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26-Apr-17 World View -- Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq

US State Dept. says that it's 'deeply concerned' about the Turkish airstrikes

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq


Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)
Members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)

In Syria, Turkey's warplanes struck Kurdish militias known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, who are allies of the US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The YPG said that Turkey's airstrikes killed 20 of its fighters and wounded 18 others, and caused extensive damage to YPG headquarters and nearby civilian property.

Although the US considers the YPG to be the most effective fighting force on the group against ISIS, Turkey considers them to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK have been conducting an anti-government insurgency in Turkey since 1978, and have conducted numerous terror attacks on civilian targets in Turkey.

The YPG denounced the airstrikes as "treacherous," accusing Turkey of undermining the fight against ISIS. "By this attack, Turkey is trying to undermine the Raqqa operation, give ISIS time to reorganize and put in danger lives of thousands of [people]."

In Iraq, Turkish warplanes struck Kurdish targets in the Qandil mountains in northeastern Iraq and on Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq. The PKK stronghold is in the Qandil mountains, and Turkey's warplanes have been targeting that region for years.

The strikes on Sinjar mountain are a new development. According to reports from Kurdish sources, one PKK fighter was killed, but the airstrikes also killed five Peshmerga and wounded nine others. Peshmerga are the Kurdish militias that are part of the effort to expel ISIS from Mosul.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which says that it is distinct from the PKK, condemned the airstrikes on Sinjar mountain, but also asked the PKK to leave the area.

The Iraqi parliament's deputy speaker denounced the airstrikes in Sinjar, saying that they have no justification:

"The air strikes will affect the relations between both countries and will spoil stability in the area while the Iraqi forces are launching operations against ISIS in Mosul."

A military statement from Turkey said that the airstrikes hit shelters, ammunition depots and key control centers, to prevent infiltration of Kurdish rebels, weapons, ammunition and explosives from those areas across the border into Turkey:

"To destroy these terror hubs which threaten the security, unity and integrity of our country and our nation and as part of our rights based on international law, airstrikes have been carried out ... and terrorist targets have been struck with success."

The statement said that dozens of militants were "neutralized." AP and NRT TV (Kurdistan) and Deutsche Welle

PKK conducts new terror attack in southeastern Turkey

At least 10 Turkish soldiers were killed in two separate attacks the PKK on Sunday, in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir and Sirnak.

On Saturday, Turkey's military reported the death of 14 PKK fighters in two separate offensives, also in southeastern Turkey. ARA News

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US State Dept. says that it's 'deeply concerned' about the Turkish airstrikes

Turkey has long objected to the use of any Kurdish militias in the fight against ISIS in either Syria or Iraq, and has taken its own military action in Syria to block attempts by the Kurds to create an independent Kurdish state of Rojava along the northern border of Syria with Turkey.

However, this has brought the US and Turkey into sharp disagreement, the Kurdish militias in Syria and Iraq have been extremely effective in fighting ISIS, and indeed are thought to the most effective fighting force against ISIS.

On Tuesday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner expressed deep concern over Turkey's airstrikes:

"Now, turning to Turkey, and I think it was your last question, so we are very concerned – deeply concerned – that Turkey conducted airstrikes earlier today in northern Syria, as well as northern Iraq, without proper coordination either with the United States or the broader global coalition to defeat ISIS. And we’ve expressed those concerns to the Government of Turkey directly. These airstrikes were not approved by the coalition and led to the unfortunate loss of life of our partner forces in the fight against ISIS that includes members of the Kurdish Peshmerga. I would also note that the concerns – or rather note the concerns expressed by the Government of Iraq and reaffirm our view that military action in Iraq should respect Iraqi sovereignty.

And just finally, given the very complex battle space in these areas, it’s vital that Turkey and all partners in the effort to defeat ISIS coordinate their actions as closely as possible as we work together to maintain pressure to destroy ISIS on the battlefield in order to ensure that we meet that goal but also that we ensure the safety of all coalition personnel who are operating in that – as I said, in that theater."

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the death of the Peshmerga fighters. He contradicted Toner by claiming that the US had been informed of the airstrikes in advance, and said that the airstrikes will continue:

"We are obliged to take measures. We must take steps. We informed the US, Russia, northern Iraq and [Kurdish President Masoud] Barzani before we bombed PKK positions in Sinjar. We will not allow Sinjar to become a PKK base.

Our operations in Sinjar and northern Syria will continue."

Turkey's airstrikes in Syria are becoming particularly dangerous. There are now roughly three different sets of forces operating in Syria: The Syrian regime + Russia, Turkey + the Free Syrian Army comprised mainly of ethnic Syrian Turkmens, and the US-led coalition + the Kurdish militia.

These three forces are currently united only because of the fight against the common enemy, ISIS. But once ISIS has been expelled from its stronghold Raqqa, then they may turn on each other. The Kurdish YPG has already threatened revenge against Turkey for Tuesday's airstrikes.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. State Dept. and Rudaw (Kurdistan) and CNN

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Apr-17 World View -- Turkey's warplanes strike Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Apr-17 World View -- In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first

Even Pakistan is shocked by three blasphemy murders in 11 days

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first


Mashal Khan, lynched and killed by his college roommates after they falsely accused him of blasphemy (Facebook photo)
Mashal Khan, lynched and killed by his college roommates after they falsely accused him of blasphemy (Facebook photo)

In Pakistan, accusing someone of defiling Islam or the Prophet Mohammed, even if the accusations are 100% false, is a free ticket to murder someone with impunity.

Blasphemy has long been treated as a crime in many countries, including Christian countries, although rarely enforced. Many countries have repealed their blasphemy laws.

In Pakistan, blasphemy laws were first codified by the British colonial rulers in 1860, and expanded in 1927. Pakistan inherited these laws after Partition in 1947 created the country. Between 1947 and 1985, there were only 14 known legal cases of blasphemy. But in 1986, Pakistan broadened the blasphemy laws and made it a capital offense. Since that year, over 4,000 cases of blasphemy have been registered. Since 1990, there have been at least 66 murders over unproven allegations of blasphemy.

The law, as it was passed in 1992, said:

"Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

So anyone accused of blasphemy can be jailed, tortured and executed. There is apparently no need for blasphemy accusers to provide proof, and therefore someone accused of blasphemy has no defense. Analysts claim that blasphemy laws are most often used against Christians, Shia Muslims, and other non-Sunni Muslim sects such as the Ahmadis.

Prior to 2011, there were many calls to reform the blasphemy laws. But in 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, tried to reform the blasphemy laws, and was shot dead by his own bodyguard. For years the murderer was not prosecuted, but was actually treated as a hero by other politicians and lawyers for having killed a blasphemer -- using the twisted logic that calling for reform of the blasphemy laws is itself an act of blasphemy worthy of instant murder.

Since then, politicians in fear of their lives have refrained from calling for any reforms to the blasphemy laws, while judges and lawyers are afraid to defend accused blasphemers, even when there's no evidence. The result is that blasphemy charges are freely used for personal disputes, and even allow a murder with impunity. BBC (6-Nov-2014) and Christians In Pakistan and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Reuters (20-Apr)

Even Pakistan is shocked by three blasphemy murders in 11 days

In recent years, I've reported on dozens of terror attacks by Pakistan terror groups on Pakistan civilians. These most often target Shia Muslims, and a single terror attack might kill dozens or even hundreds of people, including women and children.

If terror attacks are used for mass slaughter, then killing based on the blasphemy laws can be thought of as terror attacks on an individual basis. If you don't like your next door neighbor, you probably can't kill him with a bomb, but you can shoot him dead after accusing him of blasphemy. And if he's a Shia Muslim or Christian, there'll usually be no punishment.

However, there have been a sudden rash of the blasphemy killings, with three of them in the 11 days, causing the normally unshockable people in the Pakistani public to actually be shocked.

On April 13, college student Mashal Khan was accused of blasphemy by his roommates in a hostel where they were all living. The mob of roommates brutally lynched Mashal Khan, beating him before shooting him in the head and chest. The mob then continued to beat his dead body with sticks.

Apparently Mashal's crime was a tv interview where he complained about the administration of the college he was attending, and called for reduced college fees. Mashal's cousin wants to go to college, but his father is telling him, "Don’t go to a university. They kill children there."

Since then, two other blasphemy charges have turned into mob violence. On April 19, three girls in their 20s wearing burqas shot dead Fazal Abbas. Abbas had been accused of blasphemy in 2004, and had fled the country to Denmark. He only returned to Pakistan recently to defend himself against the blasphemy charges. He was out on bail when the three girls killed him. One was quoted as saying, "we couldn’t kill him at the time [2004] because we were too young then."

On April 21, Rashid Ahmed was accused of uttering "blasphemous remarks" during Friday prayers at a mosque in northwest Pakistan. The worshippers in the mosque started beating the man. Six police officers were injured trying to rescue him. The mosque's imam saved him, and turned him over to police.

According to witnesses, Ahmed entered the mosque asking to make an important announcement. He then declared himself a messiah and said he would lead his followers to paradise. According to police, the man is suffering from mental illness.

These brutal murders have shocked Pakistan, and there are renewed calls to reform the blasphemy laws. But there's little hope of any real reform. This is a country that pays terrorists to attack targets in India and Afghanistan, and the same psychopathic vitriol that permeates Pakistan's clerical establishment also protects the blasphemy laws and particularly their use in freely killing Shia Muslims and Christians. Daily Times (Pakistan) and Al Jazeera and Geo TV (Pakistan 18-Apr) and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Apr-17 World View -- In Pakistan, you may murder anyone with impunity by accusing him of blasphemy first thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Apr-17 World View -- Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions

Battle between Kenya's farmers and herders morphs into tribal conflict

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions


Kuki Gallmann
Kuki Gallmann

Well-known Italian conservationist Kuki Gallmann, 73, was shot in the stomach on Sunday by herders who invaded her Gallmann Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya's Rift Valley. Gallmann was airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.

Hours later on the same day, a Kenya police reservists was shot and seriously injured by herders at the Sosian Ranch, also in Laikipia country. In early March, Tristan Voorspuy, a British citizen and former British army officer, was ambushed by herders and shot dead.

Ms. Gallmann's Laikipia Nature Conservancy has been under attack by herders off and on for months. Last month, cattle herders burned down her lodge. The lodge is s frequented mainly by European tourists, who can pay more than $650 a night to stay. However, no visitors were present when the lodge was burned down.

On Sunday, Ms. Gallmann was patrolling her ranch when she was ambushed and shot near her home. Security officers shot some of the herders and captured them.

The big picture, that I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that this is part of 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. Daily Nation (Kenya) and NPR and Citizen TV (Kenya)

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Battle between Kenya's farmers and herders morphs into tribal conflict

Early in 2008, there was a period of extremely bloody inter-tribal violence in Kenya. The worst atrocity occurred when 30 people died in a fire. Dozens of people had gone to the church to escape increasing violence, when a youthful gang set the church on fire, trapping people inside.

The violence was described as "ethnic cleansing." The Kalenjins, whose nomadic lifestyle was typical of herders, were "cleansing" a region of a different tribe, the Kikuyus, who were mostly farmers, either killing the Kikuyus or forcing them to leave the region. The violence was triggered when Mwai Kibaki, the leader of the Kikuyu tribe, was elected president of Kenya in December 2007.

Today's renewed violence in and around the Rift Valley is also heavily tied into politics, especially with another election scheduled for August. President Uhuru Kenyatta is from the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe, while the opposition Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), is led by Raila Odinga of the marginalized Luo tribe, which is an offshoot of the Kalenjins.

Dating back to British colonial times, the Kikuyu tribe has been market-dominant, and the Kikuyus, as well as Europeans like Gallmann, owned large tracts of land for farming and conservancy. As the population of Kalenjins has grown, the population of their cattle and other livestock has grown as well. So it was inevitable that sooner or later a clash would occur.

But farmers and land owners are claiming that politicians from the Kalenjins and other nomadic tribes are actually inciting violence by the herders. According to Martin Evans, chairman of the Laikipia Farmers' Association:

"It started a year ago. At the time it started, there was plenty of rain, it was nothing to do with lack of grass at that time so yes, I think it's definitely being pushed by politicians."

Farmers are accusing politicians and police of being cattle owners who stand to gain from the attacks. According to an NPR analyst:

"You have nomadic herders who are moving into private wildlife conservancies with thousands of heads of cattle. And in response, the Kenyan government launched a military-style operation to push the herders out. But what we've seen is an escalation of violence. Police have killed lots of cows. And the herders have responded by burning tourist lodges on the properties."

In the past, there was a friendly relationship between herders and farmers. Farmers would allow herders with small herds to graze on their conservancies. But in the past year, these small herds have turned into thousands of heads of cattle, and farms are being attacked, not by cattle, but by human invaders. After last month's attack on Ms. Gallmann's property, nearly 400 herders were arrested for crimes unrelated to grazing.

Politicians who incite tribal violence are really playing with fire. The current battles between herders and farmers is reviving many of the tribal hatreds that were present during the 2008 violence

The 2008 violence was so bad that many analysts feared that it would spread into a major war. As I wrote at the time, that was very unlikely to happen. Kenya's last generational crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion." Britain had been exerting a fairly heavy hand as a colonial power, starting from the 1850s. An independence movement began in earnest in the late 1940s, leading to the generational crisis civil war that began in 1952 and climaxed in 1956.

In 2008, only 52 years had passed since the climax of the previous generational crisis war. Generational Dynamics analysis of hundreds of wars in all places throughout history shows that a new crisis war very rarely begins until at least 58 years had passed since the climax of the previous crisis war. That's because until that time, there are still survivors of the previous crisis war in power, and they exert influence and power to prevent a new crisis war from occurring. But after 58 years or more have passed, the survivors no longer had power, and younger generations with no fear of war take over.

So in 2008, a bloody spurt of tribal violence flared, but it fizzled fairly quickly because the time was not yet ripe.

That was 2008. Today, Kenya is in a generational Crisis era, 61 years past the climax of the preceding crisis war, so few of the survivors of that war are still around. So when tribal violence begins in Kenya today, there's a very real possibility that it could spiral into a full-scale generational crisis war, such as happened in Rwanda in 1994, or is happening today in the Central African Republic.

With a new election approaching in August, and with politicians inciting herders to violence, Kenya is in real danger of having a major new tribal war. The Star (Kenya 20-Jan-2017) and NPR (3-Apr) and Telegraph (London 31-Mar) and UPenn - Kenya ethnic groups

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Apr-17 World View -- Kenya's herders attack well-known conservationist, stoking tribal tensions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Apr-17 World View -- Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day'

Rural America and Working Class America

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day'


Thanks to fracking, the US carbon emission problem is taking care of itself, with energy carbon emissions down by 25% since 2007.  (AEI)
Thanks to fracking, the US carbon emission problem is taking care of itself, with energy carbon emissions down by 25% since 2007. (AEI)

Hundreds of thousands of scientists in 600 cities around the world held "March for Science" marches to make largely incoherent demands for more money for pretty much anything. The universal complaint was Donald Trump and climate change, but Obamacare and various science projects were also mentioned.

In other countries, there were other complaints. In Canada, scientists to complain to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for cutting back on funding for science projects. According to Lori Burrows, professor and senior scientist, McMaster University:

"Despite the [Justin] Trudeau government's promise of sunnier ways for science, we are still waiting for those rays to break through the storm clouds."

So I gather from professor Burrows that Justin Trudeau must be as bad as Donald Trump. Tsk, tsk.

Media coverage was as ridiculous as ever. Here's what I heard from Robert Young, professor of coastal geology at Western Carolina University (my transcription):

"I don't think the people who need to meet a scientist will be at this march nor will those people be experiencing the media coverage of the march. The problem that we have, at least in the United States, is that we all get our information and our news from different sources these days. So the folks living in rural America and working class America, that we would be like to reach in a march for science, and the folks we would like to explain how important science is, they're not gonna be watching the news outlets that will be covering the march in a favorable way. They're not gonna watch National Public Radio, or the BBC, or read the New York Times or the Washington Post or the Guardian.

They're going to get their information and their coverage from Fox News and from conservative blogosphere. And those outlets will cover the march in a completely different way in a negative connotation."

Really? The problem is that "rural America and working class America" doesn't listen to left-wing media sources -- NPR, BBC, NYT, WaPost and the Guardian?? That's why these people are marching? This is so idiotic that it's hard to stop laughing. If there are any students at Western Carolina University reading this, please inform Prof. Robert Young that father does not always know best and that he sounds like an idiot.

The real problem is people in the mainstream media and in colleges believe every bit of nonsense that they hear on NPR, etc., and think that everything else is "fake news." So let's talk about climate change, and talk about some "facts." CBS and Canadian Broadcasting and Deutsche Welle

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Climate change -- a self-correcting problem

The climate scientists don't like to talk about this, but climate change has been self-correcting.

Since 2007, the US has reduced CO2 emissions by about 25%, mainly due to fracking, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). That's how technological innovation always works. When a problem occurs, somebody figures out a way to make money out of solving it, and the problem gets solved. This needs no help from the government, as shown by the Solyndra disaster.

Everyone is criticizing president Trump for backing out of the Paris climate change agreement. Why? If we're already dramatically reducing carbon emissions, why should America even care about the Paris agreement? The answer, of course, is about money. No one seriously believes that any of the huge climate change proposals will actually do anything to reduce carbon emissions. The climate scientists want America to pay ever more money into their projects. Like Saturday's "March for Science," everything is about political power and money.

Fracking has not yet brought about carbon emissions in other countries, but we can feel certain that new technologies will come along that will solve the problem in every country, as it has in the United States, and that government will have nothing to do with it. AEI and Energy Information Administration

Climate change predictions

So-called scientists talk endlessly that "climate change is caused by human activity." OK, so let's grant that. Climate change is caused by human activity. Those are the "facts" that scientists claim have been proven.

Next we hear that the earth's temperature will rise 2 degrees by 2100. That's not a "proven scientific fact." That's an unproven prediction, and it's a political prediction at that. There is no science that proves this figure. The figure is based on straight-line extrapolations of recent trends, which cannot be proven or even justified.

As developer of Generational Dynamics, one could say that I'm in the "prediction business." My web site has almost 4,000 articles since 2003, containing hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions, all of which are coming true or are trending true. None has been shown to be wrong. All these articles and predictions are still available on my web site to anyone wanting to prove me wrong -- and several people have tried and failed. So I'm one of the best experts around on predictions.

That's not true for climate change and environment predictions. History is flooded with hundreds of them from "respected" scientists, many of which have turned out wrong and even spectacularly wrong.

My favorite was the prediction that I read in far left-wing magazine Ramparts Magazine in 1970. The prediction was that the oceans were becoming so polluted that by 1980 the world's oceans would be covered by a layer of algae. It didn't happen.

One of the most respected, endorsed by as many scientists in 1972 as endorse climate change today, was the "Limits to Growth" by the Club of Rome. The report said that the world would grind to a halt because of pollution within a few decades. Some time later, it turned out that their predictions had a flaw based on their computer program written in Fortran. Anyway, their predictions haven't come true.

And of course in the 1970s, the problem was going to be "global cooling." Within twenty years, it had turned into "global warming."

There are hundreds of documented environmental and climate change predictions by respected scientists that have turned out to be wrong. How stupid do you have to be to believe more climate change predictions when so many in the past have been spectacularly wrong?

So yes, climate change really is a hoax, even if you assume that all the science that proves that human activity is true. All the predictions that come after that are not science -- they're guesses, based on unjustifiable extrapolations.

As I said, I'm an expert on making predictions, so I can tell you some places where the climate change scientists are making faulty assumptions.

First, they're assuming that there will be no world wars. There have been world wards every century for millennia, and this century will be no different. As I've written in the past, I expect a world war in the next ten years or so. Nuclear weapons will be used. Lots of factories and power infrastructure will be destroyed.

How will that affect climate change? The climate scientists are afraid to talk about that subject, so I'll take a guess. If a lot of infrastructure is destroyed, then I would guess that carbon emissions will fall dramatically. Of course, climate scientists don't want to talk about that.

Second, climate scientists are completely ignoring technological developments. We already discussed how fracking has reduced US carbon emissions by 25%, something the climate scientists would rather eat mud than ever talk about.

Well, we can see all kinds of technological developments on the horizon that may well have application to carbon emissions and climate change. For example, biotechnology might produce an organism that eats carbon dioxide the way a tree does. Or we may develop space capsules that can deliver millions of tons of carbon dioxide into space. Or computerized robots may be able to clean things up that humans can't.

How will these technological developments affect that 2 degree temperature prediction? Well climate scientists don't know, and I don't know, but history has shown that some solution will emerge.

There's an almost exact historical parallel to the climate change problem that climate scientists hate to even think about. Think of all the cars in New York City, and imagine if those cars were all horses. That's the problem that all big cities had in the 1890s. A horse produces between 7 and 15 kilos of manure daily. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced nearly 1,200 metric tons of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of. In addition, each horse produces nearly a liter of urine per day, which also ended up on the streets. Also, many horses died each day, and their corpses had to be removed.

There was a big international urban planning conference in New York City in 1898. The major topic that dominated the conference was not housing, land use, economic development or infrastructure. It was horse manure. The participants left in disgust.

The crisis was resolved quickly with new technology: the automobile. By 1912 there were more cars than horses on the road in New York City. By 1920, the problem had all but disappeared, with no government intervention.

The same thing will happen with the climate change problem. The Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894

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Rural America and Working Class America

Let's circle back to the real problem in America today, that people like Prof. Robert Young of Western Carolina University are totally contemptuous of "rural America and working class America." People like Young -- and there are plenty of them -- are completely delusional.

The funny thing is that the working class people can sense what's going on, because they have to do real work for a living. When you have climate scientists marching through Washington DC demanding money and claiming that they know what they earth's temperature will be in 2100, when they can't accurately predict the temperature two weeks from now, these worker class people know intuitively that they're being mocked.

Even after all these months, people like Young -- and there are plenty of them -- don't have the vaguest clue how Donald Trump was elected president. It's really quite amazing that Young could say anything as stupid as what's quoted above, but that's how people at NPR, BBC, NYT, WaPost and the Guardian, and that's also how most college professors think these days.

The funny thing is, as I reported above, scientists in Canada are just as angry at the ultra-liberal Justin Trudeau as American scientists are at Donald Trump. If Justin Trudeau doesn't think Canada should spend money on climate change, then why should Donald Trump think that America should do so? In the end, climate scientists don't really care about climate change at all. All they care about is how much money they can get from taxpayers. And since it's the "working class" people who supply all that tax money, they should be more respectful of these people, and far less contemptuous.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Apr-17 World View -- Scientists worldwide hold an international March for Money on 'Earth Day' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Apr-17 World View -- Kashmiri students at two Indian colleges harassed and beaten

Indians seek solutions and blame intervention from Pakistan and China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kashmiri students at two Indian colleges harassed and beaten


Kashmiri students at Rajasthan University (Kashmir Monitor)
Kashmiri students at Rajasthan University (Kashmir Monitor)

It seems that hardly a day goes by without the situation in Indian-governed Kashmir becoming worse than the day before.

Students studying in colleges in India far from Kashmir are being harassed and beaten by perpetrators described a "nationalist Hindus."

At Rajasthan University, six Muslim Kashmiri students were called "terrorists" and assaulted by locals. According to one:

"Six of us were assaulted in three separate attacks that took place at the same time in the market. The attacks seemed coordinated. They hurled abuses, called us terrorists and said we throw stones at the army. They told us to go back to Kashmir and threatened that they won’t let us study here."

The words "said we throw stones at the army" refers to the worsening situation in Kashmir, where separatists are throwing stones at police and army personnel, and security forces are shooting Kashmiris with pellet guns, sometimes blinding them.

At another college, Rawal Institute of Technology, female Kashmiri students are being harassed and threatened. According to one student, "The boys used abusive language today and followed Kashmiri girls which led to clashes between Kashmir boys and offenders."

I've written enough of these stories about Kashmir to know how emotional the responses to this article will be. Some people will put the blame entirely on the Muslims, or at least on the Kashmiri separatists, and other people will put the blame entirely on the Hindus, or at least on the government security forces.

But I'm just reporting an ongoing situation that gets worse almost every day, and is almost certainly going to lead to war.

India's Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh issued a directive saying that the Kashmiris were part of India's "family," and that:

"The Kashmiri youth also contribute in the progress of India. Action should be taken by the states against those who target them."

Many Indians blame the "Islamization" of Kashmir by Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said:

"Indian occupation forces have launched an all-out war on Kashmiri students. They have attacked women’s education institutions as well. A dozen colleges have been attacked, injuring thousands of students – both boys and girls."

Whatever the truth is, it's clear that the situation in Kashmir has worsened significantly in the last year, and even worsened significantly in the last couple of weeks. Kashmir Monitor and Kashmir Observer and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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Indians seek solutions and blame intervention from Pakistan and China

As I've written many times, the situation in Kashmir is on a trend line that's spiraling into full-scale war. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template.

India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. Now, as the survivors of the 1947 Partition War have almost all died off, leaving behind younger generations with no fear of repeating past disasters, Kashmir is showing signs of repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947.

Indians accuse Pakistan of encouraging the Kashmir violence, and even supporting it with money and weapons. There's little doubt that the accusations are true. After all, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization has funded terrorist groups that have attacked targets in both India and Aghanistan.

And now an opinion writer is blaming China:

"While the Chinese claim to have been miffed over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh, and have now given Chinese names to places in that state to buttress their territorial claims, the reality is that the dragon is keen to have the status quo changed in Jammu & Kashmir too. Reason: large parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are critical to its new China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), including land access to Gwadar port in Balochistan.

Without the covert Chinese go-ahead to Pakistani aims in J&K, it is doubtful if an economically and politically isolated country would have dared change the game in Kashmir Valley. Here’s what’s new in this round of bloodletting in the Valley. ...

China may not be overtly keen to promote Pakistan-based jihadis who may well end up becoming a headache in its own Xinjiang province, where the Muslim Uighurs are restive. But one thing is certain: it appears to have decided to prop up the Pakistani deep state, both to further its own economic interests, and as a way of containing India.

Chinese pressure on Pakistan to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province is key to legalizing its highway to Gwadar, which passes through this area. China has decided that a strong Pakistan is in its interests – and this has negative consequences for India, especially in terms of Pakistan’s Kashmir policy."

It's very likely that this accusation is true as well. After all, China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea, and using its vast military power to threaten regions belonging to Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan and India. So China wouldn't hesitate to subvert Kashmir for its own imagined benefit.

The problem is that while these accusations are true, they make no difference. Pakistan, and probably China, have been subverting Kashmir for years, but it had only a transient effect until the last year. What's changed is that the younger generations, with little fear of a new war, are driving the violence. The growing violence in Kashmir is leading to all-out war, and it won't be stopped.

One Indian editorial writer is claiming that the problems in Kashmir can be solved, and that there are three solutions:

Of course these "solutions" are completely delusional, though it's good to have them listed. I do wonder if these solutions might have been effective if they had been adopted wholeheartedly starting in the 1970s. At any rate, it's way too late now.

Furthermore, with Kashmiri students being harassed and beaten in colleges far away from Kashmir, we're seeing the Kashmir violence begin to spread to other parts of India. This is a new development, and it portends more and more violence this summer.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. Times of India and BBC and Daily O (India)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Apr-17 World View -- Kashmiri students at two Indian colleges harassed and beaten thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Apr-17 World View -- Cameroon's president finally caves in, restores internet to English speakers

With violence in Venezuela's streets continuing, Maduro confiscates GM factories

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon's president finally caves in, restores internet to English speakers


During protests earlier this year, Anglophone protesters used catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)
During protests earlier this year, Anglophone protesters used catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)

Cameroon's president Paul Biya on Thursday finally gave in after 93 days and restored internet access to the "Southern Cameroons," the region of Cameroon populated by English-speaking or Anglophone people.

Biya shut down the internet to Anglophones in November of last year, following clashes between English-speaking (Anglophone) protesters and police. The protests were over discrimination and marginalization of the Anglophones by the French-speaking (Francophone) majority.

The protests were initially led by Anglophone lawyers in the city of Bamenda to protest that the legal and court systems are biased toward Francophones, with many laws passed without even being translated into English. That demonstration was dispersed by security forces using tear gas.

Two weeks later, the demonstrators were joined by Anglophone teachers who were protesting that the government was deploying Francophone teachers teach the French language in Anglophone regions. The government decided was appointing French-speaking teachers and judges who barely understand English to Anglophone schools and courts.

Thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians brought coffins to the demonstrations, proclaiming that they were ready to die and be burned in their coffins. The demonstrations turned violent when security forces fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the demonstrators. At least six protesters were shot dead and hundreds others arrested by security forces.

With teachers and lawyers on strike, shutting down the internet was apparently Biya's method of bringing the Anglophones to heel.

However, shutting down the internet has been disastrous for Cameroon's economy. It was particularly disastrous for businesses in the Southern Cameroons, which had no internet access, and so could not conduct business. But individuals were hurt as well, since they couldn't pay bills or make online purchases.

Shutting down the internet was a really dumb thing to do, but Cameroon's economy has lost some $3.1 million because of the internet blackout, according to the French NGO, Internet sans Frontières (Internet without Borders). Furthermore, with the schools shut because of the teachers' strike, Cameroon was threatened with an aid cutoff from UNESCO.

Biya's ending the internet block will not solve the underlying tensions between Anglophones and Francophones, which date back to colonial times when there was a British Cameroon and a French Cameroon. The two colonies were pasted together in what was supposed to be a federal system where the Anglophone and Francophone regions were equal. But, Paul Biya came to power in 1982 and, as usual in African countries, Biya has turned into a dictator. He had hoped that shutting down the internet would make everyone happy and peaceful again, but instead it impoverished and infuriated many people, especially Anglophones. Cameroon Concord and Africa News and Anadolu (31-Mar)

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With violence in Venezuela's streets continuing, Maduro confiscates GM factories

Venezuela continued to be a showcase for the disastrous outcome of every Socialist government in history, as violence in the streets of Venezuela continued on Thursday, leading protesters to clashes with security forces who used tear gas, beatings and other violence.

The protesters are demanding that president Nicolás Maduro hold elections so that he can be replaced, but like almost every Socialist leader in history, Maduro prefers to have the streets filled with rivers of blood than give up power.

As the economy continues to crash because of his Socialist policies, Maduro is forced to adopt increasingly desperate measures. Last month, he ordered the arrest of bakers because there wasn't enough break available.

Previously, Maduro ordered the jailing of factory owners, but on Thursday, Maduro's Socialist government seized a General Motors plant in Valencia. GM sales have been down in Venezuela because the Socialist government requires that they be paid for in near-worthless bolivar currency, rather than dollars. GM says that it will fight the seizure in Venezuelan courts, but since Maduro controls the courts, GM is unlikely to succeed.

Venezuela's Socialist government has nationalized a number of US companies, or otherwise forced them out of business. Other companies that have cut back or ceased doing business in Venezuela include Kimberly-Clark, Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Company, Clorox Co. and Bridgestone Americas. It has been a policy of Socialist Venezuela to destroy as much of economy as possible, in order to be able to nationalize businesses. As the old Socialist saying goes, you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.

As violence increases in the streets, fears are growing that Maduro will call out the army for a full-scale assault on the protesters. However, some reports indicate that there's a growing split within the army, with many soldiers reluctant to attack ordinary Venezuelan citizens including, in some cases, their own family members. Detroit Free Press and Miami Herald and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Apr-17 World View -- Cameroon's president finally caves in, restores internet to English speakers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Apr-17 World View -- EU officials increasingly fear a Marine Le Pen upset victory in France's elections

The threat to the 'European project'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

EU officials increasingly fear a Marine Le Pen upset victory in France's elections


Far-right politicians: Marine Le Pen of France, and Brexit champion Nigel Farage of Britain (AFP)
Far-right politicians: Marine Le Pen of France, and Brexit champion Nigel Farage of Britain (AFP)

Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right Front National party is still considered to be a very long shot to become the next president of France, but it's no longer considered an impossibility, mainly because of three factors: the unexpected passage of the Brexit referendum in Britain last year, the unexpected election of Donald Trump in the US last year, and a trend of rising nationalistic, xenophobic political parties in countries across Europe in recent years.

The first round of the presidential elections will be held on Sunday, April 23. There are 11 candidates, so it's almost impossible for anyone to win by getting over 50% of the vote. The top two candidates will then take part in a runoff election on May 7, to determine the final winner. President François Hollande, a Socialist, has had abysmal popularity ratings, and so has chosen not to run for a second term, a decision unprecedented in modern times.

The polls put the top four candidates at around 20% each. Emmanuel Macron is the youngest, a 39-year-old former investment banker, and former economy minister under Hollande. He's considered to be the favorite among the mainstream "globalist" European politicians.

The early favorite was Republican François Fillon, but his support has crashed because of a scandal where he allegedly arranged for his wife to receive a large salary for a job that required little or no work.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon is the far-left candidate, a kind of political mirror image of Marine Le Pen, though not entirely. Le Pen is anti-immigration, while Mélenchon is pro-immigration, but the two candidates do agree on one important issue: Neither of them likes the euro currency.

Although Le Pen could flame out in the first round, it's widely expected that she will be one of the two leading candidates. Mainstream politicians are hoping a second round matching Le Pen with Macron. In that case, it's expected that Macron will pick up voters from the candidates that have dropped out, while Le Pen's core group of supporters would stay the same, with the result that Macron would defeat Le Pen by a wide margin.

The scenario that most fear is that in the first round on Sunday, the two winners would be the two extremes, the far-right Le Pen and the far-left Mélenchon. This would be considered a disaster for the eurozone, as either one would like to return to the original French franc currency.

After last year's unexpected Brexit and Trump victories, there's a great deal of anxiety among European politicians who fear that anything could happen. BBC and Market Pulse and Foreign Policy and Euro News and Daily Signal

Marine Le Pen fights accusations of anti-Semitism

Marine Le Pen is the current leader of the Front National party, which had a strong history of anti-Semitism under its previous leader and founder, Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Holocaust denier.

At some point, she came to the conclusion that she and the Front National party could not become successful without completely breaking with its anti-Semitic past. She did so by breaking with her father, and banning him from the party. She has not repeated any of her father's anti-Semitic remarks, and has even condemned them. But in interviews, she's always asked about Jewish issues, and her answers are always heavily scrutinized by a mainstream press that is as consumed with hostility to her as with Donald Trump.

One of the most controversial examples occurred in a recent interview where she insisted that France was not responsible for a July 1942 atrocity known as "Vel d'Hiv," where French officials rounded up 13,000 Jews and turned them over to the Nazis to be deported to Auschwitz. She had to scramble to explain that the "real" French government at that time was in exile, while the perpetrators of the atrocity were the puppet government in Paris under Nazi control.

In fact, Le Pen has appealed to Jewish voters by saying that she's best support of Jews because she's so strongly opposed to Muslim immigrants, essentially using one form of xenophobia to claim that she's innocent of another form of xenophobia. It's quite a remarkable argument.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there are two important things to be noted here, things that I've written about many times.

First, nationalism and xenophobia do not come ftom the politicians. They come from the people. If Marine Le Pen had not stepped forward to represent anti-Muslim and possibly anti-Semitic voters, then someone else would have done so, because the people were demanding it.

What a politician can do is represent nationalistic and xenophobic voters, but then do everything possible to ameliorate the worst abuses of those attitudes. As I've noted in the past, Donald Trump has backed off from his early remarks about Mexicans and Muslims, and appears to have adopted a course that takes into account the anxieties of his supporters, while preventing any abuses from taking place. Theresa May in Britain is similarly trying to chart a course that accommodates Brexit supporters, while avoiding total disaster for Britain's economy.

The second important point is that nationalism and xenophobia are growing around the world. Whether it's Chinese vs Japanese, Chinese vs Vietnamese, Buddhists vs Rohingyas in Myanmar, Hindus vs Muslims in Kashmir, or Sunnis vs Shias in the Mideast, nationalism and xenophobia have been growing around the world, in one country after another. This is what always happens in a generational Crisis era, and it always leads to major wars or world wars. The Local (France) and Books and Ideas and Atlantic and News Max

The threat to the 'European project'

The phrase "European Project" refers to the efforts, begun in the 1950s, to take steps to prevent another massive war in Europe.

It's hard today to remember the mood of the public in those days. Here's what Hannah Arendt wrote in her 1950 book, The Origins of Totalitarianism:

"Two world wars in one generation, separated by an uninterrupted chain of local wars and revolutions, followed by no peace treaty for the vanquished and no respite for the victor, have ended in the anticipation of a third World War between the two remaining world powers [America and the Soviet Union]. This moment of anticipation is like the calm that settles after all hopes have died. We no longer hope for an eventual restoration of the old world order with all its traditions, or for the reintegration of the masses of five continents who have been thrown into a chaos produced by the violence of wars and revolutions and the growing decay of all that has still been spared. Under the most diverse conditions and disparate circumstances, we watch the development of the same phenomena -- homelessness on an unprecedented scale, rootlessness to an unprecedented depth.

Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest -- forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives."

The purpose of the European Project was to prove that mankind was not completely powerless after all. If Europe could set up a new world order that would prevent the "sheer insanity" of another world war, then the European Project would succeed. This lead to the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and eventually to the formation of the European Union.

What we see today is huge centrifugal forces pulling the European Project apart.

Whether it's the Brexit referendum in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, the "True Finns" in Finland, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Germany, the Golden Dawn party in Greece, the Jobbik party in Hungary, or any of the nationalistic movements in other European countries, what's become clear is that people, particularly young people, have no fear or concerns about the lessons learned in World War II. This is what Generational Dynamics tells us always happens.

In the last century, there were two world wars that destroyed Europe. The first World War was also devastating for Russia and the Mideast, while the second World War was also devastating for Japan and the Pacific. However, there were other massive wars in the last century, in Asia, in Africa, in the Americas. These wars of the last century are not well remembered by Americans, since Americans were not as heavily involved, but they're well remembered by the people of the countries that fought in them.

And that's just the last century. If you look at the earlier centuries -- the 1800s, the 1700s, the 1600s, the 1500s, and so forth -- there were also massive wars in Asia, Europe, the Mideast, Africa and the Americas in those centuries as well. No century has ever escaped this.

The point is that these huge, massive wars have not yet begun to occur in this century, and so people, especially young people, have come to believe that they never will. And yet, there's absolutely no hope of avoiding them. Anyone can see that the world has become increasingly unstable in the last 10 or 15 years, and that countries around the world have become increasingly nationalistic and xenophobic. It's like the world is a pressure cooker, ready to explode.

France enjoyed "La Belle Époque" starting in 1871, with advances in the arts rather than wars. That was the "Old World Order" that Hannah Arendt was talking about in the quote above. And yet, World War I exploded in 1914 completely without warning, when a high school student decided to shoot an Archduke of another country.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Hannah Arendt was right -- that powerlessness is the major experience of our lives. Politicians are powerless to stop the flow of generations, as young, foolish generations displace older, traumatized, experienced generations, and repeat all the mistakes of the past, once again, over and over. BBC and Washington Post and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Apr-17 World View -- EU officials increasingly fear a Marine Le Pen upset victory in France's elections thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Apr-17 World View -- UN says lengthy Mosul operation leading to major humanitarian disaster

Iraq says that ISIS and al-Qaeda are in talks to join forces

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN says lengthy Mosul operation leading to major humanitarian disaster


Woman fleeing Mosul carries her child in one hand and a bag of belongings in the other (CNN)
Woman fleeing Mosul carries her child in one hand and a bag of belongings in the other (CNN)

It's now been six months since October 17, 2016, the beginning of the military operation to recapture Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Iraq's army is leading the offensive, with support from the United States with a mix of Special Operations Forces, intelligence and close air support.

But frustrations are growing because progress has been slow. The portion of Mosul on the east side of the Tigris river has already been recaptured, but the dense population, the narrow streets of western Mosul, and the advance preparation of the ISIS fighters combine to slow the operation down to a crawl.

ISIS has booby-trapped streets and buildings with IED bombs, and attacks with suicide motorbike attacks, and sniper and mortar fire. If ISIS fighters are using a particular building as a base or for storage of weapons, local residents are forced to live in the building as human shields, so that it cannot be bombed by American warplanes.

According to the United Nations, the scale of civilians fleeing Mosul is "staggering," and relief efforts have been stretched to the "operational limits." According to a Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq:

"Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul. Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving almost everything behind,” Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a news release issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering. ... We are doing everything we can but this has been a long battle and the assault on the old city hasn't started."

The UN claims that since fighting began in October, they've provided some 1.9 million people with food, water, shelter, emergency kits, medical support and psycho-social services.

The UN emphasizes that all parties to the conflict are obliged, under International Humanitarian Law, to do everything possible to protect civilians, ensure they have the assistance they need, and limit damage to civilian infrastructure. Haha. United Nations and Reuters and Al Jazeera

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ISIS using both mustard gas and chlorine gas attacks in Mosul

On Friday of last week, ISIS fired a rocket loaded with chlorine at a neighborhood in western Mosul, injuring seven soldiers, according to Iraqi military sources.

On Sunday, 25 Iraqi soldiers in a unit with US and Australian advisers suffered breathing problems after being hit by a mustard gas attack.

Gas masks are being distributed to Iraqi forces, in case of future gas attacks. AP and CBS News

Iraq says that ISIS and al-Qaeda are in talks to join forces

According to Iraq's vice president Ayad Allawi, ISIS and al-Qaeda are talking about forming an alliance, once ISIS is defeated in Mosul:

"The discussion has started now. There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing Baghdadi and representing Zawahiri."

Allawi was referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Although an alliance between ISIS and al-Qaeda might seem like a jihadist's dream come true, the two organizations are like oil and water.

The al-Qaeda linked organization in the region is Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) which renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) when it cut its ties to al-Qaeda. It did so in order to join forces with Ahrar al-Sham, a "moderate" anti-Assad group that did not want to have any links to jihadist organizations, either al-Qaeda or ISIS. Nominally, JFS is no longer linked to al-Qaeda, although some analysts believe that the links still exist.

ISIS was formed from about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries that came to Syria to fight al-Assad. These foreigners were not welcomed by the Syrian fighters, either the "moderate" fighters or the al-Nusra Front fighters, and so al-Nusra and ISIS began fighting each other.

For years, al-Assad and ISIS have been effectively allied. That's because ISIS was interested in gaining territory, and that was at the expense of the militias of Syrian citizens. So al-Assad and ISIS both were targeting the Syrian opposition to the government.

Now that ISIS is close to defeat in Mosul, Iraq, and is being attacked by a military operation in its stronghold Raqqa, in Syria, it's not surprising that the two thuggish organizations are talking to each other. In today's bizarro world where it seems that anything can happen, maybe they can find a way to form some kind of working relationship. But what's far more likely is that when ISIS is defeated it will split up, and its members will return to their home countries and, in some cases, perform terrorist acts there. Reuters and Newsweek and Fox News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Apr-17 World View -- UN says lengthy Mosul operation leading to major humanitarian disaster thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Apr-17 World View -- Worries grow that India is 'losing Kashmir,' as violence increases

Video of Kashmir man tied to jeep further inflames anti-India violence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Video of Kashmir man tied to jeep further inflames anti-India violence


Indian security forces tie Kashmiri man to jeep to discourage rock throwing by separatists
Indian security forces tie Kashmiri man to jeep to discourage rock throwing by separatists

Although the violence in India-governed Kashmir has settled down a bit since the large surge that accompanied the elections on April 9, there is still simmering below the surface a great deal of anger - certainly on the part of the Muslims, and almost as much on the part of the Indian security forces.

The picture above is a frame from a video that went viral. It shows a Kashmiri man that the security forces tied to the front of a jeep as it travels down the street. The reason given for tying the man to the jeep was to discourage Kashmiris from throwing stones at the jeep. In the video, a warning can be heard saying that stone pelters will meet the same fate (being tied to a jeep).

The entire video can be seen at this Twitter address.

There are many videos from Kashmir being posted these days, mostly by separatists who want to portray alleged violence by security forces.

However, security forces have also been posting videos. One from polling day on April 9 shows security officers being pelted by stone throwers, and then a young man whacks a security office over the head, causing his helmet to come off and roll down the street. The young men chant "Go India, go back."

This entire video can be seen at this Twitter address.

As I wrote earlier this month, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template.

India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

Now, as the survivors of the 1947 Partition War have almost all died off, leaving behind younger generations with no fear of repeating past disasters, Kashmir is showing signs of repeating the violence of 1857 and 1947.

Stone-throwing incidents started to become frequent after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. There was a big surge in violence that continued almost daily until Winter. Security forces responded harshly with pellet guns, with the result that 1,000 people lost their vision in one eye and five were blinded. Thousands of youths have been arrested.

Now Winter is over. It's still only April. Summer doesn't even begin until June 21, and then there are three more months until the Fall. The most likely scenario is that violence is going to continue throughout the summer. At some point, the violence is going to spiral into full-scale rebellion, just as happened in 1857 and 1947. As the saying goes, history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. Mumbai Times and Deccan Chronicle and DNA India

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Signs grow in media that Indians are beginning worry about Kashmir

My impression, after writing about the Kashmir issue off and on for years, that Indians are in a state of almost total denial about what's happening in Kashmir. In fact, just a couple of months ago I spoke to an acquaintance who had been born in Kashmir and lived there as a child. I asked him what he thought about the growing violence in Kashmir. He said that it was nothing - it had happened before in the 1990s, and would die down again. Of course he didn't understand that in the 1990s there were still plenty of survivors of the 1947 war still around who made sure that it did die down.

Based on my readings of India's media, I'm seeing something different, signs that Indians are becoming aware of how dangerous Kashmir is becoming, and that things might get a great deal worse.

P Chidambaram, a member of the Congress party, which is the opposition to the current government of Narendra Modi, said:

"My position on Kashmir is well known. I have been writing, speaking that we are losing Kashmir. ... The path that the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the central (Indian) government have taken is a perilous path. This path will not lead to any kind of peace or any kind of engagement with the people. ...

The answer is not using the Army, the armed forces and the police force. The answer is not a muscular Kashmir policy. The answer is to engage with all stakeholders."

An editorial in the Hindustan Times acknowledges Chidambaram's statement, and says: "The Narendra Modi government wants a new approach and has settled on a policy that combines harsh crackdowns on agitating youth and initiatives that undermine mainstream parties."

According to the article, New Delhi politicians are still in a state of continued denial:

"The Valley is seething – the deaths of teenagers and the presence of those blinded by pellet guns are a constant spur to maintain political purity and distance from India and those working for its institutions.

Ordinarily, this would alarm Delhi as there’s a palpable loss of control and India’s image abroad at stake. But the Centre appears unperturbed and is maintaining its aggressive line. There has been no real regret about civilian casualties; instead home minister Rajnath Singh has ominously suggested that India “will see a transformed Kashmir in a year. No matter how the change occurs, one thing is certain, that there will be a change in Kashmir in a year’s time.” He also said those pelting stones “will have to face the consequences.” In February, army chief Bipin Rawat warned youth in Kashmir saying “those who obstruct our operations during encounters and are not supportive will be treated as overground workers of terrorists. They may survive today but we will get them tomorrow. Our relentless operations will continue."

These quotes from New Delhi officials are totally delusional and will lead to disaster. However, they show how strong the sense of nationalism still prevails over common sense.

An editorial in Indian Express says the following:

"It is an unmistakable sign of the corrosion of Indian democracy that an odd combination of illusions and nauseating bravado is being spun in Delhi around the grim political situation in Kashmir. Every element of Indian policy in Kashmir lies in tatters. And yet, instead of asking forthright questions, our denial goes deeper. Kashmir now seems to be going from a deep and violent conflict to a state where there seems to be a death wish all around: Security forces with no means to restore order other than by inflicting death, Indian nationalism now more interested in showing machismo than solving real problems, increasingly radicalized militancy with almost a touch of apocalyptic disregard for life, foreign powers fishing in troubled waters, scores of young men and children even, who are making a statement that courting death seems a better option than what they regard as suffocating oppression. They are all feeding off each other."

This article drew a number of angry, nationalistic comments. Here's a sample:

What's different from the past, as far as I can tell, is that there's a debate emerging between the nationalistic view that "Kashmir is ours, and separatists should be treated harshly," versus "Nothing is working, and we should try something desperate like 'engaging with all stakeholders.'"

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, no solution exists to the growing violence in Kashmir, and the same kind of violence will be repeated as occurred in 1857 and 1947. At some point, possibly this summer, something violent will occur to force Indians out of their state of denial, and into a state of panic. At that point, cooler heads may or may not prevail. Kashmir Media Service and Hindustan Times and Indian Express

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Apr-17 World View -- Worries grow that India is 'losing Kashmir,' as violence increases thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Apr-17 World View -- Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers

Turkey's referendum results will be closely scrutinized by Europe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers


Campaign picture from last week, when Erdogan signed an emergency decree, live broadcast on television, allowing beauty salons to perform laser hair removal. (Cumhuriyet)
Campaign picture from last week, when Erdogan signed an emergency decree, live broadcast on television, allowing beauty salons to perform laser hair removal. (Cumhuriyet)

By a vote of 51% to 49%, Turkey's voters on Sunday approved a referendum giving the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vast new powers. Declaring victory, Erdogan said:

"For the first time in the history of the republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics. ...

April 16 is the victory of all who said 'yes' or 'no,' of the whole 80 million, of the whole of Turkey. ...

There are those who are belittling the result. They shouldn't try, it will be in vain. It's too late now."

Erdogan's remarks reflect how deeply split the country is. Those who support Erdogan often consider him to be close to a god, or at least the savior of Turkey, following last year's coup attempt, much like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey in 1924, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

However, Erdogan's opponents say they're deeply worried that, far from being a savior of Turkey, Erdogan is turning the country into a dictatorship. They refer to the failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year as a "gift" to Erdogan, because it permitted him to institute a devastating purge of over 100,000 of his political opponents, who were arrested or fired with virtually no evidence. Erdogan declared a state of emergency, and then used the emergency powers under the declaration to conduct a sweeping purge of the military, judiciary and civil service.

Erdogan's supporters claim that the purges were necessary following the coup attempt, but opponents point out that Erdogan had already begun the first purges before the coup attempt.

The most dramatic example occurred on March 5 of last year, months before the coup attempt, when Erdogan ordered a government takeover of the only major opposition media publishers in Turkey, the Zaman media group, publishers of Turkey's most popular newspaper, Today's Zaman. On that day, Turkish police forcibly entered the Zaman building, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who had gathered outside, and forcibly took over the publisher, as we reported at the time.

After the coup attempt, Erdogan arrested and jailed hundreds of additional reporters, creating an atmosphere where any reporter that opposes Erdogan can be immediately accused of treason and jailed.

That's one of several reasons why Erdogan's opponents are saying that the referendum election was invalid. In the months leading up the referendum, the media was flooded with advertising favoring the referendum, with pro-referendum billboards visible everywhere. But anti-referendum advertising was almost nonexistent, out of fear that opposing the referendum could lead to being jailed.

And yet, despite those and other overwhelming advantages, Erdogan was only able to win by one of the slimmest of margins. Furthermore, opponents point to examples of voter fraud and say that they'll demand an investigation, but their demands are not likely to be heeded.

The referendum makes historic changes to Turkey's government. Turkey's parliament will be largely sidelined. The prime minister and Cabinet will be abolished, and ministers will be directly appointed by the president and accountable to him. The president also will set the budget. The president will have the power to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, and will have enhanced powers to appoint judges to the high court and constitutional court. Opponents claim that once these powers become effective in 2019, Erdogan will be able to use these powers to gain even more power, to the point of becoming a total dictator. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA and AP

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Turkey's referendum results will be closely scrutinized by Europe

Following the referendum results on Sunday, politicians in the European Union expressed dismay. One said, "Strange to see democracy restrict democracy," referring to the view that Turkey will be a far less democratic country than it used to be, replacing the democracy with an autocracy.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was responsible for observing the election, and will issue a report soon on possible election irregularities. Until then, many EU politicians are withholding comment.

A statement issued by the European Commission warned that since Turkey is a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey's implementation of the referendum must meet the standards of the European Union:

"We take note of the reported results of the referendum in Turkey on the amendments to the Constitution, adopted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 21 January 2017.

We are awaiting the assessment of the OSCE/ODIHR International Observation Mission, also with regard to alleged irregularities.

