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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 1-Feb-08
Kenya settles into low-level violence on the way to Rwanda

Web Log - February, 2008

Kenya settles into low-level violence on the way to Rwanda

So far, it's "ethnic cleansing," but not genocide, according to Jendayi Frazer, the top American diplomat for Kenya.

It's an interesting distinction.

She was describing the situation where one tribe, the Kalenjins, were "cleansing" a region of a different tribe, the Kikuyus.


She said that it was NOT genocide because:

"The aim originally was not to kill, it was to cleanse, it was to push them [Kikuyus] out of the region. It was clear ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley."

In other words, if the Kalenjins were killing the Kikuyus, that would be genocide. But apparently the modus operandi is to say: "You have 24 hours to get out of town if you want to avoid being killed," which means that the region is cleansed of the other tribe, even though they aren't killed.

(Incidentally, the State Dept. has backed off from the "ethnic cleansing" claim. Read the amusing contretemps between a reporter and the State Dept. spokesman.)

In fact, there are a number of news reports that confirm what's going on:

"They came at night by the hundreds, shooting villagers with arrows and attacking them with knives, hatchets, and farm tools. The killings were a warning to the rest of the village: Leave now, or die.

"These people were our neighbors, I knew them, but what I have seen is something that I cannot explain," says Julia Muthoni, an elderly widow who found refuge in the city of Nakuru. "The problem is that we Kikuyus are being targeted because we voted for the reelection of President Mwai Kibaki. Even before the election, they were threatening us saying that whether Kibaki wins or not, Kikuyus are going to be evicted."

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Although there are many ethnic groups (tribes) in Kenya, there are two major protagonists in the current violence: the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe, whose leader, Mwai Kibaki, won the Presidential election that triggered the violence; and the disadvantaged Luo tribe, whose political leader, Raila Odinga, was the opposition leader who lost the election to Kibaki. Many other tribes, including the Kalenjins, are aligning themselves with the Luos against the market-dominant Kikuyus.

The ethnic violence was started, according to many sources, by youthful activists in the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), an anti-government Luo ally supporting Odinga for President.

Now, according to a recent human rights study, there are four kinds of violence going on in Kenya:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, all these kinds of violence, short of all-out genocidal civil war, is called "low-level violence," even though those living in Kenya would doubtless not call it "low-level." Still, the amount of violence has been tapering off, and even the gruesome "ethnic cleansing" events fall short of genocidal violence, since the lives of the enemy are spared.

This is consistent with what I was predicting weeks ago, just after the violence started.

Kenya's last crisis war was the "Mau-Mau Rebellion," an independence war largely fought by the Kikuyus against the British colonial government, climaxing in 1956. 51 years have passed since the climax of the last crisis war, making the current era a generational "Unraveling" era. At this point, 51 years after the climax of the last crisis war, Kenya is just entering the place on the generational timeline where a new crisis civil war becomes increasingly POSSIBLE, but is still UNLIKELY. As the timeline approaches and passes the 58-year point, a new crisis civil war becomes almost unavoidable.

So we see this low-level violence continuing, and will continue until some new shock or surprise triggers a "regeneracy," at which point a full-scale genocidal crisis civil war will begin.

Fortunately for all of us, the UN is rushing in to save the situation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned of an impending catastrophe unless the two political leaders, Kibaki and Odinga, resolve the crisis.

On Thursday, France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner appealed to the UN Security Council to stop the violence in Kenya, and prevent a slide into "deadly ethnic conflict."

The dreaded word on everybody's lips is "Rwanda." In 1994, close to one million people in the market-dominant Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda were slaughtered, tortured, raped and dismembered by people in the disadvantaged Hutu ethnic group. That slaughter took only three months.

The UN was blamed by many for not "stopping the violence" in Rwanda. Early in 2004, the UN held a 10-year commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, and the Secretary General at that time, Kofi Annan, promised "Never again."

It was just a couple of months later, in June 2004, that Annan called for the UN to stop the genocide in Darfur. As I said at the time, the UN is completely irrelevant.

Now Kofi Annan, you'll recall, considers the US to be the fount of most of the evil in the world. He condemned the US for intervening in Iraq, and condemns the US even more for NOT interfering in Darfur.

Today, in 2008, the Darfur genocide is still going on. Somehow, the UN has remained irrelevant all these years.

So now we're talking about having the UN run in and stop another potentially genocidal situation. Kofi Annan is the mediator who's been working with both sides for the last couple of weeks.

"The world saw a ray of light this week that may help Kenya avoid a violent abyss," says one bit of punditry. "Mediator Kofi Annan got the two political rivals in this tragedy to sign onto negotiations."

Everyone's hoping that Annan will get the two leaders to come to some sort of agreement to stop the violence. Yes sir, all Kibaki and Odinga have to do is sit down and sign an agreement, and it'll be all over. Yes sir.

Actually, Annan will probably succeed in getting the two sides to sign some kind of interim "cooling off period" agreement. These days, this kind of peace agreement is almost a compulsory part of the foreplay leading up to full-scale genocidal civil war.

That's certainly what happened in Rwanda. In 1993, the UN sponsored a peace treaty between the Tutsis and the Hutus called the Arusha Accords. It created an interim government that was supposed to make everyone happy. Instead, it infuriated the Hutus. Then, on April 6, 1994, a plane crash killed the Rwandan president, a Hutu. Next morning, a Hutu leader announced over the radio, "Cut down the tall trees." It was some sort of prearranged signal, and, 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.

So now, let's return to the land of Kofi Annan, plying his trade, convincing the two political leaders to sign on to negotiations to stop the violence. I guess Annan didn't learn from what happened in 1993, when a UN sponsored agreement, the Arusha Accords, actually made things worse.

What are these people thinking? Can anyone possibly believe this fairy tale?

If Raila Odinga ever signed an agreement with Mwai Kibaki to stop the violence, the first thing that would happen is that their own supporters, the Luos and Kikuyus, respectively, would kill them for their betrayal.

On this web site, I always say, repeatedly, over and over, that what's important is the behaviors and attitudes of large masses of people, entire generations of people. The behaviors and attitudes of politicians, especially in the United Nations, are totally irrelevant, except insofar as they reflect the attitudes of their constituents.

The violence in Kenya is not coming from Odinga and Kibaki. They have no control over it whatsoever. They did not cause it, they could not cause it, and they cannot stop it. They can't make it get better or worse except accidentally.

The violence will spiral into full-scale crisis civil war when the appropriate trigger occurs. What will the trigger be? There's no way to predict. It will be some chaotic event (in the sense of Chaos Theory). Just as a butterfly flapping its wings in China might (or might not) trigger a chain reaction that will cause a hurricane in America, someone will say or do something, probably something completely minor and unexpected, that will trigger full scale civil war in Kenya. It can't be predicted, it can't be forced, and it can't be stopped.

I do want to draw a parallel, however, to the world financial situation -- something that I may expand upon further in the days to come.

When the "credit crunch" caused an international financial crisis in August, the world's central banks sprang into action to head off disaster. The Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the Bank of England (BoE) all took various steps -- bailouts, auctions, interest rate adjustments -- to target the credit crunch with fresh liquidity to end the crisis.

However, the credit crunch was not the problem, but a symptom. The problem is that the real estate bubble, the stock market bubble, the credit bubble, and other bubbles are now all leaking like mad. There isn't enough money in the world to stop the leaking, but the central banks do not hesitate to try one thing after another to deal with one of the symptoms.

The same kind of thing is now happening in Kenya. Once the violence began, the UN sprang into action with human rights studies and with Security Council discussions and with Kofi Annan mediations.

In both the Kenya situation and the finance situation, the underlying fundamentals leading to the crisis not only are not being cured, but actually are getting worse as generational changes continue. Once the crisis actually begins, someone will be blamed -- perhaps Kofi Annan for not getting an agreement, perhaps Ben Bernanke for lowering interest rates too fast or two slow.

In fact, the underlying causes can only be determined by looking back in history, decades or even centuries, to learn how historic cataclysms created generational waves striking us now, just as an ocean earthquake can create a tsunami that can't be stopped.

So, Kenya is well on its way on the road to Rwanda. In a few years, that'll be clear. (1-Feb-08) Permanent Link
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