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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Dec-18 World View -- Japan invites hundreds of thousands of foreigners to work in Japan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Dec-18 World View -- Latest South Sudan peace agreement appears close to collapse thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Dec-2018) Permanent Link
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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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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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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 declines, 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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-18 World View -- Fifteen countries challenge China's human rights in Xinjiang province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-18 World View -- China and Australia compete for influence at APEC meeting in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morrison said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Split in Libya reflects the fault line in the Arab world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sri Lanka constitutional crisis grows as president dissolves parliament


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The first thing Solih did after winning the 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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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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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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7-Nov-18 World View -- Suspicions grow about Russia's Wagner PMC mercenary group in Central African Republic

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Séléka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Séléka militias.

The actions of the French troops backfired. When the Muslim Séléka troops were disarmed, the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Sélékas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the point of Generational Dynamics, CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR today deep into a generational Crisis era, with a new crisis war in progress.

This war was triggered by a religious fault line between Muslims and Christians, but it's actually an ethnic war between cattle herders, such as ethnic Fulani, versus farmers, such as ethnic Gula and Runga. As I've described many times in Central African Republic, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that's meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down. ReliefWeb (1-Nov) and Médecins Sans Frontières and Reuters and UK Government

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

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

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

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

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

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

France's defence minister Florence Parly said last week:

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

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

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

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


Gwadar Port
Gwadar Port

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

According to Azad Baloch, a BLA spokesman:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions raised about planned China military naval base in Jiwani

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

Here's the five-point agreement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions about Mohammed's covenant with Christians and Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia moves migrant children from Nauru immigration camps to Australia


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to a statement put out by the Nauru government:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Nov-18 World View -- EU splits on Iran sanctions after assassination attempt in Denmark thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Nov-2018) Permanent Link
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1-Nov-18 World View -- Pakistan court reaffirms Mohammed's covenant with Christianity, acquits Asia Bibi of blasphemy

Asia Bibi acquittal triggers widespread riots and terrorist threats

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


Asia Bibi
Asia Bibi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pakistan Supreme Court defends Mohammed's covenant with Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Articles

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Sri Lanka constitutional crisis represents opportunity for China


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wickremesinghe posted a defiant statement on Monday:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of Thailand

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Thailand and Thaksin Shinawatra prepare for new national elections


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

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

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

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

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

    The shadow of Thaksin Shinawatra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief generational history of Thailand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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
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    27-Oct-18 World View -- China, facing Trump's trade challenge, appears to mend ties with Japan

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In response, Kennan describes his policy of containment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    State Dept. spokesman Heather Nauert said:

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

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

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

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

    Greece's elderly still face possible pension cuts in January

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    European Commission rebukes Italy, after blatant budget rules violation


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

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

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

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

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

    Readers may recall that when Italy held nationwide elections in March, the elections failed to produce a majority party. Two particularly bitter rivals were the left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S) that got 32% of the vote, and the right-wing La Lega (The League) that got 17% of the vote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Greece's elderly still face possible pension cuts in January

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    23-Oct-18 World View -- Trump targets China by cancelling arms control treaty with Russia

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Trump cancels nuclear proliferation treaty with Russia


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Russia Today and Time and CNBC and AP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    China's deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    China continues massive crackdown on non-indigenous religions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    According to the decree:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    China's deal with the Vatican stirs concerns in Taiwan

    Another section of the sinicization document says the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Oct-18 World View -- Pro-independence rallies in Taiwan press for faster separation from China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    20-Oct-18 World View -- Israel backs down from full-scale attack on Gaza after family escapes rocket

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The most likely deal: 'Extend and Pretend'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Brexit appears headed for worst of all possible worlds for UK


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The most likely deal: 'Extend and Pretend'

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

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

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

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

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

    The Northern Ireland 'backstop'

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Oct-18 World View -- Brexit appears headed for worst of all possible worlds for UK thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    18-Oct-18 World View -- Ukraine counters Russia's military buildup in the Sea of Azov

    Violent school massacre in occupied Crimea kills 19 people

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Ukraine prepares to challenge Russia in the Sea of Azov

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

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

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

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

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

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    Violent school massacre in occupied Crimea kills 19 people


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Amazon's Jeff Bezos says that America must be defended


    Jeff Bezos
    Jeff Bezos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    WHO considers declaring Ebola outbreak as an international emergency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudi Arabia tries to recover from Khashoggi disappearance disaster


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Oct-18 World View -- Saudi Arabia tries to recover from Khashoggi disappearance disaster thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    14-Oct-18 World View -- China defends million-prisoner 'reeducation camps' and Sinicization of Islam in Xinjiang

    Brief history of China's religions

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Brief history of China's religions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

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


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

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

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

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

    Not surprisingly, the meeting appeared to accomplish little.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Oct-18 World View -- N. Korea's Kim Jong-un met Pompeo in a new Rolls-Royce Phantom, violating sanctions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    12-Oct-18 World View -- Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia

    Russia says that Constantinople's decision is 'catastrophic'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia


    The Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev must now change its allegiance from Moscow to Kiev.  There are fears that this struggle will lead to violence.  (Sputnik)
    The Pechersk Lavra church in Kiev must now change its allegiance from Moscow to Kiev. There are fears that this struggle will lead to violence. (Sputnik)

    Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Constantinople Patriarchate and "first among equals" leader of all Orthodox Christian churches and of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians, announced on Thursday that he will be issuing a "Tomos of autocephaly" (charter of independence) to the Orthodox Christian Church of Ukraine in Kiev.

    Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko quickly hailed the decision. "This is a victory of good over evil, light over darkness," he said, adding that Ukraine has been waiting for this "historic event" for more than 330 years.

    The "330 years" refers to another part of the Bartholomew's announcement:

    "4) To revoke the legal binding of the Synodal Letter of the year 1686, issued for the circumstances of that time, which granted the right through oikonomia to the Patriarch of Moscow to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv, elected by the Clergy-Laity Assembly of his eparchy, who would commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch as the First hierarch at any celebration, proclaiming and affirming his canonical dependence to the Mother Church of Constantinople."

    In granting independence to Ukraine's church, Bartholomew it taking control of Ukraine's church from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). This has infuriated the Russians, and is a political and financial disaster for the ROC and for Russia's Patriarch Kirill, since about a third of the parishes controlled by Kirill are in Ukraine.

    In anticipation of Thursday's announcement, the ROC last month broke all relations with the Constantinople. ( "16-Sep-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue")

    Thursday's announcement is the culmination of decades of tension between the Ukraine and Russian churches since the time of the Soviet collapse in 1991. The ROC took control of the Ukrainian church, which was headed by Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret Denisenko, an ardent proponent of independence from the ROC. The ROC excommunicated Filaret, who formed his own unrecognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is now the second largest in Ukraine.

    Thursday's announced by Bartholomew also reverses the excommunication of Filaret:

    "3) To accept and review the petitions of appeal of Filaret Denisenko, Makariy Maletych and their followers, who found themselves in schism not for dogmatic reasons, in accordance with the canonical prerogatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople to receive such petitions by hierarchs and other clergy from all of the Autocephalous Churches. Thus, the above-mentioned have been canonically reinstated to their hierarchical or priestly rank, and their faithful have been restored to communion with the Church."

    It is now considered likely that Filaret will be chosen to lead the new Ukraine Orthodox Church.

    The Constantinople Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate are two of several dozen Orthodox Patriarchates in the world, but they're the two most influential. The city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul when it was conquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. The offices of the Constantinople Patriarchate are located in today's Istanbul.

    According to Ukrainian media, a scholarly study of the history of the ROC reveals that it never received a "Tomos of autocephaly," and therefore may itself not be a legitimate church. Constaninople Patriarchate and AFP and Russian Today and Unian (Ukraine)

    Russia says that Constantinople's decision is 'catastrophic'

    There are thousands of churches in Ukraine that have pledged allegiance to the Moscow Patriarchate, and who will now be under pressure to pledge allegiance to the new Ukrainian Church.

    Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church, calls the decision "catastrophic," and says, "Of course, people will take to streets and protect their sacred sites." Hilarion in the past has warned,

    "If the schismatics begin to seize the laurels, thousands of people will gather, they will defend these monasteries, blood will be shed, ... If, God forbid, there will be a legitimization of the split, it is difficult even to imagine what consequences this can lead to. This would mean a split, similar to the split of 1054."

    This alludes to the historic, bloody split between the Catholic Church, led by Rome, and the Eastern Othodox Church, led by Constantinople, in 1054. In 1204, in a new Crusade, the Catholic army sacked sacked Constantinople, starving and murdering its citizens, and plundered the Orthodox Church's treasures accumulated over the centuries, capping the deed by placing a prostitute on the Emperor's throne at the church of St. Sophia, at that time the most beautiful church in Christendom. It was not until the year 2001, after facing large anti-Catholic protests in Athens, that Pope John Paul apologized to the Greeks for the incident, and made a plea for forgiveness.

    So Hilarion's warning that Constantinople's Ukraine decision is similar to the split of 1054 illustrates how furious the Russians are that this decision was made. It's expected that Kiev and Moscow are going to be fighting for control of every one of the churches affected by the decision, but whether those fights lead to violence between the parishioners remains to be seen.

    Another consequence might be Russian violence against the Churches in Russian-occupied Crimea. Russia may attack these churches in retaliation for Kiev's attempts to control the churches in mainland Ukraine. AFP and Tass (Moscow) and Unian (Kiev) and Washington Post

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Oct-18 World View -- Constantinople grants Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence, causing historic split with Russia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    11-Oct-18 World View -- Bangladesh continues plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island

    The island of Bhasan Char - 'floating island' - rose from the sea 20 years ago

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Bangladesh continues plans to relocate 100,000 Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char island


    Bhasan Char island (Reuters)
    Bhasan Char island (Reuters)

    Bangladesh last week again postponed plans to begin relocating 100,000 Rohingyas from refugee camps on the Burma (Myanmar) border to the remote island of Bhasan Char in the Sea of Bengal, about an hour's boat trip from the mainland. However, planning and implementation is continuing, and a new start date announcement is expected soon.

    Today, there are over one million Rohingyas living in refugee camps near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh -- the world's largest population of stateless people, not citizens of Burma, not citizens of Bangladesh. The Buddhists in Myanmar have been incredibly successful in committing almost complete genocide and ethnic cleansing, though they're still in second place this century, behind the genocide and ethnic cleansing being committed by Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

    Since 2011, Burma's mostly Buddhist security forces have been committing mass atrocities on mostly Muslim ethnic Rohingyas living in Rakhine State, in what the United Nations says is "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," and which some Western governments are calling genocide. The atrocities by Buddhist security forces include gang rape, violent torture, execution-style killings and the razing of entire villages, in a scorched earth campaign. Myanmar's genocide is reminiscent of the Buddhist on Buddhist genocide that occurred in Cambodia in the late 1970s, under Pol Pot. Burmese Buddhist leader Aung San Suu Kyi has become the 21st century Pol Pot.

    In August 2017, Rohingya terrorists took revenge by killing several Burmese security forces in attacks against 30 Burmese police outputs. Using this attack as an excuse, the Buddhist Burmese army began conducting massive slaughter and atrocities against the Rohingyas, causing hundreds of thousands to flee across the border into Bangladesh.

    The refugee camps around Cox's Bazar have been extremely crowded, and are subject to large mudslides during monsoon season. When refugees started arriving several years ago, the Bangladeshis initially welcomed them with sympathy, but have been getting increasingly resentful.

    The plan to relocate 100,000 refugees to the island of Bhasan Char was originally proposed in 2015, but it has been postponed several times. In the most recent attempt, prime minister Sheikh Hasina was scheduled on October 3 to officially open newly-constructed shelters for the refugees on Bhashan Char, but the announcement was postponed again. Finance Today (Bangladesh) and Daily Star (Bangladesh) and Quartz (27-Feb)

    The island of Bhasan Char - 'floating island' - rose from the sea 20 years ago


    Infographic: Construction on Bhasan Char
    Infographic: Construction on Bhasan Char

    Bhashan Char, which means "floating island" in the Bengali language, emerged from the sea about 10-20 years ago. It was formed in the last 20 years by silt from Bangladesh’s Meghna River.

    According to some reports, half the island goes underwater every time there's a full moon, and 60% of the island is underwater during a monsoon.

    So Bangladesh's navy has fast-tracked construction of shelters and water barriers. Each shelter will be a metal-rooted brick building, raised on pylons, to house 16 families. Each family (4 people) will be allotted a 3.5x4 meter room for sleeping, with bathrooms and kitchens down the hall. There will be solar panels on the roof, and water filters below deck.

    Chinese and British engineers are building a 13 km embankment, with the entire habitable area surrounded by a wall 2.47 meters high. An offshore structure will protect the structures from the waves.

    The construction is only partially complete, which is probably the reason for the latest postponement.

    Many NGOs are objecting to plan to transfer 100,000 refugees to Bhasan Char. Human Rights Watch gives the following reasons: 1) it is not sustainable for human habitation; 2) it could be seriously affected by rising sea levels and storm surges; 3) it likely would have very limited education and health services; 4) it would provide extremely limited opportunities for livelihoods or self-sufficiency; 5) it would unnecessarily isolate refugees; 6) the Bangladeshi government has made no commitment to allow refugees’ freedom of movement in and from Bhasan Char; 7) it is far from the Myanmar border; and 8) the refugees have not consented to move there.

    Nonetheless, construction on the island is continuing, and Bangladesh will probably announce a new relocation date soon. Dhaka Tribune/AFP (18-Sep) and Reuters (22-Feb) and NewsClick (24-Feb) and Human Rights Watch

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    10-Oct-18 World View -- China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent

    Venezuela migration crisis continues to grow

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent


    During his televised speech last year, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)
    During his televised speech last year, Maduro grabs an empanada (a rich pastry) from his desk drawer when he thinks the cameras are off, while most of his people are starving (Caracas Chronicle)

    In mid-August, Nicolás Maduro, president of the Socialist government of Venezuela, announced a new package of economic reforms that were supposed to stop the country's slide into economic disaster. ( "19-Aug-18 World View -- Socialist Venezuela introduces new fantasy currency and new Socialist changes")

    At that time, Maduro said:

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

    To the surprise of few if any people, his "formula" has only sped up the economic disaster.

    The first part of Maduro's formula was to devalue the bolivar currency by 96%, and then introduce a new currency, the Bolivar Soberano ("sovereign bolivar"). Well, that doesn't seem to have stopped inflation.

    There are no longer any official Venezuelan government figures on inflation, because the figures were so embarrassing to the Socialists there, they decided to stop publishing them three years ago. So the opposition congress has been computing its own figures, and publishing them.

    According to opposition legislator Angel Alvarado, daily inflation is now 4%, which comes to 1.7 million percent per year. During the past year, prices rose a mere 488,865%, but the inflation rate continues to accelerate.

    On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued its own estimate of Venezuela's inflation rate, saying that it would rise 1.4 million percent in 2018, and up to 10 million percent in 2019.

    The second part of Maduro's magic formula was to raise the minimum wage by 3000%. Maduro has raised the minimum wage 24 times since 2013. I always have to blink my eyes in disbelief when I read stuff like this, since apparently Maduro and his Socialist acolytes are too stupid to understand that when you increase wages then you increase inflation proportionately. So that's one more reason why the inflation rate increase has been accelerating.

    But it's worse than that, in this case. Within a month it was clear that the minimum wage increase was causing an additional economic disaster: Few companies or shops were able to pay the increased minimum wage, so massive numbers of people lost their jobs.

    In September, Maduro paid a visit to Xi Jinping in Beijing, and apparently came back home to Caracas with a lifeline.

    China agreed to invest an additional $5 billion, and the investment would boost oil production, and nearly double its oil exports to China. "We are taking the first steps into a new economic era," said Maduro. Reuters and Reuters and Bloomberg (19-Sep) and Al Jazeera (19-Sep)

    Venezuela migration crisis continues to grow

    Some six million people have fled from Syria since the war began in 2011, and that's currently the worst migration crisis in the world. The second worst is the Venezuelan crisis, where some 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled from the Socialist paradise.

    Unable to feed their children or provide medicines for illnesses, or running from violence, there are 4,000 more Venezuelans crossing the border into Colombia each day. Colombia has called for a regional response, saying the migrant crisis was costing it about 0.5% of GDP – around $1.5m. Thousands travel on to Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, This has placed an enormous financial burder on neighboring countries, and many have been closing their borders. The migrants are willing to work for little pay, and so they take the jobs of each country's citizens, further destabilizing the region. UNHCR and Guardian (London) and Merco Press and Fair Observer

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Oct-18 World View -- China aids Venezuela as inflation rate exceeds one million percent thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Oct-2018) Permanent Link
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    9-Oct-18 World View -- UN: We have just 12 years to prevent global warming catastrophe

    Fallacies in the climate change story

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UN: We have just 12 years to prevent global warming catastrophe


    China's largest open-pit coal mine is in Inner Mongolia, and is estimated to contain 1.7 billion tons of coal.  It has an estimated life of 75 years. (MiningGlobal)
    China's largest open-pit coal mine is in Inner Mongolia, and is estimated to contain 1.7 billion tons of coal. It has an estimated life of 75 years. (MiningGlobal)

    According to a new report issued on Monday by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change scientists are saying that the world is approaching climate change catastrophe much faster than climate change scientists have said in the past.

    In the past, the climate change scientists were saying that the temperature of the earth would increase by 3 degrees by 2100, if nothing changes. They said in the past that we have to cut carbon emissions so that the temperature of the earth would only increase by 2 degrees. But according to Monday's report, even a 2 degree increase leads to world catastrophe.

    Typical media headlines read, "UN report on global warming carries life-or-death warning" and "Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn" and "Trump ‘poses the single greatest threat’ to our climate, bombshell UN report makes clear."

    What to do? What to do? The BBC World Service interviewed Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat, a key architect of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. Figueres was asked what people should do now, and she listed "four things that we all can do":

    I wonder if it ever occurs to anyone at the United Nations how ridiculous and incompetent it looks to have this spokesman making these truly idiotic statements. Nobody's going to give up meat because this lady says so. Nobody's going to give up their cars for her.

    Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Treaty because, among other things, it allows China, the biggest polluter in the world, to continue polluting, while imposing enormous financial burdens on the United States and Western Nations.

    The principal purpose of the Climate Change Treaty is to specify money payments from "developed countries," like the United States, to "developing countries" like Costa Rica. Christiana Figueres is a Costa Rican diplomat, so we can assume that Costa Rica will benefit financially from the treaty, and she may even personally benefit financially from the treaty, and we can assume that's why she supports it. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and CNN and Vox and Mining Global

    Fallacies in the climate change story

    Climate change treaty supporters like to claim that anyone who disagrees with them is denying established facts.

    So let's assume that all the climate change assumptions are true:

    Let's assume that all of this is true. Then there are still major fallacies in the climate change argument.

    There are two major flaws in the climate change argument that I've pointed out on several cases to climate change advocates. They do not make any attempt to respond, but all these people just blow me off.

    If they had a response, they would respond. By just ignoring me or blowing me off, they prove that they don't have a response.

    Fallacy #1 in climate change story: Ignoring war

    The climate change scientists say that if nothing changes, then the earth's temperature will increase by 3 degrees. We're assuming that's true, but the climate change scientists are failing to take into account things that will certainly change.

    First, there's war. There were two world wars in the last century, as well as numerous other massive wars (Russian civil war, Spanish civil war, Cambodian civil war, Rwandan genocide, etc.) on every continent, and in every region.

    The 20th century was not unique. In every century for millennia, there have been massive wars on every continent in every region, such as China's Taiping rebellion, Africa's Mfecane, India's sepoy rebellion, the 30 years war, 100 years war, and so forth.

    It's 100% certain that there will be massive wars, including one or two world wars, before 2100. A world war in the 21st century will kill 20-50% of the population, through nuclear war, ground war, starvation and disease. Since we're assuming that carbon emissions are caused by human activities, that means that carbon emissions will be reduced by 20-50%.

    When I ask climate change scientists about this, they just blow me off.

    Climate change scientists won't even consider this, but it completely blows away their theories. If you don't believe me, then ask them about it, and see them duck the question.

    Fallacy #2 in climate change story: Technology

    There are probably hundreds of thousands of companies, big and small, around the world, developing solutions to carbon emissions, because everyone knows that a working solution will make billions of dollars. In the United States, emissions are down to their lowest point since 1991, thanks to many new technologies, including everything from fracking to better windmills to better batteries. Climate change scientists can't stand to even think about new technologies, because it blows all their theories out of the water.

    Several years ago, when thousands of East Anglia e-mail messages by climate change scientists were hacked, I did a search for the word "Singularity," and it never appeared once. You'd think that these scientists would have at least asked one another, "Hey, what about the Singularity?" But apparently it was such a forbidden subject that it couldn't be mentioned.

    Even if you've decided that the Singularity won't occur, there will still be nanotechnologies, materials technologies, advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, and lots of new technologies that will tackle the emission problem.

    So go ahead and ask climate change scientists how new technologies will affect their climate change predictions. What they'll answer is: Climate change is 100% certain, and world war is 100% impossible, and new technologies are irrelevant. Once again, you'd have to be a complete idiot to believe that.

    At the start, I said we would assume that all the climate change scientist conclusions are true, including the one that says that if nothing changes, then the earth's temperature will increase by 3%.

    Well, we've identified two changes that are 100% certain, and will affect their conclusions: technology and war. Here's a riddle: How do you make a climate change scientist run for his life? Answer: Ask him about war and technology.

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    8-Oct-18 World View -- Suspicious disappearance of Saudi journalist in Turkey threatens to upset Mideast relations

    Khashoggi incident threatens Saudi relationship with the West

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Suspicious disappearance of Saudi journalist in Turkey threatens to upset Mideast relations


    The Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Sunday (AP)
    The Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Sunday (AP)

    Turkey's media are now saying with increasing certainty that that the Saudi journalist who visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday and never came out was murdered by the Saudis and that his body was removed by a group of 12 Saudi officials.

    The sequence of events was as follow. Jamal Khashoggi, 59, is a Saudi journalist who writes for the Washington Post, and who has been increasingly critical of Saudi's participation in the war in Yemen, and of the human rights record of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been running the country since 2015. Fearing for his life, Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States for the last year.

    On September 28, he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get marriage documents related to his planned marriage to his fiancé, a Turkish citizen, Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. On Tuesday of last week, October 2, he returned to the consulate. Before entering the consulate, he told his fiancé, who was going to wait in the car, that if he wasn't out within 20 minutes, she should alert the Turkish authorities.

    He didn't come out, and she raised the alarm. The situation reached the top diplomatic levels between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia claimed that Khashoggi had left the embassy without anyone noticing. Turkey's forensic analysis examined all the CCTV footage for the consulate entrances and exits, for the area around the consulate, and at the airport, and could find no sign of Khashoggi.

    On Sunday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Khashoggi a "journalist and a friend," and said,

    "God willing, we will not be faced with an undesirable situation we do not want. His fiancé hopes the same. Whatever comes of this, we will be the ones to declare it to the world. It is very, very upsetting for us that it happened in our country."

    However, according to media reports, Turkish officials are increasingly convinced that the Saudis killed Khashoggi. Investigation revealed that on Tuesday morning, the day when Khashoggi was scheduled to return to the consulate, 12 Saudi officials arrived in Istanbul in two private jets, and went to the consulate. Shortly after Khashoggi entered the consulate, never to be seen again, the 12 Saudi officials returned to the airport and flew back to Saudi Arabia.

    Turkish officials reportedly believe that those 12 Saudi officials killed Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then transported his dead body back to Saudi Arabia.

    The president of Turk-Arab Media Association, Turan Kislakci, said on Sunday that his organization has confirmed through multiple sources that Khashoggi was murdered:

    "There is evidence that he was murdered. We initially thought Jamal Khashoggi was kept at the guest house [at the consulate] and that he was taken out afterwards. However, we have confirmed through multiple sources that he was killed. The details will be explained."

    However, a Saudi official is saying that the Turkish accusations are "baseless," and that a team of Saudi investigators will take part in the investigation.

    In addition, Saudi media are claiming that the woman named "Khadijah" is "promoting herself as Jamal’s fiancé," but is not known to Jamal's family and she is not his fiancé. Hurriyet (Turkey) and Globe Post (Turkey) and Washington Post and Saudi Gazette

    Khashoggi incident threatens Saudi relationship with the West

    The Turks are furious at this, and if it's true that the Saudis performed an assassination of a journalist on Turkish soil, then they expect to treat it as a major international incident.

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia relations are already at a deep low.

    Recall that in June of last year, several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and United Arab Emirates (UAE), broke relations with Qatar and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar. Amazingly enough, that blockade is still in place. International attempts at mediation have failed, and the rhetoric has, if anything, gotten worse.

    From the beginning, Turkey has been highly critical of the blockade, and has helped Qatar by sending troops to Qatar in support, and by increasing trade with Qatar, circumventing the blockade.

    Saudi Arabia has made a number of demands on Qatar to end the crisis. These include ending all relationships with Iran and Turkey, ending support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and shutting down al-Jazeera, which has been highly critical of Saudi Arabia -- things that are never going to happen.

    In the current febrile atmosphere in the Mideast, the Khashoggi incident could have larger implications. It could cause the US and Europe to reevaluate their relationships with Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish officials so enraged by this, it could trigger a more serious response. Al-Jazeera and France 24 and Al Monitor and AFP

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    7-Oct-18 World View -- Zimbabweans on panic buying spree as 'bond notes' crash

    Bond note currently on the path to inflation or hyperinflation

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Shops in Zimbabwe have bare shelves after panic buying


    Zimbabwe Bond Note
    Zimbabwe Bond Note

    Shops in Zimbabwe have bare shelves as people, fearing a new round of hyperinflation like the one in the 2000s decade, are panic buying beer, bread, cooking oil, and other essentials.

    Pharmacies have run out of medication for diabetic patients, high blood pressure patients. There are long queues of cars at petrol stations, with drivers hoping to get petrol before the station runs out.

    The panic was triggered when Zimbabwe's "bond note" currency crashed to 2.5 bond notes to the dollar, at the end of a week when the government imposed a new 2% tax on all electronic transactions. The result all week was protests and panic over the price increases and shortages of goods.

    Zimbabwe's central bank governor on Saturday John Mangudya blamed himself for the panic:

    "The problem is that we did not explain things. This economy is a sentiment driven economy so we need to communicate more with the society."

    Mangudya, told reporters that people should not be worried and that he expected an improvement in the next 48 hours.

    At the same time, there is a new cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, and 49 people have died so far. Independent Online (South Africa) and Reuters and Eyewitness News (South Africa

    Bond note currently on the path to inflation or hyperinflation

    Readers may recall that in 2016 then-president Robert Mugabe introduced a new currency called the "bond note." Each bond note would be worth exactly one US dollar. This was necessary because Zimbabwe's banks were running out of US dollars with with to purchase imports.

    In the 1990s, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa and Namibia are planning are now planning confiscating white-owned farms and giving them to his cronies in the Shona tribe who knew nothing about farming. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    By 2009 the Zimbabwe currency was more worthless than toilet paper, and so the US dollar became the official currency. But Mugabe continued with his destructive racist policies, and by December 2016, Zimbabwe was running out of US dollars. So Mugabe introduced the bond note, with each bond note worth $1.00.

    This cause large street demonstrations by Zimbabwe's public, because they knew that the bond notes would suffer the same inflation or hyperinflation that Zimbabwe's original currency did. But Mugabe promised that wouldn't happen, since no more than $200 million in bond notes would ever be printed, so hyperinflation was impossible.

    During 2017, Zimbabwe's central bank printed more and more bond notes, and by August 2017, the value of the bond note fell 50% compared to the US dollar. The central bank announced that it would print another $300 million in bond notes, bringing the bond note total up to $500 million, or half a billion.

    Since then, Robert Mugabe has been ousted, and has been sent to his palatial farm, where he has plenty of money at his disposal. Zimbabwe now has a new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is left to clean up the 40-year mess that Mugabe left behind. So far, things have only gotten worse. Maybe the Chinese will give him some money if he sells them a part of the country. Daily News (Zimbabwe) and Bulawayo24 (Zimbabwe) and News24 (South Africa, 3-Aug-2017) and eNews Channel Africa

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    6-Oct-18 World View -- China's spy chip attacks shock the computer industry

    Google is repeating the mistakes that IBM made in helping the Nazis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China's spy chip attacks shock the computer industry


    How China's attack worked (Bloomberg)
    How China's attack worked (Bloomberg)

    The announcement this week by Bloomberg News that an investigation has found that China is installing backdoor chips on server motherboards is making the public aware of a major security issue that will affect a wide variety of electronic products, from iPhones to televisions to automobile components.

    The attack worked as follows:

    Apple and Amazon initially denied they were victims of this attack, but apparently later confirmed that they were.

    China's foreign ministry denied that they would ever do such a thing, but said that they were victims of such attacks themselves.

    These revelations have exposed only a tiny part of the problem, which is being described as the "supply chain problem." These days, any electronic device contains chips and components from many sources, and those components themselves may be made up of chips from many sources. A complex electronic device might contain over 100 chips, sourced from different locations. If just one of those chips has been infected by China's military, then the entire device could be compromised. As soon as the device is turned on, then the malware chip "calls home" to the Chinese military, which then has access to the entire device, whether it's an iPhone or a helicopter. Bloomberg and Bloomberg and Krebs on Security and Mashable

    Industry reactions to China's spy chips

    For months, American intelligence agencies have been advising Americans not to do business with Chinese chip manufacturers Huawei Technologies Co. or ZTE Corp.

    China goes out of its way to tempt Americans to buy their products, by offering a lot of features and setting very low prices. The Chinese undoubtedly lose money on these sales, but the sales support a national effort for China to control as many American electronic devices as possible, for future warfare.

    As a Senior Software Development, I've developed embedded operating systems for chips, and I personally know how easy it would be for the Chinese to implement this policy. Huawei could develop a chipset that works fine during tests, but Huawei could install a "backdoor" into the chipset. When the chip receives, say, a secret 1024-bit code, then it will execute commands sent to it by China's military. Thus, the Chinese are then in control of any devices with Huawei or ZTE chips. This is not only doable, it's easy to do. The "backdoor" could not be detected until an attack had been launched, and then it would be too late. So there's never been any doubt in my mind that China COULD do this, and if China CAN do it, then they WILL do it, because they've engaged every part of the nation to prepare for war with the United States.

    That's a different kind of situation than the one that's been revealed this week. In this week's case, the hacking was done not by "invisible" software, but by a visible but tiny piece of hardware.

    SecurityWeek took a survey of reactions by security experts to the announcement of China's spy chips, and what was remarkable is that no one was the least surprised.

    Sanjay Beri, CEO, Netskope, said: "Chinese cyber infiltration is nothing new, as proven by ongoing recent attacks from elite Chinese institutions diligently working to gain access to assets from the west."

    Itzik Kotler, CTO and Co-Founder, SafeBreach, said: "Like many recent attacks, this is low-level, stealthy, and widespread. The combination of these three makes it especially frightening at first, and it certainly is rare to see such an attack in the wild."

    Rick Moy, Chief Marketing Officer at Acalvio said: "While there’s a lot of denial about the attacks, it’s completely plausible that China did in fact seed certain hardware with these backdoor chips. One can imagine the liabilities that firms would rather not take on by admitting this kind of a breach. However, it is entirely within the capabilities and mission scope of nation state intel armies to infiltrate supply chains in this way."

    Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic said: "We are one step away from a major cyber conflict or retaliation that could result in serious implications. This could be one of the biggest hacks in history. What is clear is that it is a government behind this cyber espionage and I believe it is compromised employees with privileged access that are acting as malicious insiders selecting specific targets so the supply chain has been victim of being compromised."

    Malcolm Harkins, Chief Security and Trust Officer, Cylance: Unfortunately the only surprising element about this attack is that it’s taken so long to be uncovered in a report." Security Week

    Google is repeating the mistakes that IBM made in helping the Nazis

    In the late 1930s, Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM Corp. had to decide whether to sell Hollerith card tabulating equipment to the German Nazis, at a time when they were persecuting Jews and even dropping bombs on London. Nominally, the equipment was to be used to count things like cars and cows, but it was obvious that it could also be used to count Jews. Watson did business with the Nazis even during the war, and helped the Nazis with the Holocaust.

    Now Google appears to be making the same mistake with China.

    Google recently announced it would not help the Department of Defense with AI technology, even for purely defensive purposes. (Paragraph corrected, 13-Oct)

    At the same time, Google announced a major new Google AI research center in China. “I believe AI and its benefits have no borders” said Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud. Well that's a lie. Google's AI technology will only be used outside the United States border, and inside China's border.

    China is preparing for war with the United States, and has developed numerous weapons systems with no other purpose than to attack American cities, bases and aircraft carriers. Google is willing to provide AI technology to China that can be used in these weapons to attack the United States, but refuses to allow the U.S. to use its AI technology to defend itself from China's weapons. That's verging on treason.

    A separate issue is Google's Dragonfly project. Google is using AI technology to develop a search engine for the Chinese government that will automatically track Chinese citizens who make unapproved searches, and then report those individuals to the government. Vice President Mike Pence this week called on Google this week to stop development of Dragonfly, because it would "strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers."

    China's persecution of the Uighurs and Tibetans in China is worse than the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Recent reports indicate that over a million Uighurs are imprisoned in reeducation camps. AI software provides facial recognition capabilities that permit China to track the movements of all Uighurs in Xinjiang province (or other Chinese citizens) for arrest or persecution.

    My guess is that during the 1930s it was young German-Americans who promoted selling IBM technology to the Nazis. Today, with Google located in Silicon Valley, it's probably young Chinese who are promoting selling AI technology to the Chinese military, but opposing its sale to the U.S. military. These Chinese workers will certainly come to grief for this betrayal of America. Guardian (London, 29-Mar-2002) and Atlantic (April 2001) and Task and Purpose (19-Jun) and The Verge

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    5-Oct-18 World View -- As October 25 deadline approaches, Syria's Idlib is set up for a classic Greek tragedy

    The inevitable clash of the protagonists

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    As October 25 deadline approaches, Syria's Idlib is set up for a classic Greek tragedy


    Idlib Syria (AFP)
    Idlib Syria (AFP)

    For months, international observers have been fearing a massive humanitarian disaster in Syria, as the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad prepares to launch an attack on Idlib province, the last stronghold of the opposition rebels, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

    The al-Assad regime has already recaptured Aleppo, Ghouta and Daara, using Vladimir Putin's "Grozny Model," which forces all the women and children out into the open so that they be slaughtered en masse. Al-Assad enhanced and upgraded the technique into what we might call "Grozny Model 2.0," using chlorine gas to force women and children out of their basement hiding places, and then use Sarin gas and barrel bombs as needed to slaughter as many as possible.

    Many of the civilians and opposition forces in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daara fled with their families to Idlib province, as possibly the only safe place left in Syria, with the result that the population of Idlib province doubled to about 3 million people. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and an assault on Idlib would create a massive humanitarian problem, with perhaps a million people flooding across the border into Turkey, and from there into Europe, creating an international crisis.

    Turkey was desperate to stop al-Assad's Idlib assault because it would be a disaster for Turkey, so Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lobbied Putin to cancel the assault. Turkey, Russia and Iran held a meeting in Tehran on September 7, but Turkey's proposal was rejected by the other two parties. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria") Reuters and Irin News and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

    Turkey and Russia reach an agreement to prevent the Idlib assault

    However, on September 17, Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, and they reached an agreement:

    "The Republic of Turkey and the Russian Federation, as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in the Syrian Arab Republic, ... in order to stabilize the situation in the Idlib de-escalation area as soon as possible, have agreed on the following:

    1. The Idlib de-escalation area will be preserved and Turkish observation posts will be fortified and continue to function.

    2. The Russian Federation will take all necessary measures to ensure that military operations and attacks on Idlib will be avoided and the existing status quo will be maintained.