The constitutional amendments, and especially their practical implementation, will be assessed in light of Turkey's obligations as a European Union candidate country and as a member of the Council of Europe.

We encourage Turkey to address the Council of Europe's concerns and recommendations, including with regards to the State of Emergency. In view of the close referendum result and the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments, we also call on the Turkish authorities to seek the broadest possible national consensus in their implementation."

Officially, Turkey is still a candidate for becoming a member nation of the European Union. However, relations between Turkey and the EU have been increasingly hostile, and few people still believe that Turkey has any chance of becoming an EU member in the near or intermediate future.

In his victory speech on Sunday, Erdogan told his cheering supporters that he would like to reinstate the death penalty. The death penalty in Turkey was ended in 2003 as part of the process to get approval for membership in the EU. Reinstituting the death penalty would end Turkey's bid for EU membership once and for all, but Erdogan presumably believes that it doesn't make any difference.

Another issue hanging in the balance is the refugee deal signed early last year by the EU and Turkey. Under the deal, Turkey agreed with the EU to take back all migrants and refugees who cross to Greece illegally. In return, Turkey would receive financial aid, visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens in Europe's Schengen Zone, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU.

The deal has been successful in that the number of refugees crossing the Aegean Sea to enter Greece and the EU has been reduced from thousands a day to dozens a day. However, visa-free travel has never been implemented as promised, and negotiations for Turkey to join the EU have almost completely ended.

If the Council of Europe recommends any sort of sanctions on Turkey because of the implementation of the referendum, the Turkey may follow through on its repeated threat to rescind the EU-Turkey deal, and allow the free flow of refugees across the Aegean Sea.

However, some analysts have said that the deal is no longer even necessary, because all the routes through Central and Eastern Europe are now being blocked by fences and barbed wire, so refugees know that if they cross the Aegean, then they won't get any farther than Greece. Statement by European Commission and New Europe and Middle East Eye and National Interest

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Apr-17 World View -- Sharply divided Turkey approves referendum giving Erdogan near-dictatorial powers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Apr-17 World View -- Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters

Evidence of Bashar al-Assad's war crimes and atrocities continues to grow

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters


A bus burning during the attack.  The passengers were still in their seats as the bus burned. (ARA News)
A bus burning during the attack. The passengers were still in their seats as the bus burned. (ARA News)

On Saturday, a suicide bomber approached a group of buses carrying thousands of supporters of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. He was in a car supposedly carrying food aid to be delivered to the people in the buses. The driver of the car started passing out crisps (potato chips) to children, and when a group of children had gathered around him and his car, he exploded the car bomb. The massive explosion killed over 100, and injured hundreds more.

The buses were evacuating about 5,000 Shia supporters of Shia/Alawite al-Assad from villages near Aleppo under control of the Sunni opposition, to bring them to an area under control of al-Assad's government.

The evacuation was a complex plan as part of a peace deal negotiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey in January. At the same time that Shias were being evacuated from Sunni-controlled areas near Aleppo, there were a similar number of buses evacuating a similar number of Sunnis from government-controlled areas near Damascus.

This complex arrangement of simultaneous evacuations had been stalled for months due to disagreements among various factions as to who would be evacuated. Finally, the buses had all been loaded up and ready to go on Friday, but there were additional delays, and the buses were not permitted to move, making them static targets. After the passengers had been waiting in the buses for about 30 hours, the suicide bomber struck.

Once the explosion had occurred, a decision was made to allow the remaining buses to leave immediately, so that they would no longer be static targets of possible additional attackers.

No one has taken credit for the explosion, but it's assumed that the perpetrators are from the Sunni opposition groups, such as the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

There are thought to be two possible motives for the attack.

First, it's possible that it was a revenge attack in response to last week's horrific Sarin gas attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people. Al-Assad's Sarin attack has infuriated Sunnis throughout the Mideast, and prompted calls for revenge.

A second possible motive is to express opposition to the so-called peace agreement. The farcical agreement was reached by Russia, Iran and Turkey, meeting in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, in January, but it was considered a joke by many because it did not include any parties who are nominally the opponents in Syria's civil war -- the Bashar al-Assad regime or the Sunni opposition militias. So it's possible that the Sunni opposition perpetrated Saturday's explosion in order to undermine the so-called peace agreement.

Last year, as Bashar al-Assad's warplanes were dropping barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metal and chlorine gas on marketplaces, hospitals, schools and homes in Aleppo, al-Assad issued a delusional statement saying that the destruction of Aleppo would be a victory that would be remembered throughout history, and that it would end the war, since the jihadists would no longer have any reason to continue fighting. We're all still waiting for the war to end and the jihadists to go home. ARA News (Syria) and AP and Reuters (14-Apr)

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Evidence of Bashar al-Assad's war crimes and atrocities continues to grow

Last week's Sarin gas attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime was just the latest atrocity in his years of torture, enforced disappearances, siege warfare and indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods and hospitals.

A length analysis by the New York Times calls the amount of evidence of al-Assad's war crimes "staggering," but al-Assad continues committing war crimes with impunity. According to the article:

"Three tons of captured Syrian government documents, providing a chilling and extensive catalog of the state’s war crimes, are held by a single organization in Europe. A Syrian police photographer fled with pictures of more than 6,000 dead at the hands of the state, many of them tortured. The smartphone alone has broken war’s barriers: Records of crimes are now so graphic, so immediate, so overwhelming.

Yet six years since the war began, this mountain of documentation — more perhaps than in any conflict before it — has brought little justice. The people behind the violence remain free, and there is no clear path to bring the bulk of the evidence before any court, anywhere.

More than 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian war. Half the country’s population has been displaced. Syrian human rights groups list more than 100,000 people as missing, either detained or killed. Tens of thousands languish in government custody, where torture, deprivation, filth and overcrowding are so severe that a United Nations commission said they amounted to “extermination,” a crime against humanity. ...

Since this month’s chemical attack, residents have reported several attacks with incendiary weapons in Idlib and neighboring Hama provinces, uploading videos that show blinding fires typical of weapons like thermite and white phosphorus. They cause severe burns, similar to napalm, and their use is prohibited in civilian areas. ...

A Syrian man who did four stints of detention and torture for taking humanitarian aid to wounded protesters and rebels recounted his experiences, but then expressed despair that anything would come of it.

“Countries don’t need this evidence — they already know what’s happening. ... We are just pawns on a chessboard. I have women friends who were detained, raped, got pregnant, were tortured with acid. ... There is no justice. And because there is no justice, there is no hope."

This week, the Russians and Syrians began their usual disinformation campaign, claiming that black is white or that there's no evidence that the al-Assad regime was responsible.

The clearest example of how this works occurred after the MH17 passenger plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine by a Russian Buk missile. There was a two-year investigation by a Dutch team that included investigators from Australia, Malaysia, Ukraine, and Belgium. They collected tens of thousands of pieces of evidence, including forensic examinations, witness statements, satellite images, radar data and intercepted telephone calls. Their conclusion was that there is absolutely no doubt that the passenger plane was shot down by a Russian Buk missile shot from by Russians. But the Russians just say it's all manufactured data, as if it were even possible to manufacture that much evidence.

Similarly, there are thousands of pieces of evidence, including forensic collections and analyses, photos, videos, eyewitness testimony, doctors' testimony, the UNSC report, analyses of the UNSC report, and so forth, proving al-Assad's repeated use of chemical weapons, including Sarin gas, chlorine gas, ammonia and phosphorus, and that he used them on hospitals, schools and markets with no military objective except to kill as many innocent women and children as possible.

So I saw Bashar al-Assad interviewed by the AFP on television last week. The guy is a total sleazebag, but I watched as much of the interview as I could stand. He said he has no chemical weapons. Well, that's exactly what he said after his Sarin gas attack in 2013. In that case, he ended up agreeing to let the Americans take control of and destroy 1,300 tonnes of his chemical weapons that he had said he didn't have.

So now he's saying that gave away all his chemical weapons and doesn't have any left. But Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat, who was head of chemical warfare in the al-Assad regime until he defected in 2013, has said that al-Assad failed to declare additional tonnes of chemical weapons, including sarin components. There was never any independent verification that al-Assad had declared all his chemical weapons, and al-Sakat's testimony proves that al-Assad was lying.

It's almost unbelievable how much destruction al-Assad has caused. Thanks to al-Assad, Putin and Khamenei, there are about 50,000 jihadist fighters from 86 countries that have come to Syria, first to join the rebels fighting al-Assad, then to join the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Al-Assad has created the al-Nusra front and ISIS. He's created millions of refugees that have flooded into neighboring countries, and over a million have poured into Europe.

It's now clear to al-Assad that nobody is going to stop him, and he can continue committing genocide as long as he wants, with impunity. Al-Assad is the worst war criminal so far in the 21st century, and nobody is even going to try to stop him. That's the way the world works. And people wonder why we have world wars.

The worst people in the world are the leaders that order their armies to commit genocide, war crimes, atrocities, and crimes against humanity -- people like Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Josef Stalin, and Bashar al-Assad.

Right behind them, in second place, are people like the people who support al-Assad -- the deniers, the collaborators, the acolytes and the trolls -- the people who defend the war criminals and make the actions of Hitler, Mao, Stalin and al-Assad possible. These are the people that make genocide and war crimes possible, and they are as much to blame as the war criminals themselves. NY Times and Telegraph (London) and Salon

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Apr-17 World View -- Deadly explosion in Syria targets buses carrying 5,000 al-Assad supporters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Apr-17 World View -- US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down

Somalia's civil war and the Black Hawk Down incident

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down


Al-Shabaab fighters
Al-Shabaab fighters

The US is sending dozens of troops to Somalia in order to provide training to Somali forces fighting the al-Qaeda linked Islamist group al-Shabaab.

This is the largest deployment of American troops to the Horn of Africa since American troops were withdrawn in 1994, following the disastrous Black Hawk down incident. In October 1993, a US operation in Mogadishu ended in disaster when two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, leading to a 15-hour battle that killed hundreds of Somalis and 18 Americans.

About 40 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky, have been sent to Somalia. They will not take part in combat, but will focus on training the Somali army to bolster its logistics capabilities. The Somali government had requested the training, as its war against al-Qaeda based al-Shabaab has been far from decisive. At the same time, the US military is increasing the number of airstrikes against al-Shabaab.

The African Union troops include armies from Kenya and Uganda, but these troops are scheduled to pull out in 2018. The purpose of the US troops is to train the Somalis to fight al-Shabaab on their own, which may or may not be successful. Stars and Stripes and AP and Foreign Policy

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Somalia's civil war and the Black Hawk Down incident

Somalia's civil war ran from 1988 to 1994, but the stage was set decades earlier by the rise of Mohamed Siad Barre, who seized power in 1969 and set up a brutal Marxist totalitarian dictatorship. Siad tried to unify the local clans, but in the end the clans destroyed him and his totalitarian state.

In 1977, next-door-neighbor Ethiopia was in chaos, at the start of a full-scale generational crisis war with Eritrea. Siad tried to take advantage of the chaos by attacking Ogaden, a large region of Ethiopia on Somalia's border, populated mostly by Somalis. Siad had hoped to get the backing of his pals in the Soviet Union, but they betrayed him and sided with Ethiopia.

The result of Siad's abortive invasion was that hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees from Ogaden poured across the border into Somalia, destabilizing the country. These refugees joined with existing claims to attack Siad's regime, with the intention of overthrowing it, leading to full-scale civil war by 1988.

By 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea climaxed. However, Somalia's civil war continued with the destruction of Somalia's crops, causing widespread famine and almost total anarchy in Somalia. Siad was ousted and forced to flee the country, leading to an even bloodier succession battle.

International aid agencies flew food into Somalia to ease the famine, but the food was stolen by warring clan militias. In 1992, the United Nations actively intervened, and sent a peacekeeping force of 35,000 troops in "Operation Restore Hope."

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

The Black Hawk down incident, also known as the Battle of Mogadishu, had lasting effects on both sides. On the Somali side, the mob attack and ensuing battle appears to be one of the climactic events of Somali crisis civil war.

On the American side, Black Hawk down shocked the public, and was well remembered in books and a major movie. It caused the US to withdraw its forces from Somalia in 1994, and to be reluctant to intervene in African crises since then. So, for example, the US stayed out of the massive Rwanda massacre in 1994, which is probably just as well.

Today, as US troops return to Somalia, the country is in a generational Awakening era, which means that a new generation of kids has grown up hearing stories of the glorious adventures of their fathers in shooting down the two Black Hawks and hacking the pilots' bodies to death, and anxious to have the opportunity to do it again. So there is absolutely no chance at all that the current government of Somalia, with the help of US and African Union forces, will be able to subdue al-Shabaab. History World and BBC and Independent (London - 3-Jan-1995)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Apr-17 World View -- US sends dozens of troops to Somalia, first time since Black Hawk Down thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Apr-17 World View -- North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday

China's tripwires for invading North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday


People in Seoul, South Korea, watch a TV news program showing a file image of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on Wednesday.  The caption reads 'The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier changes route.' (AP)
People in Seoul, South Korea, watch a TV news program showing a file image of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier on Wednesday. The caption reads 'The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier changes route.' (AP)

In North Korea, Saturday April 15 is called "The Day of the Sun." It's the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il-Sung, whose name means "Sun of the Nation."

Kim Il-Sung was the grandfather of the current child dictator, Kim Jong-un. Kim likes to do provocative things on a regular basis, and particular likes to do something spectacular on April 15.

North Korea's fifth nuclear test was conducted on Sept. 9, 2016. According to a new report from the North Korea monitoring group 38North, North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site is "primed and ready," based on satellite imagery captured two days ago. This suggests that North Korea's sixth nuclear test may occur on Saturday, or in the near future. Other possible dates in the near future are April 25, the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army, or May 9, the date of South Korea's presidential election.

But a lot of analysts will be very surprised if North Korea doesn't perform a new nuclear test, possibly along with some new ballistic missile tests, some time in the next month.

If Kim Jong-un does do something provocative and spectacular, many people are wondering how the United States will respond, particularly since President Donald Trump ordered the missile strike in Syria, after Syria's government killed hundreds of people with a Sarin gas attack two weeks ago, and after Trump ordered the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula.

On Thursday, Trump wrote a tweet that he believes China will be able to rein in the North. "I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will! U.S.A." 38 North and Pravda (Moscow) and Washington Post

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Japan's Shinzo Abe: N. Korea may be able to attack Japan with Sarin gas missile

Japan, which is the only country in the world to have been hit by a nuclear weapon, is particularly concerned about being attacked by a North Korean nuclear weapon. Tensions have been particularly raised by North Korea's repeated tests of ballistic missiles launched in the direction of Japan. None of the tests has struck Japanese soil, but some have reached the Sea of Japan.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been advocating a proposal to develop the capability to directly attack North Korean military bases. Japan is still bound by a post World War II pacifist constitution that permits military action only for defensive purposes, and so Abe emphasized that Japan has no plan to acquire such powerful weapons and would never launch a pre-emptive strike against any country.

However, Abe pointed out that North Korea could attack Japan with Sarin gas:

"There is a possibility that North Korea has the ability to hit (Japan) with a ballistic missile carrying sarin in its warhead."

Abe pointed to the Syria's sarin gas attack last week, where "nearly 100 innocent people, including children and babies, were victimized."

Just as Japan was the target of a nuclear weapon, Japan has also been the object of a sarin gas attack. Members of a Japanese doomsday cult killed 12 people and made thousands ill in 1995 in simultaneous attacks with sarin nerve gas on five Tokyo rush-hour subway trains.

Concerns have been growing about North Korea’s chemical weapons capabilities since Kim Jong-un's estranged half brother, Kim Jong-nam, was killed with VX nerve agent in Malaysia in February.

According to Yoshihide Suga, Abe’s top aide, "North Korea is thought to maintain multiple facilities that are capable of producing chemical weapons and already hold a sizable amount of chemical weapons."

The South Korean Defense Ministry has estimated that Pyongyang, which reportedly started producing chemical weapons in the 1980s, now owns 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including the lethal nerve agents sarin and VX. Japan Times and Reuters

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China's tripwires for invading North Korea

In 1961, China and North Korea signed a mutual defense treaty that specifies that if one of the parties comes under armed attack, the other should render immediate assistance, including military support.

It's this umbrella of protection that has allowed North Korea to make increasingly provocative acts, knowing that China is required by treaty to protect it. In 2010, North Korea launched a missile attack on the South Korean warship Cheonan, killing 46 people, and then North Korea shelled South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, killing four South Koreans. These were both clearly acts of war, but China staunchly defended North Korea, and South Korea was unable to retaliate.

However, it's been clear that China has been running out of patience with North Korea's renegade leader Kim Jong-un, who has been conducting nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests that are violations of international law and are strongly opposed by China. So analysts are wondering under what circumstances China would invade North Korea, either to defend it against South Korea and the US, or to take control of North Korea for its own purposes.

An analysis by the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post suggests that China is no longer obliged to defend North Korea from military attack under the 1961 treaty, since North Korea has repeatedly violated the treaty.

The treaty requires both nations to safeguard peace and security, and for China, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons in violation of the United Nations treaty on non-proliferation could amount to a breach of their pact, leaving Beijing with no obligation to lend a hand.

According to Li Jie, a retired Chinese naval colonel:

"It’s hard to say how China would assist North Korea militarily in case of war, since North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, an act that might have already breached the treaty between the two nations."

A different analysis in Chinese state sponsored Global Times acknowledges that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons is intolerable to the United States, and notes that Trump has warned that if China doesn't take care of North Korea's nuclear weapons, then the US will.

According to the analysis, China would be willing to impose even harsher sanctions on North Korea, including the devastating sanction of ending oil imports, if China continues its illegal testing:

"If Pyongyang conducts its sixth nuclear test in the near future, the possibility of US military action against it will be higher than ever. Not only is Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises.

Now the Trump team seems to have decided to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis. As the discussion runs deeper, a situation of no-solution will not be accepted.

A new nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile test, if conducted by Pyongyang at this time, will be a slap in the face of the US government and will intensify the confrontation between North Korea and the US.

Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang's new nuclear actions. China will not remain indifferent to Pyongyang's aggravating violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution.

More and more Chinese support the view that the government should enhance sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear activities. If the North makes another provocative move this month, the Chinese society will be willing to see the UNSC adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North. Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program is intended for securing the regime, however, it is reaching a tipping point. Pyongyang hopes its gamble will work, but all signs point to the opposite direction.

The US is making up its mind to stop the North from conducting further nuclear tests. It doesn't plan to co-exist with a nuclear-armed Pyongyang."

A third analysis was performed by KGS Nightwatch by examining some Chinese government and military newsletters that have addressed North Korea's nuclear weapons developments in recent days. This analysis addresses a different question: Under what circumstances would China intervene militarily in North Korea. There are four tripwires listed in the analysis:

South Korea's media reported earlier this week that the Chinese army has deployed about 150,000 troops in two groups to northeastern China near the Yalu River, "to prepare for unforeseen circumstances," in view of the arrival of the Carl Vinson strike force.

However, China has denied deploying these troops.

There's a surreal quality of fantasy about these reports of Chinese military actions. China is planning this or that military action with no fear of losses or of international retribution, as if the Chinese were invincible. And whenever I read about China's military plans about anything, I get the feeling of invincibility, as if they're saying, "All we want is peace and stability, so just do as we command you to do and there will always be peace and stability; and if you don't, then we'll just kill you, and we'll get peace and stability that way."

So let's make it clear. Any of the military actions discussed in this article, even a "small" military action, will spiral into something bigger in this generational Crisis era, and will spiral further into a world war within weeks or at most a few months. Nobody is invicible here, and China would be worse off than many, because it would be fighting both a civil war and an external war. I've estimated that a world war will kill 3-4 billion people from nuclear weapons, ground war, disease and starvation, leaving 3-4 billion traumatized survivors behind to hold peace conferences and rebuild the world. South China Monring Post (Hong Kong) and Global Times (Beijing) and KGS Nightwatch and Chosun (South Korea) (Trans) and Global Times (Beijing)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Apr-17 World View -- North Korea's neighbors tense as the 'Day of the Sun' approaches on Saturday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Apr-17 World View -- Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president

Ahmadinejad waits for the appearance of the Mahdi

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a 'V for Victory' sign after registering on Wednesday to run for president
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a 'V for Victory' sign after registering on Wednesday to run for president

Iran's colorful former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had already served two consecutive terms, from 2005-2013, on Wednesday astonished people both inside and outside of Iran by filling out and submitting registration forms for the May 19 presidential election.

Ahmadinejad reversed an earlier decision not to run. In September of last year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said he would not find it advisable for Ahmadinejad to seek a comeback to politics "both for his own and the country’s good." At the time, Ahmadinejad said that he would not run, but now he's changed his mind.

After filling out the registration forms on Wednesday, he made a "V for Victory" sign and said, "The Leader advised me not to participate in the elections, and I accepted. His advice, however, shouldn’t be taken to mean that I’m banned."

There are three major categories of Iranian politicians, with Ahmadinejad among the most hardline extreme, the "principlists," who insist on adhering to the extreme "principles" of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution. They are mostly in the old geezer generation of survivors of the Revolution. They impose strict social laws, such as requiring headscarves, forbidding unrelated male-female couples in public, no street music in public, and so forth.

Iran's current president, Hassan Rouhani, is in the middle category called the "moderates" or "pragmatists," who are often as hardline as the principlists, but who are in favor of gradual reforms. (The "reformists" are in the younger generations, and favor immediate reforms.)

So it would seem that the major campaign battle will be the principlist Ahmadinejad and the moderate Rouhani. But the Supreme Leader, who is the principlist-in-chief, does not like Ahmadinejad, and has put forth his own principlist candidate, Ebrahim Raisi. And since Khamenei controls the Guardian Council, which has the final say on who's allowed to run, it's expected that Khamenei will see to it that Ahmadinejad is disqualified.

But wait! This is actually even more bizarre than it seems so far.

Ahmadinejad has made a statement that he is not really planning to run for president, and has implied that the only reason that he's registering to run is to support his former vice president Hamid Baghaei.

In fact, Ahmadinejad put on a spectacular show on Wednesday. Ahmadinejad walked Baghaei through the registration process, ostensibly with no other purpose. But as soon as Baghaei registered, Ahmadinejad started to leave, but then suddenly turned around, and pulled out his own registration documents in front of a melee of shouting journalists and stunned officials.

So how does this help Ahmadinejad's deputy Baghaei run for office? Because Khamenei would find an excuse to disqualify Baghaei, in order to get his own candidate Raisi to win. But with Ahmadinejad running, Khamenei would have to disqualify both Ahmadinejad and Baghaei, and that would apparently be too politically difficult.

And to top it off, another of Ahmadinejad's close allies, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, also registered to vote. So Khamenei would have to disqualify Ahmadinejad and two of Ahmadinejad's allies.

When Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005, he and Khamenei got along well. But even principlists have policy differences, and by the time of Ahmadinejad's reelection in 2009, Khamenei refused to give Ahmadinejad the perfunctory kiss on the cheek. During Ahmadinejad's second term, Khamenei repeatedly humiliated Ahmadinejad, and Ahmadinejad adopted policies with the partial objective of infuriating Khamenei. There's little doubt that what Ahmadinejad did on Wednesday will be particularly infuriating to Khamenei. Tehran Times and AP

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Ahmadinejad waits for the appearance of the Mahdi

As mentioned above, a top aide and close of friend of Ahmadinejad, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, also registered to run for president.

In 2009 Khamenei accused Mashaei and other Ahmadinejad aides of being sorcerers, of using "supernatural powers," and of being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

The charges of sorcery are related to the devout belief, held by Ahmadinejad and Mashaei, in the Mahdaviat -- the Shia Muslim belief that the Mahdi (or "the 12'th Imam" or "the Hidden Imam") is coming to save mankind. This belief is roughly equivalent to the Christian belief in the second coming of Christ, or the Buddhist belief in the Maitreya -- that a new Buddha is to appear on earth, and will achieve complete enlightenment. Ahmadinejad disobeyed Supreme Leader Khamenei in several matters, which is considered to be equivalent to disobeying God. But Ahmadinejad was just paving the way for the return of the Hidden Imam, and was using his claim that the Hidden Imam's return is imminent as a justification for disobeying Khamenei. Thus, the charges of sorcery.

It's possible that the belief in the Mahdi is related to some of Ahmadinejad's conspiracy theories.

Probably the most famous of his conspiracy theories is that the Holocaust never occurred, but was put forth by a conspiracy of Zionists.

On other occasions, he said that Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush were friends, and that the West had engineered HIV aids.

That was far-fetched enough, but even more far-fetched was his claim in 2012 that Western technology was preventing the rain from falling in Iran:

"Today our country is moving towards drought, which is partly unintentional due to industry and partly intentional, as a result of the enemy destroying the clouds moving towards our country and this is a war that Iran is going to overcome.

I feel that the world arrogance and colonization, by using their technologies, are affecting the environmental situation in Iran."

In 2007, Ahmadinejad gave a speech at Columbia University in New York, and made this claim: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you we have it." He drew hysterical laughter.

As I've been writing for many years, Iran is basically a schizophrenic nation. Its principlist top leadership, starting with the supreme leader, are survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, an extremely bloody civil war. Like generational crisis war survivors in any country, these leaders imposed austere rules and institutions designed to prevent another bloody civil war, and this has led them to adopt a harsh anti-Western attitude. But the generations born after the crisis war have no such motivation, and Iran's younger generations are, in fact, reformists and generally pro-Western and have no particular desire to see Israel pushed into the sea.

In the late 1990s, college students in these younger generations started holding pro-Western and pro-American protests, during Iran's generational Awakening era. Khamenei and the Iran hardliners brutally suppressed those protests, but doing so didn't change minds. Today, those students are in their 30s, and have risen to positions of power, ready to take over when the current hardline leadership dies off. They are generally pro-Western and pro-American, and consider Saudi Arabia to be an existential threat. This is one of several reasons why I've been saying for years that, in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, Iran will be an ally of the United States, along with Russia and India, versus China, Pakistan, and the Sunni Muslim countries. Newsweek and Al Monitor (15-Mar)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Apr-17 World View -- Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defies Supreme Leader and runs for president thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Apr-17 World View -- Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground

The Le Touquet treaty, which moves Britain's border into France, will be reconsidered

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground


Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, burnt to the ground Monday night (Telegraph)
Grande-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, France, burnt to the ground Monday night (Telegraph)

Huge fires burned to the ground a Dunkirk migrant camp in northern France, populated by 1,600 refugees who were there in the camp in the hope of reaching Britain, usually by sneaking onto trucks and ferries crossing the English Channel.

The camp had been built by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), including hundreds of wooden huts. The camp opened in March 2016 as the first camp in France to meet international humanitarian standards, where migrant families could live in relatively dignified conditions in heated wooden cabins. However, conditions deteriorated within a few months as hundreds more migrants arrived at the camp. Tensions were high in the camp because the number of people living there far exceeded the capacity of the camp, which was more like 700.

The population of the camp was originally Iraqi and Kurdish migrants. But when migrant camp known as "The Jungle" in nearby Calais was closed down in October of last year, a large number of the 7,000 migrants that had been housed there moved to the Dunkirk camp, which has been called "the new jungle." Many of these new arrivals were afghans who did not get along with the Iraqis and Kurds, resulting in tensions that sometimes led to violence.

The first fire broke out early Monday evening, following fighting between groups of migrants of different nationalities. Some 600 migrants took part in the fighting. The fights continued late into the night, and several hours later, additional fires burned down almost all of the wooden huts, leaving nothing behind but ashes. According to French officials, multiple fires must have been set on purpose.

The migrants had been evacuated and rehoused in gymnasiums that had been empty and were converted into temporary emergency shelter in the Dunkirk suburb of Grande-Synthe. However, those can only accommodate 900 people. Some migrants say that they'll return to Calais and set up makeshift camps.

Officials are unable to say how long the migrants will stay in the gymnasiums, or what will happen to them next. With the warm weather of summer, a new flood of migrants is expected. RFI and Independent (London) and New Statesman

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The Le Touquet treaty, which moves Britain's border into France, will be reconsidered

The Le Touquet Treaty of 2003 was designed to allow France and Britain each to perform its border checks in the other country, as if there were land borders between the two countries, rather than just a sea border.

Without this treaty, a person traveling by ferry from France to Britain would be allowed to travel, and would only get an immigration check once he arrived in Britain. But under the treaty, Britain can perform immigration checks while the traveler is still in France, and block the person from traveling to Britain.

Many people blame the existence of the refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk on the Le Touquet Treaty. According to their reasoning, if migrants could simply get on a ferry to Britain, then the refugee camps would be in Dover rather than in Calais or Dunkirk.

When Britain passed the "Brexit referendum" on June 23 of last year, calling for Britain to leave the European Union, some French officials immediately began calling for an end to the Le Touquet treaty.

In the months that followed, French and British reaffirmed their commitment to the treaty. However, that may not continue. In the upcoming French presidential election, all three leading candidates in the French presidential election are promising to withdraw from this treaty. Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London - 30-Aug-2016) and Economist and PDF: Text of 2003 Le Touquet Treaty

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Apr-17 World View -- Migrant camp in northern France housing 1,600 people burnt to the ground thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Apr-17 World View -- India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence

Why is a US carrier group strike force going to the Korean peninsula?

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence


A burned out bus following an attack by separatists on Sunday (PTI)
A burned out bus following an attack by separatists on Sunday (PTI)

India has been forced to delay a second round of elections in Kashmir, scheduled for Wednesday, after the first round of elections in Sunday sparked a large surge on Sunday by separatists.

The large surge in violence left eight people dead and injured more than 100. Two middle schools, designated as polling stations, were burnt down on Sunday night.

Separatists had called for a boycott of the election, and in the city Srinagar were using barbed wire and burnt tires to block the roads, to prevent voters from reaching the polling stations. Hundreds of youth threw stones and petrol bombs at security forces, who wore helmets and carried batons to subdue the protesters. However, the security forces were forced to withdraw, after the boycott was almost total. Government sources counted nearly 200 separate incidents of violence.

Although there have been periods of violence in Indian-controlled Kashmir in the past, the new round of violence is significantly different according to several measures:

The low voter turnout is particularly significant. In previous elections, even when there was some violence, voter turnout was 25-40%, and that was considered to be a sign that, despite the separatist protests, most people supported the government. The low voter turnout is a major change that is being blamed on the Election Commission (EC), which finally was forced to reschedule the second round of elections from Wednesday to May 25, handing a victory to the separatists.

As I wrote in my detailed analysis earlier in the month, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Kashmir is replaying previous generations of violence according to a fairly standard template.

India's previous two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, which pitted Hindu nationalists against British colonists, and the 1947 Partition War, one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, pitting Hindus versus Muslims, following the partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan.

The survivors of a generational crisis war are so traumatized that they spend their lives doing everything possible to keep it from happening again. However, younger generations growing up after the war have no such concerns, and when the generations of survivors retire and die, then a new generational crisis war emerges among the younger generations.

The surging violence in Kashmir is extremely dangerous, and could spread and spiral into something much larger during the hot summer. BBC and New Delhi TV and First Post and India Times

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Hindu activists push for ban on cow slaughter across India

It's an old saying that Hindus and Muslims can't live together because Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows. These differences, which seem so odd to the Western mind, raise such powerful emotions in both Muslims and Hindus that they played an important role in both of the previous generational crisis wars, the 1857 Rebellion and the 1947 Partition War.

Now there's a new demand by Hindu nationalists to ban cow slaughter across the country. Cow vigilantism has frequently triggered violence between Hindus and Muslims in India, especially when Muslims kill cows for meat, and preventing Muslims from eating beef appears to a major part of the motivation for the proposed ban on cow slaughter.

However, opponents of the ban say that a ban on cow slaughter would be bad for the cow, and that the end result is that cows would no longer exist except in zoos. For that reason, opponents are demanding that if the proposed ban is passed, then the government must budget money to give to dairy farmers to protect the cow, and must provide an adoption scheme for cattle that are past productive age or male. First Post and Indian Express

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Why is a US carrier group strike force going to the Korean peninsula?

In yesterday's article, I described that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force left Singapore and headed for the Korean peninsula, possibly for some confrontation with North Korea, and I wondered what the objective was. In particular, I wondered how long the strike force was going to remain there.

A couple of readers have provided me with possible explanations. One reader said that the Carl Vinson would have to remain only until the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system could be fully deployed in South Korea:

"But they're waiting for the next test launch of a potentially nuclear tipped missile by the North Korean's insane dictator. Then they'll shoot it out of the sky. A little target practice, shall we say. As they might say in Texas -- "pull!"

See, the THAAD is just starting to be installed in South Korea, and obviously that takes some time, so it's not ready yet. ...

[The carrier strike force is] equipped with the Aegis variant of functionality quite similar to THAAD - just sea based. I know a bit about this, since I used to work for the Navy supplier FMC (now BAE Systems), who makes the Rail Gun and the 5-inch/54 caliber (Mk 45) lightweight gun.

And it's a legitimate move to shoot down any such North Korean missile, even if it's just a test. How do we know whether or not it's just a test? Are we supposed to give it 10 minutes and see whether it's trajectory is aimed at LA? Better shoot it down, just in case. ... The carrier group serves as an interim THAAD until the full THAAD is installed and working. That will allow the Seoulians to sleep better at night (you said yourself that they're getting a bit nervous)."

Another reader pointed out that the birthday of the grandfather of the current leader is fast approaching, and the leader might be planning a major provocation on that date:

"15 April is Kim Il-Sung's birthday, and is a holiday in NK called "Day of the Sun" ("Il-Sung" in Korean means "become the Sun.") The North Koreans have a history of staging provocations (missile and nuclear tests) so it's likely the Vinson battle group will be on hand just in case Kim Jong-Un gets stroppy."

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Apr-17 World View -- India forced to delay Kashmir elections after large surge in violence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Apr-17 World View -- US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula

Egypt in 3-month state of emergency after Coptic church bombings

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt in 3-month state of emergency after Coptic church bombings


Church bombing in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday
Church bombing in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday

Coordinated bombing attacks on two different Coptic Orthodox Christian churches in two different cities in Egypt killed at least 45 people and injured over 100. Both churches were crowded with worshippers at the Palm Sunday service.

Palm Sunday falls each year one week before Easter, which this year occurs on April 16 for both Western and Orthodox Christians. Palm Sunday is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

The Sinai terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem) took credit for the both bombings. The group changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

ABM has taken credit for the December 11, 2016, bombing of the St Peter and St Paul chapel adjoining Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, killing 29, and promised to attack more Christian targets. Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's population.

Egypt’s President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi declared a state of emergency in Egypt for three months. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. Human rights organizations have expressed concern that the state of emergency will permit al-Sisi to take on additional dictatorial powers, and will abuse those powers. The dictator Hosni Mubarak imposed a similar state of emergency for 20 years, before being ousted in 2011 by the "Arab Spring." Al Ahram (Cairo) and BBC and Al Jazeera

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US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula


Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force in March (AFP)
Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force in March (AFP)

The US Pacific Command announced on Saturday that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike force has left Singapore and is headed for the Korean peninsula. It was diverted from previous plans for carrier exercises and port visits in Australia.

This action takes on special significance because it appears to be similar to the action taken last week in the Mediterranean Sea just before the US Navy launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles to attack targets in Syria, following the Syrian regime's use of Sarin gas, a forbidden WMD (weapon of mass destruction).

North Korea has been testing ballistic missile systems and nuclear weapons, a WMD forbidden to North Korea by UN Security Council resolutions. Experts warn that North Korea is getting closer to deploying a nuclear-tipped rocket capable of reaching the United States mainland, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia and China. Thus there is speculation, completely unconfirmed, that President Donald Trump might order a missile strike on North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development facilities, in order to at least delay further development. According to one military analyst:

"It's a well-timed move. We obviously don't have the ability to strike their nuclear facilities, they are buried deep underground, but we can go after the missiles themselves while they are fueling. It's a signal to the North Koreans that we will, for the time being, have the ability to attack those facilities."

The Carl Vinson Strike Group has massive striking power and has the capability to intercept ballistic missiles. The group includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57).

President Trump has been pressuring China to try to force North Korea to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile development program, and has recently said that "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will."

When Trump met last week with China's president Xi Jinping, North Korea was a major topic of discussion between the two leaders, but reports indicate that that no agreement was reached on how to end the threat from North Korea.

Instead, there was nothing but posturing and impossible demands. Trump demands that China prevent North Korea's further missile and nuclear development. China has agreed to implement the sanctions demanded by the UN Security Council, and most recently says that it has stopped importing coal from North Korea. However, there are some reports that North Korea is looking for other markets in which to sell its coal, and Russia may be one of them. At any rate, there really is nothing realistic that China can do, short of military action, to stop North Korea's missile and nuclear development.

China demands that the US agree to a "dual suspension" on the Korean peninsula, cancelling its joint military drills with South Korea in return for a moratorium on North Korean testing, and then promising to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea. The US has repeatedly been duped by North Korea when entering such agreements, and there is no chance that Trump will allow the US to be duped again. So China's demands are also completely unrealistic.

So this brings us to the obvious question: Why is the Carl Vinson strike group heading for the Korean peninsula, and what has it been ordered to do when it gets there? Is it just going to sit there and wait for something to happen, and leave in a few weeks having accomplished nothing, allowing North Korea to continue developing nuclear-tipped rockets capable of hitting the US mainland? Or is some military action planned, with the intention of fulfilling Trump's promise, "If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will"?

One way or another, we'll probably have an answer within a few days. Navy Times and News Corp (Australia) and BBC and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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South Korean anxiety over North Korea and anger at China grow over THAAD deployment

The US has begun deployment in South Korea of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) an advanced anti-missile system that can blast incoming missiles out of the sky.

The stated purpose of the deployment would be to protect South Korea from a North Korean ballistic missile attack. However, China has expressed increasing fury because the system has advanced radar capabilities that would provide early warning for a Chinese missile attack on the United States.

China's fury has taken the form of economic sanctions. China has banned tour groups from visiting China, has removed popular South Korean TV dramas from the internet, and has forced the closure of 75 South Korean Lotte stores in China, resulting in $179 million in losses.

A web site reader living in Seoul has written to me to describe the devastating impact of the actions by China and North Korea:

"China's economic boycott of Korea over THAAD has hit the country like a ton bricks. I went to the flagship Lotte department store today, and it was practically empty. I have friends who own their own businesses, and they tell me they are facing bankruptcy because of the loss of Chinese customers. The thing is, Koreans, by and large, hate the Chinese. This embargo is only heightening the hatred. I think this embargo has finally woken people up to the fact that China is an existential threat to Korea. ...

Tonight, for the first time in my life, Koreans told me they were afraid that war was imminent. I have lived in Asia (on and off) since the 1970s, and I have never heard a Korean say anything like that. Tonight, someone in my office told me that she was scheduled to to visit America in May, but that she was afraid a war would break out before she had a chance to leave. Leaving the office tonight, a co-worker told me she was scared. I was stunned. This can't bode well.

If this is the end, oh well. I just hope I die instantly. I'm worried I won't be killed in the first artillery barrage. As densely packed as Seoul is, the death toll, the carnage, will be beyond belief. ...

I can't believe how much the mood here has flipped. The word 'changed' would be inappropriate. Things are different now. I feel sick."

I guess we can all hope that if we have to die that we die instantly.

This is an appropriate time to repeat what I've written many times in the past. A lot of people believe some variation of "X and Y won't go to war, because it's bad for business." Actually, the opposite is true, as we're seeing in the case of Lotte. If two countries have a business relationship, then the business relationship won't prevent war, but instead will turn into one more weapon of war. CBS News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Apr-17 World View -- US aircraft carrier strike force heads for Korean peninsula thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Apr-17 World View -- Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role

Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role


German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, 'This attack by the United States of America is understandable, given the aspect of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people and given the logjam in the UN Security Council.'
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, 'This attack by the United States of America is understandable, given the aspect of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people and given the logjam in the UN Security Council.'

The events of the past week were not only a major humiliation to Russia, but will also have to trigger a major strategic change in Russia's foreign policy.

The unexpected US cruise missile strike in response to the horrific Sarin gas attack by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people, left Russia scrambling to take face-saving measures. So Russia canceled its "deconfliction agreement" with US designed to prevent accidental clashes between the two air forces in Syria, though this agreement will almost certainly be restored within weeks. War criminal al-Assad did his part by ordering new air strikes on the same town, Khan Sheikhoun, but this with conventional weapons. However, to bring the point home, al-Assad committed a new war crime when his missiles struck a hospital where people are recovering from al-Assad's Sarin gas attack. Russia, Syria and Iran may take further retaliatory moves.

However, the big picture is that this week's events will require a strategic change in Russia's policies.

As I reported in April, 2011, Russia at that time adopted a policy of using the United Nations Security Council to cripple Nato and US foreign policy, a strategy that has been very successful for them for six years.

Early in 2011, Russia had abstained on the UNSC resolution authorizing a "humanitarian" military action in Libya. As the Libyan intervention unfolded, Russia viewed the increasingly complex situation as "mission creep," and regretted not vetoing the resolution.

After that, Russia demanded that Nato and the US strictly limit their activities, and Russia would back up this demand by vetoing any attempt to go further than Russia desired. This would allow Russia to effectively control many activities of Nato and the US, since only activities approved by the Security Council, and hence by Russia, could ever be permitted.

This set up a "double standard," because Russia would do what it wanted, without seeking approval from the UNSC. Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded East Ukraine and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it, without asking the UNSC. At the same time, any military action by the West would have to be approved by the UNSC.

Now President Trump has done the same thing, ordering a military strike without asking the UNSC. This act nullifies the policies adopted by Russia in 2011, and requires a change in direction, though the nature of that change remains to be seen. AP and CNBC and CNN

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President Trump reinstates the 'Truman Doctrine'

Russia now has to throw out that "double standard" strategy, because the new US administration is willing to do what Russia has been doing all along-- take military action when considered necessary, without asking permission from the UN Security Council (nor, by the way, from the US Congress).

President Donald Trump seems willing to reinstate the "Truman Doctrine" that had been repudiated by President Obama. President Harry Truman announced the Truman Doctrine in 1947, essentially making America the "policeman of the world." Truman's justification is that it's better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. The Truman Doctrine was reaffirmed in President John Kennedy's "ask not" speech, and every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman.

The concept of America being the "world's policeman" was very controversial in 1947 and it's very controversial today. And yet, we've seen what's happened in the last eight years, when the world had no policeman.

There are news reports of a power struggle in the White House, and that power struggle can be interpreted as a disagreement over reinstating the Truman Doctrine. Reportedly, Steve Bannon opposes military actions like the one this week in Syria, while Jared Kushner favors it. The outcome of this power struggle, which goes to the heart of the Truman Doctrine concepts, could have a defining effect on American foreign policy, as well as on Russia's foreign policy. Guardian (London)

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Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria

America's missile strike in Syria has received widespread praise as a valid response to Bashar al-Assad's war crimes, but not with President Trump's base.

I saw this myself in the stream of comments to the Breitbart version of my April 6 article "President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians."

Most of the comments appeared from people among Trump's strongest supporters, but they were shocked by this article, because they believed that Trump would never order a military intervention in the Mideast, something that many of them oppose. A lot of anger was directed at me, accusing me of "fake news," and accusing me of being a "Libtard" and trying to mislead people.

But all that changed on Thursday evening around 10 PM ET, when reports of the military action started coming out, proving that the article was completely accurate. At that point, the anger that many of the commenters had directed at me began to be directed at President Trump.

Some of the comments were completely delusional, such as describing the Sarin gas attack as a "false flag" operation, sometimes going so far as to accuse Trump of ordering the Sarin attack himself in order to have an excuse to bomb Syria. Probably the angriest comments were some variation of the delusional "false flag" claim.

At the other end of the spectrum were comments that were very thoughtful. Many people posted variations of "I voted for Trump, but I didn't vote for this." There were some detailed analyses of why we should never go into the Mideast, saying that we've tried in the past and never accomplished anything, and one person saying that we should let them kill each other so that they won't try to kill us.

However, in the mainstream media, in the US, Europe and the Mideast, comments by world leaders have been extremely supportive, almost verging on euphoria that the US is showing leadership once more.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both the controversy and the euphoria are to be expected at a military attack that could begin an all-out war. Any military attack is going to be controversial, but the population can also easily become heavily invested and become euphoric.

Here's how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how the euphoria at the beginning of a war is itself highly delusional in his 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery:

"The passions excited in the national psyche by the onset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in its potential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction that "everything was at stake," and the threat of death and defeat functioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening the tension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied the declarations of war in Charleston in 1861 [American Civil War], Paris in 1870 [Franco-Prussian war], and the capitals of the major European powers in 1914 [World War I] were anticipatory celebrations of victory -- since nations are as incapable of imagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving their own death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted by Burckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturing in which nations now engaged when declaring war.

The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classic manifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are not convinced of their military superiority, there will be no confrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply flee the field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment the confidence of one side fails. The will to fight ("morale") evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seeks salvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. The Greek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time (the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated the spot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments, yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy." (p. 6-7)

The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, usually some kind of military disaster, such as the Battle of Bull Run in 1861 or the Bataan Death March in 1941.

The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disaster occurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitz describes what happens:

"The effect of defeat outside the army -- on the people and on the government -- is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis. It's a blow to the whole nervous system of the losing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect may appear to a greater or lesser degree, but it's never completely missing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with a spirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will be futile; or he does nothing, leaving everything to Fate."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that cause this "sudden collapse" and "total destruction" of self-confidence are called "regeneracy events," because they regenerate civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.

You don't need any particular methodology to understand that the whole world has become increasingly unstable in the last ten years. Because the political atmosphere is already extremely vitriolic and is likely to worsen further, it's worth repeating what I've written many times: Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. This is coming with 100% certainty, irrespective of who is president. Furthermore, the president can neither cause nor prevent this outcome. Maybe Trump's missile attack will speed up this war, or maybe it will delay it. It could go either way. If Hillary Clinton had won, she might have made the same missile attack for the same reasons that Trump did. It's impossible to tell. The only thing that we can be sure of is that we have no way of knowing what the scenario will be, only that a regional war will be the result, in this generational Crisis era. CNN and philly.com

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Apr-17 World View -- Russia's policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its 'world policeman' role thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Apr-17 World View -- Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms

Taiwan and Japan try to settle their disputes peacefully

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms


The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)
The Senkaku Islands are thought to be in the midst of vast gas and oil resources (Reuters)

Japan's government has announced plans to repopulate a cluster of 148 small, rocky islands in the hope of deterring China from unilaterally declaring that they're China's sovereign territory, as it has done illegally in the South China Sea.

Among these are the Senkaku Islands, which have been the focus military near-confrontations in the past few years. The population of the remote islands has declined by 51.3% since 1955, and restoring even small population on 71 of the outlying islands could deter China. There are around 6,800 islands in the archipelago, and

The announcement calls for the construction of civic facilities, the purchasing of land, the improvement of ports and stopping foreign vessels from illegally visiting the islands.

The greatest focus has been on the Senkaku Islands, – a chain of five uninhabited islets and three barren rocks in the East China Sea – were uninhabited until 1895 when Japan laid claim to them. In the ensuing decades, the Japanese populated the chain and even set up a fish-processing plant on one of the islands. The United States took control of the islands during the occupation of Japan following World War II, and handed them back in 1972. At that time, China claimed the islands, citing ancient texts and maps, and claiming that Japan's actions in 1895 were illegal.

In early February, three Chinese warships sailed into the water near the Senkaku Islands, risking a military confrontation and stoking tensions between the two countries.

Even riskier is the increased intrusion into Japanese airspace of Chinese military aircraft, usually other fighter jets, sometimes a bomber or reconnaissance plane. The number of such intrusions is now averaging two per day since April of last year, nearly twice as many as in the prior 12 months. Japan responds to each such intrusion by scrambling up to four F-15 fighter jets to intercept the Chinese military aircraft.

Analysts are concerned that the situation in the East China Sea is becoming more and more volatile, more so than even in the South China Sea, where China has illegally built artificial islands nad military bases, and that a war in the East China Sea could break out at any time.

The populations of Japan and China have become highly nationalistic over their respective claims to these islands, in this generational Crisis era. The frequency of these intrusions by both warships and warplanes and the resulting intercepts raise the possibility of an accident or miscalculation that could spiral into something bigger. Japan Times and CNBC and Fox News and American Interest

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Taiwan and Japan try to settle their disputes peacefully

Last week, a report from a nationalist Japanese media source accused Taiwan to sending a record high number of scientific research vessels to "intrude" into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near the Senkaku Islands, which are claimed by Taiwan as well as by China and Japan. The report suggested that Taiwan's "unauthorized activities" included fishing in addition to illegal maritime research.

If this kind of dispute had arisen between China and Japan, there might have been a military confrontation by now. But Taiwan and Japan, who presumably want to cooperate because of their common enemy (China), have a history of settling these kinds of disputes peacefully in recent years.

In April 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement to address a decades-long dispute over fishing in contested waters in the East China Sea. On October 31 of last year, the two sides agreed to meet at least once a year and to establish two working groups — one on fishery cooperation and another regarding cooperation in scientific research. China Post (Taiwan) and Japan Times and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Apr-17 World View -- Japan to repopulate 148 remote islands, as confrontation with China looms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands

President Trump orders missile strikes on Bashar al-Assad's Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President Trump orders missile strikes on Bashar al-Assad's Syria


A diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016.  (Oceana Philippines)
A diver checks out the coral cover during an expedition at Benham Rise last May 2016. (Oceana Philippines)

As I'm writing this on Thursday evening, American ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea have launched dozens of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airbase in Syria. This airbase was chosen because it's believed that Monday's nerve gas attack was launched from this airbase. The attack appears to the following the outline that I described in yesterday's article, though it apparently caught some analysts by surprise that the military action occurred so quickly after the nerve gas attack. It's not expected that this will be followed by a long series of further military actions. Washington Post

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Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands

Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday ordered the army to deploy troops to "nine or 10" unoccupied islands and reefs in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea that are owned or claimed by the Philippines. According to his televised announcement

"The unoccupied, which our ours, let’s live on it. It looks like everybody is making a grab for the islands there, so we better live on those that are still vacant.

At least, let us get what is ours now and make a strong point there that it is ours.

“We try to be friends with everybody, but we have to maintain our jurisdiction, at least [in] the areas that we control I have ordered the armed forces to occupy all these islands and put up the Philippine flag to occupy all these. ...

This coming Independence Day [June 12], I may go to Pagasa to raise the flag. We want to make a strong point that that is ours."

Duterte also said "bunkers or houses and provisions for habitation" were to be built. Analysts are pointing out that this cannot be accomplished, because the islands and reefs are too small. For that reason, some analysts are speculating Duterte would like to initiate reclamation activities to create artificial islands, as the Chinese have been doing, although that kind of reclamation is probably too expensive for the Philippines budget.

China has not yet commented on Duterte's order, but is certain to express the usual furious outrage. China has claimed the entire South China Sea as its sovereign territory, and has built artificial islands and military bases. However, these claims and activities that were declared illegal in a harsh ruling by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, in a case brought by the Philippines. Daily Inquirer (Manila) and Reuters and Washington Post

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Philippines sends warship to Benham Rise to protect from China

Benham Rise is not in the South China Sea, but is east of the Philippines, and part of the country's continental shelf. According to Philippines' defense secretary Delfin Lorenzana:

"The navy will henceforth regularly patrol Benham Rise partly due to past Chinese activities there but more importantly, because it is part of our continental shelf and awarded to us by the United Nations."

In 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf confirmed that Benham Rise is part of the Philippines' continental shelf. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the continental shelf comprises the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas 200 nautical miles (NM), or 370 kilometers, from a state's baselines.

According to Philippines media, China has been surreptitiously exploring Benham Rise for several months, breaking international and Philippine laws in scouring the seabed and waters without permission. China claimed that vessels were there for "innocent passage," but Chinese activities have turned out to have two objectives: First, to determine possible submarine hiding areas for future submarine warfare, and second, to determine through sound reflection and refraction possible oil and gas.

