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


Web Log - March, 2005


Why is BBC so blantantly anti-American?

Did you know that there's a BBC News joke of the day?

Here's the joke from Tuesday:

A small aircraft is in trouble over North America.

On board are five people: the pilot, the actor Robert De Niro, President George W Bush, a schoolboy and a very old man.

Unfortunately, there are only four parachutes. The pilot selfishly grabs one and jumps out yelling that the plane is going to crash.

Robert De Niro grabs the second parachute and yells that he has to star in a new movie so he needs to be saved.

George Bush makes his move and leaps from the plane yelling that he has to run the country and save America from terrorists.

The small boy and the old man look at each other. "You take the last parachute, son," the old man says. "You're young. I have lived a long life. Go on, jump."

The schoolboy looks at him. "It's okay, pops," he says, "there's one parachute left for each of us. Looks like President Bush grabbed my schoolbag."

This joke appeared in the daily e-mail message from Gavin Esler on Newsnight.

Now, this is a very funny joke, and if I saw this joke on an internet blog, or if I heard it from late night comedians Jay Leno or David Letterman, I would laugh and not think much about it.

But this kind of Bush-bashing doesn't belong in an official BBC News publication. It's just as inappropriate as if it were a sexually explicit joke, or if the joke had racial overtones.

<i>Daily Mirror</i> front page, November 4, 2004
Daily Mirror front page, November 4, 2004

I read a lot of news sources, and I learn to tune out the screeds on the right and left. I expect some sources to be anti-Bush or anti-American, and I expect others to be pro-Bush and pro-American. When I read the adjoining front page published by the Daily Mirror after the November election, I just chuckled.

But the BBC is supposed to be a real news organization. It's funded by British taxpayers, and it's world-renowned as the greatest news organization in the world.

I listen to the BBC World Service a lot over the internet, and it amazes how anti-American they are. Yesterday, for example, their news bulletin identified Paul Wolfowitz as the "American right-wing nominee to the World Bank." Later in the same hour, they changed it to the "controversial nominee to the World Bank," which is a little better.

Ironically, it's hard to see how they're hurting Bush or America. Maybe Gavin Esler's joke was supposed to make Bush look dumb, but Bush is known to have a strategy of letting his opponents think he's dumb so they'll underestimate him.

In the end, all this stuff does is make the BBC look like a bunch of clowns. Instead of looking like the preeminent world news organization that it is, they look like squeaky, hysterical neophytes.

This petulance by BBC reporters is extremely stupid. You'd think they'd have the sense to be a tiny bit more circumspect about their biases, but they seem to want to parade them for all to see.

Just last year, in January, 2004, the BBC was reprimanded after a long investigation resulting in the Hutton Report. The investigation found that the BBC had purposely lied in news stories in order to make Tony Blair's administration look bad in pursuing the Iraq War. The investigation was instigated because the false BBC reports caused a weapons expert, Dr. David Kelly, to commit suicide, rather than continue to be humiliated by the BBC news stories.

The Hutton findings were extremely detrimental to the BBC, causing large budget reductions. Just last week, the BBC announced thousands of job layoffs caused by the budget cutbacks. That's how stupid the BBC reporters are being in their display of blatant anti-American bias.

It's very similar to the "forged document" incident at CBS News, that led to the disgraced resignation of Dan Rather. When I wrote about this last September, I pointed out that anyone who's old enough to have used typewriters, especially IBM Selectric typewriters, in the 1970s would know without doubt that the documents had been forged. I said that the person who forged the documents has to be a 20-25 year old idiot.

That's why I'm so amazed that, after all these months, CBS News has still not simply said that the documents were forged. It's stupid, and it makes CBS News look like a bunch of biased clowns.

There is a generational lesson to be drawn from all this. In case you don't know it, the average viewer of the NBC, CBS and ABC network news shows is in his late 50s. In other words, the main viewers of network news shows are the people in the arrogant Baby Boomer generation.

It's obvious that the network news shows will soon lose their audiences entirely. I would hate to see the same thing happen to the BBC.

Incidentally, for those who are interested, I watch all the news networks, and I find that CNN leans to the left, and FOX News Channel leans to the right. MSNBC is closest to the center, though the quality of their news coverage suffered last year when Jerry Nachman died. As for the broadcast news network newscasts, they all lean to the left, and they're pretty hopelessly shallow. (31-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Now it's "moral values" in Russia

Anti-religious art is now banned in Russia, as exhibitor is convicted of "religious hatred" against Orthodox church.

The art exhibition, titled "Caution, Religion," featured 42 works, including a painting of Jesus' face imposed on a Coca-Cola logo next to the words "This is My Blood."

The exhibit was supposed to provoke discussion about the role of religion in modern society. Well, it certainly did that.

Vandals sprayed the word 'blasphemy' behind this exhibit <font size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Vandals sprayed the word 'blasphemy' behind this exhibit (Source: BBC)

The exhibit was quickly vandalized by a group calling it "blasphemous," but the vandals were cleared after intervention by the Russian Orthodox Church.

And now, a Moscow court has tried Yuri Samodurov, the director of the Museum holding the exhibit, and found him guilty of "instigating religious and ethnic hatred." The Church welcomed the verdict, saying it would discourage future attempts to insult believers.

This result has infuriated the art community and human rights activists, but it's the same thing that's been happening in America:

It's not surprising that Russia and America are following parallel paths with regard to gender and family issues, and to "moral values."

This is what always happens during a "generational crisis" period, such as is occurring now in both countries, as well as in all countries around the world that fought in WW II.

Between crisis wars, nations move in the direction of individual rights; during crisis periods, nations move in the direction of supporting the nation at the expense of individual rights, and men and women assume traditional gender roles during those periods.

Today, all the countries that fought in WW II are in a generational crisis period. Generational Dynamics predicts that we're quickly heading for a new "clash of civilizations" world war that will be worse than WW II. (30-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Massive Taiwan public demonstrations, the largest in history, protest China's Anti-Secession Law

Tensions between Taiwan and China skyrocketed on Saturday as Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian led close to a million Taiwanese (out of a total population of 23 million) chanting slogans like "Oppose War, Love Taiwan" and "Shame on China." Chen himself didn't speak at the rally, but sang a song -- "Taiwan is our baby."