    3. A demilitarized zone, 15-20 kms deep in the de-escalation area will be established.

    4. The delineation of exact lines of the demilitarised zone will be determined through further consultations.

    5. All radical terrorist groups will be removed from the demilitarised zone by October 15.

    6. All tanks, MLRS, artillery and mortars belonging to conflicting parties will be withdrawn from the demilitarised zone by October 10, 2018.

    7. Turkish Armed Forces and the military police of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will conduct coordinated patrols and monitoring with UAVs along the boundaries of the demilitarised zone. ...

    8. Transit traffic on the routes M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) will be restored by the end of 2018.

    9. Effective measures will be taken for ensuring sustainable ceasefire regime within the Idlib de-escalation area. In this regard, the functions of the Joint Iranian-Russian-Turkish Coordination Center will be enhanced.

    10. The two sides reiterated their determination to combat terrorism in Syria in all forms and manifestations."

    Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government were not part of this agreement, but it has become Russia's responsibility to hold al-Assad back from launching the assault.

    The heart of this agreement is that it places an enormous responsibility on Turkey. All rebels in the demilitarised zone must withdraw heavy arms by October 10, and radical groups must leave by October 15, and Turkey is reponsible for making that happen. Unfortunately, with only 5 days left until the first deadline, little has changed on the ground since the September 17 agreement except for contentious negotiations among the groups in Idlib. There's been almost no handover of weapons or territory.

    Of the 3 million people in Idlib, it's estimated that about 60,000 are in anti-Assad militias controlling different cities and villages. Some of the moderate rebel groups have begun withdrawing their forces and heavy weapons from parts of the buffer zone. But the biggest jihadi group, the al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls 60% of Idlib, has not yet agreed to withdraw, although it's still negotiating with Turkey. The National (UAE) and Sputnik News (Moscow)

    The inevitable clash of the protagonists

    The Greeks invented tragedy, and three of four great tragic artists of all time were Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides of ancient Greece, with the fourth being Shakespeare. As a Greek, I understand tragedy very well. The essence of Greek tragedy is that the tragic event it not random, but is inevitable, because of the nature, the personality, the character of the protagonists. A true tragedy cannot be prevented, even by those who foresee it, because the forces bringing about the tragedy are too powerful for anyone to stop.

    We can see those powerful forces in Syria today.

    First we have Bashar al-Assad, a psychopathic monster and a member of the Shia/Alawite community in Syria, a group that has had many wars with Sunni Arabs, including Turks. Al-Assad has repeatedly made it clear that he considers all Sunni's in Idlib, even the women and children, to be terrorists who much be exterminated like cockroaches. Al-Assad is the most Shakespearean of the protagonists in that he's driven to commit a bigger genocide than his father, Hafez al-Assad.

    Reports indicate that the al-Assad regime has been massing its army on the border with Idlib. Putin has been holding al-Assad back from assaulting Idlib, and al-Assad is looking for any excuse to attack. If the agreement deadlines pass and Turkey has not completed its tasks, then al-Assad will have the excuse he needs.

    Second, we have Russia's president Vladimir Putin. I don't get the feeling that Putin has any particular animus against either side in Syria. He seems to view the war in Syria the same way that Henry David Thoreau watched in astonishment the war between the two armies, one army of red ants and another army of black ants.

    Instead of ethnic animus, Putin seems to be have an entirely different kind of motive for supporint al-Assad. Russia was completely shut out of the Mideast in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, for the first time in decades, Russia has two military bases in the Mideast -- the Tartus naval base, and the Hmeimim airbase, both of them in Syria, in return for supporting al-Assad.

    So Russia is holding al-Assad back for now, but when the dam breaks and the Syrian army pours into Idlib, Russia will support al-Assad in order to continue to control the two military bases.

    And the third major protagonist is Turkey's president Erdogan. Al-Assad and Erdogan share a deep vitriolic hatred of each other, as do their respective populations. Erdogan truly wants to prevent al-Assad's assault on Idlib because it will be a disaster for Turkey.

    Iran is like Russia, having little vitriolic hatred for either side in Syria, but wanting to establish an overland route from Iran through Baghdad through Damascus to the Mediterranean Sea. For that, Iran is supporting al-Assad.

    Hezbollah is like a mindless puppet, where Iran is the puppetmaster. Hezbollah will do whatever Iran tells it to do.

    There are also lesser forces in Syria, including the United States and Saudi Arabia. They play their parts in support of one group or another, but they're subordinate to Syria, Russia and Turkey.

    One day soon, all of these forces will clash and the inevitable final act of the Greek tragedy will begin. Al Jazeera and Digital Journal and Deutsche Welle and Al Jazeera

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    4-Oct-18 World View -- Iran diplomats and sleeper cells arrested in France and across Europe

    Iran blamed on the foiled June 30 attack on anti-Iran MEK group

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Iran diplomats and sleeper cells arrested in France and across Europe


    Gouasmi Yahia (R), founder of the Zahra Center France religious association, speaks to reporters after his offices were raided by police on Tuesday (AFP)
    Gouasmi Yahia (R), founder of the Zahra Center France religious association, speaks to reporters after his offices were raided by police on Tuesday (AFP)

    On Monday, a German court agreed to extradite Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomatic, who is accused accused of handing a bomb to the attackers who were planning a June 30 bombing of a meeting near Paris of an anti-Iran regime group, the MEK. Although Assadi is based in Vienna Austria, his actions took place while he was on vacation in Germany, so the German court stripped him of his diplomatic immunity, and allowed him to be extradited to Belgium.

    Assadi is an Iranian diplomat and intelligence agent. He is accused of meeting a Belgian husband and wife sleeper cell in Luxembourg, where he handed them the explosives. The explosives were discovered in Beligum by Belgian police when they stopped a Mercedes car driven by the Antwerp-based Iranian couple and found the explosives hidden inside a toiletries bag. The police took the husband and wife team into custody, and requested extradition of Assadi from Germany.

    The planned target of the June 30 attack was in Villepinte, northeast of Paris, and another man, accused of being an accomplice, was arrested in Paris on Monday.

    France also seized assets in Paris belonging to Tehran's intelligence services and the Iranian husband and wife arrested in Belgium.

    A French official said that Iran's deputy minister and director general of intelligence, Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, had ordered the attack and Assadollah Asadi, who is still in Germany to be extradicted to Belgium, had masterminded the plot. According to the official:

    "Behind all this was a long, meticulous and detailed investigation by our (intelligence) services that enabled us to reach the conclusion, without any doubt, that responsibility fell on the Iranian intelligence ministry."

    However, after Belgium announced on June 30 that they had foiled the Iranian bombing operation, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted the following:

    "How convenient. Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its "plotters" arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy. 3:57 PM, Jul 2 2018"

    Zarav and the Iranians have continued to deny any connection to the June 30 plot, but Monday's arrests indicate that police in France, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg now believe that they've connected the dots to prove the Iranian terror plot.

    On Tuesday, the French government issued the following statement:

    "An attack attempt was foiled in Villepinte [near Paris] on June 30. This act of extreme severity planned on our soil could not remain without response. By an October 2, 2018 order from the Minister of State, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Economy and Finance... France has taken ... preventative measures by freezing the assets of Iranian nationals Assadollah Asadi and [Iranian deputy minister of Intelligence in charge of operations] Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, as well as of the Directorate of Internal Security of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. In taking this decision, France reiterates its determination to fight terrorism, especially on its own soil."

    On Tuesday, French police raided the al-Zhara mosque in the small town of Grande-Synthe near Dunkirk in northern France. Police had been monitoring the activities of the mosque, especially its leader, Yahia Gouasmi, who is known for anti-Zionist views and ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. However, it's not clear whether this arrest is also related to the June 30 bombing attempt.

    This series of arrests across Europe is going to bring Iran-EU relations, especially Iran-France relations, to a new low. This is highly significant at a time when Iran is begging the Europeans to find a way around the US sanctions on Iran that the Trump administration imposed after withdrawing from the nuclear agreement. BBC and The National (UAE) and Deutsche Welle and Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)

    Iran blamed on the foiled June 30 attack on anti-Iran MEK group

    The foiled June 30 attack was targeting a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is the political arm of the dissident group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / Mujahideen-el-Khalq, MEK), which Iran says is a terrorist organization -- as did the US State Department from 1997 to 2012.

    The MEK was formed in the 1960s to overthrow the Shah of Iran. As I described in my new book, Iran's Struggle for Supremacy: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East, the MEK helped Ruhollah Khomeini overthrow the Shah in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but then turned against Khomeini because he was worse than the Shah.

    In July 1988, Khomeini's ordered the massacre of tens of thousands of political prisoners and political enemies, especially those in the MEK. He issued this decree:

    "Whoever at any stage continues to belong to the PMOI must be executed. Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately! ...Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for PMOI are waging war on God and are condemned to execution. ... It is naive to show mercy to those who wage war on God."

    It's laughable for Khomeini to compare himself to God. I described in my book how he did this -- modifying Shia Islam theology by naming himself to the be modern version of Shia Islam's infallible Imams. However, the infallible Imam Khomeini used his power to conduct torture, rape, multilation and slaughter of his political enemies, including members of the MEK.

    In my article on the December protests in Iran, I listed about 20 of the protests that were being chanted, many of them quite vicious. These chants were collected and publicized by MEK activists.

    The MEK has remained an anti-government protest organization, and it's not at all surprising that Iran would sponsor explosions and other terror attacks on the MEK in Paris and elsewhere. The MEK has been extremely effect in exposing the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, and in encouraging anti-government protests within Iran. Al-Jazeera and AFP and Washington Examiner and Euro News

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

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    3-Oct-18 World View -- Namibia may follow South Africa with land confiscation without compensation

    Brief generational history of Namibia

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Namibia may follow South Africa with land confiscation without compensation


    Namibia white-owned farm (Pixabay)
    Namibia white-owned farm (Pixabay)

    Namibia's president Hage Geingob announced on Monday that he would push ahead with "land distribution," following the example of the announcement by its close neighbor, South Africa.

    According to Geingob, the practice of expropriating land with "fair compensation" will be revisited, since it hasn't delivered results, and that 43% of farmland will be transferred from white farmers to "disadvantaged blacks" by 2020. In making the announcement, Geingob said:

    "Many Namibians were driven off their productive land. The fundamental issue is the inequality. We also share a burning land issue and a racialized distribution of land resources with South Africa.

    This comes from a common history of colonial dispossession. What we also agree to is that the status quo will not be allowed to continue."

    The phrase "colonial dispossession" refers to genocide and ethnic cleansing by German colonists of tens of thousands of ethnic Herero and Nama people from roughly 1895 to 1907. According to published statistics, white Namibians today own 70% of agricultural land and blacks 16%. The rest, about 250 farms, are under foreign ownership, mostly by Germans.

    Geingob added that by redistributing land from white farmers to blacks, it will reduce inequality, and will be "an investment in peace":

    "We need to revisit constitutional provisions which allow for the expropriation of land with just compensation, as opposed to fair compensation, and look at foreign ownership of land, especially absentee land owners.

    It is in all our interest, particularly the 'haves,' to ensure a drastic reduction in inequality, by supporting the redistributive model required to alter our skewed economic structure. We should all be cognizant of the fact that this is ultimately an investment in peace."

    According to Geingob, the "willing-buyer, willing-seller" approach has not worked to redistribute the land, and now a more aggressive approach must be used. Deutsche Welle and The South African and Al Jazeera

    Namibia government opposition calls the land reform proposal a 'sham'

    The proposal for land confiscation without compensation is being made at the Second National Land Conference, held in the capital city Windhoek. Opposition figures have called for a boycott of the conference because documents leaked prior to the conference indicated that the outcomes were predetermined, and because opposition parties, including representatives of white farmers, were not even invited. Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila denied that the outcomes were predetermined, because all delegates coming to conference will "share their honest views towards the debate to help our country make progress towards the land reform program."

    None of the news reports that I read about this proposal even mention the Zimbabwe experience, so apparently that experience has been forgotten. In the 1990s, Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of southern Africa, growing much more food than the country needed and exporting the rest. Then in 1999 Robert Mugabe instituted a "land reform" plan just like the one that South Africa and Namibia are planneg. Within ten years, Zimbabwe was an economic disaster, with mass starvation, a worthless currency, and massive million percent inflation.

    The lack of transparency, and shutting out of the opposition are signs that Zimbabwe's experience will be copied in another way. When Mugabe confiscated the white farmers' farms, they were supposed to go to poor blacks, but instead went to Mugabe's wealthy political cronies, people who didn't even know how to farm. That's why Zimbabwe faced such a financial disaster.

    Namibia's new land reform program is supposed to confiscate white farmers' farms and give them to "disadvantaged blacks," but the lack of transparency and shutting out of the opposition indicates that Geingob will do what Mugabe did -- give the farms to his élite wealthy political cronies, who know nothing about farming. Why would anyone expect anything else? Those cronies worked hard to get Geingob elected, so shouldn't they be rewarded with all the farmland? It's only fair.

    So that's what happened to Zimbabwe when it was a relatively wealthy country in the 1990s. But Namibia is not a wealthy country. As of the second quarter of 2018, Namibia's economy had shrunk for nine consecutive quarters. Earlier this year, the government had to stop feeding the army, or paying the water and electricity bills for its military bases.

    Namibia is a mineral-rich country, and was considered to be stable and democratic. But when president Hage Geingob took office in 2015, he borrowed money and went on a spending spree, greatly expanding the public sector, with a huge wage bill for 100,000 civil servants. Geingob has also taken on billions of dollars in debt from China, where the terms of the deal are being kept secret, raising fears of yet one more Chinese debt trap.

    Namibia has been hit with other problems. A drought across southern Africa has been disastrous for the Namibian economy. The fishing industry has suffered due to overfishing and depletion of fish stocks. The mining industry suffered because of the fall in the prices of minerals, particular uranium, which Namibia relies on.

    So Geingob is going to solve all of Namibia's economic problems by confiscating the farmland from productive people who produce food for people to eat, and give the farms to his cronies who don't have a clue. Sounds like a great plan. Namibian (21-Sep) and The Villager (Namibia, 24-Sep) and Deutsche Welle (1-Feb) and Namibian (14-Sep)

    Brief generational history of Namibia

    Archeological evidence shows that people inhabited Namibia for at least 25,000 years. Little was known about life there until the colonists arrived and started writing things down. The first known European to visit Namibia was the Portuguese Diogo Cao in 1485.

    The most valuable real estate in Namibia to the colonists was Walvis Bay, a large deep water port on the Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch Authority took control of Walvis, and Britain took control of it in 1797.

    The Europeans in Namibia lived in relative peace with the dominant tribe, the Herero, until the "Scramble for Africa" among the European colonists occurred in the late 1800s. In 1886, Germany and Portugal negotiated the border between Angola and German South West Africa. By 1890, the German colonists had been a military fort in Windhoek, which became Namibia's capital city.

    Things changed in 1897 when the rinderpest, an ancient plague dating back to at least Roman times, arrived in South West Africa and devastated the flocks of cattle owned by the Herero, who depended on cattle for their livelihood. Many Herero sold their land to the Germans for a very low price. This situation backfired in 1904, when there was a Herero uprising against the German colonists, killing over 100 Germans. This triggered a generational crisis war, and genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Herero.

    Another tribe, the Nama, rose up in support of the Herero, but the Germans rounded them up and sent them to labor camps to work on the railways. All in all, about 80% of the Herero were killed, and 50% of the Nama. It's sometimes call the first genocide of the 20th century. Germany only lost control of South West Africa at the end of World War I, when the Treaty of Versailles gave control to South Africa.

    The Herero have filed a lawsuit in the US against Germany over the genocide and demanded reparations. Germany acknowledges that a genocide occurred, but the government denies that it is under any legal obligation to reparations. Deutsche Welle (28-Jul) and RhinoAfrica and SAHistory and HistoryWorld

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    2-Oct-18 World View -- Cameroon's Paul Biya continues ethnic cleansing of Anglophones in Southern Cameroons

    Cameroon Anglophone separatists act to block 86 yo Paul Biya's reelection

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Cameroon's Paul Biya continues ethnic cleansing of Anglophones in Southern Cameroons


    Ambazonia Defense Forces fighters (Vice)
    Ambazonia Defense Forces fighters (Vice)

    Cameroon’s Francophone (French-speaking) President Paul Biya is the favorite to win reelection as president on Sunday. A poll reveals that none of the nine opposition candidates would be able to defeat Biya, even though the economy is tanking, and most voters are opposed to Biya's war and atrocities on the Anglophone (English-speaking) population in the Southern Cameroons region of the county.

    The atrocities began in November 2016, when the Francophone (French-speaking) Cameroon government security forces began beating and killing peaceful anti-government demonstrators in the South Cameroons, the Anglophone (English-speaking) regions of Cameroon. The demonstrators were protesting systematic bias, discrimination and marginalization towards Anglophones by the Francophone government. For example, schoolteachers in the Anglophone regions were forbidden from teaching any courses in English. Court cases had to be held in French, and it was against the law to provide English translations of the laws.

    The level of atrocities ticked up considerably in October 2017, when the Anglophone separatists demanded independence for the Southern Cameroons, calling it Ambazonia. A video emerged purporting to show Francophone soldiers forcing Anglophone teenage girls to crawl through mud in front of the Cameroon Protestant College, as the men jeer at the girls and refer to them as Ambazonians.

    The Anglophones began forming their own army called the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), with about 1,500 people spread around 20 camps in the Anglophone regions. In most cases, the people are farmers who had been forced to leave their villages, armed with hunting rifles that are made in Nigeria. In September of last year, activist separatists began using small bombs to target local security forces.

    In December of last year, Biya declared full scale war on the separatists, with this announcement:

    "I learned with emotion of the murder of four Cameroonian soldiers and two policemen in the south-west of our country. I think that things are now clear to everyone. Cameroon is the victim of repeated attacks by a band of terrorists claiming to be part of a secessionist movement.

    Faced with these attacks of aggression, I assure the Cameroonian people that all measures are being taken to end these criminals’ ability to do harm."

    Human Rights Watch issued a report in July saying that the violence in Cameroon has reached a crisis level, and could still get much worse. The report Abuses by Government and Separatist Groups in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions":

    "found that both government forces and armed separatists have abused civilians in the western part of the country, displacing over 180,000 people since December 2017. Anglophone separatists have extorted, kidnapped and killed civilians, and prevented children from going to school. In response to protests and violence by armed separatists, government forces have killed civilians, used excessive force against demonstrators, tortured and mistreated suspected separatists and detainees, and burned hundreds of homes in several villages."