China's activities in Benham Rise have incited a public furor, and may be the reason for Duterte's orders to the army to occupy South China Sea islands. Philippine Star and The Rappler (Philippines)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Apr-17 World View -- Philippines president Duterte orders military to occupy South China Sea islands thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Apr-17 World View -- President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians

John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate cruise missiles and safe areas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians


In a very dramatic gesture, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Security Council stands and displays picture of baby killed by nerve gas and excoriates Russia's ambassador for supporting al-Assad, saying, 'How many more children have to die before Russia cares?'
In a very dramatic gesture, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the Security Council stands and displays picture of baby killed by nerve gas and excoriates Russia's ambassador for supporting al-Assad, saying, 'How many more children have to die before Russia cares?'

President Donald Trump on Wednesday made it clear that he's planning some sort of action against Syria. Although he did not specify what kind of action, saying that he didn't want to telegraph his plans, he did imply that military action is planned.

The change of mind was triggered by a horrific chemical nerve gas attack on Syrian civilians on Monday, indiscriminately killing dozens of people. The pictures of children being killed apparently particularly affected Trump. The nerve gas was delivered in bombs warplanes, which could only have been warplanes from the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. After the nerve gas attack, another missile attack struck the hospital where nerve gas attacks had been taken, effectively putting the hospital out of service. There was clearly an intent to kill as many people as possible, including women and children.

Syrian state media denied that that Syria was responsible:

"The government of the Syrian Arab republic categorically denies the allegations and false accusations about the use of poisonous, chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab army in Khan Sheikhoun region against Syrian civilians who are besieged by the armed terrorist groups as human shields there, Syria also affirms that the Syrian army doesn’t possess any kind of chemical weapons and it has not used them and it won’t use them in the future."

The above statement contains known lies. Syria has provably used Sarin gas and chlorine gas in bombs in the past. No part of the above statement is credible, in view of the evidence. ARA News (Syria) and SANA (Damascus)

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President Trump declares that he's changed his mind about military action

At a news conference on Tuesday, Trump commented on Monday's nerve gas attack in Syria, explaining why he changed his mind:

"Yesterday, a chemical attack -- a chemical attack that was so horrific, in Syria, against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerate. ...

Well, I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand. And when he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat. I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country. ...

I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly, I will tell you that. It is now my responsibility. It was a great opportunity missed. ...

It crossed a lot of lines for me. When you kill innocent children, innocent babies -- babies, little babies -- with a chemical gas that is so lethal -- people were shocked to hear what gas it was -- that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines."

In 2013, Bashar al-Assad launched a Sarin gas attack against civilians, after President Barack Obama has said that doing so would "cross a red line." At that time, Trump tweeted the following:

"AGAIN, TO OUR VERY FOOLISH LEADER, DO NOT ATTACK SYRIA - IF YOU DO MANY VERY BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN & FROM THAT FIGHT THE U.S. GETS NOTHING!"

However, Trump has now reversed those sentiments, and is blaming Obama for not intervening in 2013. However, he's not calling it "a flip-flop," instead ascribing it to flexibility:

"I like to think of myself as a very flexible person. I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don’t change. Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I’m proud of that flexibility. And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me -- big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.

And I have that flexibility, and it’s very, very possible -- and I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much. And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas. You’re now talking about a whole different level."

He says that he will not reveal his plans, but implies that the plans are military (as opposed to, say, sanctions):

"Well, one of the things I think you’ve noticed about me is, militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I doing. And I watched past administrations say, we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour. ...

I watched Mosul, where the past administration was saying, we will be attacking in four months. And I said, why are they doing that? Then a month goes by, and they say, we will be attacking in three months, and then two months, and then we will be attacking next week. And I’m saying, why are they doing that? And as you know, Mosul turned out to be a much harder fight than anyone thought, and a lot of people have been lost in that fight. I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you, as much as I respect you, John."

White House

Marco Rubio says Trump's policy emboldened Bashar al-Assad

In the past, I've criticized President Obama for flip-flopping on his "red line" statement. My point was not that military action should have been pursued. My point was that Obama should never have made a threat that he wasn't going to act upon, since flip-flopping only emboldened Bashar al-Assad to commit worse atrocities.

Now Senator Marco Rubio is making a similar criticism of President Trump. He's referring to recent statements by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Trump administration no longer plans to demand that Bashar al-Assad step down.

According to Rubio:

"In this case now, we have very limited options and look, it's concerning that the Secretary of State, 72 hours ago or a week ago, last Friday, said that the future's up to the people in Syria on what happens with Assad. In essence almost nodding to the idea that Assad was gonna get to stay in some capacity.

I don't think it's a coincidence that a few days later we see this."

Rubio's claim is quite plausible.

One might ask what al-Assad's motivation was for ordering Monday's horrific nerve gas attack. It was so outrageous, and so likely to backfire politically, that it really makes no sense.

Every time I write that Bashar al-Assad is psychopathic monster and war criminal committing genocide against Sunni Muslims in Syria, I get criticized by al-Assad acolytes and paid Russian trolls. But I don't think that there's any doubt about this. Bashar al-Assad is the worst war criminal so far this century, with a psychopathic desire to exterminate all Sunni civilians. Nothing else can explain this insane action.

Al-Assad has never agreed to the peace that was agreed a few months ago in Astana, Kazakhstan, between Iran, Russia and Turkey. In fact, he's never shown any interest in participating in any peace process. I've pointed out many times, that al-Assad clearly has no intention of doing anything but torturing, slaughtering, and exterminating as many Sunni civilians as possible.

Al-Assad has apparently been controlling his urges for political reasons for the last few months. Trump's previous reluctance for military action in Syria, reaffirmed by Tillerson's claims that the US would no longer demand that al-Assad step down have given a free ticket to al-Assad to do anything he wanted, and like an alcoholic who suddenly is told he can start drinking again, al-Assad suddently felt freed to do whatever he wanted. I believe that that's what Rubio meant, and I agree with it. International Business Times

John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate cruise missiles and safe areas

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were interviewed on Fox News on Wednesday evening. Although they were interviewed separately, they made exactly the same points:

Here are the remarks of John McCain (my transcription):

"Those are horrible, and I spoke to the president this morning. He's angry as he well should be , and he's consulting with his military leadership, as well as his Secretary of State, and I have some optimism that he will take some concrete action here.

He is obviously, as we all are, appalled.

Could I make two points. One, this is a legacy of Barack Obama. The last time this happened, Barack Obama said they crossed a red line, called me and Lindsey Graham down to the White House, and did NOTHING. You know, one thing worse than doing nothing is saying you're going to do something as the most powerful leader on earth, and doing nothing.

So this is a legacy of Barack Obama, and it's been going on for the intervening four years. So what we need to do, we need to stop Bashar Assad's planes from flying. And we can do that easily. Just say don't fly, or you're gonna get shot down, and if you start operating out of the six bases that they have, we're going to crater your runways with cruise missiles and other weapons. 41:54

But you can't fly because we're not gonna let you drop nerve gas. We're not gonna let you drop chlorine. We're not gonna let you drop barrel bombs.

You know what barrel bombs are? They're large cylindical things filled with shrapnel. And they explode about 20 feet above the ground, and they indiscriminately kill people.

He's got to be stopped from flying, and we can stop him easily, using our cruise missiles and other capabilities. and we'll tell the Russians, it's your guy, you can join us in stopping him from flying and committing these war crimes.

Then I would have safe zones, and there's a lot of other things, but the first thing we gotta do is stop his ability to slaughter people."

Here are the remarks of Lindsey Graham (my transcription):

QUESTION: "What should President Trump do to Syria?"

GRAHAM: Destroy his air power and create a safe zone in Syria where this never happens again."

QUESTION: "We'd have to bomb their airfields, right? There are Russian planes there."

GRAHAM: "They should move them.

Then I would make sure that the people in Idlib would never be bombed again by Assad. There would be safe havens where people could go back to Syria from Europe and the United States. Talk won't do it. This is a time for Pres Trump to show the world he's not President Obama.

This is a horrible event out of which could come an opportunity to reset the Mideast, to establish his presidency as something different than Obama, to send a dictator to everyone in the world there's a new sheriff in town. And if he would actually hold Assad accountable and protect the innocent people of Syria, it would help us in Iran and North Korea and everywhere else."

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran and the West will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other.

These predictions will come true with absolute certainty, and it would have made no difference whether Trump or Hillary Clinton had been elected president. The events of the last two days are a major step forward along that trend line.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Apr-17 World View -- President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Apr-17 World View -- With Venezuela's Socialism spiraling into chaos, NY Times blames the mess on 'populism'

Organization of American States (OAS) approves scathing condemnation of Venezuela



by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's Socialist government in political crisis as street violence grows


Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens after being bloodied by a Maduro supporter (AP)
Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Juan Requesens after being bloodied by a Maduro supporter (AP)

A march mon Monday by members of Venezuela's National Assembly who were opposed to president Nicolás Maduro's Socialist government was met by men with sticks and rocks by Socialist supporters.

On Tuesday, Venezuelan police attacked protesters with tear gas, water cannons and pepper spray. The clashes began after the authorities closed subway stations, set up checkpoints and cordoned off a square where opponents had planned their latest protest against the Socialist government and a crippling economic crisis.

The protests were triggered by a decision last week by the Maduro-controlled Supreme Court to effectively dissolve the National Assembly and take over its legislative powers, effectively making Maduro a dictator.

Maduro is in control of the presidency, the army, the media, and the courts. The National Assembly was the only body that expressed any opposition to Maduro. Maduro has repeatedly used the courts to reverse any legislative decisions that he didn't like, but this time he was going to eliminate the legislative branch completely.

Maduro has been jailing bakers because there's a bread shortage, and has been jailing factory workers because there's shortage of milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. It seemed that Maduro could get away with anything. So it was to everyone's surprise that Maduro's latest move generated worldwide outrage, even from some normally compliant mainstream media sources. Even Maduro's attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz was opposed to the latest move.

The international opposition caused Venezuela's Supreme Court to reverse the decision on Saturday, but the crisis has continued because it triggered violence in the streets. There were thousands of people on both sides, pro- and anti-Maduro, in a situation where anger is increasing between the "haves" supporting Maduro and the "have-nots" opposed to Maduro. Reuters and Washington Post and Venezuelanalysis

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Organization of American States (OAS) approves scathing condemnation of Venezuela

The Organization of American States (OAS) approved on Monday overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Venezuela restore full constitutional authority to the National Assembly.

However, that decision came at the end of two days of extraordinary brinksmanship.

On April 1, Bolivia assumed the rotating Pro Tempore presidency of the OAS. A meeting had been previously scheduled to discuss the Venezuela situation, but Bolivia is one of the two closest allies to Venezuela's Socialist government, the other one being Ecuador. So the first action taken by the Bolivian representative was to cancel the meeting.

This infuriated other OAS members, led by Costa Rica and Mexico, so they conducted what is being called an "institutional coup," and went ahead with the cancelled meeting. Bolivia protested the move and subsequently walked out of the meeting, joined by Venezuela, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

There were 21 remaining countries at the meeting, and 17 nations approved the resolution, with four abstentions: Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Belize and El Salvador.

According to the text of the resolution:

"EXPRESSING our grave concern regarding the unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and our continuous support for dialogue and negotiation to lead to a peaceful restoration of democratic order,

[The OAS] DECLARES that: The decisions of the Supreme Court of Venezuela to suspend the powers of the National Assembly and to arrogate them to itself are inconsistent with democratic practice and constitute an alteration of the constitutional order of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Notwithstanding the recent revision of some elements of these decisions, it is essential that the Government of Venezuela ensures the full restoration of democratic order."

Pary Rodriguez, Bolivia's OAS representative, said that the resolution is "totally illegal and arbitrary and don’t correspond to the norms of international law." Latin American Herald Tribune and Panama Post and TeleSur

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NY Times blames Venezuela's chaos on 'populism' not Socialism

In a lengthy article that doesn't anywhere contain any form of the world "Socialism," the New York Times blamed Venezuela's massive economic crisis on populism, apparently to take a swipe at Donald Trump.

According to the article:

"When Hugo Chávez took power in Venezuela nearly 20 years ago, the leftist populism he championed was supposed to save democracy. Instead, it has led to democracy’s implosion in the country, marked this past week by an attack on the independence of its Legislature.

Venezuela’s fate stands as a warning: Populism is a path that, at its outset, can look and feel democratic. But, followed to its logical conclusion, it can lead to democratic backsliding or even outright authoritarianism."

This is really laughable. I remember, years ago, when I really admired the NY Times, but since the 1980s it's move progressively leftist, and today no longer reports news.

Socialism has led to disaster every time it's been tried. There have been oceans of blood spilled in the name of Socialism in countries like the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea and China. In fact, Socialism has been such a disaster that every country has been forced to abandon it, including the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, East Germany, and so forth. North Korea hasn't abandoned it, and that whole country is a disaster. Venezuela is headed the same way.

How stupid to you have to be to "believe" in Socialism when it's failed spectacularly every time it's been tried, and has never been successful - not even once?

Actually, as I've written several times in the past, it's pretty easy to prove mathematically that Socialism always collapses.

In 1991, I visited a huge computer show in Hanover, Germany. It was a special occasion because the Berlin Wall had just fallen, and East Germans were visiting the show for the first time. "They're in a state of shock," I was told. "They're still using punched card equipment from the 1950s." Why had Communist East Germany gotten stuck in the 1950s?

The same with Cuba, which is still using automobiles from the 1950s.

In medieval times, a feudal estate with a couple of hundred tenants could be run on a Socialist basis, if the feudal lord desired. All he'd need is one or two "regulators" to make sure that all prices were fixed and all transactions follow the law.

But as the population grows exponentially, the number of transactions grows exponentially faster, and so the number of "regulators" needed becomes a larger and larger percentage of the population. By the time you have a country with millions of people, every person would have to be a "regulator" to make it work, and obviously that's impossible. So that's why countries like East Germany, North Korea, Russia and Cuba all got stuck in the 1950s until they gave up Socialism. NY Times and News Busters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Apr-17 World View -- With Venezuela's Socialism spiraling into chaos, NY Times blames the mess on 'populism' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Apr-17 World View -- St. Petersburg, Russia, train explosion may be blowback from Syria military intervention

Explosion in St. Petersburg subway kills 11, injures dozens

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Explosion in St. Petersburg subway kills 11, injures dozens


Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of those killed in Monday's terror attack (Tass)
Vladimir Putin lays flowers in memory of those killed in Monday's terror attack (Tass)

St. Petersburg, Russia, has declared three days of mourning, starting from Tuesday, after a bomb exploded on Monday afternoon on a train full of passengers traveling between two stations, killing 11 and injuring dozens. Later, a much larger unexploded bomb was found in a metro station.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin was in the city when the blast occurred, meeting with Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko, though it's not known whether the attack was timed for Monday because the two leaders were present. Putin laid flowers at a makeshift shrine in memory of those who had been killed.

Two million people use the St. Petersburg metro every day. The entire metro system has been put into lockdown, and the people are said to be in fear of further violence. Tass (Russia) and Sky News and BBC

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Suspicion falls on blowback from Russia's military intervention into Syria

No one has yet taken credit for the St. Petersburg terror attacks, but many believe that the most likely perpetrators are either the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) or else Chechen terrorists from the Caucasian Emirate formed after Russia's war in Chechnya in the 1990s. In either case, the attack was most likely blowback from Russia's military intervention in Syria.

Russia is a Christian country, and its Christian soldiers have already fought against Sunni Muslim fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Chechnya in the 1990s. In the 2010s, Christian Russia is allied with Shia Muslim Iran, an arch-enemy of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia. Russia is fighting on the side of Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad, who is a war criminal dropping barrel bombs and chemical weapons on innocent Sunni Muslim women and children in schools, markets, and even Palestinian refugee camps.

This isn't rocket science. Many analysts have said that there would be blowback. I've been saying so for years, and I've repeatedly criticized the stupidity of Vladimir Putin for going down that path, because blowback has always been certain. You'd have to be crazy to think otherwise. In fact, ISIS has been putting out videos threatening revenge against Russia for invading Syria.

There have been other Sunni jihadist attacks on Russia. In October 2015, ISIS was responsible for bringing down a Russian airliner departing Egypt for St. Petersburg. In 2013, Islamists blew up a train station and a bus near Volgograd. Moscow's airport was attacked in 2011, and its subway system in 2004. Last year, Russia's ambassador to Turkey was killed in Ankara in revenge for Russia's intervention in Syria.

But now, things could be getting worse. ISIS is under attack and is being driven out of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Russian security officials have pointed out that there are over 7,000 Islamist fighters from Russia and other former Soviet countries fighting in Syria, and with ISIS possibly close to defeat, some of those fighters will be free to return to their home countries.

It's not certain that Islamist terrorists were responsible for Monday's attacks. Other hypotheses include Ukrainian terrorists, and even anti-government criminals in Russia. But even if one of those hypotheses turns out to be true, the global fury of Sunni Muslims against Christian Russia is real, and will be felt.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Monday's terror attack in St. Petersburg moves the world further along that trend line. Telegraph (London) and Arab News and Sky News

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Apr-17 World View -- St. Petersburg, Russia, train explosion may be blowback from Syria military intervention thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Apr-17 World View -- Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China

Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China


Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)
Map showing disputed border regions, Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh, between India and China (South China Morning Post)

China, the country that illegally annexes regions in the South China Sea and builds illegal military bases there, is now making its usual furious threats because the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, merely wants to visit the town of Tawang in the Himalaya mountains in northeastern India. The visit begins on Tuesday, and continues for 12 days.

Tawang is a district in India's state of Arunachal Pradesh, 2,000 sq km in size, with fewer than 50,000 people. However, it contains the 17th century hilltop Tawang Monastery, which houses a massive gilded Buddha statue. Because of this monastery, China claims that Tawang is part of Tibet, and claims further that Tibet is part of China and so Tawang is part of China.

China's foreign ministry said that the Dalai Lama's visit "to the contested area will inflict severe damage on the China-India relationship," although the relationship is already so severely damaged that it's hard to see how a mere visit is going to damage it more. In response, India announced that India's Minister of Home Affairs would appear in Tawang with the Dalai Lama, thus giving the visit much greater international prominence.

There are conflicting stories about what the Dalai has said in the past about whether Tawang is part of Tibet or part of India. According to India's former ambassador Ranjit S Kalha, when the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet in 1959 and passed through Tawang, at that time he thanked India for making his journey "through this extremely well administered part of India as comfortable as possible." However, Chinese officials claim that the Dalai Lama said for years that Tawang was historically Tibetan, and only in 2008 said that it was part of India.

According to recent statement by a Chinese official:

"The Dalai Lama’s assertion that Tawang is part of India is against the core interest of the Chinese people. He advocates Tibetan autonomy but is really seeking independence. By allowing him a platform, the India government is going back on its promise of not allowing the Tibetan government in exile to engage in activities undermining China’s sovereignty."

There is also a 1914 deal between India and Tibet defining the border between Tibet and India, and making all of Arunachal Pradesh part of India. However, China has never recognized this deal.

There have been agreements in 1993 and 2005 between India and China that appeared to settle the border disputes by putting Arunachal Pradesh into India, and putting another region, Aksai Chin, on the border with Kashmir, into Chinese territory, as shown on the map above.

However, those agreements were made when both countries were in generational Unraveling eras (like America in the 1990s), when nationalism and xenophobia are generally at a low point. Today, both countries are well into a generational Crisis era, with increasing nationalism and xenophobia, and both countries are becoming more assertive and confrontational, and no longer able to compromise. Deutsche Welle and Indian ambassador Ranjit S Kalha and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

Dalai Lama's escape from Tibet to India in 1959 Lhasa uprising still humiliates China

After China's army invaded Tibet in 1950 and "liberated" it, there were frequent clashes between China's army and Tibetans. These clashes culminated in Tibet's extremely bloody generational crisis war, the 1959 uprising in Lhasa, Tibet's capital city.

In March 1959, China's army invited the Dalai Lama to visit army headquarters for a theatrical performance and tea. Many Tibetans believed that the army planned to kidnap the Dalai Lama and possibly kill him. On March 10, 300,000 Tibetans confronted China's forces, which some reports number up to a million. The Dalai Lama escaped to India, and in the war that followed, tens of thousands of Tibetan men, women and children were slaughtered by China's army. China also destroyed Lhasa's major monasteries along with thousands of their inhabitants.

Allowing the Dalai Lama to escape has been a continuing humiliation to China. China keeps hoping he'll drop dead, but at age 81, he has refused to do so, so far.

However, the successor to the Dalai Lama has become a major issue. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th. Each Dalai Lama is believed to be a reincarnation of the previous one. Each Dalai Lama can choose the person who will select the next Dalai Lama after he dies. The current Dalai Lama did select a six-year-old boy in the 1995 for this role, but the boy and his family were immediately kidnapped and killed by the Chinese government.

China now wants to take control of the succession process, and essentially to select the next Dalai Lama when the current one dies. However, it's not likely that the Tibetan people will accept the choice of the Chinese government. History.com and Phayul.com (India) and South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Apr-17 World View -- Dalai Lama to visit region of northeast India claimed by China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Apr-17 World View -- Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis

Brief generational history of Paraguay

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis


Protesters setting fire to Paraguay's National Congress building in Asunción on Friday night (Reuters)
Protesters setting fire to Paraguay's National Congress building in Asunción on Friday night (Reuters)

One person was killed and dozens injured on Friday night in Paraguay's capital city Asunción during the most massive and most violent anti-government protests since democracy was restored in 1992. The protesters chanted "Dictatorship never again!", in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit President Horacio Manuel Cartes to run for a second five-year term in 2018.

Protesters also set fire to the National Congress building, which burned for over two hours, as the rioting carried on long into the night. Two hundred people were arrested.

The protesters were reacting to the memory of the vicious, bloody 35-year dictatorship of General Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda, who had governed Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He was thrown out of office in a coup, after which a constitution guaranteeing democracy was implemented. The constitution stated that the president would have one five-year term, and could not be reelected.

On Friday, by a secret vote, Paraguay's Senate (upper house) approved a constitutional amendment allowing the re-election of a president to a second term, triggering the violent riots on Friday evening.

For the constitutional amendment to pass, it must also be approved by the Chamber of Deputies (lower house), where 44 of the 80 members belong to Cartes's right-wing governing Colorado party. When the vote is taken, the amendment is expected to be approved easily. It's thought that the rioters set the National Congress building on fire to prevent the vote from being taken.

The constitution amendment is opposed by Senate President Roberto Acevedo of the opposition left-wing Authentic Radical Liberal Party. It's feared that if the amendment is passed, then rioting will be renewed. The dead protester was Rodrigo Quintana, a member of the Authentic Radical Liberal Party.

On Saturday evening, President Horacio Cartes fired Paraguay’s interior minister and top police officials in the hope of avoiding more rioting. The vote in the lower house has been postponed. Reuters and Straits Times (Singapore) and Washington Post

Brief generational history of Paraguay

The Spaniards arrived in 1537, and Paraguay became part of the Spanish empire during the conquests of the mid-1500s. Spain's South American empire continued relatively peacefully until the early 1800s, when a major event occurred.

The French Revolution had occurred in the 1790s, and by the early 1800s, Emperor Napoleon of France was proceeding with a series of conquests with the intention of forming an early "European Union," with Napoleon at its head. One of the conquests of his French army was the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807-08, usurping the Spanish crown. This created a domino effect in Latin America, where one country after another declared independence from Spain, and the Spanish empire essentially disintegrated by 1825. Paraguay achieved independence in 1811.

Paraguay's next generational crisis war was the War of the Triple Alliance, 1865-70, which Paraguay fought against Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. This war was devastating. In the five years of war, as many as 300,000 people, over half of the population, were killed.

Both of these generational crisis wars, the war for independence and the War of the Triple Alliance, are still well-remembered in Paraguay today, and stand as a symbol of the country's unity against foreign invaders.

The Chaco War, 1932-35, was the next generational crisis war, once again fought against another country. The Chaco War, was fought against Bolivia, resulting in the deaths of about 100,000 men.

Alfredo Stroessner was of German ancestry, with a father from Bavaria and a mother from a wealthy Paraguayan family. As a soldier, he fought bravely in the Chaco War, and he was promoted several times during the next decade. In the generational Recovery era that followed, the Chaco War, he proved to be an able politician in the power struggles that occurred, including a brief civil war in 1947.

In 1954, General Stroessner became a dictator through a coup. This was the beginning of the country's generational Awakening era. I've described many times how a country's leader during this period can become extremely violent or even genocidal, as we're seeing today during the Awakening eras of Syria and South Sudan. These leaders use as an excuse that they have to use violence to prevent a new crisis war from breaking out, although that's impossible anyway during an Awakening era. Stroessner's 35-year rule was particularly vicious and bloody, as we described above.

Stroessner was overthrown in a coup in 1989, and in 1992 a constitution was installed that promised a democracy -- including the provision that no one could be president for more than one five-year term. The current president, Horacio Cartes, is trying to amend the constitution to run again, as described above, and this has triggered the most rioting and violence since 1992.

Many people are concerned that this might trigger a civil war between different groups within Paraguay, but this seems unlikely, since the last three generational crisis wars were all fought with an external enemy.

There is a great deal of race awareness in Paraguay. In decreasing order, from those considered the most élite to those considered least élite, historically they are as follows:

In recent decades, there have been additional populations of Japanese, Korean, Lebanese and ethnic Chinese immigrants that have formed small communities. Another distinct subgroup are the "brasiguayos," second-generation Brazilians that were born and raised in Paraguay.

Although there are distinct class differences among the groups listed above, there is no history of a war along a fault line separating them.

Since Paraguay is in a generational Crisis era, it may be close to another war, but I would not expect it to be a civil war, and I would not expect the current rioting to spiral into a larger war, unless another country got involved. Paraguay's crisis wars have all been fought against external enemies, and I would expect its next crisis war to be the same. Country Studies - Paraguay and History World - Paraguay and Every Culture - Paraguay

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Paraguay's National Congress building was built with funding from Taiwan

An interesting sidebar to this story was that Paraguay's National Congress building was built using a $20 million donation from Taiwan. This is the building where protesters ransacked and set fire on Friday night.

Paraguay is the only country in South America that recognizes Taiwan. China does will not have diplomatic relations with any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. So China and Taiwan compete with each other to have diplomatic relations with each country, and very often there's a great deal of money involved in that competition. China Post (Taiwan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Apr-17 World View -- Paraguay wracked by worst violent riots in decades over constitutional crisis thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Apr-17 World View -- India-Pakistan clash threatened as Kashmir violence surges again

Violence in India-controlled Kashmir takes a new turn after winter lull

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Violence in India-controlled Kashmir takes a new turn after winter lull


A group of youth pelt stones at Indian security forces in Budgam on Tuesday (PTI)
A group of youth pelt stones at Indian security forces in Budgam on Tuesday (PTI)

On Wednesday, in the district of Budgam in India-controlled Kashmir, Indian security forces raided the home of an anti-government militant Tauseef Ahmad Wagay who had allegedly been responsible for inciting violence against police. According to India media reports, villagers began obstructing the police and pelting them with stones, in order to allow the militants in the home to escape. In the end, three stone pelters were killed by police gunfire, along with the militant. Dozens of police personnel were injured.

On Friday, after Friday prayers, clashes erupted between government forces and stone-throwing villagers in several towns across Kashmir, to protest the shooting deaths on Wednesday.

Stone-throwing incidents have occurred occasionally in the past, but became frequent after July 8 of last year, when Burhan Wani, the leader of the Kashmir separatist group Hizbul Mujahideen, was killed by Indian police fire. Massive riots in Kashmir began the next day. Indian police responded with rubber bullets, leaving many protesters wounded or killed or blinded by the pellets, and that kind of violence has been an almost daily occurrence since then. After hundreds of people had been blinded by the pellets, the police were convinced to stop using them. By this time winter was approaching, and the protests died down.

But now that the weather is getting warmer again, the protests are growing again, and they may become massive by the end of the summer. At any rate, there's certainly no reason to expect them to die off.

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a delusional speech on Friday, saying that the increasing protests are occurring because they're being encouraged by Pakistan-based sources, using social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook:

"I want to inform the House, and we should be proud of it Deputy Chairman, that the way the terrorists should be responded to, our soldiers are giving them reply in the same way, in the same language.

A new trend has started in the last few months. Deputy speaker, the trend is this that whenever our soldiers start an operation, some youth from the villages come and start pelting stones on the security forces. But I believe, that our Kashmiri youth, who do stone pelting, are being misled by some Pak-sponsored sources.

I want to appeal to the youth of Kashmir to please don’t get misled by Pakistan, they are regularly trying to destabilise India. I also want to inform the House that this crowd (of stone pelters) are assembled by some Pakistan-based groups with the help of social media applications like Whatsapp and Facebook. All of these are used. I want to say it again that the groups, which use social media for this, are based in Pakistan only.

I also want to say, as far as terrorism is concerned, the way terrorism should be responded to, our soldiers are dealing with them in the same way and they will keep doing that in future also. And I want to say that will definitely become successful."

There are a couple of things to note about the above statement.

First, there's a note of revenge in the speech with such phrases as, "our soldiers are giving them reply in the same way, in the same language." The desire for revenge is quite understandable under the circumstances, but it's not going to end the violence and, in fact, it will only invite tit-for-tat increases in violence.

Second, Singh blames Pakistan-based groups using social media for inciting the stone-throwers. It's quite possible that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite stone-throwers, but in no way does that explain the large protests. Al-Qaeda and ISIS-linked groups have been trying to incite jihadist violence in the United States for years, but outside of a few "lone wolf" attacks, we've had no large similar protests, even where there are large Muslim communities in Detroit and Minneapolis. Blaming social media for what's happening is totally delusional.

Third, Singh says, "And I want to say that will definitely become successful." Once again, this is totally delusional.

What seems most likely to happen is that violence will increase on both sides this summer, and may spiral into something slightly bigger or much bigger. First Post (India) and Financial Express (India)

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Indian police arrest top separatist militant commander in Kashmir

Separately on Friday, Amir Wagay, the current top commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, was arrested on Friday, along with some arms and ammunition, according to police reports. He was involved in numerous attacks on security forces, and was high on the "wanted" list.

Burhan Wani, who was shot by police on July 8 of last year, triggering months of violent protests, was the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen at that time. Hindustan Times

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Uprising in Kashmir growing into major regional war between India and Pakistan

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the growing violence in Kashmir is following a fairly standard historical template that always ends in a major war. I've written in the past to distinguish between "organic" genocides that come from the people, such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide, versus "government-led" genocides, such as occurring today in Syria and South Sudan.

Although there's little doubt that Pakistan-based groups are inciting violence in Kashmir, that isn't enough to start a generational war unless the mood of the population is that such a war is necessary. As I mentioned above, there are jihadists groups inciting Muslims in America to violence, but they're having almost no success. But what we're seeing in Kashmir is an "organic" war that's leading unstoppably to a generational crisis war.

As I described last year, India's last two generational crisis wars were India's 1857 Rebellion, and the 1947 Partition war.

The 1857 rebellion is also called India's First War of Independence from the British colonial power. What started out as protests related to the Hindu veneration of cows grew into an extremely bloody generational crisis war, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 Indian civilians.

India remained a British colony, and there was little or no violence for decades, as always happens after a generational crisis war, since the traumatized survivors do not wish anything so horrible to happen again. However, as younger generations with no personal memory of the war rise to power, conflicts begin again.

In the 1910s, Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian peace activist, launched a "non-cooperation movement" against the British, involving civil disobedience. The generational Awakening era climax occurred on April 10-12, 1919, with the Jalianvala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar Massacre), when British troops opened fire on 10,000 Sikhs holding a protest meeting, killing hundreds. That event convinced both the British and the Indians that Britain should completely give up control of India.

By 1946, there was a debate centered on two choices: Should there be a single Indian state, with separate regions under the control of Muslims and Hindus, or should there be a two-state solution, a Muslim state living side-by-side in peace with a Hindu state? The argument that won the day was that Muslims can't stand pigs and Hindus can't eat cows, and so they can't live together. Finally, British, Muslim and Hindu officials all agreed that there had to be two separate states, India and Pakistan. In particular, the 1857 rebellion was still in everyone's mind, and it was hoped that the two-state solution would lead to peace.

There's an old saying that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes." In 1947, the Indian subcontinent was partitioned into two countries, India and Pakistan, and no sooner did that happen then there was a massive new generational crisis war. But with the British colonists gone, this war pitted the Hindus against Muslims, in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.

Once again, there was relative peace following the war, but once again, younger generations have been rising, and have no fear of a new war. The accusation that Pakistan-based groups are using social media to incite violence is undoubtedly true, but India media are no better.

Here's an excerpt from an opinion piece from right-of-center Indian media:

"It is good that the Army Chief has made good his promise that those aiding terrorists will be dealt with like terrorists themselves, but there are discordant notes being struck by politicians who still think talks can sort out the situation. ...

It is silly to expect that talks with Pakistan or Kashmiri separatists will somehow bring peace to the Valley. It won’t. The only way peace will come is when the security forces wear down the jihadis and Pakistan-backed terrorists over years, and the local population realizes that they have no alternative but to be a part of secular India. There is not going to be any instant nirvana in this deadly game."

The person who wrote has absolutely no clue what he's talking about when he writes, "The only way peace will come is when the security forces wear down the jihadis and Pakistan-backed terrorists." That is not what happens in a generational Crisis era. The security forces will only enrage the separatist youth, and tit-for-tat escalations will soon lead to a full-scale war that will spread and engulf both Pakistan and India. That's the way that the world works.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war will pit China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Swarajya Magazine (India

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Apr-17 World View -- India-Pakistan clash threatened as Kashmir violence surges again thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Apr-2017) Permanent Link
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31-Mar-17 World View -- Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball

Northern Ireland considers reuniting with the Republic of Ireland

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball


Theresa May
Theresa May

I hadn't realized how final the action was on Wednesday, when Britain's prime minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, triggering a two-year negotiation period leading to the United Kingdom official exiting the European Union as one of its member states.

I had thought that during the two-year negotiation period, it was at least possible that saner heads might prevail, and the UK would change its mind and remain in the EU. However, it turns out that once Article 50 is invoked, the decision is final, and the UK can no longer change its mind. If the UK wants to remain in the EU, then remaining would require approval of all 27 of the remaining member states, and that seems almost impossible, given the vitriolic nature of today's politics.

So the die is cast, and now the serious negotiations must begin, and EU negotiators are playing hardball.

Theresa May: “No deal is better than a bad deal.” This means that Britain will walk away from a deal if it's not a good deal.

EU officials: "Britain must not get a better deal outside the EU than it has within the EU." EU officials fear that a good deal for Britain might encourage other EU members to leave.

Britain and Theresa May want the first subject of negotiation to be trade, so that businesses in both the UK and the EU can make plans for conducting business in the future.

Donald Tusk and the European Commission are refusing to take that route. They want the first order of business to be the "terms of the divorce" - how you split the assets and liabilities.

In particular, EU officials are saying that the UK must pay the EU some €60 billion, and only when that issue is settled will they be willing to discuss trade and other issues important to Theresa May and Britain. The 60 billion includes such things as pension payments to British nationals working for EU employers, and spending commitments for EU projects and social programs that Britain committed to contributing to when they were still in love. Some British politicians are saying that they refuse to pay any of this, so this is a potentially serious issue.

In her letter to European Commission president Donald Tusk, Theresa May wrote:

"It is in the best interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union that we should use the forthcoming process to deliver these objectives in a fair and orderly manner, and with as little disruption as possible on each side. We want to make sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and is capable of projecting its values, leading in the world, and defending itself from security threats. We want the United Kingdom, through a new deep and special partnership with a strong European Union, to play its full part in achieving these goals. We therefore believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the European Union."

Many people are describing this as a threat, implying that the security relationship between Britain and the EU would be threatened if Brussels demanded that the €60 billion issue be resolved before anything else could be even discussed.

There's one issue that analysts are saying should be easy to resolve: The question of what happens to EU nationals working in Britain, and to British nationals working in the EU. Issues like medical benefits, pensions, and freedom of travel will have to be resolved. Although these problems are big enough to seem insurmountable, analysts are saying that both sides are anxious to resolve them, and so it will be done.

On Friday, Donald Tusk will release his proposed negotiating guidelines for Brexit talks. The proposal will then have to be approved by the remaining 27 EU member states. Whenever that happens, then the negotiations can begin.

I heard one analyst ways that almost nothing will be accomplished in the negotiations for about 18 months, until October 2018, at which time everyone will go into a panic. Text of Theresa May's letter and Daily Mail (London) and Reuters

Britain proposes 'The Great Repeal Bill'

This is really mind-blowing. The problem is that Britain has been following the laws and regulations of the European Union for decades, and on the day that Britain leaves the EU, all of these thousands of laws and regulations will disappear, resulting in something close to anarchy.

So the government is proposing "The Great Repeal Bill," which will do the following:

According to Britain's government, there are about 12,000 EU regulations in force in Britain, about 7,900 implemented EU directives, and some 186 acts of Parliament that will have be absorbed into British law, and then amended over time.

There's a mind-boggling irony to all this. The purpose of Brexit was to prevent Britain from being under the control of Brussels. But in fact, Britain will be under the control of the Brussels' laws for years to come.

Furthermore, existing EU case law will continue to have precedence of existing British law. According to the description of the repeal bill:

"If, after exit, a conflict arises between two pre-exit laws, one of which is an EU-derived law and the other not, then the EU-derived law will continue to take precedence over the other pre-exit law."

This reminds me of the old saying: "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." UK government - The Great Repeal Bill and Business Insider and CNN

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Scotland demands a new referendum on leaving the EU

Of the four nations in the United Kingdom, England and Wales voted for Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU. Now they're being forced to leave the EU against their will.

On September 18, 2014, Scotland held a referendum on the question of whether Scotland should leave the UK and become an independent country. This would have dissolved the 1707 union between England and Scotland that came out of the War of the Spanish Succession. If the referendum had passed, then Scotland might have left the UK and become an independent country. It wouldn't automatically have been a member of the EU, however, as joining the EU would have required the approval of all 28 countries.

The referendum was voted down, but that was before Brexit. Now, Scotland's parliament has has voted by 69 to 59 to hold a new referendum. However, a new referendum on this subject cannot be held without the approval of Britain's government in London.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has signed a letter formally asking for permission to hold a second Scottish independence referendum.

Theresa May has said that the UK government will not approve the referendum until Brexit is completed, two years from now.

Sturgeon says that she may go ahead with an unofficial referendum. Scottish Sun and BBC

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Northern Ireland considers reuniting with the Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland also voted to remain in the EU, but the situation is quite different than for Scotland.

Ireland has a long bitter history of religious and factional wars, and it's only in recent years that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has been open for free travel of people and goods. However, once Brexit occurs, Ireland will be in the European Union, while Northern Ireland will not, and finding a way to keep the border open has been a major priority for Northern Ireland, Ireland, London, and the EU.

Over a period of centuries, many of the sectarian wars in Ireland have been between the Catholic republicans, who want to unify Ireland and Northern Ireland, versus the Protestant loyalists, who want Northern Ireland to be part of the UK.

Now those old wounds are opening again, as a proposed solution to the "open border" problem would be for Northern Ireland to leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland. There wouldn't even be a problem with the EU, as Northern Ireland would automatically be part of the EU since it would be part of Ireland.

This is an extremely emotional issue in Ireland, and may even result in new violence. RTE (Ireland) and Irish Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Mar-17 World View -- Brexit: The die is cast, and the EU is playing hardball thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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30-Mar-17 World View -- With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence

Arab League plays it safe by only condemning Israel and terrorism

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence


Arab League summit meeting in Jordan on Wednesday (Arab News)
Arab League summit meeting in Jordan on Wednesday (Arab News)

The Arab League used to be considered one of the most influential organizations in the world, representing the oil-rich nations of the Mideast, controlling many of the world's most important trade routes. But that's not true anymore, since the "Arab Spring" of 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and then in Libya, and eventually spreading to almost every Arab country. Today, the entire Arab World seems to be collapsing in chaos, and the Arab League can do nothing but sit back, watch, and pray to Allah for deliverance.

Ironically, one of the last influential acts by the Arab League that the world paid attention to was unanimous approval in March 2011 of a request for Western nations to intervene in Libya and set up at no-fly zone. The violent protests in Libya had become a bloodbath that had spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Muammar Gaddafi declared war on the protesters. He threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he would crush any enemy. By April, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya were pouring into neighboring countries, and thousands were crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. The Arab League asked the West to intervene, as Gaddafi was threatening a bloody massacre in several cities, especially Benghazi.

The West finally did intervene, but what that incident proved most of all was that the Arab League couldn't solve its own problems, and that's become apparent today, where the fallout from the Arab Spring has not only paralyzed the Arab League, it's gone further and split the League into factions.

The worst split has come out of the war in Syria. The civil war in Syria was caused by president Bashar al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians. Thousands of young Sunni jihadists from 80 countries around the world traveled to Syria to fight al-Assad, and they formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Saudi Arabia supported the so-called "moderate rebels" in Syria fighting al-Assad, while Iran stepped in, along with its Shia puppet militia Hezbollah from Lebanon, to fight on the side of al-Assad. Iran also increased its support to the Houthi Shias in Yemen, leading to a successful Houthi anti-government coup in Sanaa, Yemen's capital city, in 2014.

This led Iran to brag that it was now in control of four Arab capitals -- Beirut Lebanon, Sanaa Yemen, Baghdad Iraq, and Damascus Syria.

At the same time that this occurred, President Barack Obama appears to have withdrawn the United States leadership from the Mideast, particularly in Syria and Iraq, apparently leaving Iran and Russia as the strongest powers. In addition, President Obama pushed the Iran nuclear deal, which removed sanctions and greatly improved Iran's prestige in the Mideast.

Today, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries are placing their hopes in President Donald Trump, who they hope will turn against Iran and more strongly support Saudi Arabia. However, even that hope further makes the point that the Arab League is unable to accomplish anything on its own, without the help of the West, especially the United States.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that Iran and the West will be allies in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, and that China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. In the Mideast, Generational Dynamics predicts a full-scale Mideast war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. These predictions would suggest that improved friendly relations between the US and Saudi Arabia will be temporary. CS Monitor and Washington Times

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Arab League plays it safe by only condemning Israel and terrorism

The split in the Arab world is being further confounded by the fact that one of the Arab League members, Oman, seems to be increasingly siding with Iran on issues dividing that country and Saudi Arabia. Some reports have even suggested that Oman is serving as an intermediary between Iran and the Houthis in Yemen, even to the extent of turning a blind to the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Houthis in Yemen.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was a guest at the Arab League summit, said, Divisions in the Arab world have opened the door to foreign intervention and manipulation, breeding instability, sectarian strife, and terrorism."

Because the Arab League has no solutions to any of the serious problems facing the Arab world, Wednesday's summit meeting focused on the only safe subjects that everyone could agree on: Israel and terrorism.

Jordan's King Abdullah, who was hosting the meeting, summarized these issues:

"It is therefore our duty to protect [young Arabs] from distortions to their religion and ideological beliefs, since terrorism poses a greater threat to Arabs and Muslims, who make up the majority of its victims. ...

Israel’s continued settlement expansion and its work to undermine chances for peace. There can be no peace, no stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause, the core issue of the Middle East, based on the two-state solution."

If you're an Arab, it's always safe to wish for an end to terrorism. Furthermore, it's also safe to to talk criticize Israel, and to call for the adoption of the "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, which would be a Palestinian state living in peace side-by-side with the state of Israel, which could only work in a fairy tale.

The prediction that I first posted in May 2003, just after President George Bush announced his Mideast Roadmap to Peace, is just as true today as it was then: Jews and Arabs are headed for a new generational crisis war, re-fighting the 1948-49 genocidal war between Jews and Arabs that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Today, no one seriously believes that the two-state solution is ever going to work, or that terrorism is going to do anything but continue to increase. Still, the Arab League has to call for something, and calling for fantasies is the safest thing to do. Middle East Eye and Arab News and Petra (Jordan) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Mar-17 World View -- With Arab world in chaos, Arab League summit displays lack of leadership and influence thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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29-Mar-17 World View -- Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man

French-Chinese xenophobia appears to be growing in Paris

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man


Asian community protests on Tuesday evening in Paris against police killing of Chinese man (AP)
Asian community protests on Tuesday evening in Paris against police killing of Chinese man (AP)

A 56-year old Chinese man, Shaoyo Liu, was shot to death by police during a raid on his apartment on Sunday.

Two policemen from the "anti-crime brigade" (BAC) came to the apartment in response to reports of a "family dispute." According to the police, Liu ran to one of the policemen carrying a pair of scissors, and stabbed one of them in the chest. He was saved only because he was wearing a bulletproof vest. At that point, the other policeman shot him, leading to his death minutes later.

Liu was the father of five children. His family disputes the police version of the story, and says that Liu came to the door carrying scissors because he had been using them to prepare fish for dinner, but didn't stab anyone. According to one of Liu's daughters in tears:

"About eight o'clock, my little sister heard knocking at the door. She looked at the hole in the door and saw two men and an armed woman. My father came to the door with the scissors he had to take care of the fish he was cooking. The blows at the door became stronger and stronger. I shouted 'Calm down,' make less noise, but nothing made it. They smashed the door, the shot was gone and my father found himself on the ground."

On Monday evening 200 members of the Asian community gathered in front of the police station to protest the killing. The protest began peacefully, but then individuals broke the window of a police car and threw an incendiary device inside, creating a fire that bured the vehicle out. 35 people were arrested.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters returned to the police station to demonstrate, chanting "police assassin," "police murderer" or "injustice, injustice." The crowd turned violent, and the police fired teargas to disperse them.

According to one protester, "There are two versions, that of the police which speaks of self-defense and that of the family which says that it is a crime. What is happening, there is no reason to believe the police."

China's foreign ministry lodged an official protest, urging a full French investigation and for Chinese people's "security and rights" to be protected. Le Parisien (Paris) (Trans) and Europe1 (Paris) (Trans) and BBC

French-Chinese xenophobia appears to be growing in Paris

The incident has sparked a diplomatic row with Beijing. On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry summoned a French diplomat and urged the French authorities to investigate the killing thoroughly and to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals on French soil.

In 2008, in the lead-up to the Olympics games to be held in China, the Olympic torch was being carried through Europe by Jin Jing, a pretty 27 year old girl from Shanghai confined to a wheelchair, part of China's national wheelchair fencing team. As I wrote in 2008, anti-Chinese xenophobia was extremely high, as there were intense protests in London and Paris against allowing Jin Jing to carry the torch in Europe. British politician Lord Sebastian Coe, himself a former Olympic athlete, condemned the army of Chinese "thugs" accompanying Jin Jing, referring to the security personnel protecting her. An article in the German magazine Der Spiegel referred to the Chinese with the headline, "There's no way people like that should be allowed on our streets." In Paris, on April 7, a Tibetan separatist attacked Jin Jing as she was carrying the torch down a Paris street.

There are about 392,700 Chinese in England and Wales, and about 600,000 in France, which has the largest Chinese population in Europe. Chinese people in Europe claim that racism against Chinese is widespread, and that complaints to the police about physical and verbal abuse are ignored. According to a poll, there's a general belief in the Chinese community that reporting crime is futile, and half the people say that they don't trust the police.

As I've been writing for over ten years, America and much of the world are in a generational Crisis era, which is always accompanied by a rise in nationalism and xenophobia. The survivors of World War II were well aware how dangerous nationalism and xenophobia can be, and they put in place rules and institutions to prevent it from occurring again.

This past weekend was the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that formed the basis for the European Union. In 1957, the traumatized leaders of the day had suffered through two world wars in Europe, and were determined to form a new unified Europe that would guarantee that no such war would occur again. Few people are missing the irony that Britain was missing for the weekend's celebration of the Treaty of Rome, since Britain, one of the original signers, is leaving the EU because of the Brexit vote.

Nationalism and xenophobia are extremely dangerous, but as the survivors of the previous generational crisis war die off, the younger generations have no fear of nationalism and xenophobia, and they begin to increase again, eventually leading to a new generational crisis war. I've documented numerous examples in country after country of the rise of xenophobia and nationalism in the current generational Crisis era -- the rise of xenophobia and nationalism. This has happened in China vs Japan, China vs Vietnam, India vs Pakistan, Europe vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Roma, and America vis-à-vis the Muslims and the Mexicans. These attitudes cannot be stopped. They come from masses of people, not from the leaders, whose job becomes to deal with these populist attitudes in a way that does the least amount of damage.

Still, the anti-Chinese riots are part of a global trend that cannot be stopped, and it will take another world war for people to learn how dangerous nationalism and xenophobia can be. Daily Mail (London - 8-Apr-2008) and BBC (1-Jun-2015) and Global Times (Beijing) and Washington Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Mar-17 World View -- Asians in Paris, France, riot for two nights after police kill Chinese man thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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28-Mar-17 World View -- Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet

ISIS claims credit for Sylhet Bangladesh terror attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet


Apartment building in Sylhet where terror attack took place (ISPR)
Apartment building in Sylhet where terror attack took place (ISPR)

Bangladesh's army on Monday said that all militants involved in a four-day terror attack in Sylhet, in northeastern Bangladesh, have been killed. The army says that the anti-terrorism operation has not yet been completed, because the building may be booby-trapped with numerous improvised explosive devices.

The army commandos on Monday shot dead the remaining militants wearing suicide vests. The militants were equipped with small arms, explosives and grenades, and laid out booby traps at different corners of the building, creating a situation which slowed down the operations progress at the building.

The four-day siege began on Friday. On Saturday, two powerful bombs exploded, killing six people, including two police officers, and injuring about 50, including two army officers. Since Friday, 12 people have been killed.

One of the dead militants was a woman, part of an increasing trend in the participation of female jihadists. Bangladesh's police crime management believes that the use of women is a sign of desperation, as the militant groups become weaker:

"Militants now cannot carry out their activities in an organized way as they've got scattered due to repeated crackdowns by Police and RAB. So, they're now desperate and preferring to conduct suicide attacks. As they're getting alienated from their own groups, the militants are now trying to motivate their family members to indulge in militant activities."

The Bangladeshi authorities discovered the first female jihadist unit in July 2016, and arrested four female militants, including the "advisor" of the women's unit.

Dhaka Tribune and India TV News and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India)

ISIS claims credit for Sylhet Bangladesh terror attack

There are numerous indigenous militant groups in Bangladesh, most notably Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), which has taken credit for a number of terrorist attacks. In recent months, terror attacks in Bangladesh have killed at least 70 Bangladeshis and some foreigners.

No indigenous jihadist group has taken credit for the Sylhet terror attack, although JMB is suspected as the perpetrator. On the other hand, the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has taken credit for it, through its public relations agency Amaq al-Akhbariyah.

The ISIS question has stirred a debate in Bangladesh. The government says that ISIS has not come to Bangladesh, and that all terror attacks are indigenous. Some journalists are ridiculing this position. One particularly telling example occurred in July of last year, at the Holey Artisan in Dhaka, where five gunmen killed 29 people. ISIS's public relations agency posted pictures of some of the dead victims on its web site while the terror attack was still in progress.

So what does it mean for ISIS, which is a Syrian organization, to take credit for a terror attack halfway around the world in Bangladesh? No reports indicate that there were any Syrians in Bangladesh taking part in any of these attacks. The militants were all Bangladeshi. So what does it mean for ISIS to take credit?

We know that some militant groups "pledge allegiance" to ISIS, whatever that means. Obviously, in the case of the Holey Artisan attacks, indigenous militants can be in contact via mobile phones to ISIS's public relations agency. Perhaps ISIS is providing money to some indigenous militant groups, but that seems unlikely, given that ISIS in Syria has little money to spare for its own operations.

There's a creeping fear that ISIS taking over the world, when in fact, as far as I know, ISIS is simply taking credit for any terror attacks it can, even though it has nothing to do with them. That's a great public relations stunt, but it seems more like a sign of desperation than anything else.

However, as I've written several times in the past, many of these terror attacks are an outcome of the bloody civil war of 1971 that created the nation of Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan. There are two ethnic groups in Bangladesh, the dominant Bengalis and the subservient Biharis, an outcome of the the 1971 civil war. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of Biharis living in refugee camps in filthy conditions, with the largest camp just north of Dhaka. This situation is a breeding ground for terrorists, and is a better explanation for what's going on than ISIS. Daily Star (Dhaka) and Dhaka Tribune and VOA and AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Mar-17 World View -- Bangladesh recovers from a four-day terror attack in Sylhet thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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27-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country

Massive protests were triggered by opposition leader Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption drive

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country


Opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested during Sunday's protests (EPA)
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested during Sunday's protests (EPA)

In the largest protests that Russia has seen since 2012, demonstrators in cities across Russia held large anti-government demonstrations, protesting government corruption. Ekho Moskvy, an independent Moscow radio station, estimated a total of 60,000 people participated in 82 protests around the country.

