Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Web Log - February, 2005


Army's "Future Combat System" calls for autonomous robot soldiers by 2014

What surprises me is that the technology is proceeding faster than I expected.

On Friday, the Army cut the ribbon on the huge "System of Systems integration laboratory" in Huntingdon Beach, Calif.

This will be the simulation, testing and integration lab for the Future Combat Systems project, which will deploy, by 2014, a network of intelligent battlefield robots which will replace the duties of ordinary soldiers, and will have the ability to kill.

The robots will be in a variety of forms, including aircraft, ground vehicles, and special-purpose units that look like toy trucks.

When I heard the BBC interview Pentagon spokesman Gordon Johnson about the project, I was struck by how careful Johnson was to be reassuring. These robots will NOT be making autonomous decisions to kill, he assured us. Human soldiers will be monitoring everything they do, and human soldiers will have to approve any killing.

I was also struck by the fact that Johnson was talking about the initial deployment in 2014, and the interviewer failed to ask the obvious question: "What about 2020 or 2025?" By that time, these autonomous robots will be much more numerous and much more advanced, and it will not be desirable or even possible for a human being to approve each action. By that time, intelligent computer robots will be making decisions on their own.

So what does this mean for the timeframe for the Singularity?

Just as intelligent robots will be used as soldiers, they'll also have a wide variety of commercial uses, everything from robot plumbers to robot nursemaids, all making autonomous decisions. And those robots will soon be making all their decisions on their own as well.

The Singularity
The Singularity

Intelligent robots will also be doing scientific research to develop improved versions of themselves, so that intelligent robots will eventually be far more intelligent than human beings. The point in time where intelligent robots are essentially in control of their own destiny is called "The Singularity," because there will be a bend in the exponential growth technology curve, as shown in the adjoining graphic. There is no way to have any idea what's going to happen to the world after that point.

Various analysts have estimated the date of the Singularity as occurring anywhere between 2015 and 2045. Early in 2004, I estimated that the Singularity would occur in 2030.

However, the aggressive schedule for the deployment of Future Combat Systems leads me to believe that technology is farther ahead than I had estimated. Furthermore, it now appears that a supercomputer will have the power of the human brain in the 2008 time frame, where I had estimated 2010-2012.

These schedules lead me to wonder whether the Singularity will come a little earlier, perhaps around 2025. On the other hand, some of these schedules may turn out to be too optimistic, so I'm going to stick with the 2030 estimate for the time being. (28-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Draft of new book, "Generational Dynamics for Historians," can now be read online.

This book resolves the question of identifying patterns in history and extrapolating them forward. For the time being, a draft of the book can be read online at the following location:

The following text is from the preface:

(27-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Israeli police are on maximum terror alert, as West Bank handover is suspended

Following the shock of Friday's unexpected suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv nightclub, Israel's defense minister blamed Syria for the bombings.

On Sunday, Israeli police went on maximum terror alert, and is roadblocking town entries and patrolling crowded centers.

There is a great deal of confusion over which of the Palestinian militia groups is responsible for the bombing. The Palestinian Authority has blamed the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah, which has repeatedly denied involvement.

Israel is accusing Syria and Islamic Jihad, but Islamic Jihad itself is putting out mixed messages, with some leaders claiming credit and others denying involvement.

This could indicate a split within Islamic Jihad itself, between those supporting Mahmoud Abbas and the peace plan versus those urging continued violence against Israel.

Israel is suspending further handover of West Bank towns to the Palestinian Authority, until Abbas's response becomes clearer. Israel is demanding that Abbas dismantle the militia groups and confiscate their weapons.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new regional war between Israelis and Palestinians. The exact path that this conflict will take is not known, but it's quite possible that it could begin with a violent conflict within the Palestinian community itself, and that the current split within Islamic Jihad is the first sign.

Here's something else to watch for:

There's going to be a big international conference in London this week, starting on Tuesday, with the purpose of advancing the Mideast peace process. Watch to see if there's any talk about forming an international force to help peacekeeping in Palestine. Any such peacekeeping force would even further inflame the region, and lead directly to the involvement of participating countries in the new Mideast war. (27-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Tel Aviv nightclub shows where the Mideast peace plan is going

Islamic Jihad never agreed to the Palestinian/Israeli ceasefire in the first place, and yesterday they took credit for a suicide bombing at a popular Tel Aviv karaoke nightclub, killing four people and wounding dozens. One of Islamic Jihad's leaders denied involvement with the attack, and another group took credit. The second group, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, has also refused to participate in the ceasefire.

This was the first terrorist suicide bombing in Israel in several months, and it caught the country by surprise.

The Mideast peace plan is now at a critical turning point. Israel and most Palestinian terrorist groups have been honoring the ceasefire. In particular, Israel has refrained from attacking militia leaders recently.

Many Israelis are now openly saying the following: There haven't been any suicide bombings for several months because the Israeli army was going after the militia groups in their camps. As soon as the the army stopped attacking the militia, there's a new suicide attack.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is under enormous pressure today to bring the perpetrators to justice, and find a way to guarantee that there will be no more suicide bombings. Abbas has vowed to track down and punish the perpetrators, but let's face it: If they're not afraid to die, then they won't be afraid of Abbas' punishment.

When Yasser Arafat was in charge, Israel would already have retaliated by now. Israeli is undoubtedly delaying a response to see what Abbas does.

Militant groups like Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Hizbollah have not agreed to the ceasefire or peace process, and are trying to trigger a war. They believe that a major war would result in Israel's extermination.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the genocidal Jewish-Arab war of the 1940s will be re-fought in the next few years, as the people in the generation that grew up during the 1940s war all disappear (retired or died), all at the same time. As usual, Generational Dynamics tells us what the final destination is, but doesn't tell us how we'll get there, or how long it will take.

Based on this trend information from Generational Dynamics, I predicted that the Mideast Peace Roadmap would fail, and that the most likely time frame for a Mideast war would be within two years after the disappearance of Yasser Arafat. As of today, I have absolutely no reason to modify either of these predictions. (26-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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United Nations revises population growth projections upward

The world population will be 9.1 billion in 2050, not 8.9 billion, which is what the U.N. predicted in 2002, according to a a press release from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Almost all growth will take place in developing regions, where population is expected ro rise from today's 5.3 billion to 7.8 billion, according to the press release. By contrast, developed countries’ population will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion.

Hmmmmmmm. That comes out to 0.76% per year increase in the world population for the next 45 years. That's 0.86% per year in the fastest growing regions, the developing regions. That's interesting. And that's 0.00% per year in the developed countries. Well, stop having sex folks -- the United Nations says that the population won't increase.

Let's look at the population for the past 55 years, according to the United Nations database of population information:

    Year  Population
    ----  ----------
    1950  2 518 629
    1955  2 755 823
    1960  3 021 475
    1965  3 334 874
    1970  3 692 492
    1975  4 068 109
    1980  4 434 682
    1985  4 830 979
    1990  5 263 593
    1995  5 674 380
    2000  6 070 581
    2005  6 453 628

For the past 55 years, population has been growing at the rate of 1.72% per year worldwide. In the Muslim countries, population has been growing at 2-4% per year.

And some United Nations committee says that all of a sudden, people are going to have a lot fewer kids.


The slower growth rate projections are “contingent on ensuring that couples have access to family planning and that efforts to arrest the current spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic are successful in reducing its growth momentum”.

So get this: If we go in and educate the Bangladeshi Muslims about birth control and family planning, then they'll all say, "Gosh, now we see what we're doing wrong, and we're gonna stop having so many kids," and their population growth rate will reduce from 2.07% a year to only 0.76% per year.

And we'll send a few lecturers into the West Bank, and explain to the Palestinians how the birds and bees works, and they'll reduce their population growth from 3.3% per year to just 0.76% per year.

And all these Muslim groups will just be thrilled at having someone come in and explain all this stuff about sex and family planning to them. Who knows? Maybe even I'll get a job going over there and explaining family planning to Palestinians, because otherwise how would they ever understand what's causing all those kids?

Sorry for the sarcasm, but you really have to laugh at all this. What are these people at the United Nations thinking? Where do they get this stuff?

I'm told that some people don't believe the solid analysis on this web site, but they do believe the stuff that the United Nations tells them. Well, whatever floats your boat.

The United Nations projections are just plain silly.

Maybe the world would be a better place if people who should know better, like the dum-dum politicians at the United Nations, would actually talk about the future more realistically. Maybe the way to reduce the number of wars is to stop making so many stupid airhead projections with no basis in reality.

From the point of view of Generational Analysis, here's what's more likely to happen: We're headed for a major new "clash of civilizations" world war that will reduce the world population to around 3 billion. By 2030, the population will grow back to around 4 billion. That's around the time when the Singularity takes place, and super-intelligent computers will be running things. Nobody has any idea what's going to happen after that. In particular, no United Nations committee has the vaguest clue what the population of the world will be in 2050. (25-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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WHO makes strongest bird flu alert so far, warning of "gravest possible danger"

America and countries around the world are preparing for the worst-case scenario, which would be a virulent avian flu (bird flu) epidemic spreading around the world.

However, officials at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control played down the immediate danger. "It [the virus] is still inefficient. It's not something we need to panic about. But it's giving us a big wake-up call,"

In the worst-case scenario, the virus would repeat the behavior of the 1918-19 Spanish Flu epidemic, which killed tens of millions of people.

Speaking an an Avian Flu conference in Vietnam yesterday, of the World Health Organization emphasized that the avian flu is becoming increasingly widespread throughout a dozen countries in Asia and is mutating to infect additional species of animals, though it hasn't yet mutated to a form which permits one infected human to easily infect another human. "Avian influenza in Asia poses a very significant public health threat. The disease is prevalent in several countries. It has never been so widespread at any time during the last century."

Other WHO officials urged preparation as quickly as possible. "The World is now in the gravest possible danger of a pandemic. We need to onsider urgent and decisive action in radical new ways."

Researchers are studying the role of ducks in the continuing spread of avian flu. Ducks are carriers of the virus, but do not exhibit any symptoms, yet spread the virus through feces. Millions of ducks in Thailand and Vietnam are being slaughtered in the hope of preventing the further spread of the virus, but everyone knows that it's a hopeless battle, since it's impossible to exterminate all ducks carrying the virus.

So far, 55 people, mostly in Vietnam, have become infected, and 42 of those have died, yielding a 76% death rate. A flu pandemic with that death rate would have a devastating effect on the world's population.

What would make the virus mutate so that it could spread from one human to another?

All that's required is for one human being to catch the avian flu from a duck or chicken, and then also get the ordinary human flu. The two strains of flu would exchange genes, making a mutation to a transmissible strain very likely.

However, there is some good news: If such a gene exchange occurs, the resulting mutation may (or may not) have a much lower death rate than 76%. However, even a 10% death rate would be devastating. The common flu virus has a death rate of only about 2%.

Of course, a flu epidemic has no relationship to Generational Dynamics, but it's relevant to this web site because it might trigger either a financial crisis or a civil war in China. (24-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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North Korea agrees to talk about talking

After two weeks of increasing tensions, there was a little relief yesterday as North Korean President Kim Jong-il said he'd resume the six-party nuclear non-proliferation talks "under certain conditions."

What are those conditions?

Well, according to a story a French news agency, the issue is Japan's continued insistence on discussing the Korean abductions of one or two dozen Japanese in the 1970s.

As it turns out, this is an issue that I discussed in December. The Japanese are furious that North Korea hasn't resolved this issue, and have threatened to impose economic sanctions. North Korea has said that would be an act of war.

It's hard to know what to make of this, but if it represents a true backdown in North Korea's position on the nuclear non-proliferation talks, then it means that the tension level in the Pacific is down, at least for the time being. (23-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Increasingly militaristic China denounces US-Japan statement on Taiwan

China is militarily surpassing America in the Taiwan Straits, according to CIA Director Porter Goss in Senate testimony earlier this week.

This statement was just one of several by different countries that are raising tensions in the region.

On Thursday, Feb 17, Porter Goss made the following statement about China to the Senate:

Goss' statement matches the increasingly held view that China is growing militarily stronger, and its military is becoming increasingly modern. Many analysts believe that China will become the world's greatest economic and military power within one or two decades.

(This reminds me of a joke that we used to tell each other in college in the 1960s, when we were discussing what foreign languages to study: "The optimists learn Russian, and the pessimists learn Chinese.")

Goss's statement drew an immediate angry response from Beijing:

"The U.S. warning has severely violated the conventions of international relations. The United States has severely interfered with Chinese internal affairs and sent a false signal to the advocates of Taiwan independence."

This statement angered the Taiwanese. According to one editorial in the Taipai Times:

Because of the escalating threat to Taiwan, Japan and America issued a joint statement saying that the two countries see security in the Taiwan Strait as a "common strategic objective." This statement, issued on Sunday morning, was a seeming minor change from previous military cooperation statements which called for Japan and America to work together in the "area surrounding Japan."

Although this was just a minor change in wording, Beijing strongly denounced the statement, saying that it interfered with China's sovereignty, territorial integrity and state security.

All of this is taking place just after North Korea has pulled out of the nuclear non-proliferation talks, declaring that it already had nuclear weapons.

South Korea, America and Japan have been meeting with Chinese diplomats, hoping to get China to pressure North Korea to rejoin the talks. China either can't or won't apply such pressure to North Korea,

On Saturday, China reported that North Korea will not return to the talks under any conditions.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these statements are all moving in the same direction -- toward a mobilization for war in the Pacific.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a war to reunite North and South Korea; it predicts that there will be a war to reunite Taiwan with China; and it predicts that China and Korea will engage in a war with Japan to obtain revenge for Japan's actions in World War II. However, Generational Dynamics does not tell us when these wars will occur, except that they'll occur in the next few years.

The statements we've seen in the last week have been getting increasingly ominous. China and North Korea are becoming increasingly militaristic, and are mobilizing for war. Positions in all countries involved, including America, are increasingly hardening. We can't predict when those wars will occur, but the kinds of statements we're hearing are typical of the things we would be hearing if these countries are planning a pre-emptive attack soon, with North Korea's statements considerably more ominous than China's.

The one thing that would defuse the situation right now is for North Korea to back down and agree to rejoin the nuclear non-proliferation talks. This would cost the country nothing, and would do a lot to calm many people's concerns about North Korea's intentions.

If North Korea continues to firmly refuse to even talk, then we have to assume that the Koreans hold America and Japan in such contempt that they don't even feel the need to appease them by talking to them. If North Korea's President Kim Jong-il can't make even that small compromise, then we can only assume that Kim has already firmly decided on a definite course, and may even have set a "date certain" for preemptive attack. (21-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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"Mr. Bush, please don't bomb Apatzingan"

This story appeared just 11 days after the 9/11 attacks, and I just came across the file where I'd saved it. I'm posting it to provide a little black humor.

At that time, a somber President Bush had announced that we were mobilizing for war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. The following story appeared:

In a follow-up news story several days later, Mayor Castaneda said that he had sent the letter as a joke. (20-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Ambassador to Japan calls North Korean threat "deadly"

While the Bush administration has been trying to give a muted, non-alarming response to the North Korean threat, James A. Baker Jr., the departing U.S. ambassador to Japan, says that North Korean's nuclear arsenal is a "deadly threat".

"The thing I worry most about with the North Koreans, to tell you the truth, is not that they're going to bomb Tokyo, but rather that they have a demonstrated record of selling any military device they own," Baker said. "A regime such as the North Koreans', with that record, selling nuclear material to all comers, is a very serious issue."

Baker may not be worried about a North Korean threat to bomb Tokyo, but other people are worried about Pyongyang's potential threats.

The South Koreans are pretty worried, for example. A South Korean newspaper reports that North Korea has developed an upgraded Scud missile that is capable of hitting any target in Japan or South Korea with greater accuracy than was previously possible.

South Korea has also been urging China to use economic sanctions to pressure North Korea to return to the nuclear non-proliferation talks. North Korea pulled out of those talks recently, blaming "hostile" U.S. policies, and revealed that it already had nuclear weapons. Last year in April, the North Korean government ordered its military to mobilize for war with the U.S.

In fact, there's been quite flurry of diplomatic activity, as alarmed U.S. and South Korean negotiators have been looking for any way possible to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, there will soon be a crisis war of Korean unification with near 100% certainty, and that Japan will be pulled into this war. My expectation is that China will be North Korea's ally in this war, especially because China is already expecting a war with America over Taiwan. The only difference between the two countries is timing. If China wants to hold back North Korea, it would not be a matter of principle, but only because China wants Korea to wait until China is ready.

As we've recently discussed, North Korea's behavior since 2002, when it first announced its intention to develop nuclear technology, follows a typical historical pattern of countries that are about launch a pre-emptive crisis war. The only thing we don't know is President Kim Jong-il's timing.

Meanwhile, if you're one of the people who love crazy dictators, consider applying for membership in the (North) Korean Friendship Association. You too can be recognized as an admirer of "The Dear Leader," Kim Jong-Il. (18-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Greenspan's testimony further repudiates his earlier stock bubble reasoning

The Fed Chairman has now completely reversed his previous position on the stock market bubble of the 1990s.

As I've previously discussed, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan expressed a great deal of alarm about the world economy in a February 5 speech to the Advancing Enterprise 2005 Conference in London.

At that time he said,

International trade has been expanding as a share of world gross domestic product since the end of World War II. Yet through 1995, the expansion was essentially a balanced grossing up of cross-border flows. Only in the past decade has expanding trade been associated with the emergence of ever-larger U.S. current account deficits, lesser deficits elsewhere, matched by a corresponding widening of external surpluses in a majority of trading nations. ... The dramatic advances over the past decade in virtually all measures of globalisation have resulted in an international economic environment with little relevant historical precedent.

This represented a very significant change in position by Greenspan, who has always treated the 1990s economy as self-contained and in control of its own future. In particular, his policy in the late 1990s of not treating the bubble but treating its aftermath was based on the belief that the Fed could have headed off the 1930s Great Depression by rapid interest rate cuts. This belief, whether correct or not, takes advantage of the fact that the 1930s economy was almost entirely self-contained within America.

Greenspan's testimony to Congress on February 16 did not use the same alarming language, but continued his repudiation of his past position by emphasizing the international nature of the economy.

Greenspan pointed to a special "conundrum": The flattening of the yield curve in bonds, which I wrote about last year.

The issue is that interest rates for long-term investments keep falling, while the interest rates for short term investments have been rising. Here's an update of the chart that I posted last year, showing the interest rates for short and long-term bonds for some recent dates:

Treasury Bond Yields

Date 3-month

May 11 '040.94% 4.74%3.80%
June 11 '041.17% 4.79%3.62%
Aug 21 '041.38% 4.23%2.85%
Sept 21 '041.60% 4.03%2.43%
Feb 17 '052.44% 4.17%1.17%

As you can see, the short-term rates continue to increase significantly, and the long-term rates have been decreasing or remaining steady.

Greenspan recounted several reasons that analysts have been giving for this phenomenon, including the business community's fear of recession and the heavy purchases of long-term bonds by foreign banks.

Then he said:

There are two major points to get out of this:

In affirming his confusion, he's essentially repeating what he said last time: "The dramatic advances over the past decade in virtually all measures of globalisation have resulted in an international economic environment with little relevant historical precedent."

As I've been saying since 2002, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're entering a new 1930s style Great Depression. Even to people without an understanding of Generational Dynamics, including Alan Greenspan, this prediction must be getting increasingly plausible. (17-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Massive Beirut explosion killing Rafiq Hariri puts Lebanon into state of shock

Washington recalls its ambassador to Syria, as both Lebanon and America blame Damascus for the terrorist assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In following this story, I've been struck by the fact that everyone seems to have liked Hariri. He was charismatic, a successful businessmen, and one of the richest people in the world. Following the Syrian-Lebanese war that ended in 1989, Hariri brought in investors from around the world to rebuild the country, and especially its capital, Beirut. He was a moderate Sunni Muslim, committed to the peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians. He was welcome in the capitals of countries throughout the Mideast, and he was a good friend of French President Jacques Chirac.

Hariri's fatal flaw may have been his firm opposition to Syria's continued political and military influence in Lebanon. Syrian forces continued to occupy Lebanon after the war, bringing a period of relative peace, but Hariri resigned as prime minister in October in order to join to the opposition to the Syrian-supported Lebanese government and to continued Syrian occupation.

Shocked and infuriated Lebanese people are blaming Syria for the assassination of Hariri. Without directly blaming Syria, Washington withdrew our Ambassador to Syria today, indicating that Syria bares "some responsibility" for the assassination. Lebanese newspapers are expressing concern of a return to war with Syria, and some analysts are expressing concern that such a war could destabilize the entire region.

The Generational Dynamics view

Mideast, showing Israel/Palestine, Muslim countries, and Orthodox Christian countries
Mideast, showing Israel/Palestine, Muslim countries, and Orthodox Christian countries

As so often happens, Generational Dynamics provides important policy-related information that cannot be obtained any other way.

Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are all on the World War I timeline, having all been part of the (Muslim) Ottoman Empire centered in Turkey. The Ottoman Empire was destroyed in the aftermath of WW I. As regular readers of this web site know, genocidal crisis wars tend to come in 70-90 year cycles, and all of these countries have had their next crisis wars. I've discussed the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s many times on this web site. [Corrected 21-Nov-06]

A crisis civil war began in Lebanon in 1975, and it became a war with Syria in 1976. Israel was an off-and-on participant, and the war reached an explosive climax in 1982 when Christian Arab forces, allied with Israel, massacred and butchered hundreds or perhaps thousands of Palestinian refugees in camps in Sabra and Shatila.

When a crisis war ends, every society and nation goes through predictable phases. Immediately following the war, the nation goes through an austere period where the highest priority is to impose any rules or compromises necessary to prevent anything so horrible from happening again.

Thus, Syria's decision after the war to maintain a military occupation of Lebanon as peacekeepers makes perfect sense. However, now that a generation has passed since the war, Lebanon is entering a "generational awakening" period. This is always an intensely political period, when college-age students who grew up after the war rebel against the austere rules and compromises imposed by their parents.

For two years I've been saying that there can't be a crisis civil war in Iraq, despite frequent warnings by pundits that there may be one, and despite repeated attempts by terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to ignite one.

For the same reason, there will not be a major new crisis war between Lebanon and Syria, just one generation after the end of the last one.

However, if the people of Lebanon are so outraged by Syria's alleged complicity in the death of Hariri that a war becomes a matter of national honor, then a non-crisis war is possible. Crisis wars come "from the people," while non-crisis wars come from the politicians, and it's possible for Lebanese politicians to lead the country to a new war against Syria. Such a war would receive little support from the people, and would not last long.

One thing seems certain: The political pressure on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon will now become overwhelming. France, America and the United Nations have demanded a withdrawal before the current crisis, and the Lebanese opposition to Syrian occupation has been growing as the generational awakening period has progressed, and now the political pressure may well be irrestible.

What happens next?

If Lebanon and Syria were on an island by themselves, there would really no major cause for concern, beyond the concern we all feel when people are killed in brief wars or low-level violence.

But Syria and Lebanon are adjacent to Jordan, Palestine and Israel, regions on the World War II timeline, regions which have not yet had a new crisis war, and which are currently in a "generational crisis" period.

There seems to be little doubt that death of Hariri is a major historical turning point in Lebanon, and will cause major changes of some kind. But whether there's a non-crisis war with Syria, or if the Syrian forces are made to withdraw, then a power vacuum will be created, providing a climate for Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians to join in the violence. This could indeed be the trigger for a major regional Arab-Jewish crisis war.

Who's responsible?

Finally, who's responsible for the assassination of Hariri?

Syria is suspected, but Syria strongly denies it, and so far there's no "smoking gun" evidence.

If I had to take a guess, my vote would go to the same insurgents who have been setting off car bombs in Iraq. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be the mastermind, though he's issued a statement denying it. But there's a strong Baathist minority in Lebanon, and so the assassination may be linked to the same Baathist insurgents operating in Iraq.

What would be the motive? What many people don't understand is that a significant minority of Islamists want a war. In the map of the Mideast shown above, there's a tiny red dot, representing Israel, in the middle of a vast sea of green, representing Islam. These Islamists have failed to trigger a major war in Iraq, and so Lebanon would be another logical place to take a shot. These Islamists believe that if they can trigger a major war, then that tiny red dot will be eliminated forever, and the old Ottoman Empire will be revived as a new Muslim empire centered in Jerusalem. (16-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Neo-Nazis rally at Dresden firebombing commemoration

A wrenchingly emotional ceremony brings back battles of WW II, Vietnam and today's war on terror.

In 1969, at the height of America's "days of rage" violent protests, antiwar science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse-Five inflamed the protestors college students with this description of what he had seen when he was in Dresden, Germany, on February 13 and 14, 1945:

The two names mentioned by Vonnegut, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are the two Japanese cities that were bombed a few weeks later with the first nuclear weapons.

Many old emotions came back on Sunday, when American, British, French and Russian dignitaries attended a 60th anniversary commemoration of the Dresden bombing. The special bombs created fires that sucked the oxygen out of the city and used to create a fire explosion, while leaving behind carbon monoxide to suffocate the people. The city was flattened, and 200,000 people were killed.

The purpose of the commemoration was to promote peace and reconciliation, but the peace was disturbed by 5,000 neo-Nazi protesters who compared the bombing of Baghdad last year to the bombing of Dresden in 1944. The two situations are totally incomparable, of course, but it shows the kind of polemics that accompanied the commemoration.

The neo-Nazis, who frequently say that Germany should be for Germans (as opposed to Jews or Muslims), demanded an apology from Britain for the war crime in Dresden.

The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45
The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45

In fact, the whole Dresden issue came to life suddenly in 2002 when a new book hit the best seller lists in Germany: Der Brand. Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945 (The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45), by Jörg Friedrich. Since that time, the view that the Allied bombing of Dresden was an unnecessary act of revenge has been expressed more and more frequently.

However, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was having none of this. "Today we grieve for the victims of war and the Nazi reign of terror in Dresden, in Germany and in Europe. We will oppose in every way these attempts to reinterpret history. We will not allow cause and effect to be reversed."

Outside of the hate groups that used the commemoration for polemics, everyone had regrets that the ceremony had to be held. The Germans regret their Nazi past, and the British regretted having killed so many civilians in an undefended German city that was one of the greatest cultural centers of northern Europe. Speakers defending the attack say that it wasn't revenge at all; Dresden had some munitions factories, and anyway, the way had to be cleared for the advancing Russian army.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Dresden bombing was indeed revenge, and quite justified. That it was revenge can be seen from President Harry S. Truman's speech on August 9, 1945, just after we had dropped the first nuclear weapon on Japan: "Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans. We shall continue to use it until we completely destroy Japan's power to make war. Only a Japanese surrender will stop us."

The firebombing of Dresden was revenge just as much as the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima was. It was revenge for Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jews, for Hitler's bombing of London and Coventry in England, killing thousands of civilians, and for slaughter of our soldiers on D-Day.

That's what happens in crisis wars, and that's what makes crisis wars different from non-crisis wars. In non-crisis wars, like the Vietnam War, we worry about "collateral damage" and killing civilians, because non-crisis wars are political wars. But every nation has genocidal crisis wars and always has.

Then what about Baghdad? If this is a new crisis period, then why didn't we firebomb Baghdad or Fallujah and simply destroy it. Isn't that what people do in a crisis war?

No, not at the beginning. At the beginning of even a crisis war, it's often the case that the genocidal aspects are muted.

But a crisis war is like a ball rolling down a hill. When the ball first starts rolling, it may go very slowly, and even stop and bounce around when it hits rocks and trees in its way. That's the time when everyone hopes that the war really isn't necessary, that if we don't any serious lines, then the other side will back down and say, "Heh heh, just kidding," and the war will end.

But in a crisis period, the other side doesn't back down. In Vietnam we pulled out; we wouldn't have done that in a crisis period. In the 1990 Gulf War, we stopped short of getting Saddam; we would go after Saddam in a crisis war and, guess what? We did just that in 2003.

So every time that the other side doesn't back down, that ball starts to roll down the hill a little bit faster. Once it's going fast enough, it can't be stopped. It rolls faster and faster until it reaches the bottom of the hill in an explosion of vengeance and genocide.

That's our future, as we approach the "clash of civilizations" world war. Despite the neo-Nazi polemics, we were quite nice in Iraq. But we won't be so nice the next time. And by the time it's all over, when we've had tens of millions of American deaths and the total destruction of someo of allies, we'll see a desire for vengeance that no one will mistake. (14-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Unlike North Korea, Iran's nuclear intentions are unclear

There are big differences in the reasons why Iran and North Korea want nuclear technology.

There's little doubt why North Korea is developing nuclear weapons. North Korea is mobilizing for war to force reunification of Korea under its control. Korea is in a generational crisis period, and is also likely to ally with China to attack Japan, as we wrote yesterday.

But even though Iran is in the same "Axis of Evil" as North Korea, Iran is actually like Iraq - in a generational awakening period, since only a single generation has passed since the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Never in history has any country every initiated a new crisis war less than 40 years after the previous one ended.

Thus, Iran's goals are more political than belligerent, at least for the time being.

Iran knows that with American forces right next door in Iraq, American would not hesitate a second to use force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

But Iran also knows that it can gain a great deal of political leverage if it can add nuclear weapons to its arsenal, even if, unlike in North Korea, there's no immediate plan to use them.

That's not to say that Iran never would use them. If, as expected, the Palestine region erupts into a major regional war between Jews and Arabs, then Iran will readily use any weapons it has on Israel. But without that kind of provocation, Iran will use its weapons to gain political hegemony only, and leave the preemptive nuclear wars to North Korea. (11-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Comments and questions from readers

Palestinian peace, war in Iceland, are among the topics that readers have asked me about in the last few weeks.

Palestinean Peace?


Many people predicted that Yasser Arafat's death could lead to peace between Israel and Palestine, while you've consistently predicted a major Mideast war, Now that Abu Mazen Mahmoud Abbas is Palestinian President, the two sides are moving towards peace.


I agree that Abbas is doing what he promised to do, and that things seem so hopeful in Palestine that it's hard to imagine trouble ahead. It almost looks like I'm mistaken, doesn't it? But it's like being in the middle of a heat wave in November, where you're tempted to believe that you'll be skipping winter this year. But winter comes anyway.

Let's watch what happens in the next few months. By the fall, we'll know if the "right of return" issue is being resolved, for example, and whether the Jewish settlers in Gaza are willing leave their homes. Militia groups Hamas and Hizbollah have not agreed to more than a temporary ceasefire. The prediction of a major Mideast war is near 100% certain, and the only reason it isn't 100% is because the sun might explode in the meantime.

While I'm answering this, let me give one dark scenario that some will consider the most cynical possible. One of the common characteristics of a crisis war is that it's frequently preceded by a secret mobilization (like Hitler's promise of "peace in our time" while he was secretly mobilizing for WW II). The dark scenario is that Hamas or Hizbollah are going along with the cease fire to gain time and to gain concessions from Israel, especially the release of former terrorists from prison, and that they're secretly mobilizing for future attacks on Israel.

War in Iceland and Canada?


I really enjoy your site and methodology. I have one question though, how do you account for countries that never seem to go to war. Like Iceland for example, or maybe even Canada. How does your theory apply to these types of countries?


Both Iceland and Canada are on the World War II timeline, and both fought in WW II. Iceland was essentially part of Denmark in 1940, when German forces overran Denmark, meeting no more than token resistance. First British and then American forces occupied Iceland, to prevent German occupation. Thus, Iceland did participate in WW II.

Canada was certainly heavily involved in WW II, so they certainly have been to war. One thing to watch in Canada in the next few months and years is that if England and France become increasingly hostile to one another, then that should be reflected within Canada itself, in the relation between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

Social Security


What's your position on the current Social Security battle being fought in Congress?


It's irrelevant. The upcoming "clash of civilizations" world war will cause enough deaths that the demographics of Social Security will be completely changed.

RSS News Feeds


Do you have any plans for an RSS feed of your articles/blogs? Yours is the one site that I still can't get with my aggregator.


There's now an RSS/XML News Feed for the Web Log at:

A news feed for the articles will be coming soon.

(09-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Fewer people are working, but the unemployment rate went down anyway in January.

Unemployment fell to 5.2% from 5.4% in January, even though far fewer jobs were created last month than analysts had predicted. The reason is that the number of discouraged unemployed people no longer looking for work has been rising substantially. Such people are not counted by unemployment surveys, resulting in the fall in the unemployment rate.

Analysts' comments put the best possible face on it. The jobs report "is not a sign of weakness, the economy continues to create jobs," according to Richard Yamarone, chief economist for Argus Research Corp. in New York.

But those of us with memories will recall that this situation has recurred frequently for two years now. Analysts predict explosive job growth month after month, and they're disappointed almost every time. If the economy were really growing as vibrantly as analysts say, then job growth would be much greater.

We've made a similar point frequently about the rate of inflation. as we've pointed out, analysts talk about nothing else but the dangers of inflation, and they would be right if these were ordinary times. But we're in a generational crisis period, entering a 1930s style Great Depression, and so the consumer and producer prices have been extremely low when they should be skyrocketing.

A recent article entitled, "Alan Greenspan warns that global economic dangers are without historical precedent," describes how Alan Greenspan reversed himself in a speech he made in London on Friday. A year ago, Greenspan was congratulating himself for avoiding a stock market crash after the 1990s bubble. But in the speech on Friday, he essentially reversed himself and admitted that he's been mistaken for the past ten years. He came very close to saying that a crash is inevitable. Something could trigger it next month or next year, but it's definitely coming. (05-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Europe is stunned by dramatic rise in German unemployment

With high employment throughout euroland, the EU is making a major change in economic direction.

Germany received a harsh reminder of its Nazi past with the announcement that the January jobless rate was 12.1%, the highest since 1933. That's when severe financial hardship caused the German people to blame their troubles on France, England, America and the Jews. leading to the rise of Hitler.

I've frequently written on this web site about how American businesses have become increasingly bureaucratic and inefficient since the 1930s Great Depression, and how this situation will only be corrected by a new Great Depression.

What I haven't frequently mentioned is that Europe is on the same generational timeline as America, and is facing exactly the same reality. In fact, European businesses are even more inefficient than America's, thanks to onerous business regulations throughout Europe that mandate large benefits and long vacations. In some cases, they even make it illegal for a citizen to choose to work beyond the normal work day.

But now with the unemployment rate at 8.9% for all of euroland, and excpected to increase still further, alarm bells are going off in the Brussels headquarters of the European Union.

The shocked EU politicians have now announced the abandonment of the "Lisbon strategy" of 2000, which set the goal of the making the EU the "most dynamic economy in the world," ahead of America's. They will immediately work to pass new laws to cut back on regulations and other red tape that affects business.

Unfortunately, no such legislative program can affect the results of the generational changes taking place. As aging businesses in America and Europe become increasingly bureaucratic and inefficient, they're making products that don't interest younger generations at high prices, or sometimes at any price. This change will continue to force prices down, and turn inflation into deflation.

The reason that America and Europe are both moving in this direction at the same time is because we're at a unique time in history, about 60 years after the end of World War II, when every country is experiencing the same generational change at the same time: The people in the generation that lived through the Great Depression and then fought in WW II are all disappearing (retiring or dying) all at once, and are being replaced by the people in the generation born after WW II.

Although German authorities today downplayed the connection between today's unemployment rate increase and the discontents of the Nazi era, the fact is that severe economic problems are historically one of the main generators of public attitudes leading to war. Just as Germans blamed the Jews in WW II, Europeans today are increasingly blaming Muslim immigrants for today's economic problems.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be a new major European war, just as there have been European wars for a millennium or more at regular intervals. (03-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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Fed expected to raise interest rates today

The Fed is saying that inflation "can be contained," but the danger is in the other direction.

On January 20, the Wall Street Journal headline said, CPI Rose at Fast Clip, Erasing Many Pay Gains.

The next day, Jeffrey Lacker, one of Alan Greenspan's colleagues at the Federal Reserve, said that inflation was still a danger, but that the Fed could contain it with continued interest rate increases.

Thus, it's all but a sure thing that the Fed will announce an increase in the overnight bank interest rate from 2.25% to 2.5%, and that these increases will continue in the months ahead.

A deflationary period

Consumer price index (CPI) from 1870 to present, with an exponential growth trend line.  The CPI is 185 in 2003, and 2010 has a trend value of 129.
Consumer price index (CPI) from 1870 to present, with an exponential growth trend line. The CPI is 185 in 2003, and 2010 has a trend value of 129.

We've been saying for two years that we're in a long term deflationary period, and that prices will be falling by 30% in the next few years. This assessment is based on the adjoining graph of CPI from 1870 to the present, along with an exponential growth trend. What most people don't seem to understand is that almost all growth trend values must maintain the long term trend; it's a law of nature, something like the law of gravity. Since the CPI is well above the trend line today, it has to start falling soon.

Now, we've been following the CPI (consumer price index - retail prices) and the PPI (producer price index - wholesale prices) in the web log for a long time. You can't always tell much from individual monthly figures, but the point is this: With interest rates close to zero for most of 2004, and with oil prices skyrocketing from to more than $50 a barrel for much of the year, inflation should be exploding. The fact that it hasn't been exploding is a sign that something's wrong, or at least that something strange is going on.

Here are the PPI and CPI values for 2004:

                        Changes from preceding month
                 Jan. Feb Mar. Apr. May June July Aug Sept  Oct Nov  Dec
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----
PPI               .6   .1   .6   .7  .6  -.2    0   0   .1  1.7  .5  -.7
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----
PPI "Core index"  .3  -.1   .3   .1  .2   .3  -.2  .3   .3   .3  .2   .1
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----
CPI               .5   .3   .5   .2  .6   .3  -.1  .1   .2   .6  .2  -.1
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----
CPI "Core index"  .2   .2   .4   .3  .2   .1   .1  .1   .3   .2  .2   .2
---------------- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ---- ---- --- ----

Notice how the values have been changing from month to month. Many months, including December, saw deflationary values. And notice that the "core index" values - which exclude volatile oil and food prices -- were much lower than the combined index.

What this means is that the spike in oil prices did indeed temporarily affect the CPI and PPI, but for all other products, the so-called "finished products" that people actually purchase, inflation was still extremely low.

Inefficient businesses

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this has been happening because America's organizations -- business, government, educational, and so forth -- have become increasingly bureaucratic and inefficient. When the 1930s Great Depression ocurred, almost all existing businesses went bankrupt, and the country started with almost a "clean slate," with all new businesses, where every employee had to perform and produce results.

Over the years, these businesses have become increasingly inefficient, often with whole departments and divisions producing products and services that could be done much more efficiently and cheaply using computer technology. Indeed, businesses in both China and India are doing that today.

So the products produced by America's inefficient businesses are overpriced, and that's why deflation must occur. (It's theoretically possible for the Fed to flood the economy with money and deflate the money supply so much that the dollar will become increasingly worthless, and thus increase prices, but that's not expected to happen.)

The stock market today is 100% overpriced, using standard price/earnings ratio measures, and the situation cannot continue for long. Public debt is astronomically high.

The Fed is raising interest rates in order to strengthen the dollar, in the hope of avoiding a panic collapse of the dollar on world markets. But in raising interest rates, it's becoming more difficult for people to borrow more money to make loan payments, it's more difficult for businesses to borrow money to stave off bankruptcy, and it's more difficult for investors to justify purchasing stocks, when they can buy short-term Treasury bonds at higher interest rates.

Since the end of WW II, the economy has always been "self-correcting," meaning that any serious economic problem solved itself through market forces. With public debt continuing to increase, it remains to be seen how long that can continue. (02-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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UN declares that Darfur war was "not genocide," in the most sickeningly cynical story of the year

If mass murders and rapes and forced relocation of millions of people isn't genocide, then what is?

Evidently few people deny the facts on the ground: For almost two years, white Arab government forces, along with government-sponsored militias, have been systematically mass-murdering, mass-raping, torturing, robbing, and generally "cleansing" large numbers of black Africans living in Darfur, the Western region of Sudan. 1.8 million people have been forced to flee for their lives to large camps near or over Sudan's western border with Chad. 70,000 are known to have been executed, but hundreds of thousands are suspected of having died from the horrific atrocities.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, it's clearly been a genocidal crisis war, based on fault lines defined by race, skin color, religion and ethnicity. When the news broke last year in June, we predicted that the UN would fail to stop the war before it runs its course. This kind of genocidal crisis war "is a force of nature, and that the UN can no more stop it than they can stop a typhoon."

Not only did the UN fail to stop the war, the war actually got progressively worse throughout the fall. By December, the African Union was openly mocking the UN's fecklessness.

Although there are many wars going on in the world today, the Darfur war was the only crisis war. However, this crisis war finally appears to have ended in the last few weeks. UN officials are congratulating themselves for getting a "peace treaty," but what it really means is that the war has finally run its course.

Who's to blame?

Now it's time to assign blame, and wouldn't ya know it, they've found a way to blame it on good ol' Uncle Sam.

When former Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the Darfur region a few months ago, America took the official position that the Darfur war was a "genocide."

Other nations refused to agree, and this was the big joke. China couldn't agree, because the Chinese are exploiting Sudan's oil. Russia couldn't agree either - they were selling arms to the Sudanese in exchange for oil. And various Muslim states couldn't agree, of course, because that would mean Arabs would be guilty of genocide, and we can't have that.

It's all very embarassing for the UN, of course. It was just last spring that Kofi Annan led a huge international conference in Africa, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide in 1994. The UN did nothing to stop that genocide, and Kofi Annan promised, "Never again." Little did he know at the time that "never" would come very quickly.

So now it's time to punish Sudan with sanctions for committing this genocide, but China, Russia and the Muslims won't support that. So that's a dilemma - let Sudan off the hook and look even more foolish.

So an answer has been found:

The International Criminal Court is a recent creation of the UN designed to bring human rights criminals to justice. It's perfectly obvious that the intent of many UN officials is to use it to bring such charges against American government officials, and possibly even arrest such officials as they're traveling in foreign countries. For that reason, America has refused to submit itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC, or even acknowledge its legitimacy in any way.

So it's the perfect out for the UN. It isn't the UN's fault that things went badly in Darfur; it's those mean old Americans.

What is genocide?

In developing Generational Dynamics, I had to come up with a solid working definition of genocide. This isn't the standard legal or dictionary definition, but my research indicates that it's closest to what genocide really is.

I needed this definition because I needed a method for identifying crisis wars. A basic principle of Generational Dynamics is that every nation has a genocidal crisis war every 70-90 years, and this has been shown to be true in over 100 cases in dozens of countries throughout history. This requires a solid definition of "genocidal" that can be applied to any war at any place and time in history to determine whether or not it's genocidal.

Here are some of the factors that indicate that a war exhibits this kind of genocidal violence:

In World War II, genocidal acts by the Germans included: The Holocaust (execution of millions of Jews), and Hitler's refusal to capitulate when it was clear that Germany would lose. Genocidal acts by Japan included: Murder and torture of prisoners of war at Bataan; refusal to capitulate when it was clear that Japan would lose; Genocidal acts by America included: Massive D-day assault (willingness to risk everything for victory); firebombing Dresden and Tokyo; use of nuclear weapons on Japanese cities.

In the American Civil War, General Sherman's march through Georgia in 1864 was a genocidal act, since it involved a "scorched earth policy" that killed as many civilians as possible.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, genocide is a force of nature, and is neither good nor evil, any more than an earthquake or tsunami is good or evil. This may seem a heartless way of looking at it, but everything about crisis wars is heartless.

What's next in Darfur

The end of a crisis war is a major generational transition for every country, and that's the same with Darfur. A crisis war is a traumatic experience for everyone involved, even the perpetrators of war crimes, because they have to live with the massive slaughters, rapes, and other atrocities that were perpetrated. The country's top priority is to make sure that such a war is never necessary again.

Sudan has committed new violations of the ceasefire, but they seem to be sporadic and do not appear to indicate that the crisis war is still going on after all.

The following is my guess as to what's going on: Because of the UN's humanitarian program, many lives were saved by people fleeing to camps. Thus, the UN was at least partially successful in preventing as much mass murder as might otherwise have occurred. But now, Sudanese officials want to make sure that the people who fled the region have no opportunity to return to their former homes. The way to do that is to continue some low-level violence in the Darfur region, so that the people will be afraid to return, for fear of being attacked again. (01-Feb-05) Permanent Link
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