    According to claims by the separatists, within the last month the Francophone army has been burning down villages, and killing anyone from 13 years to 50 years old.

    Cameroon's last generational crisis war was the "UPC Revolt," 1956-1960, which was a bloody civil war by communists attacking the French government in the Cameroun colony. It has now been exactly 58 years since the ending climax of the UPC Revolt. Generational Dynamics research shows that 58 years is the point where the generations of survivors of the previous crisis war have retired or died in sufficient number that they no longer hold enough power to stop the excesses of the younger generations. Cameroon is spiraling into a full-scale generational crisis war, and there is nothing to stop it. Journal du Cameroun and Africa News and Human Rights Watch and Vice News

    Cameroon Anglophone separatists act to block 86 yo Paul Biya's reelection

    Paul Biya has been campaigning in Francophone Cameroon for a seventh term in office, which he has held since 1982.

    Cameroon's Francophone government has declared a 48-hour curfew in the Southern Cameroons region, occupied by the Anglophones. October 1 is the first anniversary of the day when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets, triggering an army massacre that killed hundreds of people.

    Separatist activists have vowed to block the presidential election in any of the Anglophone regions. On Thursday, separatist militants raided a prison and freed about 100 inmates, claiming that the prisoners were innocent people that the army arrested at random on the street.

    Separatists have set up check points blocking traffic on major roads, helping to paralyse activity across the region. According to Cho Ayaba, a separatist leader, "There will be no election in Ambazonia. We want to make sure there is no movement from Cameroon into Ambazonia, including election materials." The Nation (Kenya) and AFP and Reuters

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    1-Oct-18 World View -- UK to challenge Russia in Arctic, at time of tensions over Skripal poisoning

    Russia says that UK violates its commitment to the Arctic Council

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    UK to challenge Russia in Arctic, at time of tensions over Skripal poisoning


    British troops heading for the Arctic (Getty)
    British troops heading for the Arctic (Getty)

    At a time when tensions between the UK and Russia are extremely high because of the poisoning of the March 4 poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, using a Russia-developed nerve agent Novichok, UK's defense secretary Gavin Williamson on Sunday announced that British armed forces will confront Russia in the Arctic.

    Williamson said that Russia was reopening Soviet-era bases in the arctic and he warned that Britain's military must assert itself in the newly navigable region.

    According to Williamson:

    "We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it's right that we start responding to that.

    If we could turn back the clock 10 years many people thought that the era of submarine activity in the High North, in the North Atlantic, and the threat that it posed did disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall. This threat has really come back to the fore. If we want to be protecting our interests in what is effectively our own back yard, this is something we need to be doing."

    Well, the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago, not ten years, but who's counting?

    Williamson indicated that global warming was exposing Britain to new military threats from Russia:

    "As the ice melts and new shipping routes emerge, the significance of the High North and Arctic region increases.

    Russia, with more submarines operating under the ice and ambitions to build over 100 facilities in the Arctic, are staking a claim and militarising the region. We must be ready to deal with all threats as they emerge."

    Britain is planning to open a new military base in the northern part of Norway and deploy 800 Royal Marine and Army troops to the country every winter for 10 years from 2019. They are to operate with the US and Dutch troops there. Together with 3,000 commandos, sent to take part in the NATO drills, the total number of the deployed troops will top 40,000. In addition, four Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter planes will patrol Icelandic Skies.

    "Our Poseidon aircraft submarine hunters, based in Lossiemouth, will track Russian submarines. They will keep us safe at home and assist our NATO allies," said Williamson. That should be reassuring. Daily Mail (London) and UK Government and Sputnik News (Russia)

    Russia says that UK violates its commitment to the Arctic Council

    Russia's embassy in London criticized Britain's announcement, promoting the idea of a threat from Russia. In fact, Russia claims that Britain is violating its own policy statement as an observer at the Arctic Council. According to a spokesman:

    "These speculations are yet another attempt to promote the idea of military build-up in the Arctic under imaginary pretexts. They run counter to the existing international legal framework and completely undermine huge efforts undertaken in the Arctic Council, where the UK is an observer state.

    We hope the British media notices the impressive prospects for trade, economic and infrastructural cooperation in the Arctic and stops echoing those who can’t wait to engage in saber-rattling in this part of the globe."

    According to the US State Department:

    "Established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, the Arctic Council is the preeminent intergovernmental forum for addressing issues related to the Arctic Region. The members of the Arctic Council include the eight countries with territory above the Arctic Circle (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation, and the United States) plus six Permanent Participants (PP) groups representing the indigenous people of the Arctic, which include Aleut International Association, Arctic Athabaskan Council, Gwich’in Council International, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Russian Arctic Indigenous Peoples of the North, and Saami Council. The Arctic Council is not a treaty-based international organization but rather an international forum that operates on the basis of consensus, echoing the peaceful and cooperative nature of the Arctic Region. The Council focuses its work on matters related to sustainable development, the environment, and scientific cooperation; its mandate explicitly excludes military security. Traditionally, the Council is chaired by the foreign minister of the country holding the chairmanship. Its day-to-day work is carried out by the eight Senior Arctic Officials (SAO) and six PP representatives, with input from working groups, expert groups, and task forces."

    Although the mandate of the Arctic Council specifically excludes military security, Russia claims that an observer state like the UK must "recognize Arctic States’ sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the Arctic," and that the UK Foreign Office specifically committed to doing so in 2013.

    From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Russia and Britain are not headed for war. Historically, the Russians love the British, and the British have no particular ill feelings towards any Russians except Putin and his cadre of officials who are going around poisoning people on British soil with the nerve agent Novichok. However, eastern Europe is extremely volatile, and it's possible at some point that Russia will be involved in a war with Ukraine or other east European countries, as has happened many times in the past few centuries. For that reason, Britain's decision to set up a new military base in northern Norway could be quite significant. Russia Today and US State Dept. and Arctic Council and Sputnik News (Russia) and Daily Express (London)

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    30-Sep-18 World View -- University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes

    The Sayings and Aphorisms of Confucius

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes


    Confucius
    Confucius

    The University of North Florida announced that it will cut ties with the China-funded Confucius Institute on its campus. Others of the approximately 100 colleges and universities hosting Confucius Institutes are considering doing so as well, or have already done so.

    Ostensibly, Confucius Institutes are apolitical partnerships between American and Chinese universities, giving American students opportunities to learn to speak Chinese or study abroad. But the Chinese themselves say that they serve as "an important part of China's overseas propaganda," and they also serve as outposts of China’s intelligence and surveillance operations, as FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to the US Senate in February.

    In addition to the 100-plus Confucius Institutes in the US, China runs about 500 "Confucius Classrooms" at American K-12 schools. In Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and other countries, China runs 1,500 Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, with 40% of them in the US, more than any other country.

    The Confucian Institutes are one of the programs of Beijing's international coercive propaganda agency, the United Front Work Department (UFWD). Every aspect of the Confucian Institutes is tightly controlled by the Hanban agency, the Chinese Communist Party agency that oversees all Confucius Institutes. Teachers and teaching materials are all supplied by China. Taiwan and Tibet are portrayed as undisputed territories of China, with no alternate views permitted. The 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, the one million Uighurs in re-education camps, the human rights abuses in China are all forbidden subjects.

    The Pentagon has been working with Confucius Institutes in some colleges, and even co-funding some programs, in order to develop Chinese-speaking students. However, the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed in August, contains provisions barring any U.S. university from using Pentagon resources for any program involving Confucius Institutes. In many cases, this will forces universities to choose between receiving funding the Pentagon and funding from Hanban. Folio Weekly and Washington Post (14-Aug) and Washington Examiner (29-Apr)

    Confucius and the roots of China's imperialism

    The Confucian Institutes really have nothing to do with Confucius, but if they were called the "Chinese Communist Propaganda Institutes," then they would be rejected. However, most Americans associate Confucius with wisdom, or cutesy aphorisms, so the use of the name Confucius Institutes has been a great success for China.

    In recent weeks, I've been doing my own research on China's ancient philosophers, including Confucius, and this is a tentative summary of what I've learned so far.

    Confucius lived around 500 BC, and was a contemporary of Sun Tzu, who wrote the Art of War, a book that is so popular that it's probably the closest thing that the Chinese have to the Bible.

    Sun Tzu was a brilliant war strategist and tactician. From deception to beheadings, every tactic is on the table for winning wars. Compromise or mercy are never possible.

    If Sun Tzu's work was the recipe for imperialist warfare, Confucius' work was the theology of imperialist warfare. Confucius lived at the time of the Zhou Dynasty, about five centuries after it had beaten the Shang Dynasty. How were the Zhou able to defeat the Shang? Much of Confucius' work is devoted to answer that question in a theological framework.

    The Shang worshiped a heavenly ancestor called Shangdi ("the Lord on high"), and kings were permitted to rule under the power of this god. When the Zhou defeated the Shang, they replaced (or merged) Shang Di with their own god, Tian, a sky god, a "deity above who rules the Heavens."

    Under the Zhou doctrine, a king is the Son of Heaven, and is allowed to rule under a Mandate from Heaven, provided that he rules reverently and virtuously. Thus, if the Zhou defeated the Shang, then the Shang king must have lost his Mandate from Heaven. An excerpt from an ancient history classic is the Zhou explanation of what happened:

    "We do not presume to know and to say that the lords of Yin (Shang) received Heaven's Mandate for so many years. ... But they did not reverently attend to their virtue and so prematurely threw away the Mandate. ... Now our king has succeeded and received the Mandate. ... Being king, his position will be that of a leader of virtue. ... The Son of Heaven could not properly fulfill his functions unless his moral nature was pure and his conduct above reproach. Heaven could not be served by a tyrant or a debauchee, the sacrifices of such a ruler would be of no avail, the divine harmony would be upset, prodigies and catastrophes would manifest the wrath of Heaven."

    Confucius formalized and strengthened this doctrine of Tian and the Mandate from Heaven. He wrestled with the same "theodicy" contradiction that every religion faces: If God created everything, the God created Good and Evil, so how could God be good if God created evil?

    For Confucius, this contradiction and its apparent manifestation in the Zhou conquests, applies to Tian. He finds that Tian is an absolute power in the universe, and he accepts three assumptions:

    Since Tian depends on human actors to implement its will, Confucius insists on moral, political, social, and even religious activism. Only through this activism will a society maintain a harmonious order.

    When you look at the work of Sun Tzu and Confucius, and use their work to analyze modern events, you see that both philosophers lack any idea of a "peace conference" or a "United Nations." Since the Chinese king was the Son of Heaven and received its Mandate from Heaven to rule, it would not make sense to sue for peace with anyone else, because no one else had the Mandate from Heaven.

    But if there's no peace, it's still possible to take advantage of a "peace process." Sun Tzu said that "All warfare is based on deception," and he advocated the use of deception first, and actual war as a last resort.

    So for China today, the United Nations is not a tool to bring about peace, but a tool to be used with deception to win the war. For example, China treats international law with contempt, saying that its own law supercedes international law as in the South China Sea, where China is criminally violating international law, but still references international law when it favors China. This is a perfect example of deception and manipulation. China is contemptuous of international law, but still uses it as a tool of deception.

    We might assume that the North Koreans are following the same kind of strategy, with the child dictator Kim Jong-un having received his own Mandate from Heaven. Kim will never denuclearize, and treats the peace talks with South Korea and Trump with contempt, but will still use them as tools to provide political pressure to get the sanctions lifted, and make fools of and humiliate the US, as his father did ten years ago. New World Encyclopedia and University of Tennesee and Wolfram Eberhard, History of China

    The Sayings and Aphorisms of Confucius

    Many people know nothing about Confucius except his sayings, whether or not he actually said them.

    "Confucius say" sayings are often meant to be funny, and can often be found as sayings in fortune cookies served after meals in a Chinese restaurant. Here are some examples: "Confucius say: Man with one chopstick go hungry." or "Confucius say: Man who cut self while shaving, lose face. " or "Confucius say: Man who jump off cliff, jump to conclusion! " or "Confucius say: Man should not sleep with woman with more troubles than he have."

    Those sayings are meant to be funny, but he probably never said them.

    However, there is a large body of real Confucius sayings that carry a great deal of wisdom, even though they were written down 15 centuries ago. In fact, many of them have become common sayings. Here are some examples:

    Famous Confucius Quotes

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Sep-18 World View -- University of N. Florida and Pentagon cut ties with China's Confucius Institutes thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    29-Sep-18 World View -- China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted

    North Korea denuclearization negotiations appear headed for another crisis

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted


    China's foreign minister Wang Yi (AP)
    China's foreign minister Wang Yi (AP)

    Russia and China are starting to demand that the sanctions on North Korea be reduced.

    As I've said for many months, the objective of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un has been to get the sanctions removed, without having to denuclearize. His father was very successful at that, having resumed nuclear development when the sanctions were lifted, based on his promise to end nuclear development. The child dictator wants to prove that he's as good as his father at tricking and humiliating the West.

    As I've said in the past, after they starved and viciously abused their own people for decades, based on a promise to make North Korea a great country, a world peer to the United States, it's my personal opinion that if Kim actually did denuclearize, then he would be shot dead by his own generals.

    Since the beginning of the year, Kim has adopted a "charm offensive" strategy, working with the Russians, Chinese and South Koreans to put international pressure on the US administration to agree to reduce sanctions. He's taken easily reversible "confidence building steps," including destroying a nuclear test facility that could easily be rebuilt, and returning the remains of American Korean War soldiers, when he has thousands more. He's also suspended open testing for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, but he's continued development of these weapons and, even worse, is selling them to other countries.

    At the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, America's secretary of state Mike Pompeo repeated previous criticisms of Russia and China for violating the internationally agreed sanctions on North Korea, and said that the sanctions must be continued to maintain pressure:

    "It is imperative for members of the United Nations to take that to heart. Enforcement of UN Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realize the fully, final, verified denuclearization. The members of this council must set the example on that effort, and we must all hold each other accountable."

    However, Wang Yi, China's foreign affairs minister, responded by saying the sanction measures could be "modified":

    "A provision in the Security Council resolutions that the council is prepared to modify the sanction measures in light of the DPRK’s [North Korea’s] compliance. Now given the positive developments in the inter-Korean and DPRK- US relations, and the DPRK’s important pledges and actions on denuclearization, China believes that the Security Council needs to consider invoking in due course this provision to encourage the DPRK and other relevant parties to move denuclearization further ahead."

    Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov added to Wang Yi's remarks by criticizing Western nations for "stubbornly" refusing to agree to reduce sanctions. He said that, "Any negotiation is a two-way street. Steps by the DPRK (North Korea) toward gradual disarmament should be followed by the easing of sanctions," and that the continued imposition of sanctions must not become “a hindrance” to dialogue between the two Koreas. CBS News and Sputnik News and Guardian (London) and Reuters (17-Sep)

    North Korea denuclearization negotiations appear headed for another crisis

    The North Koreans have made some easily reversible "confidence building" concessions, as described above.

    The US has also made an easily revisible concession: The US has suspended all joint military drills with the South Koreans.

    Mike Pompeo is supposed to have another meeting with Kim Jong-un in the near future.

    The major demand that the US will make is for Kim to provide a list of all nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development sites, and then to allow UN IAEA inspectors to visit the sites and verify that denuclearization is in progress. I would be shocked and surprised if Kim agreed to that.

    The major demand that the North Koreans will make will be to sign a peace treaty formally ending the 1950s Korean War, and then to withdraw thousands of American troops from South Vietnam. I would be shocked and surprised if Trump agreed to that.

    However, if both Kim and Trump shock and surprise me, then undoubtedly some agreement would be reached to ease some sanctions.

    Trump claims, in the spirit of The Art of the Deal, that he expects North Korea to fully denuclearize by the end of 2019. I would be VERY shocked and surprised if that happened.

    This situation has seemed so benign for months that almost nobody has been paying attention, especially with the distraction of people being thrown to the lions in the great Washington Colosseum.

    However, my expectations haven't changed. At some point, there will be a renewal of the "North Korea" crisis, and the choice will be either war, or else allowing North Korea to build an arsenal of nuclear ballistic missiles pointed at the United States. AP and Asia Times

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Sep-18 World View -- China, Russia demand that that some North Korea sanctions be lifted thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    28-Sep-18 World View -- Number of Kashmir militants surges as India's 'Operation All-Out' fails

    Clashes in Kashmir after Indian police brutally kill innocent shepherd

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Clashes in Kashmir after Indian police brutally kill innocent shepherd


    Mohammad Saleem Malik's mother grieves at the funeral for her son on Thursday (AP)
    Mohammad Saleem Malik's mother grieves at the funeral for her son on Thursday (AP)

    Details are scarce, but Mohammad Saleem Malik, a 26 year old shepherd boy, was found dead in a courtyard by his family on Thursday morning, near his home in Srinigar, the capital city of Indian-controlled Kashmir. Two hours earlier, he had left his room and entered the cattle shed to check his sheeps and goats. Indian government security forces had been conducting a "cordon-and-search operation" (CASO), and allegedly fired indiscriminately at the neighborhood houses before dawn.

    According to his father Muhammad Yaqoob Malik:

    "My son was fond of rearing sheep and pigeons and never in his life he had picked up a stone in his hand [to fling at police]. Why was he killed when he was not a militant, with clean police record? Why was he killed when no militant was present in the area and there was no encounter at all?"

    Clashes erupted soon after the news of the killing spread in the area with the locals alleging that Malik was killed in forces’ firing. In the ensuing exchange of fire, a militant was killed and three soldiers were wounded, one of whom died.

    A Kashmir separatist group, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), is calling for a shutdown of Kashmir on Friday. First Post (India) and Kashmir Watch and Rising Kashmir

    Number of Kashmir militants surges as India's 'Operation All-Out' fails

    In May of last year, with tit-for-tat violence between Kashmir separatist insurgents and Indian security forces escalating, Indian security forces launched a massive house-to-house sweep in Kashmir, using 3,000 security forces to root out terrorists.