Officials said that there were 8,000 protesters in Moscow's Pushkin Square, while activists claim that the number of protesters was closer to 20,000.Police used truncheons and pepper spray to disperse the protesters, and close to 1,000 were arrested. Russian state TV did not cover the protests, showing soap operas and nature films instead.

In St. Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, about 5,000-10,000 protesters assembled in the Mars Field park, shouting slogans including "Putin resign!" and "Down with the thieves in the Kremlin!" More than 100 were arrested.

About 2,000 gathered in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, carrying signs such as "No to corruption." 1,500 people turned out in each of the Siberian cities of Krasnoyarsk and Omsk. In the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,000 people turned up. In Russia's Far East, about 700 people turned up in the city of Vladivostok, where at least 25 people were arrested. Bloomberg and Russia Today and BBC and Politico EU

Massive protests were triggered by opposition leader Alexei Navalny's anti-corruption drive

One of the people arrested in Moscow on Sunday was Alexei Navalny, head of Russia's Progress Party, and Russia's main opposition leader. Navalny triggered the protests earlier this week by publicly calling for marches across the country to protest corruption at Russia's top level.

Three weeks ago, Navalny released a 50-minute slickly produced Youtube video, accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of controlling a property empire containing mansions, yachts and vineyards, through a shadowy network of nonprofit organizations.

The video is in Russian, but has English subtitles and is quite entertaining to watch. It describes how Navalny conducted a three-year investigation that purports to show how Medvedev used his twitter account to mask millions of dollars in illegal gifts, passing through "The Foundation For Socially Important Projects." According to Navalny, it was the silliness of that name that triggered further investigation.

The video has been watched some 13 million times. Navalny is also a master at the use of social media, which explains why he was so successful in bringing out tens of thousands of protesters in cities across Russia on Sunday.

Some of the demonstrators on Sunday held up yellow rubber ducks. That's because one of the enormous estates that Medvedev allegedly owns has many buildings, including a sanctuary for ducks.

Navalny plans to run for President against Vladimir Putin next year, though technically he is not eligible to run because of a previous criminal conviction.

Daily Mail and Moscow Times and YouTube - Navalny documentary and Moscow Times (15-Sep-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands are arrested in Russia as tens of thousands protest in cities across country thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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26-Mar-17 World View -- Iraq halts Mosul operation after US coalition airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians

Iraq halts the Mosul operation under international pressure

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US confirms that US coalition airstrikes on Mosul killed hundreds of civilians on March 17


A boy rides his bike past destroyed cars and houses in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces on the western side of Mosul on March 19, 2017. (AP)
A boy rides his bike past destroyed cars and houses in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces on the western side of Mosul on March 19, 2017. (AP)

The US Central Command confirmed on Saturday that multiple airstrikes on March 17 had killed dozens of civilians, while other reports claim that the number killed was as high as 200. The airstrikes were launched at targets belonging to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in western Mosul in Iraq. The United Nations expressed profound concern, saying it was "stunned by this terrible loss of life."

The military operation to free Mosul from ISIS is now in its sixth month. The operation has recaptured the entire eastern side of Mosul, east of the Tigris River, and about half of the western side. Iraq's Shia army are leading the operation on the ground, backed by coalition airstrikes.

Stories have been surfacing in the last few days of the civilian death from the airstrikes. The US military investigated, revealing that the coalition had struck fighters and equipment in an area in western Mosul that matched the reports of civilian casualties. Saturday's announcement said:

"At the request of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties. ...

The Coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality.

Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS’ inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians, using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods."

The announcement didn't identify which country's aircraft conducted the airstrikes. Warplanes from Australia, France, Belgium, Britain and the United States have all been heavily engaged in the Mosul operation.

According to reports from residents, ISIS is using civilians as human shields. The tactic is to gather dozens of civilians into a building, and then take up positions on the roofs, firing at Iraqi soldiers. When the Iraqi forces request a coalition airstrike targeting the ISIS fighters, the civilians in the building are vulnerable.

In the case of the March 17 strike, some reports indicate that the airstrike hit explosive materials that had been laid in the house by ISIS, and the explosion collapsed the entire building, trapping or killing the civilians inside.

The assault on ISIS in western Mosul is only just beginning, with the worst yet to come. The urban warfare is extremely intense. According to one Iraqi commando:

"The fighting is at much closer quarters. It was street-by-street — now it’s house-by-house. We are often literally in the same house, on the roof, and [ISIS] is downstairs. Sometimes we drop grenades. If there are civilians, families in the homes, we shout to them to take cover inside a room."

There are still some 600,000 civilians believed to remain in ISIS-held areas. These civilians are essentially trapped. If they remain, then they may be killed by an airstrike or in the crossfire in the fighting between the Iraqis and ISIS. ISIS is refusing to allow them to leave, and any civilians that try to leave can be shot on sight by ISIS. News.com (Australia) and Reuters

Iraq halts the Mosul operation under international pressure

The civilian death toll in the Mosul operation is being described by as "a humanitarian catastrophe," and pressure is growing to change tactics.

Lise Grande, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq issued the usual kind of laughable statement that's always coming out of the United Nations:

"We are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to the many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy.

Nothing in this conflict is more important than protecting civilians. International humanitarian law is clear. Parties to the conflict – all parties – are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians.

This means that combatants cannot use people as human shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of firepower."

We can imagine ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi saying, "Oh no! I didn't know using human shields violated international humanitarian law. We'll stop doing it immediately!"

However, pressure is also growing from Iraqi politicians and international activists. The result is that Iraq has ordered the Mosul operation to be halted immediately, until the situation can be reassessed. According to an Iraqi Federal Police spokesman on Saturday:

"The recent high death toll among civilians inside the Old City [of Mosul] forced us to halt operations to review our plans. It's a time for weighing new offensive plans and tactics. No combat operations are to go on.

We need to make sure that taking out [ISIS] from the Old City will not cost unwanted high casualties among civilians. We need surgical accurate operations to target terrorists without causing collateral damage among residents."

President Donald Trump in January issued an executive order demanding a new plan to defeat ISIS from his military. The new plan arrived on his desk in February but has not been detailed in public. Some activists are suggesting that a change in the rules of engagement under President Trump is leading to an increase in civilian casualties. Independent (London) and Rudaw (Kurdistan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Mar-17 World View -- Iraq halts Mosul operation after US coalition airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Mar-17 World View -- US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin

Analysts skeptical of ISIS claiming responsibility for London terror attack

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Analysts skeptical of ISIS claiming responsibility for London terror attack


Khalid Masood before converting to Islam (ITV)
Khalid Masood before converting to Islam (ITV)

On Wednesday, at 2:30 pm local time, Khalid Masood ploughed the car into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. He then smashed it into the railings encircling the Palace of Westminster. He jumped out of the vehicle and, armed with two large knives, fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer as he entered the grounds. He ran towards the palace, but was shot dead by another police officer.

Khalid Masood was born in 1964 in Kent, England, to a single mother, and named Adrian Russell Ajao at birth. He used the alias Khalid Choudry after converting to Islam, and later adopted the name Khalid Masood. He was married with several children.

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Masood a "soldier" of the caliphate who "carried out the operation in response to calls to target the people of coalition nations."

ISIS has been developing a pattern of claiming responsibility for terror attacks in Afghanistan, Taliban, Bangladesh, and other countries, when it had nothing to do with them. In some cases, the indigenous group carrying out the attack had pledged allegiance to ISIS, but in no case that I'm aware of has ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi told some of his thugs in Syria to pack their bags and travel to another country to blow up a marketplace.

In the case of Masood, there's no evidence that he had ever communicated with ISIS, or that ISIS had ever heard of him before Wednesday. Some evidence could still emerge, of course, but until it does we have to assume that the ISIS claims are just bloviation.

ISIS is facing an existential crisis, under attack by American, Iraqi, Syrian, Russian, Free Syrian Army, and Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. ISIS has lost much of the territory it formerly controlled, and is now under attack in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. The battles in these two cities are far from over, and may be extremely bloody for months to come.

But ISIS appears to have lost its magic power to continue to attract young jihadists from around the world to come and fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. Instead, it's using desperation measures, claiming credit for any terror attack, in order to try to bolster its prestige.

The worry today is that the jihadists that traveled to Syria from over 80 countries to join ISIS are now returning to their home countries to continue their fight there. ITV (London) and NBC News

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US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin

Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security have been distributing documents to refugees in Australia's offshore detention centers informing them of the application process for resettlement in the United States.

This appears to be the first step in fulfilling a promise made in a deal in November between President Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow 1,250 refugees being held in Australia's refugee centers to be resettled in the United States.

The refugees, from countries like Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, are living in two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements that Australia reached with both countries. However, the United Nations and international refugee activists have condemned the refugee camps, saying that under international law, valid asylum seekers should be resettled on Australian soil. Australia has resisted that in order to discourage human trafficking of refugees to Australia.

Early in February, President Donald Trump called it "the worst deal ever," but promised to honor the deal because he was bound by agreements made by the previous administration. He confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting."

Although things have been moving slowly, it now appears that the application process for the refugees is about to begin. The process will begin when US officials travel to Manus and Nauru Island to collect fingerprints from refugees applying for resettlement in the United States. They'll arrive on Nauru this week, and on Manus Island in April. After that, the refugees will sit through face-to-face interviews, security assessments and medical checks.

The document being distributed is titled: "US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), Case Processing on Nauru and Manus, Resettlement Support Center (RSC) Interviews."

Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs) are US State Dept. funded organizations that process resettlement applications from refugees around the world. There are nine RSCs in countries around the world, funded by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. According to the program's web site, the average time for an application to be processed is 18-24 months, although that time will probably be reduced under the agreement between the US and Australia. Australian Broadcasting and US State Dept. Refugee Admissions Program and US Refugee Admissions Program document (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Mar-17 World View -- US resettlement of refugees from Australia's detention centers is about to begin thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Mar-17 World View -- With Egypt's contraceptive shortage, Cairo becomes the world's fastest growing city

Shortage of contraceptives and culture of large families spur Egypt's population growth

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cairo, Egypt, becomes the world's fastest growing city


Downtown Cairo on March 9 (Reuters)
Downtown Cairo on March 9 (Reuters)

Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, already has a population of 22.8 million people, and is set to grow by another 500,000 in 2017, making it the world's fastest growing city.

Egypt as a whole has a natural population growth of 2.4% per year, double the average of other developing countries. Its current population is 92 million.

The "good" economic news is that Egypt's surging population growth has made the country the world's fastest-growing real estate market, with an expected annual expansion of 18.9% mortgaged households in 2017 alone. The world's second and third fastest growing real estate markets are Algeria and Nigeria, respectively. Africa and the Middle East are home finance hotspots, due to their large and growing populations seeking infrastructure and residential units to resolve urban housing shortages.

The "bad" economic news is that Egypt's surging population growth, combined with overdevelopment of the Nile Delta, and the looming completion of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam, which could affect the flow of water in the Nile River, will cause Egypt to face critical countrywide shortages of freshwater and food by the year 2025.

According to a study by the Geological Society of America:

"About 70% of water flow reaching Egypt is derived from the Blue Nile and Atbara River, both sourced in Ethiopia. Over the past 200 years, rapidly increasing human activity has seriously altered flow conditions of the Nile. Emplacement in Egypt of barrages in the 1800s, construction the Aswan Low Dam in 1902, and the Aswan High Dam in 1965 has since altered water flow and distribution of nourishing organic-rich soil in the delta.

Egypt's population has recently swelled rapidly to about 90 million, with most living in the soil-rich Lower Nile Valley and Delta. These two areas comprise only about 3.5% of Egypt's total area, the remainder being mostly sandy desert. Due to much-intensified human impact, the delta no longer functions as a naturally expanding fluvial-coastal center. Less than 10% of Nile water now reaches the sea, and most of the nutrient-rich sediment is trapped in the delta by a dense canal and irrigation system. ...

[Furthermore,] saline intrusion is now reaching agricultural terrains in central delta sectors -- the coastal 20 to 40 km of delta surface will be underwater by the end of this century.

There is an additional looming danger of considerable importance: Ethiopia, itself energy-poor and undergoing drought conditions, is shortly (in 2017) to complete construction of the largest hydro-electric dam in Africa, its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The large reservoir behind the dam is to be filled over a three- to five-year or longer period, during which it is expected that the amount of Nile flow to the Sudan and Egypt and its delta will be substantially reduced.

This down-river decrease of Nile fresh water will produce grave conditions. The pre-GERD Nile flow now barely supplies 97% of Egypt's present water needs with only 660 cubic meters per person, one of the world's lowest annual per capita water shares."

The report concludes that Egypt will have critical countrywide fresh water and food shortages by 2025. Egyptian Streets and Reuters and Geological Society of America

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Shortage of contraceptives and culture of large families spur Egypt's population growth

Egypt must import almost all medicines or their components, which makes the cost of these medicines dependent on the foreign exchange rate of the Egyptian pound currency versus the US dollar. After Egypt floated the pound in November, inflation has been soaring, and the inflation rate jumped to a record 31.7% in February. The result is that import prices of medicines have soared as well, with drug prices now out of reach for many families.

Some medicines are price-controlled by the government, but this has created shortages and hoarding. So even if a family can afford the cost of a drug, in many cases it's completely unavailable.

In particular, this has resulted in a shortage not only of contraceptive pills, but of all birth control methods in general.

However, there's also a social culture in Egypt that encourages families to have many children. According to surveys, About 90 percent of Egyptian women and 87 percent of men between the ages of 15 and 49 believe that contraceptives should only be used after the first child.

An article quotes a poor Cairo resident of being pressured to have more children, after he'd already had four. After being taunted by his neighbors, insulting his manhood, he persuaded his wife to go off birth control. Over the next four years, they had three more children. He says:

"My father had many, many children, my grandfather had many, many children, and everyone here has many children. It’s not easy to do something different."

He regrets these decisions, however, as his small salary is barely enough to feed his family, which subsists on stewed fava beans and bread, and his children can't afford to go to school.

A 2015 study by Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population found the following:

Egyptian Streets and Newsweek and Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Mar-17 World View -- With Egypt's contraceptive shortage, Cairo becomes the world's fastest growing city thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Mar-17 World View -- Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon'

Skeptics claim that CPEC will only benefit China, not Pakistan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon'


Chinese coal-fired power plant (Reuters)
Chinese coal-fired power plant (Reuters)

Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's Federal Minister for Planning and Development, says that Pakistan's energy crisis will soon be over, thanks to the announcement of the first project in the $55 billion 20-year China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

At a ground-breaking ceremony for two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants in Pakistan's Balochistan province, he welcomed China's initial $2 billion investment, and said that they would be completed within two years. He said that these power plans would be equipped with the latest technology to generate electricity at low costs. The plants will burn 3.8 million tons of coal per year, and would generate 9 billion kWh of electricity per year.

“We are grateful to the Chinese for their help,” said Iqbal, describing CPEC as a "colossal project" that would be an important milestone not only for Pakistan, but "for the entire region."

Over 10-20 years, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will build a network of roads, railways and energy pipelines aiming to connect western Chinese cities, starting from Kashgar in China's Xinjiang province, to the sea port in Gwadar on the Indian Ocean. It will have both economic and military components. Power generation, transport, commerce, R&D and the defense of Pakistan all will be increasingly tied to Chinese investment, supplies and interests.

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be pitted against the US, India, Russia and Iran. The development of CPEC is one more step along that trend line. Pakistan Today and Express Tribune (Pakistan) and Dawn (Pakistan) and MWC

Skeptics claim that CPEC will only benefit China, not Pakistan

Many Pakistanis are pointing to a similar "gift" by China to Sri Lanka that turned into a financial disaster for Sri Lanka. As we described in January, China invested $1.2 billion in a Sri Lanka seaport on the Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka had expected to repay the debt through profits earned by the port, but instead the port lost money, and the government faced a disastrous debt. Sri Lanka's government was forced to give China a 99-year lease to take over the port, as a debt repayment. In addition, China will lease 15,000 acres in the region for an industrial zone for Chinese factories. Opponents say that thousands of people will lose their homes because of the project. They say that China will establish a "Chinese colony" on Sri Lankan soil that will grow and can never be removed.

With Sri Lanka's experience in mind, senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that the Chinese and Pakistan governments had failed to spell out what benefits would come to Pakistan. "China is our brother, but business is business."

Mashhadi said that Pakistan should not repeat the mistake it made with Nato in conjunction with the Afghanistan war. Military supplies for Nato arrive at Pakistan's port in Karachi, and then travel in huge trucks and tankers over Pakistan's highways and roads, ruining them, according to Mashhad, with Pakistan getting nothing in return for the damage they caused. According to Mashhadi:

"Thousands of vehicles will cross the CPEC and there must be an agreement as to who will bear the roads and highways maintenance cost.

It should also be made very clear as to who would get job opportunities in CPEC-related projects. Would Pakistani laborers and youth get jobs or mostly Chinese people would be engaged and get jobs in CPEC-related projects?"

In fact, he was informed that only Chinese industrialists would be allowed to set up their industries in the proposed economic zones along the corridor.

Further studies by Pakistani analysts had led to the conclusions that, based on interest rates normally charged by China Development Bank and China EXIM Bank, the cost of borrowing will surge to 13%, including insurance costs.

"Where will the benefit be for Pakistan? Will the Chinese give us some share of the profit? We are informed that Chinese banks charge us more interest than any other international bank."

The CPEC project will also bring about substantial demographic changes in the province of Balochistan. The Baloch people are Shia Muslims of Iranian descent, and have been the targets of numerous bloody terrorist attacks by terror groups linked to the Pakistan Taliban and to al-Qaeda. In addition, they've suffered economic discrimination within Pakistan itself.

Correction: A reader has sent me the following correction to the previous paragraph: "Baloch are not Shia Muslim neither their origin is Iranian. Baloch are Indo-European in origin. English, German, Persian and Kurdish are all Indo-European languages. The ethnicity is very different from Persians because our culture and our origin had similarities during antiquity but we always remained as two separate nations throughout the history." (Paragraph added. 26-Mar)

According to estimates from the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the CPEC project will result in an inflow of more than 600,000 Chinese people -- Chinese workers and their families -- diluting that Baloch population. Baloch activists claim that whatever economic benefits the CPEC project will bring to Pakistan, most of the benefits will go to the favored Punjab province. The CPEC project will use up all of Balochistan's natural resources, and the Baloch people will get nothing from it.

These are issues and questions whose resolution may not be forthcoming, in the current euphoria over the ground-breaking for the two 660-megawatt coal-fired power plants. Dawn (Pakistan, 1-Mar) and India Tribune and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Newsgram

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Pakistan will use dark financing to cover the cost of protecting Chinese workers

On October 24 of last year, at least 61 people, mostly fresh police recruits, were killed and 117 injured in a terror attack on a Police Training cottage in Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan in Pakistan, and close to the location of the future coal-fired power plant. The attackers were thought to be Afghan Uzbeks, affiliated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

ETIM is only one several jihadists terror groups that have been attacking Shia Muslim targets in Balochistan. Besides groups affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban, there are other groups affiliated with ETIM, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and other activist groups from the Uighur community in China's Xinjiang province, where the CPEC corridor will originate.

With 600,000 Chinese workers entering Pakistan every year, CPEC projects and Chinese workers will with certainty be a target of ETIM. Pakistan is creating a Special Security Division (SDD), a special force of 15,000 police, army and paramilitary troops, charged with the "security of Chinese on CPEC and non-CPEC projects." A successful terrorist attack on CPEC could halt the project for months.

All this security is going to cost $155 million. In order to raise this money, Pakistan plans to add these costs to people's utility bills.

Security has been a major concern for the Chinese, and they have emphasized this repeatedly. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily Times (Pakistan) and Dawn (12-March)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Mar-17 World View -- Massive China-Pakistan CPEC energy project said to end energy crisis 'soon' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Mar-17 World View -- Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul

UN's humanitarian agencies overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands flee Mosul

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN's humanitarian agencies overwhelmed as hundreds of thousands flee Mosul


Iraqi security forces advance during fighting against ISIS militants in western Mosul (AP)
Iraqi security forces advance during fighting against ISIS militants in western Mosul (AP)

Iraq's government forces continue to make territorial gains in west Mosul as they continue to battle to flush fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) out of their last urban stronghold in Iraq. West Mosul is the densely populated portion of the city located on the west bank of the Tigris River, which divides the city.

Iraq army began its Mosul offensive in October, with support from US artillery. The fight to eject ISIS from east Mosul has already been mostly completed.

Mosul had an estimated population of two million before ISIS took it over in June 2014 in a lightning assault. Since then, many Iraqis have fled, but somewhere between 750,000 and one million are thought to remain in west Mosul. Many of these people are trapped in west Mosul, because ISIS is shooting and killing any families that try to leave.

Unlike east Mosul, the streets in west Mosul are too narrow for armored vehicles, and any use of heavy weapons puts civilian lives in danger. So extremely bloody house to house fighting is required, with many homes booby-trapped with bombs by ISIS.

More than 180,000 people have already fled west Mosul. About 111,000 have sought shelter in refugee camps. The government says that it can accommodate a further 100,000 displaced people in camps.

However, the UN is saying that the numbers could rise far above that, and could overwhelm the UN's humanitarian agencies. According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: "Humanitarian agencies are bracing for the possibility that an additional 300,000-320,000 civilians may flee in coming weeks."

According to Lise Grande, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq: "We have been preparing for the Mosul operation for months, but the magnitude of the crisis has exceeded our expectations, but we will do our best to ensure that people are helped.

Grande says that the situation in east Mosul was different:

"The main difference is that tens of thousands of families stayed in their homes in the east. In the west, tens of thousands are fleeing.

If the number of people leaving the city increases faster than we can construct new plots, the situation could deteriorate very quickly."

Analysts expect the fighting in Mosul to last a few more weeks, if not months. Middle East Monitor and AFP and Euro News and Gulf Times

Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul

The American-led coalition that fought the Iraq war in the early 2000s was blamed and continues to be blamed for the crisis that followed the war, which was attributed to inadequate planning. Fears are increasing that the same problem will occur after ISIS is defeated in Iraq.

Australian analysts are expressing the fear that ISIS jihadists will go back to their home countries or to other countries and continue the fight there. According to Greg Barton, professor of Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University:

"We’re looking at a very grim future for the Middle East. If the government of Iraq can get its act together, they have half a chance of making things better, but we have every reason to worry that won’t be the case.

“We may well see ISIS forces coming back as we’ve seen Taliban forces in Afghanistan. We’ve been constantly underestimating strength and capacity, I think we’ll be repeating that error again and again."

Canada has been supporting the Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq with training, weapons and equipment, and now face the possibility that this support will backfire on Canada.

With Canadian support, the Iraqi Kurds have taken control with land regions during the fight to eject ISIS from Mosul, and they are not going to be willing to give them back. In November 2015, Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau was warned about the potential long-term consequences of supporting the Kurds:

"Should the (ISIS) threat recede, Baghdad will have to contend with a range of land disputes with the (Kurdish regional government), as well as strengthened Iraqi Kurdish forces, which have received training and equipment from coalition members, including Canada."

Three months later, the government announced it would triple the number of Canadian military trainers in northern Iraq and provide weapons to the Kurds.

Many in Canada are watching to see whether the Kurds plan to demand independence from the rest of Iraq, as their leaders have promised. This would lead to a major political crisis in Iraq, and possibly another war.

Furthermore, it will cause political chaos in Canada as well. It will be used as an argument for activists in Canada's own sovereigntist movement (Mouvement souverainiste du Québec), which is demanding independence for the province of Quebec. News.com (Australia) and CTV (Canada)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Mar-17 World View -- Concerns grow over chaos in Iraq after ISIS is defeated in Mosul thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Mar-17 World View -- Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide

A century of genocides

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide


Pope Francis meets Rwanda's president Paul Kagame on Monday (CNA)
Pope Francis meets Rwanda's president Paul Kagame on Monday (CNA)

In 1994, there were two major ethnic groups in Rwanda -- the Hutus and the Tutsis. They had lived together for decades, had intermarried, had their kids play games with each other and so forth.

The iconic genocidal war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi in 1994 was the culmination of centuries of generational crisis wars between the two tribes, where the Tutsis were the herders who controlled the land, and the Hutus were the farmers who worked for the Tutsis.

On April 6, a plane crash killed Juvenal Habyarimana, the president of Rwanda, a Hutu, when the plane was shot down by an unknown assailant. Next, a Hutu leader announced over the radio, "Cut down the tall trees," referring to the Tutsis, who were generally taller than Hutus. The radio announcement, which was heard all over the country, was some sort of prearranged signal. On cue, each Hutu did something like the following: Picked up a machete, went to the Tutsi home next door, or down the street, murdered and dismembered the man and children, raped the wife and then murdered and dismembered her.

Close to a million Tutsis were tortured, raped and murdered in a three month period. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is the purest modern example of an "organic" or "indigenous" genocide, as opposed to a government-ordered genocide such as is occurring today in Syria. And in Rwanda, it made no difference that almost everyone is Christian, mostly Catholic. All humans, of whatever religion, have the same DNA.

Since 1994, relations between Rwanda and the Vatican have been stormy, with the Tutsis accusing the Church of being close to the Hutus, and for having participated in the massacres. Although some Hutu clergy members helped the Tutsis, in other cases, Hutu clergy were perpetrators. In some cases, the Hutu clergy ushered Tutsis into church buildings, promising them security, and then allowed them to be slaughtered.

On Monday, Pope Francis met at the Vatican with Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, and issued a statement apologizing on behalf of the Catholic Church for the Church's involvement in the 1994 Rwanda genocide:

"In this context, the Pope conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi. He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events and ... he implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission. In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the Statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion, the Pope also expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a “purification of memory” and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together, once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the centre."

Pope Francis referred to a statement published by the Rwandan Bishops on November 20, 2016:

"We apologize for all the wrongs the Church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated (their) oath of allegiance to God’s commandments. ...

Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other."

While the Bishops' statement was welcomed last November, the government of Rwanda issued a stinging rebuke:

"This step is welcome, as individual expressions of remorse. However, its profound inadequacy only serves to highlight how far the Catholic Church still remains from a full and honest reckoning with its moral and legal responsibilities.

First, as they apologize on behalf of a few unnamed individuals, the bishops appear to take the extraordinary step of exonerating the Catholic Church as a whole for any culpability in connection with the Genocide. Everything in the historical record contradicts this divisive claim. ...

Finally, given the scale of the crimes, there is ample justification for an apology from the Vatican, as has occurred repeatedly with other cases of lesser magnitude."

This rebuke led to the Pope's apology on Monday. Vatican Press Release and Catholic News Agency (21-Nov-2016) and Govt of Rwanda (23-Nov-2016)

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A century of genocides

It is to the credit of the Catholic Church that the Pope is willing to apologize for its part in the Rwanda genocide, even if it take over 20 years for the apology to occur.

However, the Rwanda genocide should remind us that what Generational Dynamics tells us is true: That when it comes to genocide, every ethnic group, every religious group, every geographic group, is the same as every other. Indeed, if some religious or ethnic group refused to commit genocide, then in a matter of one or two centuries they would be exterminated by another group that wasn't so fastidious.

Whether a particular demographic group is involved in or inclined to genocide or ethnic cleansing or atrocities depends on which generational era its in. A group in a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, would be very reluctant to commit atrocities, because the atrocities from the previous generational crisis war would still be well remembered by its survivors. But as a group goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, as the survivors of the previous crisis war die off, as do the memories of the atrocities that occurred during that war, then the population is more willing to commit atrocities, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

People of the Muslim faith are most closely identified with atrocities in the current era, which isn't surprising since almost every atrocity in the news these days is almost always perpetrated by some Sunni Muslim jihadist group. However, it's worth pointing out that of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, there are only a very small number, probably in the thousands or tens of thousands, that support the al-Qaeda and ISIS atrocities.

From the point of view of generational theory, this situation is attributable to the fact most Sunni Muslim countries are deep into a generation Crisis era, much more so than the Christian nations. The reason is that their last crisis war for many Sunni Muslim nations was not World War II, but was World War I, including the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. This means that there are absolutely no Sunni Muslim survivors remaining who remember the horrors and atrocities of WW I, and the younger generations have no fear of repeating them.

People who say that there's a war by Muslims against Christians are completely missing the point. It's true that jihadist groups sometimes target Christians, but these are almost always little more than gruesome publicity stunts. The number of Christians being killed by Muslims is minuscule compared to the number of Muslims being killed by Muslims. Jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda or to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) are overwhelmingly targeting other Muslims, and rarely Christians.

The genocide being perpetrated by Syria's president Bashar al-Assad serves as an example to distinguish between government-perpetrated atrocities, for which al-Assad is responsible, and "organic" atrocities, such as those committed by ISIS fighters or the Hutus in Rwanda. As I've been reporting many times over the last couple of years, al-Assad's army is supporting him only half-heartedly, with massive numbers of desertions. Al-Assad himself said in 2015 that his army was near defeat, but was saved by the Russians. Syria is not in a generational Crisis era. It's in a generational Awakening era, and the public supports the war half-heartedly, just as the American public half-heartedly supported the Vietnam war in the 1960s.

From the point of view of generational theory, it's rare for a genocide or ethnic cleansing to be purely organic or government-led, but in an Awakening era it's going to be almost completely government-led, while in a Crisis era, it will be "organic," whether or not it's government led. In an Awakening era, the atrocities are often perpetrated by a leader who refused to lead office, such as we're seeing in Syria, Burundi, and Zimbabwe.

Two modern special cases are worth mentioning. In the Central African Republic (CAR), there are atrocities being committed on both sides, by both Muslims and Christians. CAR's last crisis war climaxed in 1932, so the country is well into a generational Crisis era, and that affects both the Christian and Muslim population.

The other special case is occurring in Myanmar (Burma), in the early stages of a generational Crisis era, where Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," are conducting atrocities targeting the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. The actions by the Buddhists were similar to the actions by the Nazis against the Jews.

So it's good that the Catholic Church has apologized for its participation in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, although it took over 20 years for the apology to be forthcoming. Perhaps in another 20 years, some Muslim clerics will apologize for the atrocities being committed today in the name of Islam.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Mar-17 World View -- Pope Francis apologizes for Catholic Church's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Mar-17 World View -- Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage

Suspicions grow that Kim Jong-nam's Malaysia assassination was not with VX nerve gas

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage


This is a baker in Caracas being arrested by a government inspector, with his illegal croissants in plain sight (BBC)
This is a baker in Caracas being arrested by a government inspector, with his illegal croissants in plain sight (BBC)

Just when you think that Venezuela's Socialist president Nicolás Maduro can't make himself look more like a total moron than he already has, something like this comes along: Bakers are being arrested.

Because flour is in short supply in the Socialist economy, Maduro has ordered bakeries to produce only French bread, white loaves, or pan canilla. Furthermore, all of these items are price-controlled, which means that they must be sold at the government-dictated price.

Bakers are now being arrested for the following crimes:

Inspectors are visiting all the bakeries to make sure that these rules are followed, and violators are arrested. Over 700 bakeries were inspected in Caracas.

For example, the bakers working in two different bakeries in the capital city Caracas were arrested over the weekend for selling bread loaves smaller than the government-dictated size. According to William Contreras, the head of Venezuela’s consumer protection agency, SUNDDE:

"A loaf should weigh 180 grams. These gentlemen here produce [their bread loaves] as 140 grams, and charge it as though it were 180."

While they're in jail, state-appointed bakers, probably one Maduro's political cronies, will run the bakery.

Venezuela's Socialist economy has been a disaster for years. Citizens have to queue for hours to get basics like milk, rice, flour, ketchup, diapers, and toilet paper. Crime and violence are rampant. 75% of Venezuelan homes are living in poverty. The government has ordered the jailing of factory owners if their factories cannot produce products as ordered. Venezuelanalysis and Bloomberg and BBC and Miami Herald

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Venezuela's political opposition now publishing inflation data

Venezuela's inflation rate is the highest in the world. In fact, it's gotten so high, that Venezuela's Socialist government has ordered the central bank to stop reporting it.

This has led to something new. At the beginning of this month, Maduro's political opposition in congress has started publishing its own inflation rate. They've enlisted economics students to collect price data, and they've enlisted economics students to collect price data in five cities and asked former central bank employees to process it using the central bank's methodology.

Their measurements show prices rose 741 percent in the 12 months to February, 20.1 percent last month alone and 42.5 percent in the first two months of 2017. Reuters (9-Mar)

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Suspicions grow that Kim Jong-nam's Malaysia assassination was not with VX nerve gas

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia on February 13, minutes after two women each rubbed his face with a cloth in the middle of the airport.

An autopsy by Malaysian doctors concluded that the poison that killed him was VX nerve gas. Touching just one drop of VX can kill you within minutes, which appears to have happened to Kim Jong-nam. The problem is that questions were immediately raised about why the two women who applied the poison weren't also killed, and why nobody else in the airport was harmed, including the medics who initially treated Kim.

A month has passed, and the Malaysian authorities have released no forensic evidence to back up the VX claim, and indeed almost no forensic evidence at all. This is raising suspicions that something doesn't add up. According to one expert:

"I cannot see how the accused women would have administered a fatal dose of VX directly to the victim without sustaining corresponding life-threatening injuries themselves.

There is also no report of any trace of VX - or of any cloths or containers carrying traces of it - at the 'crime scene'."

However, there is one explanation that might make sense. A "binary" version of VX, called VX2, has two components that are individually harmless, but lethal when mixed. There were two women involved, and each one could have applied one of the components to the victim's face, so that they were only mixed on the victim's face.

That doesn't explain everything -- like how the medics who treated Kim escaped contamination. Straits Times (Singapore) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Mar-17 World View -- Venezuela's Socialist government arrests bakers because of bread shortage thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Mar-17 World View -- Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan

Jordan has to live with increasing threats from Syria and Israel

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan


Map of region.  Israeli warplanes struck Lebanon-bound convoy near the T-4 airbase near Palmyra.  Syrian Russian-made S-200 ground to air missiles targeted the Israeli planes without success.  One was intercepted by Israel's Arrow missile system.  This map also depicts (red arrow) a claim by Debka that Hezbollah may be planning an attack on Israeli-held Mount Hermon.  (Debka)
Map of region. Israeli warplanes struck Lebanon-bound convoy near the T-4 airbase near Palmyra. Syrian Russian-made S-200 ground to air missiles targeted the Israeli planes without success. One was intercepted by Israel's Arrow missile system. This map also depicts (red arrow) a claim by Debka that Hezbollah may be planning an attack on Israeli-held Mount Hermon. (Debka)

The most serious incident between Israel and Syria since the Syrian civil war began six years ago occurred early Friday morning when Syrian anti-aircraft missiles were shot down by Israel's Arrow 3 anti-missile defense system. The Syrian missiles were targeting Israeli warplanes attacking a convoy of trucks carrying advanced weapons from northern Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel's warplanes were attacking a convoy of trucks leaving Syria's T-4 airbase near Palmyra in northern Syria. The trucks were believed to be carrying advanced weapons systems to be delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon for use in its attacks on Israel. The advanced weapons may have included precision rockets, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and surface-to-ship missiles.

Israel has attacked weapons convoys traveling from Syria to Lebanon in the past, but the first thing that's unprecedented about this attack is that it has been confirmed by Israel's military. In the past, Israel has refused to comment on its attacks on weapons convoys. However, in April 2016, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted for the first time that Israel had in the past attacked dozens of convoys transporting weapons in Syria destined for Hezbollah,

The second unprecedented thing is that the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad launched three or four ground-to-air missiles to attack the Israeli warplanes. In the case of past attacks on weapons convoys, there were no such anti-aircraft missile attacks.

The missiles were apparently outdated Russian-made S-200 (SA-5) surface-to-air missiles. Syria launched them when Israel's warplanes were in Israeli airspace. According to one report, it's possible that the missile attack on the convoy was launched from the warplanes while they were still in Israeli airspace. Syria claims to have downed one Israeli plane, but Israel says that none of its planes was hit. However, at least one of the missiles was headed for Israeli territory.

The third unprecedented thing is that Israel launched an Arrow-3 anti-missile missile to intercept the incoming missile before it reached Israeli territory. This is the first time that the Arrow system has made an operational appearance.

Israel would have liked to keep its use of the Arrow system secret, but when it intercepted the incoming Syrian missile, it made a deafening bang that could be heard for more than 150 km. The Syrian missile was intercepted over the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, and parts of the missile landed in Jordan, doing little or no damage.

This unprecedented clash between Israel and Syria may indicate that the rules have changed. Israel has attacked weapons convoys in the past, but only when there were major weapons systems being delivered to Hezbollah, as was apparently the case this time. Weapons convoys with smaller weapons have not been attacked.

But while the al-Assad regime has threatened in the past to retaliate, it never has actually done so. After another Israeli airstrike in January, that al-Assad regime said that it would no longer tolerate any such incursions on Syrian airspace. This this is the first time the threat has been put into action. This may signal that al-Assad, secure in support from Russia and Iran, may now try to shift the war to Israel. Haaretz (Israel) and CNN and Debka and SANA (Damascus)

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Russia summons Israeli envoy to demand an explanation

On Friday, Russia summoned Israel's ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren and demanded an explanation for the attack. According to a statement by Russia's Foreign Ministry, "recent developments in Syria" were discussed.

Israel's attacks on weapons convoys in the past could only have taken place with Russia's approval, though obviously not with the approval of the al-Assad regime, Hezbollah or Iran. Russia considers itself to be an ally of both Syria and Israel, and does not wish to allow a war to develop between them, so therefore tolerates the Israeli attacks on weapons convoys going to Hezbollah.

In this case, Russia may have been concerned because the airstrikes occurred near the T-4 airbase that houses Russian weapons, warplanes and helicopters, and is a landing field for Iranian supply planes. What's not clear at this time is whether Russia wants to change the rules of the game and limit Israel's attacks on such convoys.

However, after Koren met with Russian officials, a defiant Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not change its policy:

"When we identify attempts to transfer advanced arms to Hezbollah, and we have intelligence information and we have the operational plan, we act to prevent it. That's how it was yesterday and that's how we shall continue to act.

We are fully determined and the evidence of that it that we are acting. Everybody must take that into account — everybody."

By "everybody," we can assume that he's referring to Russia, as well as to Syria, Hezbollah and Iran. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. France 24 and Western Journalism and AFP

Jordan has to live with increasing threats from Syria and Israel

A strategic analyst in Jordan said on Saturday that Jordan will have to live with security threats, as long as the war in Syria continues. He was responding to the situation where shrapnel from the Syria-Israel missile exchange landed in Jordan.

According to Rt. Major General Fayez Dweiri

"This is a violation of Jordan’s airspace from both the Israeli and the Syrian sides. Jordan does not possess the military capability to prevent such attacks.

The Kingdom has to live with this situation. What it can do is to manage the situation, to neutralize any threats as much as it can under the circumstances."

Jordan Times

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Mar-17 World View -- Israel and Syria have unprecedented missile clash over Jordan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Mar-17 World View -- Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China

China begins construction on Philippines' Scarborough Shoal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China


 Taiwanese soldiers stand next to home-made Tien Chien surface-to-air missiles during an annual drill in Tainan, January 17, 2017. (AFP)
Taiwanese soldiers stand next to home-made Tien Chien surface-to-air missiles during an annual drill in Tainan, January 17, 2017. (AFP)

A major Taiwan government defense report, the "2017 Quadrennial Defense Review" (QDR), says that China's accelerated military development and recent activity by its military aircraft and ships around Taiwan pose an increased threat to the self-ruled island. This is the third QDR published by Taiwan, with the first two published in 2009 and 2013, respectively.

According to the 2017 QDR:

"The recent activity of Chinese jets and ships around Taiwan shows the continued rise in [China’s] military threat capabilities. In addition to posing a military threat to our country, it also has a negative impact on regional stability. ...

The country’s military development and Taiwan’s freedom and prosperity are the same living body. ...

With the rapid growth of China’s defense budget, the People’s Liberation Army has made considerable progress to modernize and reform its military. It has the ability to blockade Taiwan, launch combined operations, and seize and hold Taiwan’s outlying islands. ...

[If China invades, Taiwan will] resist enemy troops at their home bases, strike them at sea, destroy them as they approach Taiwan’s coastlines and annihilate them on the beaches."

Taiwan plans to acquire stealth jet fighters as a deterrent. However, the report acknowledges that Taiwan cannot compete with China's army, in view of its explosive growth in power and equipment, and so Taiwan must look for asymmetric ways to provide a defense, using a "multi-deterrence" strategy that presents the enemy with multiple dilemmas. According to the report, Taiwan will boost its cyberwarfare capabilities, ensure the security of its command-control and information infrastructure, and strengthen joint counterattack readiness. Reuters and Taipei Times and Straits Times (Singapore) and Russia Today

China responds harshly to Taiwan's defense report

China's premier Li Keqiang said that China was resolutely opposed to Taiwan's independence:

"No matter how the situation on the island may evolve, the fraternal bond between the two sides cannot be severed and will not be able to change history or the fact that both sides belong to one and the same China."

A highly nationalistic editorial appeared in China's state-run Global Times explaining that Taiwan's QDR has no military value, because China's military is so strong that even with support of the United States, Taiwan's military have no will to fight:

"The "multi-deterrence" strategy aims to force the enemy into multi-dilemmas. As ambitious as it is, it has almost no actual military value.

With the development of military strength on the Chinese mainland, the will of Taiwan's military to confront their mainland counterparts has almost collapsed. No soldiers believe Taiwan forces are capable to defend the island if the People's Liberation Army (PLA) launches a comprehensive offensive against Taiwan.

The new QDR claims that the PLA is capable of seizing Taiwan's offshore islands. But isn't it an easy thing for the PLA to seize the whole island of Taiwan?

The Taiwan military cannot match the present-day PLA. The mainland's military budget is more than 10 times that of Taiwan, and the PLA has superior strategic tools and systemic combat capabilities that their Taiwan counterparts don't have. ...

Taiwan has taken deterring the mainland as a key strategy, and constantly changed its deterrence tactics. But there is no need for the island to deter the mainland, as the mainland cherishes peace and won't resort to force unless it's absolutely necessary. If Taiwan is controlled by radial pro-independence forces, Taiwan's military, even with the help of the main US military forces, will not be able to deter the mainland.

Therefore, the most important thing for Taiwan is not to provoke the one-China policy. This is the correct political way to protect the island's security."

The last paragraph refers to China's "anti-secession law," which China passed in 2005. The law says that China will invade Taiwan even if there's no more than talk of independence. Last year's election of Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen, of the Democratic Progressive Party that has historically favored independence, and then last year's phone call between Tsai and candidate Donald Trump have enormously increased tensions. Arguably, the necessary conditions to trigger the anti-secession law have already occurred.

Nonetheless, the above editorial is typical of the really stupid things that people say during a generational Crisis era. China has been illegally annexing other countries' territories in the South China Sea, the kind of thing that Adolf Hitler did, and nobody is confronting China. In 1988, China easily won a naval war with Vietnam in the Spratly Islands. The Chinese people no longer have any memory of being defeated by an enemy, as they were by the Japanese in World War II until America saved them. So with decades of mostly military success, with a belief that other countries do not have the will to fight, and with an explosively growing military capability, many in China believe that China's military can do anything it wants with impunity. This is the kind of mistake that leads to generational crisis wars, and it's a historic mistake by the Chinese that will lead to disaster for China and disaster for everyone else as well. Global Times

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Taiwan's government responds to China's threats

Taiwan's government responded to China's threats, but the response was just as delusional. Taiwan's Lt. Gen. Chiang Chen-chung noted that the Chinese army base closest to Taiwan under China's Eastern Theater Command is only 250 kilometers away from the coastline of Taiwan, with the most distant 1,380 km away from Taiwan. Chiang said that Taiwan's military had the ability to strike China's army bases with missiles. The implication was that China wouldn't attack Taiwan, because that would risk having their bases attacked.

Taiwan's former deputy defense minister Lin Chong-pin said that it was pointless to try to compete with China's military, and so the military should focus on urban guerilla warfare and adopt a "war of paralysis" against the Chinese military. "It will be too expensive, too messy, and any bloodshed would do great damage to China's claim of peaceful reunification... that would be a very effective deterrent."

So we have two delusional populations headed for war with each other. That's how history's greatest catastrophes begin. China Post (Taiwan) and Taipei Times and Straits Times (Singapore)

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China begins construction on Philippines' Scarborough Shoal

A Chinese Communist Party official is being quoted by Chinese media as saying that China will begin building permanent structures in the Scarborough Shoal and other South China Sea islands, and that this work will be one of the government's top priorities in 2017.

Last year, the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration handed China a humiliating defeat by declaring its activities in the South China Sea to be illegal. Nonetheless, China has continued annexing other countries' regions and building illegal artificial islands and military bases.

Last year, President Barack Obama warned China's President Xi Jinping last year against building an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal. A Chinese military base on Scarborough Shoal would put Chinese fighter jets and missiles within easy striking distance of US forces that are stationed in the Philippines, as well as the Philippines' own forces. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Well, to nobody's real surprise, China is now preparing to build an "environment monitoring station" on Scarborough Shoal. And nobody really believes that its purpose is just to monitor the environment.

During his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson said that China's access to its artificial islands should not be allowed.

So now, as China continues to militarize the South China Sea in preparation for war, we'll have to see whether the United States follows through on its promise to block China's access to Scarborough Shoal and its artificial islands, which will lead to a world war, or whether the United States will just stand by and let China continue to militarize the South China Sea with impunity, which will also lead to a world war. That's a variation of what's known as "Hobson's Choice." AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Mar-17 World View -- Taiwan says it must defend against increasingly threatening China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Mar-17 World View -- Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya

Russian intervention comes as fighting between Libya's militias increases

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya


Khalifah Haftar (dpa)
Khalifah Haftar (dpa)

According to a news report from Reuters, both American and Egyptian sources are saying on background that a 22-member Russian special forces unit and drones have been deployed to the Sidi Barrani airbase in Egypt, about 60 miles from the border with Libya. The Egyptian sources added that Russian military aircraft in February had flown about six military units to an Egyptian seaport base in Marsa Matrouh before the aircraft continued to Libya about 10 days later.

Both Russia and Egypt are known to support Khalifa Haftar (or Hifter), a "renegade" leader who controls much of eastern Libya. Hafter visited the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov when it was leaving the Syrian coast for Russia. An earlier report confirmed that a force of several dozen armed private security contractors from Russia had operated in Libya in support of Haftar. Analysts are suggesting that Russia wants to infiltrate Libya in the same way that Russia infiltrated Ukraine and Syria.

A Russian state media report claims that Egypt's Defense Ministry has denied reports that Russian troops are in Libya. The report quotes Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov as saying:

"There are no Russian special forces in Sidi Barrani. Certain Western media have been stirring the public with such mud-slinging from anonymous sources for years."

So what's the truth here? What we have a history of what happened in Ukraine and Syria, where almost every statement that came from the Russia and Russia's president Vladimir Putin seemed to be a lie.

Russia lied about invading east Ukraine when it had Russian troops in east Ukraine. Russia lied about invading Crimea, and Putin said Russia had no intention of annexing Crimea, but then annexed Crimea a few days later and gave medals to the military officers who had invaded Crimea. Later, in a televised interview, Putin bragged that he had ordered the invasion and annexation of Crimea weeks before it occurred, and then lied about it. Russia also lied after shooting down a passenger plane over Ukraine.

For Syria, Russia lied about Syria's president al-Bashar Assad's use of Sarin gas on his own people, Russia lied about the purpose of its military intervention into Syria as being to attack the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Even worse, Russia hired hundreds of paid internet trolls to attack and harass people like me who write about what Russia was actually doing in Ukraine and Syria.

So now we may be seeing the same thing happen all over again. Perhaps, as Jean-Claude Jüncker famously said, "When it's serious, you have to lie," but like Aesop's fable about the boy who cried "wolf," Russia has lied so many times that they won't be believed even if, by chance, they happen to be telling the truth. Reuters and Deutsche Welle and Reuters and Sputnik News (Moscow) and Aesop: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

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Russian intervention comes as fighting between Libya's militias increases

Libya's government under Muammar Gaddafi was relatively stable until the "Arab Spring" of January 2011, which was triggered by the death of a Tunisian food vendor, resulting in violent protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and then in Libya. By February, the bloodbath in Libya had spread from Benghazi and Tobruk in the east to Tripoli in the west. Muammar Gaddafi declared war on the protesters. He threatened to shoot to kill protesters, and said he would crush any enemy. By April, hundreds of thousands of refugees from Libya were pouring into neighboring countries, and thousands were crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy. The Arab League asked the West to intervene, as Gaddafi was threatening a bloody massacre in several cities, especially Benghazi. The West did finally intervene, and ousted Gaddafi, leaving the country at the mercy of warlords and al-Qaeda.

Today there are several governments in Libya:

Fighting and violence have been increasing in both the east and the west. Thousands of armed men from all sides have been converging on Libya's main oil shipping terminals. Some of the bloodiest fighting in three years is going on now, mainly to gain control of oil fields. The fighting may cause global oil prices to rise.

Officials in America and Europe suspect that Russia is planning to take advantage of the chaos in Libya and take control of the country by acting as it did in Ukraine and Syria.

Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, head of U.S. Africa Command, testified to Congress last week: "Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who becomes, and what entity becomes, in charge of the government inside Libya." Italian politicians say Russia’s mounting interest in Libya appears be part of a larger bid to rekindle Soviet-era influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based military analyst, said:

"Russia's relationship with Haftar is the result of a very simple equation. Russia backs Egypt, Haftar's main supporter. General Haftar has declared war on terrorism and this coincides with Russia's main objective in the region: wiping out the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State. ...

Russia is not sending its troops to help Haftar and is unlikely to do so in the near future. We are rather relying on private military contractors and mercenaries. We are already using contractors in Syria, where they are suffering serious losses, because they are doing the real fighting instead of Russian servicemen. Private contractors are very convenient because they have no political strings attached.

Contractors are cheaper [than servicemen] and we need to use our financial resources as best as we can. With the conflict in Donbass simmering, Crimea, the war in Syria still under way, Russia doesn't have the appetite or the resources to go into Libya," Felgenhauer said. "Russia is keen on establishing a foothold in Libya and have some influence there, but committing resources is a different matter."

Felgenhauer didn't deny reports that Russia is negotiating with Egypt to build a Russian military base in Egypt on the border with Libya, in return for providing economic aid to Egypt. Egypt Independent and Military Times and VOA and Al Jazeera and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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E-mail problems

My web site's e-mail server was down for much of the last two days. Any e-mail messages sent to me should be re-sent. Sorry for the inconvenience.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Mar-17 World View -- Russia denies reports of Russian special forces in eastern Libya thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Mar-17 World View -- Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire

Syria's Bashar al-Assad says that the Americans are invaders

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire


Aftermath of terrorist bombing in Damascus (CNN)
Aftermath of terrorist bombing in Damascus (CNN)

Wednesday was another day of a great deal of bloody violence across Syria, at a time when there's supposed to be a ceasefire in effect and peace talks in process.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at old Justice Palace building, Syria's central court, in the heart of Damascus. The terrorist, who was dressed in a military uniform and was carrying a gun and a grenade, was stopped by the guards at the external door of the old Justice Palace building. After he handed over his gun and grenade to the guards as he was told to do, he ran quickly towards the door of the lobby of the Justice Palace, where there was a large were a large group of people, and blew himself up. At least 32 people were killed and 100 wounded.

An hour later, another suicide bomber struck at a restaurant at the outskirts of Damascus, killing a large number of civilians, mostly women and children.

On Saturday, 74 people were killed and 120 more were injured. The casualties were mostly Shia pilgrims visiting one of Shia Islam's holiest sites, the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. Two weeks earlier, a complex, well-planned terror attack in Homs on one of Syria's most highly secure military installations killed 32 people. An indigenous Sunni jihadist group, Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), formerly the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra, took credit for Saturday's attack and the attack in Homs.

Nobody has taken credit for the latest terror attacks in Damascus on Wednesday. LLC issued a statement denying responsibility for Wednesday's attacks, saying that its targets are restricted to security and military installations, but that's obviously a lie since Saturday's attack was on innocent Shia pilgrims visiting a cemetary.

A delusional Syrian official said that "the terrorist bombings reflect the state of collapse within the ranks of the terrorist organizations as a result of the resilience of the Syrian people and the victories of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies." He added that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are to blame for the terror attacks.

According to Democratic Senator Tim Kaine on Wednesday:

"The Syrian civil war -- one of the world's worst humanitarian crises since World War II -- continues to be the most dangerous and destabilizing conflict in the Middle East today.

Six years in, Assad has created a safe haven for ISIS and Al-Qaeda, while he commits unspeakable acts of violence against his own people."

In other ceasefire activity, 21 people were killed in Idlib by Syrian and/or Russian warplanes.

SANA (Damascus) and SFGate and AFP

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Russian troops join Americans, Kurds, Sunni rebels in Manbij, Syria

As we've been reporting, American troops have been deployed to the Syrian city of Manbij to keep the Sunni rebels loyal to Turkey and the Kurdish militias, both allies of the United States, from killing each other.

Now Russian troops are also in Manbij, and according to a US official on Wednesday, the American and Russian troops can clearly see each other. According to a military spokesman:

"They can observe each other's movements. They can see each other. They are not talking to each other, and they are not hanging out together."

A plan to deploy an additional 1,000 ground troops to northern Syria is awaiting approval by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump. The additional troops will be used for the operation in Raqqa, considered to be the capital city of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). AFP and Military Times and Washington Post

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Syria's Bashar al-Assad says that the Americans are invaders

In an interview with Hong Kong based Phoenix TV, Syria's president Bashar al-Assad said that the American troops are invaders:

Question 8: Now, US troops are in Manbij. Is the greenlight from your side? Did you open the door for these American troops?

President Assad: No, no, we didn’t. Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one. And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions."

In the same interview, al-Assad was also asked how long the war would last, and he gave a totally delusional answer:

Question 14: "How many days do you think this war is going to last?"

President Assad: "If we presume that you don’t have foreign intervention, it will take a few months. It’s not very complicated internally. The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem. So, in the face of that intervention, the good thing that we gained during the war is the unity of the society. At the very beginning, the vision for many Syrians wasn’t very clear about what’s happening. Many believed the propaganda of the West about the reality, about the real story, that this is against the oppression. If it’s against the oppression, why the people in Saudi Arabia didn’t revolt, for example? So, now what we gained is this, this is our strongest foundation to end that war. We always have hope that this year is going to be the last year. But at the end, this is war and you can’t expect what is going to happen precisely."

So it's good to remember how we got here. The civil war in Syria was caused by al-Assad when he unleashed his army and air force against peaceful protesters in 2011. Up to that point, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were friendly with al-Assad. Things really turned around in August 2011, when al-Assad launched a massive military assault on a large, peaceful Palestinian refugee camp in Latakia, filled with tens of thousands of women and children Palestinians.

Al-Assad's unprovoked attack on this refugee camp, and the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian women and children, drew young jihadists from around the world to Syria to fight al-Assad, resulting in the formation of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Sunnis in Syria itself turned against al-Assad, forming either "moderate" rebel militias or joining the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, which is now the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC). Al-Assad is responsible for displacing millions of Syrians, including over a million that have flowed into Europe as refugees.

There is zero probability that the Syrian civil war will end as long as al-Assad is in power. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. SANA (Damascus)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Mar-17 World View -- Terrorist bombings in Damascus, airstrikes in Idlib, break Syria's ceasefire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Mar-17 World View -- Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran

Iran - Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran


Manama's Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests.  The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.
Manama's Pearl Square after March 15, 2011, Arab Spring protests. The beautiful Pearl monument was torn down by the regime on March 18, because it was thought to be encouraging protests.

A ruling in the trial of Bahrain's leading Shia cleric, Sheikh Isa Ahmed Qasim, on charges of corruption and money laundering, was postponed on Tuesday to May 7. No reason was given for the postponement, but it was announced after an Iranian cleric said that the arrest of Qasim would be followed by a "bloodbath" in Bahrain. Qasim was also charged with promoting "sectarianism and violence" and "helping terrorism." On Sunday, a senior adviser to Iran's parliament said:

"Holding trial for Ayatollah Sheikh Qassim is an unwise act and the Bahraini government should know that it will never be able to bear the consequences of such an unwise measure.

"The Bahraini government is facing a serious crisis much worse than the challenge that it faced when detaining Sheikh Ali Salman, as trying Ayatollah Issa Qasim will be the depth of the crisis."

In a speech on Monday in Iran, Sheikh Abdullah al-Daqqaq said:

"The Bahraini government felt threatened by the popular uprising under the leadership of Sheikh Qasim and has taken some measures against him.

Bahraini youths will not leave their leader (Qasim) alone. If Sheikh Isa Qasim is arrested a bloodbath will occur in Bahrain."

Al-Daqqaq called for nationwide strikes and civil disobedience.

Bahrain is led by an oppressive Sunni Muslim government closely allied with Saudi Arabia. Tensions are high because 2/3 of the the population are Shia Muslim, while only 1/3 are Sunni Muslim. In the days following the "Arab Spring" protests in 2011, Bahrain's security services overreacted with extremely violent and bloody massacres of unarmed protesters, backed up by troops from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi troops arrived in Bahrain after crossing a long bridge connecting the two countries. The protests began in Bahrain on February 14, 2011. Dozens of protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested, and thousands were injured.

Writing about Iran and Bahrain is always interesting, because both countries are equally bloody, jailing, massacring and torturing peaceful protesters. Reuters and Ahlul Bayt News Agency (Tehran) and Tasnim News (Tehran)

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Iran - Saudi Arabia relations continue to deteriorate

The increasingly sectarian war in Syria between Shia/Alawites and Sunni Muslims continues to polarize the entire Mideast along the Shia-Sunni fault line. This has been particularly true in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, respectively the major Sunni Muslim country and the major Shia Muslim country.

Relations between the two countries became explosive early in 2016 when Saudi Arabia executed 47 alleged terrorists -- 46 Sunnis and one Shia, Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr. Iran and Shias were infuriated because the execution implied that Shia terrorism is equivalent to Sunni terrorism. Iranian mobs firebombed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, and attacked the consulate in Meshaad. Saudi Arabia and Iran broke diplomatic relations as a result. Other Saudi allies followed suit.

There are many bitter disagreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and one of the worst is the outcome of stampede that occurred at the annual Hajj pilgrimage near Mecca in 2015. All Muslims are required to take part in the Hajj at least one in their lifetimes, and so there are always millions of people taking part each year. In 2015, one of the roads became so crowded with people that there was a stampede that killed hundreds of people who were trampled to death, including 464 Iranians. Although Saudi officials blamed "inevitable fate and destiny" for the disaster, Iranian officials blamed the disaster on the incompetence of Saudi officials, and even criminal acts by them.

Iran banned Iranians from attending the Hajj in 2016, after months of talks between the two countries failed to lead to agreement over blame for the 2015 incident and security guarantees for the 2016 Hajj. The 2017 Hajj will occur in August. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in talks over the same issues as in 2016, and although "relative progress" has been claimed, it's quite possible that Iranians will be banned from this year's Hajj as well.

Another major issue separating Saudi Arabia and Iran is the war in Yemen, where Iran-backed Houthi rebels are fighting Saudi-backed Sunni militias, supported by Saudi airstrikes.

China has offered to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to China's foreign minister Wang Yi:

"We hope that Saudi Arabia and Iran can resolve the problems that exist between them via equal and friendly consultations. China is friends with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. If there is a need China is willing to play our necessary role."

China is actively seeking friendship with all Mideast countries, since it needs to import vast amounts of oil. However, as regular readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China will be allied with the Sunni Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, while the West will be allied with Iran, Russia and India. Al Monitor and Al Araby

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Mar-17 World View -- Bahrain postpones trial of Shia cleric after threats from Iran thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Mar-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea

A sad picture

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea


China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent meeting (AP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent meeting (AP)

In what some are describing as a "World War II show of force," Japan is planning to send its largest warship, the JS Izumo, to the South China Sea during the summer. It will train with the US Navy in the South China Sea, will make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and will join Indian and U.S. naval forces in the Indian Ocean for military exercises in July.

The JS Izumo is not a traditional aircraft carrier, but is called a "helicopter destroyer." It can carry up to fourteen helicopters, and specializes primarily in anti-submarine missions. The threat of an expanded Chinese submarine fleet was a key driver of Japan developing the Izumo.

The word "destroyer" usually refers to a warship equipped to serve in a defensive rather than an offensive role. This is necessary because Japan's post-war pacifist constitution forbids acquisition of offensive weapons, and forbids military action except in self-defense on Japanese soil. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been campaigning for years to amend the constitution to permit offensive operations, but the proposal has been extremely controversial. Instead, Abe has succeeded in redefining "self-defense" to mean "collective self-defense," which allows Japanese to defend Japan's allies anywhere in the world. The "helicopter destroyer" designation is consistent with the warship's use for collective self-defense.

China has repeatedly objected to Japan operating warships in the South China Sea. Referring to World War II, China's foreign ministry spokesman said last year:

"Japan should reflect upon rather than forget what it has done during the aggression, act and speak cautiously on issues concerning the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and make more efforts to increase mutual trust with its neighbors and promote regional peace and stability instead of sowing discord."

In fact, naming the warship "Izumo" is highly symbolic, as it's the name of a Japanese World War II warship which was originally used in a decisive Japanese victory in the 1905 Battle of Tsushima in a war between Russia and Japan. US Naval Institute and Reuters

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A sad picture

There's so much sadness in the world, in all the subjects that I write about. I can usually get through it by pretending that it's all happening on another planet, but this picture in Syria really got to me:



What a sad picture. As one person pointed out, it looks like one of those dystopian movies from the 70s and 80s. Al-Jazeera

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Mar-17 World View -- Japan's largest warship will train with US Navy in the South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Mar-17 World View -- Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria

Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria


Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)
Aftermath of double terror explosions in Damascus suburb (ARA News)

Two explosions killed 74 people and injured 120 more in Damascus, the capital city of Syria, on Saturday. The second of the two explosions went off ten minutes after the first, killing many who came to help the wounded from the first explosion.

The attacks targeted Shia pilgrims from Iraq who were visiting one of Shia Islam's holiest sites, the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. The cemetery is near one of the seven gates of the old city of Damascus, and many prominent religious figures are buried there, including family members of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Sunday, a group with the previously unknown name Levant Liberation Committee (LLC), also known as Tahrir al-Sham, took credit for the attacks. LLC is the current incarnation of the former al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front). The group issued a statement saying that it was targeting Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad and Iran-linked Shia targets in general:

"On Saturday... a twin attack was carried out by two heroes of Islam ... in the center of the capital Damascus, killing and wounding dozens. ...

Iran and its militias have, from the start of the revolution, supported the tyrannical and criminal regime and have been killing and displacing our people, This is a message to Iran and its militias that the right will not go wasted."

Last year, the delusional Bashar al-Assad issued a delusional statement saying that the destruction of Aleppo would be a victory that would be remembered throughout history, and that it would end the war, since the jihadists would no longer have any reason to continue fighting. In December, a ceasefire came into effect, brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey, but it's never been a ceasefire in more than in name only.

Two weeks ago, the LLC carried out another major terrorist attack, this one in Homs. It was a very complex, well-planned attack on some of al-Assad's most highly secure military installations, killing 32 people and injuring dozens more. In particular, Major-General Hassan Daaboul, head of Syrian regime's Military Security Department, was killed during the attacks.

There has never been any credible reason to support al-Assad's delusional belief that a victory in Aleppo or any other city would bring about the end of Syria's civil war. These two terror attacks by a single group, two weeks ago in Homs and on Saturday in Damascus, obviously have the objectives of stoking sectarian Sunni vs Shia conflicts and of proving to al-Assad, Russia and Iran that the war is far from over.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. The actions by this terror group bring that day much closer. ARA News (Damascus) and France 24 and Deutsche Welle

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Al-Nusra becomes Levant Liberation Committee (LLC) and gains at expense of ISIS

In January 2012, a shadowy al-Qaeda linked terrorist group called the "al-Nusra Battlefront" appeared in Syria and conducted a series of car and bomb attacks. In May of that year, it was behind the first major terror attack against the al-Assad regime, twin suicide car bombs outside a military intelligence building in Damascus, killing 55 people. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, issued a statement asking terrorists to support the group.

In 2012-3, a parallel development occurred, when thousands of young jihadists came to Syria to fight al-Assad, who was massacring, torturing and committing atrocities against thousands of Sunni Muslims in Syria, including many women and children. Al-Assad's attack on a Palestinian refugee camp near Latakia in August 2011 in particular energized young jihadists around the world. They came to Syria and formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Thus, Syrian jihadists joined Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra front), while foreign jihadists joined ISIS. Since then, ISIS expanded into Iraq and had some major successes, but today is under attack and facing existential threats in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria.

Al-Nusra, which is a jihadist group of mostly local Syrian fighters, appears to have taken a more methodical approach, without overstretching as ISIS did. Many anti-Assad fighters in Syria didn't want to join a foreign terror organization like al-Qaeda, since they felt that their fight was against al-Assad, but not targets in Asia or Europe or other countries. So in July of last year, al-Nusra split with al-Qaeda, and changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria). Many people have doubted the sincerity of that split, but it did have the purpose of making the group more welcoming to Syrians who wanted to fight al-Assad, but didn't want to join al-Qaeda.

In January, JFS announced another organizational change and another name change. It would become Hayat Tahrir al-Sham -- Liberation of the Levant Organization, or the Levant Liberation Committee (LLC). Furthermore, LLC would be a merger with four smaller local groups -- the Nour al-Din Zinki Movement, one of the most important opposition factions in Aleppo province, Ansar al-Din Front, the Homs-based Jaysh al-Sunnah, and Liwa al-Haqq, which operates in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama provinces. Under the new name, LLC has conducted two spectacular terrorist acts in the last two weeks, the one in Homs two weeks ago, and the one in Damascus on Saturday.

This seems to point to a trend that we already suggested in our article two days ago on Syria and Afghanistan. ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, and it supports that claim by taking credit for any terrorist attack anywhere, whether it was part of it or not. In addition, some local jihadist groups are pledging allegiance to ISIS, giving it the appearance of being larger than it is.

Although ISIS was successful in drawing thousands of jihadists to Syria, it really doesn't make sense for someone to want to spend his life fighting someone else's war in someone else's country. So while ISIS is claiming to be an international organization, what we're seeing is that it's really a collection of local jihadist groups in different countries, with no real connection to one another beyond public relations.

In Syria, the al-Assad regime rarely attacked ISIS, and considered them his ally, because they were fighting against al-Nusra and other Sunni groups, which were al-Assad's real targets. However, now we see that this has not ended well for either al-Assad or ISIS. ISIS is under attack from local Kurdish and Arab militias in Mosul and Raqqa, and al-Assad is under attack from local LLC militias in Damascus and Homs.

One can enjoy a certain amount of Schadenfreude that when a psychopathic war criminal like al-Assad decided to ally himself with a horrific terror group like ISIS, it's ending badly for both of them. Making a deal with the devil really doesn't seem to pay off, even for another devil. Unfortunately, as Generational Dynamics predicts, when these two devils become allies it also means that the rest of us will suffer, as the Mideast heads into a major sectarian war that will engulf the region and the world. BBC (28-Feb) and BBC (4-Jan-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Mar-17 World View -- Al-Nusra descendant claims credit for massive terror attack in Damascus, Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Mar-17 World View -- Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry

The escalating crisis once again throws EU-Turkey migrant deal into doubt

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry


Demonstrators outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday evening (Reuters)
Demonstrators outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam on Saturday evening (Reuters)

Dutch riot police on horseback used batons and water cannon to disperse hundreds of pro-Turkey demonstrators at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on Saturday evening, after two ministers in Turkey's government were blocked from entering the Netherlands.

The clashes between protesters and police are part of an escalating crisis in relations between Turkey and the European Union, that has been growing for the three weeks.

On Saturday, the Netherlands refused to permit Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to land in the country, and forced his plane to turn back to Istanbul. Cavusoglu was planning to address a rally in Rotterdam of the Turkish citizens living in the Netherlands to campaign for approval of a referendum vote that will take place in Turkey on April 16. The Netherlands action comes just days before an election in that country is expected to show significant gains for the anti-Islam leader of the Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, who campaigned against the Turkish minister's visit.

Returning to Istanbul airport, Cavusoglu said:

"So they cancelled it due to security concerns, what, so is the minister a terrorist? We will give them the response they deserve. ...

We have received many supportive messages from the Netherlands, saying they don't agree with their government's racist, fascist policies."

Upon hearing that Cavusoglu had been forced to turn back, Turkey's Minister of Family and Social Policies Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, who had been at a meeting in Germany, drove overland to Rotterdam to speak to demonstrators. She was stopped by Dutch police and forced to return back across the border to Germany. Through her twitter account, Kaya condemned Dutch authorities in "the name of all our citizens," and said, "The whole world must take action against this fascist practice! Such a treatment against a woman minister cannot be accepted."

The action against Kaya triggered violence on the part of the hundreds of protesters at the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam, throwing bottles and mobbing police vehicles. AP

Turkey's crisis with Germany, Austria, Netherlands has been escalating

Tensions between Turkey and the European Union have been growing for some time, but they began to reach a crisis point last weekend when two German cities, Cologne and Gaggenau, canceled March 5 rallies that Turkish citizens had planned in support of Turkey's government and the April 16 referendum. This was after Austria's government had previously said that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan would not be permitted hold rallies in Austria. There are some 400,000 Turks living in the Netherlands, and 300,000 living in Austria, many with the right to vote in Turkey's elections.

Turkey's politicians are already furious because EU politicians are always lecturing them about human rights. This has been particularly true since the failed coup attempt that occurred on July 15 of last year, after which Turkey's government has fired or arrested over 100,000 people suspected of involvement in the coup with virtually no evidence. This has included the arrest of a number of journalists, including the February 27 arrest of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, who writes for the German newspaper Die Welt.

So, from Turkey's point of view, the EU is always lecturing Turkey about journalistic freedom, freedom of speech and human rights, and now EU politicians were blocking perfectly legal rallies begin held in Germany.

A furious Erdogan lashed out:

"I thought that Nazism was over in Germany, but it turns out that it is still going on. It is still going on, it is clear.

My brothers; now they think that Tayyip Erdogan will come to Germany. I will come tomorrow if I want to. I will come and when they won't let me enter or don't let me talk, I will set the whole world in an uproar."

On Monday, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel commented on Erdogan's utterances:

"One cannot even comment on such utterances, they are not justifiable. Comparisons with Nazis always just lead to one thing -- to belittle those crimes."

Merkel tried to calm things down with Erdogan this week, but the crisis sharply escalated again on Saturday when the Netherlands blocked Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from attending a rally by Turkish citizens in Rotterdam.

After Cavusoglu was denied entry, Erdogan said:

"They don't know anything about politics or international diplomacy. They are very nervous, and they are cowards. They are Nazi remnants. They are Fascists."

Netherland's prime minister Mark Rutte called Erdogan's words a "crazy remark," and said, "I understand they are angry but this is of course way out of line." BBC (27-Feb) and Hurriyet (Istanbul, 28-Feb) and CNN (6-Mar) and BBC

The escalating crisis once again throws EU-Turkey migrant deal into doubt

On Saturday, Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Saturday that all deals with the European Union, including the EU-Turkey migrant deal, would be jeopardized if the EU failed to implement its commitment to visa-free travel for Turks in Europe's Schengen Zone. As part of the original agreement, the visa liberalization commitment was scheduled to be implemented in June of last year, but the EU has continued to postpone it.

Cavusoglu said that Turkey would present a final text to the EU "and either it will all be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented."

Turkish officials have made this threat before, but the events of the last week have so infuriated both sides that the threat is now more likely to be carried out than before.

There's a completely separate threat to the EU-Turkey migrant deal, and this one is coming from Greece.

Greece's highest administrative court, the Greek Council of State, will rule later this month on whether Turkey meets the criteria to be a "safe country" for refugees -- whether refugees can live safely in Turkey. If the court rules that Turkey is not a "safe country," it would have far-reaching consequences. It would make it illegal for the EU to send rejected asylum-seekers back to Turkey. Furthermore, it would open the door to allowing the three million Syrian refugees already living in Turkey to come to Europe.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China will be allied with Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries, including Turkey, while the West will be allied with India, Russia and Iran. A recurring discussion is over the question of how the European countries will align themselves: will they ally as a unit, or will they split and fight among themselves, as they have in every other war in history? The continuing crisis with Turkey may provide some clarification. Reuters and Eur Activ and Middle East Eye

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Mar-17 World View -- Netherlands provokes growing crisis with Turkey by blocking ministers' entry thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Mar-17 World View -- US military commitments grow in Afghanistan and Syria

Report: Trump administration shuts out Russia and Turkey in Syria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS claims responsibility for hospital attack in Kabul, Afghanistan


Afghan Taliban (AP)
Afghan Taliban (AP)

Militants dressed as doctors on Wednesday stormed the largest military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. The militants were armed with guns and grenades, and gained entry after one detonated explosives at a hospital gate and then opened fire on staff and patients.

The attack began at 9 am. One hospital staff member who was able to get out saw an attacker "wearing a white coat holding a Kalashnikov and opening fire on everyone, including the guards, patients and doctors." More than 30 people were killed, and dozens more were wounded.

The Afghan Taliban have conducted similar terror attacks in the past, but they've denied responsibility for Wednesday's attack. The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) did claim responsibility, once again raising the question of what it means for Syria-based ISIS to be taking responsibility for a terror attack in Kabul.

In Syria, ISIS was formed mainly by thousands of young men coming from over 80 countries around the world, wanting to fight Syria's president Bashar al-Assad after he began massacring and committing atrocities against innocent Sunni women and children. These included young jihadists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Now that ISIS has become a brand name (like al-Qaeda), it's using the same model to form ISIS branches in other countries, including Afghanistan. According to Afghanistan's national security adviser Hanif Atmar said:

"First of all, the violent extremist organizations that we are confronted by are not just Taliban. There are four groups — first, Taliban and Haqqanis; second Pakistani groups including LeT, JeM, LeJ, TTP and others; third are regional groups like ETIM [East Turkestan Islamic Movement (mainly Uighurs)] and IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan], and fourth are international terrorists like Daesh [ISIS] and Al Qaeda.

These four groups have a symbiotic relationship with the Afghan terrorists. They need the Afghans, the Afghans need them. Second, they have symbiotic relationships with the two other relationships I described earlier, the criminal economy and state sponsorship. ...

Our response cannot be peace and reconciliation. We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups. They are not fighting there for anything related to Afghanistan. They want to have a sanctuary there to fight others. LeT would like a sanctuary to fight India, ETIM to fight China, and so on. We told our Pakistani interlocutors that Taliban will allow sanctuary to the TTP, your enemy. Therefore, blind support to the Taliban will be creating a frankenstein again."

Of particular importance is that the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistan Taliban (Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP) are distinct groups, though they're both from the Pashtun ethnic group, and they provide havens for each. As I've described in the past, their behaviors are significantly different, because they're in different generational eras. Pakistan's last generational crisis war was the 1947 Partition war that created Pakistan and India, and so the Pakistan Taliban are in a generational Crisis era. Afghanistan's last generational crisis war was the 1992-96 civil war between Afghan ethnic groups, and so the Afghan Taliban are in a generational Awakening era. That's the reason why Atmar can say that "We can make peace and reconciliation with the Afghan groups based on certain principles, but cannot reconcile with the other three groups."

One fascinating sign of this that I wrote about in 2008 was a study by the Jamestown Foundation that showed that Afghan Taliban suicide bombers almost never kill anyone but themselves. That study appears as part of a lengthy article that I wrote at the time on the Sunni-Shia conflict. It's a fascinating example of how a societies beliefs and behaviors can differ radically and predictably, depending on what generational era they're in. Tolo News (Afghanistan) and CNN and Times of India

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CENTCOM commander: Afghanistan 'stalemate' requires 'thousands' more US troops

A month ago, General John W. Nicholson, command of the US forces in Afghanistan, testified to Congress that the war in Afghanistan was in a "stalemate," and that thousands more American troops would be required. After Wednesday's attack in Kabul, CENTCOM command Joseph Votel said that he agreed with those statements.

"I do believe it will involve additional forces to ensure that we can make the advise-and-assist mission more effective."

Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Hamdullah Mohib, said his country would welcome additional troops. He said that he's encouraged by what he's seen so far from the Trump administration:

"They’re not hesitant. There is no hesitancy that I noticed with the previous administration on the war on terrorism and their engagement in that aspect.

We welcome that because what we need now more than anything is an attitude of winning, an attitude of ending this conflict once and for all. And we have had a lot of positive hints from the administration in that regard."

On Thursday, the White House said that the administration is reviewing its Afghanistan policy, including whether to send more U.S. troops. Military Times and ABC News and Defense One (2-Feb) and Senate Armed Services Committee hearings (2-Feb)

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Report: Trump administration shuts out Russia and Turkey in Syria

In yesterday's article, I wrote that the deployment of hundreds of additional American troops into the Syrian battles at Manbij and Raqqa continues the policy from the previous administration of minimal involvement, only supporting local forces with airstrikes and artillery. Thus, Russia, Iran and Turkey would continue to take the lead.

However, according to Debka, the administration of president Donald Trump is being far more aggressive than that description suggests.

As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel's point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. The information that I'm presenting here from their newsletter is not confirmed by any other sources I've seen, but it's generally consistent with other reports.

"Elements of the 25th Rangers Regiment, spearhead of the forthcoming offensive to liberate Raqqa from the Islamic State, flew in from Fort Lewis air base, Washington, to the US air facility in Rmeilan, near the Syrian Kurdish town of Hasaka. They were equipped with light Stryker tanks. More tanks and heavy equipment reached the base overland from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Coming in from Iraq was the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, part of an artillery battery with M777 Howitzers for firing 155-mm shells. The Marine unit's ground force consists of the Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines for manning the guns and providing fire support for the local forces assigned to the assault on Raqqa. Additional infantrymen from this unit are available to provide security.

Gen. Dunford did not need to explain to the Russian and Turkish generals what had happened. It was obvious that President Donald Trump had jumped the gun on Moscow and Ankara. At one stroke, he had knocked over all ... question marks hanging over his administration's Middle East orientation:

  • The United States had decided to come down heavily on direct military intervention in the Syrian conflict. ...
  • America was ready to go to war on the Islamic State terrorists without the standard wrapping of a 'coalition' and only a competent local force. ...
  • The local force chosen for the Raqqa operation is the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force, an alliance of 45,000 Syrian Kurdish fighters of the YPG militia, which has proven its prowess in combat against ISIS, and 10,000 members of the Arab Shammar tribe of northern Syria. ...
  • Neither Russia, nor Syria or Turkey received invitations for their armies to join the US Raqqa offensive. Therefore, Vladimir Putin, Bashar Assad and Tayyip Edrogan are cut out of any say in the American military operation. ...
  • The prominently posted images of US tanks flying the Stars and Stripes and the Pentagon spokesman's description of 'deliberate action,' posted a keep-out marker for the Russian and Turkish forces at the scene. ...
  • Gen. Dunford notified his Russian and Turkish colleagues that the American army's first mission in Syria was to capture the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, following which the troops would make for the Deir ez-Zour province and undertake the task of cleansing northern and eastern Syria of Islamist concentrations. ...
  • [Turkey's] President Erdogan [expressed] strong objections to the American plan and raise his voice in particular against the Kurdish-led SDF's integration in the Raqqa operation.
  • The Turks were not content with angry words. US Air Force jets preparing to take off from the southern Turkish Incirlik air base were slowed by official red tape over the necessary permits. The air crews picked up rumors that Erdogan was about to cancel permission for the US warplanes to use the base.

The Debka report is not confirmed by other sources, though it's consistent with other media reports. If it's true, then it marks a substantial change in Mideast policy by the Trump administration, in contrast to the Obama administration. In particular, for the first time, American forces are taking the lead in defining and implementing a clear objective - the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa. Whether this is a change in outcome or just a change in tone remains to be seen. USA Today and Debka

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Mar-17 World View -- US military commitments grow in Afghanistan and Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Mar-17 World View -- As more American troops are deployed to Syria, the endgame is more uncertain

Hundreds of American troops deployed to Syria in support of local forces

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of American troops deployed to Syria in support of local forces


Syrian civilians fleeing Manbij on Wednesday (AFP)
Syrian civilians fleeing Manbij on Wednesday (AFP)

The Pentagon is deploying about 400 Marines and Army Rangers to Syria to assist in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Soldiers from the 75th Army Ranger Regiment are deployed in the city of Manbij. Manbij is currently under the control of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which is an ally of both the US and Russia, but whom Turkey's government considers to be terrorists aligned with Turkey's terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey has vowed to attack Manbij and eject the Kurds. So the American troops are in Manbij to act as a buffer between the Turks and the Kurds, and to prevent them from fighting each other.

Both Russian and Syrian forces are also being deployed to Manbij. Although the US and Russia have held talks to coordinate their forces, it's not known what's in any agreements that were reached, or how the forces will interact with each other.

Forces from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are being deployed to the city of Raqqa, which is considered to be the capital city of ISIS. According to the Pentagon, local forces will do the actual fighting, while the American troops will provide artillery support:

"A U.S. Marine Corps artillery unit deployed to provide the Coalition greater agility to enable and expedite our Syrian partnered forces defeat of ISIS in Raqqa. The strategy adopted by the Coalition remains the same – we will continue to work by, with and through partnered forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Our partners in Syria face an entrenched foe and like the Iraqis will require additional support to enable them to fight and defeat ISIS in Raqqa. The deployment of these additional key enabling capabilities allows the coalition to provide flexible all-weather fire support to our Syrian partners when they need it most."

These deployments are raising concerns that the US is becoming more deeply involved in the war in Syria. The Obama administration had a policy, in both Iraq and Syria, of minimal involvement, while supporting local forces with airstrikes and artillery. This new deployment continues that policy, but concerns are growing that the number of troops deployed will continue to increase.

Robert Ford, the Obama administration's last ambassador to Syria until 2014, says that these deployments are "fraught with risk." According to Ford, "That’s not a small policy change. It is a huge policy change. We have never in our Syrian policy ever put U.S. personnel in between warring Syrian factions or to maintain a local cease-fire."

The number of U.S. troops now authorized to be in Syria is capped at 503, though that amount does not include the 400 Marines and Army Rangers because they are on a temporary deployment.

Other reports indicate that the U.S. is preparing for a larger deployment of troops in Syria. Close to 1,000 troops will be sent to Kuwait in order to be available for quick deployment to Syria if necessary. Stars and Stripes and US Naval Institute and Washington Post and Press TV (Tehran)

As more US troops enter Syria, the endgame becomes fuzzier

We now have American, Russian, al-Assad regime, Free Syrian Army (FSA) Sunni insurgent, Turkish, Kurdish YPG, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah soldiers all fighting in Syria. These forces are all united in their fight against their common enemy, ISIS, with absolutely no clarity whatsoever about what will happen if and when ISIS is defeated.

Furthermore, while the al-Assad regime still controls an area in western Syria along the Mediterranean coast, there are still large regions controlled by Sunni insurgents. Furthermore, the Kurdish YPG controls a large strip, almost 100 miles deep, along the entire northern border with Syria -- except for a small region still controlled by Turkish forces and FSA insurgents.

Of the above forces, the Turks and the YPG Kurds are bitter enemies. The al-Assad regime and the FSA Sunni insurgents are bitter enemies. The Turks and the al-Assad regime are bitter enemies. They're all getting along now, more or less, because the common enemy is ISIS.

The Kurds would like to control the entire northern border with Turkey, and form an independent state called Rojava. The Turks are bitterly opposed to this, and will not give up the small region they control along the border. Bashar al-Assad will never tolerate even peaceful opposition from the Sunni insurgents. The Sunni insurgents will never stop fighting as long as Bashar al-Assad is president. Iran will not tolerate anyone else as president. Russia couldn't care less who's president, as long as they're controlling Syria. Iran will not tolerate Russia controlling Syria.

Those are all "big picture" issues. Even the current "small picture" issues are unresolved. There are Kurdish, Russian, American and Turkish in or around Manbij, all with different agendas. Who will end up controlling the city?

And who's going to be fighting ISIS in Raqqa? The US considers the YPG Kurds to be the best and most reliable force fighting ISIS, but Kurdish control of Raqqa will be intolerable to both Turkey and the al-Assad regime.

There actually is a kind of precedent in the fight to recapture Mosul Iraq from ISIS. The Iraqi army is entering the city from the east and doing the fighting. The Kurds are blocking ISIS from fleeing to the north. The Iran-backed Shia militias are blocking ISIS from fleeing to the west or south. They seem to have coordinated the attack, at least for the time being.

So in Syria it's a little different. Apparently, the Russians and the Kurds are joining forces in Raqqa, backed by American artillery. The battle hasn't yet begun, so we won't know for a while whether this will work.

So we have two "small picture" issues and a dozen "big picture" issues. Up until the last couple of months, all of these forces were able to keep separate. The al-Assad regime was fighting in Aleppo, Turkey was fighting in northern Syria, Russia and the US-led coalition were coordinating airstrikes. But those simple solutions are no longer possible.

I read many media sources from many countries every day, and I have not read any article or analysis or white paper that convinces me that anyone has the vaguest clue what's going to happen in the endgame, if and when ISIS is defeated.

And this is why many people are concerned about the new deployment of American forces to Manbij and Raqqa. The concern is that once ISIS is defeated, all these forces will start fighting each other, and US troops will be drawn in and be part of a major new war.

As I've been writing for many years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. We may be seeing the start of that major regional war in Manbij and Raqqa. Gulf News and Hurriyet (Ankara) and Arab News and The National (UAE) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Mar-17 World View -- As more American troops are deployed to Syria, the endgame is more uncertain thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias

Myanmar faces an investigation for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias


United Wa State Army (UWSA) rebel soldiers marching (Irrawaddy)
United Wa State Army (UWSA) rebel soldiers marching (Irrawaddy)

Thousands of Chinese-speaking ethnic Kokang people living in the Kokang region of Myanmar, along the border with China, have fled in panic across the border into China, to escape clashes between Myanmar's military and Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). The Kokang MNDAA is one of four ethnic militias in the Northern Alliance, fighting the army. China is demanding that the army bring the region under control, but that's unlikely to happen, since the army is one of the belligerents.

In October 2015, the government of Myanmar (Burma) concluded a peace agreement with its armed ethnic groups that had been under negotiation since 2011. According to the government rhetoric, the agreement was "bringing hope" that the entire country would soon be "at peace." However, of the 15 armed ethnic groups in Burma, only eight signed the agreement, while the others indicated that they wished to continue fighting Burma's army.

In November of last year, four of the non-signed formed the Northern Alliance, and and launched a series of violent attacks on military outposts and police stations across the northern part of the country. Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, many crossing the border into China.

China's army is on alert along the border with Myanmar, but it has not intervened so far. Instead, it's backing the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an organization with roots in the Communist Party of Burma, a militia with 20,000 members of the ethnic Wa community, and is supplying them with heavy weaponry.

This week, the UWSA took the lead in hosting a three-day meeting of seven armed ethnic militias, forming a political bloc to negotiate with the Myanmar government. The militias include the MongLa National Democratic Alliance Army (NDAA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), the Kokang Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Arakan Army (AA).

One can only guess what China's motivation is in supporting the UWSA, but presumably there are two objectives -- bring about stability on the Myanmar side of the border, and use the UWSA to gain leverage against Myanmar's government.

However, the clashes between the army and the MNDAA are continuing, and panicky civilians continue to flee across the border into China. Some analysts have expressed concern that this could spiral out of control into a larger war. Irrawaddy News (Myanmar) and Deutsche Welle and VOA and Asia Times

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Myanmar faces an investigation for ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims

Myanmar's army says that it has halted "clearance operations," which have been targeting Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state which the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing and possible crimes against humanity.

Myanmar's army conducted a scorched earth attack on Rohingya Muslims burning down thousands of homes and buildings in dozens of villages. The army committed massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have displace hundreds of thousands of people, with tens of thousands to fleeing for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has tacitly admitted guilt by forbidding any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

This follows repeated xenophobic attacks by Buddhists, led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect. The actions by the Buddhists were similar to the actions by the Nazis against the Jews.

The European Union is under growing pressure to lead an independent international investigation into the atrocities in Burma, and is expected to sponsor a resolution on March 16 to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

According to Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, "It’s time for the soldiers on the ground committing these atrocities, and their superiors in command authority, to be held accountable, and that is precisely what the Human Rights Council is going to do." Frontier Myanmar and Reuters (16-Feb)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Mar-17 World View -- Thousands flee from Myanmar into China to escape army clashes with ethnic militias thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Mar-17 World View -- Tensions grow on Korean peninsula over THAAD and N. Norea-Malaysia relations

China promises retaliation over surprise deployment of THAAD in South Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia's relations with North Korea continue rapid deterioration


Yellow tape and armed guards on Tuesday around North Korea's embassy in Malaysia prevent anyone from leaving (AP)
Yellow tape and armed guards on Tuesday around North Korea's embassy in Malaysia prevent anyone from leaving (AP)

Malaysia and North Korea appear close to completely severing diplomatic relations. They've already expelled each other's ambassadors, and the war of words continues to be increasingly vitriolic.

After Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, was assassinated on February 13 in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, began a series of bitter vitriolic attacks on Malaysia's government, accusing the the Malaysians of conducting an unauthorized autopsy, saying that the investigation was untrustworthy, and accusing Malaysian authorities of "colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice," referring to South Korea.

Apparently the reason that North Korea did not want an autopsy to be performed was that they did not want the Malaysians to know that King Jong-nam had been killed with VX nerve gas, which is so deadly that it's considered to be a "weapon of mass destruction," and its use is forbidden by international law. The fact that North Korea used a weapon of mass destruction on Malaysian soil to kill someone has infuriated Malaysia's government.

Malaysia would like to question several of the North Korean embassy staff for involvement in the assassination. This has further infuriated the North Koreans, who say that the embassy staff all have full diplomatic immunity. This is actually only true for the top officials in the enmity.

On Tuesday, North Korea announced that no citizen of Malaysia in North Korea would be permitted to leave. This has infuriated the entire Malaysian population, and some are saying that it was tantamount to war. Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak, said that this was a violation of international law:

"They cannot act at their whims and fancy, violating the international law to hold Malaysians hostage. It is indeed unacceptable not only by Malaysia, but also the world."

Eleven Malaysians are known to be in North Korea: three embassy staff, six family members and two others who work for the United Nations’ World Food Program. Malaysian officials said they were safe. “There is no threat to their lives. Let us not come to that point yet,” said Reezal Merican, the deputy foreign minister.

Malaysia then banned North Koreans from leaving Malaysia, but different reports have different versions of this ban. Some say that only embassy personnel would be banned from leaving, and there are probably only a few dozen of these. Other reports say that all North Koreans are banned from leaving, and there are thousands of these. One reports says that Malaysia's government at first wanted to ban just the embassy staff, and then changed its mind to ban all North Koreans.

In another move, it turns out that both Malaysia and Singapore have been enabling North Korea to conduct illegal activities on their territories. Singapore last summer already cracked down on transshipments through its ports following new international sanctions imposed in the wake of last year's nuclear and missile tests. Malaysian officials have been closing their eyes to North Korean weapons sales through Malaysian companies, in violation of sanctions against North Korea, and now Malaysia is shutting down those businesses.

It seems that relations between Malaysia and North Korea become harsher and more vitriolic every day. And with both countries holding each other's citizens hostage, the rapid deterioration in relations is liable to continue. The Star (Malaysia) and Washington Post and Free Malaysia Today

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China promises retaliation over surprise deployment of THAAD in South Korea

Diplomatic relations between China and South Korea also appear to be deteriorating, especially after Tuesday's surprise move by South Korea and the United States to begin deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system by the first delivery of large components. THAAD is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, an X-band radar and the fire and control unit.

Originally, the deployment was to have been completed by the end of 2017, but now it appears that it will be completed this summer. The speedup is being attributed to North Korea's aggressive schedule of nuclear and missile tests, with increased danger of attack on North Korea's neighbors, including South Korea.

China has been furiously objecting to the deployment of THAAD, ever since it was announced in 2014. After Tuesday's delivery of THAAD components, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said:

"We strongly oppose the decision to deploy THAAD and will take necessary steps to defend our security interest. South Korea and the US will bear the consequences. ... We urge them not to go further down that wrong path."

In response, the White House said:

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with Japan and South Korea in doing what we can to protect that region in particular from an attack from North Korea. We understand the situation. We continue to work with them. As I mentioned, the president spoke to both leaders yesterday and we provided a readout of those calls. But we obviously understand the concerns of China, but this is a national security issue for them."

China's state media said that the reason the deployment was speeded up was not because of a threat from North Korea, but because the deployment would help conservative politicians in elections likely to be held in a few months.

China says that THAAD is not designed to intercept North Korean missiles, which travel at too low an altitude for THAAD. Furthermore, North Korea already has enough technology to avoid interception by THAAD. However, THAAD's "over the horizon" radar is able to see deep into China and detect military movements. Yonhap (Seoul) and Korea Herald and Xinhua (Beijing)

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South Korea threatens to sue China in World Trade Organization (WTO)

China's spokesman didn't specify what the "consequences" would be, but they're assumed to be economic sanctions targeting South Korea.

China has already ordered its travel agencies to stop selling packaged tours to Korea, and has banned Korean cosmetics and foods. South Korean pop stars and entertainers have been barred from appearing on Chinese TV programs since October.

To see what other steps China might take, we can recall the steps that China took to punish Japan when Japan displeased China. In the 2010 confrontations, China took revenge on Japan by terminating shipments of rare earth minerals, needed for manufacturing of many of Japan's electronic products. In 2012, the Beijing government encouraged the Chinese people to demonstrate and protest against Japanese businesses in China. The government urged protesters not to use violence, but that part of the message was clearly ignored, as protesters torched a Panasonic factory and Toyota dealership, looted and ransacked Japanese department stores and supermarkets in several cities.

South Korea is considering filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over using economic sanctions for political purposes. South Korea might also file a lawsuit under the investment clause of the Korea-China Free Trade Agreement.

However, some South Korea functions are counseling caution, as China might retaliate further. Korea Times and Barrons

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Mar-17 World View -- Tensions grow on Korean peninsula over THAAD and N. Norea-Malaysia relations thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Mar-17 World View -- Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner

The ranchers (farmers) versus the pastoralists (herders)

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner


A herder walks home with his camels in Kenya in January, after walking kilometers in search of pasture and water during drought. (The Nation)
A herder walks home with his camels in Kenya in January, after walking kilometers in search of pasture and water during drought. (The Nation)

Ranch co-owner Tristan Voorspuy, a British citizen and former British army officer, was found shot dead on Sunday on his ranch in Laikipia province in Kenya. Alongside him was the dead carcass of the horse he had been riding. It's believed that Voorspuy was ambushed by herders who for months have been invading ranches in order to get water and grazing land for their animals, in the middle of a drought.

Voorspuy was co-owner of the 24,000 acre colonial era Sosian ranch in Laikipia in the Rift Valley of Kenya, and owner of Offbeat Safaris Ltd. The ranch is a wildlife preserve and tourist attraction.

On Saturday, Voorspuy went to visit the site where two cottages had been burned down by herders on Friday. It appears that burning the cottages was a trap to lure Voorspuy, as he was apparently ambushed and killed when he arrived.

This weekend's attack on the Sosian ranch and murder of its owner were not the first such event. Ranches and ranchers have been under attack by invading herders for months, seeking water and grazing land for their animals. This particular attack on the Sosian ranch has become international news because Voorspuy was a British citizen and father of two.

The perpetrators are believed to be from the Pokot and Samburu tribes. Both of these tribes are described as "pastoralists," meaning that they're a society of nomadic herders who move from place to place as changes in weather require. The Pokot and Samburu tribes had fought a very bloody war against each other in 2006, displacing thousands of people and stealing each other's livestock, but now they've apparently made up and they're joining together to attack ranchers. It's believed that heavily armed militias of thousands of Pokot and Samburu have been invading and attacking ranches.

In January, herders attacked a 42,000-acre private ranch. According to a witness:

"The entire property is being invaded by large numbers of armed people, overrunning it with cattle, sheep and goats. They have destroyed kilometers of fences, cut and stolen wires and dug out posts. Things become really bad yesterday. It is as if someone has been been paid to cut wire and pull out posts everywhere. We are getting reports from all parts of Laikipia that cattle are heading our way."

The ranches in this county are the last stronghold of wildlife outside Kenya's national parks and reserves, and is home to 6,000 elephants and other animals including lions and the rare Grevy's zebra.

The Pokot and Samburu tribes are offshoots of the Kalenjin tribe. There are five major tribes in Kenya: the Kikuyu (6,622,576), the Luhya (5,338,666), the Kalenjin (4,967,328), the Luo (4,044,440) and the Kamba (3,893,157).

Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. In 2008, there was extremely brutal violence between the Kikuya, Kalenjin and Luo tribes, and it's widely feared that the new round of attacks by herders on ranchers in Laikipia is the first sign of a new round of more widespread violence, and possibly a full-scale war. Nairobi News and The Star (Kenya) and IRIN - United Nations and The Nation (Kenya-31-Jan-2017)

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The ranchers (farmers) versus the pastoralists (herders)

What's happening in Kenya is a variation of something that I've described many times -- the battle between farmers and herders. Farmers and herders have two completely different lifestyles. Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. 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.

The genocidal war in Sudan's western region of Darfur began in the 1980s as low-level conflicts between the light-skinned "Arab" herder tribes and the dark-skinned "African" farmer tribes. The herders turned into the Janjaweed militias who began, in the early 2000s, to ride in on camels and horses and invade the Darfurian farms with a scorched earth policy including mass murders, rapes and genocide.

The iconic genocidal war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi in 1994 was the culmination of centuries of generational crisis wars between the two tribes, where the Tutsis were the herders who controlled the land, and the Hutus were the farmers who worked for the Tutsis.

The generational crisis civil war in the Central African Republic began three years ago as a war between ethnic groups aligned along a Muslim herder versus Christian farmer fault line. As we recently described, the war in the central regions of the country around the cities of Bambari and Bria is morphing from a religious war to an ethnic war between the Fulani tribe, a nomadic herding ethnic group, and the Gula and Runga tribes, which are primarily farming ethnic groups. As both sides are Muslim, this is now primarily an ethnic war. In fact, the Gula and Runga tribes are now allying with some Christian tribes that are also farmers.

In Kenya, the recent attacks by pastoralist herders on ranches is a variation of the age-old war between herders and farmers. Kenya's last generational crisis war was the Mau-Mau rebellion that climaxed in 1956. Now, 61 years later, Kenya is going deeper into a generational Crisis era, and we can expect the war between pastoralists and ranchers, and even between different ethnic groups of pastoralists, to continue to worsen.

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Mar-17 World View -- Herders invade ranches in Kenya, ambush and kill British ranch owner thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Mar-17 World View -- China's South China Sea policy related to food security in times of war

Vietnam protests China's fishing ban in the South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam protests China's fishing ban in the South China Sea


Chinese fishing fleet in the South China Sea (Hakai Magazine)
Chinese fishing fleet in the South China Sea (Hakai Magazine)

China, whose claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea has been declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague, has imposed a fishing ban on the North China Sea, including regions that are in the exclusive economic zones and historical fishing grounds of Vietnam and the Philippines. China's announced ban begins on May 1 and ends on August 16.

The South China Sea is estimated to hold 11 billion barrels of oil, 109 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10 percent of the world’s fisheries. Furthermore, 30% of the world’s shipping trade flows through the South China Sea.

Vietnam's foreign ministry spokesman said, "Vietnam resolutely opposes and rejects the regulation issued by China." Vietnam will dispatch fisheries surveillance ships across its territorial waters, focusing on areas where China has issued its fishing ban. The fisheries surveillance ships will protect and assist Vietnamese fishermen in these areas.

News reports don't indicate what form this protection will take. China has blocked other nations from fishing in their traditional fishing grounds by using armed coast guard vessels, and ramming fishing boats or threatening military action. It's not known whether Vietnam's fisheries surveillance ships will be armed, and whether there will be a possibility of a military confrontation that could escalate.

According to reports last year, Vietnam is deploying mobile rocket launchers on five of its bases in the Spratly Islands, in order to confront China. VN Express (Vietnam) and AP and VN Express

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China's fishing ban related to food security in times of war

For years, China's has had a goal of food self-sufficiency, but with 20% of the world's population, but only 9% of the world's arable land, this kind food security has always been out of reach. Thus, while China’s grain production has increased over 44% between 2003 and 2015, its grain imports (including soybeans) during the same period skyrocketed by nearly 400%, indicating that growth in domestic grain production is unable to keep up with population growth.

The history of agricultural in the 68 years of the People's Republic of China has been dismal. The worst episode was the Great Leap Forward in 1958-59, a man-made famine where Mao Zedong, killed tens of millions of people through starvation, slaughter and executions. In the past 30 years, China has achieved a remarkable increase in grain productivity, but that achievement was accomplished through overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides coupled with intensive farming practices that have contributed to severe degradation of land quality, and an even larger scale of land pollution. Today, China’s agricultural sector is dominated by hundreds of millions of small household farms, low and inefficient management at the rural level, and severe corruption of local government officials. In addition, China is facing a water crisis, with China's agriculture using two-thirds of the country's water resources.

According to the International Public Policy (IPP) organization in Singapore, China should abandon its tight control over agricultural resources, and resort to using the global agricultural market, as other countries do.

However, the IPP points out that this will be insufficient "in times of war (a full-scale war with the United States or other big countries) which leads to the total collapse of the global food markets," and will have to take further steps to prepare for war with the U.S. or other countries:

"To prepare for the worst case scenario, the Chinese government needs: 1) to maintain sufficient strategic food reserves which can meet the country’s food needs based on subsistence consumption levels during the period that new food products are produced; 2) protect key agricultural resources, particularly arable land and fresh water so as to develop agricultural potential which can be quickly utilized to produce enough food for the country in times of war."

Control of the South China Sea is important to China not only for its energy deposits, but for food security -- depending on massive amounts of fish from the SCS to supplement its agricultural output, especially in case of war.

However, China's huge fleets of fishing boats have overfished the SCS, and have depleted a number of species. Thus, food security is at the heart of China's demands for a moratorium on fishing in the South China Sea from May 1 to August 16.

However, China's is also using military means to enforce its moratorium on other countries, notably Vietnam and the Philippines. Vietnam is making its own military preparations to confront the Chinese, as described above.

In the case of the Philippines, access to fish has become a bargaining chip. Last fall, Philippines president Rodrigo R. Duterte announced a cutoff of relations with the United States, and also announced that the relationship with the U.S. would be replaced by a relationship with China. As a result of that agreement with China, Philippines fishermen were once again permitted to fish in the country's traditional fishing grounds around Scarborough Shoal.

Nonetheless, the Philippines military still has close ties with the U.S. military, and several Philippines ministers are expressing alarm that China might military the Scarborough Shoal, and gain military control of the entire South China Sea. International Public Policy Review and Jamestown and Hakai Magazine (Canada)

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North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea near Japan

As I'm writing this article on Sunday evening (ET), North Korea has launched four ballistic missiles into Japanese waters, once again in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Once again, this is a new embarrassment to China. This is particularly true right now, as China's National People's Congress is in session, during which China's leaders are undoubtedly giving speeches condemning South Korea's decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system, which China hates. Thus, these missile launches can only be seen as a message that North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is sending to China, presumably to get revenge for China's decision to halt coal imports from North Korea.

Once again, North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un is a major problem for the Chinese government, and sooner or later China may decide to do something about it. Reuters and Yonhap News (Seoul)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Mar-17 World View -- China's South China Sea policy related to food security in times of war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Mar-17 World View -- Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador as relations deteriorate

Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Jong-nam, under guard to prevent North Korean assassination

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia expels North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol


North Korean Ri Jong Chol, suspected in the death of Kim Jong-nam, was reluctantly released by Malaysian authorities for lack of evidence (Reuters)
North Korean Ri Jong Chol, suspected in the death of Kim Jong-nam, was reluctantly released by Malaysian authorities for lack of evidence (Reuters)

Malaysia has declared that Kang Chol, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, is persona non grata, and has ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.

A month ago, no one would have expected relations between North Korea and Malaysia to deteriorate so rapidly. Malaysia has been one of the few countries of the world that have maintained good relations with North Korea, even to the extent of permitting North Koreans to visit Malaysia without a visa. But the assassination in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital, of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's child dictator Kim Jong-un, has led to a series of investigations, accusations, counter-accusations, threats and counter-threats that have pushed the two countries close to severing diplomatic relations completely.

Kim Jong-nam died in Kuala Lumpur airport after women used a handkerchief to apply poison to his face in the middle of the airport, and he died several minutes later from the poison on the way to the hospital. The autopsy revealed that the assassination was extremely sophisticated since the "poison" that was used was the nerve agent VX. VX is so deadly that it's classified as a weapon of mass destruction, and is banned by the United Nations. Touching even a drop of VX can kill, so applying VX to the victim required a great deal of skill on the part of the women. Although Malaysia has not explicitly accused North Korea of having ordered the assassination, it's widely believed that North Korea was responsible.

As soon as the assassination occurred, North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol began a series of extremely offensive accusations directed at the Malaysian government. He was on television almost every day, denying that the dead man was related to Kim Jong-un, demanding that the body be sent to the North Korean embassy immediately for cremation, accusing the Malaysians of conducting an unauthorized autopsy, saying that the investigation was untrustworthy, and accusing Malaysian authorities of "colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice," referring to South Korea.

Malaysian officials found these accusations to be extremely offensive, and demanded that Kang Chol apologize for them. He has failed to do so.

On Friday, Malaysia announced that it would cancel visa-free entry as of Monday.

On Saturday, Chol was summoned to Wisma Putra, Malaysia's foreign ministry, but he failed to show up. The foreign ministry then sent a diplomatic note to Malaysia's embassy:

"1. Pursuant to my instructions, His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol, the Ambassador of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ...

2. However, neither the Ambassador nor senior officials of the Embassy was in a position to be present at the Ministry.

3. For this reason, the Ministry has via a Diplomatic Note sent to the Embassy this evening, informing the DPRK government that His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol that the Malaysian government has declared him Persona Non Grata. He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6.00 p.m. 4 March 2017.

4. It can now be revealed that at 5.00 p.m., Tuesday, 28 February 2017, officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... met with the High Level Delegation from the DPRK.... During the meeting, the Malaysian government demanded a written apology from the DPRK for the accusations recently made against Malaysia by the DPRK Ambassador.

5. The DPRK delegation was informed that if no response is received by 10.00 p.m. that day, the Malaysian government would take measures that would best protect its interests.

6. Almost four days have passed since the deadline lapsed. No such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming. For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared Persona Non Grata. ...

10. It should be made clear – Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.

11. It should be recalled that the Ambassador had alleged that the conduct of the investigation into the death of a DPRK citizen on 13 February 2017 indicates that the Malaysian government had something to hide and that Malaysia has colluded with outside powers to defame his country.

Recent events, including the release of Mr. Ri Jong Chol ... is proof that the investigation is conducted in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, as befits a country that practices the rule of law.

12. The expulsion of the DPRK Ambassador comes at the heels of the decision of the Malaysian government ... that effective on Monday, 6 March 2017, citizens of the DPRK require visas to enter Malaysia. This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities.

13. These measures are part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations with the DPRK."

The Star (Malaysia) and Free Malaysia Today and BBC and AFP

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Malaysia accused of fronting North Korean weapons sales

The statement quoted above contains the sentence: "This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities."

This sentence refers to a United Nations report to be released in a few days accusing Malaysia of having violated United Nations sanctions by permitting North Korea to sell weapons using an arms sales operation in Malaysia under a brand called Glocom. According to the report, Glocom is run by North Korea's top intelligence agency, and is linked to two Malaysian companies, International Global System and International Golden Services, controlled by North Korean shareholders and director. The United Nations has asked the Malaysian government to freeze the assets of these companies.

Malaysia is denying having violated UN sanctions, and is apparently denying knowledge of Glocom's arms sales and relation to North Korea, although that information has apparently been publicly available. At any rate, Malaysia is giving the Glocom accusation as a reason for ending visa-free travel from North Korea to Malaysia. Reuters and International Business Times and Foreign Policy

Kim Han-sol, son of Kim Jong-nam, under guard to prevent North Korean assassination


Kim Han-sol's girlfriend Sonia (L) studies at Oxford University
Kim Han-sol's girlfriend Sonia (L) studies at Oxford University

Since the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, there has been international concern about his son, Kim Han-sol, who had apparently disappeared from sight. At one point, the Malaysian authorities said that they believed that he would come to Kuala Lumpur to identify his father's body, but he never showed up.

Subsequently there have been reports that he under Chinese protection in Macau. He has been advised not leave Macau, because it's feared that he would also be assassinated.

Kim Han-sol is in the bloodline of North Korea's founding leader Kim Il-sung. For that reason, Han-sol could serve as a legitimate leader of North Korea. In particular, if China wanted to be rid of North Korea's current leader Kim Jong-un, then China could have him killed and replaced by Kim Han-sol.

Whether or not China might actually do that, it's not surprising that the paranoid child dictator Kim Jong-un believes that the Chinese might do it. It's believed by some analysts that that's the motive why the assassination of Kim Jong-nam was ordered, and why the assassination of Kim Han-sol could be ordered for the same reason.

Other reports indicate that Kim Han-sol has been advised to give up his plans to study at Oxford University for fear of being assassinated. Chinese authorities have reportedly told him that they could not protect him there. He had previously planned to study at Oxford starting in the fall, where his girlfriend Sonia is already studying. Straits Times and Daily Mail (London) and Oxford Student

New sanctions indicate China is running out of patience with Kim Jong-un

If the Chinese DID want to eliminate Kim Jong-un, few people would be surprised. Kim has caused numerous problems for China by conducting nuclear and ballistic missile tests in violation of United Nations sanctions. Now, the alleged use of the illegal weapon of mass destruction, VX nerve agent, to kill Kim Jong-nam, who was living in Macau under China's protection, is a new major embarrassment for the Beijing regime.

According to an analysis by the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post:

"China may now realize that continued inaction on North Korea conflicts with its rising international clout and contradicts its national interest. Kim’s weapons of mass destruction pose the same risk to China as they do to South Korea, Japan or the United States.

North Korea’s relentless weapons build-up has fueled an arms race in the region. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India and Australia are scrambling to upgrade their defenses. South Korea’s decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] system to contain the North’s nuclear capability is perhaps the highest-profile reaction, a move that Beijing is fiercely fighting against for fear it could also be used to curb China.

All this risks triggering a nuclear domino effect in Northeast Asia. Trump has even suggested that Japan and South Korea acquire nuclear weapons to counter any challenge from North Korea.

In this volatile environment, China’s continued support of a regime widely seen as a state sponsor of terrorism and a major threat to peace in the region will only damage Beijing’s international image and undermine relations with most of its important trade partners – South Korea, Japan and the US, among others."

China announced two weeks ago that it would impose its own sanctions on North Korea by blocking imports of coal. The SCMP analysis says that this decision was tied to South Korean politics and the deployment of THAAD:

"Before the missile test and the assassination, South Korea’s public was fairly evenly split into two camps on how to handle ties with Pyongyang [North Korea]: those who wanted to engage North Korea peacefully, usually on the left, and those who wanted to take a more forceful stand, usually on the right. This division could tip the balance of the presidential election scheduled for later this year.

The position on North Korea has serious and immediate repercussions for China. South Korea in recent months has lost its patience with the North and it deployed a new American missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). This is officially aimed at the North, but it clearly can also be used against China.

Seoul [South Korea] in turn decided on THAAD for many reasons, including out of frustration at Beijing’s inability to rein in Pyongyang. If China cannot get the North to pursue reasonable politics and give up its wave of threatening nuclear and missile experiments, then the South has to rely more on American military protection. In the same way, the US felt that if China was unable to control Kim, it had to take steps to guarantee the status quo of the region.

An electoral victory of the left could reopen a discussion on THAAD, something that with a new right-wing president is more unlikely.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam now casts a whole new spell on South Korean politics. It reinforces the chances of the right, but it also makes very difficult if not impossible for the left to think of engaging the North or withdrawing THAAD."

The SCMP analysis concludes that China hopes that refusing to import North Korean coal will cause the country "to buckle and give in to demands from the outside world," though it also worries that the plan may backfire and cause Kim Jong-un to "up the ante, daring the whole planet to attack." South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and South China Morning Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Mar-17 World View -- Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador as relations deteriorate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Mar-17 World View -- Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic

The velocity of money keeps plummeting, indicating no economic growth

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.90 on March 3, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at 24.90 on March 3, indicating a huge and growing stock market bubble (WSJ)

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has exploded upward some 2,000 points since the November 8 election, leading analysts to refer to it as "the Trump rally." The increase was infectious, and stock markets in Europe and Asia also surged. President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday, "Since November 8th, Election Day, the stock market has posted $3.2 trillion in gains." It's believed that investors are reacting to Trump's promises to promote job growth with huge infrastructure spending and deep tax cuts to individuals and corporations.

When the word "parabolic" is applied to a stock market index (alluding to the mathematical curve called a "parabola"), it means that the stock market as been rising so rapidly, it appears to be the prelude to an imminent panic. Investors who have been popping their champagne corks in ebullient celebration out of all the money they believe they're making in the stock market are not using the word "parabolic," but that's what's going on nonetheless.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (Mar 3) was at an astronomically high 24.90. This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market bubble is still growing, and could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

A stock market panic and crash is coming with 100% certainty. To this day, we still don't know what triggered the stock market panic in October 1929, and why it happened at that time rather than a little earlier or later, so we don't know what will trigger the approaching stock market panic and crash, though we know with certainty that it's coming.

David Stockman was President Ronald Reagan's budget director. He criticized some of the Reagan administration's budget proposals, and later said that Reagan has "taken him to the woodshed." That phrase has stuck with him in the 30+ years that have passed, and today he's considered to be a virtuoso budget authority. Like myself, he's been writing about the stock market bubble for several years.

In an interview last week, Stockman was asked whether the "Trump rally" can keep going. He replied:

"I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in the hot place that’s going to happen. This is delusional. This is the greatest suckers’ rally of all time. It is based on pure hopium and not any analysis at all as what it will take to push through a big tax cut. Donald Trump is in a trap. Today the debt is $20 trillion. It’s 106% of GDP. ... Trump is inheriting a built-in deficit of $10 trillion over the next decade under current policies that are built in. Yet, he wants more defense spending, not less. He wants drastic sweeping tax cuts for corporations and individuals. He wants to spend more money on border security and law enforcement. He’s going to do more for the veterans. He wants this big trillion dollar infrastructure program. You put all that together and it’s madness. It doesn’t even begin to add up, and it won’t happen when you are struggling with the $10 trillion of debt that’s coming down the pike and the $20 trillion that’s already on the books."

The huge stock market rise over the past few years hasn't made much sense from a fundamental point of view, in view of the meteoric S&P 500 price/earnings index, and the recent further parabolic climb makes even less sense. Even bullish analysts are saying that the stock market is way overdue for a correction. Whether the stock market continues, its parabolic climb, or has a small correction, or finally has its expected major stock market panic remains to be seen. Nikkei and David Stockman interview

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End of debt ceiling suspension on March 15 signals new Washington fiscal crisis

A law passed in 1917 places a limit on the amount of money that the United States government can borrow. This amount is known as the "debt ceiling" or "debt limit." When government debt reaches the debt ceiling, then it can no longer borrow money to spend, until Congress passes a law raising the debt ceiling to a higher value. In extreme cases, the government has to shut down completely.

Every couple of years the debt ceiling has to be increased, and there's a new political battle in Congress usually involving several forms of extortion by both parties over what other spending programs will be in the same bill as the debt ceiling increase.

Anyone who follows the political news will recall many well-publicized debt ceiling crises, starting with the 28 day government shutdown in 1995. Recently, there have been debt ceiling crises in August 2011, and January 2013.

You may wonder, Dear Reader, why there have been no debt ceiling crises since 2013. The answer is that both parties decided in 2015 to prevent a new debt crisis during the election campaign of 2016. So in October 2015, they passed a bill suspending the debt ceiling, allowing the Obama administration to spend as much money as it wanted.

Well, that debt ceiling suspension had an end date: March 15, 2017. On that date, whatever the current debt is of the government, that will be the new debt ceiling. That amount is approximately $20 trillion. In other words, within two weeks, the government will no longer be able to borrow money, until Congress passes a new bill to raise the debt ceiling.

The government can take "extraordinary measures" to keep running without borrowing more money: not make payments to states, not pay contractors, not pay bondholders, not pay Social Security, not pay tax refunds, and so forth. This will cause a great deal of pain to the people who don't get paid, but the government can keep running. But estimates are that even these measures will run out in October or November.

So Congress's agenda for this summer will be: repeal and replace Obamacare, costing hundreds of billions of dollars; past a $1 trillion infrastructure bill; pass hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate and individual tax cuts; and oh, by the way, increase the $20 trillion debt ceiling to something a lot higher. CNBC and CNN and Washington Examiner

The velocity of money keeps plummeting, indicating no economic growth

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, politicians could always count on having their debts and spending programs bailed out by economic growth. Politicians are expecting the same thing today. All they talk about is how they will spend money to grow the economy, and the economic growth will wipe out the debt. It's a fairy tale that used to work at the end of the last century, in a generational Unraveling era, but stopped working about 13 years ago when we entered a generational Crisis era.

What nobody wants to talk about is the velocity of money. This indicates the rate at which people are willing to spend money. You can't have economic growth if people aren't willing to spend money, which means that the velocity of money would have to increase. Instead, we have this:


Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)
Velocity of money, 1919 to 2017 (St. Louis Fed Fred Graph #366117)

When the real estate bubble burst in 2007, and the financial crisis occurred, millions of people went bankrupt or lost their homes. At that point, people stopped spending money. They used what money they had to pay off their debts and save money. As a result, the velocity of money has continued to fall steadily since then, just as it did during the Great Depression and World War II.

That's the reason why there's been on economic growth in over eight years, and why there won't be any substantial economic growth for the foreseeable future.

Investors who are pushing the stock market to new parabolic heights are completely oblivious to the fall in the velocity of money, and in fact have the vaguest clue what it means. Similarly, they're oblivious to the debt ceiling crisis that's approaching

And in news on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen indicated that the Fed may increase interest rates on March 15. It's the Fed's easy money policy that has been funding the stock market surge, so chalk this up as one more risk factor for the stock market as the summer approaches. Dow Jones

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Mar-17 World View -- Champagne corks pop as a 'Trump rally' sends Wall Street stocks parabolic thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Mar-17 World View -- Australia pays refugees cash to return home, as U.S. resettlement deal falters

Australia and Germany paying asylum seekers cash to return home

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Australia-US refugee swap deal appears to be faltering


Accommodations for refugees at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (Reuters)
Accommodations for refugees at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea (Reuters)

A deal in November between President Barack Obama and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to allow 1,250 refugees being held in Australia's refugee centers to be resettled in the United States is proceeding slowly.

The refugees, from countries like Bangladesh and Nepal, are living in two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements that Australia reached with both countries. However, the United Nations and international refugee activists have condemned the refugee camps, saying that under international law, valid asylum seekers should be resettled on Australian soil. Australia has resisted that in order to discourage human trafficking of refugees to Australia.

Early in February, President Donald Trump called it "the worst deal ever," but promised to honor the deal because he was bound by agreements made by the previous administration. He confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting."

However, things have been going slowly, according to Australian officials. Although some preliminary screening has taken place, officials from the US Department of Homeland Security had not been authorized to start formally vetting applicants.

Australia's Immigration and Border Protection secretary Mike Pezzullo says that he believes that the delay is only temporary:

"As we've made clear, our colleagues in Homeland Security are not in a position yet to start their processes but they'll certainly be able to conduct themselves in a very expedited fashion given the amount of preliminary work that's been done."

There's another major wrinkle to this deal, and it was only revealed last week.

Last September, Turnbull announced that Australia would help the United States deal with its refugee problem by taking refugees from Costa Rica and resettling them in Australia. When the deal to resettle refugees from Australia in the United States was announced in November, Turnbull repeatedly denied that it was related to the Costa Rica deal.

So last week, that denial was suddenly abandoned, and this was apparently no surprise to anyone in Australia. Immigration minister Peter Dutton did a complete flip-flop and said that the government "wouldn’t take anyone until we had assurances that people are going to go off Nauru and Manus. We want an outcome in relation to Nauru and Manus."

An opposition spokesman said, "I mean, look, everyone knew it was a deal, and last night Peter Dutton, playing politics as always, belled the cat when he made it clear that it was contingent that taking people from Costa Rica was contingent on America taking those from Manus and Nauru, so clearly this was a deal." Australian Broadcasting and News.com (Australia)

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Australia and Germany paying asylum seekers cash to return home

Facing heavy international criticism from the United Nations and refugee activists, Australia has agreed to close down the two "detention centers" on Nauru and on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island by the end of the year.

Australia is encouraging refugees to return to their home countries voluntarily by taking up US$25,000 in cash, or to face deportation otherwise. Several dozen refugees have accepted the offer, according to reports.

Germany is also paying refugees to return to their home countries, but a lot less. Last year, Germany paid 54,000 asylum seekers cash to return home, for a total payout of €21.5 million ($22 million). This would appear to average out to about €400 per refugee.

Last month, Germany announced a "voluntary return" program to offer €1,200 ($1,275) to each asylum seeker to return home if their asylum applications are rejected. Last year, Germany received some 700,000 asylum requests, around 60% of which were successful. However, around 430,000 requests remained unanswered, many of which date back to 2015 or earlier. Reuters (14-Feb) and Deutsche-Welle (20-Jan) and Reuters and Economist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Mar-17 World View -- Australia pays refugees cash to return home, as U.S. resettlement deal falters thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Mar-17 World View -- European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit

European nations split on the future of Europe

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit


Italian politician Gianni Pittella calls the European Commission's white paper a 'clear political mistake' (Getty)
Italian politician Gianni Pittella calls the European Commission's white paper a 'clear political mistake' (Getty)

A variety of crises seem to get worse as time goes on is causing anxieties about the future of the European Union and the euro currency. The crises include the refugee crisis, financial crises in Greece and Italy, and increasing euroscepticism in many countries, following the Brexit referendum that called for Britain to leave the European Union.

Recognition of these crises comes at a significant time. On March 25, 27 EU countries (Britain, the 28th, is not invited) will be meeting in Rome to discuss the future of Europe on the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Treaty of Rome that contained the core principles that led to the creation of the European Union.

When the Treaty of Rome was signed, Europe had been devastated by two world wars, and everybody was fearful that there could be another world war at any time. Finally, it was agreed by the war survivors that Europe had to form a union like the United States to prevent another war. That was the motivation behind the 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Today, many in Europe's older generations fear that Europe is headed for new war like WW I and WW II, while younger generations, who have lived in peace their whole lives, think that anyone who worries about war must be an alarmist.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Jüncker on Wednesday published a "White Paper On The Future Of Europe," which describes the problems facing Europe and suggests five different paths. Jüncker summarizes the problems as follows:

"Europe’s challenges show no sign of abating. Our economy is recovering from the global financial crisis but this is still not felt evenly enough. Parts of our neighborhood are destabilized, resulting in the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Terrorist attacks have struck at the heart of our cities. New global powers are emerging as old ones face new realities. And last year, one of our Member States voted to leave the Union."

Jüncker's approach is to present alternatives for the future of Europe:

The white paper will be discussed at the Rome meeting on March 25, and the European Commission will published a series of discussion papers throughout the year. European Commission - The Future of Europe and RTE (Ireland) and Bloomberg

European nations split on the future of Europe

Many member nations are disenchanted with the EU, and it's feared that if one more nation follows Britain out of the EU, then others may follow rapidly.

The foreign ministers of France and Germany supported Jüncker's white paper options, and particularly supported the "multi-speed Europe" option, described in the white paper as follows:

"In a scenario where the EU27 proceeds as today but where certain Member States want to do more in common, one or several “coalitions of the willing” emerge to work together in specific policy areas. These may cover policies such as defense, internal security, taxation or social matters.

As a result, new groups of Member States agree on specific legal and budgetary arrangements to deepen their cooperation in chosen domains. As was done for the Schengen area or the euro, this can build on the shared EU27 framework and requires a clarification of rights and responsibilities. The status of other Member States is preserved, and they retain the possibility to join those doing more over time."

However, politicians in other countries disagreed. Far-right Dutch politician Vicky Maeijer reacted harshly to the white paper:

"The EU is collapsing and support for the project is crumbling. It seems we’re trying to keep the Brussels dream alive but its really more of the same – more, more, more European Union. What world do they come from? You’re playing with the lives of millions of citizens who you do not represent.

The Dutch, I think, are going to have their feeling confirmed that they must get away from this suffocating Europe and get freedom and democracy back."

Gianni Pittella, and Italian politician who leads the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, said that the white paper was a "clear political mistake": "We would consider it a clear political mistake to simply present five options concerning the EU’s future without pointing out a clear political preference. [The future of Europe can’t be sacrificed for] short sightedness or fear of the next national elections."

But Spanish politician Esteban González Pons said that the EU must be preserved:

"It is time to defend Europe because it is the best vaccine against nationalists and populists. ...

Nobody should forget that the Union is already our present, and now we have to decide which way we want to go in the future in order to deal with common challenges such as globalization, the generational gap, terrorism, climate change, the migration and refugee crisis, and the rise of nationalism and populism."

Daily Express (London) and Politico and Xinhua

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Mar-17 World View -- European leaders debate how the European Union can survive after Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Mar-17 World View -- Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war

United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war


Central African Republic
Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) war began in March 2013, when Muslim Séléka militias ousted François Bozizé, the Christian president of CAR, and replaced him with Michel Djotodia, a Muslim.

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 brutal atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. As in any generational crisis war, bloody, brutal atrocities are committed by all sides, irrespective of religion or ethnicity.

In 2013, the Séléka was a coalition of ethnic militias that were united in their opposition to the Christians and to François Bozizé. Since then, the coalition has begun to unravel, and different factions have been turning on one another.

In the central region of CAR, around the country's second and third largest cities, Bambari and Bria, two competing ethnic militias have emerged.

One is the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC), dominated by Muslims from the Fulani ethnic group, a nomadic herding ethnic group. Their families travel with their herds of cattle to greener pastures when grazing ground and water are scarce.

The second ethnic militia is the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC), dominated by the Gula and Runga ethnic groups. These ethnic groups are primarily farmers, using hoe cultivation and irrigation techniques, with millet and wheat are the main crops grown. The FPRC is now allying with the Christian "anti-Balaka" militias, which are also primarily farmers.

The FPRC is demanding an independent state in CAR's north. This is opposed by the UPC. The FPRC have been seeking out and slaughtering Fulani civilians in one village after another, including an extremely brutal assault on the city of Bria. FPRC forces are now closing in on Bambari, where it's feared the same could happen.

The core issue in the war is one that I've described many times -- the battle between farmers and herders. Farmers and herders have two completely different lifestyles. Battles between farmers and herders occur in country after country, as I've described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s. 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.

Generational crisis wars are fought along demographic fault lines, including religion, ethnicity, skin color and geography. Ethnicity is a much more powerful force than religion because you can change your religion but you can't change your ethnicity. As in many countries, the war in Central African Republic is being fought along ethnic fault lines, particularly along the fault line between herders and farmers. IRIN - United Nations and Reuters (26-Nov-2016)

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United Nations peacekeeping force MINUSCA uses airstrikes to stop bloodbath in Bambari

There is a United Nations peacekeeping force in CAR known as MINUSCA, which stands for Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. MINUSCA has been largely a failure, with its forces mainly concentrated in the capital city Bangui, and has been riven with scandal, with accusations that peacekeepers have been raping girls that they're supposed to be protecting.

MINUSCA has been watching the impending disaster, as the FPRC forces approach Bambari, with the intention of exterminating the Fulani. MINUSCA is forced to resort to airstrikes to try to halt the advance of the FPRC, and has been targeting "heavily armed" FPRC fighters, although it's not known whether the airstrikes have produced any casualties. At any rate, based on the publicly available reports, it appears that MINUSCA's attempt to stop the FPRC slaughter of Fulanis will fail spectacularly.

I've been writing about the CAR war ever since it began in 2013, and I've always said the same thing: This is a generational crisis war, a force of nature that cannot be stopped until it reaches an explosive climax. The climax is sometimes a real explosion, such as the nuking of Japan that ended World War II. In the usual case, it's a genocidal explosion of such enormity that it's remembered for decades or even centuries, and it causes both sides to stop fighting, and say, "Never again." And it doesn't happen again, as long as the survivors of the war are still alive.

As I've explained in the past, 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, where a new crisis civil war has already started.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis war, and it will not end until a lot of scores get settled with some kind of massive bloody, genocidal climax that will be remembered for decades. CAR is nowhere close to that point yet, and MINUSCA can't do anything but watch the violence unfold. Reuters and AFP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Mar-17 World View -- Central African Republic war morphs from religious to ethnic war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Mar-2017) Permanent Link
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28-Feb-17 World View -- ISIS forces hundreds of Christians to flee Egypt's North Sinai

ISIS-linked Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Sinai continues to confound Egypt's army

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS forces hundreds of Christians to flee Egypt's North Sinai


Coptic Christian families from El-Arish arriving at the Evangelical Church in Ismailia last week (Reuters)
Coptic Christian families from El-Arish arriving at the Evangelical Church in Ismailia last week (Reuters)

At least 100 Coptic Christian families 200 Coptic Christian academic students have been forced to flee from El-Arish, the capital city of Egypt's North Sinai governate, after being threatened by the Sinai terror group called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai) when it changed its allegiance in 2015 from al-Qaeda to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The hundreds of Copts left their homes for the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, 125 miles west, where they were received by a Protestant Church, the Evangelical Church of Ismailia.

This comes after seven Coptic Christians were killed this month ABM militants, including one who was burned alive. The killings occurred after ISIS on February 19 released a video calling Copts "our priority and our preferred prey." According to reports, ABM has "kill lists" that include the names of at least 40 Copts living in Sinai.

The series of attacks is a major embarrassment to Egypt's president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, who has been promising to eradicate terrorism from Northern Sinai after a series of terror attacks in the last two years. On Saturday, he ordered the government to take all necessary measures to provide assistance to the Coptic Christians who were forced to flee, and renewed his pledge to eliminate ISIS from Sinai, where the "undermine security and stability in Egypt."

The Muslim Brotherhood, not wanting to be blamed, has strongly condemned the killings in Sinai, but blamed them on the "military coup regime" of al-Sisi. This is an allusion to the 2013 coup, led by then-army chief al-Sisi, ousting Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government. Christianity Today and Al Ahram (Cairo) and IkhwanWeb (Muslim Brotherhood) and Middle East Eye

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ISIS-linked Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis in Sinai continues to confound Egypt's army

Egypt's army on Monday announced that it had killed six militants in Northern Sinai since the Coptic families were forced to flee. "Law enforcement forces will continue carrying out their mission with determination to uproot terrorism and eliminate terrorist elements," said the statement.

However, this battle between Egypt's army and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been going on for years, and many people wonder why the army hasn't defeated ABM by now.

According to one analysis, Egypt's army is ill-equipped to deal with guerrilla warfare in urban and mountainous areas. Even more important, ABM has been able to acquire sophisticated weapons from stockpiles of weapons that were up for grabs in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi was killed in 2011. A steady stream of these weapons was smuggled by a Libyan jihadist group, Ansar al-Sharia ("Partisans of Sharia law").

One of these weapons was the Russian Kornet, an antitank guided missile, which was a game-changer. Other weapons included Grad missiles, anti-tank rocket propelled grenades, air defense Strela missiles, the latest Kalashnikov rifles, the Austrian Steyr sniper rifles, and DShK Russian machine heavy guns. These weapons have changed ABM from a small terrorist group into a large, well-armed militia.

According to another report, hundreds of trained fighters, including dozens of elite commandos, formerly in the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas in Gaza, have been defecting to ABM-ISIS in the Sinai. These same al-Qassam militants have been providing training to the ISIS fighters in Sinai. Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post and PJ Media

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Feb-17 World View -- ISIS forces hundreds of Christians to flee Egypt's North Sinai thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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27-Feb-17 World View -- Xenophobic violence against migrants returns to South Africa

South Africa threatens to crack down on businesses hiring illegal immigrants

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Xenophobic violence against migrants returns to South Africa


Xenophobic violence targeting migrant-owned business last week (GhanaWeb)
Xenophobic violence targeting migrant-owned business last week (GhanaWeb)

Police in Pretoria, one of South Africa's three capital cities, used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades on Friday to break up clashes between local anti-immigrant protesters and migrants living and working in the area. Police arrested 136 people, many of them protesters and looters armed with clubs, sticks, pipes and rocks. In retaliation, migrants armed themselves with sticks and clubs too. The migrants are from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Pakistan and other countries.

Earlier this week, migrants were targeted in the suburbs of Pretoria and Johannesburg, where shops and businesses were burned or destroyed.

Officials fear a repeat of massive xenophobic violence that occurred in 2008, when at least 60 people were killed. Atrocities including dragging migrants through the streets and burning them alive. In 2015, xenophobic violence resulted in six deaths in Durban.

As one of the wealthiest countries in Africa, South Africa draws migrants from poor countries who come to work or to escape violence. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate is over 25%, and migrants are blamed for taking jobs. Xenophobic violence frequently targets small shops and businesses run by migrants, claiming that they're drug dens and brothels.

South African politicians encourage businesses to hire citizens rather than migrants, but many businesses hire migrants because they can be paid less, and because they can be exploited in the sense of not being paid at all. LA Times and EyeWitnessNews (South Africa) and Mail and Guardian (South Africa) and The Nation (Kenya)

South Africa threatens to crack down on businesses hiring illegal immigrants

South Africa's home affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, announced that officials will inspect workplaces to see if firms are employing illegal immigrants.

If implemented, this would be a different strategy than is employed in America and other countries to deal with illegal immigrants, where law enforcement targets the migrants, often resulting in deportation. In this case, the businesses that hires the migrants will be targeted.

According to Gigaba:

"Companies, businesses: Be warned. We are coming for you. We will charge them, there’s no doubt. The manager will be charged. Often times, we focus on the undocumented employee and not the company.

This is the message we are taking to the rest of business and it will feature strongly in our upcoming meetings. There will be workplace inspections, and penalties for employing undocumented foreigners will be imposed. ...

The dynamics of migration, crime, drugs, prostitution, fraud and unfair labor practices are too serious to be turned into populists politicking."

Even businesses that hire legal immigrants may be targeted. Gigaba has particularly been targeting hotels, restaurants, and other businesses where migrants are often employed. According to Gigaba, "We have a commitment of the hospitality sector on the need to comply with South Africa's labor and immigration laws, especially the requirement to employ a minimum 60 percent of local people."

Gigaba also called for effective policing to target illegal immigrants, but added, "Not all immigrants are criminals."

Whether any of this will be implemented remains to be seen. It's more likely that nothing will be done, and there will be recurring rounds of xenophobic violence. Africa's history is one of tribal wars, and many of today's xenophobic attacks are based on tribal hatreds that exist to this day following the Mfecane, the huge war that engulfed southern Africa in the 1820s. The principal combatants in the Mfecane were the Ndebele, Zulu and Xhosa tribes, and they still experience violent tribal and xenophobic clashes to this day News 24 (South Africa) and BBC and Daily Post (Nigeria)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Feb-17 World View -- Xenophobic violence against migrants returns to South Africa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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26-Feb-17 World View -- Syria's so-called ceasefire collapses after terrorist bombings in Homs

Terrorist bombings in Homs Syria trigger retaliation by al-Assad regime

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terrorist bombings in Homs Syria trigger retaliation by al-Assad regime


A recent picture of Homs, where the Syrian government claims that it has restored peace, security and stability (Der Spiegel)
A recent picture of Homs, where the Syrian government claims that it has restored peace, security and stability (Der Spiegel)

Six suicide bombers infiltrated heavily guarded security centers in Homs, Syria, on Saturday, killing 32 people and injuring 24 others. Each of the two security centers was infiltrated in coordinated attacks by three suicide bombers, where they began killing people with gunfire before detonating their bombs.

In particular, Major-General Hassan Daaboul, head of Syrian regime's Military Security Department, was killed during the attacks.

This was a very complex, well-planned major attack on some of the regime's most highly secure military installations. At the very least, this is a major embarrassment to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and the attack was likely partially an inside job.

Syrian opposition leaders condemned the terrorist attack, and suggested that only people with security clearances could get close to the areas where the attacks took place.

Syrian state media is blaming the attack on Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance of al-Qaeda linked terrorists, including Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS). According to Syrian regime media, "the victories of the Syrian Army made the terrorists frenzied and pushed them to commit this coward terrorist atrocity in a hopeless attempt to undermine the capability of the security services, which managed to establish security and stability in Homs city."

The Syrian air force retaliated for the suicide bombings. The air force had previously stopped bombing rebel-held positions around Damascus because of an agreed ceasefire. The ceasefire was not really being held anyway, but after today's suicide bombings, the Syrian airforce resumed bombing Sunni enclaves around the city.

In a separate attack blamed on the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), terrorists shot mortar rocket shells into the targeting several sites at a gas factory, including its main natural gas pipeline, starting a fire.

Early in 2011, all Bashar al-Assad had to put up with in Homs was peaceful protests. He responded to the peaceful protests with tanks, gunfire, bombs and missiles. The picture at the top of this article shows why there are no more peaceful protests. Now that al-Assad has established "security and stability" in Homs, he no longer has to put up with peaceful protesters. Instead, he has to deal with suicide bombers from al-Nusra, and mortar rocket shells from ISIS. Sputnik News (Moscow) and SANA (Damascus) and AP and SANA (Damascus) and Xinhua (Beijing)

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Once again, so-called Syria 'peace talks' are near collapse

A new Syria peace conference is just beginning in Geneva. There have been so many of these conferences, each one ending in farce, so no one was expecting much from the one either. The multiple coordinated attacks in Homs on Saturday seems to indicate that this peace conference will end like the others.

Last year, Bashar al-Assad predicted that the destruction of Aleppo was "history in the making," and would end the war:

"[The liberation of Aleppo was] history in the making and worthy of more than the word congratulations.

History is being written in these moments. Every Syrian citizen is taking part in the writing. It started not today, but years ago when the crisis and the war on Syria began.

I think that after the liberation of Aleppo we’ll talk about the situation as ... before the liberation of Aleppo and after the liberation of Aleppo."

This was pure fantasy by al-Assad who, as I've written many times in the past, is a delusional psychopath and genocidal war criminal.

Al-Assad was thought to believe that as soon as Aleppo was destroyed, the jihadists groups would go home, as they had no reason to go on fighting. As I've written many times, this is a generational Awakening era in Syria, which means that young people would never simply give up and go home.

In fact, this gives rise to a question I've raised many times. Al-Assad started his massive exterminations of Sunni civilians, including many women and children, simply because they were peacefully protesting. Suppose, hypothetically, al-Assad "won" the war in some sense. What would he do if young people started protesting again -- which would certainly happen in a generational Awakening era? Would he start barrel-bombing innocent women and children again? And in a generational Awakening era, you can be certain the protests would continue.

So the obvious questions is - what happens now? Al-Nusra and ISIS aren't even party to the so-called peace talks, so they're going to continue fighting -- as long as al-Assad is in power. There is no hope whatsoever of an end to this war in Syria as long as al-Assad is in power.

Russia is widely believed to want to stop fighting in Syria. Al-Assad's army was close to collapse, by al-Assad's own admission, in 2015, forcing Russia to enter the war to keep al-Assad's army from collapsing completely. I've heard several analysts point out that Russia's economic situation is so bad that the government has to cut expenses, and withdrawing most Russian forces from Syria is one way to do that.

It may at some point occur to Russia's president Vladimir Putin that if he wants the war in Syria to end, then he has to stop supporting Bashar al-Assad, and allow someone else to replace him. There's no sign of anything like that yet, especially because Iran is bitterly opposed to allowing al-Assad to step down, but Putin at some point may realize that it's the best choice for Russia.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Jews against Arabs, Sunnis against Shias, and various ethnic groups against each other. Reuters (24-Feb) and AFP and Reuters and RTE (Ireland)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Feb-17 World View -- Syria's so-called ceasefire collapses after terrorist bombings in Homs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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25-Feb-17 World View -- Border Adjustment Tax versus the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Law

Washington tax reform plans may include a 'Border Adjustment Tax'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Washington tax reform plans may include a 'Border Adjustment Tax'


NY Times, May 5, 1930 - over a thousand economists opposed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill (History Hub)
NY Times, May 5, 1930 - over a thousand economists opposed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill (History Hub)

News reports indicate that Congressional Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, are considering a "border adjustment tax" as one of the proposals for the tax reforms plans this year.

The details are vague, but it appears that the proposal is essentially an indirect tariff, using taxes charged to certain companies to raise prices of imported products, and tax reductions to other companies to encourage exports. It's especially targeted to American companies that close factories in the U.S. and open factories in Mexico or other countries, and then import the products manufactured in those factories back into the United States.

There appear to be two major objectives. One is to generate revenue to pay for other parts of the tax reform package. And the second is to discourage companies from moving factories and jobs to other countries.

President Trump has not endorsed the idea, but on Thursday seemed to favor it:

"It could lead to a lot more jobs in the United States. ... I certainly support a form of tax on the border. What is going to happen is companies are going to come back here, they're going to build their factories and they're going to create a lot of jobs and there's no tax."

VOA and Reuters and CNN

Historical comparison with the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill

In 1930, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill was passed, increasing import tariffs on some 900 products. The 1929 stock market panic, and the subsequent loss of many families' life savings, was blamed by the public on foreign banks and companies, and it was widely believed that the tariffs would save American jobs. Except for a few details, the public mood then is similar to the public mood today.

In my 2003 book, "Generational Dynamics - Forecasting America's Destiny," which is available as a free PDF from my download page, http://generationaldynamics.com/download, I wrote the following about the Smoot-Hawley bill:

"Perfectly reasonable acts by one country can be interpreted as hostile acts by another country. Guns and bombs are not needed to create an impression of war.

And if one country's innocent act is a shock to another country and is viewed as hostile by that country, and if the people of that country are in a mood for retribution rather than compromise, than they may well look for a way to retaliate.

In that sense, the enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in June 1930, can be viewed as the first of the shocking, provocative acts that led to World War II.

The Act was opposed by an enormous number of economists as being harmful to everyone, but it was very popular with the public, because of the perception that it would save American jobs. ...

Interestingly, the Smoot-Hawley Act is still debated by politicians today, with regard to whether it caused or aggravated the Great Depression or had no effect. ...

Those discussions are entirely America-centric because, for the purposes of this book, it makes no difference whatsoever whether or not the Act aggravated the American depression. We're interested in the effect it had on foreign nations.

And the effects were enormous. The bill erected large trade barriers for numerous products, with the intention of saving American jobs. How many American jobs it saved, if any, is unknown, but it virtually shut down product exports to the United States. Both Germany and Japan were going through the same financial crisis America was going through, and they were furious that America as a market was closed to them.

Japan was the hardest hit. The Great Depression was hurting Japan just as much as it was hurting America but, in addition, Japan's exports of its biggest cash crop, silk, to America were almost completely cut off by the Smoot-Hawley Act. Furthermore, Japan would have been going through a generational change: The country had undergone a historic revolution some 70+ years earlier, culminating in a major change of government (the Meiji Restoration) in 1868, and the people who had lived through that revolution would be dead or retiring by the early 1930s.

So one thing led to another, and in September 1931, almost exactly a year after Smoot-Hawley, Japan invaded Manchuria and later northern China. Britain and American strongly protested this aggression, and Roosevelt finally responded with an oil embargo against Japan.

This is the usual pattern of provocative acts on both sides. America saw Smoot-Hawley as its own business, but to Japan it was a hostile shock. Japan saw the Manchuria invasion as "Asian business," while Britain and America saw it as attacking their own Asian interests. Roosevelt saw an oil embargo as a measured response of containment, while energy-dependent Japan saw it almost as an act of war, eventually triggering Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Japan wasn't the only country affected, of course. England, Germany, Italy, and many other countries were hit hard by the sudden trade barriers with America. Just like in Japan, nationalistic and militaristic feelings were aroused in many countries.

Germany was especially frustrated. The map of Central Europe had been redrawn some 70 years earlier during a series of wars in the 1860s, culminating in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, and the unification of Germany in 1871. The Great War (WW I) had been a mid-cycle war for Germany, and had been a humiliating defeat, especially because the American and British led Allies had imposed harsh conditions -- the loss of some German-speaking territories, and the payment of reparations. The loss of territories was especially provocative, since it partially reversed the German unification of 1871.

Germany was reaching the point where it was going to explode anyway, when the Smoot-Hawley Act was passed. On top of the reparations, the Act was seen as enormously hostile by the Germans. As in Japan, it gave rise to militaristic nationalism in the form of the rise of the Nazis. Germany remilitarized its border with France in 1936, and then annexed German-speaking parts of Eastern Europe in 1938.

So when did World War II start? It depends on what the word "start" means, but an argument can be made that America had started the war, and that the first act of war was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act."

I wrote the above in 2003, so it should not surprise anyone that today I consider the proposed "border adjustment tax" to be a very dangerous idea.

A recent blog post by economists at the New York Fed claims that the proposed tax will have little effect on either imports or exports, which means little effect on revenue or jobs. But whether or not that's true is irrelevant to this discussion.

As in the case of the Smoot-Hawley bill, the main issue is not the effect on the US, but the effect on other nations. Any such border tax would quickly raise nationalist feelings in other nations. There would be retaliatory tariffs enacted in other countries. Some countries might be severely damaged economically, and even if they're not, they would blame any economic problems they have on the American tariffs, and might look for even more far-reaching forms of retaliation.

Some people might argue that the proposed "border adjustment tax" is so small and so limited that it couldn't possibly have such a negative effect. Once again we can look to history to see whether that's true. According to an article in the June 21, 1930, issue of The Economist:

"The signature by President Hoover of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Bill at Washington is the tragi-comic finale to one of the most amazing chapters in world tariff history, and it is one that protectionist enthusiasts the world over would do well to study. The reason for tariff revision was a desire to restore a balance of protection which had been tilted to the disadvantage of the agriculturalist. But so soon as ever the tariff schedules were cast into the melting-pot of revision, log-rollers and politicians set to work stirring with all their might, and a measure which started with the single object of giving satisfaction to the farmer emerges as a full-fledged high tariff act in which nearly 900 duties have been raised, some extravagantly. Such is the inevitable result of vested interests working through political influence, ending in signature by a president, antagonistic to the bill, under compulsion of political necessities."

So the original Smoot-Hawley bill was to be very small, just providing a little protection to farmers, but once the door was opened, the bill exploded.

The same thing would happen today. Congress would be inundated with high-paid lobbyists from all sorts of industries demanding that their products be "protected" by the border adjustment tax. History tells us that that the final bill would be a hodge-podge of special interests and industries, with few winners but lots of losers, and a great deal of nationalistic fury in many other countries.

The proposal for even a "small" border adjustment tax starts us down a path that can lead to the same kind of disaster that the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act caused. New York Fed Blog and Economist (18-Dec-2008) and Economist (21-Jun-1930) and History Hub and Generational Dynamics - Forecasting America's Destiny (PDF)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Feb-17 World View -- Border Adjustment Tax versus the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Law thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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24-Feb-17 World View -- Malaysia - N. Korea relations turn toxic over assassination of Kim Jong-un's half brother

BBC reporter Mike Embley is completely full of crap

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Malaysia continues investigation of Kim Jong-nam's death, despite N. Korea objections


North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol tells the press on Monday that Malaysia is 'colluding with hostile forces,' referring to South Korea.  (Reuters)
North Korea's ambassador Kang Chol tells the press on Monday that Malaysia is 'colluding with hostile forces,' referring to South Korea. (Reuters)

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un, died last week in Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia. Malaysian investigators have determined that two women used a handkerchief to apply poison to Jong-nam in the middle of the airport, and he died several minutes later from the poison on the way to the hospital. The two women are in custody.

Malaysia's police have identified either North Koreans in connection with the assassination, two of whom are in custody, while two others have fled the country.

Two other North Koreans wanted for questioning are hiding out in the North Korean embassy. One is a senior diplomat, Hyon Kwang Song. The other works for the state-owned Air Koryo airline. Malaysia has asked North Korean officials to make both of them available for questioning, a request that has not been granted and may never be granted. Straits Times (Singapore) and NBC News

North Korea blames the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on South Korea

North Korea's state-run news agency KCNA published its own version of "a citizen of the DPRK [North Korea]" died. The KCNA report does not give his name (Kim Jong-nam), and does not say that he's related to the president. Here are some excerpts from the KCNA report:

"Pyongyang: A citizen of the DPRK bearing a diplomatic passport suddenly fell into a state of shock before boarding an airliner and died on the way to a hospital in Malaysia on February 13.

At that time the Foreign Ministry of Malaysia and the hospital side informed the DPRK embassy in Kuala Lumpur exercising the right to consular protection of DPRK citizens that they confirmed he died of heart stroke and decided to transfer his body to the embassy and get it cremated.

So the DPRK embassy confirmed his identity and asked the Malaysian side to transfer his body.

However, no sooner had south Korean conservative media published a false report that he was “poisoned to death”, citing it as “source from the government” that night, then the Malaysian secret police got involved in the case and recklessly made it an established fact, only to make matters complicated.

The DPRK embassy made it clear that autopsy is not necessary as his death had already been confirmed as the one due to heart stroke and autopsy should never be done as he enjoyed extraterritorial right according to the Vienna Convention as a carrier of diplomatic passport.

Nevertheless, the Malaysian side, in disregard of the DPRK’s just demand and international law, made an autopsy of the body without any prior agreement with the DPRK side and its presence. Moreover, the Malaysian side clamored for the second autopsy without publishing the results of the first autopsy."

The KCNA goes on to say that the whole thing was a plot of the South Korean government:

"What merits more serious attention is the fact that the unjust acts of the Malaysian side are timed to coincide with the anti-DPRK conspiratorial racket launched by the south Korean authorities. ...

On February 14, a day after his death, Chongwadae of south Korea kicked up a fuss over it and the south Korean authorities were busy holding a ministerial meeting on February 16, showing an excessive response. Moreover, they openly discussed the issue of THAAD deployment though it has nothing to do with the death of a DPRK citizen.

This proves that the south Korean authorities has long expected the case since it worked out a scenario for it."

So, if I understand the KCNA report, it's accusing South Korea of having planned the entire scenario for this "citizen's" death via "heart stroke."

The report concludes, "The DPRK will never allow any attempt to tarnish the image of the dignified power of independence and nuclear weapons state but make a thorough probe into the truth behind the case." Free Malaysia Today / KCNA (Pyongyang)

Relations between Malaysia and North Korea become vitriolic

It appears that Malaysia and North Korea have had close relationships in the past. Citizens of Malaysia are able to travel to North Korea and visit without a visa. However, relations have been on a downward trajectory for some time, particularly as North Korea has been testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

A major turning point in relations occurred in March 2016, with the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution, which imposed stringent international sanctions on North Korea following a nuclear hydrogen bomb test. Malaysia seriously implemented the sanctions requirements, as did many other nations, serious souring relations between the two countries.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam has added a new level of vitriol. North Korea's Ambassador Kang Chol demanded that Malaysia immediately turn the body to the North Korean embassy without conducting an autopsy. When Malaysia refused, Kang denied that Jong-nam is related to Kim Jong-un, and said Malaysia is "colluding with hostile forces," referring to South Korea.

Kang's accusations are a major insult to Malaysia. Malaysia recalled its ambassador to North Korea "for consultation," and foreign minister Anifah Aman said Kang's allegations "are culled from delusions, lies and half-truths."

Malaysian officials are refusing to release the body except in accordance with international law and Malaysian law. This means fully investigating "the cause of death together with its motive as it happened in our country."

The investigation is turning into a Shakespearean drama, with royal family members bumping each other off. Malaysian officials are demanding that a family member of the dead man come to Malaysia to identify the body and to undergo a DNA test, in order to that it's really Kim Jong-nam. Malaysian media are saying that some family member is expected to arrive on Saturday. Speculation is that it will be his son Kim Han-sol, though police are denying that report. The Diplomat and Straits Times (Singapore) and Sin Chew (Malaysia)

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BBC reporter Mike Embley is completely full of crap

As I'm writing this, I just heard BBC reporter Mike Embley state as a fact that Steve Bannon "is a white supremacist, anti-Semitic, and ran a news web site specializing in fake news."

I've worked with Steve Bannon, and I've been cross-posting on Breitbart since 2010, and none of this is even remotely true.

Mike Embley, if you're reading this: You're completely full of crap. It's hard for me to believe that anyone as stupid as you is on the air.

In 2005, the BBC suffered huge budget cuts after the Hutton Report found that they purposely lied all the time. The BBC calling anyone else "fake news" is laughable.

(Generational Dynamics articles are provided as a public service, for those who wish to prepare for what's coming. Neither Breitbart nor anyone else pays me for Generational Dynamics.)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Feb-17 World View -- Malaysia - N. Korea relations turn toxic over assassination of Kim Jong-un's half brother thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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23-Feb-17 World View -- China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea

China's ASEAN neighbors express increasing anxiety over China's illegal militarization

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea


Chinese military activity around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, May 21, 2015 (US Navy)
Chinese military activity around Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands, May 21, 2015 (US Navy)

China has built artificial islands and military bases, annexing regions belonging to other countries, all in violation of international law, and specifically declared illegal by the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague last year, but that isn't stopping China from continuing its massive illegal and dangerous military buildup in the South China Sea.

On Wednesday, reports emerged from unnamed US intelligence officials that China has built on its artificial islands more than twenty buildings designed to hold long-range surface-to-air missiles. The buildings are concrete structures with retractable roofs. The structures appear to be 20 meters (66 feet) long and 10 meters (33 feet) high.

When asked, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang evaded the issue by saying, "China carrying out normal construction activities on its own territory, including deploying necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities, is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations."

It's always so depressing to have to write these stories where China claims protection under international law when it's wildly violating international law and repeating the acts of the Nazis by annexing other countries' territories. This could only have led to a world war then, and it's going to lead to a world war now.

This week, China also announced that it will revise its 1984 Maritime Safety Law, with the purpose of barring selected foreign ships from passing through the South China Sea, which China claims. It's believed that the changes are intended to target the United States.

Foreign ships that enter without approval will be fined 300,000-500,000 yuan ($43,706-72,844) and those violating Chinese laws will be expelled, presumably by means of military force. "China's waters are open to foreign ships as long as they do not damage the waters' safety, order, or China's sovereignty," according to a Chinese official.

These actions come as an American aircraft-carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson conducting "routine" naval and air operations in the South China Sea this week similar to activities that have been performed for years to protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. However, China calls these operations a "threat to China."

The two Chinese actions this week -- installing long-range surface-to-air missiles and planning to military action targeting foreign ships in the South China Sea -- bring the region and the world closer to war.

Reuters and VOA and Global Times (Beijing) and Lawfare and Asia Times

China's ASEAN neighbors express increasing anxiety over China's illegal militarization

Chas Freeman, a former assistant secretary of defense, said that China's apparent installation of long-range surface-to-air missiels is an "unfortunate, but not (an) unpredictable development," and said that the purpose of these buildings is not to signal President Trump, as some journalists are suggesting:

"There is a tendency here in Washington to imagine that it's all about us, but we are not a claimant in the South China Sea. We are not going to challenge China's possession of any of these land features in my judgment. If that's going to happen, it's going to be done by the Vietnamese, or ... the Filipinos ... or the Malaysians, who are the three counter-claimants of note."

Indeed, China's neighbors in ASEAN (the Association of South East Asian Nations) are increasingly expressing concerns about China's military activities. Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said on Tuesday:

"The ASEAN ministers have been unanimous in their expression of concern about what they see as the militarization of the region. In so far as certain reclamation of certain features built on the South China Sea that had been completed, they (ASEAN ministers) have noticed, very unsettlingly, that China has installed weapons systems in these facilities that they have established."

The complaints by the Philippines are particularly telling, because president Rodrigo R. Duterte last year made a very public spectacle of "throwing the United States" out of the Philippines, and seeking to replace the US with China. As it's turned out, Duterte has been unable to eject the US because of opposition within his own government, and because of anxiety over China's increasingly hostile activities in the South China Sea.

The Philippine government is becoming particularly anxious over Scarborough Shoal, which has been a Philippine fishing ground for centuries. China has taken military control of the region around Scarborough Shoal, but has not yet built an artificial island or military base there, as it has in the Spratly Islands. An attempt by China to build a military base in that region could generate a strong nationalist backlash in the Philippines, with unpredictable political results.

A military base on Scarborough Shoal would effectively sit on the doorstep of Subic, where US and Philippine forces are based. China could extend its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities into the eastern reaches of the South China Sea by placing an over-the-horizon radar system at Scarborough as it has done on some of its possessions in the Spratlys. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Vietnam is well aware that its military stands little or no chance in a naval battle versus China, having already lost a naval battle to China in 1988. Vietnam has been adopting an asymmetric strategy of sea-denial. This strategy uses missiles and submarines to deny China access to the same South China Sea regions where China is denying access to the Vietnamese.

Vietnam has just received a fleet or Russian-build diesel-electric submarines, equipped for sea denial in the traditional sense with torpedoes and mines, as well as Russian-made Klub-S sea-launched land-attack cruise missiles (SLCM) that can hit targets as far away as three hundred kilometers.

India is in talks with Vietnam to sell them short range surface-to-air missiles. Nearly half of India's trade passes through the South China Sea, and its government is taking steps to maintain freedom of navigation and overflight.

Increasingly, we've been seeing an alliance among several countries -- India, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, and Russia -- to take steps to guarantee that the South China Sea remains open to everyone.

The populations of China and all of these countries today are in a highly emotional, nationalistic state, and this military buildup on all sides cannot end up in any way but a major war.

Asia One (Singapore) and CNN and The Diplomat (2-Feb) and Reuters and New Indian Express

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Feb-17 World View -- China preparing to install long-range missiles in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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22-Feb-17 World View -- China clamps down on Uighurs in Xinjiang province

China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars


Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)
Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)

Officials in northwest China's province of Xinjiang on Tuesday ordered that all car owners install devices that will permit authorities to track the cars at all times. The cars will be tracked by means of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which is China's homegrown system to reduce reliance on the US global positioning system (GPS).

The devices will have to be installed by June 30. After that date, owners will be unable to purchase petrol for their cars. Installation of the devices is free, though the owners will be charged for the devices' internet access that continually reports the car's position to the Chinese authorities.

According to a Chinese official explaining the demand, possibly making a little joke:

"All vehicles must install the system, so that they can be tracked wherever they go. It also helps car owners to find their cars quickly if it's been stolen or taken [by terrorists]."

This is only the latest in a series of seemingly desperate attempts by China's authorities to bring the region's ethnic Uighurs under control.

The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are almost all Sunni Muslims. Since 1949, when China crushed the short-lived state of East Turkestan, China has been promoting large-scale immigration of Han Chinese from other parts of China into Xinjiang province. In addition, Chinese authorities have marginalized the Uighurs, giving the best homes and jobs to the Han Chinese. Today, the Uighurs make up about 45% of Xinjiang's population, while 40% are Han Chinese.

This forced massive migration of Han Chinese into their cities, marginalizing the Uighurs in their own homeland, has infuriated the Uighurs, and has led to a jihadist separatist movement.

In July, 2009, thousands of Uighurs rioted and demonstrated against Chinese rule. The riots were triggered when two Uighur migrant workers, working in a toy factory in southeast China, were accused of raping a Han woman, a charge which appears to have been fabricated. The two Uighurs were killed in a Han Chinese mob attack on their dormitory. In Xinjiang, Chinese officials Chinese officials accused the Uighurs of attacking Han Chinese in their home, and struck back against the Uighurs brutally. Shanghaist and BBC and Global Times (Beijing)

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China stages massive show of military force in Xinjiang

In a massive show of military force, thousands of black clad, heavily armed troops have paraded through cities in Xinjiang province. On Saturday, hundreds of troops staged a mass "anti-terror rally" in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.

Zhu Hailun, the region’s deputy Communist party chief, promised an unflinching campaign against the Islamic terrorists and separatists:

"We shall load our guns, draw our swords from their sheaths, throw hard punches and relentlessly beat, and strike hard without flinching at terrorists who must be brought down a peg or two.

With the caring and strong leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee, where President Xi Jinping serves as the core … the strong support of 23 million people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and with the powerful fist of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, all separatist activities and all terrorists shall be smashed to pieces."

On Thursday of last week, a similar military parade was held in the city of Kashgar. A special forces operative said, "We are ready for [combat] and we definitely will win."

This massive show of force, as well as the demand to install tracking devices in all cars, follows two terror attacks in Xinjiang in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, three militants attacked Han Chinese with machetes, killing five and injuring five more, before they were shot by police. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building.

It's possible that the terror attacks were triggered by a program by China's government in the last three months of 2016 to destroy thousands of mosques in Xinjiang under the pretense of protecting the public from unsafe buildings. One police officer was quoted as saying:

"Convincing the people that one of the purposes for demolishing the mosques was for the safety of the worshipers was a bit difficult. Some of them laughed at us when we explained the purpose, and some of them stared at us to show their disagreement."

Government officials in Kashgar confirmed that 70% of the mosques that city were demolished. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Guardian (London) and Radio Free Asia (19-Dec-2016)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Feb-17 World View -- China clamps down on Uighurs in Xinjiang province thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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21-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan artillery pounds terrorist 'safe havens' in Afghanistan

Pakistan blames Afghanistan after a week of multiple terror attacks

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan blames Afghanistan after a week of multiple terror attacks


People and trucks wait for the Pak-Afghan border to be reopened, as Pakistan's army moves heavy artillery to the border
People and trucks wait for the Pak-Afghan border to be reopened, as Pakistan's army moves heavy artillery to the border

The number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan had been falling in 2015 and 2016, compared to previous years, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised that the year 2017 would be a further improvement. That's why a new surge in terror attacks in Pakistan has shocked the nation and is a personal embarrassment to Sharif.

Six terror attacks occurred in the space of four days:

There were other terrorist attacks earlier in the year, including a bomb in a vegetable market in Pakistan's tribal region on January 21, kill 25 civilians and injuring 87 more.

In 2014, Pakistan's military launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which attacked Taliban militants hiding in the tribal region (FATA) between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistani government officials have credited Zarb-e-Azb as the reason why terror attacks in Pakistan fell in 2015 and 2016.

On February 13 of this year, the day of the terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan's UN ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council:

"This comprehensive approach [Operation Zarb-e-Azb] has succeeded in expelling terrorist organizations from our territory and greatly constrained their ability to carry out lethal attacks, as evident from the dramatic decline in the number of such attacks, despite the cowardly attack in Lahore."

There's a certain irony to this claim: As the number of terror attacks in Pakistan declined in 2015, the number in Afghanistan increased. The two figures may well be linked, because Operation Zarb-e-Azb caused thousands of Pakistani Taliban militants hiding out in the FATA to flee across the border into Afghanistan, where they could have linked up with the Afghan Taliban.

The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2015 had special geopolitical significance, because the resurgent Taliban forced President Barack Obama to reverse his promise to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan. BBC and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP - India) and Al-Jazeera

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Pakistan army pounds militant hideouts in Afghanistan

Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan are rising sharply as Pakistan is essentially blaming Afghanistan for the recent surge in terror attacks. Pakistan's army is taking these steps following Thursday's terror attack on the Sufi shrine in Sehwan:

Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry in Kabul summoned Pakistan's ambassador to protest the border shelling.

Pakistan's military chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, said on Monday that the army was fighting the "common enemy" of terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he called "for more effective border coordination and cooperation" to prevent cross-border movement of terrorists.

Last week, Pakistan handed over to Afghanistan a list of 76 fugitive militants hiding in Afghanistan, and demanded that immediate action be taken against them.

On Monday, Afghanistan handed over to Pakistan a list of 32 training centers and 85 militant leaders involved in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, and demanded that immediate action be taken against them.

There have been similar lists in the past, and little or no action has been taken on either side. Whether this time will be different remains to be seen.

Dawn (Pakistan) and Pak Observer and Tolo News (Afghanistan) and VOA

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan artillery pounds terrorist 'safe havens' in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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20-Feb-17 World View -- US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul

US aircraft carrier renews challenge to China in the South China Sea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Bombing in Somalia kills 50, said to target Somali-American president


Aftermath of car bomb attack on market in Mogadishu Somalia on Sunday (Reuters)
Aftermath of car bomb attack on market in Mogadishu Somalia on Sunday (Reuters)

A terrorist car bomb exploded in a marketplace in Somalia's capital city Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 39 and injuring dozens more.

No one has claimed responsibility, but the al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Somalia. Although al-Shabaab did not claim responsibility, a senior al-Shabaab official threatened more attacks targeting any clans that collaborate with the new president, saying "We will fight against him during his four-year term."

The new president, who took office on February 8, is Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed — nicknamed Farmajo. Farmajo holds a dual Somali-American citizenship. In 1988, as a Somali government employee working in the Somali embassy in Washington, he feared for his life after criticizing the Somali government, and applied for asylum in the U.S. Since then, he earned several college degrees and settled in Buffalo, NY, as a civil servant in the New York Department of Transportation.

His ambition was to return to Somalia and help bring peace to the violent country. After meeting with and impressing Somalia's president in 2010, he became prime minister of Somalia. His fight against both al-Shabaab and corruption made him very popular in his home country. Five years later he ran for president, winning a surprise victory, and took office two weeks ago, on February 8.

Beyond terror attacks, Farmajo will have to deal with many other severe problems facing Somalia. Somalia's clans have been fighting in a civil war since 1991, and a severe drought puts the country at risk of famine.

Farmajo's popularity, his American dual citizenship, and his education in American values and governance apparently have made him a huge threat to al-Shabaab, and we can apparently expect more terror attacks targeting people and clans cooperating with Farmajo. AFP and VOA and Politico

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US aircraft carrier renews challenge to China in the South China Sea

In a new challenge to China's illegal construction of artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and the Carl Vinson Strike Group entered the South China Sea on Sunday to perform "routine" freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs).

As in previous operations, the Carl Vinson will simply transit the South China Sea, establishing the right of all nations to do the same, and especially for commercial ships to do so freely. Chinese media claim, without providing a reason, that these freedom of navigation operations are a military threat to China.

These operations have been going on for years, but there's a question about whether there will be a change in policy under the administration of president Donald Trump. The issue is how close the Carl Vinson will navigate to China's artificial islands and military bases. In the Obama administration, the American ships stayed at least 12 nautical miles from any of China's artificial islands. There is some speculation that, in the Trump administration, the American ships will travel closer than 12 nautical miles. This would be fully justified under international law, since the artificial islands are illegal, but it would infuriate the Chinese, and possibly trigger some kind of military confrontation. VOA and Navy Times (12-Feb) and Global Times (Beijing)

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US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul

Iraq's army, backed by American-led coalition warplanes, launched a major new military offensive on Sunday with the objective of recapturing western Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

Iraq had hoped to recapture the entire city by the end of 2016, but only recaptured the eastern portion last month.

Analysts are giving several reasons why recapturing western Mosul is going to proceed very slowly:

Humanitarian agencies are gearing up to aid 250,000 to 400,000 civilians who may flee because of the fighting. AP

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Feb-17 World View -- US-backed Iraqi army launches major new offensive in western Mosul thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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19-Feb-17 World View -- China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal

Assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia threatens relations with China and North Korea

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal


Kim Jong-nam (L), the assassinated half-brother of Kim Jong-un (R) (AP)
Kim Jong-nam (L), the assassinated half-brother of Kim Jong-un (R) (AP)

Two events in the last week -- North Korea's test of a long-range ballistic missile and the assassination, possibly by North Korean agents, of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of president Kim Jong-un -- have infuriated and embarrassed China's leaders, since they enormously complicate China's foreign policy.

The ballistic missile test is particularly troubling to China's leadership for several reasons:

China's announcement on Saturday that it would suspend all coal shipments from North Korea was a surprise, but not totally unexpected. On Monday of last week, the day after the ballistic missile test, China prevented a North Korean ship from unloading a shipment of 16,295 tons coal, worth about US$1 million, at a Chinese port, and ordered that it be returned to North Korea. However, China blamed the rejection not on the ballistic missile test, but instead on a claim that the coal contained higher-than-permissible level of mercury.

China's announcement could have significant economic impact on North Korea. In order to import foreign goods, North Korea needs foreign reserves. In order to get foreign reserves, it needs to export goods. About 90% of North Korea's exports go to China, and most of that is coal. So this announcement will severely limit the foreign goods that North Korea can import.

The intent is that by limiting North Korea's ability to import, the country will be unable to import that equipment required for further development of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. It's not clear that this objective is realistic, as Kim Jong-un has previously been willing to allow his people to starve rather than to allow his nuclear weapons program to starve. No matter what the intent, Kim will let his people starve and will torture, jail and execute anyone who objects.

China implemented a partial ban on coal imports from North Korea last year, but left open a loophole that would allow some coal imports if they would benefit the North Korean people. The partial ban turned out to be a joke, because North Korean manipulated the loophole and actually increased coal imports to China by 12-14% after the partial ban was announced, which was extremely embarrassing to China.

China criticizes other nations for destabilizing the region, even though China continually destabilizes the region by confiscating other countries' territories and building illegal military bases in the South China Sea, while threatening Japan in the East China Sea. This entire political strategy is being thrown into chaos by the actions of North Korea.

China has the ability to bring North Korea to its knees economically, but both China and Kim Jong-un are well aware that doing so is a very high-risk strategy. A government coup in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital city, could bring to power someone that favors peaceful reunification with South Korea -- something that's quite possible now that three or four generations have grown up since the end of World War II and the Korean War. Or an even worse scenario is that a retaliatory act by Kim Jong-un might be directed at either China or South Korea (or Japan or the US), and this could lead to a war on the Korean Peninsula that would draw in the Chinese military and would result in millions of North Korean refugees pouring into China.

The point is that China is rapidly running out of choices. Allowing Kim Jong-un to continue ballistic missile and nuclear weapons development is extremely dangerous to China, but trying to stop that development with economic sanctions is also extremely dangerous. One can only speculate what China might try next -- perhaps some sort of military action or commando raid on North Korean military targets. But this is just one more area, like the situations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where China's leaders are running out of time and they know it, and may become desperate enough to do something stupid. Yonhap News (Seoul) and BBC and Washington Post

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Assassination of Kim Jong-un's half-brother in Malaysia threatens relations with China and North Korea

Police in Malaysia have arrested four suspects believed to be linked to the assassination on Wednesday Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, the president of North Korea.

A woman tentatively identified as 28-year-old Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam has been positively identified as the assassin from CCTV footage from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. She allegedly covered Kim Jong-nam's face with a cloth laced with poison, causing his death within minutes. Before being captured, she changed her appearance several times. On Wednesday, she was wearing a white shirt with the large letters "LOL" on the front. A second woman said that they both thought that the whole thing was a prank sponsored by a reality TV show.

It has not been proven whether North Korea is responsible for the assassination, and there are other actors that might have wanted him dead. Jong-nam was playboy, and one can even imagine that the assassination might have been launched by a former girlfriend. But most people believe that Kim Jong-nam was killed under orders of his half-brother, Kim Jong-un, North Korea's child dictator.

This is not the first execution of a family member. On New Year's Day 2014, Kim Jong-un announced that he had ordered the execution of his uncle and mentor Jang Song-thaek, calling him "factionalist scum." According to unconfirmed reports at the time, Kim had his uncle thrown into a room with several ravenous dogs that hadn't eaten in several days. So although Kim Jong-nam wasn't eaten by ravenous dogs, the execution of Jang Song-thaek provides a recent precedent for the execution of close family members.

Malaysia has always gone out of its way to maintain good relations with China, but the assassination of Kim Jong-ang in Kuala Lumpur airport, whether ordered by North Korea or not, is causing a rift in relations between the two countries.

North Korea demanded the immediate return of the dead body to North Korea. Malaysia responded that the death occurred on Malaysian soil, and a full series of autopsies would be performed first. Furthermore, Malaysia would not return the body to North Korea until a DNA sample from Kim Jong-un was provided, in order to complete the autopsy.

On Friday, close to midnight, North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, stood in front of the morgue where the body was lying and gave a hysterical rant:

"We strongly urge and demand the Malaysian side not to be entangled with a political plot by the hostile forces towards the DPRK [North Korea] who want to damage image of our republic. And, to release the body immediately. ...

The Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing. We will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem conducted unilaterally excluding our attendance. They are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice."

It's not clear who the "hostile forces" are, but they're assumed to be China or South Korea.

On Saturday, Malaysia's Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam responded to the North Korean ambassador:

"North Korea can reject or show disapproval. But we are doing things according to our law. Something happened in our country. We don't do it according to their law. If murder or death (occurs) in our country, there is a process we go through. There is no short cut in forensics as far as we are concerned. ...

We will release [the autopsy result] once it is ready, and hope to release it within this week. We are currently waiting for the toxicology report, which is an important test to confirm. Once it is done, the results will be given to the police as early as we can and it is up to the police to release it. We want to get correct results before releasing it."

It's very easy to get the feeling that both sides are hiding things, and that there's a lot more to come out.

The assassination of Kim Jong-nam has also further strained relations between China and North Korea, beyond the amount they were already strained by the long-range ballistic missile test.

Kim Jong-nam had been exiled from North Korea in 2001 after he was discovered using a phony passport. He's been living in Macau in China under Chinese protection. On Wednesday, he was at Kuala Lumpur airport preparing to fly back to Macau. If North Korea performed the assassination, it would be a new major humiliation to China.

China's state media Global Times published a story on Wednesday saying that "It is sincerely hoped that [North Korea] will step up and provide answers to a world that right now can only patiently wait." That story also criticized North Korea for using assassination at all:

"Regardless of how intense a country's political struggle might be, there is no doubt that it should never rely on assassination methods as means for its advancement. Human civilization is now in the 21st century, and such a savage and outdated political device should be cast into the museums of history."

This is an interesting point. Assassination is so old, so savage, so outdated, so twentieth-century. It's better to use more modern methods. If China doesn't like someone, they like to use more modern techniques -- kidnapping, and years of being thrown into a hole and starved, and receiving daily beatings and torture. For China in the 21st century, that's so much more thoroughly modern and stylish. AFP and The Star (Malaysia) and Global Times (China)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Feb-17 World View -- China announces it will block imports of North Korea's coal thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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18-Feb-17 World View -- Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit

Ireland demands a 'soft border,' while Scotland contemplates independence

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit


Tony Blair on Friday
Tony Blair on Friday

Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair called for the people "to rise up in defense of what we believe – calmly, patiently, winning the argument by the force of argument; but without fear and with the conviction we act in the true interests of Britain," to persuade the electorate to change their minds and decide that Britain should remain in the European Union after all.

Blair's speech comes two weeks after Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to authorize Prime Minister Theresa May to invoke "Article 50," which means that the real negotiations will begin between Britain and the EU. According to the relevant treaty, Britain will officially leave the EU exactly two years after Article 50 is invoked. It's now expected that Article 50 will be invoked early in March.

Blair is an extremely controversial figure, even though he won three elections and was Prime Minister for a decade. The people on the right hate him because he's in the Labor Party. The people in the Labor Party hate him because he defended Britain's participation in the Iraq war. So I suppose he reasoned that when you're hated that much, then you really have nothing to lose by taking an unpopular stand on an issue.

Blair is concerned that the far right is so dominating the Brexit issue that millions of people who are against Brexit have no way to articulate their feelings:

"They will claim we’re dividing the country by making the case. It is they who divide our country – generation from generation, North from South, Scotland from England, those born here from those who came to our country precisely because of what they thought it stood for and what they admired."

Blair is referring to the fact that younger generations, who voted against Brexit, believe that they are being left without a future because of the selfish pro-Brexit vote of the older generations. He refers to the fact that while England and Wales voted for Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against it, and they're being forced out of the EU against their will. And of course the last sentence refers to the bitter immigration issue.

Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the pro-Brexit campaign, and current Britain's Foreign Secretary, was his usual colorful self in responding to Blair. He said:

"This is a discussion we had most of last year and it came out very firmly in favor of leaving the EU.

We heard all these arguments last year - not a thing has changed - and I think it really is insulting the intelligence of the electorate to say that they got it wrong."

He called Tony Blair the "Remoaner-in-chief" (playing on the word "remain"), and said that people should turn off the TV when Blair appears. Tony Blair's speech - transcript and Daily Mail (London) and Telegraph (London)

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Ireland demands a 'soft border,' while Scotland contemplates independence

Of the four nations in the United Kingdom, England and Wales voted in favor of Brexit, while Scotland and Northern Ireland opposed it. People and politicians in both regions are furious that they're being forced to leave the European Union against their will.

On September 18, 2014, Scotland held a referendum on the question of whether Scotland should leave the UK and become an independent country. This would have dissolved the 1707 union between England and Scotland that came out of the War of the Spanish Succession. Voters rejected the referendum, with 55.3% voting no. Many in Scotland are bitter that they are going to be forced to leave the European Union even though they voted 62% against Brexit.

In his speech, Tony Blair said that Scotland's demands for independence from Britain are "more credible" because of Brexit, and that a new referendum was "back on the table."

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and leader of Scotland's pro-independence movement has always been a bitter political enemy of Tony Blair, but on this issue she says, "There’s a quality of analysis & argument in Blair's speech today that has been totally lacking from Labor to date." She added:

"The argument is now very different than it was in 2014 and is even more compelling than it was in 2014. Because what Brexit has shown is that within the UK Scotland’s voice isn’t listened to and doesn’t appear to count for much, so the argument for taking control, taking charge of our own society and our place in the world becomes ever more strong."

However, several Scottish ministers disagreed with Sturgeon, saying that only about 25% of the people of Scotland want a new referendum. Scottish politician Willie Rennie said:

"The case for independence is weaker, not stronger, now, especially with the pounds 15 billion black hole in the Scottish public finances that would hit our NHS and schools."

For Northern Ireland, the reality of Brexit goes well beyond economic issues. Once Britain leaves the EU, Northern Ireland will also leave the EU, while the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland) will remain in the EU. At that point, they will no longer be part of the same country, but will be two separate countries. The border between the two will be the only remaining land border between the UK and the EU.

Ireland has a long bitter history of religious and factional wars, and it's only in recent years that the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland has been open for free travel of people and goods. So many people are opposed to the idea of jeopardizing the open border and, as in the case of Scotland, are furious that London is making decisions that will deeply affect the lives of the Irish.

Enda Kenny, the prime minister of the Republic of Ireland, said that avoiding a "hard border" is essential for the people on the entire island.

"[L]et me be absolutely clear on one point. It is a matter of vital national interest for Ireland that we do not return to the days of a hard border that we knew only too well. Or indeed create a new one in the future.

The European Union has always been about removing barriers, about bringing people together in peace and prosperity. The treaty of Rome, which we will celebrate on its 60th anniversary next month, is one of the greatest peace agreements in history. Without it, there could have been no Good Friday Agreement.

So, I am in absolutely no doubt that the European Union, which has done so much to support reconciliation on this island, will defend the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. I am confident that the European Union will not bring us back to a border of division."

Unfortunately, Kenny and the other Irish politicians will have little to say about it. An open border would permit anyone to migrate from Europe to the UK simply by passing through Ireland. Similarly, goods could be transferred from Europe to the UK by traveling across the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. With most UK and EU politicians deeply nationalistic and deeply angry with each other, there may be little charity available for the Irish people, who have already learned that their wishes carry little weight in London. Telegraph (London) and Guardian (London)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Feb-17 World View -- Britain's Tony Blair calls for the people 'to rise up' and reverse Brexit thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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17-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan promises to avenge 'each drop of blood' after multiple terror attacks

Pakistan again in shock as Sufi shrine bombing is fifth terror attack in a week

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan again in shock as Sufi shrine bombing is fifth terror attack in a week


A Pakistani covered with blood sits with the body of a blast victim on Thursday (AFP)
A Pakistani covered with blood sits with the body of a blast victim on Thursday (AFP)

The people of Pakistan are once again expressing shock at the continuing string of violent terrorist attacks that target specific religious groups, including Sufis, Shia Muslims, and Christians.

On Thursday, a suicide bomber blew himself at a Sufi shrine, the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, just north of Karachi, killing 76 people and injuring several hundred more. The shrine was targeted during a a Sufi ritual called Dhamaal, when hundreds of devotees were present inside the premises of the mausoleum of the saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, which is the reason for huge numbers of casualties.

Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) claimed responsibility. JuA has long been one of the terrorist groups under the umbrella group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). JuA split off from TTP in the middle of 2014 in a disagreement caused by TTP's plans to hold peace talks with Pakistan's government. JuA rejoined TTP in 2015, but has also declared allegiance to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). For that reason, ISIS is also claiming responsibility for the attack.

On March 15, 2015, JuA claimed responsibility for suicide bombers at two churches, one Catholic and one Protestant, also in Lahore, killing 15 people and injuring 70. Dawn (Pakistan) and BBC and AP

Monday's terror attack in Lahore Pakistan kills dozens

On Monday, a strong explosion at Chairing Cross in Lahore, Pakistan, killed at least 16 people and injured 73 more. The incident occurred as hundreds of pharmacists were gathered to protest a new regulatory law. Some analysts claim that the intended target was not the pharmacists but the police guarding the protest. Jamaat ul-Ahrar (JuA, Assembly of Freedom) took credit for Sunday's explosion in Lahore.

On March 27 of last year, JuA took credit for the Easter massacre of Christians in Lahore in a terror attack. That attack killed more than 69 people, mostly women and children, and injured more than 300. That attack was supposed to kill Christians, but as it turned out, most of the people killed were Muslims. At the time, a JuA spokesman issued a statement: "Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target. [However,] we didn't want to kill women and children. Our targets were male members of the Christian community."

There have been several terror attacks in the last week. On Sunday a newsman was killed when his van was attacked. On Wednesday, three suicide bombers killed seven people when they targeted villages around Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. Daily Pakistan and Geo TV (Pakistan)

Pakistan's government promises that each drop of blood will be avenged

In what has become a regular ritual, the government of Pakistan is once again declaring war on the Taliban. According to critics, the government only follows through half-heartedly on such announcements, distinguishing "the good Taliban," which attacks targets in India, from "the bad Taliban," which attacks targets in Pakistan. Often, the same group is involved in both kinds of attacks.

Speaking on Thursday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa promised that each drop of blood will be avenged:

"Each drop of nation’s blood shall be avenged, and revenged immediately. No more restraint for anyone. ...

The active cooperation among the valorous citizen of the country, the Army, Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and intelligence agencies is cornerstone of Pakistan’s success against terrorism.

The terrorists are trying to regroup in safe havens in Afghanistan and are attempting to spread doubts and despondency in the society, hence we all collectively shall fail their desperate maneuvers.

Hostile agencies should avoid playing with regional peace and stability as we reserve the right to respond, despite our current policy of restraint."

After a terror attack, many Pakistan Taliban terrorists flee across the border into Afghanistan, where Pakistan's security forces are not permitted to follow. Many Pakistanis blame India for providing safe havens in Afghanistan to Pakistani Taliban terrorists. The News (Pakistan) and Pakistan Observer and India Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Feb-17 World View -- Pakistan promises to avenge 'each drop of blood' after multiple terror attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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16-Feb-17 World View -- Obamacare and Britain's NHS continue in financial 'death spiral'

Obamacare follows Nixon's wage-price controls in financial 'death spiral'

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Obamacare follows Nixon's wage-price controls in financial 'death spiral'


President Richard Nixon announces wage-price controls on August 15, 1971
President Richard Nixon announces wage-price controls on August 15, 1971

In July 2009, a couple of days after President Barack Obama's health plan was announced, I wrote "Obama's health plan, a proposal of economic insanity, appears to be losing support", in which I said the following:

" Politicians say that our health system is "broken," and perhaps it is. Politicians say that health-related costs have been rising faster than inflation, and they say that some people (the poor, the unemployed, the minorities, the sick, etc.) don't have health insurance.

In other words, the worst of what the politicians say is wrong with our health care system may well be true, but the insanity is believing that you can just pass a law and the problems will be solved. As bad as things are now, passing a 1,000 page law will make things much, much worse. ...

President Obama's health care plan amounts to price controls and rationing. This is a recipe for total disaster."

I knew this because I'd seen the same thing happen before, in the 1970s with President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls. Nixon's program was supposed to bring the inflation rate from 4% down to 2%. This is exactly the kind of thing that liberals really love. But within three years, Nixon's controls had cause inflation to surge to 12%.

Like many liberal economic programs, including Obamacare, Nixon's controls were an utter disaster for the economy, and the economy didn't recover for almost a decade. Whatever you think of Watergate, at least Nixon had the decency to agree to end wage-price controls after three years, after enough damage had been done

The signs that Obamacare was collapsing have been clear now for almost two years, as several large insurance companies, UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield, and others, have announced partial or complete pullouts from Obamacare because of massive financial losses.

On Wednesday another company, Humana Inc., announced that it will leave the Obamacare exchanges at the end of 2017. According to the company's statement:

"Regarding the company’s individual commercial medical coverage (Individual Commercial), substantially all of which is offered on-exchange through the federal Marketplaces [Obamacare], Humana has worked over the past several years to address market and programmatic challenges in order to keep coverage options available wherever it could offer a viable product. This has included pursuing business changes, such as modifying networks, restructuring product offerings, reducing the company’s geographic footprint and increasing premiums.

All of these actions were taken with the expectation that the company’s Individual Commercial business would stabilize to the point where the company could continue to participate in the program. However, based on its initial analysis of data associated with the company’s healthcare exchange membership following the 2017 open enrollment period, Humana is seeing further signs of an unbalanced risk pool. Therefore, the company has decided that it cannot continue to offer this coverage for 2018. Through the remainder of 2017, Humana remains committed to serving its current members across 11 states where it offers Individual Commercial products. And, as it has done in the past, Humana will work closely with its state partners as it navigates this process."

Humana's announcement refers to the "2017 open enrollment period," which is the period when people can enroll for 2017 coverage. In Tennessee, for example, 15% fewer people signed up in the 2017 open enrollment period than in the previous year.

Humana's announcement also refers to an "unbalanced risk pool." This means that the reason that fewer people are signing up is that healthy people are not signing up, which sick people continue to sign up at the same rate. This means that fewer healthy people are available to pay for health care for sick people.

Health insurer Aetna lost $450 million in Obamacare exchanges last year. It has already pulled out of most Obamacare markets, but hasn't announced yet whether it will pull out of the remaining ones. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said that the "death spiral" of Obamacare is going to continue:

"It’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse. You saw my friend, Bruce, at Humana say, 'We're out.' ...

That logic shows just how much the risk pool is deteriorating in the ACA [Obamacare] and how poorly structured the funding mechanism and premium model is. I think you will see a lot more withdrawals this year of plans. ... My anticipation would be that in '18, we’ll see a lot of markets without any coverage at all."

Supporters of Obamacare point to statistics that millions more people are insured than before Obamacare. Well of course they are. That's because over 80% of all Obamacare customers receive big subsidies. Give people something for free and they'll take it.

Even so, fewer people are signing up because being "insured" with Obamacare often means paying big monthly premiums and then not really being insured at all. Many people with Obamacare have Medicaid and can't find a doctor to treat them, or they have something like a $10,000 deductible, so they have to pay their entire bills anyway. My guess is that millions more people today are effectively uninsured than were uninsured before Obamacare.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I predicted would happen when I wrote my article in July 2009. This isn't rocket science. This is common sense. But when policymakers in the Obama administration are too stupid to understand even Economics 1.01, then there is no common sense.

Obamacare is an economic disaster of epic proportions, worse than Nixon's wage-price controls. Congress is now considering various "repeal or replace" options to salvage something from the Obamacare disaster, but as in the case of Nixon's wage-price controls, the destruction is so deep that it will take years to repair it, and things will get worse before they get better. Human Press Release and The Hill and Business Insider and The Tennessean

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Britain's National Health Service continues its own death spiral

As I've been reporting since 2015, Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is facing an existential crisis, with a huge and accelerating deficit expected to reach 22 billion pounds ($32 billion) by 2020.

The NHS is massively cutting services, with hospitals reducing the number of beds, and more than one-third closing their maternity units and their Accident & Emergency departments (known in America as Emergency Rooms).

Since surgery is extremely expensive, the NHS is taking several steps to reduce the amount of surgery:

With NHS in its own "death spiral," supporters are demanding huge tax increases before 2018 in order to maintain the current levels of service. Whether taxpayers can afford those huge increases remains to be seen. Guardian (London) and Belfast Telegraph and London Express and Guardian (21-Apr-2015)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Feb-17 World View -- Obamacare and Britain's NHS continue in financial 'death spiral' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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15-Feb-17 World View -- Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers

Brief generational history of Cameroon

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers


Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)
Anglophone protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda, Cameroon (RFI)

In the hope of quelling protests by the Anglophone (English-speaking) population of Cameroon, the government shut down all internet access to to the Anglophone regions of the country, beginning on January 17. The shutdown has been going on for five weeks, and covers 20% of the population.

The activist group Internet Without Borders has estimated that small businesses have lost over $700,000 because they are no longer able to conduct much of their business without the internet. They add that the outage had blocked entrepreneurs who are an important part of the economic activity of the country. The UN has said that the termination of Internet services was an "appalling violation" of the right to freedom of expression, because it's a clear attempt by the government to stifle citizen protest actions.

It's interesting that the internet didn't even exist not too many years ago, and now it's said to be a basic human right. Africa News and IT News Africa and Newsweek

Brief generational history of Cameroon

(See this 23-Nov-16 World View article for the early history of Cameroon.)

Historically, Cameroon was colonized by a variety of European countries, but by the end of World War two there were two colonies, the Anglophone "British Cameroons" colony and the Francophone "French Cameroun" colony.

The 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. The outcome was independence in 1961, when the British Cameroons colony and the French Cameroun colony were merged into a single country, and the Anglophones became a disadvantaged and marginalized minority. Today, the Anglophone regions are known as the "Southern Cameroons."

By 1995, an Anglophone secessionist movement had begun under a group called the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC). This was a generational Awakening era, like America in the 1960s, that splits the population along generational lines, characterized by widespread student riots and demonstrations. The government cracked down on the protesters, though not as violently as in some other countries in Awakening eras (Syria, Burundi, for example). Those protests are continuing today, with younger protesters demanding complete independence, and older Anglophones advocating a semi-autonomous region, but still within the nation of Cameroon. Deutsche Welle and Dibussi Tande Blog - pro-Anglophone (1-Nov-2006)

English-speaking activists face death penalty for separatist protests

The trial of three English-speaking protesters facing the death penalty opened at a military court in Cameroon on Monday. The protesters, Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka'a Neba and Mancho Bibixy, pleaded not guilty to charges of acts of terrorism, complicity in acts of terrorism, insurrection, propagation of false news, calling for civil war and calling for a return to the federal system. However, the trial was postponed until March 23 to give the prosecution time to gather more evidence.

The defendants are being tried under a 2014 law created to help combat militants from Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram whose fighters regularly launch attacks in Cameroon.

The internet shutdown was a government response to protests that began in November, along with a strike by English-speaking teachers, lawyers and students over alleged government bias in favor of French-speaking Cameroonians. At times, the protests have turned violent.

Shutting down the internet to the Southern Cameroons region is the kind of thing that looks like an act of desperation and backfires during a generational Awakening era. Does anyone seriously believe that young protesters are going to stop protesting because the internet has been shut down? It's much more likely that all the protesters, young and old, will be infuriated by the shutdown, and protest more vigorously, or even become more violent. RFI and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Feb-17 World View -- Cameroon shuts down internet for English-speakers protesting French-speakers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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14-Feb-17 World View -- America's likely response to N. Korean test: THAAD, Aegis missile defense systems

China's foreign policy becomes complicated by North Korean test

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UN Security Council condemns North Korea missile tests


South Korean TV coverage on Sunday of North Korean missile test (AFP)
South Korean TV coverage on Sunday of North Korean missile test (AFP)

The United Nations Security Council met in emergency session on Monday, and issued a statement strongly condemning North Korea's ballistic missile launches.

The missile was launched on Sunday from North Korea’s Banghyon air base in the western North Pyongang Province. It reached an apogee of 344 miles and traveled out to about 313 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan. Analysts say that the missile test is significant because the new missiles use solid fuel, and because it can be launched from vehicles traveling over rough terrain, both of which make them harder to detect than liquid-fuel-based missiles.

The missile test shows that it could reach targets in South Korea, China and Japan, and that North Korea is getting close to developing a nuclear missile that could reach the United States.

The UN Security Council statement said:

"The members of the Security Council deplore all the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ballistic missile activities, including these launches. ...

[We call] upon all member states to redouble their efforts to implement fully the measures imposed on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the Security Council."

Some Security Council members have called for imposing additional economic sanctions on North Korea, but are few choices left beyond those that have already been imposed. Furthermore, it's pretty clear that North Korea will continue developing nuclear and missile technology irrespective of any imposed sanctions. Reuters and Defense News and Deutsche Welle

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China's foreign policy becomes complicated by North Korean test

On Monday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang had to answer questions about North Korea's ballistic missile test. The exchanges became fairly testy, illustrating how anxious China is about the situation, and about how complicated it's making China's foreign policy. Here are some excerpts showing the testy exchanges (the DPRK is North Korea, and the ROK is South Korea):

Q: The DPRK allegedly tested a new type of nuclear-capable missile yesterday. ...

A: We have noted relevant reports and are closely following the developments. The Security Council resolutions contain clear provisions on launches using ballistic missile technology by the DPRK. China is opposed to the DPRK's launch which violates the Security Council resolutions.

Given the current circumstances, relevant parties should not engage in mutually provocative moves which could heighten regional tensions. All parties need to exercise restraint in a joint effort to maintain regional peace and stability. ...

Q: There is sort of a saying that China has leverage over the DPRK. Has the US communicated with China over the missile test and asked China to do more? Analysts speculate that the missile test is an opportunity for China to tie up its greater cooperation on the Korean nuclear issue with US cooperation in keeping peace and stability of the South China Sea. Is that a valid speculation?

A: The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a responsible member of the international community, China has always enforced the Council's resolutions in their entirety, promoted peace talks, and made unremitting efforts to facilitate the settlement of the issue of Korean Peninsula. China's efforts have been widely acknowledged and acclaimed by the international community. ...

Q: You just mentioned that the root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. Could you be more specific as to how the differences between the DPRK and the ROK lead to the nuclear and missile issue?

A: What I said just now was that the root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. This is not the first time for us to say so. This is a viewpoint that has been repeatedly emphasized.

Q: Does China believe that Washington should take the initiative on tackling the issue of missile test by the DPRK?

A: The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue lies in the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. ...

Q: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that China, who has complete control of what sustains the government of the DPRK, should play a bigger role. Do you agree with him?

A: I have actually given the answer when addressing other journalists' questions. The root of the DPRK nuclear and missile issue is the differences between the DPRK and the US and between the DPRK and the ROK. Given that, we hope that relevant parties make more efforts to resolve the DPRK nuclear and missile issue."

As you can see, an exasperated Geng Shuang answered several questions the same way, essentially blaming the United States and South Korea. I'll bet he was happy when that press conference was over. AP and China Foreign Ministry

America's likely response: More THAAD and Aegis missile defense systems

Last year, the US and South Korea announced the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea. It's considered to be the most advanced anti-missile system available anywhere today because it can blast incoming missiles out of the sky with 100% success rate. The stated purpose of the deployment would be to protect South Korea from a North Korean ballistic missile attack.

China has expressed enormous fury over the installation of THAAD in South Korea. When the announcement was made last year, Chinese media have attacked South Korea with inflammatory rhetoric, and recommended harsh economic sanctions against South Korea. China has even been calling for anti-THAAD demonstrations in South Korea.

The reason that China has been freaking out over THAAD is that it also protects South Korea from a ballistic missile attack launched by China. Furthermore, THAAD's advance detection systems would provide early warning for a Chinese missile attack on the United States.

Sunday's ballistic missile test by North Korea severely complicates China's foreign policy with regard to this issue, because it makes a THAAD system in South Korea even more necessary. According to Chinese media:

"Establishing THAAD on the Korean Peninsula has always been part of Washington’s plan to expand and enhance its anti-missile network in the region. Aside from anti-missile cooperation with allies such as Japan and Australia, the US has also deployed the THAAD system in Hawaii and Guam, destroyers with missile interceptors in the Sea of Japan, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors on the Japanese soil. ...

However, inviting the ROK to join the game being played by the US and Japan does not just respond to the DPRK’s nuclear threats but also places more countries including China under US military surveillance. Keeping Japan and the ROK committed to its Asian policy would be another boon to the US. ...

However, the two allies are yet to offer any solid evidence to reassure Beijing that the anti-missile battery does not target any third party. Nor have they taken any action such as removing radars that might be used to spy on China to prove their point. China will not sit idle while Washington and Seoul press ahead with THAAD in the name of handling the “DPRK threat”."

Another system is the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. It's a centralized, automated, command-and-control (C2) and weapons control system that was designed as a total weapon system, from detection to kill. The high-powered radar is able to perform search, track, and missile guidance functions simultaneously, with a track capacity of more than 100 targets. There are currently 84 U.S. Navy ships in service with the AEGIS Weapons System installed: 22 Cruisers and 62 Destroyers. There are an additional three new construction Destroyers with the AEGIS Weapon System installed that will enter service in FY 2018.

The North Korean missile test is going to substantially increase demand for additional THAAD and Aegis systems, and pose additional problems for China's planned missile attack on the US and its allies. China Daily and Global Times (Beijing) and US Navy

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Feb-17 World View -- America's likely response to N. Korean test: THAAD, Aegis missile defense systems thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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13-Feb-17 World View -- After Syria's so-called ceasefire, tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire


Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday (al-Manar)
Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday (al-Manar)

On Sunday, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran's puppet terrorist organization, gave a major televised speech to his followers insisting that Hezbollah fully supported the ceasefire agreement that had been negotiated three weeks ago by Russia, Iran and Turkey. He said that he was responding to reports in the Arab press that there were major disagreements between Iran and Russia, and claimed that he wanted the forces of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad to keep on fighting, and to continue to eliminate as much of the Sunni population as possible. Nasrallah contradicted those reports in his televised speech:

"We [support] an agreement that ends the bloodshed and paves way for a national reconciliation [in Syria]. Hezbollah and Iran support the ceasefire, the reconciliation, and the political settlement in Syria, while some Arab states are still backing the military option.

Hezbollah strongly supports, not just the Astana ceasefire, any ceasefire agreed upon in Syria [in order to] prevent bloodshed and pave the way for political solutions."

Nasrallah was referring to the peace talks that were held last month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Nonetheless, there is currently no ceasefire. Hezbollah forces took the lead in fighting in the region called Wadi Barada in the suburbs of Damascus, under control of anti-Assad rebels who are theoretically supposed to be protected by the ceasefire agreement. According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah is continuing to fight "terrorists" in Syria.

In fact, none of the groups fighting in Syria -- Iran, al-Assad, Hezbollah, Russia, Turkey -- is honoring the ceasefire. The next round of peace talks is scheduled for February 20.

As I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the US, Russia, India and Iran will be on the other side. Reuters and Press TV (Tehran)

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Tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Reports of disagreements between Russia and Iran began with last month's Astana peace talks because they didn't go as planned. There was sharp disagreement over the participation of the United States in the negotiations, which Russia favored and which Iran considered to be unacceptable.

The final statement produced by the Astana talks called for a ceasefire, but no Syrians were party to the statement, as it was signed only by Turkey, Iran and Russia. The negotiators for the anti-Assad rebels wouldn't sign it unless it called for al-Assad to step down. Al-Assad's negotiators wouldn't sign it because they objected to Turkey's participation, and to Turkish forces in northern Syria where they're fighting ISIS.

The catalyst for all these disagreements is al-Assad himself. It's now widely agreed that al-Assad is so divisive that there will never be peace in Syria as long as he's in power. At the very least, he would have to step down and be replaced by someone from his own Alawite clan.

The anti-Assad rebels want him gone. The Turks want him gone too, but are willing to put up with him if it means an end to the Syrian war. The Russians want their military bases to lie within a stable Syria, but they're not tied to al-Assad, and are willing to consider having him step down at some time in the near future.

But Iran is adamant that al-Assad must stay, and cannot even be replaced by someone with similar policies. According to one analysis, the cause springs from the fact that Iran is quite isolated in the region, as the only Shia Muslim state, but surrounded by Sunni Muslim and Christian states. Thus, Iran is forced to rely on non-state alliances -- the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Badr Organization in Iraq, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Shia/Alawite Bashar al-Assad in Syria -- forming the "Shia Crescent." According to this analysis, if Iran is not completely loyal to al-Assad, then all the other non-state groups in its coalition will receive a signal that they're expendable as well, which would destabilize the entire coalition. Instead, Iran sees that it must remain completely loyal to al-Assad, and Hezbollah militias must remain in Syria to protect Iran's interests there -- including from the Turks and the Russians.

During the peace talks in Astana, Turkey demanded that Hezbollah's militias be pulled out of Syria, and Iran rejected that demand for the reasons just given.

In fact, according to Debka, Iran is planning for a much more aggressive role for Hezbollah in Syria. As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka's subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel's point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. The information that I'm presenting here from their newsletter is not confirmed by any other sources I've seen, but it's generally consistent with other reports.

According to the newsletter, Iran is developing an "unacknowledged cold war" with Russia, by taking control of assets within Syria that give it enough influence to challenge both Russia and al-Assad. Some of these steps are as follows:

According to the newsletter, Iran can use these assets as leverage in any future peace negotiations for Syria, in order to guarantee that its interests are fully protected. The National (UAE, 28-Jan) and Reuters (25-Jan) and Middle East Eye and Debka

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Feb-17 World View -- After Syria's so-called ceasefire, tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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12-Feb-17 World View -- Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad

Iraq's army poised to begin Battle of Mosul in the west

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad


Security forces stand guard as supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest on Saturday.  The protests turned violent later.  (AFP)
Security forces stand guard as supporters of Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protest on Saturday. The protests turned violent later. (AFP)

Seven people were killed on Saturday during protests that turned violent after thousands of people flooding into central Baghdad to protest Iraq government corruption.

Several hours later, at least seven Katyusha rockets were launched from northern Baghdad, landing in the heavily protected Green Zone.

The huge protests were called by the powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whom some of you may remember as playing a highly contentious role in the Iraq war ten years ago, challenging US forces with his Mahdi militias. He's very closely linked to the clerics in Iran.

Al-Sadr's political enemy is former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki. He became prime minister in 2006 with America's help, and remained in office for eight years. In 2008, al-Maliki ordered the Iraqi army to clean out the city of Basra, the stronghold of al-Sadr's militias. Some of you may remember al-Maliki as the person in charge when President Obama withdrew all American forces from Iraq in December 2011. Al-Maliki's first action was to purge Sunnis from Iraq's government.

Al-Maliki's reign was so destructive and divisive to Iraqi society that he was forced out in 2014. The current prime minister is Haider al-Abadi, who has been trying to bring the country together again, but who is being charged by al-Sadr with corruption, and with supporting the return of al-Maliki in elections scheduled for September. At the same time, al-Abadi is head of the Iraqi army which is attempting to recapture Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The protests and violence between supporters of the al-Sadr and al-Maliki are Shia versus Shia Muslim violence. That violence is expected to increase as the September elections approach. But one-third of Iraq's population are Sunni Muslims, and their role in the September elections is still to be fully defined. Middle East Eye and BBC and Washington Post

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Iraq's army poised to begin Battle of Mosul in the west

Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi had hoped that the army, heavily backed by US and coalition warplanes and logistics, would have completed its recapture of Mosul from ISIS by the end of 2016, but the battle is taking far longer than expected. According to Iraq's government, east Mosul with a population of 500,000 has been taken and cleared of ISIS fighters, and the army is now poised to begin a decisive battle to retake western Mosul, with a population of 750,000.

The urban style fighting is extremely nasty. ISIS has laid hundreds of booby-trapped explosive devices in buildings throughout the city. The ISIS fighters move around in tunnel systems that have been built in preparation for this battle.

The government now estimates that the Battle of Mosul will take about two more months. Air Force Times and CBS News and Washington Post (13-Jan)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Feb-17 World View -- Iraq: Supporters of al-Sadr and al-Maliki turn again to violence in Baghdad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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11-Feb-17 World View -- Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity

Greece will evacuate 75,000 people in Thessaloniki to defuse WW II bomb

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity


Hundreds of firefighters in uniform in Athens protest working conditions on Wednesday (AP)
Hundreds of firefighters in uniform in Athens protest working conditions on Wednesday (AP)

Years before the term "Brexit" was invented, referring to Britain leaving the European Union, people were talking about a possible "Grexit," referring to Greece leaving the euro currency and returning to its old drachma currency. As Greece enters new negotiations with its lender for another bailout loan, some people are suggesting that Grexit may be a reality this time.

Greece faces a €7.5 billion debt repayment in July. In order to meet that payment, Greece's lenders -- the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund(IMF) -- will have to lend Greece more money. (This is like borrowing from your MasterCard to pay your Visa.)

So there's plenty of time to negotiate an agreement by July, and that's why the lenders are meeting with Greece now. Unsurprisingly, a meeting on Friday in Brussels failed to reach an agreement after five hours.

According to Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem:

"We made substantial progress today and are close to common ground for the mission to return to Athens in the coming week. [All sides have] a clear understanding that a timely finalization of the second (bailout) review is in everybody’s interest."

So there'll be more meetings next week in the hope of reaching a breakthrough by the next meeting of eurozone finance ministers on February 20, but no really expects that either. In fact, it's unlikely that the impasse will be broken before the very last moment, and that would be just before the debt payment is due in July.

However, there are other kinds of deadlines that come sooner. There will be elections in the Netherlands on March 15 and in France in April through June. It would be nice to get a final settlement before those elections, since the election results may force the negotiations to start from the beginning.

The creditors are demanding that Greece increase its budget surplus from 2% of GDP in 2017 to 3.5% in 2018. This would require more tax increases, broadening the tax base, and more cuts in pensions. But many in Greece's government are saying enough is enough. Pensions have already been cut 11 times since the onset of the crisis in 2010, and the government is refusing to cut them further.

The Greek people may be unwilling to tolerate any more austerity. If Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras goes along with the pension cuts, then his government may lose a vote of confidence, forcing new elections before July. Greece's bond yields are also beginning to spike up to crisis levels, indicating that investors are getting very nervous about Greece again, just like the old days. And in that case, Grexit may really occur this time.

So things are still pretty calm, but don't be surprised if the old days come back, and there are several weekly crises to navigate. Kathimerini and AP and Nasdaq

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Greece will evacuate 75,000 people in Thessaloniki to defuse WW II bomb

A state of emergency has been declared in Thessaloniki and surrounding municipalities after a 500-pound unexploded World War II bomb was found during work to expand underground fuel storage tanks.

The bomb was dropped during an air raid in the city on September 17, 1944, around lunchtime. It was dropped by British and American planes targeting rail facilities held by the Nazis.

Around 72,000 residents will be subjected to a forced evacuation before the bomb disposal unit will start its operation on Sunday morning. The evacuation zone will be 2 km (1.2 miles) around the bomb. This will be the biggest evacuation in Greece since World War II. At first the team will remove the detonator and will then transport the bomb to a firing range for controlled explosion. AP and Russia Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Feb-17 World View -- Grexit risk: Greece may refuse a new round of austerity thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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10-Feb-17 World View -- Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp

Closure of Dadaab demanded after 2015 Garissa University attack in Kenya

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp


Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp (Reuters)
Somali refugees in the Dadaab refugee camp (Reuters)

Attempts by the government of Kenya to close down Dadaab refugee camp, the world's largest refugee camp, have been set back by a decision by the country's High Court ruling that closing the camp is unconstitutional. According to judge John Mativo:

"The government's decision specifically targeting Somali refugees is an act of group persecution, illegal discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional."

Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in neighboring Somalia, including the lawlessness and recurrent droughts. (Recall that 1993 was the year of the famous "Black Hawk Down" incident, where Somali militia fighters shot down two American helicopters using rocket-propelled grenades. Mobs then hacked the fallen pilots to death with machetes and dragged their mutilated bodies through the streets as trophies.)

At its peak in 2012, the Dadaab refugee camp housed nearly a half-million people. Many children had been born there and grown to adulthood without ever leaving the camp. Since then, some Somalis have left the camp and returned home voluntarily, and today Dadaab is home to some 256,000 people.

A government spokesman said that Dadaab had become a haven for al-Shabaab terrorists from Somalia, and that the court decision would be appealed:

"The key reason for closure of the camp was that it had become a launch pad for various terrorist attacks by al-Shabaab. The camp has lost its humanitarian nature and become a haven for terrorism and other illegal activities.

The lives of Kenyans matter. Our interest in this case, and in the closure of Dadaab refugee camp, remains to protect the lives of Kenyans.

The closure of Dadaab camp has always drawn varying interest and opinions, both nationally and internationally however, the lives of Kenyans matter. It is for this reason that we shall be strongly appealing the decision by the High Court."

In 2013, Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement that all refugees should leave the camp and UNHCR would repatriate them all voluntarily to Somalia by November 2016. However, the UNHCR effort failed, and only 20,000 were repatriated.

Amnesty International called Wednesday's High Court ruling "historic":

"Today is a historic day for more than a quarter of a million refugees who were at risk of being forcefully returned to Somalia, where they would have been at serious risk of human rights abuses. This ruling reaffirms Kenya's constitutional and international legal obligation to protect people who seek safety from harm and persecution."

The Star (Kenya) and BBC and AFP

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Closure of Dadaab demanded after 2015 Garissa University attack in Kenya

The plans for Dadaab changed dramatically in April 2015, when the Somalia terrorist group al-Shabaab killed over 147 people, mostly Christian students, at Garissa University College in Kenya. The students were massacred in their dormitories. Christians were singled out and shot dead. 79 were injured, and 587 were led to safety.

The Garissa attack had an effect on Kenya's public not unlike the effect of the 9/11/2001 attack on Americans. Kenya announced numerous changes to improve security, and one of them was that the Dadaab refugee camp should be closed within three months.

The date for closure kept getting pushed back. In May of last year, Kenya said that would close down the camp by the end of the year. In November, the date was pushed into 2017.

The problem is that most of the refugees in Dadaab were born there and have spent their whole lives there, so they have no place to go. Kenya's government has tried "bribing" the refugees by offering $200 apiece to leave voluntarily. But with 260,000 refugees still remaining in the camp today, it's pretty clear that the effort to close the camp is failing and, according to some people, will never succeed.

At any rate, Wednesday's High Court decision means that the attempt will end completely, at least for the time being. The Nation (Kenya)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Feb-17 World View -- Kenya's High Court blocks attempt to close Dadaab refugee camp thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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9-Feb-17 World View -- Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump

China-Philippines détente unravels over Scarborough Shoal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China-Philippines détente unravels over Scarborough Shoal


China's now-famous 'nine-dash line' illegally claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including territories belonging to other nations (Reuters)
China's now-famous 'nine-dash line' illegally claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including territories belonging to other nations (Reuters)

When Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte announced last October that he was throwing the US military out of the Philippines and would be turning to China instead, I wrote that this flip-flop could not last for long, because the Philippine people had an overwhelmingly favorable view of the U.S., and a far less favorable view of China. 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.

Last October, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the country would not allow the US military to use its base in the Philippines even for its freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea. Since then, Duterte has already been forced to backtrack on his threat to throw the US military out.

Now Duterte's own ministers are expressing alarm that China may be building a new military base on Scarborough Shoal, which has been a fishing ground for Philippine fishermen for centuries.

Now the very same Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is now saying that China should not be permitted to build military facilities on Scarborough Shoal because, in combination with China's other illegal military bases, this would give China complete military control of the entire South China Sea:

"They encroached. They occupied three islands [in the Spratlys] plus they are trying to get Scarborough. So to us that is unacceptable.

If we allow them, they will build. That’s very, very disturbing. Very much [more] disturbing than Fiery Cross because this is so close to us. ...

"The Americans, that’s their red line. Red line meaning you can’t do that there, so they [China] did not do it.

If we had a strong military presence [in the South China Sea], we can stop them [China] but we don’t. I am still hoping in the future some reasonable guy there in Beijing will come to see the light that this is ours. That is shooting for the moon but who knows?"

The "red line" refers to a warning that President Barack Obama gave to China's President Xi Jinping last year against building an artificial island at Scarborough Shoal. A Chinese military base on Scarborough Shoal would put Chinese fighter jets and missiles within easy striking distance of US forces that are stationed in the Philippines, as well as the Philippines' own forces. The shoal also commands the northeast exit of the sea, so a Chinese military outpost there could stop other countries' navies from traveling through the South China Sea.

Early last month, during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that China's artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea were an "illegal" activity and added:

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed."

Chinese media have responded that the US cannot implement this threat without waging a large-scale war. On Wednesday, China's foreign ministry promised Peace In Our Time: "We are absolutely not interested in conflicts with other countries and call for maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea as this is in the interests of all states." International Business Times and AFP and Tass (Moscow)

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Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump

Needless to say, I'm fascinated by the sudden interest by the mainstream media in Steve Bannon and The Fourth Turning. An article last week about Steve Bannon in Time mentioned the Fourth Turning.

A more important article came out this week in the form of an analytical article by Linette Lopez in Business Insider. Unfortunately, she has no idea what she's talking about, and knows absolutely nothing about generational theory, although she thinks she does.

Her thesis is that Steve Bannon wants to use this theory to bring about a world war. That's crazy. What generational theory does is predict that a world war is coming, whether we like it or not, and tells us to prepare for it.

The Fourth Turning was the foundational work for generational theory. It was a brilliant work when it was written by Neil Howe and William Strauss in the early 1990s, but they applied it only to English and American history since the 1400s, and today their work is badly out of date.

In 2003 I took over further development of generational theory, corrected a number of the early errors, and expanded it to all countries and places at all times in history. I launched the website http://GenerationalDynamics.com, which has been a platform of continuing development of generational theory. There are now almost 4,000 articles on the website containing hundreds of analyses and predictions, all of which have come true or are trending true. None has been proven wrong. No web site, analyst, journalist, or politician has come even close to the analytical and forecasting success of GenerationalDynamics.com. It's a truly historic development.

It's true that generational theory predicts a new world war. But it makes no difference whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton had won the presidential election, because no politician can either cause or prevent a world war.

However, to use an analogy, if your boat is sailing through a storm, then the boat captain can neither cause nor prevent a storm, but if a storm is coming, then one captain may do a better job than another in guiding the boat through the storm. The crazy thing would be for the boat captain to know that a storm is coming, but ignore it completely, and make no preparations whatsoever.

My personal belief is that America will be best guided through the coming storm by a president who has the benefit of an understanding of Generational Dynamics, because that's the only methodology that describes what's actually going on in the world.

So the reason that Linette Lopez is completely wrong is that she has no understanding whatsoever of generational theory. She has no clue. Lopez would tell a boat captain not to prepare for a storm, even if the weather forecast says that a storm is coming. She thinks we should just all be Pollyannas and pretend that nothing bad will ever happen. Linette Lopez is recommending the path to total disaster.

Ironically, Neil Howe himself has almost completely abandoned his own Fourth Turning theory by supporting views similar to those of Linette Lopez. This is explained by the fact that Howe supports Democrats, and so is committed to opposing anything from Donald Trump, even when it's his own Fourth Turning theory. This is just one more of the bizarre twists that are common in today's world.

Generational Dynamics says that a world war is coming, and that no politician can either cause or prevent it. But what politicians can do is prepare for it, and that's what we can hope that Steve Bannon and Donald Trump are doing, to the benefit of all of us. Business Insider and Time

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Feb-17 World View -- Mainstream media frets over Steve Bannon, the Fourth Turning, and Donald Trump thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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8-Feb-17 World View -- Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad

Epicenter of Syrian conflict moves from Aleppo to Idlib and al-Bab

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad


Each week, up to 50 people at the Saydnaya prison were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged (AFP)
Each week, up to 50 people at the Saydnaya prison were taken out of their prison cells for arbitrary trials, beaten, then hanged (AFP)

Just when you think you know all the depraved atrocities that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has committed, new evidence leaks out that shows even more grotesque actions by this psychopathic killer and war criminal.

These actions began in 2011, when there were thousands of people peacefully demonstrating against al-Assad. They took place in secret in Saydnaya Prison, a facility that al-Assad turned into a "human slaughterhouse," according to Amnesty International, based on interviews with 84 people, including 31 former inmates, four former guards, three former judges and three doctors. Thousands of these peaceful demonstrators were brought to Saydnaya for extreme torture and execution.

The prisoners were people who were perceived to oppose the government in some way. They came from all sectors of Syrian society. Many are demonstrators, long-time political dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, doctors, humanitarian aid workers and students.

According to one former inmate, they were tortured from the moment they arrived:

"You are thrown to the ground and they use different instruments for the beatings: electric cables with exposed copper wire ends — they have little hooks so they take a part of your skin — normal electric cables, plastic water pipes of different sizes and metal bars. Also they have created what they call the “tank belt”, which is made out of tire that has been cut into strips. ... They make a very specific sound; it sounds like a small explosion. I was blindfolded the whole time, but I would try to see somehow. All you see is blood: your own blood, the blood of others. After one hit, you lose your sense of what is happening. You’re in shock. But then the pain comes."

Prisoners are stripped naked and thrown into cells for months. Prisoners were severely beaten regularly. Prisoners were forced to rape each other. There were starved and given little food and water. The only escape was death, with regular mass hangings of up to 50 at a time. At least 17,723 people were killed in government custody between March 2011 and December 2015, an average of 300 deaths each month.

As far as is known, these actions are still going on today, in Saydnaya and other Syria prisons.

This is not the first time al-Assad's horrors have leaked out into the public. In 2014, an al-Assad defector supplied 55,000 photos of about 11,000 men whom al-Assad had tortured using electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale. Al-Assad was so pleased and proud of this torture that he made sure each act was photographed.

Throughout my lifetime, I've heard people describe the Holocaust and say, "Never again!" But al-Assad is a man who gets obvious pleasure from gouging out people's eyes or pulling out their fingernails, or sending missiles into school dormitories to kill children, or dropping barrel bombs laden with metal, chlorine, ammonia, phosphorous and chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods, or using Sarin gas to kill large groups of people. He considers all Sunni Muslims to be cockroaches to be exterminated. Bashar al-Assad is the greatest genocidal monster in today's world, comparable to Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Stalin from the last century. There is no mass weapon of destruction, nor any gruesome form of torture, that he won't use to satisfy his psychopathy. Amnesty International and CNN and Vox

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Epicenter of Syrian conflict moves from Aleppo to Idlib and al-Bab

The destruction of East Aleppo was supposed to be the shock and awe that brought Syria's civil war to an end, but that hasn't happened yet. Tens of thousands of residents of Aleppo have fled to Idlib, which is now being controlled by a combination of "moderate" anti-Assad rebels, fighters from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), and fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS).

Once again you have air strikes killing civilians. Although the air strikes appear to be from Russian warplanes, once again you have Russia denying that it's conducting air strikes. In Aleppo that would have meant that Syria's warplanes were conducting the airstrikes, but in Idlib there's the complication that US warplanes are attacking ISIS targets.

There's also continued fighting in northern Syria, led by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield. The fighting is now centered around the city of al-Bab. At the beginning of the operation in August of last year, the main fighters were the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of "moderate" anti-Assad rebels. But now in al-Bab, it's elite Turkish army fighters leading the effort, supported by Turkish fighter jets.

This situation is a time bomb for several reasons:

BBC and AP and Al Jazeera

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Feb-17 World View -- Investigation reveals depraved new atrocities by Syria's Bashar al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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7-Feb-17 World View -- Tensions rise between China and Trump administration

China sails warships near Japan's Senkaku Islands

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China sails warships near Japan's Senkaku Islands


Senkaku Islands
Senkaku Islands

In a show of military force, China sailed three warships past the Senkaku Islands on Monday, just two days after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited Japan and reaffirmed the US commitment to defend the islands if attacked by China.

Although the Senkaku Islands are just a collection of large, barren rocks, it's believed that they lie in a region with vast oil and gas reserves. Japan says that the islands have been their sovereign territory since the 1800s. China says that they've been their sovereign territory since "ancient times," and that their claims are "indisputable," but China says exactly the same things about any other country's territory that it wants to confiscate. China's claims in the South China Sea are not only "disputable," they're also illegal according to a ruling by a United Nations court in the Hague. Some of China's "ironclad proof" was investigated by the BBC and found to be a hoax.

The United States has taken no position on whether Japan or China own the Senkaku Islands, but have agreed that Japan is currently administering the islands. During the early part of the administration of President Barack Obama, there was some question whether Obama would agree to defend the islands under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security that was signed in 1960. The issue was cleared up in April 2014 during a visit by Obama to Japan, he announced, "The policy of the United States is clear -- the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands."

The administration of President Donald Trump once again reaffirmed the US defense of the Senkaku Islands last week when ]US Defense Secretary James Mattis visited Japan and said:

"I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands -- the US will continue to recognize Japanese administration of the islands and as such Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty applies."

China's Foreign Ministry responded quickly:

"Diaoyu [Senkaku] and its affiliated islands have been Chinese territory since ancient times. These are historical facts that cannot be changed. The so-called US-Japan security treaty was a product of the Cold War, and it should not harm China's territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights

We urge the US side to adopt a responsible attitude and stop making wrong remarks on the issue of the sovereignty of Diaoyu Islands."

It's getting very tiresome to hear that China always describe their empty claims as indisputable facts, but the real concerns is that the Chinese are becoming so angry and frustrated that they'll take real military action. Sending three warships near the islands, as they did on Monday, is harmless as far as it goes, but with nationalistic feelings high in both China and Japan, a miscalculation leading to a military clash is a real possibility. CNN and Fox News

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Tensions rise between China and Trump administration

US-China tensions have been growing steadily for years, especially as China has built illegal artificial islands and illegal military bases in the South China Sea. But these tensions seem to have taken a major spurt since Donald Trump became president, because of Trump's willingness to go much farther than Obama in challenging "politically correct" norms.

Even before taking office, Trump accepted a phone call from Taiwan's president Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai has refused to endorse the "one-China policy" that precludes Taiwan's independence, and Trump has said that the one-China policy is open for negotiation. Younger generations in Taiwan increasingly favor independence, and it's clear to China that time is not on their side.

Early last month, during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson said that China's artificial islands and military bases in the South China Sea were an "illegal" activity and added:

"We're going to have to send China a clear signal that first, the island-building stops and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed."

An editorial in Chinese state media said, "Unless Washington plans to wage a large-scale war in the South China Sea, any other approaches to prevent Chinese access to the islands will be foolish."

This talk of war has led to some media questions about how ready China is for war.

China has only one aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, but it's much smaller than US aircraft carriers, having been purchased from the Soviet Union in 1988.

The Liaoning can carry up to 24 fighter jets and about 12 helicopters, while U.S. Navy’s current Nimitz-class warships, such as the USS Ronald Reagan, stationed in Japan, can handle more than 60 aircraft. An even larger carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, will be put into service in 2017.

That would indicate that China is far behind the United States in sea power, but the first of two new all-Chinese aircraft carriers, the Shandong-1, is expected to begin sea trials this year.

People frequently point out to me that China would not attack the United States because the US has a superior military. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that makes sense for most wars, but not for generational crisis wars. When America's South attacked Fort Sumter, launching the American Civil War, it was predictable that the North would win because it was three times as big, but the South attacked anyway. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, it was predictable that America would win because it was five times as big, but Japan attacked anyway.

As a population, China is in a highly emotional state right now. They've become extremely nationalistic. Their younger generations are looking for action, believing that China is strong enough to beat the US. On the US side, most people believe that President Trump means business in a way that President Obama never did, and that Trump may well take some military action to fulfill Rex Tillerson's threat to prevent China from accessing its artificial islands in the South China Sea.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the US and China are going to war. It's impossible to predict what will trigger that war, or when it will begin. But whether it begins next month, next year, or thereafter, it will be part of the greatest world war in history. VOA and The Diplomat and The Statesman

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Feb-17 World View -- Tensions rise between China and Trump administration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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6-Feb-17 World View -- Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever'

Australian politics in turmoil over refugee deal

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever'


Australia's refugee detention center on the Pacific island of Nauru
Australia's refugee detention center on the Pacific island of Nauru

Australian officials, led by Australia's prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, have said that the plan to resettle up the 1,250 refugees from Australia in the United States had been "confirmed several times over" by Donald Trump administration officials.

The deal was made in November by President Barack Obama in the waning days of his administration. The US will take 1,250 refugees that Australia has sent to two "detention centers" on Pacific islands, one on Papua New Guinea's (PNG's) Manus Island, and one on the island nation of Nauru, under agreements reached with both countries. The reason that they had been sent to detention centers is not because they were known to have committed crimes, but because they had arrived by boats run by human traffickers. Australia has refused to let them resettle on Australian soil in order to discourage human trafficking, and the policy has actually been very successful in that regard.

Nonetheless, the detention centers are considered to be violations of international law for several reasons, including the fact that they're described as filthy and rat-infested, with numerous stories of beatings, torture, and sexual abuse.

Although the deal was announced in November, it's been mostly ignored until last week when president Donald Trump held a phone conversation with Australia's president Malcolm Turnbull. The mainstream media described the phone call as contentious, and claimed that Trump had hung up on Turnbull, something that both Trump and Turnbull have derided as "fake news."

Trump characterized the refugee deal as "the worst deal ever," and there was speculation that Trump would cancel the deal. However, Trump took the position that he was bound by the international agreements made by the previous administration, and he has confirmed that the US will take in up to 1,250 of these refugees, after subjecting each of them to "extreme vetting." Australian Broadcasting and Business Insider and CNBC

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Australian politics in turmoil over refugee deal

Australian politics were already pretty toxic over the use of the Pacific island refugee detention centers, but the news about the Trump-Turnbull phone call and the new attention given to the US-Australia refugee deal has caused additional turmoil:

With regard to the last point, the Trump-Turnbull phone call was not the only event in the last week to reignite the refugee debate.

A 37 year old woman refugee known only as "Dee" had requested in December to be flown from the Nauru detention center to Australia to care for a high-risk pregnancy. Australia refused, infuriating activists, but finally was forced on Friday to permit her to come to a hospital in Brisbane.

Ironically, citizens of Nauru may be approved for transfer to Australian hospitals, but since Dee was a refugee, her transfer was not approved (until Friday). Canberra Times and Special Broadcasting Service (Australia) and Stuff (New Zealand) and BBC and Red Flag

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Feb-17 World View -- Trump will honor Australia refugee deal, despite calling it 'worst deal ever' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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5-Feb-17 World View -- Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project

Egypt's air force accused of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Egypt's air force accused of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan


Egypt's al-Sisi (L) and South Sudan's Kiir are said to have agreed to a 'dirty deal' (Getty)
Egypt's al-Sisi (L) and South Sudan's Kiir are said to have agreed to a 'dirty deal' (Getty)

Anti-government rebels in South Sudan are accusing Egypt of conducting bombing raids on rebel targets. A statement published by the rebels accuses South Sudan's president Salva Kiir of risking a regional war.

South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The region's last generational crisis war was an ethnic war mainly between two tribes, the Nuer and the Dinka. That war climaxed with the "Bor Massacre," which began on November 15, 1991, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing hundreds of thousands of people over a three month period.

A new conflict began on December 15, 2013, led by the president Salva Kiir, of the Dinka tribe, fighting against forces led by vice president Riek Machar, of the Nuer tribe. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement in August 2015, but that did little good.

South Sudan is in a generational Awakening era, and this renewed war between the Dinkas and the Nuer would have fizzled out, except that both sides have been importing weapons, often using funds meant to fight poverty. The situation in South Sudan is similar to the war in Syria, which would have fizzled out long ago if it weren't for massive military aid from Russia, Hezbollah and Iran.

The rebels are accusing Egypt of replicating the situation in Sudan by playing the part that Russia is playing in Syria, and bombing rebel targets on behalf of the government.

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid denied the alleged air strikes, saying: "Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries." Reuters and South Sudan News Agency

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Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project

The statement by anti-government rebels accusing Egypt of bombing rebel targets in South Sudan says that Egypt and South Sudan are in a "dirty deal" between Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and South Sudan's president Salva Kiir, and that the deal involves weapons sales and sabotage of an Ethiopian dam project:

"There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and El-Sisi. the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalized in Cairo. Our intelligence sources in Kampala and Juba confirmed that Egypt wants South Sudan and Uganda to be her regional allies so that she can advance its covert sabotage campaign against the Ethiopian Dam. The man [Kiir] is a double agent; he will cause many problems for the entire East Africa region."

The statement refers to a Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project that Ethiopia has been trying to get built for years. Ethiopians see as is a great national project and a means of overcoming poverty.

There is considerable opposition to the dam project in Egypt because it would affect the flow of water along the Nile river. Egypt depends on the Nile river to supply most of Egypt's drinking war, to irrigate the Nile Delta, and to generate half of the country's electricity through the operation of Egypt's Aswan High Dam.

Egypt's long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak was able to block development of the Ethiopian dam, but after the "Arab Awakening" in 2011, and the coup that overthrew him, Ethiopia began building the dam. It's expected to be completed in July. Egypt and Ethiopia have signed an agreement saying that Ethiopia guarantees that Egypt's water supply will not be affected, but that hasn't fully reassured many Egyptians.

The South Sudan rebel statement, if true, would indicate that Egypt's al-Sisi and South Sudan's Kiir covertly sabotaging the dam in a "dirty deal" that will keep Kiir in power. Egypt Independent and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Sudan Tribune

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Feb-17 World View -- Egypt accused of 'dirty deal' to sabotage an Ethiopian dam project thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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4-Feb-17 World View -- Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities by Buddhists targeting Muslim Rohingyas

Generational Dynamics interpretation of Burma (Myanmar) atrocities

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities


File photo of Rohingyas fleeing violence (Reuters)
File photo of Rohingyas fleeing violence (Reuters)

A devastating new report by the UN office of human rights shows a huge scale of ghastly atrocities committed by Buddhists targeting ethnic Rohingya Muslims.

For months, Burma (Myanmar) police and soldiers have been committing ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by scorched earth attacks, burning down their villages, and committing massacres, rapes and other atrocities that have forced tens of thousands to flee for their lives across the border into Bangladesh.

Burma has tacitly admitted guilt by forbidding any journalists or humanitarian groups from entering Rakhine State to investigate. As we've reported in the past, evidence of atrocities keeps leaking out, despite desperate and laughable attempts to hide them. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented the ethnic cleansing through a series of "before and after" satellite images. Burma's government agrees that the satellite images show that Rohingya villages are being burned down, but they make the laughable claim that the Rohingyas are burning down the villages themselves in order to embarrass the government. There have also been dozens of videos showing Burma's police beating and raping Rohingya civilians, but Burma's government claims that all of these videos are phony and have been fabricated.

So to get around Burma's restrictions, the UN office of human rights conducted extensive interviews of hundreds of the tens of thousands of refugees who had been forced to flee across Burma's border into Bangladesh, and were living in filthy refugee camps such as Cox's Bazar. In addition, the UN team interviewed numerous representatives of UN system agencies, NGOs, health professionals and other experts.

The interviewers heard one story after another of killings, beatings, rape, sexual violence, shootings, stabbings, and wholesale destruction of home and property. 52 of the 101 women interviewed reported being raped or subjected to sexual violence. Seven of them were girls who had been gang-raped. Some of the raped girls and women were killed afterwards.

The report contains many personal stories. A woman said, "They killed the baby by stomping on it with their heavy boots. Then they burned the house."

A 12-year-old boy said: "I was at home with my 13-year old uncle, when the army broke into the house. They beat us with sticks, metal rods and kicks. We were crying, pleading for mercy. An army officer hit me hard with a metal rod on my right arm, causing severe injury. We were dragged out of the house, which was set on fire. My uncle, who attempted to flee was caught, beaten and thrown into a burning house." Independent (London) and UN human rights report on Burma and BBC

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Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's government may have to respond to the report

Burma's government has refused to allow any international journalists or investigators into the region, and has used every possible disinformation technique for months to deny that the atrocities are taking place. These include the laughable technique of claiming that the Rohingyas are killing each other and burning down their own villages to embarrass the government.

However, this new report has been so devastating that Burma's government has been forced to acknowledge it. Even so, U Zaw Htay, the spokesman for Burma's president Htin Kyaw, said on Friday that they hadn't seen the report, and added, "We will review the report from the UN and we will respond, either in an official statement or in an individual response (to questions)."

Later on Friday, the spokesman said, "These are extremely serious allegations, and we are deeply concerned. We will be immediately investigating these allegations through the investigation commission led by Vice-President U Myint Swe Where there is clear evidence of abuses and violations, we will take all necessary action."

International pressure is building on Aung San Suu Kyi, who is believed to be the most powerful politician in Burma today. When she was under arrest for many years by the army, she won the Nobel Peace prize, and now she's considered to be some kind of human rights hero (heroine). But this slaughter of Muslims by Burmese Buddhists has been going on for years, and has become far worse in the last few months, but she continues to deny that there are serious crimes being committed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said on Friday, "I did speak to Aung San Suu Kyi about an hour and a half ago. I called upon her to use every means available to exert pressure on the military and the security services to end this operation."

We'll have to see whether anything gets done or can get done. This is a growing problem that will destabilize the region, and lead to new hostilities, possibly triggering a major regional generational crisis war. Irrawaddy Times (Burma) and Reuters

Generational Dynamics interpretation of Burma (Myanmar) atrocities

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these atrocities are coming out of deep hatred by Buddhists of Muslims, based on numerous generational crisis wars between the two groups over the centuries.

Every time I post a story about Burma, some commenters apparently get confused and think that it's the Rohingya's that are killing, torturing and raping the Buddhists. But no it's not. For the last few years, the Buddhists have been the perpetrators, and the Rohingya Muslims have been the victims.

In fact, as I've described several times in the past, the actions being taken by Buddhists against Muslims today are very similar to actions taken by Nazis against the Jews. These kinds of atrocities are standard fare for all religious and ethnic groups.

One commenter in the past pointed out that Muslims conducted atrocities against Buddhists in previous wars, decades and centuries ago. That's undoubtedly true. That's part of how the generational cycle works, with new generations in each side vowing revenge for atrocities committed against their grandfathers. Each side vividly recalls the atrocities committed by the other side, but strangely enough have no memory whatsoever of atrocities committed by their own grandfathers.

Some people believe that Buddhists are such peace loving people that they never fight or never rape or never commit atrocities. Any ethnic or religious group that really lived that way would not survive for long, but would be exterminated by some other ethnic or religious group before long. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all religious and ethnic groups act the same way, and in fact use religion to justify their actions.

The Buddhist xenophobic hatred of Muslims in Burma goes very deep. The root of the violence is xenophobic attacks by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu and his "969 movement," against the Rohingya Muslims, including rapes, torture and other atrocities committed by Buddhists, targeting the Rohingyas. The Rohingyas have a darker skin than Burmese, and they speak a Bengali dialect.

What is clear is that the current situation is becoming increasingly dangerous for the entire region.

The Buddhist atrocities started to become significant worse since October 9 of last year, when nine Myanmar border police were killed in an attack blamed on Rohingya militants. This was the first act of violence by Rohingyas in revenge.

CNN has reported on an interview with members of Harakat al-Yaqeen, or "Faith Movement," who are claiming responsibility for the October 9 attacks, and who are the first armed insurgency to emerge from the Rohingyas. The leader Atah Ullah said in the interview:

"We, the vulnerable and persecuted people, have asked the international community for protection against the atrocities by the government of Myanmar, but the international community turned its back on us. Finally, we cannot take it anymore."

This armed insurgency is only the beginning. The government of Muslim-majority Malaysia is furious, and is condemning the government of Burma, violating the regional rule of not interfering in the internal affairs of neighbors. And the situation is ripe for infiltration and recruitment by jihadists, such as al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). CNN and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Feb-17 World View -- Devastating UN report on Burma shows scale of ghastly atrocities by Buddhists targeting Muslim Rohingyas thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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3-Feb-17 World View -- Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania

Massive Romanian protests linked to 1989 ouster of violent dictator

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania


Around 150,000 people protested in Romania's capital city Bucharest on Wednesday (Al Jazeera)
Around 150,000 people protested in Romania's capital city Bucharest on Wednesday (Al Jazeera)

Hundreds of thousands of people turned out on Wednesday in cities across Romania to protest a new decree by the center-left Social Democratic Party (PSD). The new decree permits corruption by government officials.

Although the PSD holds a parliamentary majority after winning an election last month, leaders of the party are currently facing corruption charges that bar them serving as ministers. In particular, PSD chairman in Liviu Dragnea would become prime minister, but in April 2016 he received a two-year suspended jail sentence for vote rigging.

The new decree would change the law so that Dragnea would be cleared of his suspended jail sentence, allowing him to become prime minister. The law would also free dozens of his left-wing cronies, such as Dan Voiculescu, currently serving 10 years for abuse of power and money laundering. Euro News and Reuters

Massive Romanian protests linked to 1989 ouster of violent dictator

The protests are the biggest since the 1989 revolution. At that time, the country was in the grip of a vicious Stalinist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu. Few dared to protest because the Secret Police would jail, torture and kill them. However, a spontaneous protest of hundreds of thousands of people began to demand the ouster of Ceausescu, forcing him to try to flee with his wife Elena. They were quickly captured, tried, and then executed on Christmas Day 1989.

Since then, the government has been one of the most corrupt in the world, with the politicians governing the country having stolen as much as possible, with the help of people from the former communist party and the former secret police of Ceausescu's reign.

When Romania joined the European Union in 2007, it was under the condition that Romania would institute severe reforms in the administration of justice and in government corruption. The European Commission has been closely monitoring Romania each year since then, to chart progress in judicial reform and the fight against corruption.

The most recent EC report, issued just two weeks ago, documented progress in many areas, but still concluded: "Corruption prevention is still weak and is not yet established as a core obligation of public administration."

Romania's government announced the new changes in the law just as the EC report was published. The new law is a major reversal of Romania's programs to reduce corruption. Since Romania was admitted to the EU on the condition that judicial and government corruption be reduced to international norms, Romania's membership in the EU might be in jeopardy, if it weren't for the fact that EU leaders are more concerned in today's post-Brexit world that the EU might fall apart anyway. Deutsche Welle and European Commission and Transparency International and The 1989 Romanian Revolution and the Fall of Ceausescu

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Feb-17 World View -- Hundreds of thousands of people protest left-wing corruption in Romania thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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2-Feb-17 World View -- Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel

Israel approves large settlement -- first new settlement in West Bank in decades

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel


Jewish settlers lock arms inside a house as Israeli security forces try to evict them. (EPA)
Jewish settlers lock arms inside a house as Israeli security forces try to evict them. (EPA)

Under court order, Israeli security forces began on Wednesday the forced eviction of settlers from the Amona settlement in the West Bank.

In 2014, Israel's High Court ruled that the Jewish settlement had been built on private Palestinian land, and that the settlement was illegal. The court ordered the government to evacuate and demolish the community by December 25, 2016. But under fierce pressure from settlers and their Knesset supporters, the government in late December secured a 45-day extension from the court until February 8.

Israel's government had hoped that the expulsion would go smoothly, as they had made an agreement that the evacuated settlers could move to an adjacent plot of land on the same hilltop as Amona. However, local Palestinians objected to this plan, saying that the adjacent plot was also privately owned by Palestinians, and an Israeli human rights group Yesh Din petitioned the court on behalf of the Palestinians to prevent this agreement. Last month, the court agreed with the Palestinians, and issued a temporary injunction halting the construction of the new settlements.

So Israel's government had to back off from the offer of the adjacent settlement, and replaced it with an offer to move to the Ofra settlement, which was farther away but was considered legal under Israeli law. This new offer was considered unacceptable by Amona residents, although it was finally accepted on Wednesday.

Amona activists set up makeshift roadblocks and other defenses, as an army of thousands of unarmed police officers on Wednesday came to Amona to carry out the evacuation and demolition orders. By Wednesday evening, 20 police officers were injured and 12 protesters were arrested.

Pinchas Vallerstein, who represents the Jewish settlers, was unhappy about the evacuation, but said that it was necessary:

"If you want to live in a democratic society and that’s important to you, you can disagree with a decision that the court makes, but at the end of the day, you have to live by it."

However, Abdulrahman Saleh, the mayor or a nearby Palestinian town, has little faith in Israel's legal system. He says,

"I feel the democracy in Israel is just for their people. But for Palestinians, either in [historical Palestine] or here – it is like [Syria's president] Bashar al-Assad, it’s dictatorial. And for their people, it is 100 percent democracy."

Times of Israel and CS Monitor

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Israel approves large settlement -- first new settlement in West Bank in decades

For the first time in 20 years, Israel announced that it will build a new settlement in the West Bank. Previous announcements of new settlers' homes in the West Bank have been homes added to existing settlements.

The new settlement will have 3,000 homes. This is the third announcement of this type since Donald Trump became president on January 20. The previous announcements were for 2,500 housing units in the West Bank, and 550 in East Jerusalem. At the time that the 2,500 housing units were approved, Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the expansion was just a "first taste."

Many people believe Netanyahu is pursuing an extremely aggressive new settlement building policy because Trump is more sympathetic to settlement construction than Barack Obama. According to Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi:

"The silence of the new American government, including those who actively support the settlements in the White House and the administration as a whole, has emboldened Netanyahu to persist with his settlement activities."

Israel claims that the new West Bank settlements are legal under international law, but many in the international community disagree, saying not only that they're illegal but also that they're a barrier to a "two-state" peace deal. This refers to the fantasy that there will be some kind of negotiation that will lead to an agreement that Israel and a Palestinian state will exist side-by-side in peace and harmony. Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews will re-fight the 1948 genocidal war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. BBC and CNN and Jerusalem Post

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Feb-17 World View -- Israel expels residents of Amona West Bank settlement, testing rule of law in Israel thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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1-Feb-17 World View -- New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine

Thousands of US troops in Poland conduct joint drills with Polish troops

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine


Soldiers and tank in eastern Ukraine
Soldiers and tank in eastern Ukraine

After almost two years of stalemate in the fighting in Donbass in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian army and Russian anti-government militias, the fighting has suddenly flared up again in the last three days. Heavy artillery shelling on both sides has killed at least 33 civilians, and has left thousands of people in the government-held town of Avdiivka without water and electricity, at a time when temperatures at night fall to -20C (-4F).

Several analysts are saying that the renewed fighting is a reaction to the new Trump administration. Kiev-based independent political analyst Vadim Karasyov said an escalation in the east could be beneficial to both the separatists and the Ukrainian government:

"Kiev is eager to win support of the new Trump administration, and for this they need to show that separatists and the Kremlin are derailing the peace accords. For the Kremlin, it's important to show that it holds war and peace in its hands — if the new U.S. administration wants peace in Ukraine, it needs to offer something in return."

Russian troops invaded eastern Ukraine after anti-Russian protesters in Kiev, Ukraine's capital city, forced the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich to step down, after he reneged under pressure from Moscow to to sign a trade agreement with the European Union.

Russia always denied that there were Russian army troops in Ukraine, and when it was proven there were, the Russians claimed that they were just "volunteers." That also turned out to be disinformation, as 80% of Russia's army is a volunteer army. America has an all-volunteer army. So saying that Russian troops in Ukraine are "volunteers" is like saying that America's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "volunteers."

The worst occurred in July 2014 when the Russians in eastern Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 passenger plane with a Russian Buk 9M38 missile that was transported by a Volvo truck from Russia.

After Russian troops annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, the war in eastern Ukraine became stalemated, as Russia moved its troops and supplies away from Ukraine to Syria. But now the fighting is escalating again, and there are fears that a larger war may result again. AP and Al Jazeera and EurActiv

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Thousands of US troops in Poland conduct joint drills with Polish troops

About 3,500 American troops conducted live-fire exercises with Polish troops on Tuesday. Poland's president Andrzej Duda welcomed the US commitment of troops, calling it a "historic moment":

"We welcome our allies here today with open arms. I do believe that this presence is going to further strengthen the transatlantic bond and our collective security."

The US commitment of troops came about because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation Crimea. Anxieties were raised in Poland other countries that they might be next. That explains the effusive praise that the American troops are receiving. Many Poles consider the threat from Russia real, and believe that the Russians will not invade Poland if it meant firing on American soldiers.

After the military exercises, the soldiers are to be distributed across Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic countries. The headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany. Radio Poland and Russia Today

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Feb-17 World View -- New fighting between Ukraine and Russia flares up in eastern Ukraine thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Feb-2017) Permanent Link
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31-Jan-17 World View -- US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats

Philippines war on drugs in chaos after murder of S. Korean businessman

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Philippines war on drugs in chaos after murder of S. Korean businessman


Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte

The "war on drugs" launched by Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has been extremely popular, even as it's resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 people at the hands of the police in extrajudicial killings. Duterte had vowed to eradicate the country's drug problem by March of this year, but now says that it will continue until his term ends in 2022.

Those same police had further abused their power by kidnapping Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman, apparently to collect a ransom. The kidnapping was botched, and the victim was killed by strangulation inside the grounds of the national police headquarters, Camp Crame. Some suspects in the murder are still at large, and Duterte has given them 48 hours to turn themselves in, or have a dead-or-alive bounty on their heads of 5 million pesos ($100,000).

The murder has infuriated the South Korean public, and has embarrassed Duterte to the extent that he's begin forced to suspend his war on drugs in order to conduct a war on "corrupt police." He will disband all the anti-drug units in the police. In a press conference on Sunday, Duterte said,

"You policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It's in your system. Cleanse your ranks. Review their cases. Give me a list of who the scalawags are."

Instead, he plans to create a "narco police" command under the existing Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency that will target police involved in the drugs trade.

Philippines National Police Chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa said on Monday, "We will cleanse our ranks. . .then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs. Rogue cops, beware! We no longer have a war on drugs; we now have a war on scalawags."

Human Rights Watch is dismissing the new policy as a stunt and a "cynical PR gesture." Foreign Policy and Sydney Morning Herald

US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte was infuriated when President Barack Obama criticized the violations of human rights in the "war on drugs" when he took office in June. In response, Duterte called Obama "the son of a whore," and threatened to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that had been signed in 2014, a move that was opposed by Duterte's own ministers.

The EDCA agreement allows the expansion of rotational deployment of U.S. ships, aircraft and troops at five bases in the Philippines as well as the storage of equipment for humanitarian and maritime security operations at the five locations.

At a news conference on Monday, Duterte said:

"Now, here is my worry: The United States is building depots. They are unloading arms in Palawan, in Cagayan de Oro, and in Pampanga. I am serving notice to the Armed Forces of the United States: Do not do it. I will not allow it."

However, Philippines military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said, "There was no confirmed incident of this nature." He said that only rubber boats, generator sets and materials for building shelters would be stored in Philippine facilities.

Duterte's disgust with the United States has been matched by his fawning over China and Russia. He's asked China to supply two to three fast boats, two drones, sniper rifles and a robot for bomb disposal, in a $14 million arms donation. Russia has offered hardware such as ships, submarines, planes and helicopter.

As I've written many times, it's a core principle of generational theory that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians.

The relevance to Duterte is that the United States is overwhelmingly viewed favorably by the people of the Philippines, while the people of China and Russia are viewed far less favorably. In particularly, there is an enormous mutual hostility between the Chinese and Filipino people. Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the US, Russia, India and Iran will be on the other side. The popularity of the United States among the Filipino people means that Duterte's dalliance with China will be short-lived, and that the Philippines will side with the United States against China in the approaching war. Manila Times and Reuters and The Diplomat

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-17 World View -- US will upgrade Philippines military bases, despite Duterte's threats thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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30-Jan-17 World View -- Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability

Trying to keep up in a world in a state of hysteria

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Trying to keep up in a world in a state of hysteria

This weekend, the mainstream media is in total hysteria, with reporters screaming like babbling idiots, almost unable form a complete sentence without saying something that's incredibly fatuous or stupid.

As always, in my daily Generational Dynamics World View articles, I try to report what's really going on in the world, which is what the tens of thousands of my readers count on. While reporters are screaming obsessively at each other about the executive order, there are really significant things going on in the Mideast, Africa and Asia that are far more important to our future than one political story.

Unfortunately, I'm only one person, who has limited time beyond the exigencies of having to earn a living, at a time when the number of real international crises keep growing, even if the mainstream press ignores them for the cotton candy of political partisanship. But I hope that you'll bear with me, Dear Reader, and I'll continue to do my best to apply the Generational Dynamics methodology and to inform you of the really important events in the world.

Leading Muslim government advisor in Myanmar (Burma) is assassinated


A Rohingya woman and child in a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Reuters)
A Rohingya woman and child in a refugee camp in Bangladesh (Reuters)

Ko Ni, a legal adviser to Myanmar's (Burma's) government was shot to death by a gunshot to the head as he walked out of the arrival gate at Rangoon's airport, after returning from a flight overseas. Ko Ni was a Muslim who was ethnically Burmese. He was the most prominent Muslim member of the government. He was also an advocate for human rights as regards Muslims, and ran a law firm that aided Muslims. No motive for the assassination is yet known, but it's believed that motive is related to this Muslim human rights connection.

Ko Ni was particularly an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of Burma's government, after her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) won the elections in November 2015. Suu Kyi won a Nobel Peace prize years ago when she was under house arrest, and her ascension to power gave hope not only to citizens of Burma but also to the international community who were hoping for stability in the country.

However, Suu Kyi's refusal or inability to stop the rapes, beatings, torture and slaughter of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State by the army has caused Suu Kyi's reputation to plummet, and the assassination of Ko Ni will only further complicate the situation. Myanmar Times and Independent (Ireland) and International Business Times

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Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability

The ethnic cleansing and violence by Myanmar's (Burma's) mostly Buddhist army targeting Muslim Rohingyas has been worsening in recent months. Myanmar has essentially admitted guilt by refusing to permit international journalists or investigators into the region, as stories beatings, rape and torture continue to leak out, and as satellite pictures show entire villages burned down by the army.

Concerns are growing that the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingya population is threatening the stability of the entire region.

Since October 9 of last year, after nine Myanmar border police were killed in an attack blamed on Rohingya militants, some 65,000 Rohingyas fled across the Myanmar border to Bangladesh to escape the violence by Myanmar's army. The total number of Rohingyas in Bangladesh is estimated to be around 400,000, mostly living in filthy refugee camps.

Bangladesh is under international human rights pressure to allow more Rohingyas to enter Bangladesh, but they place a heavy burden on Bangladesh's resources. As one journalist wrote, "in the conditions which prevail today, morality suggests that Rohingya fleeing persecution in their country be let into Bangladesh. At the same time, a sense of reality points to the terrible burden that could be put on Bangladesh’s resources if they are allowed entry, with hardly any guarantee that they will soon, or ever, go back home."

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak called an emergency meeting of the 57 countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation two weeks ago in Kuala Lumpur. Najib said at the conference:

"The killing must stop. The violation of women and girls must stop. The persecution of your fellow men and women, simply on the grounds that they are Muslim, must stop."

Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country, and it's for that reason that Najib chose to interfere in the internal affairs of Myanmar, something that would otherwise be unthinkable among the southeast Asian countries.

The fear is that with the swelling population of Rohingyas that have fled to Bangladesh and other countries, they present an easy target for recruitment by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), which is trying to get a foothold in the region, or by other jihadist groups.

It's feared that unless Myanmar ends the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, the result will be terror attacks and instability throughout the region. Institute of South Asian Studies and Reuters (20-Jan) and Indian Express (9-Dec)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Jan-17 World View -- Ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Rohingyas threatens regional stability thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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29-Jan-17 World View -- Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration

Iran promises retaliation against Americans

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration


Protests at San Francisco International Airport on Friday (Getty)
Protests at San Francisco International Airport on Friday (Getty)

President Donald Trump on Friday fulfilled some of his campaign promises by signing an executive order to limit immigration. In brief, the terms of the executive order are:

Those opposing the executive order made the following points:

There have been growing anti-American government protests, particularly at international airports around the world, where chaos is at a maximum since no one is sure who's going to be admitted to the US. Late on Saturday, a federal judge issued an order blocking the federal government from deporting people detained at the airports because of the executive order.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, America is joining a worldwide trend that I've been writing about for years. In this generational Crisis era, nationalism and xenophobia have been increasing in countries around the world, and the same is true in America. Those who blame Trump for this have it backwards. As regular readers know, it's a core principle of generational theory that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. The growth of nationalism and xenophobia around the world is not caused by Trump or by any politician; it's driven by the current generations of people, now that the survivors of World War II are gone. CNN - Full text of executive order and Saudi Gazette and CNN

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Iran promises retaliation against Americans

A statement by Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs promises retaliation against American nationals for the effects of Trumps executive order on Iranian nationals. According to the statement:

"The decision of the Government of the United States to impose restrictions on the travel of Muslims to the United States – though temporarily for three months – is a clear insult to the Islamic world, and especially the great nation of Iran; and despite claims of being made to combat terrorism and protecting the people of the United States, it will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters. ...

The decision of the Government of the United States to target the people of Iran and clearly insult all sections of this great nation has put on clear display the baselessness of the U.S. claims of friendship with the Iranian people while only having issues with the Government of Iran. It also shows the rancor and enmity of some in the US government and influential circles both within the United States and abroad towards all Iranians around the world: The Iranian nation who, benefiting from an ancient and rich civilization and religious beliefs founded on humanitarian values, has always promoted the message of constructive engagement, not only resisted domination but also the temptations to dominate others, and fought extremism and violence; a resilient nation which has stood firm in the face of extremist terrorists and which was among the first victims of organized terrorism; a great people which has had no presence in any extremist terrorist operation, but instead in all societies in which it has traveled or resided as scientists, students, entrepreneurs, tourists or immigrants, has been known as one of the most law abiding, cultured, educated and successful communities, thus representing its Iranian and Islamic culture and civilization in the most dignified and peace-loving manner.

To ensure respect for the dignity of all members of the great Iranian nation at home and abroad, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran will engage in a careful assessment of the short and medium-term impact of the decision of the U.S. Government on Iranian nationals, and will take proportionate legal, consular and political action and while respecting the American people and differentiating between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. Government – will take reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens until the time of the removal of the insulting restrictions of the Government of the United States against Iranian nationals."

This is the usual delusional stuff you hear from Iran. They say that Iranians are "a great people which has had no presence in any extremist terrorist operation," but they ignore their massive funding of terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah and Hamas, and their own sponsored terrorism in countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, Iran is a terrorist country to its own people -- peaceful student protests are met with murder, torture and jailings of innocent civilians.

The most delusional of the Iranians are the old geezers left over from the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, still dreaming of the erotic days of the revolution when they could torture or rape or kill anyone they want with impunity, and see nothing wrong with the same thing today. This includes the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. On Friday, another old geezer Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said that "those individuals who defend their lives, honor, and country are not terrorists." To these people, an innocent girl peacefully holding up a protest sign in Tehran's "Freedom Square" is an enemy that the security police can torture, rape or kill because doing so defends the country's honor.

One thing that really infuriates hardline Iranian officials is any equivalencing of Sunni jihadist terror to Iranian terror. We saw this particularly a year ago when Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on charges of terrorism. 46 of them were Sunni jihadists, and the 47th was Mohammad Baqir Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia terrorist from Iran. In response, there were widespread riots in Iran, including burning down the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

There is one additional significant quote from the Foreign Ministry statement:

"The decision of the Government of the United States incorporates certain requests that are illegal, illogical and contrary to international law. Considering the absence of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States, those requests are not applicable to and cannot be accommodated by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

It's possible that these "certain requests" refer to the need for countries to provide "adequate information" for its citizens to be issued visas to enter the US, as stated in Trump's executive order. If that is what is being referred to, then it's possible that Iran will refuse to provide "adequate information," and the ban on Iranian's entering the US could become permanent. Obviously that situation will not be sustainable, and one side or the other will have to back down. Tasnim News (Tehran) and Pro Publica and Tasnim News (Tehran) and Fars News (Tehran - trans)

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Jan-17 World View -- Protests grow over Trump's executive order to restrict immigration thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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28-Jan-17 World View -- Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite

Desperate EU officials still try to shut down Mediterranean migration route

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite


Turkish soldiers after landing in Greece on July 17 of last year (Reuters)
Turkish soldiers after landing in Greece on July 17 of last year (Reuters)

Greece's Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the extradition of eight Turkish military officers sought by Ankara over the failed coup of July 15 of last year.

On July 16, the day after the coup attempt, a Turkish military helicopter landed unexpectedly in the Greek town of Alexandroupoli, close to the Turkish border. Eight Turkish soldiers emerged from the helicopter, asking for political asylum.

Turkey said that the eight soldiers were traitors, and demanded their extradition.

It's been six months since then, and the asylum request is still pending. However, on Friday, Greece's Supreme Court ruled against extraditing them back to Turkey. The court said that there was on evidence that they were involved in the coup attempt, and that they were unlikely to get a fair trial in Turkey. The soldiers claim that they would be killed if they returned to Turkey.

Turkey, on the other hand, claims that they provided documents and other evidence that proves that the eight soldiers were involved, and that Greece's refusal to extradite is a violation of international law.

Turkish officials are furious:

"We will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of this decision - which we believe has been taken with a political motive - on our bilateral ties, co-operation in the fight against terrorism and on other bilateral and regional issues. ...

There is a migration deal we signed, including a readmission deal with Greece, and we are evaluating what we can do, including the cancellation of the readmission deal with Greece."

The readmission deal is one part of the EU-Turkey migrant deal signed last year. Turkey agreed with the EU to take back all migrants and refugees who cross to Greece illegally. In return, Turkey would receive financial aid, visa-free travel for all Turkish citizens in Europe, and an acceleration of negotiations for Turkey to join the EU. Turkey and Greece also have an agreement on the readmission to Turkey of illegal migrants.

The EU-Turkey deal has been extremely successful, in that it's reduced the flow of migrants from Syria and Iraq into the EU from a torrent into a trickle. The EU so far has refused to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens, or to accelerate negotiations for Turkey to join the EU.

Turkey has sometimes threated the "nuclear option" of cancelling the entire deal. However, on this occasion, the threat appears to be far less substantial -- just canceling the portion of the deal that permits Greece to send refugees back to Turkey for readmission.

The EU is trying to play a balancing act with Turkey. The EU desperately needs the migrant deal, since another influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants would threaten the cohesion of the EU itself. On the other hand, Turkish authorities have fired or jailed hundreds of thousands of people since July, accusing them of supporting the coup, while not supplying any evidence. These arrests have particularly targeted journalists, teachers and police officers. These massive firings and jailings have caused astonishment among EU officials, raising human rights concerns to the point where visa-free travel and EU membership are strongly rejected by many EU officials. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Greek Reporter and BBC (19-Jul-2016)

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Desperate EU officials still try to shut down Mediterranean migration route

Even if the EU-Turkey migrant deal remains intact, there could still be hundreds of thousands of migrants traveling from Libya to Italy by crossing the Mediterranean. The technique used by human smugglers is to pack 40 migrants in a rubber dinghy that's supposed to hold no more than 10 people, and send them out to sea off the coast of Libya. They're told to call the Italian coast guard once they're in international waters and ask to be saved.

Because of the instability in Libya, it's clear that there's no hope of an EU-Libya deal as effective as the EU-Turkey deal.

Instead, EU officials are moving ahead with a plan to establish refugee camps in Africa. When migrants are picked up from dinghies in the Mediterranean, they'll be taken to these African refugee camps rather than to Europe.

According to Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, "The people taken up by the smugglers need to be saved and brought to a safe place. But then from this safe place outside Europe, we would bring into Europe only those who require protection." RFE/RL and Russia Today and Reuters

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(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Jan-17 World View -- Furious Turkey threatens migrant deal over Greece's failure to extradite thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Jan-2017) Permanent Link
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27-Jan-17 World View -- China places missiles on Russia's border -- to gain respect and attack America

Centuries-old Russia-China border dispute could lead to another war

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com