Just last month, Chen was acting increasingly conciliatory towards China, with his "five noes" pledges speech, which include no declaration of Taiwan independence, no incorporation of "two states" into its constitution, no change of the so-called country's name and no referendum on Taiwan independence.

However, that attempt at conciliation came to an end quickly. First, many of Chen's own political allies furiously called him a traitor, and several resignations resulted in a governmental crisis. And next, Beijing passed the Anti-Secession Law that made a mainland invasion of Taiwan legal in case Taiwan moved toward independence, infuriating even moderate Taiwanese.

The most outspoken critics of China's policies were, not surprisingly, people in the younger generation who have no memory of the genocidal Chinese civil war that ended in 1949 with the establishment of the Taiwan government. Here are some of the remarks:

"In the past, I didn’t understand the emerging situation across the Taiwan Strait - it seems that war across the Taiwan Strait will happen at any time," said Sue Rong-yin, a 24-year-old pharmacology student who described herself as a staunch Nationalist Party supporter who had never joined a political demonstration until Saturday. (NY Times)

Another student in the crowd, Mickey Shi, a 23-year-old Nationalist Party supporter who also had never been to a political demonstration before, said that he thought his party’s leaders should have joined the march. "If you think you are a party of the Taiwan people, you should stand up for them," he said. (NY Times)

"Taiwan is in such a sad position. It's like an international orphan. If we don't stand up and fight, no-one will fight for us," said 23-year-old student Jonathan Lin. "We should not be afraid of China. If they invade, I am willing to fight to the last moment." (Swissinfo)

"China has never ruled Taiwan, not even for one day, yet they treat us as part of their territory," Huang Ming-yu, who took his wife and 2-year-old daughter to join the rally after a nearly 10 hour bus ride from the southern county of Pingtung. (Swissinfo)

These are the voices of a young generation with no fear of war. They're just like America's own new generation of soldiers going to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no fear for themselves. (Read this for a description of Taiwan's political scene.)

So many times since 9/11 I've heard pundits and analysts and television try to compare today's society to the "Vietnam era" of the 1960s, with the expectation that "students will start demonstrating against the war once the body bags start coming back." These pundits and analysts could not have been more out of touch. In the 1960s, America was in a "generational awakening" period, characterized by a "generation gap" between the students and their WW II war hero parents.

Those students now are the elder generation, many of whose members just can't understand why today's students aren't holding rebellions like the 60s. They don't understand that America today is in a "generational crisis" period, now that the generation of WW II war heroes is long gone.

Taiwan poll results to question: "Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?" <font size=-2>(Source: WSJ)</font>
Taiwan poll results to question: "Do you feel Taiwanese, Chinese or both?" (Source: WSJ)

The same is true in Taiwan, as is shown dramatically by the poll results depicted in the adjoining graph, which shows the following:

This kind of generational change is not just occurring in America and Taiwan; it's occurring in every country that fought in WW II. As these generational changes take place, the world heads towards a new war, a "clash of civilizations" world war that will be worse than WW II.

In China, the younger generation is becoming just as intolerant as Taiwan's younger generation. But in China, the younger generation is less and less tolerant of Taiwan's separation from the mainland. Like their Taiwanese counterparts, they have no fear of war if that's what's necessary to settle the issue of Taiwan independence once and for all.

"Facts have shown again that 'Taiwan independence' secessionist forces are the biggest threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits," says one Beijing commentary. "The [Anti-Secession Law] reflects the consistent stand of the motherland of exerting the utmost sincerity and efforts to achieve peaceful reunification. It also reflects the common will and firm determination of the 1.3 billion Chinese people, including people in Taiwan, to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and never tolerate 'Taiwan independence' secessionist activities."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, everything is proceeding as predicted. There will be a renewal of the 1940s civil war with 100% certainty, and the time is approaching quickly. China itself has announced double-digit war budgets for each the past several years, and is believed to be building a navy of amphibious vehicles capable of transporting an invading army to Taiwan.

China is giving all the signs of preparing for a preemptive attack to reunite Taiwan with China, a war that will involve America.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be major regional wars to reunite North and South Korea, to reunite Taiwan with China, and to give China and Korea revenge for Japan's actions in World War II. The statements we've seen recently have been getting increasingly ominous. China and North Korea are becoming increasingly militaristic, and are mobilizing for war. 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. (27-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Motley Fool provides a bizarre analysis of price/earnings ratios

I've been relentlessly critical of analysts, journalists and pundits who are brain-dead about price/earnings ratios.

The P/E ratio of a stock is the price of a share of stock divided by the company's earnings per share. Historically, P/E ratios average about 14. For the last ten years, the S&P 500 P/E index has consistently been in the 20-40 range, indicating that we're in a long-term bubble. This bubble will burst at some point when the right kind of triggering event occurs. This might happen next month, next year, or the year after, and it will result in a substantial stock market adjustment. (See my new article on the Fed for more information.)

Analysts, journalists and pundits have been in a total state of denial about this, and do almost anything to mislead readers. In December, I wrote about a Wall Street Journal article, where the reporter had computed the P/E ratio by dividing today's stock price with next year's inflated assumed earnings. This is almost a complete hoax, and shows how even Wall Street Journal reporters are pretty clueless about P/E ratios.

Well, now I've seen a new bizarre twist. It appeared in an e-mail message that investment advisors Motley Fool sent to their mailing list.

Here's the item:

Well first, I'm surprised when any investment advisor mentions P/E ratios, because using them means that you shouldn't buy any stocks at the present time. Investment advisors stand to lose their income if their clients don't buy stocks, so they tend to avoid telling their clients anything that might have any hint of bad news, especially P/E ratios.

Well, the above little piece of advice is Motley Fool's bizarre way of avoiding giving bad advice.

If they were telling the truth, they would have said this: General Dynamics was recently trading with a P/E around 18, which means it's overpriced like almost every other stock, so don't buy any of them. (Full disclosure: I work as a subcontractor to General Dynamics, which has no relationship whatsoever to Generational Dynamics.)

Instead, they ask you to compare today's overpriced P/E to the stock's average P/E for the last ten years.

Look, I don't know how else to put this, but this is about the dumbest thing I've ever heard. If this represents the quality of Motley Fool's advice, I'd recommend that you stay away from Motley Fool. They're true to their name; their advice is motley, and very foolish.

Average P/E ratios skyrocketed in the late 1990s, to values close to 40. Tech stocks in particular often had P/E ratios in the 60s. These were the most overpriced stocks in an overpriced market, and these are the stocks that fell the hardest in the Nasdaq crash of 2000.

So Motley Fool's advice is essentially to favor the stocks that were the most outrageously overpriced during the bubble, the companies that were even more poorly managed than average during the bubble. Motley Fool advises you to stay away from stocks from good solid companies like General Dynamics that steered a fairly reasonable course during the bubble.

Obviously, this is just plain moronic, and it shows the quality of advice that we're seeing today. The correct advice is this: Stay away from all stocks, because almost all of them have been way overpriced for ten years now, and the stock market is due for a 50-75% correction. (25-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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The ghoulish news coverage of Terri Schiavo

It reminds me of another ghoulish story -- Chandra Levy and Gary Condit.

Chandra Levy
Chandra Levy

On May 1, 2001, Washington DC intern Chandra Levy disappeared, and soon it was revealed that she was linked to married California congressman Gary Condit, who was immediately assumed by many to have murdered her.

That summer it was almost impossible to get away from Condit. They had cameras following him to work, cameras following him home, cameras following him to the bathroom, waiting for him to "lose it" and admit that he had murdered Levy. There were hours and hours of Condit coverage every day on CNN, and on other channels as well.

And it wasn't just Condit. We saw photos of Chandra Levy, stories about her life, her wishes, her hopes, her desires, her dreams. The ghoulish coverage went on and on. It would be a year later when her body was finally found, and Condit was completely exonerated, but we didn't know that at the time.

Now, it's happening again with a different cast of characters. This time the poor girl is alive, but in a vegetative state in 1991, and the news shows bombard us with videos of her in bed, including an incredibly gross video of her wearing huge black ears, which I guess are supposed to be Mickey Mouse ears.

And we're hearing all the side stories. There's the husband who still loves her, but has been living with someone else for ten years. There are the parents who love her, but who keep telling and showing us creepy things about her.

The news is "All Schiavo all the time." When is the coverage all going to end? I suppose it'll end when Terri dies, but that could take a long time. When the Condit coverage was on, everyone was expecting Chandra's body to be found at any time, the mystery would be solved, and television news could turn to something else.

That's not how it ended, of course.

It was "All Condit, all the time," and it went on nonstop day after day, week after week, and month after month. It was kind of a lazy summer anyway, and there wasn't much news, so it seemed only natural to fill the hours of news with the summer ghost story of the lost girl, Chandra Levy.

The minute by minute Condit coverage finally ended at 8:50 am ET on Tuesday, Sept. 11, with breaking news. (24-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Condi Rice hints at sanctioning North Korea

She demands that North Korea return to the nuclear non-proliferation talks.

It isn't clear what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was threatening when she raised the prospect of using "other options in the international system" against North Korea if it refuses to rejoin the talks, but presumably the other options would include the horror of having the case turned over to the United Nations Security Council. (As usual, sorry for the sarcasm.)

It's hard to see what the point of this threat is, for several reasons:

The level of tension in the North Pacific has been increasing on an almost daily basis for the last few months, and Rice's statement continues that trend.

Actually, everyone knows by this time that there's nothing to be done about North Korea's nuclear buildup, so Rice's statement is just plain desperate.

North Korea's response was to announce that it has increased its nuclear arsenal.

"We have taken a serious measure by increasing nuclear arms in preparation for any invasions by enemies," said the North Koreans. "We've taken serious steps of boosting our nuclear arsenal and we are also prepared to mobilise all of our military force against any provocative moves by the enemy."

Rice has been hoping that China would use its leverage with North Korea to pressure it to return to the talks, but China has refused to do any such thing.

And why would they? China itself is preparing for an inevitable war with America over Taiwan. Meanwhile, South Korea is becoming increasingly angry with Japan, because of the dispute over those tiny islands, a dispute that brings back memories of Japan's invasion and colonization of Korea.

Generational Dynamics predicts that North Korea will start a war to reunite South and North Korea under North Korean control, that China will start a war to return Taiwan to Chinese control, and that China and Korea will get revenge against Japan for the latter's actions prior to and during World War II. These wars could begin next week or next year, but they're coming with 100% certainty. (22-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Stephen Roach says we've past the economic "tipping point"

Early in 1929, even the most astute analyst could not have predicted the precise day of the big crash, and frequent readers will note that I have never named the date of the start of the financial crisis we're rapidly approaching.

But Morgan Stanley's chief economist, Stephen Roach says in his weekly commentary today that,

"March 16, 2005, could end up in the running as a possible tipping point for America. Suddenly, the US has taken on a very different aura in an increasingly unbalanced world: The confluence of a record current account deficit, a disaster from General Motors, and yet another new high for oil prices all speak of an increasingly precarious role for the global hegemon. World financial markets have barely begun to sniff that out."

Read his column for yourself if you want the details, but I agree with Roach that we're past the time when anything can be done.

Total credit market debt <font size=-2>(Source: PIMCO)</font>
Total credit market debt (Source: PIMCO)

American public debt has been growing exponentially since 1950, as the adjoining graph shows, and has recently accelerated so much that it can't be stopped.

It's like a ball rolling downhill. At first it rolls slowly, and someone could easily stop it and even push it back up the hill. But after a while the ball gains so much energy, speed and momentum that it can no longer be stopped, and we've reached that point.

I had to laugh earlier this week when the Senate defeated a proposal to reduce the Medicare budget by 1% in order to reduce the deficit. The proposal was defeated because some Senators said that poor people wouldn't get medical care.

So if America doesn't have the will to cut 1% out of one spending program, then you can be sure that America doesn't have the will to make the 20%, 40% or 60% cuts in various programs that have to be made -- and will be made once the financial crisis begins, because at that time there will be no choice.

This is all happening in the shadow of an increasingly stormy situation in the Northern Pacific, as China, North Korea and even South Korea are talking more and more in terms of war, with a new escalation in the rhetoric almost every day.

I've always said that China and North Korea are planning preemptive wars of reunification (with Taiwan and South Korea, respectively), but I've always been vague about the date -- it might happen tomorrow, next month or next year. I've said the same thing about the financial crisis.

That's why Stephen Roach is extraordinarily gutsy to name an actual date. On some date soon, there will be a financial tsunami and a war explosion, and there is no way now to stop either of those from happening, and in that sense we're past the tipping point already for both events.

Stephen Roach makes one more point in his column that's worth repeating:

"[H]istory is replete with examples of leadership tests that pit a nation’s military prowess against its economic base.... Yale historian Paul Kennedy has long argued that great powers typically fail when military reach outstrips a nation’s economic strength. In that vein, there’s little doubt that America is extending its reach in this post-9/11 world. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the opening salvos. The Bush Administration ... is upping the ante on its “transformational” projection of global power. In Paul Kennedy’s historical framework, America is extending its reach at precisely the moment when its economic power base is weakening -- a classic warning sign of the fall of a Great Power."

As usual, I completely disagree with the political interpretations of these things. America has been the "policemen of the world" since 1945, and has been taking on more and more responsibility since then. Just as it's too late now to reverse the economic overreaching, it's also too late now to reverse our military overreaching. These disasters have been in the cards for decades, and there's nothing that Bush administration could do to stop them even if it wanted to. Just as we can't pass a 1% reduction in Medicare, we can't also can't reduce our national arrogance about our military power.

I gave a startling example of American arrogance earlier this week, referring to Fed Governor Ben Bernanke's statement blaming America's astronomic credit imbalance on other countries for spending so little that they've created a "global savings glut." A lot of eyes should be rolling over that one.

I see so many people on television who talk blithely about America's massive power and massive wealth. And this has nothing to do with politics - it's the same for both Republicans and Democrats. Like a teenager who believes that he's invulnerable and invincible, even when he drinks and drives and takes drugs, so the American public, led by the arrogant generation of Baby Boomers born after World War II, are convinced that we're invincible and invulnerable.

But there are 6.5 billion people in the world, and only 280 million of them are Americans. The coming "clash of civilizations" world war is going to inflict the wrath of several billions of those people on America, and those who believe that we'll have an easy victory, including most of our journalists, politicians and pundits, are living totally in a fantasy.

I must caution all my readers that Stephen Roach may well be right, and that you should be taking steps to protect yourself, your family and your nation. As I've said before, the world today is much worse than it was a year ago, and things are getting worse every day. The public debt situation and the level of world conflict grow, and more and more commentators are noticing it. We must come together as a nation to protect one another, because we are going to have no choice. (18-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Korea - Japan relations nosedive over long-disputed islands

2005 is supposed to be "Korea-Japan Friendship Year," to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties.

However, 2005 is also the 100th anniversary of an event that's overshadowing everything else today: It was in 1905 that Japan invaded and colonized Korea. Japan retained control of Korea through WW II, and used Korean women as "comfort women" for Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Bitter feelings are exploding to the surface in South Korea this week, after Japan moved to claim ownership of two small islands between the countries. Korea calls them the Dokdo islands, and Japan calls them the Takeshima islands. Japan took control of the islands in 1905, at the same time it invaded Korea.

Dokdo or Takeshima Islands
Dokdo or Takeshima Islands

The South Korean government has warned Japan not to pursue their claim to the islands. However, feelings expressed "on the street" are much stronger.

Japanese living in Korea are feeling Korean anger and hostility, and are taking care not to aggravate their friends. At one Japanese school in Seoul, children are being warned not to speak Japanese aloud in public.

One Korean newspaper editorial refers to "Korea's moral superiority" and says that

"Japan has been taking a rapid turn to the right in the meantime, and now there are clear signs of a trend towards ultranationalism and militarism. The various provocations and [reckless comments] have become more frequent."

This is just one more situation in the North Asian region that appears to become increasingly unstable almost every day.

Earlier this week, China officially passed the anti-secession law, approving a military invasion of Taiwan if Taiwan moves toward independence. This law has infuriated even the moderate Taiwanese, who see it as offensive.

North Korea is still becoming increasingly bellicose, having said they have nuclear weapons and have no intention of returning to nuclear non-proliferation talks.

North Korea mobilized for war against America last April, and on Thursday, North Korea said that the U.S. has already entered a "real war" phase by sending an aircraft carrier into the region. The United States "has always dispatched carrier flotilla to waters off a certain country before launching a war of aggression," according to the country's news agency.

All of this is increasingly ominous. Every country always lays the groundwork for war by providing legal justifications. China has done that by passing the anti-secession law, and North Korea is doing that by accusing America of already having begun a war. Both countries are clearly preparing for preemptive war, with North Korea's preparations far more immediate.

Generational Dynamics predicts that North Korea will start a war to reunite South and North Korea under North Korean control, that China will start a war to return Taiwan to Chinese control, and that China and Korea will get revenge against Japan for the latter's actions prior to and during World War II. These wars could begin next week or next year, but they're coming with 100% certainty. (18-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Mideast political turmoil becomes increasingly volatile

Think back six weeks to the euphoria following the Palestinian elections

that selected Abu Mazen Mahmoud Abbas as the new president of the Palestinian Organization formerly headed by the late Yasser Arafat.

At that time, the path to peace seemed clear: Abbas would negotiate with Israel's Ariel Sharon on terms for peace, and for a Palestinian nation living side by side with Israel.

In some ways, things are going well. The "temporary ceasefire" between Israelis and Palestinians has been holding reasonably well, if you don't count last month's suicide bombing at a popular Tel Aviv karaoke nightclub.

And the negotiations have been going pretty well, if you don't count the Sharon government's decision to extend the barrier around Jerusalem to include a large West Bank settlement.

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

And a new poll by the respected Khalil Shikaki says that something has changed: The Palestinian people are overwhelmingly rejecting suicide bombing as a strategy against Israel.

And yet, the chaos in Mideast politics is growing, pushing the region in unpredictable directions.

In Lebanon, hundreds of thousands of anti-government protestors in one day insist that Syria must leave; on another day, the Hezbollah militia sponsors a huge pro-Syrian rally fueled by more by anti-Israeli sentiment than anything else.

And what about Abbas and the Palestinian Authority? The future of both is coming increasingly into question as the increasingly popular Palestinian militia group Hamas militia group will run in the upcoming Palestinian legislative elections.

So the Lebanese anti-Israeli militia group Hezbollah and the Palestinian anti-Israeli militia group Hamas are both poised to gain a great deal more political power than they had before. And when I say, "anti-Israeli," I mean that both groups have announced that they have no intention to honor the ceasefire any more than temporarily.

So, we see a rising maelstrom of chaotic political events being drawn to a long-range trend, and Generational Dynamics predicts that the long-range trend is a major new Mideast war, replaying the genocidal war between Jews and Arabs in the 1940s. (16-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Fed Governor Ben Bernanke blames America's sky-high public debt on other nations

I'm normally wary of applying specific generational archetypes to individuals, but Bernanke is acting like a Baby Boomer.

As I've frequently reported, speeches by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan have been getting increasingly alarming in the past year. At the beginning of 2004, he was congratulating himself that he'd saved America's economy from danger by his policy of near-zero interest rates. By mid-year, he was expressing concern about debt levels. And then in January of this year, he repudiated his own statements of the last eight years, and indicated that the economy was facing a global danger "without historical precedent."

Ben Bernanke
Ben Bernanke

Ben Bernanke is Greenspan's colleague at the Fed, and is considered the most likely candidate to replace Greenspan as Chairman when he retires next year.

Bernanke's statements in the last year have been getting, if anything increasingly sanguine.

Last October, we were highly critical of Bernanke's statements to the effect that the economy was being saved by Fed policy statements -- the mere publication of the Fed's view of the economy is keeping the economy under control. I considered, and still consider, this claim by Bernanke to be extremely bizarre because it completely ignores fundamentals. The economy is controlled by economic fundamentals, not by words published by the Fed, no matter how enlightened and sagacious those words might be.

On Friday, March 11, Bernanke gave a speech to the Virginia Association of Economics, Richmond, Virginia, with the most bizarre claim of all: he's blaming America's huge public debt on a "global saving glut" in other countries:

Now I won't, in fact, claim that Bernanke isn't technically incorrect. After all, if someone borrows money through a credit card, then you can say it's the "fault" of the credit card company for issuing the card.

And if someone gets mugged while walking through New York's Central Park at 3 am, then the mugger can blame the guy who got mugged for doing something so stupid as walking through Central Park at 3 am.

Total credit market debt <font size=-2>(Source: PIMCO)</font>
Total credit market debt (Source: PIMCO)

But America's total public debt is astronomical, as the adjoining graph shows, and blaming it on nations issuing the credits is just a little too convenient. Let's face it: It's just plain bizarre, and it appears that Bernanke is in denial about what's really going on.

I normally avoid applying specific generational archetype attributes to specific people, because the archetypes are generalizations that don't hold for every individual of a generation, but it seems compelling in this case, so I'm going to go out on a limb.

Alan Greenspan, born in 1926, was in the generation that grew up during the Great Depression, and saw around all the horrors of bankruptcy, homelessless and starvation that the Depression caused. And this doesn't even mention the horrors of World War II.

Ben Bernanke, born in 1953, is the Baby Boomer generation that grew up after WW II, and knew absolutely nothing of those horrors. To people in this generation, America had beaten the Depression and beaten the Nazis, and it had been easy, and there had never been any doubt about the result.

The two generations represented by Greenspan and Bernanke, respectively, clashed in the massive riots and demonstrations caused by the "generation gap" of America in the 1960s. Greenspan's generation wanted to impose austere savings rules and fight Communism, to prevent any horrors like the Depression or WW II from every happening again. The kids in Bernanke's generation saw no need for austerity or for fighting Communism, and fought against it, forcing two Presidents (Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon) to leave office in disgrace. Today, the Boomer generational is viewed by many, especially the people in Generation X that followed the Boomers, as extremely arrogant. (Incidentally, I'm in the Boomer generation.)

As I look at Bernanke's picture, shown above, from his Princeton University web site, he gives me the appearance of nothing so much as a 1960's radical student, still rebelling against his parents. His words give the same impression.

While the elder Greenspan is expressing caution and alarm, the younger Bernanke is making one bizarre, wild statement after another. The 1960's "generation gap" is alive and well at the Fed.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley's chief economist Stephen Roach was quoted this weekend as saying that the Fed's near-zero interest policy has simply shifted the stock market bubble into other assets:

"Unlike the excesses in equities five years ago, today's bubble is more of an interest-rate and currency phenomenon - complete with extraordinary compressions of interest-rate spreads in notoriously risky asset classes such as emerging-market debt, high-yield securities and a broad array of credit instruments.

In my view, these bubbles are joined at the hip, with today's excesses very much an outgrowth of the post-equity-bubble defence tactics of America's Federal Reserve."

This precisely coincides with my view, as I've been expressing it on this web site. It's quite possible that Roach reached this view in the same way that I did, and it's possible that Greenspan has done the same.

In 2002, when I first began to predict that we're in a 1930s style Great Depression, I believed that stock prices would continue to fall fairly steadily, from Dow 8000 to Dow 7000 and so forth, down to Dow 3000 or so. This would be generally similar to how stocks performed after the 1929 crash.

Obviously that hasn't happened, but the underlying fundamentals haven't changed: Stocks are still overpriced by a factor of 2 or more, according to standard price/earnings ratio index values, and stocks have come nowhere near correcting the 1990s bubble. Thus, the final destination (Dow 3000) hasn't changed at all, but now it appears that we'll be taking a different route getting there.

As I wrote a couple of months ago, the scenario I now expect is the "tsunami scenario," where the market is overwhelmed by a full-fledged panic that crashes stocks in a day or two, too quickly for most investors to get out in time.

The recent rise in stock prices to Dow 11000 is extremely ominous, because it means stocks are getting increasingly overpriced, while the underlying fundamentals remain unchanged. In other words, the higher stocks go, the farther the fall will be. That's what Stephen Roach is saying, and that may even be what Alan Greenspan is trying to say, but without saying too much.

But there's still one person over at the Fed who believes that the old folks are crazy, that there's nothing to worry about, that words trump fundamentals, and that everyone else is to blame for any problems: That's the person who is currently most likely to replace Alan Greenspan as Fed Chairman, Fed Governor Ben Bernanke. (14-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Tony Blair wins passage of Britain's Prevention of Terrorism Law

Despite opponents' criticisms that the new law would be like America's Patriot Act, the British Parliament passed a new law targeted at Muslim extremists in Britain

The new law approves new government powers to order house arrest, impose curfews and electronic tagging of terror suspects without trial.

The law also provides for new "control orders" that allow the government to ban terror suspects from meeting certain people or traveling and to restrict their access to the Internet or telephone.

The bill was mired in bitter debate for several days.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said that national security must come before civil liberties considerations, and that the threat from Islamic extremists is unprecedented in its potential for harm. "There is one basic civil liberty, which is the right to life," he said.

Opponents decried the threatened loss of civil liberties. "We insist that the decision to impose a control order be a judicial decision made in accordance with due process and with necessary safeguards against injustices," said a leading opponent. "It is the perception of injustice . . . which may inflame communities and increase the danger of creating more terrorists than we can control either by imprisonment or by these orders."

The arguments mirrored the American debate over the Patriot Act, under which hundreds of Muslims were incarcerated after 9/11 for minor infractions of the law.

We've seen similar debates around the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf have both assumed extraordinary powers following terrorist attacks, with little opposition from the frightened members of the general public. In the Netherlands, the plan is to deport Muslims who can't pass a citizenship exam, and other European countries are also considering laws restricting Muslims.

This is typical of countries in a generational crisis period. A generational crisis period occurs roughly 60 years after the end of the previous crisis war (World War II in this case), when the generation of people who grew up during the crisis war all disappear (retire or die), all at the same time.

During a generational awakening period, like America in the 1960s and 1970s, the country moves in the direction of increased individual rights. During a crisis period, countries sacrifice individual rights in favor of national unity. We're at a unique time in history, when all the countries that fought in WW II are all entering generational crisis periods all at once, and all are increasingly passing laws emphasizing national unity over individual rights.

Other countries have gone even farther. North Korea has been mobilizing for war since last April to reunite North and South Korea under North Korean control, and has announced its intention to build nuclear missiles. China is rapidly building up its military capability for a war to reunite Taiwan with mainland China.

Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed soon for a new "clash of civilizations" world war. In country after country, we're seeing generational changes that are triggering ancient historical forces to swell toward increased nationalism and national survival. As people's positions harden and the level of political conflict rises, war is the inevitable result. (12-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Chechnya: Russian killing of rebel leader returns world's focus back to Caucasus

Terrorist Shamil Basayev may gain, as rebels select an obscure Islamic cleric to be their new leader, after their former leader, Aslan Maskhadov, was killed on Tuesday.

Troubled areas in Caucasus region - including North Ossetia and Chechnya
Troubled areas in Caucasus region - including North Ossetia and Chechnya

For several months, the world's attention has been elsewhere -- Lebanon, Korea, the tsunami, Darfur, and Michael Jackson. This killing has refocused the world's attention on the Caucasus region, with several troubled areas.

Maskhadov was considered by many to be a moderate rebel leader in the ten-year-old Chechen war with Russia. Whenever American or European governments criticized Russian president Vladimir Putin for not negotiating with the Chechens, they meant negotiating with Maskhadov.

Now, with Maskhadov gone, many commentators are saying that any hopes for peace in Chechnya are gone with him. The Russians themselves are calling the killing a victory that will demoralize the terrorists.

Very little is known about Islamic cleric Abdul-Khalim Saidullayev, who was selected as the new rebel leader. It's not even certain that he's a native Chechen, as some have claimed that he's from Saudi Arabia and a proponent of the radical Islamist Wahabbi sect.

The main concern is that the change in leadership will give new power to terrorist Shamil Basayev, the Chechen terrorist who masterminded the September, 2004, massacre of 300 people, including 156 children, in the Beslan, North Ossetia, school massacre. The latter was only of three major terrorist acts in ten days, including the bombing of two airplanes in flight and a subway bombing in Moscow, all masterminded by Basayev.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the analysis of this situation is as follows:

Generational Dynamics predicts that there'll be a new major regional war in the Caucasus region, replaying the genocidal wars that occurred in the 1920s-40s in that region.

The killing of Maskhadov and the selection of Saidullayev are chaotic (in the sense of Chaos Theory) political events, two of millions that occur every day. Although the these millions of events have seeming random effects, there is a "attractor trend" that "attracts" random chaotic events to be more likely to follow the trend. The attractor trend, in this case, is the major war that we described in the last paragraph.

Thus Generational Dynamics tells us that these events are move likely to move the region toward war rather than away from war. That result isn't a certainty, just as you might have a heat wave in November in New York City, where the "attractor trend" in that case is the cold temperaturs of winter. But the chances are that these events will be one new step toward the war.

For people who are interested in more information about how this kind of forecasting works, read Chapter 4, "Chaos Theory and Generational Forecasting" in the online text of my new book, Generational Dynamics for Historians. (11-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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US urges China to rethink passage of "anti-secession" law

Taiwan threatens mass counter-demonstrations as China reveals more of the anti-secession law, scheduled for passage next week, targeted at preventing Taiwan from moving to independence.

"If possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ nonpeaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity," said one Beijing official.

China's proposed anti-secession law authorizes China to attack if Taiwan moves toward formal independence, though the law doesn't specify what actions might invite an attack.

The White House condemned the law and said it "[opposes] any attempts to determine the future of Taiwan by anything other than peaceful means."

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council issued a written statement: "This law exposes China's plot to impose armed force to swallow up Taiwan. In essence, it has handed its military a blank check to unleash force against Taiwan."

China has still not revealed all the details of the law, and the leaders of Taiwan's ruling party have vowed to stage a mass demonstration in any of three cases: if the anti-secession law imposes penalties on Taiwan people, or leads to changes to the status quo across the strait, or damages Taiwan's basic national interests.

What strikes me about the situation is that there's something new every day that raises the level of confrontation in the region, because of something said or done by Taiwan, China, North Korea, South Korea or Japan.

The phrase that I'm using more and more in these situations is that all of these countries are "looking for reasons to confront," while even a year or two ago, they were "looking for reasons to compromise."

The reason that the anti-secession law is so significant is that it provides a legal framework for a Chinese attack on Taiwan. It's rare for a country, even with the most venal intentions, to go to war without providing a legal justification. Even Hitler did so. It's very unlikely that Beijing would consider such a law without planning to use it.

Taiwan's separation from mainland China in the civil war that ended in 1949 has always been a major thorn in China's side, but the country has always been too weak to do anything about it, since Taiwan and American have a mutual security agreement. Now, China and Taiwan are entering a "generational crisis" period, thanks to the fact that the kids who grew up during the genocidal civil war of the 1940s are all disappearing (retiring or dying), all at once. With younger generations now in charge, there is little desire on either side (or on America's side, for that matter) to compromise. That's why these countries are "looking for reasons to confront," rather than compromise, and why the level of conflict is increasing.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both China and North Korea are mobilizing for war. Taiwan is not yet doing so, but the anti-secession law may provoke Taiwan into mobilizing for war as well.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be major regional wars to reunite North and South Korea, to reunite Taiwan with China, and to give China and Korea revenge for Japan's actions in World War II. The statements we've seen recently have been getting increasingly ominous. China and North Korea are becoming increasingly militaristic, and are mobilizing for war. 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. (09-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Hundreds of thousands rally in Lebanon, morphing freedom movement to anti-Israeli protest

Hezbollah militia sponsors pro-Syrian rally dwarfing the previous opposition protests asking Syria to leave.

Last week, thousands or tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrated peacefully to demand Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon after 30 years. These demonstrations have united America, France, and even several Arab governments in calling for Syria's withdrawal by May.

However, hundreds of thousands demonstrated in yesterday's pro-Syria rally. This significantly changes the picture.

Generational Dynamics focuses on the beliefs and actions of large masses of people, not on the words or deeds of any politician or group of politicians. That's why the two demonstrations, taken together, represent a major turning point in Middle Eastern politics.

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

To sort out what's going on, we have to understand the adjoining map.

Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey were formed after WW I from the remains of the (Muslim) Ottoman empire. Generational Dynamics predicts that countries fight new crisis wars in 70-90 year cycles, and these four countries have all had new crisis wars, including the Lebanon-Syrian war that began in 1976.

That means that all four of these countries are in generational "awakening" periods, which are times of political conflict. But as I've been saying for two years, a new civil war in Iraq is impossible, and now I'm saying that a new Lebanon-Syria war is almost impossible. What is likely is large, mostly non-violent public demonstrations, such as happened in America in the sixties.

So people who are talking about an "explosion of democracy" in these countries don't understand that the reason that countries are really seeing fairly standard awakening-type events. I just wish some of our politicians understood some of this.

The situation is complicated because adjoining countries are on different timelines. Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan and Saudia Arabia are all in generational crisis periods, in most cases because of the genocidal Arab-Jewish war of the late 1940s.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the 1940s genocidal war will be refought within the next few years, in a new Mideast war that will engulf the entire region. As with most Generational Dynamics predictions, we know the final destination, but we don't know what path we'll take to get there.

It's possible that the situation in Lebanon will simply simmer down. But if the political situation keeps escalating, then it will have consequences.

As we said last week, the withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon is going to leave a political vacuum that may well suck in some of the crisis-level conflict from next door.

This is not exactly a stretch. A lot of the car bombing and other insurgency in Iraq is directly related to the war-ready Palestinian terrorists in Jordan.

Today's overwhelming public response to Hezbollah's call for support for Syria shows that the vacuum we discussed is going to be filled by Hezbollah, resulting in significant changes for the region.

Hezbollah is a Shi'ite militia organization funded by Syria and Iran. Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayid Hassan Nasrallah has openly stated his belief in using suicide bombings against Israel. Nasrallah and Hezbollah became greatly respected in 2000 in the Arab world when their use of suicide attacks forced Israel to withdraw its forces unilaterally from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Nasrallah himself claims that this was a major victory against "the Zionists," has also said that he can use suicide attacks to force Israel to leave the entire region.

Hezbollah's power and influence may expand considerably now, if Syria withdraws from Lebanon. The unexpectedly massive turnout yesterday can only be addictive Nasrallah, and lead him to believe that he can succeed in his program against Israel.

Thus, we don't know the scenario that's going to lead us to a new Mideast war, but it may well be Hezbollah is going to play a much larger part than it has before. (09-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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China's new "anti-secession" law infuriates Taiwan

15,000 protest new law which provides legal justification for Chinese invasion of Taiwan

in case of any Taiwanese moves towards independence from China.

The exact text of the new proposed law won't be revealed for a few days, but it "reflects the strong determination of the Chinese people to never allow secessionist forces working for Taiwan to separate Taiwan from China", according to a Saturday speech by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

At the same conference, Beijing denounced a Japan-US security agreement, say, "Any part of putting Taiwan directly or indirectly into the scope of Japan-US security co-operation constitutes an encroachment on China's sovereignty and an interference in China's internal affairs." This repeated a denunciation that we discussed several weeks ago, of a joint statement by Japan and America that security in the Taiwan Strait is a "common strategic objective."

And, as if that weren't enough, on Monday China warned Australia not to honor its 50-year old security agreement with America.

These new warnings came just after China announced a 12.6% military budget increase. China already has the world's largest standing army, the People's Liberation Army, with 2.3 million people.

American intelligence agencies have revealed that China has been rapidly building up its military assault forces, including amphibious ships capable of ferrying troops and tanks from mainland China to Taiwan.

Ironically, China's series of combative steps comes just after Taiwan President President Chen Shui-bian has been increasingly conciliatory. Just last week he reaffirmed the "five noes":

However, many Taiwanese feel that Chen, who has long favored Taiwan independence, is exhibiting weakness in making such remarks.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, China's moves constitute a continuing mobilization for war. Generational Dynamics predicts that the genocidal civil war that began in 1934 with Mao Zedong's "Long March," and ended when Mao's enemy, Chiang Kai-shek, fled with his troops to Taiwan, will be refought in the next few years, with a full-scale regional war that will involve America.

Like North Korea, China has been making a series of provocative moves that are historically typical of countries that are planning preemptive wars. China's rapid military buildup is clearly in preparation for a war to reunite Taiwan with the mainland, and the anti-secession law is China's method for justifiying a preemptive attack legally.

As in the case of North Korea, we know with near 100% certainty that a war is coming, but we don't know whether Beijing has a "date certain" for a preemptive attack, or is waiting for some other event to trigger an attack. (08-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Generational Dynamics for Historians -- Chapter 7 has been rewritten

The entire text of the current draft of the new book can be found online at

The new chapter contains some brand new analysis for people interested in evolution. Darwin's theory of evolution describes how individuals use natural selection (survival of the fittest), but provides no clue whatsoever how intelligence evolved in human beings.

The new chapter is an addition to the theory of evolution, and shows how Generational Dynamics provides an explanation for the evolution of intelligent species, and makes some speculation about intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe. (07-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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A little humor

Why is there a picture of a pretty girl in Taiwanese men's rooms?

Public toilets in Hsiulin Township, Taiwan, use this photo of Lin Chi-ling over the urinals to get men to lean closer.

Lin Chi-ling <font size=-2>(Source: Taipei Times)</font>
Lin Chi-ling (Source: Taipei Times)

(06-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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North Korea announces that it will resume testing missiles

North Korea continues its war mobilization begun a year ago, when President Kim Jong-il ordered the military, the Workers' Party and all officials to assume wartime readiness.

On Thursday, North Korea that it was no longer bound by a 1999 moratorium on missile testing, and that it would resume testing.

This follows a February 10 announcement that it already had nuclear weapons and would pull out of the nuclear non-proliferation talks.

For reasons I explained at length at the time, Kim appears to be preparing a pre-emptive war to reunite Korea by force under his control, and also avenge Japan's treatment of Korea prior to and during World War II.

The announcement that it will resume missile testing further ratchets up the tension and brings Kim's war mobilization one step further. The only thing we don't know at this time is whether Kim has already chosen a "date certain" for the preemptive strike, or whether he's waiting for a triggering event or further preparation.

We really have no way of knowing exactly what's going on in North Korea on a day to day basis, but yesterday we learned that next week's March 9 meeting of the the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's legislature, has been indefinitely postponed.

What does that mean? It could mean that Kim has a cold. It could mean that the meeting hall is being repainted. Or it could be related to plans for a preemptive strike. We have no way of knowing what's going on in Kim's life.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be major regional wars to reunite North and South Korea, to reunite Taiwan with China, and to give China and Korea revenge for Japan's actions in World War II. The statements we've seen recently have been getting increasingly ominous. China and North Korea are becoming increasingly militaristic, and are mobilizing for war. 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. (04-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Syria is suddenly the least popular country in the world

Even France and America are united in demanding Syria's pullout from Lebanon.

As tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrate for free elections and force the collapse of the Syrian-puppet government, people around the world are asking themsleves, "Gee. What if George Bush was right, and invading Iraq does bring democracy to all the countries in the Mideast?" This speculation only increased when Egypt also moved in the direction of free elections.

I wish it were so, but as readers of this web site know, Generational Dynamics predicts a major regional war between Arabs and Jews within the next few years, so the hoped-for string of Mideast democracies is not in the cards.

Still, the rapidly swelling worldwide political pressure on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon is remarkable to behold, and it's useful to speculate on what will happen next.

There are many things that Generational Dynamics can predict with a great deal of certainty, but whether or not Syria will withdraw from Lebanon is not one of them. This is a purely political and chaotic (in the sense of Chaos Theory) event, and day-to-day events could move the withdrawal decision in either direction.

If you want to try to "read" Syria by comparing their situation to something in America, you might compare it to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when President Kennedy used political pressure to force Russia to remove missles from Cuba.

The two events are comparable not because their details are the same, but because the two events occur at similar times in the generational cycle. They're both big international political crises occurring about one generation after the end of the previous crisis war: World War II for America, and the Syria-Lebanon war for Syria.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be like President Kennedy in the following sense: He will have vivid memories of the horrors of the crisis war, and will be seeking a political solution which will guarantee that no such war will ever happen again. Assad will be firm and resolute in his political decisions. He will avoid a war if possible, and if a war becomes necessary then the people will generally not support it -- at least not for long.

Syria's increasing political isolation comes from a perfect storm of events. America has been accusing Syria of funding suicide bomber insurgents in Iraq, and funding anti-Israeli terrorism by the Hizbollah militia in Lebanon. But then beloved former prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed by a suicide bomber in Beirut two weeks ago, and the Lebanese people en masse blamed the bombing on Syria. Then there was the massive Tel Aviv nightclub bombing last week, and Israel and a lot of other people are blaming Syria for that too.

Assad undoubtedly blames the presence of Israel for the Lebanon/Syria crisis war. Syria's occupation of Lebanon thus fulfills several strategic goals: It keeps the conflict level between the two countries under control, and also puts pressure on Israel. Assad will thus go to the brink to avoid having to withdraw from Lebanon.

This is going to infuriate the Lebanese people, and bring hostile international criticism on Syria.

The real danger is that all this political turmoil will ignite violence in neighboring Palestine. The situation in Lebanon is very, very far from resolution. (03-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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Japan blocks most North Korean ships from its ports

The Japanese, infuriated by North Korean abductions in the 1970s, is imposing a "pollution insurance," effective today on large ships entering Japanese harbors.

Although North Korea is not mentioned in the law, its clear intention is to impose economic sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the of ten or twenty Japanese citizens in the 1970s.

 Megumi Yokota pictured before her abduction in 1977 <font size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Megumi Yokota pictured before her abduction in 1977 (Source: BBC)

The Japanese are particularly infuriated over Megumi Yokota who was just 12 years old when the Koreans abducted her on a Japanese beach. Japan has demanded return of the abductees' remains, and tensions skyrocketed in December when DNA tests on the bones returned by Korea turned out to be two people, neither of the Yokota.

Two weeks ago, when North Korea pulled out of nuclear non-proliferation talks and announced that it already had nuclear weapons, tensions in the region began to increase on an almost daily basis, and it appeared that North Korean President Kim Jong-il was headed for pre-emptive war.

Last week, it was revealed that Kim's reason for pulling out of the talks was Japan's insistence on discussing the abductions. North Korea relieved tensions a bit, by expressing a willingness to return to the talks on the condition that the abductions be excluded.

North Korea has repeatedly said that any economic sanctions directed at them would be considered an "act of war," echoing Japanese actions in the 1930s, when economic sanctions against Japan eventually led to Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor.

But Japan has been applying sanctions without calling them sanctions. It has already shut down the practice of allowing Koreans living in Japan from sending cash back to their relatives in Korea.

Generational Dynamics predicts that there will be major regional wars to reunite North and South Korea, to reunite Taiwan with China, and to give China and Korea revenge for Japan's actions in World War II. The statements we've seen recently have been getting increasingly ominous. China and North Korea are becoming increasingly militaristic, and are mobilizing for war. 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. (01-Mar-05) Permanent Link
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