    Then in June Indian security forces launched "Operation All-Out." According to India said that this would "deliver a lethal blow to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir with a long-term plan for a lasting peace in the trouble-torn Valley."

    At the time that Operation All-Out was announced, Indian security forces had identified 128 militants in Kashmir who would be targeted.

    However, that was then. Earlier this month, the list of militants kept by the Indian security forces had more than 300 names on it. According to a senior police officer:

    "There has been a significant increase in the number of militants. The main reason for the high number of militants has been local recruitment since 2017. Last year 126 Valley youths picked up guns- which was the highest number since 2010 and this year over 130 have been inducted into militancy."

    The significance of this statement is that it indicates a major change. In the past, militants came from Pakistan. In most cases, they were in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), a Pakistan-based terrorist group that was formed in the 1990s by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu. LeT was the perpetrator of the horrific "26/11" three-day attack on Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people and wounding hundreds more. ( "After Mumbai's '26/11' nightmare finally ends, India - Pakistan relations face crisis" from 2008)

    The major change, as the police officer's statement indicates, is that militants are now being recruited indigenously. Most of them join Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM), a Kashmir-based terrorist group that has been leading the anti-Indian stone-throwing riots, triggered by the July 8 2016 death of HM leader Burhan Wani in a gunfight with the Indian army. Since then, thousands of Kashmiris have been blinded in one or both eyes by pellet guns used by Indian security forces, and thousands of youths have been arrested.

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

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

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    27-Sep-18 World View -- Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world

    Today's major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world


    Bill and Melinda Gates
    Bill and Melinda Gates

    Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, may be ideologically on the left, but it's hard to criticize someone who is taking a global view for the good of mankind, and is spending his own money to try to solve world problems like poverty and HIV aids.

    I met Bill Gates a few times during my past as a Senior Technology Editor and technology journalist. I found him to be a brilliant man at both marketing and technology. I recall digging into the code and functionality of Windows 95 when it came out in 1995 and being extremely impressed that so complex a product could work so well and in so many diverse environments.

    So when Melinda Gates was interviewed at length on CNBC on Tuesday, I was curious to hear some specifics of her plans for how she and Bill were going to save the world, and to analyze what she said from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

    Like many people, she is completely oblivious to the growing nationalism and xenophobia in the world, to the growing military threats around the world, to the growing global financial crisis in countries around the world, and how these things completely negate her Pollyannaish view of the world, and how they make the investments she's proposals either impossible or else completely worthless if they occur, in this generational Crisis era.

    I'll start with something she said near the end of the interview that really caught my attention: (my transcription):

    As I traveled the world, I asked myself: is there anywhere in the world where we have true equality for women, and the answer is no, not even in the United States. ...

    One of the places that have 40% women parliamentarians is Rwanda. It's because President [Paul] Kagame said we will have 40% of parliamentarians. They're way over that now."

    In fact it is true that over 50% of the members of parliament in Rwanda. Ms. Gates' point was that Paul Kagame is a great pro-woman humanitarian who has bravely taken the political step to make sure that there's gender equality in parliament.

    But even someone without knowledge of generational theory can see that's not what's going on here. Rwanda is in a region riven by centuries of tribal war, particularly between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis. In a three month period in 1994, Hutus massacred close to a million Tutsis in the most brutal way.

    I've described many times what happens in country after country in the decades following a crisis ethnic civil war. Whoever comes to power after the war uses brutal police power to suppress the opposition, using the excuse that a new civil war must be prevented. This has happened in DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Cameroon, Thailand, Cambodia, Iran, Venezuela, Libya, and other places.

    Paul Kagame was a Tutsi military leader who was killing Hutus in the 1980s, and continued doing so both before and after the 1994 genocide. This is a person who has perpetrated some of the most horrific things that one human being can do to another. Like many leaders in such countries, he's refusing to give up power, and he's using violence to suppress the opposition. Even today, there are reports that he's using terror attacks to subvert the Hutu government in Burundi. So he's no humanitarian, and if he supposedly supported gender equality. There must be something else going on.

    An NPR article in 2016 described what happened:

    "Following 100 days of slaughter in 1994, Rwandan society was left in chaos. The death toll was between 800,000 and 1 million. Many suspected perpetrators were arrested or fled the country. Records show that immediately following the genocide, Rwanda's population of 5.5 million to 6 million was 60 to 70 percent female. Most of these women had never been educated or raised with the expectations of a career. In pre-genocide Rwanda, it was almost unheard of for women to own land or take a job outside the home.

    The genocide changed all that. The war led to Rwanda's "Rosie the Riveter" moment: It opened the workplace to Rwandan women just as World War II had opened it to American women. ...

    The call for equality was led not by thousands of women but by one man — President Paul Kagame, who has led the country since his army stopped the genocide. Kagame decided that Rwanda was so demolished, so broken, it simply could not rebuild with men's labor alone. So the country's new constitution, passed in 2003, decreed that 30 percent of parliamentary seats be reserved for women. The government also pledged that girls' education would be encouraged. That women would be appointed to leadership roles, like government ministers and police chiefs. Kagame vowed to not merely play catch-up to the West but leapfrog ahead of it."

    So in a country whose population is 60-70% female, Paul Kagame sought to appoint women to high positions. So when Ms. Gates uses Rwanda as a model country to be emulated by other countries, you have to wonder what she's thinking, or whether she knows anything about Rwanda before the last six months.

    I would assume the latter. I don't know anything personal about Ms. Gates, but I would assume that she's like most Americans, and thinks that "history always begins this morning."

    The next question to ask is whether Rwanda is fundamentally different from other countries, besides having a lot of women in parliament. The same NPR article provides some answers:

    "But even though the change was dramatic and swift, how deep was its impact? Can a country truly transform its core culture from the outside in?

    Justine Uvuza wondered that, and decided to find out. A Rwandan herself who had grown up in a refugee camp in Uganda and then moved back to Rwanda in 1994, after the genocide, she worked for a while for the Kagame government promoting Rwanda's pro-women policies. She was curious how much progress had been made. So when she was getting her Ph.D. at Newcastle University, she returned to Rwanda to interview female politicians about their lives — not just their public positions but their private lives, with their husbands and children. She found with rare exception that no matter how powerful these women were in public, that power didn't extend into their own homes.

    "One told me how her husband expected her to make sure that his shoes were polished, the water was put in the bathroom for him, his clothes were ironed," Justine says. And this husband wanted not only his shoes laid out in the morning, but his socks placed on top of the shoes. And he wanted it done by his wife, the parliamentarian."

    So really, having women in parliament is great for show, but it makes little difference in people's lives.

    There are basic Generational Dynamics principles at work here. As I've written many times, it's a core principle of Generational Dynamics that, even in a dictatorship, major decisions are made by masses of people, by generations of people. The attitudes of politicians are irrelevant, except insofar as they represent the attitudes of the people.

    It's certainly commendable that Bill and Melinda Gates want to spend their own money to promote gender equality. But I think that it's unfortunate that they're wasting their money, time and effort on programs that have a zero percent chance of succeeding.

    Generational theory is not easy to understand, but Bill Gates is capable of doing so. Gates and his wife should focus their attention on programs that might actually work. NPR (29-Jul-2016) and Newcastle University (PDF,2014)

    Bill and Melinda Gates' programs for contraception availability

    I'll give one more example from Ms. Gates' interview:

    "There's a youth boom in Africa - 60% of the population is under the age of 25. If we invest in their health and their education, they'll lift up their economies. They have huge potential. They'll lift up the continent.

    But the converse could also happen. If we don't make those investments, you're going to see more HIV Aids, more deaths. So we need to keep our eye on the ball and make these investments, as a world. ...

    I met women all over the world, and when I sit down and talk to them, in their homes, in their villages, in a township, and really listen to them ... they would say to me, "What about that tool, what about that [contraceptive] shot. Why can't I get it?" They would say, "I have five children, it's not fair to my youngest child for me to have another women."

    Somebody has to answer those cries, and somebody has to rise above the politics, and say that this is important, has to be on the global agenda.

    I'm Catholic, I had many discussions with my family, my parents, my siblings, with former priests and nums, and at the end of the day I decided, I use these tools, I counsel all three of my children, my sons, my daughter, to use these tools and know about them, and I thought I have to follow my conscience. Women's babies are dying because they're coming too quickly, and women's bodies can't sustain what's going on. So at the end of the day, I had to wrestle my conscience and my conscience says, this is the right thing to do."

    These are great objectives. And perhaps making contraceptive shots available to women will will reduce population growth, especially if the husband also thinks it's unfair to his five children to have a sixth.

    My personal opinion is that this kind of program will not work under any circumstances, because the rate of population growth is deeply embedded in the culture. Consider that in America there was a reduction in fertility before WW II, and then a Baby Boom after WW II. This had nothing to do with availability of contraceptives. There are other examples of this type as well.

    But even if the program worked, the effort would be totally wasted. With nationalism and xenophobia increasing around the world in this generational Crisis era, the world is headed for a world war, and these contraceptive programs will simply fall off a cliff and be totally irrelevant.

    This should not be too difficult for Bill and Melinda Gates to understand. Instead of wasting their effort on programs that a 100% probability of failure, they should devote their efforts to preparing for the world to come, after a world that has to be rebuilt by the 4-5 billion people who survive the world war, and then have to find their way when the Singularity occurs. CNBC

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    Concerns grow about an approaching global financial crisis

    In the last four or five years, I've noticed a major change in the commentary of financial experts and analysts on television. It used to be that the only view that was expressed was that the financial system had recovered nicely from the financial crisis of ten years ago, and that the worst that could happen is a mild recession, from which the economy would recover quickly.

    Ironically, even that hasn't happened. There has been a bull market on Wall Street for years, much longer than history tells us is possible.

    So now what I'm hearing more and more is that analysts are strongly hinting that a major financial crisis is coming.

    In an interview on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday morning, JPMorgan's Mary Erdoes was asked whether there are things in the global economy that are too good to be true. She replied (my transcription):

    Oh lots of things. I mean everything from housing prices in certain parts of the world, to currency prices in certain parts of the world.

    You can't possibly think we're in a normal world, when you have an $11 dollars that was thrown at the market to buy whatever, to keep things propped up.

    Add to that a nice little tax reform in the United States of America to help that, and you have negative yields in 40% of europe. This is just not normal. You have not normal things, and not normal things don't end well.

    The problem is all of this stress testing in the world isn't telling us what's going to manifest itself. next, because everything - it seems too benign, everyone is so comfortable, and that's exactly when you need to be the most uncomfortable."

    Other panelists concurred, mentioned other issues: inflexibility of euro currency to meet crises, and closing of open borders.

    I'm hearing this kind of thing a lot more these days. They clearly are expecting a major global financial crash, triggered by something completely unexpected - not a surprise to my readers. The S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio is at 24.55, which is astronomical by historic standards, where the historic average is 14, and it was around 5-6 as recently as 1982, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble.

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    Today's major news from Europe: Meghan Markle closes a car door


    Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)
    Meghan Markle closes a car door (BBC)

    Former "Suits" star Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, the new wife of Prince Harry, made big news on Wednesday when she closed a car door.

    She was driven to the Royal Academy of Arts to see the opening of an exhibition of works from the Oceania region.

    She stepped out of the car, and closed the door. She's supposed to wait for someone else to close the door for her.

    This is now a major "moment" in the UK. The big question is: Will she close her own car door again the next time she's driven to an event? BBC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Sep-18 World View -- Bill and Melinda Gates take Pollyannaish view of Rwanda and rest of world thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    26-Sep-18 World View -- World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo

    Violence escalates in North Kivu, DRC, along with Ebola

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo


    A makeshift site for internally displace people in North Kivu province of DRC (UNHCR)
    A makeshift site for internally displace people in North Kivu province of DRC (UNHCR)

    The latest outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was identified on August 1 in North Kivu province of DRC, near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Since then, Ebola has been spreading fairly rapidly. As of Tuesday, there are 119 confirmed cases, and 69 confirmed deaths from Ebola.

    This outbreak has already become the seventh largest Ebola outbreak in history.

    As we reported a month ago ( "25-Aug-18 World View -- In dreaded scenario, Ebola spreads to densely populated war zone in Congo"), Dr. Peter Salama, from the World Health Organization (WHO), said that WHO was extremely concerned because the disease was already spreading, and had reached an "area of very high insecurity," because it was in densely populated tribal war zone.

    Now Salama's level of concern appears to have grown considerably. At a news conference on Tuesday he said:

    "We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a potential perfect storm: A perfect storm of active conflict, limiting our ability to access civilians, distress by segments of the community, already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder."

    Salama is particularly concerned about attacks on ordinary civilians and on WHO personnel in and around the territory of Beni, which is the base of WHO's operation. “We’ve seen attacks now on August 24, September 3, 9, 11, 16, 21 and most recently and most dramatically September 22 in the city itself of Beni. The ADF in particular has enormous capabilities. They’ve been able to overrun entire FARDC-bases in and around Beni, they’ve been able to ambush (UN) forces." United Nations and Times Live (South Africa) and Reuters and AFP

    Violence escalates in North Kivu, DRC, along with Ebola

    The militia that Salama named as having "enormous capabilities" is the ADF, which is the Alliance of Democratic Forces, a group of Islamists formed in the late 1990s in western Uganda to fight the government of Uganda. Since then they've taken their mayhem and murder to North Kivu province in DRC, and joined with other militia groups, as well as elements of Congo's own army. The UN was particularly stunned in December of last year, when the ADF attacked UN blue helmet peacekeepers, killing 15 and wounding 54 in one evening.

    The fighting in North Kivu has been escalating in all six territories of North Kivu, according to the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR. Thousands of civilians have fled their burned out villages, bringing reports of brutal attacks. It is estimated that more than a million people are displaced in North Kivu. An estimated half a million people have been forced from their homes this year alone.

    The WHO's Dr. Salama mentioned a "perfect storm" of multiple risks. One of those risks is attacks by the ADP and other armed militias. A second risk is that politicians are attempting to exploit the situation, with elections scheduled for December.

    A third risk is "pockets of reluctance, refusal and resistance" by civilians contacted by WHO workers. Many of the new cases of Ebola are being generated by people who are refusing to accept an Ebola vaccination. On Monday 80 percent of Ebola contacts — people at risk of developing the disease and so requiring monitoring — and three suspected cases in and around Beni could not be reached for disease monitoring. This kind of contact is the only way to stop the further spread of Ebola. If WHO workers cannot perform vaccinations or contact tracing, and cannot isolate people who have already contracted the disease, there is nothing to stop it from spreading rapidly.

    Salama says that neighboring Uganda is now facing an “imminent threat”, and social media posts were conflating Ebola with criticism of the DRC government and the United Nations and “a range of conspiracy theories”, which could put health workers at risk.

    WHO currently has no plans to evacuate its health workers, but that could change if the danger to them increases. "If WHO and its partners had to leave North Kivu ... we would have grave concerns that this outbreak would not be able to be well controlled in the coming weeks or months." UNHCR and WHO Situation Reports for DRC

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Sep-18 World View -- World Health Organization fears 'perfect storm' could spread Ebola rapidly in DR Congo thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

    Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russia blames Israel when Syria shoots down Russian plan


    S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)
    S-300 anti-aircraft missile launchers (RT)

    The Israeli security cabinet will meet in urgent session on Tuesday over the crisis in relations between Israel and Russia, a day after Russia officially blamed Israel because Syrian surface to air missiles shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane on September 17, killing all 15 Russians onboard.

    On September 17, Israeli F-16 warplanes were carrying out airstrikes in Syria to prevent Iran from deploying advanced weapons that the Syrian regime or Lebanon's Hezbollah could use to strike Israel. Earlier this month, an Israeli official admitted that Israel had carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

    The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad attempted to use an an S-200 anti-aircraft missile battery, previously supplied by the Russians, to shoot down the Israeli warplanes, but instead shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 (IL-20) reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 Russian service members onboard.

    Shortly after the incident occurred, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said that the shootdown was caused by a "series of tragic mistakes."

    But on Sunday, Russia's Defense Ministry said:

    "Objective data says that the actions of Israeli pilots, which led to the death of 15 Russian military personnel, point to either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence. This is why we believe that the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy is solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force and those who made decisions concerning such actions. ...

    This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that Russia has done for Israel and the Israeli people recently."

    The Russians describe how extremely clever and tricky Israeli pilots flew into the region and out again, tricking the hapless Syrians into shooting the Russian reconnaissance plane before they even knew what they were doing. The Foreign Ministry continued:

    "The Israeli pilot could not but understand that since the Il-20 aircraft has a far larger radar cross-section compared to an F-16 jet, it would be a preferred target for air defenses. [Israel is aware that] Russian and Syrian militaries use different friend or foe identification systems so Syrian radars could have identified the Il-20 as a group of Israeli fighter jets."

    So, in other words, the Syrians couldn't identify Russian planes using friend or foe identification systems, and Syrian radar operators couldn't tell the difference between a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance plane and an Israeli F-16 warplane, even though the F-16 is one-third as big as the IL-20. So the Syrians shot down the Russian plane, and therefore, the shootdown was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force." Those Israeli pilots were pretty clever, weren't they?

    Even some Russian commentators are saying that the Russian explanation is ridiculous, and that the fault is with the total incompetence of the Syrians. According to sarcastic commentaries in the the liberal Russian media Echo Moskvy:

    "How could the Syrian air defense, upon seeing on their radars a large IL-20 coming to a low speed landing, release the S-200 on a small Israeli Air Force fighter, who was in same air space sector?! Are there brainless ‘dummies’ sitting behind the radars?"

    "We always blame someone else. Anyone but us. [The Boeing MH17 passenger plane] was hit by Ukraine, the British themselves poisoned the Skripals, White Helmets poured chlorine on the Syrian insurgents, sanctions were imposed by Russophobes, doping was planted by other Russophobes. ...

    With whom have we not yet quarreled? Who else is still not to blame for all our troubles? Israel - it is now on the line. Let's go after the Jews! Moreover, our people have long suspected that the true culprits of all misfortunes are the Jews and the Masons who joined them."

