revenue, and when South Sudan broke off and became independent in 2011, Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil revenue. CNN and Amnesty International and AFP and Sudan Tribune and Still Sudan blog

Recent generational history of Sudan

Sudan's name in Arabic means "land of the blacks," which gives an idea of the Arab view of the nature of Sudan.

For the purposes of Generational Dynamics, it's easiest to view Sudan as three separate regions, on three separate generational timelines:

The Darfur conflict began in the 1970s as minor land disagreements between farmers and camel herders. Droughts in the 1980s exacerbated the tensions, causing low-level violence. In the 1990s, the Khartoum government armed the Arab herders as the Janjaweed militias, authorizing them to police the Darfur region.

In 2003, the Darfur conflict grew into a full-fledged generational crisis war. In 2007, the United Nations Security Council authorized a large international peacekeeping force in Darfur called UNAMID, but in the last year has been reducing the size of UNAMID, even though hostilities are still occurring in parts of Darfur. Sudan Tribune (12-Nov) and Mideast Forum (March 2001)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Dec-18 World View -- Sudan police crack down violently against anti-government protesters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Dec-18 World View -- Christmas in Bethlehem is the biggest in years

DJIA falls 650 points on Monday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Christmas in Bethlehem is the biggest in years


Christmas eve celebrations at Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Monday (AFP)
Christmas eve celebrations at Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Monday (AFP)

It's Christmas in Bethlehem today (Tuesday). Bethlehem is unique in that it celebrates Christmas three times each year:

About 50% of the Palestinian Arab Christian community across Israel and the Palestinian territories belong to the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, and celebrate Christmas on January 7.

Pilgrims from around the world come to the West Bank city of Bethlemen each year to celebrate Christmas at the Church of the Nativity, venerated as the site of Jesus Christ's birth. In past years, tourists have stayed away because of tensions and violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Last year, tensions were high because of repeated violence around the al-Aqsa Mosque / Temple Mount compound, and then again when President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

However, this has been a relatively quiet year in the West Bank, and so this has been a record setting year in terms of tourism. Some three million tourists have visited Bethlehem this year, and the city's hotels hosted an "astounding" 10,000 tourist overnight on Christmas eve. AFP and AP

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DJIA falls 650 points on Monday

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 652.83 points on Monday, and other Wall Street indexes fell proportionally. CNBC described the market decline as "very orderly."

If the decline continues and becomes "disorderly," then that will be an actual stock market panic. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio is around 20, and has been above 20 for years. The historic average is 14, which means that the stock market is in a huge bubble, and something will trigger a total panic and implosion. The P/E ratio fell to the 5-6 range three times in the last century, the last time in 1982, and when it does, the DJIA will fall to around 3000.

There's been a lot of nonsense on television about President Trump blaming the Fed for a stock market crash. Blaming the Fed does no harm, but it does no good either. It's irrelevant.

There was a similar stock market bubble in 1929. It's been 89 years since the 1929 panic, and to this day nobody knows what triggered it, and why it happened on August 28 rather than a few months earlier or later. The same will be true when the new panic occurs this time. I hope Trump understands that he who lives by the stock market dies by the stock market. Market Watch and Bloomberg

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24-Dec-18 World View -- Generational Dynamics analysis of the troop withdrawal from Syria

The future of Generational Dynamics

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Donald Trump's announcement of troop withdrawal signals end of 'War on Terror'


James Mattis and Donald Trump (Reuters)
James Mattis and Donald Trump (Reuters)

President Donald Trump's announcements of troop withdrawal from Syria and partial troop withdrawal from Afghanistan signal a major policy change, in that it signals the end of the "War on Terror" that began on 9/11/2001.

The announcement is being widely ridiculed by the mainstream press and politicians, most of whom probably couldn't find Syria on a map if they had to.

Much of the ridicule followed from the letter of resignation from Defense Secretary James Mattis, following Trump's announcement:

"My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position."

Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, also resigned. Typical remarks from the mainstream media are that the Trump White House is now in a downward spiral because Mattis was "the only adult in the room."

With this major change of policy occurring right at the end of 2018, an end-of-the-year look at events is in order. As the end of the year approaches, this is a good time for a thorough review of many Generational Dynamics principles and to see how these principles apply to an in-depth analysis of the announced troop withdrawal from Syria. Military Times and Fox News

Generational Dynamics analysis of the troop withdrawal from Syria

In the last two years, I've seen and heard one hysterical condemnation of president Trump's policies after another in the mainstream media, mostly from so-called "experts" who have no clue what's going on in the world. These people have been wrong almost every time, but that never stops them.

On the other hand, I've written thousands of generational analyses in the last 15 years, and they've all turned out to be true or are trending true. None has turned out to be wrong.

The withdrawal from Syria signals a major change in policy that has completely baffled the mainstream "experts." So these people have been repeatedly wrong time after time for two years, and I've been repeatedly right for two years, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to be right again, and they're going to be wrong again. So, Dear Reader, believe whom you wish.

In the last two years, I've pointed out many times that Trump's policies make perfect sense when viewed from the point of view of Generational Dynamics. Trump himself is familiar with Generational Dynamics analyses, because he was educated about them by his former chief strategist and advisor Steve Bannon, with whom I worked off and on for several years. And, once again, despite the fact that the mainstream "experts" are totally baffled, Trump's policies in Syria make perfect sense from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

Actually, this one is pretty easy. The Generational Dynamics prediction has always been that we're headed for a "Clash of Civilizations world war." The "allies" will be the United States, India, Russia and Iran, while the "axis" will be China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries.

I've written about the reasons for this hundreds of times, and the summary behind the reasoning is as follows: China is very closely allied with Pakistan, which is very closely allied with the Sunni states. 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. Connecting the dots, the US is going to be allied with India, Russia and Iran, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim states. If that seems surprising, remember that Russia was our bitter enemy before WW II, was our ally during WW II, and was our bitter enemy after WW II, so you can't judge from today's political alignments how nations will act when they're facing an existential crisis in the form of a generational crisis war.

So that's the Generational Dynamics prediction, and we assume that Trump is aware of it and believes it, as he should. Now we take note of the of the following:

So if you're baffled by Trump's withdrawal policy, just read the above list. When you look at that list, it makes perfect sense to withdraw some resources from Syria and Afghanistan, in order to allocate them to the approaching war with China. It makes perfect sense to prepare for the coming preemptive attack by China on the United States. Keeping troops in Syria does not do that.

So why did Mattis and McGurk leave? I don't know for sure, of course, but I assume that Mattis and McGurk don't believe that we're headed for a war with China. They're wrong. I assume that many people reading this article don't believe that we're headed for a war with China. You're wrong. If Mattis and McGurk want to focus a lot of resources in Syria, then they're "fighting the last war." If Mattis and McGurk are unwilling to face what's going on in the world with China, with startling events unfolding in China almost every day, then Mattis and McGurk should go.

On Sunday morning I listened to the news shows, and heard one "expert" after another talk about "chaos," "Trump out of control," "Trump is crazy," "the wheels are coming off," "Trump should be impeached," and so on. I would be concerned, except that it's no different from what I've heard every Sunday for two years, except that the screams today are perhaps a bit louder and a bit more hysterical and high-pitched.

I have a theory. I think that most people are viscerally aware that we're headed for war with China, and they can't stand to think about it, so they become hysterical and displace their hysteria from China to Trump. There was a similar level of hysteria in the late 1930s directed at Franklin Roosevelt, as the war in Europe against Nazi Germany approached. The best example was Neville Chamberlain's promise of "Peace in our time." Washington Post

The future of ISIS and the Kurds

The big picture is that it makes sense to withdraw forces from Syria in order to prepare for an inevitable war with China. But many people believe that we have a moral obligation to protect the Kurds and to continue to fight ISIS. (Many other people claim that we never had any business being in Syria in the first place.)

An argument that I heard several times in the mainstream media is: "Trump says ISIS is defeated and he's wrong. ISIS is still in Syria, in Egypt, in Nigeria, in Yemen, in Afghanistan, and so forth. ISIS is spreading around the world, and is nowhere near being defeated."

This argument was put forth by several "experts" -- college professors, book authors, diplomats, etc. And yet, this argument is so dumb that it serves as a good example of brainless idiocy we're seeing as common fare today.

Let's take Egypt for example. Has ISIS really spread to Egypt? The jihadist group in Egypt was originally the al-Qaeda linked Bedouin-based Sinai terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM). In 2015 it changed its name to al-Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) and changed its allegiance to ISIS. This was a change for public relations reasons, and nothing else. It allows ABM to be associated with an up-and-coming brand name, and it allows Amaq, the ISIS public relations agency, to put out press releases about the group. But it's exactly the same group. Being aligned with ISIS or aligned with al-Qaeda is completely irrelevant. Now that ISIS is on the run, ABM may change their allegiance back to al-Qaeda, though they'll look like complete fools if they do. The point is that fighting ISIS in Syria has nothing to do with fighting ABM in Egypt. The two are completely unrelated except for a public relations link.

This is really basic, obvious stuff, that any so-called "expert" should understand before calling himself an "expert." Instead, these "experts" have no clue what's going on, probably couldn't pick out Syria on map if they had to, are wrong time after time, and yet continue to say one really dumb thing after another. It reminds me of 2007, when a survey by Congressional Quarterly and the London Times revealed that so-called "experts" at the time didn't even know whether al-Qaeda was a Shia or Sunni group. ( "Guess what? British politicians and journalists are just as ignorant as Americans (14-Jan-2007)") All of this goes well beyond ideology. It's sheer ignorance and stupidity, by people who babble endlessly with no idea what they're saying.

So what about ISIS in Syria? Is ISIS defeated there, as Trump claimed? ISIS mainly consists of jihadists who came to Syria to fight against Bashar al-Assad after he began genocidal attacks and ethnic cleansing targeting Arab Sunnis, particularly after his massive attack on innocent women and children in a Palestinian refugee camp near Latakia. ( "1-Dec-18 World View -- Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria")

In November 2016, the US announced a joint operation with the Kurdish led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) to recapture al-Raqqa, the ISIS "capital city" and "Caliphate," and a city of over 300,000 people, from ISIS. ( "7-Nov-16 World View -- US-backed Kurdish militias in Syria make surprise announcement of Raqqa operation")

That was the commitment that President Obama made, and President Trump followed through on that commitment. There was no commitment to fight ISIS forever, and there was no commitment to protect the Kurds forever. The Kurds are better off today than they were when the joint operation began, and ISIS has been ejected from al-Raqqa, and has been reduced to just one of many local jihadist groups in the world. America's commitment has been met.

I discussed some of these issues in yesterday's article on al-Shabaab in Somalia. America has been fighting the "war on terror" since 9/11/2001, and by one estimate, America is still conducting counterterror operations in 76 countries. And yet, after 17 years, the war on terror has been increasingly a failure. As I've written many times, the current violence in the Arab/Muslim world can be dated to three epochal events that occurred in 1979. These were Iran's Islamic Revolution, the Salafist attack on Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. These three events led to the growth of modern terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks, and there is absolutely nothing that the US can do to stop this, certainly not with US special forces.

Here we have one more example of so-called Mideast "experts" having absolutely no clue what's going on. They have no idea what happened in 1979, they go on tv and make one dumb statement after another, they always turn out to be wrong, but it goes on anyway. That's the world we live in.

One particularly laughable "expert" interview occurred on Sunday on the BBC World Service. The politician made every possible criticism of Trump and the Syria decision that he could think of. The interview lasted about four minutes, and at different times he said that Trump would be turning northeast Syria over to a reconstituted ISIS, and then to Iran, and then to Russia, and then to Turkey, and also to al-Assad. Oh really? Which one is it? And if there's a war among all these groups, does we really want the American military to be involved in it? On whose side? There's a war coming, no matter what we do.

The point is that terrorism will not be stopped, and is the precursor to a larger regional Mideast war that is coming with 100% certainty, pitting Arabs vs Jews, Sunnis vs Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. This will be part of the Clash of Civilizations world war, and nothing can be done to prevent it.

America's joint operation with the SDF to eject ISIS from al-Raqqa was a benefit to America, to Europe, the Kurds, and the world. But it's over now. America is in no position to fight ISIS forever, or to protect the Kurds forever, and troop withdrawal from Syria was going to happen sometime. Business Insider

The future of Afghanistan

In addition to a troop withdrawal from Syria, President Trump announced that 7,000 of the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan would be brought home.

Ever since President Obama announced the troop surge into Afghanistan in 2009, I've written repeatedly that the Taliban cannot be defeated. This is an outcome of the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan and, more importantly, the extremely bloody Afghan civil war from 1991-96. This is yet another example of something that the mainstream so-called "experts" are completely oblivious to, and yet these are the crucial events to understanding what's going on today.

The events of the last ten years have shown that this war cannot be won, and the situation is actually getting worse each year. Earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the incoming head of the US Central Command, testified that the Afghanistan war is unsustainable.

Reducing the number of American troops in Afghanistan does not end our commitment to Afghanistan, which is to aid in the training of Afghan soldiers to defend themselves. It does mean that the Taliban have fewer American targets to kill, which is probably a good thing.

In the past, I've speculated that a part of President Trump's strategy is that, as war with China and Pakistan approaches, 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. If this is the strategy, then removing 7,000 troops will probably not affect it. Fox News

The future of Generational Dynamics

At my age, I'm unable to get employment as a journalist, analyst, or a senior software engineer, because no one wants to hire an older person. (Actually, age discrimination in the computer industry is so great that no one over age 45 or so can get a job anymore.) This means that my only income source is social security, and I'm going to run out of money in a few months, which will be the end of BOTH me and Generational Dynamics. I've done this work for years as a public service, but now that has to end. If you think that this work has been valuable, then any help that anyone can provide to resolve this situation would be greatly appreciated. Resume

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23-Dec-18 World View -- Al-Shabaab double bombing kills 16 people in Mogadishu, Somalia

Somalia's 'Black Hawk Down' event affects US policy today

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Shabaab double bombing kills 16 people in Mogadishu, Somalia


Site of Mogadishu bombing on Saturday (AP)
Site of Mogadishu bombing on Saturday (AP)

A massive car bomb detonated at a military checkpoint near Somalia's presidential palace in the capital city Mogadishu on Saturday, followed by a smaller explosion nearby. At least 16 people were killed, and dozens injured. The bombings appeared to target people heading to work.

Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda linked terror group, took responsibility for the attacks. One of those killed was prominent journalist Awil Dahir Salad.

The attack comes a week after six airstrikes from US warplanes killed 62 al-Shabaab militants, according to the US military.

The US has a huge military base in neighboring Djibouti, from which the US has launched 40 air strikes so far this year, compared to 35 in 2017. It's estimated that at least 400 people have been killed in air strikes since the beginning of 2017, far more than the previous 10 years combined.

US airstrikes have forced al-Shabaab to change its tactics. Instead of targeting Somali government with mass attacks and assassinations, which expose its fighters to airstrikes, they've instead increase urban guerrilla warfare of terrorist bombings.

Al-Shabaab (AS) is an indigenous jihadist terror group which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. There is a separate jihadist group in Puntland (northern Somalia) affiliated with ISIS called "IS Somalia" or ISS (Abnaa ul-Calipha). However, ISS has had nowhere near the success in blowing people up that AS has had.

Both groups have been increasingly demanding that businesses pay them taxes, in exchange for "protection" from bombings and terror attacks. Thus, both AS and ISS are increasingly acting more and more like Mafia criminals, rather than pious jihadists. AP and Reuters and BBC and Hiraal Institute

Somalia's 'Black Hawk Down' event affects US policy today

In 1988, a full-scale generational crisis civil war began in Somalia which, combined with a growing famine, was killing tens of thousands of people. In the final days of his presidency, George H.W. Bush committed ordered more than 20,000 troops into Somalia to calm the situation and to “save thousands of innocents from death.”

As always happens in a generational crisis war, the situation deteriorated, and in October 1993, elite American troops launched a disastrous raid in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Two American Black Hawk helicopters were shot down using rocket-propelled grenades. Some of the survivors were rescued, but two pilots were attacked by a mob of thousands of Somalis who hacked them to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies. The result was a 15-hour battle that killed hundreds of Somalis, as well as about 18 Americans and two UN soldiers.

The "Black Hawk Down" incident, which was later made into a movie, was the climax of the Battle of Mogadishu and also the climax of Somalia's civil war. Black Hawk Down shocked the American public, and caused the US under Bill Clinton to withdraw its forces from Somalia in 1994, and to be reluctant to intervene in African crises since then. So, for example, the US stayed out of the massive Rwanda massacre in 1994, which is probably just as well.

The American military's hasty retreat was viewed by many as a sign of weakness -- that the United States could not tolerate military casualties. In 1996, Osama bin Laden taunted the Clinton administration about its withdrawal: "You left carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you."

After the terror attack on 9/11/2001, US Special Forces began gradually returning to Africa. By 2016, 17% of all Special Forces deployed overseas were in Africa.

About 40 American soldiers were sent to Somalia in March 2017, the largest deployment of American troops to the Horn of Africa since Black Hawk Down in 1993. Their job was not combat, but was rather to train the Somalis to fight al-Shabaab on their own, supported by American airstrikes.

Today, 17 years after 9/11, it seems clear that the "war on terror" is not being won, and this is causing the Trump administration to reevaluate its military policies. This has resulted in announcements of troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, and may lead to other announcements. Washington Post and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Dec-18 World View -- Al-Shabaab double bombing kills 16 people in Mogadishu, Somalia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Dec-18 World View -- China's CPEC project in Pakistan turns military, marginalizing Balochistan

NY Times: CPEC in Pakistan will build military jets and weaponry for China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's CPEC project marginalizes Pakistan's restive Balochistan province


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  Balochistan province in the southwest occupies 44% of the land area, but is being marginalized by CPEC. (Independent.in)
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Balochistan province in the southwest occupies 44% of the land area, but is being marginalized by CPEC. (Independent.in)

Ever since the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was launched on May 22, 2013, both the Chinese and Pakistan government promised that the project would bring wealth to Balochistan province, home of Pakistan's marginalized ethnic Baloch people.

Balochistan officials have been complaining for years that Balochistan is being shortchanged, and claim that both Pakistan and China denied. However, it couldn't be verified, because the details of the CPEC deal between Pakistan and China are top secret, just like all the deals in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) program. Many of these deals are assumed to be "debt traps" for the countries involved, ensnaring a country in debt to China that can't be paid back, giving China leverage to take control of land and other assets in the client country.

However, the Balochistan Cabinet were stunned on December 10 when some of the secrecy was pulled back in a briefing, revealing the following:

Pakistan government officials claim that the lack of funding to Balochistan are "concocted stories" to damage the China-Pakistan relationship, and that they are "fully committed" to more investment in Balochistan.

The explosive report showed that the most extreme claims of Baloch activists have turned out to be true. The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist terror group, have opposed the project since its inception, claiming that Balochistan was being "colonized" by Punjabi and Chinese workers. ( "6-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan's Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) claims credit for killing CPEC workers")

Insurgents trying to disrupt construction of CPEC projects in Balochistan have killed 66 persons since 2014. The BLA have been conducting a series of terror attacks on Chinese and Punjabi workers, and are promising to continue. Dawn and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Asia Times

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NY Times: CPEC in Pakistan will build military jets and weaponry for China

China has demanded that all the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deals be kept top secret, and a recent report has revealed one of the reasons why. BRI is supposed to be building roads and bridges and ports.

But according to documents uncovered by the NY Times, China and Pakistan plan to create a special economic zone under CPEC in Pakistan to produce a new generation of fighter jets, navigation systems, radar systems, and onboard weapons. This would expand China and Pakistan’s current cooperation on the JF-17 fighter jet, which is assembled at Pakistan’s military-run Kamra Aeronautical Complex in Punjab province.

China has already signed an agreement with Pakistan to build a network of satellite stations to establish the Beidou Navigation System as an alternative to the American GPS network. This will be major technology that China provides to numerous countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, and strengthens the military space capabilities of the Chinese military.

Revelation of the military deal also resolves a mystery. As we've reported numerous times, Pakistan is on the brink of bankruptcy, and Pakistan’s first debt repayments to China are set for next year, starting at about $300 million and gradually increasing to reach about $3.2 billion by 2026. Pakistan has been begging for money from China, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, and all have refused. Finally, Pakistan asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for another loan, but one of the conditions of an IMF loan is that every detail of the relationship between Pakistan and China would have to be revealed.

Apparently China has had a change of heart. The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad demanded that CPEC deals be kept secret and promised to loan more money to Pakistan.

Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "allies" of America, India, Russia, Iran and the West will be at war with the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries. China is Pakistan's "all-weather friend," whose friendship is "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel, sweeter than honey, and dearer than eyesight." This military relationship brings the two countries ever closer together. NY Times and The News (Pakistan) and India Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Dec-18 World View -- China's CPEC project in Pakistan turns military, marginalizing Balochistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Dec-18 World View -- China hackers collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans and Westerners

Steve Bannon: Chinese engineers working on American weapons systems

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China hackers collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans and Westerners


Poster showing Chinese hackers displayed at Justice Dept. press conference on Thursday
Poster showing Chinese hackers displayed at Justice Dept. press conference on Thursday

The Dept. of Justice on Thursday accused China of a massive international hacking scheme that penetrated commercial and military systems in at least 12 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

An indictment charged two Chinese nationals, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment:

"Over the course of the Technology Theft Campaign, which began in or about 2006, Zhu, Zhang, and their coconspirators in the APT10 Group successfully obtained unauthorized access to the computers of more than 45 technology companies and U.S. Government agencies based in at least 12 states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The APT10 Group stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and information from the victims’ computer systems, including from at least the following victims: seven companies involved in aviation, space and/or satellite technology; three companies involved in communications technology; three companies involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems and/or laboratory analytical instruments; a company involved in maritime technology; a company involved in oil and gas drilling, production, and processing; and the NASA Goddard Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to those victims who had information stolen, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators successfully obtained unauthorized access to computers belonging to more than 25 other technology-related companies involved in, among other things, industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, information technology services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Finally, the APT10 Group compromised more than 40 computers in order to steal sensitive data belonging to the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, personal phone numbers, and email addresses of more than 100,000 Navy personnel."

Most of the news coverage has focused on the theft of commercial and military technology, and how that will be used by China's state-run companies and military. These technologies will be useful to the Chinese as they build weapons systems and prepare to launch a war on the United States.

But for this article, I want to focus on the theft of personal data on Americans (and citizens of other Western countries).

This indictment says that a hack of navy computers stole names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, personal phone numbers, and email addresses of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.

I recently described the Marriott hotel data breach by China's spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS) which stole names, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers, birthdates, passport photos, hotel arrival and departure dates, and information on where people traveled and with whom on roughly 500 million guests.

Other data breaches attributed to China's MSS include a 2017 Equifax hack that collected detailed credit information on 145 million people, a 2013 Target breach that exposed payment card and contact information for 60 million customers, and a 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that collected detailed personal information on more than 20 million government employees, family members and applicants. There were other breaches of health-care institutions, including Anthem and CareFirst, that provided health data.

China's military is creating a huge database of hundreds of millions of Americans. Such a database would be illegal in the United States, but it's being done by the Chinese. Dept of Justice and Dept of Justice and UK government and CNBC

China cracks down on Twitter

China's government has complete control over databases and servers in China, and can delete messages at will on Chinese social media platforms. But social media platforms outside of China, such as Twitter and Facebook, should be out of reach of the Chinese, right? In fact, since Twitter and Facebook are blocked in China, and only a person with sophisticated software skills can get to them from China, the Chinese can simply ignore then, right?

Starting in early November, China's government launched a large campaign to remove from Twitter tweets that the government finds offensive. Many of these tweets were written years ago. Apparently this was done very rapidly, in order to maintain the element of surprise before Twitter users had a chance to arrange for all their tweets to be safely backed up.

If the owner of the Twitter account is in China, the government security thugs simply arrested him, brought him into a police station, and demanded that he access his Twitter account immediately and delete all his tweets. This apparently happened to quite a few people.

In many cases, however, the Chinese government was able to delete tweets from an account without the participation of the account owner, or knowing his password. The methods by which they did this are a sketchy in the reports, but I believe the following is how they accomplished it.

In most online systems, you can change or reset your password automatically, and then the system sends you an e-mail message where you have to click on something to confirm the change. Only the owner of that e-mail account should have access to it, so that should provide a secure means of confirmation.

However, if your e-mail account is in China, then the Chinese government can gain control of it, and then make the password change on the Twitter account, and confirm it on the e-mail account, without you even knowing.

However, many online services go further and also use the telephone. Instead of (or in addition to) sending you an e-mail message. the online service will ring your telephone, using a phone number for you that it has on file, and then the recorded voice says, "press 1 to confirm or 2 to cancel," or something like that.

In America, that should be secure means of confirmation, since only you can answer that phone number. But if it's a Chinese phone number then, as in the case of e-mail, the military can take control of your phone number and then use it to confirm a password change.

There's one more method that China's military could be using. If you have Chinese-manufactured phone from Huawei or ZTE, it's believed that these phones have back doors that the Chinese military can use to access data, or even to control the phone. This would provide another method for confirming a password change.

The point is that China's military is willing to use any means it can to steal information, and they're willing to try everything, no matter how obscure, until something works. That's why they already have a database containing personal information of hundreds of millions of Americans.

Last week, I received a letter from Bowker Corp. saying that their database had been hacked, and my data might have been compromised. There are companies being hacked successfully every day, sometimes by kids in basements, sometimes by the Russians, and sometimes by the Chinese.

The Chinese in particular are using every technique available to them to get as much data on ordinary Americans as they can, and merge it into a database that they can access at any time they want to track someone. Human Rights Watch and Radio Free Asia and Hong Kong Free Press and China Change

China extends its 'social credit score' system to Americans and Westerners

There has been a lot of news recently about China's "Social Credit Score" system that has been rumored for a long time and was officially announced in December. China is creating a large "big data" database of all of its 1.3 billion people, accumulating data from a variety of departments and agencies, combining the data in individual data agency databases into a large database, and using it to crease a credit score for every Chinese citizen.

The system will reward "pro-social behaviors," such as volunteer work and blood donations. The system will penalize things like violating traffic laws or charging under-the-table fees. Agencies like tourism bodies, business regulators and transit authorities are supposed to work together. These agencies will provide data on private citizens to the central system, and will then use the credit score to reward or punish citizens. In fact, the system is already partially in place, in that people with unacceptable credit scores have already been blocked from booking more than 11 million flights and 4 million high-speed train trips. According to reports, other punishments include slower internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets.

Many Americans and Westerners view this system with little more than curiosity, thinking that applies only to Chinese citizens in China, so it doesn't matter to them.

Starting with Thursday's indictments against Chinese hackers, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Chinese military is going a lot farther, and creating databases of hundreds of millions of people in other countries, whether American, or others. Of course, the data on foreign citizens is not readily available to the military in the way that domestic data is, but the Chinese are employing increasingly sophisticated methods to collect this data on foreign citizens, whether hacking Western commercial or government databases, or using its vast population studying and working overseas to collect data and information and pass it back to China. Bloomberg and Xinhua and Independent (London) and Life Site News

Steve Bannon: Chinese engineers working on American weapons systems

China has a massive population of 1.3 billion people and, as I've written several times in the past, China considers these people to be "magic weapons" to be used in other countries to infiltrate government, military and commercial organizations, and to influence these organizations as well as to collect information about them to be sent back to China's military.

Steve Bannon, formerly the chief strategist and advisor to president Donal Trump, has researched the extent that Chinese engineers are working on American weapons systems.

According to Bannon, many Chinese workers start out as students in American colleges, through Confucius Institutes, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through Beijing's international coercive propaganda agency, the United Front Work Department (UFWD), and funded by China's military. Every aspect of the Confucian Institutes is tightly controlled by the CCP. Teachers and teaching materials are all supplied by China. Taiwan and Tibet are portrayed as undisputed territories of China, with no alternate views permitted. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the one million Uighurs in re-education camps, the human rights abuses in China are all forbidden subjects.

Bannon says that Chinese students study in colleges to get access to the latest scientific research to be passed back to the CCP. These students become contractors to get access to the latest American weapons systems, once again for the CCP. According to Bannon, Defense Department reports on the infiltration of China into our research universities and our weapons labs shows extensive infiltration:

"I don't think people understand these reports. These reports are essentially declassified reports that showed that the 300,000 students are here on student visas and the 10,000 contractors that we have the weapons labs -- I think that up to 2/3 of them could be intelligence assets, intelligence officers or agents.

This is political correctness and greed and avarice writ large. How did contractors-- and let's call them out-- Booz Allen and all these contractors-- how do these contractors and these big government programs get so many Chinese nationals working into our weapons labs? Our weapons labs are at the cutting edge of national security. How did it happen? ...

The political correctness of it all-- the Financial Times of London leaked the other day that my colleague, Stephen Miller, who's a terrific young man, actually had the plan in place to get all 300,000 Chinese students out of the country with a way to cut the visas off right away. Not that we we're going to execute on it, but it was even in thinking.

And obviously, it got leaked. In the Times, it goes around the State Department, et cetera. Look at all the appeasers. I am so glad. I take great pride that someone like Susan Thornton now owns a farm up in Maine because she was part of this kind of rational accommodationist, this softness in the Defense Department, in the State Department, in our intelligence services that basically went along with what China wanted to do and looked the other way."

A book titled "Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State," written by Clive Hamilton, documents the extent to which Chinese nationals have infiltrated Australia's government, and influences its policies. Several publishers withdrew offers to publish the book because of pressure from the Chinese Communist Party. As one Australian commenter pointed out, he could walk into any bookstore or library in Australia and find a dozen books that accused the CIA of controlling Australia's government and institutions, and no one would care. However, just one book about China caused a furious, threatening response from China. ( "26-Feb-18 World View -- New book documents extensive Chinese infiltration into Australia's organizations")

The book was finally published in February, thanks to pressure from alarmed members of the Australian parliament's national security committee. His research revealed evidence of CCP influence and infiltration in politics, culture, real estate, agriculture, universities, unions, and even primary schools. The book lists more than 40 former and sitting Australian politicians allegedly doing the work of China's totalitarian Government, if sometimes unwittingly.

Another book documented similar infiltration into New Zealand's government. ( "16-Feb-18 World View -- Concerns grow over China's covert infiltration into New Zealand's government")

There are some changes in the works. Some colleges have severed relations with Confucius Institutes, and the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed in August, contains provisions barring any U.S. university from using Pentagon resources for any program involving Confucius Institutes. In many cases, this will force universities to choose between receiving funding the Pentagon and funding from China's military.

The information provided by China's "magic weapons," the Chinese nationals working and studing in the West, can provide a great deal more information to add to the data collected by hacks of hotel databases and other sources. ZeroHedge and RealVision

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Huawei chairman challenges US to prove they're a security risk

Several countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have banned or are considering banning routers and other equipment from Huawei Technologies Ltd., the world's largest global maker of network gear, because it's feared that these products contain "back doors" that allow them to be secretly accessed and controlled from China. The result is that Huawei is being shut out of supplying products for the latest 5G networks.

As I've said in the past, I've spent a part of my career as a senior software engineer developing chip-level operating system software for embedded systems, so I know exactly how any chip or any electronic device can be turned into a tool for espionage. Furthermore, I can tell you that not only is it doable, it's not even particularly difficult for someone with the right skills.

Now Ken Hu, the chairman of Huawei, is challenging America and other companies to provide evidence that Huawei products are in fact security risks. He complains that the accusations stem from “ideology and geopolitics.” He warned that excluding Huawei from fifth-generation networks in Australia and other markets would hurt consumers by raising prices and slowing innovation.

According to Hu:

"There has never been any evidence that our equipment poses a security threat. ...We have never accepted complaints from any government to damage the networks or business of any of our customers."

The problem is that Huawei could develop a chipset that works exactly as described in the public specifications. The chipset could be subjected to thousands of tests, and they would all work perfectly. But what Huawei could do is install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by Chinese engineers. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei chips, and it cannot be detected until it's too late.

Now, as everyone knows, I'm a very helpful kind of guy, and I want to be helpful to Chairman Hu, and tell him how he can regain the confidence of the West that his chips and devices do not contain back doors. And I offer this advice in the spirit of peace, cooperation and friendship between America and China.

Hu has the burden of proof backwards. He's asking America to prove there's a security risk. Actually, the burden is on him to do the opposite -- prove affirmatively that there's no security risk. How does he do that? Here's how:

This will permit Ken Hu to prove that Huawei's products pose no security risks, and he can then ask that the bans to their use can be lifted.

I hope that Ken Hu will implement these suggestions, which have been offered in the spirit of peace, cooperation and friendship between the American and Chinese people, and because I would like to help him get the Huawei ban lifted. AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Dec-18 World View -- China hackers collect data on hundreds of millions of Americans and Westerners thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Dec-18 World View -- DR Congo's Kabila manipulates election to stay in power as Ebola spreads

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo worsens

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

DR Congo's Joseph Kabila appoints his own personal 'Dmitry Medvedev' to stay in power


Women walk past a campaign poster of Joseph Kabila’s chosen successor as president of DRC, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in Kinshasa on Dec 18 (AFP)
Women walk past a campaign poster of Joseph Kabila’s chosen successor as president of DRC, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, in Kinshasa on Dec 18 (AFP)

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is scheduled to hold a presidential election on Sunday, and this time, Joseph Kabila isn't a candidate. That's because he's already been president for two 5-year terms, and the constitution he can't run again.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin had the same problem in 2008. After serving two consecutive terms as president, Putin was no longer constitutionally allowed to run for president again in 2008. So Putin arranged for Dmitry Medvedev to win the election for president in 2008, so that Medvedev would appoint Putin as prime minister. In 2012, Putin admitted that the whole thing was a scam in order to keep himself in power, and that Medvedev was just a puppet. He ran for president again in 2012 and won, and then appointed Medvedev as prime minister.

Joseph Kabila became president in 2001 after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated. He ran for reelection in 2006, and did the same in 2011. When his mandate ran out in December, 2016, he refused to step down. Instead, he pulled a breathtaking stunt by doing everything possible to prevent new elections from taking place, and then claimed that he couldn't step down because there hadn't been any elections to select a president to replace him.

The country was close to civil war, but the Catholic Church intervened and brokered an agreement: Elections would be held in December of 2017 to choose Kabila's successor, and this time Kabila would really step down. However, the agreement was a farce: It was signed by members of Kabila's government, but it wasn't even signed by Kabila himself. Kabila pulled the same stunt in December, 2017, by doing nothing to prepare for an election, then said he couldn't step down, because there hadn't been any elections.

So this time there's apparently going to be an election, but Kabila has pulled a different stunt. He's arranged for his own puppet, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a former interior minister, to run for president. Shadary was responsible for a violent, deadly crackdown on anti-Kabila protests in 2017, and so he's under sanctions by the European Union.

Corruption in DRC is rampant. Kabila and his family own, either partially or wholly, more than 80 companies and businesses in the country and abroad. He and his children own more than 71,000 hectares (175,444 acres) of farmland. His family owns diamond mines, a part of the country's largest mobile phone network, companies that mine mineral deposits, gold and limestone, a luxury hotel, stakes in an airline, a share of the country's banks, and a fast-food franchise. With tentacles reaching into so many businesses, it's not surprising that Kabila is willing to use any method -- massacres, atrocities, jailings, torture -- to stay in power.

Few people doubt Kabila's plan -- that Shadary become president for a term, so that Kabila can run again after Shadary's term ends, acting as Kabila's puppet in the same way that Medvedev served as Putin's puppet.

Shadary may lose the election. He has no charisma, and he has no experience in politics. He's a nobody. However, he's expected to win anyway because there are two major candidates running against him, and over a dozen minor candidates, and they're expected to split the opposition vote, giving Shadary (and Kabila) the victory.

Kabila has banned election rallies by the opposition. Al Jazeera and Council on Foreign Relations and Guardian (London)

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Ebola outbreak in DR Congo worsens

Officials in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have now reported 549 total Ebola cases and 326 deaths. Eighty-two suspected cases are under investigation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "The outbreak is intensifying in Butembo and Katwa, and new clusters are emerging elsewhere. Over the last 21 days (25 November to 16 December 2018), 120 confirmed and probable cases were reported from 14 health zones, the majority of which were reported from the major urban centres and towns in Katwa (27), Beni (27), Butembo (17), Komanda (16) and Mabalako (12)."

The situation in North Kivu province is the worst possible scenario. There is a major ethnic war in progress, and Ebola is now spreading in the densely populated city of Beni, which became the epicenter of the pandemic. However, the number of cases in Beni seems to have peaked, while the disease has spread to the south and Butembo may be the new epicenter.

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

The Ebola outbreak has been growing, but so far it's been confined to DRC. North Kivu is on the border with Uganda, and many people cross the border between Uganda and DRC each day. It's feared that Ebola will cross the border with the people, but that hasn't happened yet. According to one resident of the village of Mpondwe in Uganda, just across a bridge from the village of Lhubiriha: "I'm scared. Ebola hasn't reached our village but I hear it's coming." AFP and Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP) and AP and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Dec-18 World View -- DR Congo's Kabila manipulates election to stay in power as Ebola spreads thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Dec-18 World View -- Ceasefire in Hodeidah seaport in Yemen war holds on the first day

The Jamal Khashoggi murder continues to affect the Yemen war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ceasefire in Hodeidah seaport in Yemen war holds on the first day


Fishermen in the the seaport of Hodeidah on September 29 (AP)
Fishermen in the the seaport of Hodeidah on September 29 (AP)

Much to the surprise of many people, including me, both sides in the Yemen war agreed to a ceasefire to begin on Tuesday, December 18, and after one day it seems to be holding.

This follows months of heavy fighting in Yemen's seaport city of Hodeidah, in the proxy war between Yemen's official internationally-recognized government, backed by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) versus the Houthi rebels, backed by Iran. The ceasefire agreement was reached last week at UN-brokered talks in Stockhold, Sweden.

The war began in 2015, when Houthi rebels from northwest Yemen took control of the capital city Sanaa, and seized the international airport. In response, warplanes from a mostly Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia bombed Houthi rebel targets.

The war escalated substantially in November of last year, when the Houthis launched a ballistic missile, undoubtedly supplied by Iran, that reached the King Khalid International Airport near Riyadh, about 800 km from the Yemen border. The Saudis reacted with its own escalation, a blockade of all of Yemen's land, sea and air ports.

The Houthis increased their missile attacks on Saudi cities, and then in June of this year, Saudi Arabia and UAE launched a 'catastrophic' assault on Port Hodeidah in Yemen. The objective was to cut off supplies of Iranian weapons to the Houthis, as well as a source of income.

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

The blockade of the seaport may have been effective in preventing money and supplies from reaching the Houthis, but it also created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world today, since food, water and medicines could no longer reach Yemen civilians.

Tuesday's ceasefire is not a peace deal. It's a temporary ceasefire that both sides have agreed to so that humanitarian aid -- food, water and medicines -- could be imported into Yemen to alleviate the humanitarian disaster. There are international efforts to extend the ceasefire into a complete peace deal but, assuming that can't be done, the ceasefire may end as quickly as it started. PBS and Sky News and National Interest

The Jamal Khashoggi murder continues to affect the Yemen war

Every we read about slaughter, torture, rapes, jailings and atrocities being perpetrated in many countries around the world, so it's still startling to see how the murder of one man on October 2, Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey, is even still remembered today, over two months since it happened.

If Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had simply hired a pait hit man to shoot him dead in the street outside the embassy, it would have been an ordinary murder of the kind that leaders like MBS, Erdogan and others regularly order. Instead, MBS apparently arranged for something out of a horror movie -- kill him, dismember him, dissolve the pieces in acid, ship what's left out of the country -- and if I didn't know that atrocities like that are common these days, I would think it was impossible. But it is possible, it happened, and that's why so much of the world has turned against MBS.

There are two reasons why both sides in the Yemen war agreed to the ceasefire deal.

First is the humanitarian situation. We're used to wars where the atrocities have become unbelievably bad, and nobody cares. But in the case of Yemen, it seems that people on both sides do care -- enough to permit a few days of ceasefire and opening of the Hodeidah port to relieve at least some of the suffering.

Also, I can't prove this, but reading and listening to news reports has given me the impression that the two sides fighting the Yemen war do not have the same level of vitriolic hatred for one another as, say, the two sides in the Syrian war. I read and hear lots of news reports about battles and wars in lots of countries, and there's no question that this war has been extremely bloody, but there seems to be something lacking in the level of vitriolic hatred. As I said, this is a feeling, and I can't prove it.

The second reason is that the Khashoggi murder has motivated the Senate in Washington to pass a resolution directing president Trump to end American support for the Saudis in Yemen. The measure is purely symbolic, since it would be vetoed, but the fact that the Senate passed it has put pressure on MBS to agree to a ceasefire.

The US has a long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia, dating back to the 1930s, where the US is committed to provide security while the Saudis are committed to providing oil. The relationship has lasted through many crises and, in the end, no one in Washington wants this to be the crisis that ends it. AP and Washington Post and Axios

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Dec-18 World View -- Ceasefire in Hodeidah seaport in Yemen war holds on the first day thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Dec-18 World View -- Kashmir locked down after Indian security forces kill seven civilians

India's 'Operation all-out' to continue as more young Kashmiris become militants

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kashmir locked down after Indian security forces kill seven civilians


Kashmiris turn out for funeral of the civilians killed on Saturday (AP)
Kashmiris turn out for funeral of the civilians killed on Saturday (AP)

Indian-governed Kashmir was locked down with curfew-like restrictions for a third day on Monday, after seven civilians were killed during a shootout between militants and Indian security forces on Saturday. Armed police and paramilitary soldiers in riot gear fanned out across the region in anticipation of further anti-India protests and clashes. Shops and businesses closed in other areas with no security restrictions. Authorities stopped train services and cut cellphone internet in Srinagar and other restive towns, and reduced connection speeds in other parts of the Kashmir Valley, in order to prevent anti-India demonstrations from being organized.

Seven civilians were killed and at least 36 injured in clashes that erupted after three militants were shot dead in a gunfight in the village of Pulwama in Indian-governed Kashmir during the early hours on Saturday. Two soldiers were critically injured in the encounter, and one died.

The three slain militants were identified as being associated with Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), a home-grown indigenous militant separatist group in Kashmir (as opposed to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group). One of the militants was Ahmad Thokar, who had deserted from the Indian army to join HM. These defections have been increasingly common recently. Tribune India and AP and Pakistan Today

India's 'Operation all-out' to continue as more young Kashmiris become militants

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template. India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and then the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

Now, as the survivors of the 1947 Partition War have almost all died off, leaving behind younger generations with no fear of repeating past disasters, Kashmir is repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947. Generational Dynamics predicts that Kashmir is returning to full-scale war, re-fighting the extremely bloody partition war of 1947.

We're now seeing the next step in this standard template, as generations of young Muslims in Kashmir become increasingly self-radicalized, and replace the Pakistani-supplied terrorists in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) with indigenous Kashmiris joining Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

A major change occurred after the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. This triggered a continuing series of demonstrations and riots. Since then, thousands of Kashmiris have been blinded in one or both eyes by pellet guns used by Indian security forces, and thousands of youths have been arrested.

In this generational Crisis era, the clashes between young Kashmiris and Indian security forces is providing the motivation for young people to simply disappear and join HM. Parents, according to news reports, are forced to search jihadist social media sites to search for pictures of their sons who have disappeared.

Burhan Wani himself had joined HM after his brother Khalid was beaten up by Indian security forces. After he was killed, he was the inspiration for many others to join HM.

Indian politicians and security forces, who have no understanding of generational theory, have no idea what's going on, and are looking desperately for a way to return to the "normalcy" of twenty years ago. This is impossible, since 20 years ago there were still survivors of the 1947 Partition War who were willing to accept any compromise to prevent anything so horrible from happening again. But those survivors are gone, and the younger generations simply want revenge.

This led India's army in June 2017 to launch "Operation All-Out." Under this plan, the army identified 258 specific militants the would be specifically targeted and captured, thus delivering "a lethal blow to terrorism ... with a long-term plan for a listing peace."

When Operation All-Out was announced last year, the 258 militants were almost all in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Since then, hundreds of additional militants have been identified, and this time they're indigenous youths joining Hizbul Mujahideen (HM).

However, the Kashmiris have been adapting to Operation All-Out. When Indian security forces are spotted traveling to the home of a suspected militant, the people pour out of their homes and block them.

That's what happened on Saturday. The security forces were targeting three HM militants, when local youths thronged the forces and began hurling stones. This resulted in the live fire that killed not only the militants but at least seven civilians.

Avinash Rai Khanna, a senior Indian politician, says that Operation All-Out will continue "until the last terrorist is eliminated." He blamed the deaths of the civilians on Saturday on the local youths who threw stones. According to Khanna:

"Civilian killings are unfortunate, but when people interfere in operations and try to divert the attention of the forces, mishaps are bound to happen. We can only appeal to people to let the forces do their job in eliminating terrorists and not indulge in activities like stone-throwing or cause obstruction in operations.

We had come to power in the state with an agenda of peace and development, but had to back out when things started going haywire. ... We want [Kashmir] terrorism-free. Operation All-out will reach its logical end."

Khanna assumes that the "normalcy" of twenty years ago can return, but Generational Dynamics predicts that the militancy will continue to worsen until the 1947 Partition War in Kashmir is refought. Tribune India and The Kashmir Walla and Hindustan Times and Dawn (Pakistan)

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17-Dec-18 World View -- North Korea threatens US with 'exchanges of fire' over new human rights sanctions

Japan-Korea relations worsen over 'comfort women' issue

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US issues new sanctions on North Korea over human rights abuses


Japanese surveillance aircraft spots a Dominican-flagged Yuk Tung oil tanker after it transferred fuel to the North Korean-registered Rye Song tanker in the open South China Sea, in violation of sanctions.  (AP)
Japanese surveillance aircraft spots a Dominican-flagged Yuk Tung oil tanker after it transferred fuel to the North Korean-registered Rye Song tanker in the open South China Sea, in violation of sanctions. (AP)

On Monday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against three senior North Korean officials for for human rights abuses and censorship in the country. The new sanctions were in honor of the Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American college student who died after being released from North Korean custody in June 2017.

According to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin:

"Treasury is sanctioning senior North Korean officials who direct departments that perpetrate the regime’s brutal state-sponsored censorship activities, human rights violations and abuses, and other abuses in order to suppress and control the population. These sanctions demonstrate the United States’ ongoing support for freedom of expression, and opposition to endemic censorship and human rights abuses. The United States has consistently condemned the North Korean regime for its flagrant and egregious abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and this Administration will continue to take action against human rights abusers around the globe."

The sanctions are for human rights abuses by North Korean organizations that "conduct warrantless searches for unapproved foreign media or content, inspect and confiscate computer content, including external storage devices, and even kidnap defectors or foreign citizens who support human rights in North Korea." ABC News and US Treasury

North Korea threatens retaliation for the sanctions

North Korea on Sunday harshly condemned the U.S. administration for stepping up sanctions and pressure. and warned of a return to “exchanges of fire” and that the denuclearization process could be blocked forever.

According to the North Korean statement, published by the North Korean news service KCNA:

"Now, the international society is unanimous in welcoming the proactive denuclearization steps taken by the DPRK [North Korea] and urging the U.S. to respond to these steps in a corresponding manner. And president Trump avails himself of every possible occasion to state his willingness to improve DPRK-U.S. relations.

Far from the statements of the president, the State Department is instead bent on bringing the DPRK-U.S. relations back to the status of last year which was marked by exchanges of fire. I cannot help but throw doubt on the ulterior motive of the State Department.

If they are a sort of diplomats of "only superpower", they should at least realize from the past record of the DPRK-U.S. relations that sanctions and pressure would not work against the DPRK.

The United States will not be unaware of the self-evident fact that its threat, blackmail and pressure against the other side cannot be a solution under the relations of pent-up confrontation, mistrust and hostility between the DPRK and the U.S. and deterioration of the situation that might be incurred by these hostile actions would not be beneficial for peace and security of the Korean peninsula and beyond.

Since we know too well that the deep-rooted hostility between the DPRK and the U.S. cannot be redressed overnight, we have been proposing that the DPRK-U.S. relations be improved on a step-by-step approach of resolving what is feasible one by one, by giving priority to confidence building.

If the high-ranking politicians within the U.S. administration including the State Department had calculated that they could drive us into giving up nuclear weapons by way of increasing the anti-DPRK sanctions and pressure and human rights racket to an unprecedented level, which has nothing to do with confidence building, it will count as greatest miscalculation, and it will block the path to denuclearization on the Korean peninsula forever - a result desired by no one.

The U.S. should realize before it is too late that "maximum pressure" would not work against us and take a sincere approach to implementing the Singapore DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement."

North Korea gave this statement a great deal of publicity, and so they wanted it to be noticed. And indeed, the international networks all carried it prominently.

An interesting thing about the statement is that it blames the State Dept., and praises president Trump. This is part of the game and the "charm offensive" that's been going on. This way, the North Koreans can threaten the United States, but encourage Trump to make more concessions.

The statement refers to "the proactive denuclearization steps taken by the DPRK." Actually, there have been no such steps that aren't easily reversible. The one big "step" was blowing up the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, but recent satellite imagery indicates that the site is still usable, and that several dozen personnel are still working there.

The one major step that the US has requested was a list of all of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles development sites, but North Korea has refused to provide this list.

The US has also taken a reversible "proactive step" -- namely canceling all joint military drills with the South Koreans. However, since no progress was being made down the denuclearization path, the US and South Korea resumed some military drills last month.

As I've been saying since the start of the year, when North Korea's "charm offensive" began, the North Koreans have absolutely no intention of denuclearizing. President Trump has been saying that he's in no hurry to conclude a deal, knowing that the sanctions remain on North Korea, and hoping that the sanctions might pressure them to agree to denuclearization. However, as the KCNA statement says, "The U.S. should realize before it is too late that "maximum pressure" would not work against us."

It's worth pointing out that North Korea has been evading sanctions by transferring oil at sea, despite active surveillance and enforcement by an eight-nation coalition, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, deploying warships and aircraft to better spot sanctions violations.

As before, it's pretty clear to everyone (except the news media and the general public) that the charm offensive was all a show -- that North Korea would never denuclearize, and that Trump would never agree to reduce the sanctions. But all sides kept it up because it solve their immediate political problems by "kicking the can down the road" -- that is, masking and hiding problems and postponing them until later.

In the meantime, North Korea now has completed a year more nuclear and missile development than it had as of a year ago, with the only restriction that they haven't been able to publicly test their latest weapons. It remains to be seen how long this can go on. Reuters and KCNA and Chosun Ilbo (Seoul) and NBC News

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Japan-Korea relations worsen over 'comfort women' issue

The question of Korean "comfort women" used by Japanese soldiers during World War II is reaching a boiling point again.

On October 30, South Korea's supreme court awarded compensation to four Korean citizens forced to work for the Japanese during World War II. The Japanese claim that all such awards were already paid in a settlement concluded in a 1965 treaty.

This has opened up the "comfort women" issue again. In 2015, Japan and Korea concluded a bilateral agreement which was intended at the time as the “final and irreversible” resolution of the comfort women issue. However, South Korea is now saying that demands from the victims is causing the agreement to "wither."

I have witnessed an extremely vitriolic disagreement between two people who, fortunately, were disagreeing online and were not in the same room. The disagreement stems from a 1944 US Army report, based on interrogation of "20 Korean Comfort Girls," which indicates that the girls volunteered for these roles, and they were well-treated by the Japanese soldiers. This issue is certain to be raised again. Japan Today and Diplomat and US Army report (1-Oct-1944)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Dec-18 World View -- North Korea threatens US with 'exchanges of fire' over new human rights sanctions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Dec-18 World View -- Cambodia denies major China-funded seaport project is a military base

Cambodia is becoming increasingly Chinese and military

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cambodia denies major China-funded seaport project is a military base


China is building a massive deep-water seaport project in Cambodia's Koh Kong province along the Gulf of Thailand
China is building a massive deep-water seaport project in Cambodia's Koh Kong province along the Gulf of Thailand

Cambodia's prime minister Hun Sen has been forced repeatedly to deny that China was building a military naval base in Koh Kong province on the Gulf of Thailand. A naval base in that location would give China commanding control of the southern part of the South China Sea, which it currently is occupying in violation of international law.

China has long been Cambodia's top provider of military equipment. For years, there has been a Chinese-built $3.8 billion land project in Koh Kong province in Cambodia, along the Gulf of Thailand. The project was begun a decade ago, operating under a 99-year lease granted to China. The land project contains a deep-water port which is said to be deep enough to potentially accommodate not just container ships, but Chinese navy frigates and destroyers as well.

A report last month in Asia Times said that the naval base was already under construction, forcing Hun Sen to make a denial:

"I also received a letter from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence raising concerns of the possible presence of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia in the future.

“I want to make clear to our compatriots and foreign friends that Cambodia will not violate its own constitution. Cambodia’s Constitution prohibits the presence of foreign armies or military bases inside the country ... Cambodia will not permit any foreign military base for a navy, army or air force.

That Hun Sen is unwilling to violate Cambodia's constitution is laughable. Earlier this year, his party won a national parliamentary election, taking all 125 parliamentary seats that were up for election. He accomplished that amazing feat by jailing or assassinating political opponents, taking control of all of the media, closed all radio stations critical of the government, and ordered the complete dissolution of the opposition political party -- all of that, presumably, in violation of the constitution.

The size of land granted to China under the 99 year lease is reported to be another violation of the constitution. The grant is 45,000 hectares, while Cambodial law limits such concessions to 10,000 hectares.

So, just like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Bashar al-Assad and other leaders, we can assume that anything that Hun Sen says is a complete lie, except by accident. At any rate his assurances to Mike Pence that China is not building a naval base are completely meaningless. Asia Times and Radio Free Asia and Khmer Times

Cambodia is becoming increasingly Chinese and military

Sihanoukville, which is in Preah Sihanouk province on the southern border of Koh Kong province, used to be a premier seaside resort and tourist attraction, but has now turned into a Chinese enclave. It's a visible example of the China's rising domination of Cambodia's economy. Hun Sen's critics claim that Hun Sen has enabled China's de facto "colonization" of Cambodia.

Whether or not the Koh Kong deep water seaport will be a Chinese military base, there's little doubt of China's increasing military presence in Cambodia. Cambodia is a key country within Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the seaport has taken on increasing significance. China has pledged $100 million in military grants for training and equipment for the Cambodian military. Sihanoukville has given itself over entirely to Chinese investment, with a $1.1 billion investment from China in just the past year. The key complaint for many in Sihanoukville is that even though Chinese investment brings wealth, it is mainly kept within their own community.

Cambodia appears to be another victim of China's "debt trap diplomacy." About half of Cambodia's $6 in foreign debt is owed to China, and as usual, it's China that has benefited from the infrastructure projects, leaving Cambodia with little more than a pile of debt which it will never be able to pay back.

As happened with Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport, this could give China complete control over Cambodia's Koh Kong port, and China could use it as a military naval base whether doing so violates Cambodia's constitution or not. Asia Times and Reuters (19-Jun) and Asia Times and Diplomat

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15-Dec-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church asks world leaders to protect it from Ukrainian persecution

Military tensions between Ukraine and Russia are increasing

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russian Orthodox Church asks world leaders to protect it from Ukrainian persecution


Ukrainian border guards prevent Russian men, aged 16-60, from entering Ukraine.  Sign says: 'Do not stop between the striped columns.' (RFE/RL)
Ukrainian border guards prevent Russian men, aged 16-60, from entering Ukraine. Sign says: 'Do not stop between the striped columns.' (RFE/RL)

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the leader of the the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), has sent a letter to the pope and a number of other world leaders urging them to protect bishops and clergy of the ROC in Ukraine, who are under pressure to change allegiance to the Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church is the biggest Orthodox Christian Church in Ukraine, and is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, the Church was also split, with a separate Kiev Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In October, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the "first among equals" leader of all Orthodox Christian churches and of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, announced that he was reversing a 330 year old policy, and would make the Kiev Patriarchate a separate Church, independent of the Moscow Patriarchate.

This infuriated the Russians, who promised revenge. This has led to pressure in Ukraine for clergy and bishops in Ukraine belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate to switch allegiance to the Kiev Patriarchate.

According to Kirill:

"Recently, the intervention of the leaders of the secular Ukrainian state in church affairs has acquired the character of gross pressure on the episcopate and clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which allows us to speak about the beginning of full-scale persecutions."

Kirill also accused Ukraine's government of a kind of identity theft:

"The state-run media continues a massive company to discredit the Ukrainian Church. In violation of the right to privacy and the prohibition of the use of personal data, personal information about the bishops and clergymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, available to the state, is published. In particular, the personal data of a significant part of the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were published on the Peacemaker website along with comments that incited religious hatred,

[The Peacemaker website exists with the direct support of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine], and has previously become notorious for publishing information about Ukrainian, American and European journalists, after which they were threatened, beaten and even deprived of life."

Kirill's plea was sent to numerous world leaders, including Pope Francis, the head of the Anglican Community to the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches O. Fuxse Tveit, and the UN Secretary General A. Guterres, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe T. Gremymhramhym, the President of France E. Macron and the German Chancellor A. Merkel as heads of states of the Normandy Four.

Kirill appealed to religious and state leaders, leaders of intergovernmental organizations to make every effort to protect the bishops, clergy and believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from discrimination and pressure from the Ukrainian authorities, to defend the freedom of conscience and religion enshrined in international law. Moscow Times and Russian Orthodox Church (Trans) and AP and Moscow Times

Military tensions between Ukraine and Russia are increasing

The dispute over the Orthodox Church in Ukraine comes four years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and at a time when military tensions are rising again.

The problem with Kirill's plea is that Kirill is following the policies of Russia's president Vladimir Putin, and Putin lies about everything. These include lying about Russian soldiers in Ukraine, lying after Russians shot down a passenger plane with a Buk missile, lying about not invading Crimea, lying about whether Russia is going to annex Crimea, and then annexing Crimea. There are lots more lies related to Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas and chlorine gas.

So we have to assume that Kirill is just as much a liar as Putin is. Maybe bishops and clergy are being targeted with "full-scale persecutions," and maybe they aren't -- we can't conclude anything from anything that Kirill says.

On the other hand, Ukraine’s Security Service, the SBU, is claiming that Russians in east Ukraine are organizing church marches in numerous cities across Ukraine on Sunday, in order to disrupt a meeting of the unification council of Ukrainian Orthodox Church. We'll see if these church marches actually take place tomorrow (Sunday). Unfortunately, no one can exclude the possibility that Moscow may launch more serious military actions this weekend with the same purpose.

What is apparent is that military tensions are purposely increasing on both sides. The original Ukraine war that started four years ago has not been in the news much, but it's still continuing at a low level, with both Russians and Ukrainians being killed every week.

On November 25, Russia conducted an act of war by firing on Ukrainian navy ships in the Black Sea, boarding and seizing the ships, and blockading Ukraine's ports at the Kerch Strait. Russia abducted the crew of 24, and apparently tortured some of them in order to create a video and forcing them to confess to crimes they didn't commit.

Russia continues to hold and bury the 24 Ukrainian sailors, possibly in retaliation for the Orthodox Church issue, just as the Chinese have abducted and buried two Canadian journalists, in apparent retaliation for the arrest in Canada of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, after an multi-year investigation revealed massive bank fraud by Huawei in order to violate US sanctions against Iran.

On November 26, in retaliation for the Kerch Strait seizure, Ukraine's parliament voted to implement Martial Law in ten regions of Ukraine for 30 days, in preparation for a possible new invasion by Russia.

Then, on November 30, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine prohibited Russian men aged 16-60 from entering Ukraine. The reason given was to prevent Russia from sending in troops to form private armies, but the restriction played havoc with men who cross the border every day for work.

On December 1, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAF) announced short-term, 15-day training courses for reservists and members of the territorial defense forces. Window on Eurasia and Reuters and Jamestown and RFE/RL (Trans)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Dec-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church asks world leaders to protect it from Ukrainian persecution thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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14-Dec-18 World View -- Cuba eases economic restrictions, continuing on path from Socialism to free markets

The unraveling of Cuba's Socialist economy

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cuba eases economic restrictions, continuing on path from Socialism to free markets


Shoes for sale displayed on a shelf inside the home of a small business owner in Havana, Cuba, in 2013. (AP)
Shoes for sale displayed on a shelf inside the home of a small business owner in Havana, Cuba, in 2013. (AP)

In the face of popular demand from artists and entrepreneurs, the government of Cuba has backed down on plans to implement harsh new restrictions on the private sector.

In July, Cuba announced the harsh controls on private businesses, to take effect on December 7, claiming that the opening up of some free markets has fueled wealth inequality, tax evasion and the black market.

Since 2010, when it became legal to run certain small businesses, life has been transformed for many people. Around 13% of Cuba's overall workforce is now self-employed, in areas like tourism and transport.

However, the rapid growth of small businesses was apparently threatening to Cuba, and in 2017, it began freezing issuing licenses for some popular business categories.

It appears that Cuba's government is struggling to avoid a total economic disaster as in Socialist Venezuela, at the same time pretending to maintain a Socialist façade in its economy. Thus the government wants people to earn money self-employed in private businesses, but the government wants to forbid a person from making money in two private businesses, since then me might make too much money. Therefore, the government announced in July that it would be illegal for a person to own more than one business license.

So for example, a person renting out a room in his home while driving a private taxi during the day would be making too much money, and would be forced, under the new regulations, to give up one source of income or the other.

So it was a shock that, after years of unyielding authoritarian government under Fidel and Raúl Castro, the new president Miguel Diaz-Canel suddenly reversed some of the worst rules on December 6, just a day before they were to take effect.

The biggest reversal is that Cubans will be permitted to work in two or more self-employment activities simultaneously.

Another abolished rule had set a limit of 50 seats for private bars, restaurants and cafeterias. A law requiring many businesses to maintain bank accounts with a minimum deposit of three months taxes, a requirement that would have put many people out of business, was softened to require only two months taxes.

Artists are applauding the delay in implementing another new law. The law, announced in July, requires prior government approval for artists, musicians, writers and performers who want to present their work in any spaces open to the public, including private homes and businesses. Implementation of the law will be delayed following protests and social media campaigns by many Cuban artists that it was another layer of censorship and control over artistic expression. Miami Herald and Reuters and AP and Miami Herald

The unraveling of Cuba's Socialist economy

There's a certain amusing irony that Xinhua, the official news service the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), in a country that is still officially Socialist (but "with Chinese characteristics"), congratulated Cuba on rolling back some of the restrictions on the private sector: "Cuba's government has taken new regulations that will spur the island's fledgling private sector to ensure it continues to expand and create jobs, local media said on Thursday."

Indeed Cuba is in the process of abandoning its Socialist economy and turning to capitalistic free markets, just as China did decades ago, and just as one Socialist country after another had to do in the last 60 years, in order to avoid catastrophic economic meltdowns. Two Socialist countries -- Venezuela and North Korea -- did NOT make that transition, and the disastrous self-destructive results are there for all to see.

From the point of view of Generation Dynamics, Cuba is in the midst of a generational Unraveling era, when the harsh rules set up after the last generational crisis war, in this case the 1960 Cuban Revolution, unravel because younger generations no longer are willing to tolerate them. America's last generational Unraveling era occurred in the 1990s, when the country dismantled the post-Depression financial regulations and opened its foreign policy to Communist countries like China and Russia.

During the last ten years, Cuba's entire Socialist economy has been unraveling, step by step.

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 populated with street stalls selling everything from pirate DVDs to kitchen implements. There were still many restrictions on private businesses, but these restrictions are being removed, one by one.

Unfortunately, ending a Socialist economy does not mean ending the dictatorship. Like Nazi Germany and China, a dictatorship with free markets is Fascist. Whether Cuba's dictatorship will also unravel and turn into a democratic government remains to be seen. Xinhua and Reuters

Cuba rolls out mobile internet services

Another sign that Cuba's hardline control over business is unraveling is the availability of internet access to mobile phones across the country. Previously, internet access was limited to state-run internet cafes and public wi-fi hot spots.

Cuba will offer packages of data data ranging from 600 MB for 7 convertible Cuban pesos ($7) to 4 GB for 30 Cuban pesos ($30). The average monthly salary for a Cuban is $30 per month, meaning that few Cubans will be able to afford the service, except for Cubans in the wealthy élite. CNBC and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Dec-18 World View -- Cuba eases economic restrictions, continuing on path from Socialism to free markets thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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13-Dec-18 World View -- China recklessly arrests a second Canadian without justification

Google CEO Sundar Pichai evades questions about helping China's military

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China recklessly arrests a second Canadian without justification


Chinese police arrest activist in Hong Kong (File, Reuters)
Chinese police arrest activist in Hong Kong (File, Reuters)

As we reported yesterday, China arrested a Canadian journalist and former diplomat Michael Korvig with no charges or justification. ( "12-Dec-18 World View -- China jails Canadian journalist Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada arrest of Meng Wanzhou")

On Wednesday, Canada said that a second Canadian, Michael Spavor, has been arrested. He was initially questioned by Chinese police, and then contacted the Canadian government. After that, he disappeared.

The international hostility to China has been growing palpably in the last year. It isn't just the Trump administration that has been critical of China's theft of intellectual property and violation of international trade rules. According to analysts I've heard, politicians in Canada and Europe and Japan are increasingly "fed up" with trying to deal with China.

The Chinese are also growing angrier at the West, but it goes beyond that.

At the same time, China increasingly gives the impression of a country in societal meltdown. The crackdown on Christianity has become more vitriolic, and the policy of sending a million Uighurs to "re-education camps" where they can be beaten, tortured, raped or killed for not reciting the party line is one of the most insane policies in the history of mankind. The number of "mass incidents" in China was increasing exponentially for years, until China stopped reporting the official statistics, and jailed reporters who did so unofficially. It's believed that an economic recession in China could trigger widespread protests or a civil war, as happened with Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49) or the Taiping Rebellion (1852-64).

Arresting another Canadian for the second day in a row is extremely reckless, because it's going to cause panic among all Western diplomats and executives in China. Even worse, it suggests that China's government no longer cares how bad it looks, and is losing control of its foreign policy.

As long-time readers know, Generational Dynamics has been predicting for years that China and the West are headed for World War III in this generational Crisis era. Things appear to moving quickly now, as relations deteriorate. China Digital Times and Bloomberg and Guardian (London)

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US blames China for Marriot data breach in plan to create massive database of American citizens

US government investigators blame hackers working for China's spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), for a cyberattack on the Marriott Hotel chain that collected personal details of roughly 500 million guests between 2014 and 2018.

The stolen data contains names, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, passport numbers, birthdates, passport photos, hotel arrival and departure dates, and information on where people traveled and with whom.

Other data breaches attributed to China's MSS include a 2017 Equifax hack that collected detailed credit information on 145 million people, a 2013 Target breach that exposed payment card and contact information for 60 million customers, and a 2015 hack of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that collected detailed personal information on more than 20 million government employees, family members and applicants. There were other breaches of health-care institutions, including Anthem and CareFirst, that provided health data.

It's believed that China's MSS has created a large database of hundreds of millions of Americans, merging data from all these sources. This data can be used for spying, extortion, identity theft, and so forth.

Taking this a step further, the Chinese company Huawei Technologies is the second largest manufacturer of smartphones in the world, behind Samsung. It's believed that Huawei phones and devices can be accessed remotely by China's military, as I described in detail last week, with the result that numerous Western companies are banning Huawei from supplying equipment for their networks.

Huawei phones, like all smartphones, keep track of locations and calling data for its users. This data could be accessed from China and merged with the master data base described above to accumulate detailed personal information and activities of tens of millions of Americans.

China is already doing this for its citizens in China. China's military collects massive amounts of data on online activities and uses street cameras and facial recognition algorithms to track the locations of millions of Chinese citizens in real time. This is particularly true in Xinjiang province, where Uighurs are constantly monitored for suspicious activity, and a million Uighurs have been sent to "re-education camps." Washington Post and AP (3-Dec) and New York Times

Google CEO Sundar Pichai evades questions about helping China's military

In a related matter, Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He was questioned about the massive amount of data that Google collects about Americans, though not nearly as much as the Chinese are collecting on the Chinese -- or on Americans.

Pichai completely evaded answering questions about Project Dragonfly, the massive project to use search engine technology in China to collect data about search requests and add it to China's huge database of tens of millions of its citizens, where it could be used, for example, to identify "suspicious" activity. Pichai said that the project was under active development, but that there were "no plans" to deploy it in China at this time.

However, Pichai was not asked about the state of the art Artificial Intelligence development center that Google is opening in Shanghai, to supply advanced AI technology to China's government and military, while Google refuses to work with the American military for even defensive purposes. Google apparently plans to help out the Chinese when China and the US are at war, just as IBM helped out the Nazis at the beginning of World War II. The Street

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Dec-18 World View -- China recklessly arrests a second Canadian without justification thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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12-Dec-18 World View -- China jails Canadian journalist Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada arrest of Meng Wanzhou

Canada releases Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on bail

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China jails Canadian journalist Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada arrest of Meng Wanzhou


Meng Wanzhou speaks to her lawyer at Tuesday's bail hearing (Toronto Star)
Meng Wanzhou speaks to her lawyer at Tuesday's bail hearing (Toronto Star)

Michael Kovrig, a Canadian journalist and analyst working as a China expert for the International Crisis Group, has suddenly disappeared while in China. Kovrig is also a former Canadian diplomat.

It's assumed the Kovrig was arrested by China's security forces. According to one analyst, the Chinese will hold someone for 37 days before he's given access to a lawyer.

Many people additionally believe that Kovrig was arrested, without charges or justification, in retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested after a multi-year investigation alleging that Meng conducted massive counts of bank fraud in order to violate US sanctions against Iran.

The fact that Meng was charged with multiple real crimes, while Kovrig was arrested without any justification is just one of the differences between the two cases.

A second difference is the Meng was immediately given access to her family and a lawyer, and was told what the charges were. Kovrig has completely disappeared, and is given access to no one.

Third, Meng was tried in a real court, where her lawyer could defend her. If Kovrig's case is typical, he'll be thrown into jail, tortured, and forced to confess to a crime he knows nothing about.

China is just being consistent as a criminal nation. Meng is being tried in a fair court procedure. China's abduction of Kovrig is criminal. China's activities in the South China Sea are criminal. China's theft of other countries' intellectual property is criminal. China's repeated violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules is criminal. China's repeated destruction of Christian churches is criminal. China's incredible actions sending a million Uighurs to "re-education camps" where they can be beaten, tortured, raped or killed for not reciting the party line is not only criminal, it's one of the stupidest and most insane policies in the history of mankind. And China is being led by president Xi Jinping who is terrified by Winnie the Pooh because they look the same. Can you imagine Donald Trump or any other world leading being terrified by a cartoon like Winnie the Pooh?

Almost every day something new happens that makes China appear to be a country falling apart at the seams. This is not good, as it will lead to a great deal of bloodshed and a world war. Toronto Star and South China Morning Post and Canadian Broadcasting

US State Dept considers stronger travel warning for China

Michael Kovrig's arrest without charges or justification, apparently in retaliation for Canada's arrest of Meng, has raised alarm that any Westerner in China is now subject to arbitrary arrest without charges or justification.

There are reports that the US State Department is considering toughening its travel warning for people considering travel to China. However, the State Dept's existing travel warning is already pretty tough, and shows that Kovrig's unjustified rest is pretty common in China:

"Chinese authorities have the broad ability to prohibit travelers from leaving China (also known as ‘exit bans’); exit bans have been imposed to compel U.S. citizens to resolve business disputes, force settlement of court orders, or facilitate government investigations. Individuals not involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also be subjected to lengthy exit bans in order to compel their family members or colleagues to cooperate with Chinese courts or investigators.

U.S. citizens visiting or residing in China have been arbitrarily interrogated or detained for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel have detained and/or deported U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government."

It's pretty clear from this State Dept. warning that things like arresting and burying Michael Kovrig are a fairly common occurrence in China. US State Dept.

How Michael Kovrig infuriates the Chinese

Michael Kovrig is a fluent Mandarin speaker and an analyst for the International Crisis Group. I was curious to see what he's written, and I found his most recent article on the ICG web site, "China Expands Its Peace and Security Footprint in Africa." It's a lengthy article, and here are some excerpts:

"[O]fficials from 53 African countries and the African Union (AU) [came] to Beijing for meetings that culminated in a resolution to continue strengthening ties and a renewed pledge of billions of dollars in Chinese loans, grants and investments. Over the past decade China’s role in peace and security has also grown rapidly through arms sales, military cooperation and peacekeeping deployments in Africa. ...

A more controversial sign of China’s military footprint is the 36-hectare Djibouti facility that the PLA established in 2017 with a ten-year lease at $20 million annually. The PLA describes it as a support base for naval anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, peacekeeping in South Sudan and humanitarian and other cooperation in the Horn of Africa, but has also used it to conduct live-fire military exercises. ...

Less noticeable to outsiders but broader in impact is China’s direct defence and security cooperation with African counterparts. This takes place through a growing number of joint exercises, naval patrols and exchanges. In the first half of 2018 alone, the PLA Navy’s 27th and 28th anti-piracy escort task forces reportedly visited ports in Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria, while PLA units conducted drills in the same countries, and its medical teams did work in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Zambia. Mere months after Burkina Faso’s May decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the PLA is already working to develop military ties that will likely emphasize counter-terrorism cooperation. ...

The political and defence relationships fostered by these programs grease the wheels for weapons sales. Data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that China has become the top supplier of arms to sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 27 per cent of the region’s imports over the four year period from 2013-2017, an increase of 55 per cent over 2008-2012. Some 22 countries in the region have procured major arms from Chinese suppliers in recent years, key among them Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. In June, China’s State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence reported that Beijing now has defence industry, science and technology ties with 45 African countries. ...

China’s own expanding economic interests are a further driver. Africa’s largest trading partner since 2009, China increasingly counts on the continent for natural resources and markets to maintain its own growth and social stability. ...

Moreover, roughly a million Chinese are estimated to live and work in Africa, and China’s leaders have a domestic political imperative to ensure their safety. Beijing has already contended with evacuations from Libya, South Sudan and Yemen, and incidents of violence and property damage elsewhere. The 2017 Chinese blockbuster action movie Wolf Warrior II brought home a Rambo-esque fantasy version of these concerns. Set in a nameless African country that descends into chaos, it closes with the hubristic message that China’s government will protect its citizens wherever they go."

China's politicians are people that become infuriated by Winnie the Pooh, so it's not surprising that this criminal nation would be infuriated by this kind of analysis. It's quite possible that they've been planning to arrest and bury Michael Kovrig for some time, and the arrest of Meng Wanzhou provided the perfect opportunity. International Crisis Group (24-Oct)

Canada releases Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on bail

There was a burst of applause on Tuesday afternoon in the Vancouver Supreme Court courtroom when the court granted bail to Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.

Meng is not scheduled to appear in court again until February 6, at which time a hearing will be held to determine whether Meng should be extradited to the United States for a setting up a complex international financial system, defrauding banks in several countries, in order to violate US sanctions laws with regard to Iran.

The judge said that Meng's husband Liu Xiaozong would pledge a total of $15 million — including the value of two Vancouver homes and $7 million in cash — and live with her to ensure she obeys court conditions. Meng must also report to a bail supervisor, maintain good behavior, live at a house owned by her husband, and stay in that house between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. She must also surrender her passports, wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on her ankle and live under surveillance 24/7.

However, these people are billionaires, and this money means nothing to them. I don't believe anyone will be too surprised if Meng doesn't show up at the February 6 court hearing, and investigation shows that she eluded the police by wearing a turban, a long fake beard, and a Sikh chola, carrying a pair of swords.

Apparently what convinced the judge is that four other friends were willing to guarantee that she would not skip bail. He told the courtroom he believed "the risk of her non-attendance in court can be reduced to an acceptable level" under the bail conditions.

There is an unconfirmed suspicion that the arrest of Michael Kovrig in the criminal nation China was a factor, since not granting bail to Meng could mean torture and additional detention for Kovrig. Even with bail, the suspicion is that the fate of Kovrig is directly dependent on the fate of Meng in the Vancouver courtroom. Toronto Star and Canadian Broadcasting

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Dec-18 World View -- China jails Canadian journalist Michael Kovrig in apparent retaliation for Canada arrest of Meng Wanzhou thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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11-Dec-18 World View -- Ebola in DR Congo spreads southward to large cities

Uganda and South Sudan vaccinate health workers against Ebola

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Ebola in DR Congo spreads southward to large cities


The city of Goma in DR Congo remains Ebola-free so far (AFP)
The city of Goma in DR Congo remains Ebola-free so far (AFP)

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now the second-largest in history. The current outbreak, that was declared on August 1, has 471 identified cases, of which 423 are confirmed, including 225 confirmed deaths. However, that's nowhere near the size of the 2014-2016 outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people.

The big difference between the current outbreak and the 2014 outbreak is that an experimental vaccine is available this time, and it seems to be working. Teams of health workers from Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) have vaccinated more than 41,000 people so far. It's estimated that without the vaccine, there would already be more than 10,000 Ebola cases in the current outbreak.

The vaccine is used in conjunction with contact tracing. When an Ebola case is suspected, health workers identify the patient's contacts and their contacts, and all those people are given the vaccine, in case they've been infected.

The current epidemic is centered around the city of Beni in North Kivu province, which is in the middle of a war zone with a population of 400,000. Militias have attacked health workers, making it almost impossible to do the contact tracing necessary to stop the progress of the disease, so it may be 6-12 more months before the current epidemic can be stopped completely.

More worrisome is that the outbreak has been spreading southward, and there are now identified cases in the city of Butembo, which has one million residents. Furthermore, new cases are increasing quickly in the eastern suburbs and outlying, isolated districts. In some cases, not all residents of hard-to-reach communities have received the vaccines. Public and private health centers with inadequate infection prevention and control (IPC) practices continue to be major source of amplification of the outbreak.

The greatest concern now is that it will spread further south to the city of Goma, a major population center and regional hub for transportation -- air, road, truck -- with a population of two million, including the suburbs. No cases of Ebola have been identified in Goma yet.

There may not be enough of the experimental vaccine to service the huge populations in Beni, Butembo and Goma. The current stockpile is 300,000 doses. Merck has a supply of the vaccine, but Merck says that it takes about a year, start to finish, to produce a batch of the vaccine. World Health Organization (WHO) and Australian AP and STAT News

Uganda and South Sudan vaccinate health workers against Ebola

As the Ebola epidemic spreads southward, it has so far remained with DRC. But North Kivu province is on the border with Uganda and South Sudan, and tens of thousands of people cross these borders in both directions every day, so it's possible that the disease will spread into those two countries. If it spreads into a transportation hub like Goma, then it may spread even farther into other countries.

Uganda last month announced plans to roll out vaccinations to 3,000 frontline health workers. According to Uganda's health minister, "We have not waited for the first case to arrive. The vaccination is continuing."

About 2,160 doses of the Ebola vaccine have been allocated to South Sudan and will be administered to healthcare and frontline workers. The country is on high alert and no confirmed case has been detected as of December 8. World Health Organization (WHO) and New Vision (Uganda)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Dec-18 World View -- Ebola in DR Congo spreads southward to large cities thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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10-Dec-18 World View -- Japan invites hundreds of thousands of foreigners to work in Japan

Analyzing the generational history of an insular Japan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan invites hundreds of thousands of foreigners to work in Japan


 Workers from Thailand work at Green Leaf farm, in Showa Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, June 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Workers from Thailand work at Green Leaf farm, in Showa Village, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, June 6, 2018. (Reuters)

In the predawn hours on Saturday, Japan enacted controversial new legislation that will permit 345,000 low-skilled foreign workers to receive labor shortages, especially in such areas as farming, nursing care and construction.

From April 1, a new residency permit category will allow foreigners who have completed some skills training and passed a Japanese-language test to work in Japan for up to five years in 14 industries.

The passage of the new law is almost an act of desperation, as Japan has a low birth rate and an aging population, and needs workers who can build build buildings, and support the elderly and the factories.

However, there is a great deal of opposition to the measure for several reasons.

Foreign workers in Japan have been forced to work at almost slave wages in jobs where they can be abused and exploited.

Labor leaders object to a program that brings in low-wage workers that will take the jobs of Japanese workers.

But most of the objections refer to the Japanese culture. Throughout its history, Japan has been an island shut off from the rest of the world, with its unique shared customs and shared culture, and foreign workers would not fit into that. Furthermore, Japan has a history that a small number of Japanese treat any foreigners as subhuman.

For that reason, the new legislation is including a package of measures to provide skills training, language training, and to ensure decent working conditions. Japan Today and Nikkei and Washington Post and Japan Times

Analyzing the generational history of an insular Japan

The insular, isolated culture of Japan has presented unique problems in trying to understand its history from the point of view of Generational Dynamics theory.

For the past few centuries, we can divide Japanese history into four distinct periods:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics theory, the problem occurs in the analyzing the 250 year Tokugawa era. Going 250 years without a major war is not possible. Populations grow exponentially and use up land and water resources, and after a few decades there isn't enough food for everyone, so there has to be a war to restore the balance. So if there were generational crisis wars during that 250 year period, then how come we aren't seeing them?

To put it another way, let's assume that Japan had crisis wars in the 1600-1868 period like every other country. How would those wars be different from crisis wars in other countries?

Xenophobia and nationalism are often defined in terms of things like race, skin color, appearance, language, geography and religion, things that are set at birth and cannot be easily changed. What makes Japan unique is because of its insularity and homogeneity, there is little difference among groups of Japanese in terms of of race, skin color, appearance, language, geography and religion. The only thing that separates one group of Japanese from another would be political beliefs, things that can be easily fudged or even changed.

When historians write about wars during a period, how do they describe the wars? Usually it's "North vs South" or "dark-skinned vs light-skinned" or "Protestants vs Catholics" or "English-speaking vs French-speaking," or something like that. How would a historian describe a war in Japan? In the "Warring Period," it was one warlord versus another.

But in the Tokugawa period, there's apparently no obvious way. There must have been wars, because the population growth would have exceeded the demand for food, land, water and other resources, but how these wars manifested themselves is little understood in the West. This is an area that requires additional research. Japan Times and Columbia University and History.com

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9-Dec-18 World View -- Latest South Sudan peace agreement appears close to collapse

Brief generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Latest South Sudan peace agreement appears close to collapse


Signs separating the Nuer and Dinka tribes in a UN refugee camp in South Sudan (Nyamilepedia)
Signs separating the Nuer and Dinka tribes in a UN refugee camp in South Sudan (Nyamilepedia)

There's an old saying, "Peace is that brief, glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading." That saying may apply to South Sudan, after a peace agreement was signed in September.

The peace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on September 12. It was signed by Salva Kiir, the leader of Dinka tribe, and president of South Sudan. The other signer was Riek Machar, the leader of the Nuer tribe, and vice president of South Sudan until 2013, when he was sacked by Kiir.

The sacking led to extremely bloody and violent clashes between Dinka and Nuer militias. The conflict killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, displaced an estimated one-quarter of the population of 12 million, and ruined the economy, which depends heavily on crude oil production.

This was the second or third peace agreement signed since 2013. It calls for an immediate ceasefire. It calls for an end to recruitment of soldiers on both sides, it calls for an end to the trafficking of young girls, and it calls for a power-sharing agreement with the return of Machar to be vice president again in May.

Although low-level violence has been a constant since South Sudan became independent of Sudan in 2011, there were major clashes that began in December 2013. ( "29-Dec-2013 World View -- Conflicts grow in South Sudan and Central African Republic") There followed 21 months of atrocities, until they were supposedly ended by a peace treaty that was signed by both sides in August 2015. By mid-2016, the fight was fully engaged again.

There are concerns that this peace agreement won't last either.

There's news emerging that in the last ten days of November, 150 girls and women were raped near the town of Bentiu. The situation is still being investigated.

And a new report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan says that both sides are continuing to recruit fighters, many of them just boys.

The problem with the peace agreement is that it was signed by politicians. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's the people rather than the politicians who make this kind of decision. The people who are doing the fighting are the members of the Dinka and Nuer tribes, and they hate each other, irrespective of any peace agreement between the politicians.

There has been a letup in the violence since the peace agreement was signed in September, but it remains to be seen whether it will last, or whether it was just a brief, glorious moment when both the Dinkas and the Nuers spent the time reloading. Al Jazeera (12-Sep) and Reuters (12-Sep) and Council on Foreign Relations (26-Sep) and Sudan Tribune and AFP

Brief generational history of South Sudan and Dinka-Nuer clashes

The Dinka and the Nuer tribes have had conflicts over land for centuries. In numerous other countries, I've described how ethnic wars grow over farmers versus herders. But in South Sudan, both the Dinkas and Nuers are herder communities. The conflict over land is the same, however. Clashes begin during dry periods, when both sides compete for the same land.

Sudan was ruled by the Ottoman empire, and later by an arrangement by an arrangement of Egyptian and British control. When Sudan became independent of Britain in 1956, the north was largely Muslim, Arabic speaking, while the southern population mostly followed tribal religions. The Khartoum government in the north launched a program to "Arabize and Islamize the South." This triggered a reaction from Christian evangelists, mostly from the US, to come to Sudan and convert the South to Christianity.

There was immediately a north-south war of independence, but there was also a generational crisis civil war between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. This was climaxed on November 15, 1991, when the "Bor Massacre" began. Over the next three months, 2,000 civilians were killed, thousands more wounded, at least 100,000 people fled the area. Famine followed the massacre, as looters burnt villages and raided cattle, resulting in the deaths of 25,000 more from starvation.

The nightmare scenario is that the new clashes will spiral into a repeat of the 1991 Bor Massacre. But from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, so a historic massacre of this type will not occur, despite the enormous ethnic hatred between the Nuers and the Dinkas. Sudan Tribune (24-Nov-2018) and National Geographic (30-Sep-2014) and Vox (9-Jan-2017) and Nyamile (31-Mar-2016)

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8-Dec-18 World View -- Arrest of Meng Wanzhou of China's Huawei has increasingly serious implications

The story of Stern Hu, an employee of Australian mining company Rio Tinto

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Huawei's Meng Wanzhou faces possible 30 year jail term


Meng Wanzhou (fensifuwu.com)
Meng Wanzhou (fensifuwu.com)

As we described yesterday, Huawei Technologies chief financial officer (CFO) Ms. Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian police on Saturday, while changing planes in Vancouver. Meng is the daughter of of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, who was previously an officer and engineer in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). ( "7-Dec-18 World View -- Canada arrests the chief financial officer of China powerhouse Huawei")

Meng appeared in a Vancouver court on Friday, where the allegations were laid out:

If convicted on all these charges, Meng faces up to 30 years in jail in the United States.

The Chinese government has called for Meng’s immediate release, saying that arresting her violates her "human rights."

Meng's lawyers are requesting bail, saying that she's not a flight risk because she would not risk embarrassing her father or her country by fleeing before her extradition hearing. However, Canadian prosecuters say that Meng is the daughter of the company’s billionaire founder, Ren Zhengfei, is a flight risk because of her wealth and the fact that she could face three decades in prison. Washington Post and Reuters (31-Jan-2013)

Japan blocks Huawei products from public infrastructure projects

For reasons that I described in detail in yesterday's article, we have to assume that it is absolutely certain that any Huawei networking device can be controlled remotely by China's military and used for espionage, and that it's impossible to detect this.

On Friday, Japan's government said that it will exclude Chinese telecommunication equipment-makers Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. from public procurement because of security concerns.

Japan joins the United States, Australia and New Zealand in implementing such a ban. Canada, Britain and the European Union are investigating security issues, although Germany's interior ministry opposes banning Huawei. Japan Times and BBC

The story of Stern Hu, an employee of Australian mining company Rio Tinto

An example of how Meng Wanzhou might be treated is the tale of Stern Hu, an executive in Australian firm Rio Tinto who was jailed in 2009 and only freed four months ago.

Hu was apparently one of the millions of peaceful student protesters in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that Chinese authorities ended on June 4, 1989, with a bloody massacre that killed thousands of students.

Hu used to work for China International Trust and Investment Co, until a photo surfaced in a magazine showing him participating in the Tiananmen Square protests, at which time he was fired. He traveled to Australia, became an Australian citizen, and in 1996 joined a company that went on to become the international mining giant Rio Tinto. Hu becamse head of Rio Tinto's iron ore business in China.

In 2010, Hu and three other Rio Tinto executives were given hefty jail sentences on charges of corruption and bribery for bribing executives from Chinese steel companies to sign contracts with Rio Tinto. Hu was given a ten-year jail sentence, but he was released in July of this year for good behavior.

The incarceration of Hu Stern can provide precedents for how the case of Meng Wanzhou should be resolved. Telegraph (London, 28-Jul-2009) and Australian Broadcasting (5-Aug-2010) and Mining.com and Washington Post

Arrest of Meng Wanzhou of China's Huawei has increasingly serious implications

In yesterday's article, I speculated that the Trump administration will decide to de-escalate this situation quickly by returning Meng to China as soon as possible, in order to avoid risking the current "ceasefire" in the trade war between the US and China.

However, some analysts point out that the opposite may be true, because otherwise our allies may not continue to support us. ZTE is another Chinese company that was severely sanctioned for making illegal sales to Iran. The Trump administration heavily sanctioned ZTE, but the sanctions were reversed as the result of a personal plea by Xi Jinping to Donald Trump. This reversal, according to analysts, confused our allies, who wonder how serious the Trump administration is about enforcing the sanctions against Iran.

Furthermore, Meng went far beyond simply violating US sanctions laws. She set up a complex international system, defrauding banks in several countries, and therefore violating several countries' laws, and so Meng can't be excused unless these other countries agree. (Paragraph added, 8-Dec)

This reasoning indicates that the Trump administration is going to have to follow a hard line in the case of Meng, including giving her a jail sentence, as in the case of the Rio Tinto executive.

At the same time, the Chinese are becoming increasingly infuriated by Meng's arrest. Huawei is perhaps the most respected company in China, and many Chinese people are viewing the arrest of Meng and the banning of Huawei products as part of a policy to contain China.

Chinese people, including Xi Jinping, claim that China has been repeatedly humiliated by countries of the West, starting with the Opium Wars in the 1840s. ( "21-Mar-18 World View -- Xi Jinping invokes the 1840s Opium Wars to justify military action for China's 'rejuvenation'")

Some Chinese are saying that the campaign against Huawei is a continuation of the West's policy of humiliating China and containing China.

I've been writing for years how, as the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, countries of the world are becoming increasingly xenophobic and nationalistic, and that eventually this leads to a new generational crisis war. Generational Dynamics predicts that China and the US are headed for a new world war. The Huawei situation has resulted an increase in xenophobia and nationalism in both countries, bringing us one step closer to that world war. Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Dec-18 World View -- Arrest of Meng Wanzhou of China's Huawei has increasingly serious implications thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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7-Dec-18 World View -- Canada arrests the chief financial officer of China powerhouse Huawei

English-speaking 'Five Eyes' countries are banning Huawei products

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Canada arrests the chief financial officer of China powerhouse Huawei


Meng Wanzhou
Meng Wanzhou

At the request of the United States, Canadian police arrested Ms. Meng Wanzhou (Sabrina Meng), the chief financial officer (CFO) China's telecom powerhouse Huawei (WHA way) Technologies, which was founded by her father Ren Zhengfei. Before founding Huawei, Ren was an officer and engineer in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

According to the US Justice Department:

"She is sought for extradition by the United States, and a bail hearing has been set for Friday. As there is a publication ban in effect, we cannot provide any further detail at this time. The ban was sought by Ms. Meng."

Reports indicate that Huawei is alleged to have used the global banking system to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. In particular, it's believed that Huawei used HSBC Holdings Plc to conduct illegal transactions involving Iran. As CFO, Meng would be intimately familiar with any such illegal transactions.

HSBC Bank plc is a London-based international banking and financial services company. In 2012, HSBC paid a $1.92 billion fine for violating US sanctions and money-laundering laws. HSBC is apparently not under investigation in the Huawei allegations.

Meng was arrested on Saturday in Vancouver airport, as she was changing planes. The arrest occurred at the same time that president Donald Trump and China's president Xi Jinping were having a dinner meeting that led to an agreement for a 90-day "ceasefire" in the "trade war" between the two countries.

Since the arrest occurred shortly before the dinner meeting, there is speculation that Trump timed the arrest to send a message to China and to Xi. However, the dinner meeting was planned well in advance of the arrest, and there would have been no way of predicting that Meng would be changing planes in Vancouver at exactly that time. National security advisor John Bolton says that he knew before the dinner that Meng was being arrested, but said that he didn't brief Trump. Meng may have been put onto a list of people subject to arrest at Canadian airports months ago, but the fact that she happened to change planes in Vancouver on Saturday appears to be purely happenstance.

ZTE is another Chinese company that has been severely sanctioned for making illegal sales to Iran. The Trump administration heavily sanctioned ZTE, to the extent that ZTE would have gone out of business, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in China, but Trump relented after a personal plea from Xi.

Mainstream media and other politicians are almost universally baffled by Trump's foreign policy actions, as I've pointed out many times. But the policies all make complete sense when you understand that Trump believes (correctly) that the US and China are headed for a world war, and he's adopting policies that he believes will prevent that outcome, even though Generational Dynamics predicts that a world war will happen with 100% certainty, no matter what Trump does.

In the case of the "trade war" policy, Trump has described its purpose as saving American jobs, which is true, but it also has the purpose of throwing China off its game of relentless militarization and preparation for war. However, it's an extremely risky policy because it may actually trigger war if the Chinese panic. The 90-day freeze gives the Chinese some breathing room, and keeps them from panicking.

For that reason, the happenstance arrest of Meng is actually a risk to the ceasefire, since it could infuriate the Chinese to the point of triggering an unwanted reaction, including the arrest of American executives in China. It's possible that the Trump administration will decide to de-escalate this situation quickly by returning Meng to China as soon as possible. Globe and Mail (Toronto) and Reuters and Wired

China reacts with fury at the arrest of Meng

China's foreign ministry has demanded the Canadians and Americans "immediately clarify the reason for the detention and release the detainee, and earnestly protect the legal and legitimate rights and interests of the person involved."

China's embassy in Canada posted the following:

"At the request of the US side, the Canadian side arrested a Chinese citizen not violating any American or Canadian law. The Chinese side firmly opposes and strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the US and Canadian side, and urged them to immediately correct the wrongdoing and restore the personal freedom of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. We will closely follow the development of the issue and take all measures to resolutely protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens."

It's always laughable when China talks about international law or human rights, two things that the Chinese believe don't apply to them, since they consider themselves superior to everyone else. My guess is that Ms. Meng is being held in the equivalent of a suite in a five star hotel. On the other hand, China is a country that kidnaps children, harvests the organs of political prisoners, and has a million ethnic Uighurs locked up in forced reeducation prisons, where they can be tortured raped and killed for saying the wrong thing. I doubt that Ms. Meng is in danger of suffering any of those "human rights" violations. China Foreign Ministry and China's Canadian Embassy

English-speaking 'Five Eyes' countries are banning Huawei products

Huawei Technologies is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment provider, and it is the second largest mobile phone manufacturer. It is a pillar of the Chinese economy. Its founder Ren Zhengfei is a former military officer in the People Liberation Army (PLA). Meng Wanzhou is his daughter.

Huawei has been promoting itself worldwide to sell routers and other equipment for the latest technology advance, 5G networks, in countries around the world. Back in August, Australia banned Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G networks. The United States has done the same, and last week New Zealand did the same.

The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are members of the "Five Eyes" alliance that shares intelligence to combat espionage, terrorism and global crime. Three of these countries have banned Huawei because of a security threat.

As I've said in the past, I've spent a part of my career as a senior software engineer developing chip-level operating system software for embedded systems, so I know exactly how any chip or any electronic device can be turned into a tool for espionage. Furthermore, I can tell you that not only is it doable, it's not even particularly difficult for someone with the right skills.

Huawei could develop a chipset that works exactly as described in the public specifications. The chipset could be subjected to thousands of tests, and they would all work perfectly.

But what Huawei could do is install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by Chinese engineers. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei chips.

As I said, this is not only doable, it's easy to do. The "backdoor" could not be detected until an attack had been launched, and then it would be too late. And since it CAN be done, it's certain that it HAS been done. China has been preparing for war with the West in every possible way, and has conducted cybercrime and espionage on a massive scale. Installing a secret backdoor in its chips would be one of the easiest ways to prepare for war, so there's no doubt that they've done it.

Huawei has been aggressively selling routers and other infrastructure equipment to companies and governments around the world. China could spy on transmissions over these networks or, in the worst case scenario, completely shut down all commercial and government networks during a war. For that reason, Huawei devices are considered to be a security threat. Globe and Mail (Toronto) and AFP and Wired and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Dec-18 World View -- Canada arrests the chief financial officer of China powerhouse Huawei thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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6-Dec-18 World View -- New head of US Central Command says Afghanistan war is unsustainable

DJIA plunges 800 points on Tuesday

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New head of US Central Command says Afghanistan war is unsustainable


An Afghan command and a US Special Forces soldier scan the horizon for enemy movement in Afghanistan, on May 24, 2018. (Military Times)
An Afghan command and a US Special Forces soldier scan the horizon for enemy movement in Afghanistan, on May 24, 2018. (Military Times)

According to Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the incoming head of the US Central Command, the death rate among Afghan government security forces is unsustainable. He said he doesn’t know how long it will take to develop an Afghan force capable of defending its own country.

Speaking at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, McKenzie said that the war is currently stalemated:

"They’re not there yet. If we left precipitously right now, they would not be able to successfully defend their country.

Their losses have been very high. They are fighting hard, but their losses are not going to be sustainable unless we correct this problem."

However, he did not spell out what changes are necessary to correct this problem. Also, he said he doesn't know know how long it will take to develop an Afghan force capable of defending its own country.

Long-time readers will not be surprised by this at all. In 2009, when president Barack Obama announced a "surge" of troops into Afghanistan, mimicking president George Bush's successful troop surge into Iraq, I wrote that the Afghanistan troop surge would not be as successful as the Iraq troop surge. The Iraq troop surge was to eject foreign jihadists from Iraq, and it was successful because the Iraq Sunnis also wanted to eject foreign jihadists from Iraq. ("Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq (01-Apr-2007)")

But the Taliban are not foreign fighters. As I've explained many times, Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the extremely bloody Afghan crisis civil war, 1991-96, which mostly pitted the ethnic Pashtuns, who are Sunni Muslims and later formed the Taliban, versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan. Now, twenty years later, Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, and a new young generation of Pashtuns is coming of age, raised on stories their parents told them about the atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance, and they're looking for revenge.

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

That's why the government cannot possibly control the Taliban, and why trying "peace talks" with the Taliban doesn't even make sense. Even if the Taliban leaders agreed to some settlement, it would not satisfy their sons and daughters, who are not going to be deterred in their search for revenge. That's the way the world works.

The Taliban have repeatedly and consistently said that they will not agree to any peace deal until after the Nato troops have withdrawn.

There are some 16,000 American and Nato troops in Afghanistan, acting in a support role to the Afghan army. McKenzie said the U.S. and its allies need to keep helping the Afghans recruit and train forces to fight the Taliban’s estimated 60,000 troops. The 60,000 figure is considerably higher than previous estimates, which were around 20,000. Military Times and AP

Political opposition to Afghan strategy grows

At the Senate hearing, an angry Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich, said:

"We’ve been at it 17 years, 17 years is a long time. What are we doing differently when it comes to the Afghan security forces that we haven’t done for 17 years while being focused on this?"

McKenzie said that it's different this time because we have a key, new strategy in Afghanistan: peace talks with the Taliban. I guess he's forgotten numerous attempts at peace talks in the past, all of which have failed for the reasons that I just gave. McKenzie said:

"I don’t know how long it will take. I do know that we’re working it very hard. I do know that they are making improvements. I do know that today it would be very difficult for them to survive without our and our coalition partners’ assistance. And we should remember that NATO and other nations are with us on the ground in Afghanistan."

That last point is true. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says that the Nato countries have reaffirmed their commitment to Afghanistan's "long-term security and stability" despite mounting Afghan casualties.

"Sometimes there is an uptick, an increase in violence because different parties try to gain the best possible position at the negotiating table. So it may actually become worse before it becomes better."

What this obscure statement apparently means is that the "uptick" in violence is a GOOD thing because it means that the Taliban want to gain an advantage before they negotiate peace.

As I've written in the past, there may be a dynamic going on. President Donald Trump's foreign policy is totally baffling to the mainstream media and most politicians, but as a I keep pointing out, everything makes perfect sense once you understand that he believes (correctly) that the US is headed for a world war against China and Pakistan. So there's undoubtedly a larger purpose in not withdrawing from Afghanistan. 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. Stars and Stripes and RFE/RL and Foreign Policy

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DJIA plunges 800 points on Tuesday


Tweet from someone who lost everything in the 800 point plunge on Tuesday (ZeroHedge)
Tweet from someone who lost everything in the 800 point plunge on Tuesday (ZeroHedge)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) plunged 800 points on Tuesday. The S&P and Nasdaq indexes fell by equivalent amounts. Undoubtedly many people are like the person whose tweet is shown above who lost his own life savings, but also the life savings of his parents in a single day.

As I'm writing this on Wednesday evening, the Dow Futures Index are down -250 points. Although it may recover in time for the market opening on Thursday morning, this once again reminds us that a full-scale stock market crash is not just possible -- it's absolutely certain. It may happen this week, next month, next year, or thereafter, but it's going to happen.

The S&P 500 price/earnings ratio is around 20, down from 25 a year ago. The historical average for the P/E ratio is 14, meaning that the stock market is in a huge bubble, and this huge bubble will have to pop. The P/E ratio fell to the range of 5-6 three times in the last century, in 1919, 1949 and 1982, and it's overdue to do so again. When that happens, the DJIA will fall to around the 3000 range.

And let's not forget Bitcoin, which was the darling, trendy, highly stylish investment of about a year ago. Bitcoin is an asset with nothing backing it but hot air, and it could well become totally worthless in the next few months.

In the time it's taken me to write that last two paragraphs, the Dow Futures index has fallen further to -360. That's not to say that it won't pop up again, and may even go positive by morning. But what happened on Tuesday is very real, and it could happen to you or to anyone. ZeroHedge

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Dec-18 World View -- New head of US Central Command says Afghanistan war is unsustainable thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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5-Dec-18 World View -- Ukraine and Turkey develop closer relationship amid Russia's aggression

Russia 'partially unblocks' Ukraine's ports

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia 'partially unblocks' Ukraine's ports


Russia on November 25 blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)
Russia on November 25 blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)

Ukraine said on Tuesday that Russia had "partially unblocked" access to its blockaded Berdyanks and Mariupol ports on the Sea of Azov. As of Monday, ships were allowed to move in both directions through the Kerch Strai separating the Azov and Black Seas, although Russia stops all ships and inspects them.

Russia blockaded access to the Ukrainian ports on November 25, when Russia rammed, fired on, boarded and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels, accusing them of traveling through territorial waters of occupied Crimea, which Russia had invaded and annexed in 2015.

Legal experts point out that under international law, the "innocent passage" of the three ships should have been permitted, even if they were within Crimean or Russian territorial waters.

Analysis of photos of the Ukrainian ships after the incident shows that they were rammed four times by the Russian warship, and that the Russian live fire was aimed to injure or kill the Ukrainian sailors, rather than to disable their ships.

Russia seized 24 crew members in the incident, and charged them with illegal border crossing. The Russians released videos of confessions by two of the Ukrainians. The confessions appear to have been coerced. The 24 crew members have been incarcerated in Moscow.

Observers fear that Russia intends a further invasion of Ukraine after completely blockading the Sea of Azov. Russia denies this, but Russia denied invading east Ukraine when it was invading east Ukraine, Russia denied invading Crimea when it was invading Crimea, Russia denied that it would annex Crimea days before it annexed Crimea, so the denial of further invasion plans is part of the same pattern. Bloomberg and Defense News and Bellingcat and RFE/RL

Turkey and Ukraine may establish strategic military partnership against Russia

Russia's invasion and annexation of Crimea struck at both Ukraine and Turkey. Crimea is part of Ukraine's sovereign territory, and the population of Crimea prior to the Russian invasion is most Tatars, a Turkic race ethnically related to the population of Turkey. In fact, Russia and Turkey have fought centuries of Crimean Wars.

Last month on November 3-4, prior to the Kerch Strait seizures, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko visited Turkey to meet with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They discussed issues falling into three main “baskets”: the military, economics, and Turkish arbitration in Ukraine’s relations with Russia -- in particular, concerning the situation of the Tatars in occupied Crimea. This was the latest in Ukrainian-Turkish initiatives to cooperate in the military sphere, including joint development of weapons systems.

The growing military cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine is, at the very least, an annoyance to Russia. Beyond that, particularly with Turkey as a member of Nato, the cooperation limits Russia's hand in the Black Sea.

Since the Kerch Strait incident on November 25, Turkey has offered to play a "mediator" role between Ukraine and Russia to resolve the crisis. Ukraine has made two requests for protection from further aggression by Russia.

First, Ukraine has asked Nato to conduct "Freedom of Navigation Operations" (FONOPS) through the Kerch Strait, just as the US Navy warships conduct FONOPS through the South China Sea. It's unlikely that Nato will grant this request.

Second, Ukraine has asked Turkey to invoke the Montreux Convention, to shut down the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, in order to block passage of Russia's ships between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Once again, it's unlikely that this request will be granted. Jamestown and Anadolu and AFP and UNIAN (Ukraine)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Dec-18 World View -- Ukraine and Turkey develop closer relationship amid Russia's aggression thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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4-Dec-18 World View -- Qatar withdraws from Saudi Arabia-led OPEC

The split deepens between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Qatar withdraws from Saudi Arabia-led OPEC


Qatar will pull out of OPEC and concentrate on liquefied natural gas (LNG)
Qatar will pull out of OPEC and concentrate on liquefied natural gas (LNG)

Qatar announced that on January 1 it would withdraw from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

OPEC was founded in September 1960 with five founding members: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Qatar joined in 1961. It consisted of the countries of the world that produced most of the oil, and so it was a cartel that, to some extent, was able to control total global oil supplies, and thereby control prices. As of 2016, the additional members are: Indonesia, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Nigeria, Ecuador, Gabon and Angola.

Most Americans had never heard of OPEC and weren't aware of its existence until October, 1973, when they were shocked by OPEC's announcement of an international oil embargo, triggered by US support for Israel in the Yom Kippur war against Egypt. This caused the gasoline (petrol) shortages in the United States, resulting in long lines at gas stations, and a surge in gas prices from about 30 cents per gallon to (horrors!) a dollar a gallon or more.

Qatar is the first Gulf country to withdraw from OPEC. It won't have much effect on the cartel, since Qatar provides only 2% of the cartel's oil. This meant that Qatar really had little influence of OPEC anyway. In fact, the cartel has evolved over the years, to the point where the decision makers are Saudi Arabia and Russia, the latter not even being a member of OPEC. Furthermore, it retains just a fraction of its previous ability to set oil prices, since the United States has for years been flooding the market with oil obtained from fracking.

So the withdrawal of Qatar from OPEC has little more than symbolic value. However, it is an embarrassment, since a major OPEC meeting is scheduled to be held next week.

The reason that Qatar gave for its withdrawal from OPEC is that it wants to concentrate more on liquefied natural gas (LNG). Although Qatar is a relatively small supplier of oil, it's the world's biggest LNG supplier, producing almost 30% of the world's total.

According to Qatar's energy minister Saad Sherida al-Kaabi,

"The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tonnes per year to 110 million tonnes in the coming years. ...

We are a small player in OPEC, and I'm a businessman, it doesn't make sense for me to focus on things that are not our strength, and gas is our strength so that is why we've made this decision."

However, many observers believe that the reasons are deeper than just pure business. Reuters and Investopedia and History.com and Gulf Times (Qatar) and The National (UAE)

The split deepens between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Although Qatar's al-Kaabi says that the withdrawal is purely a business decision, it's certainly tied into the increasingly toxic geopolitical situation in the Gulf.

Recall that in June of last year, several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke relations with Qatar and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar. Amazingly enough, that blockade is still in place. The core of the disagreement is apparently related to Arab tribal differences that go back to World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Shortly after imposing the blockade, Saudi Arabia produced a list of 13 demands that would have to be met to end the blockade. Included were demands to stop supporting terrorism, to sever ties with Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood, and to shut down Al-Jazeera.

Today it seems that all the Saudi demands have backfired, especially after the October 2 gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees the Khashoggi murder as an opportunity to turn the screws on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by gradually leaking out pieces of evidence about the murder a bit at a time. MBS was probably responsible for ordering the murder, but wants to claim that he knew nothing. Erdogan keeps pulling MBS in by releasing evidence that points to him.

Qatar-based al-Jazeera is also playing a major part in this. While other international news organizations have reduced their coverage of the Khashoggi murder as time has passed, al-Jazeera continues to devote a significant portion of each newscast to the latest on the murder, inviting one expert after another to opine on MBS's relationship to the crime.

Qatar shares the world's largest LNG field with Iran, so the two countries have to cooperate. Furthermore, in a 60 Minutes interview last year, Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani said the following:

"Iran is our neighbor. And by the way, us as a country, we have lots of differences and foreign policies with Iran, more than them. But let me tell you one thing Charlie; When those countries, our brothers, blocked everything. Blocked medicine, blocked food, the only way for us to provide food and medicine for our people was through Iran. And when they talk about terrorism, absolutely not. We do not support terrorism."

Turkey also helped Qatar get through the blockade. So if MBS's intention with the blockade was to force Qatar to sever relations with Iran and Turkey, it seems to have accomplished the opposite.

Qatar, Iran and Turkey have been forced into a fellowship by the Saudi blockade. However those three countries are strange bedfellows, with not a lot in common and significant historical differences, so the fellowship may not survive once the blockade ends. Washington Post and Al-Jazeera (Qatar) and CBS News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Dec-18 World View -- Qatar withdraws from Saudi Arabia-led OPEC thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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3-Dec-18 World View -- Measles outbreaks in New York, Israel blamed on 'anti-vax' movement

Dozens of reported measles cases in Israel, New York and New Jersey, as disease spreads

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Dozens of reported measles cases in Israel, New York and New Jersey, as disease spreads


Measles virus
Measles virus

Jewish worshippers at a Friday evening service in a temple near Jerusalem were exposed to a patient suffering from measles. Israel's government has directed those attending the service to see a doctor immediately and receive the necessary vaccinations. An outbreak of measles has been spreading in Israel since October, and it's being blamed on the failure of thousands of parents to vaccinate their children, particularly among the ultra-Orthodox communities in Jerusalem.

On average, about half of the population in these communities are not immunized. Israel's Health Ministry is considering new legislation that would penalize parents of children who are not vaccinated for measles and other contagious diseases by the age of one year.

There are 83 known cases of measles in Rockland County, New York, about 25 miles north of New York City. They were spread, among other places, at the Best Buy store in the Palisades shopping center.

There are 18 confirmed cases of measles in Ocean and Passaic counties in New Jersey. More cases are expected, since there's a 5-21 day incubation period after exposure, and a person is contagious four days before and four days after showing signs of a rash.

It's believed that the outbreak started from a man who visited Israel in late October. Asbury Park Press (NJ) and Jerusalem Post and Asbury Park Press

New global surge in measles cases blamed on 'anti-vax' movement

The number of measles-related deaths fell 80% between 2000 and 2017, and it had been hoped that measles might eventually be entirely eliminated.

But the number of reported cases of measles surged by more than 30% from 2016 to 2017. Since not all cases are reported in a timely manner, there may be many more cases -- estimated to be 6.7 million.

According to an official from the World Health Organization (WHO), "[W]e risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease."

According to a report issued on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

"Despite this progress, however, the 2015 global milestones have not been achieved; global [first dose vaccination] coverage has stagnated for nearly a decade; global [second dose] coverage is only at 67% despite steady increases; and [supplementary immunization activities] quality was inadequate to achieve >=95% coverage in several countries. Since 2016, measles incidence has increased globally and in five of the six WHO regions. Furthermore, as of July 2018, endemic measles has been reestablished in Venezuela because of the sustained transmission of measles virus for >12 months; the remaining 34 AMR [North/South America] countries continue to maintain their measles elimination status, but the ongoing outbreak in Venezuela has led to measles virus importations and outbreaks in bordering AMR countries. In addition, the measles resurgence in Europe has likely led to reestablished endemic measles in some EUR countries. These outbreaks highlight the fragility of gains made toward global and regional measles elimination goals."

The statement mentions that Venezuela has had its measles elimination certificate withdrawn. This means that measles is now considered to be endemic in Venezuela, where previously it was thought to be on the path to elimination. Socialist Venezuela's inflation rate is approaching one million percent, many people are no longer able to get food, medicines or medical services, allowing contagious diseases like measles to spread freely.

Measles in other Latin American countries is still on the path to elimination, but over one million refugees have fled from Venezuela to neighboring countries, and it's feared that they will rapidly spread measles in these other countries as well.

Other countries that have lost their measles elimination certificates in the last year include Germany and Russia, meaning that measles is spreading in these countries.

The surge in measles is being caused by a stalled rate of vaccination in the last few years.

World health officials are blaming the surge in measles cases on complacency, as measle rates have declined, and on misinformation being spread by the so-called "anti-vax movement," or "anti-vaxxers" -- people who are refusing to allow their children to be vaccinated.

The misinformation comes from a 1995 theory that the measles vaccine causes bowel disease and autism. This theory has long been completely discredited. The measles vaccine has been proven to be both effective and safe.

Measles is highly contagious. In one in 15 cases, measles can cause life-threatening complications including pneumonia, convulsions and encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, and can result in death or disability.

Measles can be prevented by receiving two vaccinations, the first at 13 months old and the second at three years and four months to five years old. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and NPR and WebMD and Daily Mail (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Dec-18 World View -- Measles outbreaks in New York, Israel blamed on 'anti-vax' movement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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2-Dec-18 World View -- Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agree to a 90 day moratorium in trade war

G-20 Summit meeting in Buenos Aires ends with multiple compromises

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

G-20 Summit meeting in Buenos Aires ends with multiple compromises


G-20 Group picture
G-20 Group picture

The G-20 is a group of member nations that represent two-thirds of the world's people and 85% of its economy. The G7 member countries are the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, and Canada. Russia was a member (of the G-8), but when expelled in 2013 when it invaded Crimea. The G-20 was formed in 1997 by adding developing nations such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia.

The G-20's primary mandate is to prevent future international financial crises. It seeks to shape the global economic agenda, by combining the perspectives of the major economies with the growing economies in Latin America and Asia. The finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 countries meet twice a year. They meet at the same time as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

This year's G-20 summit meeting was a masterpiece of mulitiple compromises designed to keep the summit meeting from blowing up.

A big part of the meeting was to avoid being seen with someone that you didn't want to be seen with. So start with the group picture at the beginning of this article. It was important not to stand next to the wrong person, but it was also important not to smile at the wrong person while people were going to their assigned spots:

G-20 Web Site and The Balance

The G-20 Final Communiqué -- the 'breakthrough'


Donald Trump's Saturday evening dinner with Xi Jinping
Donald Trump's Saturday evening dinner with Xi Jinping

Last year's G-20 meeting didn't have a final joint communiqué from all the members because Donald Trump as advocating a protectionist trade policy and also because he had just pulled out of the Paris treaty on climate change. Trump opposed the views of the other 19 countries, so no communiqué could be drafted that they all agreed on.

So this year, they were bound and determined to get out a joint communiqué that everyone would sign onto. Apparently they negotiated all night Friday night, sometimes spending an hour on the wording of one sentence. But they finally had "a breakthrough."

Previous G-20 communiqués had contained text discouraging protectionism, but any such text this year would be clearly aimed at Trump, so would not be agreed. So they agreed to this language:

"27. International trade and investment are important engines of growth, productivity, innovation, job creation and development. We recognize the contribution that the multilateral trading system has made to that end. The system is currently falling short of its objectives and there is room for improvement. We therefore support the necessary reform of the WTO [World Trade Organization] to improve its functioning. We will review progress at our next Summit."

So the breakthrough was that the communiqué specified that the WTO had to be reformed, but did not specify what the reform would be.

That's because different groups wanted different, contradictory reforms. Trump particularly wanted a reform that change China's status from a "developing nation" to a "developed nation," so that it would be bound by the WTO rules, but China of course disagreed with that. China wanted a "win-win" situation where the WTO continues exactly as it has.

When the US helped China join the WTO in 2000, it was with the expectation that China would become an honest member of the international trading community. But the United States position during the last three administrations is that China has repeated cheated and lied, and not followed the WTO rules. Even when the WTO rules against China, China just ignores the ruling (as it has ignored the Hague Tribunal ruling that China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal), and continues to lie and cheat. So the Trump administration would not agree to continue trade rules as they have been.

So the wording of the communiqué, as shown above, will not make any difference in trade, but it did allow the communiqué to be adopted.

The other major problem area is the Paris climate change treaty. All the other 19 countries supported the treaty and wanted to say so in the communiqué, so they compromised on this text:

"20. Signatories to the Paris Agreement, who have also joined the Hamburg Action Plan, reaffirm that the Paris Agreement is irreversible and commit to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances. We will continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.

21. The United States reiterates its decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, and affirms its strong commitment to economic growth and energy access and security, utilizing all energy sources and technologies, while protecting the environment."

So that solved the Paris agreement problem.

Other issues were resolved in similar ways. Vladimir Putin vetoed any reference to the seizure near the Kerch Strait, and any mention of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was omitted. G-20 Final Communiqué (PDF) and Bloomberg and AP

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agree to a 90 day moratorium in trade war

Investors around the world are breathing a sigh of relief today, as Donald Trump and China's president Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day moratorium on further tariffs in the so-called "trade war." The US has already imposed 10% tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, and threatened to raise that rate to 25% on January 1. That change will be delayed for 90 days.

In exchange, the US will get the following:

The trade conflict, which has rattled financial markets and upended global supply chains, began this year when Trump imposed tariffs on a total of $253 billion of imported Chinese steel, industrial products and consumer goods, including handbags, furniture and appliances. Chinese officials, caught off guard by the aggressive U.S. moves, retaliated with import taxes on such American products as soybeans, automobiles and liquefied natural gas. Washington Post and Russia Today and Reuters

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1-Dec-18 World View -- Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria

Al-Assad issues citizenship cards to Iranian and Hezbollah Shias

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria


Hezbollah and Syrian flags flutter in August 28, 2017 (Reuters)
Hezbollah and Syrian flags flutter in August 28, 2017 (Reuters)

I've written thousands of articles on Syria since the war began in 2011. There were little bits and pieces of the story that didn't always make sense, but now they're all beginning to fit together, like a collection of jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together to form a big picture.

The big picture now is that Christian Russia and Shia Iran have joined with the Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to bring about the extermination of Sunni Arabs and Turkmens, and repopulation of their former homes with Shias from Iran and Hezbollah, and their families.

Al-Assad has been moving through different regions of Syria. 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.

Al-Assad's ethnic cleansing policy as applied locally to different regions -- Aleppo, Ghouta, Daraa -- has been well-documented by thousands of media reports, as I've been reporting for years. It's been suspected that there's a larger picture that al-Assad was plotting to completely exterminate or cleanse Sunnis across the country. This has been denied by the Syrians and their trolls. However, evidence has been growing in the last six months that show exactly how al-Assad plans to implement his "final solution," eliminating all Sunnis in Syria.

As I reported in May, 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.

On April 2, the Syrian government of the Bashar al-Assad regime passed "Law #10," a complex new property law that requires property holders in Syria to produce documentation to formally prove ownership of their private property within a period of 30 days, or face confiscation. Since millions of Arab Sunnis have fled to other countries, there is no possibility that they would be able to provide the documentation and proof of ownership. There are also reports that Arab Sunnis who do have proof of ownership are beaten and tortured when they apply to Syrian authorities to have their property restored.

This means that there are large regions of Syria that have been completely cleansed of Arab Sunnis. The only question that remained was: Who was going to occupy the regions that al-Assad had cleansed? Asharq Al-Awsat (Saudi Arabia) and Al Ahram (Egypt, 14-Dec-2016) and Mideast Forum (15-Mar-2017) and Washington Institute

Al-Assad issues citizenship cards to Iranian and Hezbollah Shias

Since late 2016, there have been reports of Iranians moving into the areas that al-Assad cleansed of Arab Sunnis. As reported at the time, a senior leader in Lebanon said, "Iran and the regime don’t want any Sunnis between Damascus and Homs and the Lebanese border. This represents a historic shift in populations."

Recent reports in the last few months describe how al-Assad is arranging for a massive influx of Iranian and Hezbollah Shias to move into the regions from which the Sunni Arabs have been cleansed.

Early this year, Syria announced a plan to issue new ID cards to Syrian citizens as well a new passports, invalidating the old documents.

In recent months, several web sites, mostly opposed to the al-Assad regime, have been posting documents and reporting that the region is naturalizing members of Iranian and Hezbollah militias as Syrian citizens. In combination with "Law #10," previously described, this provides for the repopulation of regions that have been cleansed of Sunni Arabs who are in foreign refugee camps with no chance of reclaiming their property.

One web site posted a Syrian government document granting citizenship to several dozen members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). According to the web site:

"These official documents indicate that the Syrian regime is systematically settling Iranians in different parts of Syria in order to change the demographics [of these areas] by granting citizenship to Shi'ite Iranians and settling them in Sunni areas whose original inhabitants have been expelled... The document presented [here] is not the only one; hundreds of thousands [of Shi'ite] have been granted [Syrian] citizenship and settled in various areas, most of them members and operatives in the Iranian IRGC... These Iranians have begun to receive Syrian citizenship, as preparation for bringing in their families and settling in the areas to which they have been assigned."

In April, a Syrian opposition web site reported that "the Passports and Immigration Department in Damascus recently issued 200,000 passports to Iranians." A Lebanon newspaper, Al-Nahar, reports that the Syrian president "has issued [Syrian] identity cards to some two million Iranians and operatives of militias belonging to the Iranian IRGC Qods Force, and to their families, as well to Hezbollah [operatives]. The [regime] does not just issue them Syrian identity cards, but helps them to settle in parts of Damascus's Ghouta and in the rural areas of Damascus, Hama, Homs and Aleppo that have been emptied of their original inhabitants." The report adds that "many members of the Iranian regime have obtained Syrian identity cards in order to evade the American sanctions." MEMRI (26-Nov-2018) and Guardian (London, 13-Jan-2017) and Syrian Observer (4-May-2018)

Al-Assad and Russia ally with ISIS against Arab Sunnis

As I said earlier, the little bits and pieces of the war in Syria are beginning to fit together, like a collection of jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together to form a big picture.

Most Westerners assume that once the war ends, Syria will return to some sort of balance such as existed prior to 2011. In particular, the 12 million or so Syrians who have been displaced from their homes, including the millions that have fled to neighboring countries, including Europe, would return to their homes when the war ended, according to the common wisdom.

However, we now know that this will never happen, and that this was never the intention. The millions of Syrian refugees that fled to other countries, many in refugee camps, are stranded there, and will never be permitted to return to their homes.

Many observers are comparing al-Assad's actions to those of Israel in the 1947-48 war between Jews and Arabs. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee from their homes in what is now Israel, and forced to live in Palestinian refugee camps, with descendants who will never be permitted to return to their grandparents' homes. Al-Assad expects the same thing: that Syrian refugees will be forced to remain in refugee camps, and they and their children will never be permitted to return.

One of those Palestinian refugee camps was on the outskirts of Latakia in western Syria. In August 2011, al-Assad launched a violent ethnic cleansing attack, causing tens of thousands of residents to flee. Today, that region is being repopulated by Iranian and Hezbollah Shias.

I wrote about this attack in 2011, before I understood what was really going on. Here's what I wrote at the time:

"Assad's forces have avoided the neighborhoods of Assad's Alawite sect, and instead have been targeting Sunni Muslim neighborhoods, including a large Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia's al-Ramel district. Five to ten thousand refugees were forced to flee, and their whereabouts are unknown, according to the BBC. Newspapers in the region have expressed anger about Arab states' failure to respond to events in Syria.

Another report indicates that Assad's security forces began ordering residents of the Ramleh region, which includes a refugee camp housing more than 10,000 Palestinians, to go to a soccer stadium ahead of what they described as a huge military operation. After the people were herded into the stadium, security forces took away their identification cards and cellphones. At least five people were confirmed dead, according to the LA Times"

We now know that in fact this was the beginning of al-Assad's policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Al-Assad used an ethnic cleansing / genocide methodology that he's repeated many times after that. He would begin by bombing peaceful protesters, or any civilians whether protesting or not. Once there was any kind of violent counter-reaction, al-Assad would declare the entire population to be terrorists. He would then go into a full-scale extermination, using missile barrages, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas.

An analogy in America would be if someone from Black Lives Matter killed a white policeman, and the Trump administration retaliated by exterminating an entire population of blacks, using missiles, bombs and other weapons.

Al-Assad's use of chlorine gas was particularly effective. Al-Assad used 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.

It was never entirely clear why al-Assad attacked the Latakia Palestinian refugee camp, but it's now clear that he meant to exterminate or remove all the residents so that the area could be repopulated by Iranian and Hezbollah Shias.

The attack on the Latakia camp had another consequence. The attack was widely reported in Islamic media around the world as an attack by al-Assad's Shia army and Russia's Christian warplanes on innocent Sunni women and children. The result was that tens of thousands of young Sunni jihadists from over 80 countries came to Syria to fight against al-Assad. These were foreign fighters who, in 2014, formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The relationship between al-Assad and ISIS has always been puzzling, because al-Assad and the Russians never attacked ISIS, but always seemed willing to allow them to grow and prosper as if they were al-Assad's ally. As it turned out, ISIS was al-Assad's ally. The foreign fighters in ISIS were fighting for control of territory in eastern Syria and Iraq, and they were fighting Syrian Sunni Arabs to gain that territory. In other words, al-Assad and ISIS were allies, killing the same enemy -- indigenous Sunni Arabs.

ISIS was launching terrorist attacks in Europe, which al-Assad and Vladimir Putin were apparently very pleased about. This justified, and continues to justify, an American military presence in Syria, whether Bashar al-Assad likes it or not. It was only the Americans that were determined to eliminate ISIS. The mainly Kurdish YPG forces, backed by American warplanes and logistics, finally defeated ISIS in their Caliphate capital city, Raqqa.

The future of Idlib

Idlib is the province in northwest Syria, along the border with Turkey.

As the Syrian regime, along with the Christian Russians and Shia Iranians, conducted ethnic cleansing and genocide in one region after another, Bashar al-Assad always agreed to a "humanitarian" solution, as requested by a series of credulous United Nations envoys, who were all useful idiots. The solution was that any Sunni Arabs that hadn't been killed would be permitted to leave the region and flee to Idlib province.

It now turns out that this was just another part of the jigsaw puzzle that forms the entire picture. Al-Assad has arranged for much of Syria to be demographically changed, with Iranian and Hezbollah Shias and their families to live in areas that have been cleansed of Arab Sunnis. The Arab Sunnis and Turkmens have been gathered into Idlib province in the northwest, where their security is supposedly guaranteed by Turkey, although Turkey seems to be overwhelmed.

So now al-Assad and Iran are in control of western and southern Syria, where they present a continuing threat to Israel. But what's the future of Idlib?

There are three million people in Idlib, and half of them are displaced people who fled al-Assad's violence in other regions. Of the three million civilians, there are an estimated 60,000 or so anti-Assad rebels in Idlib. No one doubts that al-Assad would be happy to kill all three million people in Idlib, using the anti-Assad rebels as an excuse.

Some observers believe that al-Assad will just let Idlib be, even though those anti-Assad rebels could launch attacks at any time on the regime.

Bashar al-Assad is a psychopathic monster, the worst war criminal so far this century. Al-Assad has gotten this far in ethnic cleansing large areas and repopulating the cleansed areas with Iranian and Hezbollah Shias. He is not going to stop at Idlib, even if attacking Idlib creates millions more refugees and the greatest humanitarian disaster so far this century.

For Iran, the goal would be completion of the "Shia Crescent": Support the Houthis to defeat the Saudis in Yemen; continue taking control of the government in Baghdad; repopulate the Arab Sunni areas of Syria with Iranian and Hezbollah Shias; continue to support Hezbollah in Lebanon to attack Israel, and wipe it off the map.

For Christian Russia and Shia Iran, this would be the greatest genocidal victory so far this century.

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Iran is controlled by an ancient generation of hardliners whose policies are strongly opposed by the growing population of younger generations. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. AFP (25-May-2018) and Orient News (Syria/UAE, 4-Sep-2016) and MEMRI (26-Nov)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Dec-18 World View -- Evidence grows of Assad's 'final solution', extermination of Arab Sunnis in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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30-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan and India agree to support Sikhs, as separatist violence surges in Kashmir

India and Pakistan approve the Kartarpur Corridor, connecting Sikh shrines

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kashmir experiences bloodiest year since 2009


Sikh radical pro-Khalistan supporters in Trafalgar Square, London, in August (AFP)
Sikh radical pro-Khalistan supporters in Trafalgar Square, London, in August (AFP)

November was the bloodiest month of the year for separatist militants in Indian-controlled Kashmir. According to official figures from Indian security forces, 37 separatist militants were killed in November, and 227 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year.

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), which supports the separatist militants, does not dispute those figures, but goes farther and says that 2018 was the bloodiest year for everyone in Kashmir since 2009. JKCCS says that 528 people were killed in Kashmir in 2018, of which 145 were civilians, 234 were separatist rebels, and 142 were Indian security personnel.

As I've written in the past, there are three major Pakistan-sponsored jihadist groups operating in Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) is an indigenous, home-grown jihadist group that became considerably more violent after the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) is a relatively new indigenous jihadist group. Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) is a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was formed in the 1990s by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu. Hindustan Times and Al Jazeera

India and Pakistan approve the Kartarpur Corridor, connecting Sikh shrines

With India and Pakistan almost always apparently close to a state of war, with Kashmir at the epicenter, it's surprising that they can agree to anything significant. But that seems to have happened, although ulterior motives abound on both sides.

India and Pakistan have both endorsed the Kartarpur Corridor, a visa-free path that permits Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit the gurdwara (Sikh shrine) known as the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, associated with the founder of Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, or just Guru Nanak.

Politicians in both India and Pakistan have been effusive in their praise for this agreement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India drew parallels with the fall of the Berlin wall, declaring, "Who thought the Berlin Wall would fall. May be, with the blessings of Guru Nanak Dev ji, Kartarpur corridor will not only be a corridor but can be a reason to bring people together." In a similar vein, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, at the ground-breaking ceremony at Kartarpur Sahib, expressed the sentiment that, "If France and Germany who fought several wars can live in peace, why can't India and Pakistan?" A number of other statements are in the same vein of intemperance, including Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu's statement, "The corridor will become a symbol of love and peace between both countries."

Going beyond the ebullient promises of "love and peace," Modi has in the past refused to approve the Corridor, saying that Pakistan could use it to radicalize Sikh separatists in the Khalistan movement.

However, the Modi's change of heart was rather sudden, and probably driven by domestic considerations. April 15, 2019, will be the 550th birthday of Sikh found Guru Nanak, and general elections will be held in May, 2019. Refusing to open the Corridor would alienate millions of Sikhs living in India, and motivate them to vote for the opposition. South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and The Diplomat

Corridor raises concerns about activating the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement

Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539) founded Sikhism in the 16th century with the goal of bringing peace to India at a time when the environment heavily permeated with conflicts between the Hindu and Muslim religions. His most famous saying is: "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow the path of God." He was extremely charismatic. Today, there are 23 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the 5th largest religion in the world, with 19 million Sikhs living in India, primarily in the state of Punjab.

However, Sikhism did not bring peace between Hindus and Muslims in India. To the contrary, Sikh leaders began to militarize the Sikh community, and Sikh military leaders captured more and more territory, and in 1799 declared Punjab as an independent Sikh state. This was the beginning of the "Khalistan" separatist movement. At that time India was a British colony, and British troops defeated the Sikh armies in the 1800s, decisively beating the Sikhs in 1849.

The seminal event for Sikhs in the 20th century was the April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), Some 10,000 Sikhs were holding a meeting protesting British colonial policies in India, when British troops opened fire, killing hundreds. This event convinced everyone -- the British, the Sikhs, the Hindus and the Muslims -- that Britain had to give up control of India. This led to the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent that created India and Pakistan, and to the Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

Sixty-four years after the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, in 1983, some Sikh activists took refuge in the Golden Temple Complex at Amritsar, the most revered place in the Sikh world. In June 1984 Indian troops launched 'Operation Blue Star'. They attacked the Golden Temple Complex, killing many of those inside, and seriously damaging the buildings.

This infuriated the Sikhs, and revived the Khalistan separatist movement. In October 1984, the world was shocked when India's prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Four days of anti-Sikh rioting followed in India. The government said that more than 2,700 people, mostly Sikhs, were killed, while newspapers and human rights groups put the death toll between 10,000 and 17,000.

The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, which permits visa-free travel between Sikh shrines in Pakistan and India, raises concerns that the corridor will encourage activism among hardline Khalistan activists in India, giving rise to yet another separatist movement to add to the one by Muslims in Kashmir.

Sikh activists have already been holding rallies in London. In August, a rally for "Punjab Referendum 2020," which calls for a Sikh referendum to encourage separatism, was attended by 2,500 expatriate Sikh hardliners, mostly from Britain. Indian officials say that the Khalistan movement may be popular in London, but it's not catching on in London.

India makes no effort to hide its irritation over allowing “a separatist activity which impinged on India’s territorial integrity and seeks to propagate violence, secessionism and hatred." Indian intelligence agencies are wary of Khalistan radicals in London, as London was the epicenter of a pro-Khalistan movement in the 1980s. Discover Sikhism and Dawn (Pakistan, 12-July-2015) and Hindustan Times and HuffPost and Pluralism.org

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan and India agree to support Sikhs, as separatist violence surges in Kashmir thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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29-Nov-18 World View -- New climate change report shows countries are failing to meet commitments

China building a 'tsunami' of coal-powered plants across Asia

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New climate change report shows countries are failing to meet commitments


Satellite image of coal-fired power plant in Guangdong province, China.  The two cooling towers are clearly visible.  (Planet Labs)
Satellite image of coal-fired power plant in Guangdong province, China. The two cooling towers are clearly visible. (Planet Labs)

A new United Nations report on climate change shows that countries that had been vocal about supporting the 2015 treaty on climate change have been failing miserably at meeting the goals of that treaty.

According to the Paris treaty, the world had to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently to prevent the world temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Centigrade by 2100. In order to meet that target, global greenhouse gas emissions would have to fall by 55% by 2030.

Then recently a new report by scientists said that 2 degrees wasn't good enough to avoid global catastrophe, and so we'd have to cut carbon emissions enough to prevent world temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Centigrade.

Unfortunately, the countries of the world haven't been doing what they promised, and global greenhouse gas emissions actually increased in 2017. If things continue as they are, then global temperatures will increase by 3.2 degrees Centigrade by 2100.

The report describes different countries:

According to the report, the countries that failed to meet their emission commitments did so because their economies had been growing. The report implies that emissions of greenhouse gases are correlated to economic growth. This is an eminently obvious conclusion, and is certainly true.

But it also implies that greenhouse gas emissions will not be sharply cut unless economic growth is sharply cut, and that's not going to happen in any country.

There is nothing in the Paris treaty that describes any technology for reducing carbon emissions except by cutting economic activity. As for other technologies, they only provide a minuscule part of the solution, and anyway environmentalists are opposed to those too. These include nuclear power plants, huge windmill farms, and huge solar panel farms.

As usual, every time I write one of these articles on climate change, I make the point that I accept the conclusions of the climate "scientists": That there has been and is global warming, that the global warming is caused by increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and that the increased emissions are caused by human activity.

However, climate "scientists" have been getting climate change predictions completely wrong for thirty years, and so I do not accept that these scientists have any idea what the temperature will be in 2100, any more than then know what the temperature will be a month from now.

Even if you accept the scientific conclusion that human activity is causing global warming, the climate change movement is still scam. It's nothing but a movement to take money from developed countries (the US, the EU, etc.) and give it to developing countries, and also give it to the cronies of the climate change activists by funding them.

Every scientific organization in the world understands that if they can "solve" the emissions problem with new technology, then they'll be billionaires. No further encouragement is needed, and no climate change treaty is need.

Furthermore, it's almost 100% certain that there will be one or two world wars prior to 2100, killing 30-50% of the world's population. That reduction in the population will reduce the amount of human activity by a proportional amount, which will completely solve the global warming problem. BBC and CNN and Washington Post and France 24 and United Nations

China building a 'tsunami' of coal-powered plants across Asia

"Like an approaching tsunami triggered by a distant earthquake, a massive cohort of hundreds of new coal-fired power plants is on course to be added to the already overbuilt Chinese coal plant fleet," is how a September report from CoalSwarm’s Global Coal Plant Tracker begins.

In 2016 and 2017, authorities in Beijing tried to reduce the number of coal-fired plants being built, and they issued a series of suspension orders for many of the plants scheduled for construction.

However, satellite imagery shows that many of the suspended plants were not suspended at all, or at most were delayed. Apparently, regional and provincial authorities ignored the suspension orders from Beijing, and allowed construction to continue anyway.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this illustrates how major decisions are made large populations or large generations of people, even in a dictatorship. Someone commented on my recent article on China's Belt and Road Initiative, and said that all the projects would be completed because China is a "command economy." But China has a population of 1.4 billion people, and a population that size cannot be controlled, even in a "command economy." China is far too big a country, long overdue for a major internal rebellion with the right triggering event.

However, China's activities with coal-fired plants go far beyond their borders.

China is taking a leading role in financing a wave of now coal plants in countries across Asia. Export credit agencies such as the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, China Development Bank Corp. and Korea Trade Insurance Corp. are among the biggest supporters. The three biggest destinations for those funds are Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

China alone emits 27% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but that's just within China's own borders. Thanks to China, greenhouse gas emissions are increasing in countries across Asia as well. Guardian (London) and BBC and China Dialogue and EndCoal and Bloomberg

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-18 World View -- New climate change report shows countries are failing to meet commitments thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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28-Nov-18 World View -- Bitcoin bubble and China's Belt and Road bubble both appear to be crashing

Bitcoin super-bubble implodes and crashes below $4,000

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bitcoin super-bubble implodes and crashes below $4,000


Bitcoin price at $3,750 on 27-Nov-2018 (CoinMarketCap.com)
Bitcoin price at $3,750 on 27-Nov-2018 (CoinMarketCap.com)

The price of a Bitcoin fell to $3,700 on Tuesday, down from a peak close to $20,000 in December of last year.

A little over a year ago, in response to people asking my advice about investing in Bitcoin, I wrote about Bitcoin just after its price surged past $5,000. In the article I wrote, "Investing in Bitcoin is the road to disaster. I literally cannot think of a worse investment today than Bitcoin, or the various copycat newcomers, such as Ethereum. Bitcoin is almost literally a Ponzi scheme backed by nothing but air."

So Dear Reader, I hope you took my advice, because if you didn't then you've lost money. Many people lost a great deal of money investing as the price increased parabolically all the way up to $20,000, and those people have lost a LOT of money.

What are analysts saying today? Some are saying that Bitcoin has bottomed, and now will go up. One says that Bitcoin will fall further to about $3,000, and then will go up. Another says that it will remain about where it is now for several months, and then will go up. These are the same people who have always said it would go up, even while it was crashing.

This reminds me of the housing bubble in the mid-2000s decade. I was writing as early as 2004 that there was a housing bubble, as did a few others. It was perfectly obvious. But the "experts" on CNBC and in the Wall Street Journal kept saying that "Housing prices can't go down -- people have to live somewhere," and "Banks won't foreclose -- it's not in their interest to do so" and "These housing construction firms know what they're doing, and they wouldn't be building houses if it were just a bubble."

It wasn't until around 2009 or 2010 that these "experts" even admitted that there had been a housing bubble, and then they pretended that they had known it all along. It was the same with the Iraq war, which everyone was in favor of in 2003, but then years later pretended that they had been against it all along.

So now we have experts making predictions about the future price of Bitcoin. How is any prediction of any kind even possible?

If you want to predict the future price of stock shares, you can look at a company's earnings history. If you want to predict future corporate bond prices, you can look at a company's assets. If you want to predict the future price of corn, you can look at yield estimates that you get from the Department of Agriculture.

But for Bitcoin, there's nothing, absolutely nothing on which to base any prediction. These analysts on CNBC and in the Wall Street Journal who predict that Bitcoin will go up should be prosecuted for criminal fraud, because they don't have a clue. Betting on Bitcoin is worse than betting on the Las Vegas roulette wheel. Maybe you'll win, maybe you'll lose but the analysts who make predictions are nothing but criminals. If you invest in Bitcoin, you should be prepared to lose 100% of your investment. Bloomberg and CNBC and NewsBTC and MarketWatch and Coin Market Cap

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China's 'Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Bubble' may be in trouble


China - prices for iron and steel has crashed in the last month (FT)
China - prices for iron and steel has crashed in the last month (FT)

The above graph shows that the prices of iron and steel in China have crashed in the last month, with the right part of the graph looking very similar to the Bitcoin graph above. Maybe the two are linked in some way, or maybe it's just a coincidence that they're both crashing at the same time, but either way the fall in iron and steel prices in China is the latest sign that the economy has been weakening for about six months.

It's my personal opinion that China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in a massive bubble of its own.

The BRI is a breathtaking project as much as $1.3 trillion on railways, roads, seaports, and power grids, now extending into a least 76 countries, mostly developing nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, together with a handful of countries on the eastern edge of Europe.

My feeling, based on many, many things that I've read in the last year, is that China's BRI is a humongous financial disaster in the making. The other side of "debt trap diplomacy" is that all these debt traps will be sprung at roughly the same time, as each debt trap default creates a level of panic that triggers defaults in other debt traps.

What most people don't understand is any bank or company can "create" money by issuing debt. People think that only the federal government can create money, but the money created by issuing debt is 100% identical to the money created money created by the federal government. And in a debt bubble, money created by issuing debt vanishes when the bubble bursts.

There are a few things about the BRI that I find troubling and indicative of a financial crisis.

First, the utter secrecy of the terms of the BRI deals, in particular the amount of debt being created, and the terms of repayment. I don't see any reason why that information can't be made public for each country, even if other deals still have to be kept secret. By keeping the debt secret, China evokes a great deal of suspicion of bribery, corruption, and debt-trap diplomacy.

Second, as we recently reported, the terms of China's loan to the Maldives is becoming public, thanks to a surprise election victory and change of administrations. The new president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, asked China's ambassador Zhang Lizhong how much the Maldives owed to China, and he was handed an invoice for the shocking amount of $3.2 billion, many times more than Maldives could afford. This figure was so embarrassing to China that later denied that Zhang ever gave that figure. The whole situation raises suspiicion of a great deal of corruption. ( "24-Nov-18 World View -- Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China")

So you have the huge amounts of money sloshing around 76 countries, with no public information about the terms. In this top secret environment, there must be many situations involving bribery and kickbacks, as well as country leaders lining the pockets of their family and cronies.

The third issue is what's happening in Pakistan. Pakistan is about to go into bankruptcy, but it's "all-weather friend" China very surprising has refused to come to Pakistan's aid. Is this because China's slowing economy requires keeping expenses in check? China has asked Pakistan to go to the IMF, but the IMF is going to demand full details of all the Pakistan-China contracts, and also require Pakistan to stop funding terrorists.

So this is what I call the "BRI Bubble." China is funding projects in 76 countries, and most of those countries are ever going to be able to pay that money back. A crisis could occur at any time.

This is a bubble that's going to burst, with catastrophic results, especially in Asia.

We keep speculating about what will trigger the next world war -- South China Sea, North Korea, Mideast, Kashmir, etc. But another possibility has always been a global financial crisis triggering the world war. The Bitcoin crash may have cascading effects leading to a broader crisis but, if not, it might be the BRI bubble. Bloomberg and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Financial Times and Global Times (Beijing)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-18 World View -- Bitcoin bubble and China's Belt and Road bubble both appear to be crashing thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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27-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan fails to get agreement from IMF for a bailout

Pakistan turns to its 'friends' for aid

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan fails to get agreement from IMF for a bailout


Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan and China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing earlier this month, with Khan begging for aid.  (Getty)
Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan and China's Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing earlier this month, with Khan begging for aid. (Getty)

After two weeks of discussions early this month between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan failed to get agreement on securing a bailout package that would save the country from its balance of payments crisis. The talks ended inconclusively, with agreement to meet again in January.

China has strongly encouraged the IMF to make a bailout loan available to Pakistan. Last month, China's foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, "As a member of the IMF, China supports the organization in making an objective evaluation of Pakistan based on professionalism and earnestly helping it properly address the current difficulty."

However, the main area of disagreement with Pakistan stemmed from the IMF's insistence that Pakistan fully disclose the terms of the loans made by China to Pakistan for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This is a very sensitive subject for China. China's has made loans to numerous countries across Asia and Africa, and China has insisted that the terms of these loans be kept top secret. Outside observers believe that China is engaging in "debt trap diplomacy," and exposing the terms of these loans would reveal the amount of leverage that China has on all these countries. In the case of Pakistan, even the central bank doesn't know the terms of the loan.

As we recently reported, the terms of China's loan to the Maldives is becoming public, thanks to a surprise election victory and change of administrations. The new president, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, asked China's ambassador Zhang Lizhong how much the Maldives owed to China, and he was handed an invoice for the shocking amount of $3.2 billion, many times more than Maldives could afford. This figure was so embarrassing to China that later denied that Zhang ever gave that figure. ( "24-Nov-18 World View -- Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China")

However, the IMF is demanding to know all the details of China's loans to Pakistan before it will approve a bailout package. That's because a lot of the bailout money would end up going to China to pay off the CPEC investment. That's why China is so supportive of an IMF loan to Pakistan. And since most of the IMF money comes from US taxpayers, American taxpayers would be paying for China's infrastructure projects in Pakistan. Nikkei and Market Watch

Pakistan's link to the FATF financial blacklist

This week is the tenth anniversary of the horrific 3-day terrorist attack on Mumbai, India, killing 126 people, injuring hundreds more, and gutting the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a major landmark for all of India.

It later turned out that the perpetrators were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. LeT's leader in the operation was Hafiz Saeed. Pakistan refused to condemn him or LeT, but kept him under house arrest for several years, under international pressure. Then in November 2017, Pakistan freed him with no trial and all charges dropped. As he left the court a free man, he was greeted by chanting crowds and rose petals.

The relevance of this story to Pakistan's relationship with the IMF is that the IMF will not provide funding to a country on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF is a 30 year old international policy-making body concerned with money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

There are currently 11 countries on the FATF blacklist, including Pakistan. According to the October 2018 update, Pakistan has committed "to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies," and take numerous steps including the following:

"(1) demonstrating that TF [terror financing] risks are properly identified, assessed, and that supervision is applied on a risk-sensitive basis; ...

(4) demonstrating that authorities are identifying cash couriers and enforcing controls on illicit movement of currency and understanding the risk of cash couriers being used for TF; ...

(8) demonstrating effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions (supported by a comprehensive legal obligation) against all 1267 and 1373 designated terrorists and those acting for or on their behalf, including preventing the raising and moving of funds, identifying and freezing assets (movable and immovable), and prohibiting access to funds and financial services."

In June, Pakistan agreed to tighten its compliance with anti-money laundering laws and counter-terror funding. In view of Pakistan's previous sponsoring of terrorist organizations targeting India and Afghanistan, it's not surprising that Pakistan has no particular desire to fulfill that commitment, even though the IMF will not provide funding for a country on the FATF blacklist.

Finance Minister Asad Umar specifically addressed this question last week and responded:

"The government is neither in a hurry to sign a deal with the IMF nor will it come under any pressure to take any decision which burdens the country’s economy and its people."

The IMF has other requirements as well: raise taxes, raise electricity prices, tighten monetary policies and allow a further depreciation in the value of the rupee currency. Asia Times and Pakistan Today and The News (Pakistan) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Pakistan turns to its 'friends' for aid

Last month, Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan leveraged the bizarre death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul to obtain $6 billion in aid from Saudi Arabia. ( "25-Oct-18 World View -- Pakistan's 'desperate' Imran Khan attends Saudi investment summit amid Khashoggi crisis")

However, even with that aid, Pakistan still needs an additional $12-15 billion in aid to survive the next year. Imran Khan has paid visits to both United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, but apparently returned empty-handed from both visits.

So Pakistan has turned to its "all-weather friend," China, whose friendship is "higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel, sweeter than honey, and dearer than eyesight."

Khan visited China early this month, expecting a generous bailout package from China. But to everyone's surprise, China flatly refused. Perhaps China feels that its refusal will force the IMF to provide a bailout, and then, as described earlier, the US taxpayer will be paying China for CPEC, something that would delight the Chinese who would be getting sweet revenge for unfair deals forced on China after the Opium Wars in the 1800s.

So that brings us back to the IMF demands -- make the details of China's loans to Pakistan public, and put procedures in place to end terror financing. It remains to be seen whether Pakistan is even capable of meeting these demands, or if it even wants to. Dawn (Pakistan) and Lowy Institute (Australia) and Pakistan Today and and Bloomberg (24-Oct)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan fails to get agreement from IMF for a bailout thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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26-Nov-18 World View -- Russia attacks Ukraine's navy and blockades Ukraine's ports at Kerch Strait

Russia confirms the attack on the Ukrainian ships

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia attacks Ukraine's navy and blockades Ukraine's ports at Kerch Strait


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.

Ukraine and Russia may be on the brink of resuming their war today, after a major naval escalation where Russia's military fired on Ukrainian navy ships in the Black Sea, boarding and seizing the ships, and blockading Ukraine's ports at the Kerch Strait.

The sequence of events, according to Ukrainian media and mostly confirmed by Russian media, is as follows:

There is no word about how long the blockade will be in place.

Russia's attack on Ukraine's ships appears to be a continuation of the war between Russia and Ukraine that began in 2014. Russia invaded Donbas (eastern Ukraine) and is still occupying it, and then Russia invaded, occupied and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.

In the past three years, Russia has built a bridge over the Kerch Strait between Russia and Occupied Crimea, and has constantly harassed and blocked hundreds of commercial ships trying to reack Ukrainian ports.

Many observers believe that these steps are all in preparation for a naval assault on Mariupol, Berdyansk, and other Ukrainian ports along the Sea of Azov, with the objective of creating a land bridge between Russia and occupied Crimea, and to taking full military control of the entire Sea of Azov.

The three seized ships are in Kerch seaport. There are no reports on the locations and health of the captured sailors.

Ukraine has called an emergency meeting of its national security and defense council, and Ukraine's parliament may vote on declaring martial law on Monday.

Last month, Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Constantinople Patriarchate and "first among equals" leader of all Orthodox Christian churches and of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, announced that the Orthodox Christian Church of Ukraine in Kiev is now independent of the Orthodox Christian Church of Moscow. This move has infuriated Russia, causing them to threaten retaliation. Sunday's naval crisis may be one step in that retaliation. News.com (Australia) and BBC and Ukrinform (Ukraine) and Daily Mail (London)

Russia confirms the attack on the Ukrainian ships


Russia on Sunday blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)
Russia on Sunday blockaded the Sea of Azov with a tanker underneath the Kerch Strait bridge (AP)

Before we quote the Russian statement about Sunday's incident, we have to remind readers that Russia has repeatedly lied about everything, including the following:

There are many additional examples, especially in Syria. Any statement by a Russian official has to be assumed to be a lie unless it's confirmed by a Western politician or Western media. Russia's press is tightly controlled by Russia's government. If Russians ever tell the truth, it's only be accident.

On the other hand, Ukraine has a free press, and statements by Ukrainian sources during the last four years have generally proved out to be consistently true.

So with that introduction, here's the Russian statement as published in Tass:

"MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. All three vessels of the Ukrainian Navy, which violated the Russian state border, have been detained in the Black Sea, weapons were used to force them to stop, the Public Relations Center of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) reported.

"The Ukrainian Navy’s vessels the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu, which violated Russia’s state border this morning, made another attempt of committing illegal activities in Russia’s territorial sea at 19:00 Moscow time on November 25," the FSB said. "They did not respond to legitimate demands by the ships and boats of Russia’s FSB Border Guard Service escorting them to stop immediately and performed dangerous maneuvers."

According to the FSB, "weapons were used to force the Ukrainian warships to stop." As a result, all three vessels of the Ukrainian Navy were detained in Russia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea. "Three wounded military servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces received medical assistance," the FSB said, adding that there was no threat to their lives.

A criminal case has been initiated over violation of Russia’s state border.

The FSB stressed that Ukraine was aware of the procedure for warships’ passage through Russia’s territorial sea and Kerch-Yenikale Canal. "They have already used that procedure for innocent passage," it said.

The FSB’s border directorate for Crimea earlier reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally crossed Russia’s state border in the Black Sea and entered Russia’s territorial waters performing dangerous maneuvers. Later on, the FSB said that two more Ukrainian warships had sailed off from Berdyansk to join the three vessels. However, they later turned back.

The FSB stressed that "before making such dangerous and irresponsible decisions, the Kiev leadership should have thought about possible consequences of its actions."

Russia’s Federal Security Service said it had irrefutable evidence of Kiev’s using the Ukrainian Navy to stage a provocation in the Black Sea and promised it would be made public soon.

Three Ukrainian Navy vessels, which violated Russia’s state border and were detained in the Black Sea are being delivered to the port of Kerch (a city in eastern Crimea), Anton Lozovoy, an officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) State Border Directorate for Crimea, said in a video commentary on Monday.

"All three vessels have been detained and are being delivered to the port of Kerch," he said.

According to Lozovoy, three Ukrainian military servicemen who sustained minor wounds have received medical care."

Russia claims that they have "irrefutable evidence" of a provocation, but until that "irrefutable evidence" is released and evaluated by Western analysts, we have to assume that most of the above statement is a lie.

The Russian statement does not mention ramming the tugboat.

The Russian statement says that the Ukrainian ships were in Russian territorial waters. Until this is confirmed by Western sources, we have to assume that this is a lie.

The Ukraine war has been ongoing for four years, and people are still being killed on both sides. Sunday's incident is a major escalation, and it could mean that Russia is planning to invade and annex the region of Ukraine along the Sea of Azov. Tass (Moscow) and Aesop's Fable: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-18 World View -- Russia attacks Ukraine's navy and blockades Ukraine's ports at Kerch Strait thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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25-Nov-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela oil production in 'free fall' as infrastructure collapses

Russia rebukes Venezuela for non-payment

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Socialist Venezuela oil production in 'free fall' as infrastructure collapses


Oil tanker labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)
Oil tanker labeled 'PDVSA - Homeland, Socialism or Death' (PanamPost)

With over one million refugees from Venezuela having fled to other countries, with dozens of people dying violently in Venezuela every day, Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro's Socialist policies seem to drive the country further into disaster every week.

In 2017, Venezuela was producing two million barrels of oil per day (bpd). But by September of this year, output had fallen to just 1.4 bpd. According to Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency:

"Venezuela production is in a free-fall and we expect that soon it may go to even below 1 million barrels per day."

Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world, and Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) was one of the biggest oil producers in the world.

But Socialist dictator Hugo Chávez nationalized ExxonMobil's Venezuelan assets in 2007, and turned them over to his crooked cronies who didn't know anything about running an oil company. Venezuela's oil production has been steadily declining for years. Average oil production declined dramatically over the past two years, by 12% in 2016 and again by 13% in 2017. Production in December 2017 was 27% lower than a year earlier. And this year it's fallen even farther.

Late last year, Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro appointed a military man, Major General Manuel Quevedo, head of PDVSA, with a mandate to increase production and rid the company of corruption. Quevedo treated the engineers and other professions contemptuously, even calling them "thieves and saboteurs." Tens of thousands of employees left the company, and Quevedo replaced them with soldiers who knew nothing about the oil industry.

The result has been a collapse in infrastructure, as engineers who were needed to maintain the busted valves, ripped gaskets, cracked pipes and so forth were forced to leave. Contractors who were experts in cleaning up oil spills have gone out of business because PDVSA wasn't paying them.

The means that oil production is decreasing, and oil spills and leaks are increasing. PDVSA is unable to clean up spills after years of neglect, scant investment, and corruption scandals. Pools of oil are polluting waterways and farmland, causing a pungent odor.

Urban areas have been hit, too. Early this year, the contents of a ruptured transport line blackened the Guarapiche River in Monagas state. A water-purification plant on the river was compromised, and the authorities shut it down for more than a month. Local schools canceled classes, and government offices reduced office hours because water was so scarce.

Socialist Venezuela is in a major economic collapse, following years of mismanagement and underinvestment in the oil industry, an enormous humanitarian crisis, and a leader who is addicted to Socialist policies that enrich himself and his cronies, but destroy the population, with a hyperinflation rate expected to reach one million percent by the end of the year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Reuters and Bloomberg and Reuters and Bloomberg

Russia rebukes Venezuela for non-payment

Socialist Venezuela would have gone into full-blown default years ago if not for bailouts by Russia and China. Russia has been bailing out Venezuela for decades, and in recent years Russia and China have extended large loans to Venezuela, with the agreement that Venezuela can service the debt by making payments in shipments of oil.

One of the reasons for the fall in oil production has been that PDVSA has been forced to starve its own oil refineries of crude oil, so that crude oil can be shipped to Russia and China as loan repayments. However, as PDVSA's infrastructure collapses, it's becoming more difficult to make debt servicing payments even with oil.

It's now emerged that PDVSA has been unable to provide all the oil shipments that it's promised to Russia. Igor Sechin, a close adviser to Vladimir Putin and head of Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft, flew from Moscow to Caracas over the weekend to rebuke Venezuela's Socialist leader Nicolás Maduro for being behind schedule in oils-for-loans payments to Russia.

Possibly even more significant is that, according to reports, Sechin brought information (I would guess satellite tracking data) showing that Venezuela was meeting its obligations with China, but not with Russia.

The problems delaying payments include operational mishaps, such as refining outages and delayed cleaning of tanker hulls, and financial disputes with service providers owed money by PDVSA. Reuters and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela oil production in 'free fall' as infrastructure collapses thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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24-Nov-18 World View -- Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China

Constitutional crisis continues in Sri Lanka over China-India competition

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China


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

Shortly after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih shocked the Maldives by winning the presidential election on September 23 decisively by 58-41% of the vote, he met with the Chinese ambassador to the Maldives, Zhang Lizhong, to ask how much money the Maldives owed to China. According to Solih, Zhang handed him an invoice for $3.2 billion. This was money owed for Chinese-funded infrastructure projects for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Solih's election victory was a surprise because it had been expected that the election would go to he incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who had never hesitated to use vote-rigging or jailings or violence to win elections, had been expected to win. However, Solih's election margin of victory was so large that Yameen was forced to concede. Solih's victory is also major victory for India and a major loss for China, since Yameen had close relations with China and Solih promised to balance Indian and Chinese influence.

So then there was another shock, when Solih received the "invoice" from ambassador Zhang saying that Maldives owed China $3.2 billion. With annual revenues of $1.5 billion and an annual gross domestic product of around $3.9 billion, Maldives would be unable to service the debt, and it appeared that Maldives had been the victim of a huge Chinese debt trap.

Solih took office a week ago, and said that the country's finances are worse than expected, and that it will take weeks or months to untangle details of all the deals struck with Chinese firms. According to his assistant, Mohamed Nasheed:

"We are at a loss to understand how much we really owe to China. Direct debt, or direct bilateral government-to-government debt is one thing, but there is on top of that sovereign guarantees for the private sector. And there is also on top of that our state owned enterprises who have gone into debt."

However, the Maldives central bank contradicts the $3.2 billion figure, estimating the country’s liabilities to China at $1.5 billion.

And now China is denying that the Zhang ever gave Solih a $3.2 billion figure, also saying that the correct figure is closer to $1.5 billion.

So the Maldives is sending its foreign minister Abdulla Shahid to China next month, to renegotiate deals and to finally figure out how much Maldives owes to China.

China has negotiated many infrastructure debt deals with numerous countries. These deals are all secret, and are usually considered to be Chinese "debt traps" imposed on small countries. The situation with the Maldives is that, for the first time, one of these top secret deals may become public, and we'll be able to see what the terms are and whether there was corruption involved on the part of the Yameen administration.

What we've seen so far in the Maldives case is that the financial relationship with China is a total mess. If and when deals with other countries become public, we can expect a similar mess.

The Maldives envoy Abdulla Shahid will be discussing another subject when he visits China next month -- the joint Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that the two countries signed a year ago. According to the Maldives government, the FTA was rushed through parliament by the Yameen administration, but the Solih administration plans to cancel it, because it's too one sided.

Between January to August this year, the Maldives’ imports from China were $342 million, while its exports to China were just $265,270. The FTA specifies that there would be no tariffs on imports by either side from the other, but since China imports almost nothing from Maldives, the FTA is of benefit only to China. Canceling the FTA would be one more setback to China, which is facing an increasing chorus of accusations of "debt trap diplomacy" in many countries across the Pacific and Indian oceans. Avas (Maldives) and Reuters and Maldives Independent (30-Nov-2017) and Reuters (19-Nov) and Xinhua

Constitutional crisis continues in Sri Lanka over China-India competition

Sri Lanka is another country that has been harshly victimized by China's debt trap diplomacy. Sri Lanka, under former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, signed a huge finance deal with China to build the Hambantota seaport. But Sri Lanka was unable to service the debt, and Rajapaksa's successor was forced to hand control of the seaport over to China. So now China has control of an important strategic seaport on the Indian Ocean, and an enclave of thousands of Chinese workers and their families on Sri Lanka soil.

So it was a great shock on October 26 when Mahinda Rajapaksa, the mastermind of the Hambantota project, was appointed prime minister by the current president, Maithripala Sirisena, after firing the existing prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Sirisena has never explained the reason for his decision, but it's believed that Wickremesinghe is close to India, while Rajapaksa is close to China. Wickremesinghe has refused to leave the prime minister's residence, so for the last month Sri Lanka has had two prime ministers.

Sirisena also dissolved the parliament, but the parliament refused to be dissolved and remained in session. Last week, a vote was held to select the actual prime minister from the two choices, pandemonium broke out in the assembly when Rajapaksa's supporters threw books, chairs and chili paste at Wickremesinghe's supporters, in an attempt to keep from losing the vote.

On Friday, the parliament held another vote, this time to decide control of a crucial committee that sets the parliamentary agenda. When Wickremesinghe's supporters won the vote, Rajapaksa's supporters staged a walkout. Wickremesinghe argues that he still commands majority support within parliament and, despite being fired, he continues to occupy his official residence. On the other hand, Rajapaksa has lost two no-confidence votes in the parliament but has refused to stand down.

Despite having been forced to give up its Hambantota seaport to China, Sri Lanka still owes more than $50 billion to foreign lenders. Next year it has to pay more than $4 billion in debt servicing. The current constitutional crisis is causing the value of the Sri Lanka rupee to plummet, which means that the $4 billion will be much harder to pay.

Both Sri Lanka and the Maldives are very important strategic locations in the India Ocean, and seaports in those countries would be among China's "String of Pearls" seaports in the Indian Ocean, giving China a major strategic advantage. However, pro-Indian governments in both island countries would hand significant setbacks to China. Al Jazeera and Reuters and Al Jazeera and South China Morning Post (29-Oct)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-18 World View -- Maldives can't determine how much money it owes to China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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23-Nov-18 World View -- Zimbabwe proposes to compensate white farmers as hyperinflation returns

Hyperinflation returns to Zimbabwe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Zimbabwe proposes to compensate some white farmers whose lands were seized


The Norea Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of Mugabe's Zimbabwean army demonstrates karate in May 1984 at Rufaro Statium in Harare, Zimbabwe.  In 1983, the Fifth Brigade committed a massive slaughter of the Ndebele tribe in a massive genocide called Operation Gukurahundi
The Norea Korea-trained Fifth Brigade of Mugabe's Zimbabwean army demonstrates karate in May 1984 at Rufaro Statium in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1983, the Fifth Brigade committed a massive slaughter of the Ndebele tribe in a massive genocide called Operation Gukurahundi

In the 1990s, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999, president Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan. The Mugabe government seized, without compensation, farms owned by white farmers, farms that were operating well and producing a great deal of food. The farms were given to cronies in Mugable's Shona tribe, who knew nothing about farming. By 2002, Zimbabwe's farmland was in ruin and people were starving. Zimbabwe had been a food exporter, but became a food importer.

Now suddenly, and unexpectedly, Zimbabwe's government is proposing to compensate white farmers whose land was seized without compensation. On Thursday, Zimbabwe's finance minister Mthuli Ncube, who was trained at University of Cambridge and was appointed to his new post in September, issued his proposed budget for 2019. Buried deep in his budget document are the following paragraphs:

"202. Government is committed to finalizing the issue of compensation to former white farm owners who were affected by the Land Reform Programme, in accordance with the country’s law and commitments under the various bilateral agreements and the Constitution. ...

206. In the interim, the 2019 Budget proposes to avail US$53 million towards payment of compensation to former white farm owners, whose disbursement will be targeted."

The proposal acknowledges that the $53 million in the budget is only a tiny fraction of the total compensation that would be required, so this is only a first step. But why do it at all? Has the government of Zimbabwe suddenly developed a conscience.

The answer is that Zimbabwe is no longer able to borrow money from the World Bank, until some of Zimbabwe's previous debts have been resolved. In particular, the United States is demanding that Zimbabwe provide at least partial restitution to for land seized from white farmers, before it will approve of any further World Bank loan to Zimbabwe. So Ncube is proposing a nominal payment of restitution to white farmers so that Zimbabwe, which is drowning in debt already, might be able to borrow more money from the World Bank.

So Zimbabwe is being forced, most assuredly against its will, to compensate white farmers for stolen land, so that Zimbabwe can go further into debt. That sounds like Karmic justice to me.

According to the World Bank: "Zimbabwe has enormous potential given its generous endowment of natural resources, an existing stock of public infrastructure, and comparatively well skilled human resources. However, realizing this will require prompt action to correct fiscal policies, re-stabilize the monetary system, and resolve arrears to international lenders that would allow for a resumption of development financing." Australian Broadcasting (5-Sep-2002) and Daily News (Zimbabwe) and Zimbabwe Finance Ministry and World Bank

Hyperinflation returns to Zimbabwe

After Mugabe's land seizures left the farmlands in ruin and the people starving, Zimbabwe began importing food. Mugabe was printing money to pay for imports, causing rapid inflation and then hyperinflation, which exceeded one million percent by 2009, making Zimbabwe currency worth less than toilet paper. Half the population was in severe poverty, with the greatest poverty among Mugabe's hated enemy, the Ndebele tribe.

The US dollar became the official currency, and for a few years the economy started to grow again. But in 2016, Mugabe started spending lavishly again, resulting in unsustainable fiscal deficits, and a cutoff of World Bank loans.

Since Zimbabwe was running out of foreign reserves (US dollars), Mugabe in December 2016 introduced the bond note, a new paper currency with each bond note worth one US dollar. Mugabe said that only a limited number of bond notes would be printed, so that hyperinflation would not recur.

However, bond note inflation has been occurring. According to official figures, the inflation rate was 20.9% in October. However, one analyst says that the official inflation rate is not accurate:

"The inflation print fails to account for the widening black market premium and therefore does not show the actual rate at which prices are rising in the informal market. October’s rapid increase in prices is likely to lead to even more confusion and panic among local consumers."

The black market inflation rate is 244.6%. Zimbabwe Herald and Bloomberg and New Zimbabwe

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-18 World View -- Zimbabwe proposes to compensate white farmers as hyperinflation returns thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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22-Nov-18 World View -- Fourteen companies in France on trial over Iraq war oil-for-food corruption

Iraq War and the 58 Year Hypothesis

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fourteen companies in France on trial over Iraq war oil-for-food corruption


Saddam Hussein in 2000 (AFP)
Saddam Hussein in 2000 (AFP)

Fourteen major French companies went on trial on Wednesday in the Appeals Court of Paris for taking part in a vast corruption scheme where hundreds of companies around the world paid $1.5 billion to Saddam Hussein in bribes and corrupt payments to win oil contracts in the Iraq War "Oil-for-food" program.

Saddam Hussein, as president of Iraq, had a long history of developing and using WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). Saddam had a long-standing program to develop nuclear weapons, and in 1981, Israeli war strikes destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor that could have been used to develop nuclear weapons. In 1988, towards the end of the Iran/Iraq war, Saddam had used mustard gas chemical weapons in 1988 to kill Kurds and Iranians.

In 1990, Hussein's Iraq invaded and annexed the country Kuwait, resulting in the first Gulf War, which ended up ejecting Iraq from Kuwait, but left Saddam Hussein in power, still able to produce WMDs. In the years that followed, Saddam continued to develop WMDs, and refused to permit UN inspectors to enter Iraq. In 1998, the Bill Clinton administration ordered air strikes against Iraq because it refused to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.

The second Iraq War began in 2003 at a time when almost everyone in the world believed that Saddam was continuing WMD development, and the CIA reported that the evidence supported this. During all this time from 1991-2003, Iraq was heavily sanctioned in the hope of ending the WMD program.

Saddam always complained that the crippling sanctions were hurting ordinary Iraqi people, so in 1996 instituted the "oil-for-food" program. Under this program, Saddam could sell a limited amount of oil to other countries, and use the money to buy food and humanitarian goods for the Iraqi people. The United Nations was to serve as a watchdog.

Saddam corrupted the system by demanding that any company that wants to buy oil under this program would be invoiced for 110% of the actual cost of the oil. The 100% portion would be used to purchase food, and the other 10% would go into Saddam's own bank account. A UN inquiry led by former US Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker alleged in 2005 that the 2,200 companies involved in the programme had paid a total of $1.8 billion in kickbacks to win supply deals. Of those, 180 were French.

In 2016, French oil company Total was ordered to pay a $827,000 fine, the maximum allowed under French law, for corruption linked to the UN oil-for-food program. Other French companies were cleared of the charges because the situation did not match the offenses that French anti-corruption law is designed to prosecute. However, prosecutors hope that the judges in the trials that began on Wednesday for 14 companies will look at the situation differently, and will convict them.

The 14 companies include Renault Trucks, Legrand and Schneider Electric. The trial is expected to conclude by the end of November. Radio France International and Le Figaro (Paris) (Trans) and Deutsche Welle (2-Jul-2008) and Radio France International (26-Feb-2016)

Iraq War and the 58 Year Hypothesis

The Iraq War has been called the worst war in American history, mainly by people with deficient reasoning skills that they can't figure out that without the war we would never have known that Saddam was not developing WMDs. After the war, President George Bush was able to leverage that discovery to convince Iran and Saudi Arabia to end their own WMD programs, and Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa late in 2003 ending their nuclear program.

The most vocal opponents of launching the Iraq war in 2003 were also those who were making huge amounts of money in corrupt practices in the oil-for-food program.

Kojo Annan, the son of Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations, was heavily involved in the scheme through the Swiss company Cotecna, which won a large oil-for-food contract.

Russia benefited the most from oil-for-food corruption, winning near a third of all the oil deals. Paul Volcker's UN inquiry identified the people involved, but none was prosecuted because the Russians refused to cooperate.

France was in second place in benefiting from the corrupt scheme. For years, we've had to listen to French commentators express moral superiority because they opposed the Iraq War. Actually, they were the worst of all, since the advisors to France's president Jacques Chirac were heavily involved in the Iraq corruption. Chirac would have happily let Saddam kill thousands of people with WMDs, as long as Chirac kept making money from it.

There was something really remarkable about the 2003 Iraq War in that there was almost universal panic, an unrealistic panic, about Saddam's development of WMDs. We don't get nearly as panicky today about Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas in Syria, or Russia's use of Novichok nerve agent to kill people in Britain.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the 2003 Iraq war was an example of the "58 year hypothesis," which says that when some sort of calamitous event occurs, then some sort of panic will occur exactly 58 years later. That's because 5-10 year old children at the time of the calamitous event all retire or die or lose power, all at once, 58 years later, and it's this cohort of people who panic, because they suddenly realize that they'll be gone and the younger generations won't be prepared. (See lengthier explanation at "The 58 Year Hypothesis")

So the 2003 panic over WMDs in Iraq occurred 58 years after the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Another example of the 58 year hypothesis was the swine flu panic that occurred in 1976. Anyone alive at that time will remember the nationwide panic that occurred, and the demands for development of a swine flu vaccine, which turned out to be a disaster. That was 58 years after the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 that killed millions of people.

Another example was the 1987 stock market panic. If fizzled very quickly because it wasn't a real panic. It occurred 58 years after the 1929 stock market crash.

Another example is Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 2006. Hezbollah abducted two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanon border. Israel went into a state of total panic, and launched the war in Lebanon within four hours, with no plan and no objectives. The war was a total disaster for Israel. It occurred 58 years after the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs in Palestine in 1948.

The 58 year hypothesis has turned out to be one of the most fascinating discoveries in the development of generational theory. It certainly doesn't explain everything, or even many things, but it does make sense of things like the "false panics" that occurred in 1976, 1987, 2003, and in Israel in 2006. Economist (13-Mar-2008) and Council of Foreign Relations (11-May-2006) and AP (Jan 2008)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Nov-18 World View -- Fourteen companies in France on trial over Iraq war oil-for-food corruption thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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21-Nov-18 World View -- Philippines president Duterte renews policy of China appeasement

New survey shows that Philippine people are anti-Chinese, pro-American

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines president Duterte renews policy of China appeasement


Xi Jinping arrives in Manila on Tuesday and receives military honors.  (Manila Times)
Xi Jinping arrives in Manila on Tuesday and receives military honors. (Manila Times)

On Tuesday, China's president Xi Jinping visited Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte to sign 29 agreements. The agreements give China permission to drill for oil and gas in the Philippines territorial waters.

Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte has never made a secret of the reason why he has repeatedly acceded to the demands of China's president Xi Jinping, and why he's been giving up Philippines' sovereignty to Scarborough Shoal and to other parts of the South China Sea: He gave in to China because China threatened him militarily if he didn't comply.

In fact, in May of last year, Duterte recounted a conversation with Xi Jinping that made the threat explicit. Xi said that if the Philippines drills for oil and gas in its own territorial waters, then China will go to war. Duterte concluded:

"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 appeased China and gave in to all of China's demands.

Another part of Duterte's 2016 agreement with Xi was that China would provide $24 billion in loans and investment for infrastructure overhaul. Duterte used this promise of money from China to sell the appeasement to the people of the Philippines. However, a recent analysis revealed that China has only come through with a small portion of the promised investments. According to one Philippines analyst: "Duterte’s naivety with China has been a slam dunk strategic coup for China, no doubt about it."

The 29 agreements that Xi and Duterte signed on Tuesday are being described as "broad or vague, from cooperating in education, culture and industrial park development to jointly promoting infrastructure, agriculture cooperatives and establishing sanitation protocols for shipping coconuts." Of the 38 projects that Xi and Duterte agreed to in 2016, only four of them were among the commitments made on Tuesday.

Of particular significance is that one of the 29 deals is related to oil and gas development in Philippines territorial waters. The Philippines should receive 100% of the benefit, but China agreed to enter into a 60-40 joint exploration arrangement with the Philippines. Under the agreement, Manila will receive 60% of the oil and natural gas deposits while Beijing will get the remaining 40%.

It remains to be seen whether China will honor that agreement, or will renege on it and demand 100% of the oil and gas deposits for itself. Reuters and Manila Times and Reuters and Bloomberg

New survey shows that Philippine people are anti-Chinese, pro-American

As I wrote in 2016, Duterte's "flip-flop" towards China couldn't last because polls show that 54% of the Philippine people have a favorable view of China, while 92% have a favorable view of the United States. Nonetheless, Duterte's flip-flop still makes sense after Xi Jinping's threat to massacre the Philippines.

A new survey released on Tuesday by the Philippines social research institution Social Weather Stations (SWS) shows that anti-China sentiment continues to be extremely high.

This survey shows a great deal of trust and confidence in the United States, but a great deal of distrust in China, which is not surprising in view of China's increasingly belligerent and illegal military actions in the South China Sea. Duterte's policies of increasing appeasement of China's demands is creating a potentially explosive situation that could lead to conflict in any of a number of scenarios.

And by the way, other surveys have shown that the Chinese people have a great deal of contempt for the people of the Philippines. 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." The statement was later retracted, but it illustrates the state of mind of the Chinese people toward the Philippines.

As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people. So in this case, war is inevitable because the Chinese people want a war.

Rodrigo Duterte and Donald Trump have something in common. They are both aware that China is headed for war with their respective countries. In both cases, their policies are little understood by the mainstream media, but they make perfect sense when seen as an attempt, perhaps even a desperate attempt, to try to prevent that war, and the resulting world war, from occurring. And as I've said before, I'm not going to criticize policies whose purpose is to prevent a world war, even if a world war is 100% certain. Social Weather Survey (Philippines) and Coconuts Manila

China's 'temper tantrum diplomacy' at the APEC summit meeting

In my recent article on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, held in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG), over the weekend, I described some incidents of extremely arrogant, belligerent behavior of Chinese officials at the meeting. ( "19-Nov-18 World View -- APEC meeting ends in disarray after harsh US-China disagreements")

However, it turns out that China's behavior was far worse than I had described. An article by Josh Rogin, who traveled with vice president Mike Pence to the conference, described China's "temper tantrum diplomacy, which was a series of aggressive, bullying, paranoid and weird stunts to try to exert dominance and pressure everyone into succumbing to its demands.

China's "weird stunts" included the following:

The more that I write about China, the more the message always comes through of the extreme contempt that the Chinese people have for other people -- not just Americans, but also people from Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, India, Australia, and pretty much everywhere else. This is an extremely dangerous situation that will not continue in this way for much longer. Washington Post and White House

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-18 World View -- Philippines president Duterte renews policy of China appeasement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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20-Nov-18 World View -- Migrant caravans creating chaos and hostility in Mexico

People of Mexico are increasingly split between xenophobia and sympathy toward migrants

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of migrants overwhelm Mexican cities to Tijuana


Honduran migrants arrive at US border fence (Reuters)
Honduran migrants arrive at US border fence (Reuters)

The United States closed off northbound traffic for several hours at the border crossing from Tijuana Mexico into San Ysidro, California. One of two pedestrian crossings were also closed, to prevent a mass rush of migrants across the border.

This is the busiest border crossing from Mexico to the United States. Closing the border crossing inconvenienced many of the about 110,000 people who cross the border every day in 40,000 vehicles, in order to commute to work.

The border crossing had to be closed for several hours to permit the installation of movable, wire-topped barriers.

Tensions at the border have been building as nearly 3,000 migrants from a caravan arrived in Tijuana in recent days, the first of a series of migrant caravans that began in October. The federal government estimates the number of migrants could soon swell to 10,000, as additional migrant caravans arrive. The migrants are arriving from Central American countries.

The migrants are planning to apply for asylum in the United States at the San Ysidro portal. However, US border inspectors are processing only about 100 asylum claims per day.

Tijuana officials converted a municipal gymnasium and recreational complex into a shelter to keep migrants out of public spaces. The city's privately run shelters have a maximum capacity of 700. The municipal complex can hold up to 3,000.

Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum has called the migrants' arrival an "avalanche" that the city is ill-prepared to handle, calculating that they will be in Tijuana for at least six months as they wait to file asylum claims. Gastelum has appealed to the federal government for more assistance, but so far the government in Mexico City has refused.

Because Tijuana's resources are overwhelmed, cities "upstream" along the caravan route are slowing down the flow.

The city of Mexicali is 100 miles away along the highway to Tijuana. There are 1,300 Honduran migrants crowded into shelters in Mexicali, waiting to travel to Tijuana. However, Mexican police this weekend blocked their buses from proceeding to Tijuana, because the latter city is already full of migrants.

The group began as 7,000 migrants who left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, about a month ago, fleeing poverty, gang violence and lawlessness. The 1,300 who arrived in Mexicali are considering options, including making the extremely dangerous journey to Tijuana on foot. Hundreds more are expected in Mexicali next week.

Migrants in Guadalajara, the capital city of Jalisco state, about 1,200 miles south of Tijuana, were apparently played a cruel trick by government officials. The government of Jalisco had promised to provide transportation to Nayrit, 120 miles away, for nearly 6,000 migrants staying in Guadalajara. Instead, they provided buses for only 2,000, and then forced them off the bus on the outskirts of Jalisco, still over 62 miles away from the closest town in Nayarit. Then they blocked the other 3,000 migrants from receiving food packages, saying that "they are only for those who are leaving on the buses." Instead, the state will provide water, some food and escorts at nine points along the main highway leading through the state to help ensure the migrants don't have to stop.

And in Mexico City, authorities closed a shelter at a sports complex that had once housed thousands of migrants. The remaining 650 migrants from the third, mainly Salvadoran, caravan were taken to a Roman Catholic pilgrimage hostel at the Basilica of Guadalupe. The city said the hostel would be warmer. AP and Palm Springs Desert Sun (18-Nov) and Regeneración Radio (15-Nov)

People of Mexico are increasingly split between xenophobia and sympathy toward migrants

Although most Mexicans have been sympathetic and supportive toward the central American migrants, and have provided food and water to them along their travels, there is a growing minority of Mexicans, especially in the northern states close to the US border, who are expressing hostile xenophobic attitudes towards the migrants.

Over the weekend, a few hundred Tijuanenses gathered in Tijuana's high-end Rio area to protest the migrants. Demonstrators held signs reading "No illegals," "No to the invasion" and "Mexico First." Many wore the country's red, white and green national soccer jersey and vigorously waved Mexican flags. The crowd often slipped into chants of "Ti-jua-na!" and "Me-xi-co!" They sang the national anthem several times. One was quoted as saying, "We want the caravan to go, they are invading us. They should have come into Mexico correctly, legally, but they came in like animals."

A Facebook page called “Tijuana against the migrant caravan,” which promotes the rejection of migrants. Five days after it was created, the group already had 4,000 followers. Through social media, local citizens are requesting for foreigners to be taken out of the city, with slogans such as “Defend your country, kill a Honduran.” The group members argued that migrants were criminals, and that there were drug addicts, gang members, and even murderers among their ranks.

As long-time readers are aware, nationalism and xenophobia have been increasing in countries around the world, as the world goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, and the survivors of World War II, who understood the dangers of nationalism and xenophobia, are now all pretty much gone.

At the same time, as the global population has been growing faster than the global supply of food and other resources, poverty has been increasing, leading to mass migrations in many parts of the world, including Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of these mass migrations are intentionally caused by leaders of countries, including Syria, Myanmar (Burma), Venezuela, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). These mass migrations tax the resources of the countries receiving the migrants, and might lead to a regional war that could spiral into a larger war at any time. These mass migrations are expected to become larger each year.

With regard to the influx of Hondurans into Mexico, there has not been a major war between Honduras and Mexico in recent centuries, so the bouts of anti-Honduran xenophobia that are occurring today in Tijuana and elsewhere are unlikely to spiral into something more serious. NPR and El Universal and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Nov-18 World View -- Migrant caravans creating chaos and hostility in Mexico thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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19-Nov-18 World View -- APEC meeting ends in disarray after harsh US-China disagreements

Aggressive behavior of China's officials raises concerns about security

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

APEC meeting ends in disarray after harsh US-China disagreements


Xi Jinping and Mike Pence
Xi Jinping and Mike Pence

Four days ago, I described the approaching meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit, being held in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea (PNG) over the weekend as a competition for influence between China and Australia.

There was indeed such a competition, but it was the competition between China and the US that made the biggest news. The media were predicting that the US presence would be almost minimal because president Donald Trump was not going to attend.

But in Trump's place was vice president Mike Pence who spoke very harshly about China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and its use of debt trap diplomacy in infrastructure projects that were intended to benefit China more than the countries that are being put into debt. The result was that for the first time ever, the APEC meeting ended with no joint communiqué.

Pence's speech included a joke about "a constricting belt or a one-way road":

"Too often they come with strings attached and lead to staggering debt. Do not accept foreign debt that could compromise your sovereignty. Just like America, always put your country first. ...

Know that the United states offers a better option. We don't drown our partners in a sea of debt. We don't coerce or compromise your independence. The United States deals openly and fairly. We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.

When you partner with us, we partner with you. and we all prosper."

China's president Xi Jinping spoke before Pence did, but he responded to much of what Pence said:

"Mankind has once again reached a crossroads. Which direction should we choose - confrontation or cooperation? Openness or closing one's door? Win-win progress or zero sum game. The interest of all countries and the future of mankind hinge on the choices that we make. ...

Let me make this clear. The Belt and Road Initiative is an open platform for cooperation. It is guided by the principles of consultation and cooperation for a share of the benefit. It is not designed to assure any hidden geopolitical agenda. It is not targeted against anyone, and it does not exclude anyone."

China has been losing a great deal of credibility over debt trap diplomacy because more examples keep emergency. Everybody has now heard of the Seaport of Hambantota, a Chinese infrastructure project in Sri Lanka, funded with a loan from China, with almost all the labor performed by Chinese workers, and all parts and services imported from China, so that the loan money never benefited Sri Lanka's industries. Sri Lanka was unable to repay the loan, and in December of last year, Sri Lanka was forced to give the seaport away to China. So now Sri Lanka has a large seaport owned by China, and a large Chinese enclave with hundreds of Chinese families, with no benefit to itself and to its own people.

China's loans and aid in the Pacific region have gone from almost zero to $1.8 billion in the last decade, and China has pledged to spend $8 billion more.

Fiji owes China half a billion dollars, and Tonga now owes more than $160 million, or one-third of its GDP. Several other Pacific Island countries are also overwhelmed with debt to China.

There has been major drama involving China and Tonga in the last few days. Tonga has been begging China for relief from its debts for several months, with no success. But then a few days ago Tonga's prime minister called on the Pacific Islands to band together against China. Tonga backtracked on this call within a few days, but the reasons were unclear. And then it emerged on Sunday that China was granting Tonga a five-year reprieve in paying back the loan.

As part of that announcement, China will lend Tonga more money for yet another BRI infrastructure project. Reuters and Australian Broadcasting (16-Nov) and BBC and Australian Broadcasting

Aggressive behavior of China's officials raises concerns about security

There were several incidents of extremely aggressive behavior of Chinese diplomats attending the APEC conference.

On Saturday, four Chinese officials barged into the office of PNG's foreign minister Rimbink Pato, after they had been denied a private meeting. Security was called to the office and the officials had to be forced from the room. As a result, additional police were stationed at the government building to guard Pato's office.

China demanded the meeting because it wanted to make sure that the draft version of the final communiqué (which, in the end, was never issued anyway) contained language that was satisfactory to China. The US wanted to including language, directed at China without mentioning China, calling for reforms to world trading rules to target predatory trade conduct and demanding state-owned enterprises be forced to compete on a level playing field with private businesses. China apparently barged into Pato's office to make sure that the communiqué did not contain the US language.

The second issue is that Chinese officials strictly controlled media access to Xi Jinping, even ejecting PNG journalists who had been invited to cover a meeting between Xi Jinping and some Pacific Island leaders. Apparently Xi Jinping prevented any but Chinese media from having any opportunity to ask a question. One can only guess why. Australian Broadcasting and Bloomberg and Australian Broadcasting

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Nov-18 World View -- APEC meeting ends in disarray after harsh US-China disagreements thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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18-Nov-18 World View -- Cuba to pull thousands of doctors out of Brazil after right-wing Jair Bolsonaro wins election

Jair Bolsonaro moves Brazil sharply to the right

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cuba to pull thousands of doctors out of Brazil after right-wing Jair Bolsonaro wins election


Campaign tweet from October supporting Jair Bolsonaro's policies on women and gun ownership (BBC)
Campaign tweet from October supporting Jair Bolsonaro's policies on women and gun ownership (BBC)

Cuba announced that it will pull thousands of its doctors from Brazil, in reaction to demands by the newly elected Jair Bolsonaro, who takes office as president on January 1.

There are 11,400 Cuban doctors working in Brazil under the Programa Mais Médicos (PMM, More Doctors Program) that was set up in 2013 by left-wing former president Dilma Rousseff.

The Mais Médicos program was hailed as a huge success by Rousseff's supporters. During the first two years, 18,240 physicians were hired, including 11,429 Cubans, 5,274 Brazilians and the remaining 1,537 of other nationalities. They works in more than four thousand municipalities throughout Brazil, and treat 63 million Brazilians. Many of these were poor and indigenous communities where no doctor had previously been available. These included communities of former African-Brazilian slaves (Quilombos), to the indigenous population, the landless peasants and those living in the Northeastern outback.

However, from the beginning Mais Médicos was extremely controversial. The doctors complained that they were being forced to work as slaves. Brazil has to pay $3,300 per month to the Cuban government, but only one-quarter of that money goes to the doctor, giving him barely enough to live on, and not enough to send money back to his family in Cuba as remittances. Cuba receives about $250 million per year for its doctors in Brazil. Losing that money will be a hard blow for Cuba's ailing economy.

The Cuban government has reported it earns more than $12.5 billion a year from the work of its professionals abroad. Most of that money comes from Venezuela, where tens of thousands of Cubans are working, including 21,000 health workers.

Cuba prevents the doctor's family from joining him in Brazil or Venezuela, and the family suffered consequences if the doctor doesn't do as ordered by Cuba. By keeping control of the family, Cuba prevents the doctors from defecting. Rousseff was removed from office in 2016 on corruption charges, and her Mais Médicos has grown in controversy insce then.

Many Cuban doctors do defect and request asylum in Brazil. In the past, they could apply for asylum in the United States under the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) Program, set up by George Bush in 2006. However, this program was terminated by Barack Obama on January 12, 2017.

Upon being elected, President-elect Jair Bolsonaro threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Cuba over Mais Médicos, because of the near-slave conditions under which the doctors have to work. He demanded that the doctors receive the full $3,300 amount that Brazil now pays to Cuba, and that the doctors' families be permitted to join the doctors in Brazil. He also questioned the qualifications of the Cuban doctors and said they would have to renew their licenses in Brazil.

Cuba’s Health Ministry rejected Bolsonaro’s comments as “contemptuous and threatening” to the presence of our doctors” in a statement announcing its withdrawal from the program, adding, "These unacceptable conditions make it impossible to maintain the presence of Cuban professionals in the program."

Brazil's Ministry of Health announced that it will launch a public notice in the coming days for Brazilian doctors who want to fill the vacancies to be left by Cuban professionals. Reuters and Miami Herald and Rio Times (18-Sep-2015) and Miami Herald (12-Mar-2018) and Rio Times (15-Nov)

Jair Bolsonaro moves Brazil sharply to the right

Jair Bolsonaro is being called "Trump of the Tropics" because of his incendiary comments and because many of his policies are perceived to be similar to those of Donald Trump.

He's sending out a tough anti-crime message, and he's supporting wider ownership of guns. This tough message has won him increased support among women. He's strongly opposed to the legalization of abortion, which won the support of many evangelical Christians.

For the economy, he makes the usual proposals to reduce government waste. He also promised to reduce state intervention in the economy. He originally proposed selling off parts of state-run Petrobras oil company, but later backed off.

On foreign policy, he has suggested that Brazil pull out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. He favors moving Brazils embassy Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and closing the Palestinian embassy in Brazil. He has also said that his first foreign trip as president would be to Israel. BBC (28-Oct) and BBC (23-Oct)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-18 World View -- Cuba to pull thousands of doctors out of Brazil after right-wing Jair Bolsonaro wins election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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17-Nov-18 World View -- North Korea 'Charm Offensive' appears to have run its course

North Korea announces a 'Newly Developed Tactical Weapon'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea announces a 'Newly Developed Tactical Weapon'


Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea, on 19-Sep-2018 (AP)
Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang, North Korea, on 19-Sep-2018 (AP)

As the charm offensive involving the Koreas and the United States continues, the North Koreans have made their next move, with an announcement in North Korean media that "Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un Supervises Newly Developed Tactical Weapon Test."

The news report describes the weapon as an "ultramodern tactical weapon", and combines a description of the child dictator's glee with claims that his father Kim Jong-il had the engineering skill to have personally directed the new weapon's development:

"After seeing the power of the tactical weapon, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un was so excited to say that another great work was done by the defense scientists and munitions industrial workers to increase the defense capability of the country and the weapon system whose development Chairman Kim Jong-il had chosen personally and directed step by step with his special attention paid to it was born at last. He added that the weapon is just like a posthumous weapon and he missed Kim Jong-il very much while seeing the great success of its test. ...

He expressed great satisfaction, saying the great success serves as another striking demonstration of the validity of the Party policy of prioritizing defense science and technology and the rapidly developing defense capability of the country and as a decisive turn in bolstering the fighting capacity of the Korean People's Army."

No further description was given of the weapon. It's described as a "tactical weapon," and one online definition of that phrase says that "Tactical weapons are designed for offensive or defensive use at relatively short range with relatively immediate consequences." We assume then that the word "tactical" was used purposely to imply that the weapon would not be used against the United States, but could be used against South Korea.

We further assume that therefore this announcement was meant as a warning to South Korea's president Moon Jae-in. We take note of the fact that North Korea has never repudiated its primary mission of using military force to reunite North and South Korea under North Korean control.

So one purpose of the announcement is to reassure the North Korean domestic audience that weapons development is continuing, and preparations for an invasion of the South are continuing.

A second purpose might be retaliation for the resumption by the US and South Korea earlier this month of some minor joint military marine drills.

Third, we can assume that Kim's announcement was intended as a threat of war to South Korea, unless Moon Jae-in meets Kim's demands, including declaring an end to the Korean War, and convincing President Trump to agree to reduce sanctions. DPRK Today and Reuters and ABC News

The 'Charm Offensive' has almost run its course

A year ago at this time, it appeared that the United States and North Korea were close to war, after multiple nuclear and ballistic missile tests by the North Koreans.

The climate changed dramatically early in January, when Kim Jong-un began his "charm offensive," based on North Korea's participation in the Olympics games in Seoul, South Korea.

Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in immediately responded with their own "charm counter-offensive." All sides stood down from threats and threatening actions, and had a sort of love-in, with various summit meetings and actions like clearing land mines along the South-North border.

It was quickly apparent to everyone that North Korea had no intention to denuclearize under any circumstances. Nonetheless, the charm offensive/counter-offensive has been a great convenience that has met the needs for all sides:

It was pretty clear to everyone (except the news media and the general public) within a month from the beginning of the charm offensive that it was all a show -- that North Korea would never denuclearize, and that Trump would never agree to reduce the sanctions. But all sides kept it up because it solve their immediate political problems by "kicking the can down the road" -- that is, masking and hiding problems and postponing them until later.

The charm offensive has been going on for almost a year. Could it go on for another year? Maybe. That's the kind of chaotic political decision that cannot be predicted.

President Trump has said that he's in no hurry, implying that he's willing to continue the charm offensive indefinitely if necessary. However, it's the North that is suffering under the sanctions, Kim Jong-un seems to be increasingly impatient about the sanctions.

So it's really up to Kim how long the charm offensive / counter-offensive will last. He may decide that sanctions will never be lifted anyway, and so there's no point in waiting. He may take action next week, next month or next year. All we can do is wait. Yonhap (S. Korea) and Reuters and Defense News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-18 World View -- North Korea 'Charm Offensive' appears to have run its course thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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16-Nov-18 World View -- Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province

China's crackdown on religions continues

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China's crackdown on religions continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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15-Nov-18 World View -- China and Australia compete for influence at APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morrison said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13-Nov-18 World View -- Eight people killed in botched Israeli military operation in Gaza

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Eight people killed in botched Israeli military operation in Gaza


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I've written many times, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war refighting the 1948 war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. The war will also pit Sunnis versus Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, the "axis" of China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the "allies," the US, India, Russia and Iran. Jerusalem Post (11-Nov) and Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post and Israel National News

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12-Nov-18 World View -- North Korea plays hardball to get sanctions lifted

North Korea - South Korea reunification talks continue

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea plays hardball to get sanctions lifted


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korea - South Korea reunification talks continue

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to one South Korean analyst:

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

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

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

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

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11-Nov-18 World View -- Qatar provides $15 million in aid to Gaza, will mediate electricity issues and Cyprus seaport

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number of migrants leaving Venezuela reaches three million

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Number of migrants leaving Venezuela reaches three million

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

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

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

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

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

Yemen war violence intensifies as 30-day ceasefire deadline approaches

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

Yemen war violence intensifies as 30-day ceasefire deadline approaches


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

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

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

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

Next, Mattis said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jamal Khashoggi murder changes the direction of the Yemen war

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the point of Generational Dynamics, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, with a new crisis war in progress.

This war was triggered by a religious fault line between Muslims and Christians, but it's actually an ethnic war between cattle herders, such as ethnic Fulani, versus farmers, such as ethnic Gula and Runga. As I've described many times in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. ReliefWeb (1-Nov) and Médecins Sans Frontières and Reuters and UK Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

France's defence minister Florence Parly said last week:

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

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

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

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


Gwadar Port
Gwadar Port

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

According to Azad Baloch, a BLA spokesman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

Here's the five-point agreement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia moves migrant children from Nauru immigration camps to Australia


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to a statement put out by the Nauru government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU splits on Iran sanctions after assassination attempt in Denmark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asia Bibi acquittal triggers widespread riots and terrorist threats

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan Supreme Court defends Mohammed's covenant with Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka constitutional crisis represents opportunity for China


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wickremesinghe posted a defiant statement on Monday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of Thailand

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thailand and Thaksin Shinawatra prepare for new national elections


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

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

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

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

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

    The shadow of Thaksin Shinawatra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Syria peace summit issues delusional call for political solution in Idlib

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Oct-18 World View -- Syria peace summit issues delusional call for political solution in Idlib thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Oct-2018) Permanent Link