    A growing number of Russians are opposing Russia's involvement in the war in Syria, and so Putin cannot afford to admit that it was the incompetence of the Syrian military and the Russian military that led to the deaths of the 15 Russian soldiers. Tass (Moscow, 23-Sep) and Reuters (4-Sep) and The Hill and Echo Moskvy (Trans)

    Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications

    After saying that Syria shooting down a Russian plane was "solely the fault of the Israeli Air Force", Russia's defense minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Mondayk that advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems will be supplied to Syria within two weeks. According to Shoigu:

    "The S-300 is capable of intercepting air threats at a range of more than 250 kilometers and simultaneously hitting several aerial targets. Russia will also jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria."

    This announcement has alarmed Israel's government. Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday initiated a phone conversation with Putin to attempt to reverse the decision. However, Putin rejected the plea, saying that "Russia’s decisions to strengthen combat capacities of Syrian air defense meet the current situation and are geared, first of all, to avert any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen who are fighting against international terrorism."

    National Security Advisor John Bolton called the decision “a significant escalation” of the seven-year war, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to discuss the matter.

    The S-300 systems could potentially be a game-changer in the potential conflict between Iran and Israel. Israel has sought for years to convince the Russians not to supply S-300s to the Syrians or the Iranians, and Russia has cooperated with the Israelis to the extent of permitting them to conduct airstrikes against Iranian assets in Syria which could threaten Israel.

    But right now it looks like that cooperation may be changing. The S-300 missiles, combined with jamming of electronic communications, will make it easier for Iran to deploy weapons in Syria or Lebanon that could be used by the Iranians or Hezbollah to attack Israel.

    Israel does not have the capability to defeat Russia's electronic jamming technology, but some reports indicate that the US does, and Israel may request aid from the US. Reuters and Debka (Israel) and Tass (Moscow) and Al-Jazeera

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

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Sep-18 World View -- Russia will supply S-300 systems to Syria, and jam Israeli communications thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    24-Sep-18 World View -- Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election

    Yameen's defeat is also a defeat for China's 'debt trap diplomacy'

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election


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

    People in the Maldives islands today are in something of a shock, as the results of Sunday's presidential elections appear to indicate that the incumbent president Abdulla Yameen has decisively lost to his opponent, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

    With more than 80% of the ballots counted on Sunday night, Solih was winning by 58-41% of the vote. The results will be announced officially on Friday, but this lead 17% lead is thought to be insurmountable.

    The Maldives is a 1,200 island archipelago in the India Ocean at the southern tip of India. More than 260,000 of the Maldives' 400,000 people were eligible to vote at about 400 polling stations across the islands. Voters also stood in long lines in Malaysia, the U.K., India and Sri Lanka, where the opposition had encouraged overseas Maldivians to participate.

    The reason that everyone was expecting Yameen to win easily is because he's used violence, human rights abuse, and suppression to guarantee his victory. He jailed many of his political opponents on phony "terrorism" charges, and rolled back press freedom.

    Some political opponents have been in jail since 2015, including Yameen's own half-brother. In February of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that they should be set free. Yameen first announced that he would honor the court's decision, but then changed his mind. He declared a national state of emergency, and then sent the police to arrest two of judges. The other three judges then decided that they would reverse their decision and leave the political opponents in jail.

    On Saturday evening, the night before the election, police raided the main campaign office of the opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Saturday, saying they had acted to prevent "illegal activities."

    Even so, Sunday's election went a lot better than anyone expected, without a lot of obvious election-rigging, because the United States and the European Union had threatened sanctions. The European Union said in July it was ready to impose travel bans and asset freezes on individuals if the situation did not improve. The US State Department this month warned it would "consider appropriate measures" if the election was not free and fair.

    Solih declared victory on Sunday evening:

    "This is a moment of happiness, a moment of hope, a moment of history. For many of us this has been a difficult journey, a journey that has led to a prison cells or years of exile.

    It's been a journey of a breakdown of government institutions. But it's also been a journey that has ended at the ballot box. I must thank all those people who have struggled for this cause."

    However, Yameen has not made any statement. There's a great deal of tension and a sense of crisis in Malé, the capital city, because many people are afraid that Yameen will do something violent in the next couple of days to reverse the election results. Mihaaru.com (Maldives) and Washington Post and Al Jazeera and CNN

    Yameen's defeat is also a defeat for China's 'debt trap diplomacy'

    Both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, both in the Indian Ocean just south of the tip of India, have long had close relationships with India. However, both countries have become closer to China in the last ten years, alarming India.

    The debt trap story of Sri Lanka has been told many times. China funded the development of Sri Lanka's Hambantota seaport, and when Sri Lanka couldn't pay its debt, China took control of the seaport and substantial land in the region, creating a large enclave of Chinese workers and their families.

    Many in the Maldives are acutely aware of what happened to Sri Lanka, of course, and they're afraid that Abdulla Yameen has already put their country on the same course, with a debt trap of its own. Already, China has loaned $830 million for an upgrade to the airport. The Chinese are also building a 25-story apartment complex and a hospital. These Chinese projects account for some 70% of the country's total debt, and $92 million a year in payments to China, roughly 10% of the entire budget.

    Then there's the question of corruption. In 2014-15, Yameen's tourism minister leased out more than 50 islands and lagoons to developers without public bidding. There are signs that members of Yameen's own family are heavily involved in China's infrastructure projects.

    We've written about many countries where the leaders refuse to step down, and corruption is often the reason. Typically, the leader's family and cronies benefit from fat kickbacks and bribes, but those are never revealed as long as the leader is in power, and can use violence and human rights abuses to suppress that information. But once somebody else takes power, the corruption can be revealed, and the cronies become eligible to be jailed or executed.

    So that's another reason why some people fear a major crisis in the Maldives in the next few days. If Yameen has followed this corruption path, and there are signs that he has, then turning power over to Solih puts himself, his family and his cronies at risk of losing their freedom or their lives. Guardian (London) and BBC and Foreign Policy (21-Mar) and AFP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Sep-18 World View -- Maldives in crisis as China-backed incumbent president Yameen loses election thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    23-Sep-18 World View -- Gunmen massacre IRGC soldiers and their families during military parade in Ahvaz, Iran

    Attack blamed on a local Arab terrorist group, al-Ahvazi separatist movement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Gunmen massacre IRGC soldiers and their families during military parade in Ahvaz, Iran


    IRGC soldiers marching in military parade on Saturday, prior to terrorist attack (AFP)
    IRGC soldiers marching in military parade on Saturday, prior to terrorist attack (AFP)

    Dozens of people, including women and children, were killed in a terrorist attack on a military parade in Iran, in the city of Ahvaz, the capital city of Khuzestan province, which is in southwest corner of Iran, bordering Iraq and the Persian Gulf.

    The attack occurred during a military parade marking the beginning of the Sacred Defense Week, a nationwide ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the start of the Iran/Iraq war that began with an invasion by Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and continued from 1980-88. Some 1.5 million people were killed in the Iran/Iraq war, and it ended in 1988 with Saddam Hussein using the WMD mustard gas on Kurds and Iranians.

    The attack targeted members of the Iran's powerful paramilitary group, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and their families. Four gunmen dressed in fake IRGC uniforms sprayed random gunfire into a crowd of marching soldiers, bystanders and government officials. The military parade was being televised live, saw Iranians saw marching soldiers suddenly scramble to flee, or fall to the ground to escape gunfire, many of them shielding children.

    Ahvaz is the capital city of Khuzestan province, which has the country's largest oil reserves. With its proximity to Iraq and the presence of a large Arab minority, the area has seen ethnic violence in the past. It was also a frontline in the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, as Saddam Hussein was trying to gain control of Khuzestan province and its oil wealth. Mehr News (Tehran) and AP and Press TV (Tehran)

    Iran reflexively blames Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, Mossad, and United States

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei immediately said "This crime is a continuation of the plots of the regional states that are puppets of the United States, and their goal is to create insecurity in our dear country."

    The "regional states" that Khamenei alluded to are Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made a similar claim in a tweet:

    "Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives."

    At some level, these accusations are justified. Ministers from Saudi Arabia and UAE have at times incendiary statements targeting Iran, just as Iran has threatened Saudi Arabia and UAE.

    A year ago, John R. Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations, made a proposal to President Trump get out of the nuclear deal with Iran, which was a subject still under discussion at that time. Bolton recommended going beyond simple abrogation of the agreement to take steps "to limit Iran’s malicious activities and global adventurism." These actions included:

    Bolton's plan, which he says is for discussion purposes only, is extremely belligerent and threatening, and specifically recommends providing assistance to groups that have had terrorist elements, including Khuzestan Arabs, Pakistan's Balochis, and Iraq's Kurds.

    Furthermore, although is not generally believed that the US funded any such groups, some analysts believe that Saudi Arabia has funded Khuzestan Arabs.

    Iran's accusations against Israel and the United States are made entirely without evidence. However, Iranian officials reflexively blame everything on Israel and the United States, and in today's febrile international environment, it's not surprising that Iranian officials make those claims. Times of Israel and National Review (28-Aug-2017)

    Attack blamed on a local Arab terrorist group, al-Ahvazi separatist movement

    Two groups claimed credit for the attack.

    The first to claim credit was ISIS. But ISIS claims credit for many attacks in which it played no part, in order to puff up its own brand name. So the ISIS claim is not generally believed.

    An Arab nationalist separatist group, the Patriotic Arab Democratic Movement in Ahwaz (al-Ahwaz or al-Ahvaziya or al-Ahvazi) also claimed responsibility for the assault, and their claim is generally believed. A statesman issued by a spokesman said that the attack on Saturday "was in response to the repression of Ahvazi Arabs. We do not have a choice but to carry out a resistance."

    Little is known about the al-Ahvazi, except that it's an Arab separatist group based in the city of Ahvaz, the site of Saturday's attack. It's believed to be funded by Saudi Arabia.

    In the past, the group has attacked only unguarded pipelines, so this is a major escalation by the group.

    However, the IRGC made its own escalation last week, attacking Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq with missiles. Saturday's attack is almost a mirror image of last week's missile attack on the Kurds, so this may be a tit-for-tat escalation.

    Some analysts are suggesting that Saturday's attack was the Saudis laying a trap for Iran. According to this conspiracy theory, the Saudis would like Iran to retaliate militarily in some way, to create a wider war, forcing the United States military to get involved. My response to this suggestion is the usual one: Be careful what you wish for. Times of Israel and Guardian (London)

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

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    22-Sep-18 World View -- China threatens multiple Western nations militarily over South China Sea

    China's claims to the South China Sea are amazingly vacuous

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    China threatens multiple Western nations militarily over South China Sea


    Radar towers, hangars and five-story buildings can be seen on Fiery Cross Reef from an onboard camera on a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane. (NY Times)
    Radar towers, hangars and five-story buildings can be seen on Fiery Cross Reef from an onboard camera on a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance plane. (NY Times)

    Two weeks ago, the HMS Albion, a British Royal Navy flagship amphibious assault ship, was traveling through the South China Sea, en route from Tokyo to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. On August 31, the ship exercised its "freedom of navigation" rights as it passed near the Paracel Islands. The Paracel Islands have been ruled by the courts to be in international waters, but China has used military force to annex them, in clear violation of international law. China immediately launched a military challenge in the form of a frigate and two helicopters, although both sides remained calm.

    However, the Albion's freedom of navigation operation continues to trigger hysterical, irrational threats by the Chinese. In the aftermath of the incident, China made the usual threats, and these statements have been growing more hysterical and threatening as time goes on.

    China's embassy in London issued this statement:

    "The [Paracel Islands are] an inherent part of the Chinese territory. In accordance with the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Chinese government promulgated the baseline of the territorial sea of the [Paracel Islands] in May, 1996. The relevant behavior of the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty. China is firmly opposed to this. We have lodged stern representations with the British side and expressed our strong dissatisfaction.

    The Chinese side strongly urges Britain to stop this kind of provocation lest it should undermine the overall picture of bilateral ties as well as regional peace and stability. China will continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security."

    The claim that the Paracel Islands are an inherent part of Chinese territory is really laughable, as I'll explain below. China has NO sovereignty there.

    China's Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming has said that the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been a problem, warning that no one should underestimate China's determination to uphold "peace and stability" in the region:

    "Yet to everyone’s confusion, some big countries outside the region did not seem to appreciate the peace and tranquility in the South China Sea. They sent warships and aircraft all the way to the South China Sea to create trouble. ...

    This was a serious infringement [of China's sovereignty]. It threatened China's security and put regional peace and stability in jeopardy.

    "Freedom of navigation is not a license to do whatever one wishes. ...

    "Such 'freedom' must be stopped. Otherwise the South China Sea will never be tranquil."

    This is a military threat. The ambassador claims that it's about warships making trouble, but it's also about fishing boats and oil. China has repeatedly used military force to prevent Vietnam and the Philippines from fishing in international waters, and as we recently reported, China threatened war with the Philippines if the latter drills for oil in its own territorial waters.

    In the last five years, islands near the Philippines have turned into Chinese military bases, bristling with radar domes, shelters for missiles, and warplane runways.

    In 2015, Xi stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and promised, "there is no intention to militarize" the South China Sea, which is exactly what happened. Xi's lie is standard Chinese policy, as advised by 1980s Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping: "Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership."

    But since 2015, China has completely abandoned Deng's advice, and is now openly militaristic and threatening, and preparing to launch a war.

    According to a Pentagon assessment, China's military bases in the Spratly Islands will be completed by the end of the year, and presumably ready for full-scale war. The only question is what will China do next -- take immediate military action, or else start building military bases in Scarborough, in Philippines territorial waters, an act of war in itself.

    In May, U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Adm. Philip Davidson said, "In short, China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States."

    China does not recognize international law except when it favors China. China believes that its own law supersedes international law. China has been pursuing the Nazi Lebensraum objective, at least since the time of Chiang Kai-shek after World War II. The Chinese Communist Party view of Han Racial Superiority is no different than the Nazi view of the Aryan Master Race.

    The "freedom of navigation operations" (FONOPs) are being conducted by the US, Britain, Australian, and Japan. There's a temptation just to abandon them, and just let China have its way. But then China would just declare victory, and make further demands, prohibiting any other country's vessels of any kind to pass through the South China Sea without explicit permission of the Chinese.

    So the Chinese make their hysterical statements and military threats to "prove" their claims. The FONOPs are necessary to refute China's hysterical statements and military threats. This is exactly the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that leads to war during a generational Crisis era.

    The same thing is happening with trade policy between the US and China. Neither the Trump administration nor Xi Jinping is going to back down. Perhaps some intermediary can work for a truce of some kind, but it's more likely that the tit-for-tat trade escalations will also continue.

    As I've written in the past, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for full-scale war with China with 100% certainty, and Donald Trump is well aware of this. Many of his policies, which are totally inscrutable and incomprehensible to the media, make perfect sense when you realize that they're intended to try to prevent a world war. Preventing a world war is impossible, but I'm not going to criticize Trump for trying. Chinese Embassy in UK and Xinhua and NY Times and South China Morning Post

    China's claims to the South China Sea are amazingly vacuous

    As we all know, in 2016 the Philippines won a historic case in the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague thoroughly humiliating China by ruling that all of China's activities in the South China Sea are illegal and in violation of international law.

    The Chinese ambassador's statement quoted above says that "the British warship violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed upon China's sovereignty." China has no sovereignty in the South China Sea. China's use of the phrase "relevant international law" is laughable, since China believes itself superior to international law.

    In recent weeks, I've been doing my own research on China's claims to the South China Sea.

    First, let's address the name, "South China Sea." This does not mean that China owns it, any more than India owns the Indian Ocean. The name South China Sea was invented by Westerners, around 1900. Prior to that, different countries used various names, including Cham sea, Luzon sea, Clove sea, South sea, East sea, and West Philippine sea. According to historian Philip Bowring:

    "Do not imagine that the term “South China Sea” ever implied Chinese ownership. It is a Western construction that dates to about 1900. Previously, European maps referred to it as the China Sea, and before that as part of the Indian Sea. When the Portuguese arrived there in the early sixteenth century they called it the Cham Sea, after the maritime kingdom of coastal Vietnam. Other names at various times include Luzon Sea and (by early Arab traders) the Clove Sea. To China it has long been the South Sea and to Vietnamese the East Sea. The Philippines now refers to it as the West Philippine Sea.

    “Malay seas” is another term that has been applied to it and its immediate neighbors, the Java, Sulu, and Banda seas. The South China Sea itself is predominantly a Malay sea, as defined by the culture and language group of the majority of people living along its shores. Until European imperialism from the sixteenth century onward gradually snuffed out these trade-based kingdoms and sultanates, they were the region’s principal traders."

    The Chinese claim sovereignty going all the way to the Han Dynasty in the 2nd century BC. Once again, this is laughable.

    Starting from the beginning of the first millennium BC, there were Malay-Polynesian people settling in all the Pacific islands from Madagascar to Taiwan, conducting trade. This continued through most of the 1st and 2nd millennium AD.

    Ironically, China had no interest in these islands throughout this period, and in fact discouraged its own traders from venturing out, preferring to wait for foreign traders to come to China.

    China was busy looking westward, conquering Central Asian lands, including the Tibetans and the Uighur Turks. Today, these ethnic groups the ones that China is treating as violently as possible. It's even now emerging that China has locked up a million Uighurs in reeducation camps, and has separated Uighur children from their parents and locked them up in indoctrination camps.

    This is standard Chinese practice. During Mao's Great Leap Forward, 500 million peasants were taken out of their homes and put into communes, with children, wives and husbands all living separately. Husbands and wives were allowed to be alone only at certain times of the month and only for brief periods. All workers took part in ideological training sessions. The purpose was to turn the population into a giant machine, proving that Communism was better than anything else. It was a disaster, resulting in tens of millions of deaths. Now the Chinese are using the same techniques on the Uighurs, though with different objectives, but just as likely to end in disaster.

    Significantly, China's historical conquests were all to the west, but never to the east. China tried to conquer Korea, but failed. China apparently made no attempt to conquer the Philippines the way they conquered the Uighurs. If they had, then the Chinese claim to the South China Sea might actually have some validity.

    So the historical evidence indicates that China wanted absolutely nothing to do with the South China Sea until recently. It was only after WW II that they decided that they had gotten enough Lebensraum to the west, and now wanted Lebensraum to the east. They backed up their claims by dredging up old maps and documents that were supposedly created centuries ago, but those are meaningless. If having a map of something means you own it, then the British Geological Survey owns the whole world. National Geographic (18-Jun-2014) and New York Review of Books (13-Sep-2017) and Ancient History Encyclopedia

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    21-Sep-18 World View -- Myanmar signs 'debt trap' agreement with China in response to Rohingya genocide censure

    Myanmar (Burma) and China agree to build China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Myanmar (Burma) and China agree to build China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)


    Map of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor - CMEC (The Irrawaddy)
    Map of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor - CMEC (The Irrawaddy)

    Earlier this month, Myanmar (Burma) signed a series of memos of understanding (MOUs) for joint construction with China to build the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which is part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CMEC will focus on 12 areas including basic infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, finance, human resource development and telecommunications.

    According to the CMEC proposal, construction will begin with 24 projects costing $2 billion at the beginning, increasing later. The corridor will start from Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan Province. It will continue for 1,700-kilometers, through Myanmar’s major economic hubs, ending at Myanmar's deep sea port in Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State on the Bay of Bengal, leading to the Indian Ocean.

    The project will create thousands of jobs for Burmese workers, but it will provide far larger benefits for Chinese companies and workers. The proposal claims that the CMEC would allow a direct flow of Chinese goods into the southern and western regions of Myanmar and that Chinese industries could transfer into Myanmar in order to abate the rising labor cost and overcapacity of China’s industries. It said that Myanmar would become a major trade hub for Chinese goods, between China, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

    Thus, the proposal indicates that this will be a huge boon for China's industries. China is already developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), connecting Xinjiang province in northwest China through Pakistan to the Gwadar port and the Indian ocean. CMEC would provide a second corridor for transporting Chinese goods to the Indian Ocean, this time from Yunnan province in southwest China.

    CPEC and CMEC provide two routes to the Indian Ocean, thus reducing China's reliance on the Malacca straits — the narrow passage that links the Indian Ocean with the Pacific, and which is dominated by the United States. Global Times (China) and The Diplomat and The Irrawaddy (6-Jul)

    Myanmar signs 'debt trap' agreement with China in response to Rohingya genocide censure

    Since November 2017, when China announced the proposal to build CMEC, Myanmar's public and media have raised a number of concerns.

    First, the CMEC project runs through ethnic conflict zones in Shan and Kachin states near the border with China, and and in Rakhine State, near the border with Bangladesh, where ethnic Rohingyas have been subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing by the Burmese army. The project could provoke further conflicts in these ethnic areas, and even subject the project and the Chinese workers to terrorist attacks. This is already happening in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, affecting the CPEC project.

    Second, the Burmese public is very aware of the "debt trap" issue, where China funds the infrastructure project with billions of dollars that have to be paid back, or else forfeit land and infrastructure that has been put up as collateral for the loans. The Burmese are very well aware Sri Lanka lost its $1 billion Hambantota seaport in exactly that way, and now the seaport and a substantial amount of land around the seaport are occupied by the Chinese and thousands of Chinese workers.

    As I've described in the past, China structures the aid agreements without concern for whether the loan can be repaid, since China then has the option of taking control of the country's infrastructure in case of default.

    As I explained, it's actually worse than that. China loans the money to the country, and requires that it only be used to pay the salaries of Chinese workers, and to purchase parts and equipment from Chinese factories. So the money is immediately returned to China, but still has to be repaid, so the country is effectively forced to repay the loan twice. After default, and the Chinese take control of the infrastructure project, there is an enclave of Chinese workers and their families who will be there forever.

    Myanmar's Kyaukphyu seaport is not the only project facing debt-trap concerns. For the CMEC agreement, there are industrial zones, railways, roads and other infrastructure projects to be built along the corridor for which Myanmar cannot find financing.

    In a bit of black humor, Ning Jizhe, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) claimed that China's BRI projects are not a debt trap. He said the countries with debt problems have long-standing high debt levels which shouldn’t be blamed on the BRI. But of course it's exactly people with debt problems that loan sharks and payday loan operators prey on by offering extortionary loans and then sending thugs out to collect the loans in whatever way they can.

    Myanmar's government in fact dropped a couple of projects related to the Kyaukphyu seaport in July, in order to reduce the amount of debt. However, the initial loan will still be $2 billion.

    However, there are several reasons why Myanmar felt forced to go ahead with CMEC proposal, even though it's almost impossible that the debt will be repaid.

    First, Myanmar is an economically weak country which, even in the best of times, is unable to borrow money due to lack of transparency in its government expenses and its relationship with China. According ton one analyst, "Raising capital overseas will also likely be challenging given that foreign investors will likely find it difficult to determine Myanmar’s creditworthiness due to the lack of information."

    Second, the United States is imposing sanctions on Myanmar, and Australia is considering doing the same, because of the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas in the last seven years. Myanmar has been extremely successful in its genocide and ethnic cleansing efforts. Genocide and ethnic cleansing efforts by Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Joseph Kabila in DR Congo have not yet been successful, and are still ongoing. But Myanmar appears to have pretty much completed the job.

    The sanctions mean that whatever Myanmar's chances of borrowing money internationally in the past, it will be almost impossible after the sanctions are imposed. The threat of sanctions is isolating Myanmar even further, so that its closest friend in China, where government officials really don't care about such things as genocide and ethnic cleansing.

    So if the word "trapped" applies to any country, then it certainly applies to Burma. China will certainly use its leverage to control policies and developments in Burma in whatever way it feels necessary, and will apparently receive full cooperation. The Irrawaddy (Burma) and Myanmar Times (7-Jul) and The Hindu

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    20-Sep-18 World View -- Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person?

    The international #MeToo movement continues to harm women

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    The international #MeToo movement continues to harm women


    Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford
    Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford

    We're told that the #MeToo movement is becoming an increasingly global phenomenon.

    In May, the International Labor Organization held a conference to debate whether or not to legislate for a global convention on sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. Thousands of women in many countries have signed a letter urging international legislation, and saying that a job should never ever include sexual harassment, exploitation, coercion or abuse.

    When I wrote about the #MeToo movement late last year, I described how much it was hurting women, just as women in the workplace were enormously harmed by the 1991 hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, where Anita Hill accused Thomas of asking her out when they were both single and of telling her a couple of dirty jokes. ( "7-Dec-17 World View -- International #MeToo movement generates backlash against women from 'Mike Pence rule'")

    Just as the Anita Hill accusations damaged women in the workplace for a decade, because many men didn't want to work with women, the #MeToo movement is having a similar effect today.

    According to a recent survey, 63% of women are "How concerned ... about men being falsely accused of sexual assault and harassment." The same survey showed that 60% of women are "concerned ... about the #MeToo movement causing women to be denied professional opportunities because men are reluctant to work with them."

    This corresponds to what I found talking to men in the 1990s, and talking to men today. Earlier this year, after several MeToo scandals broke, one man told me that "working with a woman is like working with an unexploded land mine -- you never know when you'll say the wrong thing a trigger an explosion."

    Women need experienced men to be mentors, but today you can't turn on the television without hearing some feminist saying that all older men are automatically guilty, and all should be punished. Hatred of older men is rampant today.

    And men know this. Researcher Sylvia Ann Hewlett at the Center for Talent Innovation found that men aren’t comfortable taking female protégés under their wings. "Our research shows that some 64% of senior men avoid solo interactions with junior women because they fear rumors about their motives." And as I said, fearing rumors about the men's motives isn't the half of it, as the quote above about the land mine illustrates.

    In my lifetime, I've seen feminist politicians do enormous damage to women. It's OK with them that Bill Clinton allegedly violently raped seven women, but Clarence Thomas committed a crime by telling a dirty joke. That's completely screwed up, and it's feminists who are screwed up, and it's women that they're damaging. Guardian (London) and Law.com and Vox and World Economic Forum

    Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person?

    If the #MeToo movement in general is a circus, then the circus act going on in Washington today is disgusting and pathetic beyond belief.

    There's a woman, Christine Blasey Ford accusing a Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of having attempted a failed sexual assault when they were in high school thirty years ago. This is the kind of pathetic situation that makes so many Americans completely disgusted with politicians and the media, and makes one wonder how the country will ever survive.

    There are some statistics about rape that can clarify this situation, but which feminists don't talk about. I'll get to these statistics below.

    I spent much of the 1990s decade doing research for a book on gender issues called Fraternizing with the Enemy - A book on gender issues for men and for women who care about men. I researched the whole range of gender issues - divorce, domestic violence, rape, teen motherhood, sexual harassment, child abuse, incest, including detailed discussions of the discussions of Clarence Thomas and Bill Clinton, and the "victims," including Anita Hill and Juanita Broaddrick. The book was based on thousands of interviews and online conversations, as well as extensive research into such things as "feminist legal theory" and "feminist social theory."

    The book is available as a free PDF, on my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download/.

    So here are the most important facts about the Kavanaugh situation, as I understand them:

    Most people think that either Ford or Kavanaugh must be lying, but that's not true. There's a perfectly reasonable scenario in which both are telling the truth. NBC News

    The rape statistics

    So here are the statistics about rape that feminists don't talk about:

    It's this last statistic that may be relevant here. 25% is a very high number, and it's plausible that Ford was assaulted in the way she described, but not by Kavanaugh.

    Based on all I've heard about the sincere statements from both Ford and Kavanaugh, a misidentification by Ford seems extremely likely to have happened. This is a perfectly reasonable explanation, and it would mean that both Ford and Kavanaugh are telling the truth, as they know it.

    The above statistics about rape were not pulled out of the air. We know these figures because of a remarkable development that occurred in the 1990s -- the use of DNA evidence to identify rapists. In many cases in the 1980s, a man was convicted of rape simply because some woman accused him, and feminists would pipe up and say, "Women are never wrong about rape."

    In the 1990s, Barry Scheck's Innocence Project was able to go back and perform DNA tests on the rape kits that had been preserved. Of the first 18,000 DNA tests, 5,000 accused suspects were eliminated -- 27.8%.

    Here's a quote from my book, describing a story that was widely publicized in the 1990s:

    "One disturbing story was presented on PBS's Frontline. In 1985, Ronald Cotton, a black man with a record, was convicted of raping two women, based on an identification by one of the victims, Jennifer Thomson, who was a very convincing and compelling witness during the trial.

    In 1995, DNA tests were performed, and Cotton was exonerated and set free. Who was the real rapist? DNA tests showed it was Bobby Poole, someone whom Jennifer had actually watched testify in court, but who was excluded based on her eyewitness testimony.

    According to Jennifer, "I remember feeling just an overwhelming sense of just guilt that if, indeed, we had made a mistake and I had contributed to taking away 11 years of this man's life.... I felt so bad. I fell apart."

    But amazingly, she still doesn't recognize Poole as the man who actually raped her. She adds, "I have to accept the answer that's been given to me and put faith in our system that the DNA tests, the science, tells me we had the wrong guy. I just wish I had some answers. I still see Ronald Cotton. And I'm not saying that to point a finger. I'm just saying that's who I see. And I would love to erase that face out of my mind. I would do anything to erase that face out of my mind, but I can't. It's just .. it's in my head. Sometimes it's more fuzzy than others because my mind now says, 'Well, it's Bobby Poole.' But it's still the face I see."

    When Bill Clinton was credibly charged by seven women as being a violent serial rapist, the feminists threw the women under the bus. Then Hillary Clinton raped them all again (to use the feminist phrase), along with Monica Lewinsky, by trashing all the women.

    Now the feminists are throwing Ford under the bus as well. Senator Dianne Feinstein handled this whole situation in such a way as to inflict maximum damage on Ford. I cannot think of any way she could have harmed Ford more.

    She received Ford's letter in July, and sat on it. Then she revealed it at the last minute, and is now refusing to release an unredacted version to the Republicans. This is disastrous for Ford because it suggests that when the letter is finally revealed, it will make Ford look bad, and maybe even exonerate Kavanaugh.

    There's another comparison that had to be made. Anita Hill was hated by half of America in the 1990s. Bill Clinton's rape accusers, the ones who were publicly known, were hated by half the country and trashed by Democrats. And now, Ford is saying that she's receiving death threats and have to hide out. Once again, I blame the feminists for this. They're using her as a pawn, and they don't care how much she's hurt. Book: Fraternizing with the Enemy (PDF) and University of Florida and PBS Frontline and Fox News and Chicago Tribune

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Sep-18 World View -- Is Christine Blasey Ford accusing the wrong person? thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy

    Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East

    by John J. Xenakis

    Announcing a new book on Iran and Islam by John J. Xenakis

    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy

    Subtitle: Tehran's Obsession to Redraw the Map of the Middle East


    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy, by John J. Xenakis
    Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy, by John J. Xenakis

    $5 -- Buy the digital version on Amazon

    $7 -- Buy the paperback on Amazon

    I've kept the price low - $5 or $7. If you buy it, please write a 5-star amazon review. Thanks.

    Book Description

    Iran wants to be the master of the Mideast. It's threatening war with Saudi Arabia. It's supporting wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. It's supporting the Lebanon terror army Hezbollah to wage war in Syria and to attack and eliminate Israel, and to attack the United States. This book describes how a former United States ally has turned into a radical, corrupt, theological regime threatening the entire region.

    This book also addresses the controversies in Islam itself, including the Sunni-Shia split, the authenticity of the Koran and Sharia Law, polygamy and pedophilia in Islam, and whether the Koran commands all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims.

    About the author: John J. Xenakis is a historian, journalist and analyst and a developer of generational theory, who has written prolifically on geopolitical events, historical analysis, and technology.

    Supporting Generational Dynamics

    Thousands of people start each day by reading the latest Generational Dynamics World View article, which is provided each day free of cost and ads.

    This service has been provided, without income or funding, for 15 years as a public service. But this service will not be able to continue much longer unless it receives a source of funding or income to keep it alive.

    This is a great book, and you can help support Generational Dynamics by buying this book from Amazon and then writing a 5-star review so that other people will buy it as well.

    Book Contents - More Information

    Most people in the West have little understanding of Islam and Iran, even though both of these subjects are part of major news stories almost every day.

    The author, John J. Xenakis, has written thousands of articles on Iran and Islam over two decades, and has written a book that provides, for the serious reader, a serious, balanced, respectful history of Islam and Iran.

    Here are some of the topics covered in this book:

    Furthermore, this book was written in a respectful, balanced, non-ideological way that will be accessible to all points of view.

    Some people may wonder whether it's possible or "appropriate" for a non-Muslim to write a book on Islam and Iran. The opposite may be true. A Muslim author might be able to write a balanced treatment of Islam, but will suffer from the handicap that people within his own religion or sect may criticize him if he's totally non-ideological, and particularly if he discusses the very real controversies within Islam itself, such as the validity of the Koran and Hadith, polygamy and pedophilia in Islam, and whether the Koran commands all Muslims to kill all non-Muslims.

    The author is able to describe Islam and Iran in a respectful, balanced, non-ideological way, but also describing the controversies within Islam that Muslims themselves feel obligated to avoid mentioning.

    The author admits that he is biased against the current leadership in Iran. An American cannot be indifferent to a leadership whose security forces massacre, jail, rape and torture peacefully protesting college students. And of course the book is also biased against al-Qaeda, ISIS and other jihadist groups committing terror acts.

    The ordering of the sections of this book is like "peeling an onion," starting with the most accessible political news about Iran over the last 20 years, and then proceeding step by step to the core of Iran's Shia Islam theology. A summary is as follows:

    By the time we reach the end, we'll have circled back to the beginning, with what is hopefully a complete understanding of Iran today.

    This book also draws on the methodologies provided by advanced generational theory as developed for 15 years on the GenerationalDynamics.com web site. These methodologies explain, for example, why there's a big generational split today between Iran's old government leaders versus young people, and they explain such things as the transition from Iran's Constitutional Revolution in 1905-09 to Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.

    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Sep-18 World View -- Book Announcement: World View: Iran's Struggle for Supremacy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria

    The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria


    Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)
    Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin applaud themselves for having reached an agreement on Idlib on Monday in Sochi (RT)

    Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia's president Vladimir Putin held a summit meeting on Monday at Russia's Sochi Black Sea resort. After the meeting, the two leaders held a press conference and announced that there would be no attack on Idlib province in Syria, at least for the time being.

    This would have to be viewed as a diplomatic victory for Erdogan, after a recent summit meeting in Tehran on September 7 with Russia and Iran where Turkey's attempt to avert the Idlib operation was rejected by the other two parties. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria")

    Turkey has been desperate to stop the Syria-Russia offensive, because it would be a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and because it would be a humanitarian disaster for Turkey. Turkey already hosts 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and there are potentially 3 million more in Idlib who would try to flee across the the border into Turkey, and possibly further on into Europe.

    It's believed that Russia backed down from an immediate assault on Idlib because of international pressure. After the Tehran meeting two weeks ago, Erdogan said:

    "If the world turns a blind eye to the killing of tens of thousands of innocent people to further the regime's interests, we will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game."

    Since then, Turkey has been supplying additional weapons to "moderate" rebels in Idlib, to prepare them for the assault. Separately, the US and other Nato countries have repeatedly warned Russia and Syria. President Donald Trump said that the assault would be a "grave humanitarian error," while Nikki Haley said that it would provoke "dire consequences."

    And Russia's decision may have been swayed by the prospect of the enormity of the humanitarian disaster, when al-Assad starts perpetrating Putin's own "Grozny Strategy," exterminating women and children in Idlib with attacks on hospitals, markets and schools, with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals and chlorine gas, and with Sarin gas, causing massive slaughter and massive crowds of fleeing refugees.

    There's one more reason why Putin might be reluctant to go ahead with the mass slaughter in Idlib. Putin has said at least 9,000 people from the republics of the former Soviet Union have gone to Syria to fight for al-Qaeda or ISIS or other extremist groups. It's possible that many of them are still in Idlib, and the Syrian-Russian assault would allow them to join refugees pouring into Turkey, and from there continue on to return home to their native countries to continue the jihad there. Russia Today and AP and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

    The delusional terms of the Turkey-Russian Idlib agreement

    The agreement between Erdogan and Putin is a big relief to a lot of people, especially the people in Idlib, because it buys time. But it buys little more than that, because the terms are delusional.

    According to the agreement, Russia and Turkey will set up a 10-15 km wide demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib province, to be policed by Russia and Turkey.

    All the anti-Assad "rebels" in this buffer zone are required to lay down their arms, leave behind heavy artillery, and depart for other enclaves. These include both "moderate" rebels, and also those in al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly the al-Nusra Front.

    It will be Turkey's responsibility to separate the 60,000 or so rebels from the other three million civilians in Idlib. It would be nearly impossible anyway, but these are people who will not want to be found, and are willing to die rather than surrender.

    But main objection to this temporary peace agreement is the same as all the others in Putin's "Astana process." You have a ceasefire agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran. These are supposed to be Syrian peace agreements, but there are never Syrians involved in the agreement -- either al-Assad or the opposition.

    The whole Astana process has been nothing more than a farcical cover for al-Assad's genocidal actions. The Astana process identified four "de-escalation zones," or "ceasefire zones," but Russia never had any intention of meeting his own commitments. The ceasefire zones were set up so that there would be a ceasefire until al-Assad was ready for his extermination assaults, as we've seen in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa.

    The last de-escalation zone is Idlib, and it's different from the others in that Turkey has been responsible for enforcing the ceasefire. Al-Assad and Russia could attack at will in the other de-escalation zones, because there was nobody opposed. But in Idlib Turkey is opposed, and wants to enforce the ceasefire.

    Russia and al-Assad never had any intention that Idlib would remain a ceasefire zone, but now they've been forced by international pressure to wait a while before going in for the kill. And when they do, whether they will have to face Turkey's military is an unknown.

    Perhaps the biggest delusion of all, shared by many politicians and journalists, is that the Syrian war is almost over. Al-Assad said that the war would end after Aleppo was assaulted. Then he said that the war was over after Daraa was assaulted.

    As I've written many times, al-Assad is a psychopathic monster, the worst genocidal war criminal so far this century, comparable to Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot from the last century. For al-Assad, the extermination of the women and children in Idlib would be the climax of his life, proving that he was better than his father Hafez al-Assad was at committing mass slaughter and atrocities. Thanks to Monday's agreement between Russia and Turkey, al-Assad is going to have to wait a little longer to prove how much more of a man he is than his father. BBC and Al Jazeera and Asia Times and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey scores diplomatic victory, as Russia backs down from Idlib assault in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    17-Sep-18 World View -- Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris

    Kurds' anti-Iran Komala party denies involvement with Paris attack

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris


    Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul in 2016.  These forces are now turning against Iran.  (Reuters)
    Kurdish Peshmerga forces fire a mortar towards ISIS positions near Mosul in 2016. These forces are now turning against Iran. (Reuters)

    Pro-Kurdish protesters attacked Iran's embassy in Paris on Friday. Iran says that 15 Kurdish activists burned the Iranian flag in front of the embassy. They threw stones, fire extinguishers and computers at the embassy gate in an attempt to enter the premises, but were unable to do so.

    It's thought that the protests were triggered by last week's major escalation by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) when it launched a missile attack on anti-Iran opposition groups in Kurdistan in northern Iraq. The IRGC used seven missiles in the attack, killing 11 people and wounding dozens more.

    The IRGC attack occurred at the same time there had been several days of violent anti-Iran protests in Basra in southern Iraq. However, the IRGC attack apparently took several weeks to prepare, and so the two events are not directly connected.

    Iran confirmed that its embassy had been attacked, but Iran's foreign ministry blamed the France's police for not acting quickly enough to stop the attack:

    "It is necessary for France to take serious and necessary measures and preparations to protect all Iranian diplomatic missions in that country."

    Iran is complaining that some French police refused to protect the embassy and were not present at the time of the attack despite the fact that it was aware of the assault.

    Iran has to walk a fine line in not going too far to criticize France. Iran has been demanding help from France and other European countries in mitigating the damage to Iran's economy of President Trump's action in pulling out of the nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions. Press TV (Iran) and AP and Reuters

    Kurds' anti-Iran Komala party denies involvement with Paris attack

    Iran accused the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan of being behind the attack on Iran's embassy in Paris. The statement issued by the Komala party alluded to Iran's missile attack on Kurdistan last weekend:

    "Komala rejects the accusations of being behind the attack on Iran’s embassy in Paris.

    [Our members in France took part] in a peaceful gathering outside the Iranian embassy to protest Iran’s despicable actions against the Kurdish nation [on September 8].

    Unfortunately, some individuals from the gathering started to violate the embassy, and even if we understand people’s anger, we completely condemn this type of uncivilized acts."

    The Komala party has an armed wing known as the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga became internationally cheered in 2014-16 because it provided many of the militias fighting ISIS after the latter overran Mosul.

    Once ISIS was defeated, last year the Peshmerga resumed, for the first time in 25 years, being stationed just a few miles from Iran's border, to threaten terror attacks on Iranian soil.

    Komala is a Marxist-Leninist pro-Communist party that was originally formed to oppose the government of the Shah of Iran, and in 1983 joined other Communist groups to form the Communist Party of Iran.

    Over the years, there have been frequent clashes between the Komala and the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), which was one of the targets of last week's missile attack by Iran. Trend News (Azerbaijan) and Kurdistan 24 and Rudaw (Kurdistan, 30-Apr-2017) and Middle East Research and Information Project

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Sep-18 World View -- Kurdish protesters attack Iran's embassy in Paris thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    16-Sep-18 World View -- Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue

    Consequences of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Russian Orthodox Church in historic split with Constantinople over Ukraine issue


    Putin's dream of an 'Orthodox Vatican' would be a major tourist and religious center in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow (BBC)
    Putin's dream of an 'Orthodox Vatican' would be a major tourist and religious center in the city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow (BBC)

    The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has taken the first steps in what is being described as a "historic schism" in the Orthodox Christian Church.

    The ROC announced on Friday:

    "We have decided to suspend joint performance of church services with the hierarchs of the Constantinople Patriarchate, to suspend our membership in all structures, which are headed or co-chaired by the representatives of Constantinople."

    An ROC spokesman said that this was only a "warning," and that the ROC would break all relations with Constantinople if it grants independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is currently subordinate to the Russian Church.

    The Constantinople Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate are two of several dozen Orthodox Patriarchates in the world, but they're the two most influential.

    The city of Constantinople was renamed Istanbul when it was conquered by the Ottoman Muslims in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. However, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians is still considered to be the Constantinople Patriarchate. All Patriarchates are considered to be equal, but Constantinople is "first among equals."

    Orthodox Christians in Ukraine are officially part of the Russian Orthodox Church. There is a Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev that was formed in the 1990s, but it's not recognized by other Orthodox churches.

    After Russia invaded Ukraine, and then invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, there was a movement in Ukraine to make the Ukrainian Orthodox Church an "autocephalous church" or independent church. Instead of being subordinate to the Russian Church, the Ukrainian church would then be a peer to the Russian and Constantinople churches.

    Right now, Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople is leading a debate about whether he should issue what is called a "Tomos of autocephaly" (charter of independence), which would give the Ukraine church the independence that it wants. It's believed that Bartholomew favors doing so, and that a decision will be reached by the end of the year. At that time, Patriarch Kirill in Moscow is expected to completely sever all relations with Constantinople. Russia Today and Moscow Times and BBC Russian (Trans) and Telegraph (London)

    Consequences of an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church

    Although the current split was triggered by the Ukrainian church's request for independence, following Russia's invasion, occupation and annexation of Crimea, the chances of a split between Russia and Constantinople have been growing for years, particularly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The Soviet Union was officially atheist. Nonetheless, during the time of the Soviet Union, there was one Russian Orthodox Church, and all Orthodox Christians in the Soviet Empire belonged to it. After the Soviet collapse in 1991, independent Orthodox churches were formed in Estonia and other former Soviet republics. Constantinople recognized the Estonian church as independent, resulting in enormous friction between Moscow and Constantinople.

    Those disputes became even more prominent when Russia's president Vladimir Putin came to power. Putin's dream is that the Russian Patriarchate should replace the Constantinople Patriarchate as the "first among equals." Furthermore, Putin dreamed of creating an "Orthodox Vatican" in the ancient city of Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow.

    In line with this dream, Putin has been enticing, bribing and threatening various Orthodox churches to pledge loyalty to the Russian church, rather than the Constantinople church.

    Putin's dream sounds reasonable when you consider that the Russian church is the largest Orthodox Church in the world, in terms of numbers of members and parishes. However, if Ukraine becomes an independent church, then the Russian church will lose almost half its parishes, and that will be the end of Putin's dream. It will also cost the Russian Patriarchate a great deal of money. It will also encourage other former Soviet republics, like Belarus and Georgia, to follow the same path.

    So this pending decision by Bartholomew is far more than symbolic. It has major religious and geopolitical implications. Putin would certainly retaliate. He might retaliate in Ukraine with a renewed invasion. He might retaliate by trying to convince his new pal, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to take some action in the Phanar, the portion of Istanbul still occupied by the Constantinople Patriarchate. So Bartholomew's decision, expected by the end of the year, should have major consequences. Jamestown and Moscow Times and BBC Russian (Trans) and Window on Eurasia

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    15-Sep-18 World View -- Zambia denies defaulting on infrastructure loans from China

    Zambia faces long term corruption concerns

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Zambia denies defaulting on infrastructure loans from China


    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe (Lusaka Times)
    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe (Lusaka Times)

    Several days ago, reported that Zambia is negotiating with China over a possible takeover of the country's electricity company, ZEWASCO, after defaulting on loan repayment from a previous loan. That report was based on a news story from Kenya.

    There have actually been numerous news stories in the last couple of weeks claiming that Zambia has fallen victim a China "debt trap," and is being required to give not only ZEWASCO, but also Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda International Airport [KKIA].

    In addition, a subscriber-only newsletter called Africa Confidential has published reports detailing embezzlement by Zambian officials, led by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

    Zambia officials are claiming that the news stories, including those in Africa Confidential, are "fake news," that there is no debt trap, and Zambia will have no problem making payments to China.

    Zambia's finance minister, Margaret Mwanakatwe, issued a statement on Friday:

    The problem with Mwanakatwe's protestations is that she's unable to provide any evidence to support them, because the entire relationship between Zambia and China, including all contracts, is completely secret. So if there's corruption and embezzlement going on, as Africa Confidential claims, then Mwanakatwe is unable to deny those claims.

    In situations like this, there's a test that I always like to apply, namely to ask what the politician would say if all the accusations are true. For example, if a politician is charged with murder, and he says, "I didn't do it," then you could ask what he would say if he did, and would say "I didn't do it." In other words, the politician would say the same thing whether he committed murder or not. That doesn't mean he did it, but it does show that everything that comes out of the politician's mouth is 100% worthless, because he'd say exactly the same thing under all circumstands.

    So let's apply this test to Margaret Mwanakatwe. Suppose all the charges of debt trap and embezzlement are true. What would Mwanakatwe say? The answer is that she would issue a statement exactly like the one that she did issue. In fact, the statement is filled with statements that are empty claims because the details are secret, giving me the (unprovable) feeling that the statement is an act of desperation.

    This has now become a major international scandal -- not in the West, but in Africa. Many African governments are now facing embarrassing questions about revealing the terms of their contracts with China, and about why interest rates are so high, and why default terms are so harsh. Officials will also be asked a lot more questions about whether they're skimming China's loan money off the top -- something they could easily do since all the terms of the contracts are kept secret. Lusaka Times (Zambia) and Zambia Reports and Lusaka Times and VOA

    Zambia faces long term corruption concerns

    In June, the Geneva-based NGO, Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, suspended $300 million in health funding to Zambia because of alleged corruption in Zambia's health ministry. Previously, Sweden and the Netherlands stopped health aid and the EU halted road-building funds.

    Zambia's story is a familiar one. Zambia made huge amounts of money from copper mining in the 2000s decade, due to high prices for copper, which makes up 80% of exports. When copper prices fell in 2011, instead of decreasing government spending to match reduced income, the new government, led by the Patriotic Front (PF) went on a spending binge. According to the Economist, the PF funded new roads, hospitals and airports, doubled civil-service wage expenses in the process, and also expanded the number of districts from 72 to 115 so as to dole out more patronage.

    Furthermore, the borrowed money was not well spent. In building roads, for example, the World Bank in 2017 found that Zambia paid $360,000 per kilometre, which is more than twice the African average. And since upkeep has been neglected, many new roads are already potholed.

    Today, nearly a quarter of government spending goes to make debt payments. The government is broke. The government is delaying salary payments to civil servants, as well as to contractors. Apparently the government is forced to make debt payments to China, even if it means not paying its own civil servants.

    Furthermore, president Edgar Chagwa Lungu is following the same corrupt path that occurs in country after country in Africa -- jailing opposition leaders, shutting down newspapers that criticize him, packing the courts with his supporters, and demanding that he stay in power indefinitely, in violation of the constitution.

    So even though the country is broke and the government is corrupt, officials say that reports of debt default are "fake news." Unfortunately, government officials have little credibility and, as in the case of the statement by Margaret Mwanakatwe, there is absolutely no reason to believe anything they say. Economist and BBC and Economist

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    14-Sep-18 World View -- Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa

    Turkey, desperate to stop Syrian Idlib offensive, is supplying weapons to rebels

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa


    Houthis perform a demonstration using traditional daggers in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2015 (European Pressphoto Agency)
    Houthis perform a demonstration using traditional daggers in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2015 (European Pressphoto Agency)

    The Saudi Arabia-led military coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are claiming that they've cut off the main supply routes connecting al-Hodeidah seaport and city to to Sanaa, Yemen's capital city under control of the Houthis.

    The Saudis and their coalition partner United Arab Emirates (UAE) were the targets of intense international criticism after their warplanes killed at least 26 children and four women in al-Hodeidah seaport, and after another airstrike two weeks earlier killed dozens of children traveling in a school bus.

    The international criticism led the Saudis to enter peace talks with the Houthis and reduce the airstrikes. However, the peace talks failed, and Saudi Arabia resumed the airstrikes on Wednesday.

    Al-Hodeidah is home to Yemen’s largest seaport and the main gateway for food, fuel and humanitarian aid to the rest of the country. An estimated 80 percent of Yemen’s commercial supplies go through al-Hodeidah. The Saudi-led coalition have been trying to retake the al-Hodeidah city from the Houthis for the past few months, displacing 470,000 people since June. But it is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians, half of them children.

    Taking control of roads linking al-Hodeidah to Sanaa will mean that supplied needed by the Houthi fighters will be less available, but it will also cut off food, fuel, medicines and humanitarian supplies to much of Yemen.

    Ms. Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said in a statement:

    "Hundreds of thousands of lives hang in the balance in Hodeidah. The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few days. Families are absolutely terrified by the bombardment, shelling and airstrikes.

    People are struggling to survive, More than 25 percent of children are malnourished; 900,000 people in the governorate are desperate for food and 90,000 pregnant women are at enormous risk. Families need everything--food, cash, health care, water, sanitation, emergency supplies, specialized support and many need shelter. It’s heart-breaking to see so many people who need so much."

    The Saudis have said that taking control of al-Hodeidah and the main supply routes would force the Houthis to the negotiating table. Reuters and Save the Children and Relief Web and Al Jazeera

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    Turkey, desperate to stop Syrian Idlib offensive, is supplying weapons to rebels

    There are reports that Turkey is sending more military aid to anti-Assad rebels in Idlib, after a summit meeting last week with Russia and Iran failed to agree to a deal to avert a Syria-Russia assault into Idlib. ( "8-Sep-18 World View -- Turkey fails to prevent Russia and Iran from mass slaughter in Idlib, Syria")

    Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has vowed to take control of every inch of Syria, with no compromise. In previous battles, in Aleppo, Ghouta and Daraa, his regime joined with Russia to use missiles, barrel bombs, chlorine gas and Sarin gas to kill the "terrorists" in each territory, following Vladimir Putin's "Grozny Model." Entire neighborhoods are flattened, and schools, markets and hospitals are particularly targeted in order to kill as many women and children as possible, as part of Bashar al-Assad's genocidal campaign.

    However, Idlib is different. It has over 3 million people, many of whom fled there from the violence in other locations. They will have nowhere to flee from Idlib, except across the border into Turkey, which Turkey has closed. Turkey is already host to 3.5 million Syrian refugees.

    Turkey is desperate to stop the Syria-Russia offensive, because it would be a humanitarian disaster in Idlib, and because it would be a humanitarian disaster for Turkey. Turkey would be faced with the choice of keeping the border closed and allow al-Assad to slaughter the civilians like trapped animals, or to open the border and permit a million more refugees enter Turkey, and possibly go on from there to Europe, posing a security risk in both places.

    This is Turkey's justification for providing more weapons to anti-Assad rebels in the Free Syrian Army (FSA). According to FSA commanders who have been in talks with senior Turkish officials, said:

    "“They pledged complete Turkish military support for a long, protracted battle. These arms supplies and munitions will allow the battle to extend and ensure our supplies are not drained in a war of attrition."

    The weapons, already spotted in convoys crossing the border from Turkey into Idlib, include large quantities of ammunition and GRAD rockets. Hurriyet/AFP and Reuters and AP

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    (Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Sep-18 World View -- Saudis in Yemen cut the supply routes from Hodeidah seaport to Sanaa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Sep-2018) Permanent Link
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    13-Sep-18 World View -- EU Parliament censures Hungary for breaching 'core EU values'

    EU proposes a new free trade agreement with Africa

    by John J. Xenakis

    This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

    EU Parliament censures Hungary for breaching 'core EU values'


    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán points to a document during Tuesday's speech to European Parliament (EPA)
    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán points to a document during Tuesday's speech to European Parliament (EPA)

    In what some analysts are considering a historic action in the development of the European Union, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to pursue disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU's core values. The phrase "core values" refers to values on which the EU was founded.

    More than two-thirds of MEPs voted for the censure motion, the first in EU's history. A similar motion to censure Poland has not yet reached the European Parliament.

    There were numerous charges leveled against Hungary's president Viktor Orbán, including the following: