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


Web Log - September, 2006


Bob Woodward says that Iraq insurgency will get worse in 2007

It should be no surprise to readers of this web site that it's Woodward who's in a "State of Denial"

In his new book, State of Denial, the big bombshell is that the Iraqi insurgency is getting worse, and that it's spreading throughout the Mideast.

This should not be a surprise to any regular reader of this web site.

On August 19, 2003, right after the terrorist bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, I wrote an article describing the possible scenarios where Iraq was going.

In that article, I was explaining that an Iraqi uprising against the American "occupiers" would not happen, because Iraq is in a generational awakening era, since we're just one generation past the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s.

Here's what I wrote in August, 2003:

"That's why you're seeing massive riots and demonstrations among the Shi'ites in southern Iraq, but you're not seeing massive violence against the American occupiers. There's no "Tet offensive" and no Vietnam-like "quagmire" in the cards for the Americans.

Terrorist acts during this period can thus have the effect of backfiring against the terrorists. The young people taking part in massive demonstrations and riots sometimes take a deep breath and say, "Whoa! This is farther than we wanted to go." The result is that public opinion begins to turn against the terrorists rather than (in this case) the Americans.

That's not to say there aren't dangers, and here we'll point out two major ones:

First, the terrorist attacks may continue and get worse. Terrorism is more a political technique rather than a military technique. Al Qaeda may succeed in increasing the level of terrorist attacks in order to influence American public opinion.

And second, the terrorist acts may presage a larger regional war involving the Palestinian Arabs and the al Qaeda against Americans in Iraq. Iraq is in an awakening period, but the Palestine region is just about to enter a crisis period. Some analysts claim that the terrorist acts are being perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs and "Mujahadeen" being paid thousands of dollars each, funded by Saddam and Osama bin Laden, arriving from Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The really dangerous scenario is that large numbers of Palestinian and "mujahadeen" terrorists will be motivated by identity group relationships to move into Iraq as a theatre of war against the Americans. That isn't happening now, but it's one of several possible scenarios that may unfold in the Mideast region during the next few months and years."

Nobody else was predicting anything like this in 2003. I predicted it, based on the principles of Generational Dynamics, and it turned out to be absolutely right.

Here's what Bob Woodward is saying in his book and will say on Sunday's 60 Minutes, according to a release by CBS News:

Of course this whole thing is buried in political silliness. Bloody insurgent attacks in Iraq lead the news every day, and any American who doesn't know that the insurgency is getting worse is completely oblivious.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

But if you strip off the political nonsense, Woodward is absolutely right. It's what I said in 2003, but Woodward and other journalists don't want to face up to what's really going on:

We should be preparing for that war, but Woodward and all other journalists are sunk so deep in political shit that they're all in a "state of denial." The same is true of all the Washington politicians of both parties, who seem to get stupider and stupider every day. Just about the only person left in Washington that I trust to know what's actually going on in the world is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who was born in 1932, and is in the Silent Generation. As I've said many times, I dread the day when Rumsfeld is replaced by someone from the Boomer generation or Generation-X, since no one in those generations in either party will have a clue what to do.

While we're discussing this, let's note that there was a leak this past week of a confidential document called the "National Intelligence Estimate." Following the leak, the "key judgments" of the document have been declassified.

Some of the key judgments are as follows:

All of this is true, and all of it is feeding into the rising tide of violence throughout the region. But the important thing is that this is a trend that's been going on for decades. Islamist extremists have been conducting an increasing pattern of attacks against America since the 1970s. It's true that Iraq has become a cause célèbre, but it's only the latest in a whole line of causes célèbres that have motivated Islamists, things that have included support for the Shah of Iran and the the use of American bases in Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries. Recently, the Danish cartoon controversy has become a cause célèbre for jihadists. But the main cause célèbre was then and is today American support of Israel.

While we're at this, there was one more bit of news on Friday.

State Department terrorism expert Frank Urbancic testified to Congress that Hezbollah is a capable terrorist organization with a growing reach.

"Hezbollah has supported terrorist activities in the Palestinian territories since at least 2000, by providing financial, training and logistical support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terrorist groups," he said.

Hezbollah has been particularly successful in linking up with Palestinian terrorist groups, and it's expanding its links into Central and South America. "We could think of it perhaps as almost an octopus, with its head in southern Lebanon and tentacles moving around the world," he said.

What we see is a rising tide of violence around the world, a rising tide that's been growing exponentially for decades. It takes a complete idiot to think that this began with the Iraq war in 2003, but there are plenty of idiots in Washington and in the press.

State of Denial is a great title for Bob Woodward's new book, but unfortunately the phrase applies to Woodward himself, as well as to everyone else in Washington (Rumsfeld, hopefully, being an exception), because none of them want to face up to what's happening. (30-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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New Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe represents "hawkish" generational change

He's sure to infuriate the Chinese and Koreans.

On Tuesday, Shinzo Abe was elected by the Diet (Parliament) in Tokyo to succeed Junichiro Koizumi as Prime Minister. Abe is just 52 years old, and is the first PM born after World War II.

Newly elected Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe, right, and his predecessor, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi applauding <font size=-2>(Source: AP)</font>
Newly elected Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe, right, and his predecessor, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi applauding (Source: AP)

Pundits are characterizing him as possibly the most hawkish prime minister since the Second World War.

This is not surprising. I wrote an article last year explaining how generational changes are affecting Japan and China. Japanese who lived through the horrors of World War II and survived it are far more willing to compromise and contain problems; those born after the war, like America's Baby Boomer generation, are more arrogant and confrontational. That's the generation that Shinzo Abe is in.

Even more, Abe's family has a strong Japanese nationalist tradition. his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, was a wartime cabinet minister later imprisoned as a class-A war-crimes suspect. By 1957 had become prime minister. Shinzo Abe has expressed doubts about the conventional views of Japan's aggression during World War II, and about the validity of the postwar war crimes trials.

Although Abe has pledged to improve international relations with China and Korea, his attitudes towards World War II are certain to infuriate the Chinese and Koreans.

The Chinese have lodged strong objections against former PM Junichiro Koizumi for his visits to a war shrine and for Japanese textbooks that allegedly play down Japan's role in the war.

Abe's attitudes appear to combine everything that the Chinese have objected to in one person. This is certain to make relations worse. And Abe himself has already announced plans to beef up Japan's military defense, and to amend the post-war constitution forbidding declarations of war.

All this comes at time when the people of Japan and China increasingly dislike and distrust each other, according to a new report by Pew Research.

According to the report:

"[R]oughly seven-in-ten Japanese express an unfavorable view of China and an equal number of Chinese dislike Japan. ...

Anxiety about the growing strength of China's military is nearly universal in Japan. That concern is shared with others among China's neighbors - large majorities in both Russia and India see this as a threatening trend. The Chinese, however, have a very different view: 95% say their rising military might is a good thing.

In China, much of the antipathy toward Japan is rooted in history - overwhelmingly, the Chinese believe Japan has yet to atone for its militaristic past. Eight-in-ten Chinese (81%) believe Japan has not apologized sufficiently for its military actions during the 1930s and 1940s. ...

Moreover, the Chinese and Japanese tend to associate negative characteristics with the people of the other country. In particular, both countries consider the other competitive, greedy, and arrogant. The Japanese are especially likely to say the Chinese are nationalistic and selfish, while the Chinese tend to see the Japanese as male-dominated."

As we say repeatedly on this web site, the attitudes and behaviors of one person or one group of politicians makes little difference to Generational Dynamics; what matters is the attitudes and behaviors of large masses of people, since changes almost always go along with generational changes.

Thus, this nationalist world view of Shinzo Abe alone doesn't matter much, but his election will serve as a symbol to both the Japanese and the Chinese that Japan's population is moving even farther away from the Chinese than before. (Compare this with the item below on the loathing between Palestinians and Israelis.)

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Japan and China are heading for war with 100% certainty. As the generation of people who grew up during and have personal memory of the horrors of World War II all retire or die, the younger generations will increasingly reject compromise and containment of problems, and adopt solutions involving confrontation. (27-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Level of loathing between Israelis and Palestinians increases

According to an online correspondent with contacts in the Israeli government, Israeli's strategy will "probably take the form of the ethnic cleansing of the entire West Bank, an idea that already has a vocal constituency and which, I have been told, the Israeli government has discussed from time to time."

This is the kind of change of attitude that I would be expecting, and that's the reason I'm quoting the correspondent, even though I don't have a mainstream media source to confirm it.

There's always been a vocal minority of Palestinians talking about exterminating Israelis, and this kind of speech has become much more vocal thanks to Iranian Presidentis Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stated objectives, supported by Hizbollah leader Hasran Nasrallah, to "wipe Israel off the map."

Hearing the same kind of thing from the Israeli side is a new development. However, it's exactly what would be expected during a generational crisis era as the two sides approach a major genocidal war. In order for two groups to reach the point where they would try to exterminate each other, the level of loathing and the desire for vengeance have to become exceedingly intense, and we see that happening.

When Ehud Olmert won the election for Israeli Prime Minister earlier this year, it was on a platform of "convergence" (the Hebrew word also means "consolidation"). This meant that Israel would close most of its West Bank settlements, drawing them back into groups within Israel, and that Israel Israel, and will complete the security fence/barrier, thus unilaterally defining Israel's borders.

Olmert's plan is now demolished. The Lebanon war made it clear to everyone that the security fence provides no real protection. The Israeli population is increasingly anxious and frightened. It's not surprising that more and more Israelis are looking for another solution.

On the Palestinian side, things are also very bad. It's now been about ten months since international aid was cut off to the Palestinians, following the electorial victor of Hamas, named a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe. Living conditions in Gaza continue to deteriorate rapidly; unemployment is up to 75%, and Israel has blocked all travel in and out for security reasons. It's not surprising that more and more Palestinians, and Arabs in general, are looking for a solution.

Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza last year has clearly been a disaster for both sides. Remember what was supposed to happen -- a flowering of commerce and freedom in Gaza, leading to a Palestinian state next to Israel. Instead, Gaza has deteriorated into chaos, and Hamas' use of missiles threatens Israel continually, with or without the security fence.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the open expressions of loathing and desire for vengeance is growing on both sides because of generational changes. Until recently, much of the population on both sides consisted of the generations of people that survived the extremely genocidal 1948 war between Arabs and Jews that began when Palestine was partitioned and Israel was created. Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon were in that generation. But today those people are almost all gone, and the young people left behind have no fear of genocidal war, and will lead the way.

Let by young people, Israeli and Palestinian voters have elected a candidate who promised to solve the problem, but failed to do so.

There's a very interesting parallel on both sides:

Anxious, furious people on both sides are looking for someone who can solve the problem -- and they don't care how. And a sizable minority hold their current leaders, Olmert for the Israelis and Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas for the Palestinians, in extreme contempt. This parallels how a sizable minority in the U.S. hold President Bush in extreme contempt.

The voters in Nazi Germany held their existing leaders in extreme contempt, and chose Hitler, someone who promised to solve the "Jewish problem," without saying how. By voting in that way, the voters avoid personal responsibility; they can say, "I'm voting to solve a problem, not to kill someone."

It's impossible to predict the exact scenario that will lead to war, but it's possible that the Israelis or the Palestinians or both will follow a similar example: Elect or otherwise choose someone who'll promise to fix the "Palestinian / Israel problem," without necessarily saying how he plans to do it.

I've been asking people this question lately: What do you think is the probability that Israel will still exist ten years from now? I haven't heard anyone yet give me a convincing argument that the probability is much above zero. (27-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Following the real estate bubble, the commodity bubble appears to be deflating

As real estate prices collapse, prices of oil, copper, sugar and other commodities reverse four years of record price increases.

Most mainstream economists are predicting slower economic growth in America, China and Japan, and many are predicting a recession. Slower economic growth means lower demand for basic materials, which is why investors are selling off commodities.

So far there's been only one major announced casualty: The hedge fund company Amaranth Advisors LLC, which had been managing $9.5 billion in investors funds just a month ago, has lost $6 billion.

The word "hedge fund" is a catch-all name for a variety of different kinds of investments that permit you to "bet" that something is going to happen or not happen. For example, if you're a sophisticated investor, you can find hedge funds that "bet" that the weather will be good, the weather will be bad, that gold prices will go up or that gold prices will go down.

Well, Amaranth bet billions of dollars that the price of natural gas would continue going up. With the collapse in commodity prices the last few weeks, the price of natural gas has gone down substantially, causing Amaranth to lose 65% of its investments -- and thus 65% of its clients' money. From this point on, the only people making money will be the lawyers.

Stephen Roach, chief economist at international investment firm Morgan Stanley, gives three reasons for the fall of commodity prices:

There is another side to this. Some analysts claim that commodity prices are experiencing a "super-cycle," that the current brief troubles will past, and that prices will then continue to rise.

Merrill Lynch is promoting the "super-cycle" view. According to Merrill Lynch analyst David hall, commodities prices will strengthen in the next couple of months on a rebound in Chinese demand, especially in copper, fears of further strikes at mines and renewed demand as the northern hemisphere countries ended their summer holidays.

Andy Xie, Stephen Roach's associate at Morgan Stanley, argues very strongly that the commodities bubble is not about to burst.

"The commodity markets are currently experiencing an optical illusion," he says, and adds, "The talk of a collapse in metal prices is even more absurd, in my view."

He agrees that there's been a commodity bubble for four years, but says, "If the bubble were bursting, prices would fall below historical averages, i.e., metal prices could drop by 75% from current levels."

I can only quote views like this for so long without commenting. This is truly moronic. Commodities prices have been falling for only a few weeks, and they've fallen 10-15% in that time. The fact that they haven't fallen 75% yet is no reason to conclude that they won't; the 1929 stock market crash didn't bottom out for four full years, for example.

When Xie says that "Commodity price decouples from demand," he means the same thing as the Roach's third reason, given above, but he draws the wrong conclusion.

"Until three years ago, Chinese demand was probably the driver of commodity prices," he says. "But the flood of financial investment in the commodity market in late 2003 changed the dynamic. The total amount of financial investment in the commodity market could be four times China’s total annual imports. The financial factor has overshadowed the China factor. China has become an excuse for money to flow into the market."

In other words, commodity prices haven't spiked because manufacturers are demanding them; they're spiking because investors have been pouring money into the commodity market.

Well Andy, that's exactly what a bubble is. And if investors can pour money into a market, they can pull it out.

And here's the dumbest remark of all: "The number of financial professionals in the commodity sector may have increased by 10 times in the past five years. As long as these numbers remain, commodity prices will remain high because they will have to talk up prices to keep their businesses functioning."

Xie is saying that a bubble can be prevented by talking. This is the nonsense that I criticized Ben Bernanke for before he became Fed Chairman.

His belief, as laid out in a speech he made on October 7, 2004, that the Fed strongly influences the stock and bond markets merely by publishing the Open Market Committee minutes earlier and more often. In other words, fundamentals aren't important; only jawboning is.

This kind of reasoning exposes the ridiculous direction that today's top "experts" in macroeconomics have gone. The treat the stock market or the commodities market as a pyramid scheme, where the price keeps going up as long as you can find a "greater fool" to purchase from you.

Today's stock market is at about Dow 11500. What should this value be? What's the "real" value of the stock market today? You can believe either of two things: That the "real" value of the stock market is whatever investors are willing to pay; or that the "real" value of the stock market depends on the values of the underlying companies.

If you believe that it's whatever investors will pay, then why not Dow 20000, or Dow 100000, or Dow 1 million? What difference does it make? And if it can be down Dow 20000, then it could also be Dow 2000 or Dow 1000. Investing in the stock market is just a crap shoot.

If you believe that the "real" value of the stock market depends on the value of the underlying companies, then there's no question what its value is: The stock market is worth Dow 4500-5000; it's overpriced by 200%, same as in 1929.

This same reasoning applies to commodities, only more so. Xie himself points out, "For example, pension funds are buying commodities. They are essentially buying items like copper to be warehoused for future sales to China at higher prices."

So here's what Xie is saying: Pension fund investors are spending money to warehouse overpriced copper that nobody needs, in the hope that China will buy it later at even higher prices. And this is one of the reasons that Xie gives why the bubble WON'T burst. Is he nuts?

Xie also gives one more interesting statistic: "In the past five years, the funds flow into commodities was possibly equal to three or four times China’s total annual demand for commodities. Financial demand has simply overwhelmed real demand in price determination."

What this means is that the commodities bubble is HUGE and that there must be a LOT of warehoused copper, hoping it will be sold to China later. At some point, some investor is going to say, "I need some money, so I'm going to sell off this copper at a lower price," and with so much copper warehoused, there will be round after round of this. That has to happen sometime. Oh wait, it's already started happening.

One of Xie's conclusions: "The current cycle resembles the boom-burst cycles of the nineteenth century. The difference now is that the financial system is very sophisticated in taking risks."

It's hard to know how to respond to such silliness. I guess the best response is the old saying: Pride goeth before the fall.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the various bubbles, including the real estate bubble, the credit bubble, the commodities bubble, and China's entire economy, have been generated by the zero or near-zero interest rates earlier in this decade in America, Japan and China. Those bubbles are now coming undone, and corporate earnings in many sectors are being affected.

Generational Dynamics has been predicting since 2002 that we're entering a new 1930s style Great Depression, with a stock market crash most likely by the 2006-2007 time frame. This could happen next week, next month, next year or after that, but the collapse of these bubbles indicates that the time is probably sooner rather than later. (23-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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General John Abizaid says there'll be no troop cutbacks in Iraq

This is hardly a surprise to me, though not for the reasons most people give.

General John Abizaid, the top American commander in Iraq, said that the 140,000 American troops now in Iraq will still be needed after this year. This is a change in policy, since American commanders had previously said they expected to reduce the troop commitment by the end of this year.

Abizaid also said that Iran is continuing to develop new weapons and make them available to terrorist groups in the region.

As regular readers know, Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a "clash of civilizations" world war. And as I discussed in yesterday's articles on Awakening eras in America and in Muslim countries, Palestine and Israel will certainly be an epicenter of that war.

The level of conflict in the entire Mideast region has been growing steadily for several years, since the Intifada began in the West Bank in 2000. Palestinians have become increasingly radicalized, al-Qaeda is linking up with other terrorist groups, the Taliban is resurging in Afghanistan, and sectarian violence has been increasing in Iraq.

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

There's still no chance of a civil war in Iraq, but Iraq is still geographically located in the center of all this terrorist activity, so it's not surprising that the level of conflict has been growing in Iraq.

From a long-range point of view, it wouldn't make sense to close down Iraqi outposts and remove troops and equipment now, since approaching events would only require us to bring them back.

Despite the journalistic and political hysteria over the war in Iraq, it's far from clear that the war in Iraq is a bad for America at this time. Our presence there is giving us a great deal of valuable field experience in the use of high-tech weaponry, and that will give us a unique advantage in the coming world war. Furthermore, we know for certain that, without Saddam, Iraq won't be developing any more chemical or biological weapons for use against Israelis and Americans.

The "clash of civilizations" world war has already begun, in the sense that historians will certainly look back at the Afghan, Iraq and Lebanese war as early skimishes in the world war. Whether our experience in Iraq will turn out to have been valuable to us will not be known for at least another ten years.

In the meantime, my expectation is that American troops will be in Iraq and the Mideast until the end of the world war. (19-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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How to control terrorism: Legalize prostitution!

According to Igor Shpektor, the mayor of Vorkuta, Russia, terrorist men need another way to pass the time.

"Legalising prostitution would give men an opportunity within the law to address their emotions sexually with a provided service rather than expressing them in the form of xenophobia and extremism," said Shpektor, Ananova reported.

"All the women providing the service would of course receive full state protection and a full pension," he added.

Sounds like a good deal.

Just in case anybody reading this is unsure, let me assure you that Generational Dynamics predicts that legalizing or not legalizing prostitution will not have any measurable effect on terrorism. (16-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Algerian terrorist group GSPC joins al-Qaeda and threatens France

They consider themselves "one stone in building the coming Islamic nation," according to the announcement posted on their web site.

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is an Islamist terrorist group in Algeria aiming to overthrow the Algerian government and replace it with an Islamist state.

For France, GSPC was already considered a major terrorist threat anyway. Terrorist threats have gone up in France since last fall, when young Muslims rioted and demonstrated in massive numbers in the Paris suburbs last November.

But al-Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also announced the "blessed union" in a video posted this week on the Internet to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

"All the praise is due to Allah for the blessed union which we ask Allah to be as a bone in the throats of the Americans and French crusaders and their allies, and inspire distress, concern and dejection in the hearts of the traitorous, apostate sons of France," said al-Zawahiri. "We ask him to guide our brothers in the Salafist Group for Call and Combat to crush the pillars of the crusader alliance, especially their elderly immoral leader, America."

Al-Zawahiri's message this week also threatened the French-led United Nations buffer zone forces (Unifil) in Lebanon as “enemies of Islam.” Intelligence sources indicate that number al-Qaeda cells are operating in Lebanon, preparing for an attack.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is part of a continuing process of "identity group" formation. We wrote about this in February with respect to the Danish cartoon controversy, where the publication of the Danish cartoons of Mohammed generated worldwide riots and demonstrations by Muslims, causing Muslim groups around the world to identify with each other.

Since then we've seen further links between al-Qaeda and groups stretching from southeast Asia to Egypt, and now to west Africa.

Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a "clash of civilizations" world war but, as usual, tells us the final destination, but not now how we'll get there.

The spread of al-Qaeda identity groups throughout the world illuminates one likely component of the scenario that will get us there. Al-Qaeda's primary goal has always been to establish Islamist states, overthrowing moderate Muslim states when necessary. That's what the phrase, "one stone in building the coming Islamic nation," quoted above, means. Thus, al-Qaeda's rise is actually part of internecine battle within the Sunni Muslim community worldwide.

This internecine Sunni component will occur in addition to the other components we've previously discussed: the war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the war between Palestinians and Jews, and the battle between the Muslim world and the Western world.

The point is that nobody knows how all this is going to play out, who will be fighting whom, or who the winners and losers will be. The only thing that's certain is that the results will not be inconclusive. (15-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Kofi Annan makes strongest statement yet on Darfur

The current world's only generational crisis war may be close to an explosive climax.

Like Tony Blair (see next Weblog item below), Kofi Annan has always struck me as a man in total denial. But he lacks Blair's bubbling optimism. Annan is always filled with extreme sadness, as if he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. It almost makes me think that, unlike most politicians, Annan actually understands what's coming.

This was all apparent in Kofi Anna's Monday statement to the U.N. Security Council on Darfur, in which he described the current situation:

"We have all heard the latest, deeply dismaying reports of renewed fighting, particularly in North Darfur, among the various factions. Thousands of Sudan Armed Forces troops have been deployed to the area, in clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. Even worse, the area has been subjected to renewed aerial bombing. I strongly condemn this escalation. The Government should stop its offensive immediately and refrain from any further such action. ... Once again, people have been displaced. The total number of displaced now stands at 1.9 million. Nearly 3 million people in Darfur depend on international aid for food, shelter and medical treatment."

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"We want to create a light-skinned baby.": That's what a raped black woman told Congressman Frank Wolf when he visited Darfur.... (8-Jul-04)
Darfur genocide: The UN is completely irrelevant: It was just three months ago that Kofi Annan said "never again," referring to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.... (28-Jun-04)

As I've said many times, Darfur is in a "generational crisis war," the only one currently in progress in the world. Generational Dynamics predicts that it's no more possible to stop a generational crisis war than it is to stop a tsunami. The reason is that a crisis war is fueled by large masses of people, rather than by politicians, and when large masses of people are determined to commit genocide on another group of people, the flood of energy cannot be stopped.

Kofi Annan has always expressed enormous distress that the U.N. did nothing to stop the 1994 Rwanda crisis war, and he referred to that in his statement:

"As access gets harder, the humanitarian gains of the past two years are being rolled back. Unless security improves, we face the prospect of having to drastically curtail an acutely needed humanitarian operation. Can we, in conscience, leave the people of Darfur to such a fate? Can the international community, having not done enough for the people of Rwanda in their time of need, just watch as this tragedy deepens? Having finally agreed just one year ago that there is a responsibility to protect, can we contemplate failing yet another test? Lessons are either learned or not; principles are either upheld or scorned. This is no time for the middle ground of half-measures or further debate."

Annan's words are sadly funny: "Lessons are either learned or not." Unfortunately, the correct lesson is that generational crisis wars are raw acts of nature that can't be stopped; but that isn't the lesson that Annan was referring to.

Annan strongly condemned the government of Sudan which is accused of leading the genocide, in a veiled threat of an accusation of war crimes:

"Once again, therefore, I urge the Government of Sudan to embrace the spirit of resolution 1706, to give its consent to the transition, and to pursue the political process with new energy and commitment. The consequences of the Government's current attitude -- yet more death and suffering, perhaps on a catastrophic scale -- will be felt first and foremost by the people of Darfur. But the Government itself will also suffer, if it fails in its sacred responsibility to protect its own people. It will suffer opprobrium and disgrace -- in the eyes of all Africa, and the whole international community. Moreover, neither those who decide such policies, nor those who carry them out, should imagine that they will not be held accountable."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the war in Darfur appears to be reaching a climax.

Crisis civil wars tend to run a certain course. They begin as low-level violence that can go on for years or even decades. There might even be a cessation of fighting for periods of time. This is what's happened in Sri Lanka, for example. The violence between the Sinhalese (Buddhist) and the Tamil tiger rebels (Hindu) began in 1976. It continued as low-level violence until a peace agreement was signed in 2002. The peace treaty unraveled last year, and now Sri Lanka appears to be approaching a full-scale crisis civil war, though it hasn't yet reached that point.

Once the full-scale crisis war begins, it continues to build to an explosive climax of some kind. In WW II, for example, the explosive climax was the use of nuclear weapons.

Now, based on Kofi Annan's description, the war in Darfur appears to be approaching a climax. Sudan is expelling aid organizations, and appears to be preparing for full scale war against the people of Darfur.

The timing of such an explosive climax cannot, of course, be predicted. But if the current news reports are accurate, then we may be about to see a genocidal explosion that will exceed both the Rwanda genocide and the Bosnian genocide of the 1990s. (12-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Tony Blair commits the rest of his term to solving the Mideast problem

Meanwhile, the Palestinians announce a unity government -- with a condition.

Speaking at a press conference in Beirut with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said this:

"But I wanted to lay particular emphasis, as I think you did, on the fourth aspect of our discussion together, and that is on the Israel-Palestine conflict. I think it is important, as I have been saying these past two days, that we do everything that we can to re-energise that process, to give ourselves the best chance of achieving a lasting comprehensive settlement of that issue, with two states living side by side in peace together. I believe that it can be done, and furthermore I commit myself for the remainder of my time in office to do everything I can to bring that about. It is I believe of huge importance, of course primarily to Israelis and to Palestinians, but also as we can see to the whole of the region and indeed to the world."

Well, as regular readers of this web site know, I said in May, 2003, when the "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" came out, that Generational Dynamics predicts that the disappearance of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon from the scene would remove the last major generational inhibitions to full-scale war, re-fighting the genocidal 1940s war between Jews and Arabs following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Now, Tony Blair is a sincere, optimistic man who believes that he has a moral duty, as Prime Minister, to devote himself to solving the conflict between the Jews and and Palestinians. I also attribute his statement to the fact that a minimum job requirement to be a politician is to possess the skill of total self-delusion.

Blair reached Lebanon on Monday after a tour through the Mideast that included similar press conferences with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, both of whom expressed skepticism about aspects of Blair's plan. Blair's worst reception was actually in Lebanon, where thousands of Lebanese protested Blair's visit to Lebanon, accusing him of backing Israel in the 34-day war with Israel.

The good news for Blair was Monday's announcement that the Palestinians have announced a national unity government, uniting the Abbas' Fatah group with the militant Islamic group Hamas under Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

Fatah and Hamas are pretty much bitter political enemies, so this unity government would have little chance of succeeding under far more favorable circumstances, but both sides are desperate. The Palestinians have lost tens of millions of dollars of international aid, ever since Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. and Europe, won the Parliamentary elections in January. They're desperately hoping that a unity government will convince the international donors to start pouring money in again.

There's a big condition, and it's the same condition that's been around all along. Aid money was cut off until Hamas agreed to recognize the existence of Israel and to renounce terrorism. Hamas will recognize Israel and renounce terrorism when pigs fly, as I wrote in my analysis at the time.

Actually, some reports have indicated that Tony Blair proposed a solution to this problem. Under the compromise, Hamas as an organization wouldn't have to recognize Israel; only the particular Hamas politicians elected to Parliament or in the government would have to do so. But it's not clear that this compromise would be acceptable to Washington anyway.

But the easiest way to understand why any Mideast peace deal can't possibly succeed for long, as I've written frequently, is because Gaza is essentially a region of weapon-carrying children, with almost no adult supervision. To these children, both Fatah and Hamas are thundering herds of dinosaurs with no relevance to their lives. Whether there are two dinosaur herds or a single "unified" dinosaur herd makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the kids in Gaza.

As I said, Tony Blair is a sincere man, and he sincerely wants to be the one to finally find the solution to the problem of the Palestinians versus Jews. Unfortunately, since he's a politician he's not capable of understanding the fact that some problems have no solution. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, refighting the genocidal wars of the 1940s, with near mathematical certainty. (12-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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The day that changed the world

The events of five years ago today spawned two wars and redefined relations between Muslim and Western civilizations

If you look at the right side of the screen, you'll see the second plane approaching the World Trade Center.  This screen appeared at 9:36 am on September 11, 2001, but it was a rerun of what had happened half an hour earlier. <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
If you look at the right side of the screen, you'll see the second plane approaching the World Trade Center. This screen appeared at 9:36 am on September 11, 2001, but it was a rerun of what had happened half an hour earlier. (Source: CNN)

Even today, watching reruns of the events of September 11, 2001, it's almost impossible to believe what's happening, especially as the second plane flies into the second tower of the World Trade Center.

Those images immediately flew around the world, bringing a feeling of horror to most people, but not all: There were also news stories of Palestinians dancing in the streets (although Yasser Arafat himself condemned the attacks).

In the five years since then, relations between the Islamic world and the Western world have continued to deteriorate.

"Islamophobia" has grown in countries throughout the West, as Muslims complain that they're feeling increased levels of discrimination.

In fact, many countries have passed new laws targeting Muslims. America has its Patriot Act, and several European countries have passed laws targeting Muslim clerics and restricting inflammatory language in mosques.

While the West has launched two wars -- the Afghan war and the Iraqi war -- similar terrorist attacks have since occurred around the world, in London, Madrid, Tunisia, Turkey, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Egypt and Iraq. Osama bin Laden and various al-Qaeda functionaries have released numerous tapes to al-Jazeera warning of additional terrorist acts.

Today's commemoration might have had a very different tone. Al-Qaeda planned a major terrorist attack as their own celebration of the September 11 attacks. The attack, planned for August 16, would have caused the explosions of up to ten planes traveling from the UK to the US, using liquid explosives. The attack was thwarted just a month ago.

All of these actions on both sides have continually raised the level of tension between Muslims and Westerners.

As I've said many times on this web site, when trying to understand and event like this, you have to examine the behaviors and beliefs of large masses of people. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the actions of politicians are irrelevant except insofar as they reflect the behaviors and beliefs of large masses of people.

When Muslim terrorists bombed the New York World Trade Center in 1993, the people of America treated it as a criminal act.

A terrorist act like that really wasn't such a big deal to the upper-middle aged people alive at that time, since those people had all grown up during World War II, a time when London especially was suffering "9/11" every day, thanks to German bombers. To people who had lived through that, or whose friends and relatives had lived through that, the bombing of the WTC in 1993 was not a big deal.

By September 11, 2001, a major generational change had begun, and the people who had grown up during WW II were almost all gone (retired or died). They left behind the "Baby Boomer"and "Generation X" and subsequent generations. To people in these generations, a terrorist act, especially one as horrific as the one that occurred on 9/11, was as inconceivable as the sun disappearing.

Today, America is going through an extremely bitter period of political recriminations. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is happening because increasingly anxious and frightened Boomers and Xers lack the skills to solve the world's problems.

Boomers and Xers have been taken care of all their lives by the generations that fought and lived through World War II, and who set up structures like the United Nations, World Bank, and World Health Organization to manage the world. Those organizations worked as long as they were being run by the Heroes of World War II. Today they're being run by Boomers and Xers who have no idea how to run them.

Conflict risk level for next 6-12 months as of: 9-Feb-2006
W. Europe 1 Arab Israeli 3
Russia Caucasus 2 Kashmir 2
China 2 North Korea 2
Financial 3 Bird flu 3
Key: 1=green 1=Low risk 2=yellow 2=Med 3=red 3=High 4=black 4=Active

Since things are going poorly, and since no one knows what to do anymore, everyone points the finger at everyone else. That's certainly true in America, but it's also true in all the countries that fought in World War II, since all those countries are going through similar generational changes. Thus we've seen similarly bitter political battles in Britain, France, Israel, Japan, China, and many other countries.

Generational Dynamics predicts that we're headed for a new "clash of civilizations" world war. This clash will re-unite Americans in a fight for their very survival, thus starting a new secular cycle in the history of mankind. (11-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Israel re-occupies Gaza and abandons West Bank "convergence"

Lawlessness has gotten so bad in Gaza that even Hamas apologized

The Lebanon war has caused several changes of direction among the Palestinians, but one thing hasn't changed: The situation becomes more chaotic and dangerous every day, especially in Gaza:

"When you walk around in Gaza, you cannot help but avert your eyes from what you see: indescribable anarchy, policemen that nobody cares about, youth proudly carrying weapons, mourning tents set up in the middle of main streets, and from time to time you hear that so-and-so was murdered in the middle of the night, and the response comes quickly the next morning. Large families carry weapons in tribal wars against other families. Gaza has turned into a garbage dump, there is a stench, and sewage flows [in the streets]."

These are the words of Hamas / Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghazi Hamad, in a published article.

There is tremendous irony in this, in two different ways.

And so, a huge number of hopes and dreams held by politicians around the world are pretty much down the drain. No one feels this sense of failure more strongly than the Palestinian leaders themselves, according to Ghazi Hamad, the Hamas leader that we quoted earlier.

"The question is: Why did we not keep Gaza's freedom? ... The government cannot do anything, the opposition [Fatah] looks on from the sidelines, engaged in internal bickering, and the president has no power... We are walking aimlessly in the streets. The reality in which we are living in Gaza can only be described as miserable and wretched, and as a failure in every sense of the word. We applauded the elections and the unique democratic experience, but in reality there has been a great step backwards. We spoke of national consensus, [but] it turned out to be like a leaf blowing in the wind..."

The reason that Gaza is out of control is easily explained with Generational Dynamics.

But even without that, it's not hard to understand, and although I've discussed it many times on this web site, I have not seen even a single article or politician that's even mentioned it. That's because almost nobody seems capable of understanding even the simplest, most obvious generational concept, no matter how elementary.

The reason that Gaza is out of control is because it's the the most densely populated place in the world and the median age in the Gaza strip is 15.8. Gaza is a population of children.

Look at Hamad's comment, posted above: "When you walk around in Gaza, you cannot help but avert your eyes from what you see: indescribable anarchy, policemen that nobody cares about, youth proudly carrying weapons ...."

Gaza is populated by children proudly carrying weapons, with little or no adult supervision.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the young adult generation during a generational crisis era is called the "Hero generation," because they're treated as heroes by the population after they lead the battle into the next crisis war. In other contexts, this generation is called, "the mob."

As Hamad points out, the mob don't care about the local policemen. But they also don't care about Hamad, or the Hamas government, or president Mahmoud Abbas, or Fatah, or any other dinosaurs who are discussing nuances of world geopolitics.

They do develop a set of behaviors and attitudes of their elders -- but "stripped of hypocrisy" (quoting Hannah Arendt). That means that the youth in the Gaza mob don't care about the niceties of getting along with Israelis. Their elders say, "We hate the Israelis, but we have to do business with them." The mob strips that of hypocrisy and says, "We hate the Israelis, and we're going to solve the problem."

How do they solve the problem? Generational Dynamics tells us that all that's needed is the right "Prophet." Just as the Nazi mob elected Hitler as Chancellor because he promised to solve the Jewish problem (without saying how he would solve it), the Gaza mob are looking for a Prophet who will promise to solve the Israel problem.

There are two possible candidates for Prophet on the scene right now, but they're flawed. The two are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has promised to "wipe Israel off the map," and Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who led the Lebanese war with the Israelis, and who has promised to destroy Israel.

These two men are highly admired by the Gaza mob because of their attitudes and actions towards Israel, but they're flawed because they're Shiite / Persian leaders, rather than Sunni / Arab leaders. The Arabs simply do not wish to trade Israel for Iran.

So who will this Prophet be? It's impossible to predict now, of course. But it might be someone who, at this very moment, is speaking to a crowd of youthful Palestinians, and urging them to take action against Israel.

Maybe it will be Abu Ahmed, Gaza leader of the Al-Aqsa Brigades terror group, who says, "We learned from Hizbullah's victory that Israel can be defeated if we know how to hit them and if we are well prepared," and who is training Gazans for war with Israel.

This is the kind of chaotic event that can't be predicted. Since we're talking about mostly teenagers, the Prophet will be chosen via the same sort of panicky mass hysteria that teenagers pick a new rock star (think of the Beatles) or fashion item. It's going to happen sooner or later, probably sooner, because the population is ready for it.

Thanks to the summer war between Israel and Lebanon, the international geopolitical scene has changed in many drastic ways.

Here are just a few:

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I predicted in May, 2003, when the "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" came out, that the disappearance of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon from the scene has removed the last major generational inhibitions to full-scale war, re-fighting the genocidal 1940s war between Jews and Arabs following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. In 2003 I could predict the final destination (full-scale war), but not the scenario that would lead to it.

Now we're seeing the scenario play itself out. Each day the situation gets worse, and each day there are more and more possibilities for triggers that could launch full-scale war. With the increasing anxiety and panic of the Israeli people, and the increasing belligerence of the children of Gaza, the war could be triggered next week, next month or next year, but it will probably happen sooner rather than later. (8-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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Aftermath of Lebanese war: The winners and losers

Everyone seemed to follow his generational archetype, as if hypnotized to do so.

Generational Dynamics provides a methodology for studying the actions and behaviors of large masses of people in different societies and nations, based on the flow of generations. I've been developing this methodology since shortly after 9/11, and almost everything I've done has been posted on this web site, so that if I get hit by a truck, other people who are interested will be able to continue from where I left off.

At the beginning of the Lebanese war, I did a detailed generational analysis of the war, making some predictions about the likely behavor of the belligerents.

Now that two months have passed, it's time to do a follow-up assessment. What's remarkable is how closely each of the participants followed its expected generational archetype behavior.


Israel is entering a "generational crisis" period, 57 years after the end of the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews in 1948-49, following the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

This was an "existential" war for Israel, and it was fought with a great deal of passion. At first Israel was planning to use air power alone; then they started calling up reservists, turning it into a ground war. The size of the ground war kept increasing, as Israel had to change course and bring up more reservists. After the U.N. passed the ceasefire resolution, Israel increased the ground war still further to gain as much ground as possible before the ceasefire took effect.

As the war progressed, the Israeli people became increasing anxious and panicky. Mass panic is an integral part of a generational crisis era, and the Israeli people are showing it more and more.

The Israeli people's panic is becoming even greater because of Iran. There's Iran's Blow of Zolfaqar military games continuing to the end of September. There are Iran's repeated testing of new missile and other weapons technology. There's Iran's blantant refusal to stop developing nuclear technology. And there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly on the record as wanting to "wipe Israel off the map." All of these actions by Iran are adding to the level of anxiety and concern in the Israeli people.

The seriousness of situation is demonstrated by a poll that shows that, during the war, the Israeli public trusted the speeches of Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah than the announcements of any Israeli government spokesmen.

"We reached a really crazy situation, a psychological situation which seems inconceivable," says Dr. Uri Lebel of the Ben Gurion Institute, Beer Sheva University, the author of the poll.

He added: "Instead of the Israeli public watching our national spokesman who tells it what is happening every day, who will minimize the chaos and who will be seen as believable, something unprecedented happened: The public perceived the enemy leader against whom we fought as having those characteristics, and waited impatiently for his speeches."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Israel is exhibiting the highly emotional states that accompany a crisis era war. When the war started, popular enthusiasm was extremely high, and Olmert's poll numbers were through the roof.

After problems arose, the mood changed, and the kind of change was described by Carl von Clausewitz, in his 1832 book On War, which tells how the Prussian people reacted when their army was defeated by Napoleon in 1806:

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

The concept of "leaving everything to Fate" doesn't only mean doing nothing, as von Clausewitz suggests. In fact, Israel appears to be reaching a kind of "tipping point" that will cause it to launch into a preemptive war against Hizbollah or Iran or both. For example, the Kadima government of Ehud Olmert has become so unpopular that it may feel pressured into such a war just to survive as a government. Then Israel will really be leaving everything to fate.


As predicted, the Lebanese people (except for Hizbollah) stayed out of the war.

Lebanon is in a "generational awakening" era, since just one generation has passed since the genocidal Lebanon/Syrian war of the 1980s. Furthermore, the Lebanese feel heavily burdened by the fact that, in that war, one group of Lebanese committed mass genocide against another group, with the result that today, the Lebanese emphasize unity and feel they must support one another.

The Lebanese played their generational role to the hilt. They supported Hizbollah, because it's made up of Lebanese.

When a country enters a generational crisis period (like Israel, as described above), the attitude of the people focus on survival of the country and the people's way of life, while individual rights are pushed to the background. When a country is in a generational awakening period (like America in the 1960s and 1970s), the goals shift, and individual rights become more important.

That's exactly what happened to the Lebanese. The Lebanese pretty much hate the Israelis, but you didn't see any Lebanese go to war against Israel. With huge amounts of Lebanese infrastructure destroyed by Israeli bombs, the Lebanese openly played a victim role, emphasizing how individual Lebanese had suffered. If this had been a generational crisis period for Lebanon, you would have seen furious Lebanese flock to join Hizbollah and wage war against the Israelis. But this didn't happen.

Just like Israel, Lebanon followed the behavior of its generational archetype. However, that behavior is quite different for Israel and Lebanon.


An underlying principle of Generational Dynamics is that one should look at behaviors and attitudes of large masses of people, and that politicians should be ignored, except insofar as their decisions reflect the attitudes of large masses of people.

Sometimes there's a conflict: The politicians want one thing, and the people want something else. The most common way that this happens is that the politicians attempt to implement an unpopular policy.

That's what happened when Hizbollah was induced to wage war with Israel. The politician is Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who has been leading Hizbollah into war with Israel. The people, in this case, are the members of Hizbollah. Like the rest of the Lebanese, they have no desire for a war with Israel. They were ordered to war by Nasrallah, and they were paid large sums of Iranian money to prosecute the war.

I described Hizbollah's actions as "war from the comfort of home." The war was pursued with very little energy by Hizbollah for the reason just described.

There's perhaps nothing so remarkable as Nasrallah's apology to the Lebanese people, following the end of the war. The reason is that many Lebanese supported Nasrallah, but also criticized him severely for the massive infrastructure damage that the war brought to Lebanon.

"Hot" vs "Cool" war style

It's worthwhile emphasizing the difference in war styles pursued by the two sides, because this is something that mainstream historians, with no recognition of generational effects, simply don't understand at all.

The two belligerents fought the Lebanese war using two completely different styles.

Israel fought in a typical crisis era "hot" war style, furiously bombing infrastructure, calling up new reserves every day, confronting Hizbollah terrorists on their own soil, and now feeling very anxious about the U.N. peace deal.

If Hizbollah had fought in a "hot" style, they would have crossed the border into Israel and killed Israelis in their own homes.

Instead, Hizbollah fought the war in a "cool," methodical non-crisis war style. They launched missiles from their home soil, retreating to their homes or to bunkers as needed. They methodically goaded Israeli into supplanting their air-only war with a ground war, requiring thousands of Israeli soldiers to fight on Lebanese soil. The goaded the Israelis into destroying Lebanese infrastructure, and killing Lebanese civilians, including women and children.

The Arabs

As expected, Arab leaders were highly critical of Nasrallah for taking actions that started the war.

The reason is the Hizbollah is a Shiite organization, funded by Iran, a Shiite country. The Arabs are Sunni Muslim, so they were face with choosing between Israel and the Shiites. As a practical matter they did nothing, and were criticized for indirectly supporting Israel.

The Palestinians

As I've said repeatedly, the key to this war was the Palestinians. If the Palestinians had joined the war against Israel, then it would have spiraled out of control into a major war since the Palestinians are entering a generational crisis era. But the Palestinians held back, much to the disappointment of Iran and Hizbollah, and so the war settled down.


Syria's population is 75% Sunni, with only a small Shiite population. This portends some kind of split within Syria itself, torn between its alliance with Shiite Iran and the Sunni Palestinians. There's no way to predict how this split will be resolved.

The future

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast region is headed for a major genocidal war. This war will have two components: Palestinians versus Israelis and Sunnis versus Shiites. It's impossible to predict exactly how these two components will interplay with one another, but it's certain that both components will be present.

An important part of Generational Dynamics is the methodology for making predictions. For over three years I've made dozens of predictions on this web site (and all of them can still be found, linked either from the home page or the archive page).

The Lebanese war provided a means for doing an analysis that will lead to new kinds of predictions -- the style that a country will use for conduction a war.

On this web site, I've now been tracking the timelines of dozens of countries, and I don't mind saying that even I continue to be amazed by how country after country seems to follow its generational archetype as if hypnotized to do so. This has been proven again in the recent Lebanese war. (6-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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George Bush gives a generational political speech

His reference to "Fascists" and "Nazis" appeals to Boomers and Silents.

What do you do if you're a politician and the voters aren't buying your message? You change your message.

The message that "the war in Iraq is part of the war on terror" isn't effective any more, according to Larry J. Sabato, Prof. of Politics at Univ. of Virginia, speaking during an interview on Fox News.

"Here's where the President's stubbornness or persistence -- depending on your point of view -- is showing through," says Sabato. "He's determined to make that connection, but the public hasn't been buying it for six to eight months, and the President is behind the curve on this one."

President Bush's revised message was tried in Thursday's speech to the American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah:

"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict; it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation -- the right of all people to speak, and worship, and live in liberty. And on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism -- the right of a self-appointed few to impose their fanatical views on all the rest. As veterans, you have seen this kind of enemy before. They're successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century. And history shows what the outcome will be: This war will be difficult; this war will be long; and this war will end in the defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians, and a victory for the cause of freedom and liberty.

President George Bush, speaking to American Legion National Convention <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
President George Bush, speaking to American Legion National Convention (Source: CNN)

We're now approaching the fifth anniversary of the day this war reached our shores. As the horror of that morning grows more distant, there is a tendency to believe that the threat is receding and this war is coming to a close. That feeling is natural and comforting -- and wrong. As we recently saw, the enemy still wants to attack us. We're in a war we didn't ask for, but it's a war we must wage, and a war we will win."

The comparison of terrorists to "Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists, and other totalitarians of the 20th century" is something new in his speeches, and has generated a great deal of political controversy among his opponents.

According to Sabato, Bush's new message targets a certain voter demographic:

"I think when the President links what's happening in Iraq with what has been the standard process in American foreign policy and domestic policy since World War II, he does strike a chord with voters 50 years of age or older -- and voters 50 years of age or older can be close to half of the people who turn out on election day.

So when he puts this into a historical context, I think he's making progress in his arguments, and let's face it, he's arguing uphill. It's tough for him on Iraq now."

In other words, President Bush is making a generational argument. The reference to Fascists, Nazis and Communists is targeted at Baby Boomers and Silents. (The Boomers were born after World War II, and the Silents were born during the Great Depression and World War II).

As a Boomer myself, in a generation feeling increasingly neglected lately, it's gratifying that someone is paying attention to us again.

Of course, not all Boomers will respond to Bush's new message, but a lot of them will. People born more than 50 years ago grew up at a time when it was believed that if we had only stopped Hitler in 1935, then WW II could have been avoided. (Generational Dynamics shows that WW II would have occurred irrespective of Hitler, but this is what people believed.)

So President Bush is keying in on that belief, and by analogy that if we stop the terrorists now, then we won't have to fight them later.

In fact, he made that point specifically in his speech:

"The status quo in the Middle East before September the 11th was dangerous and unacceptable, so we're pursuing a new strategy. First, we're using every element of national power to confront al Qaeda, those who take inspiration from them, and other terrorists who use similar tactics. We have ended the days of treating terrorism simply as a law enforcement matter. We will stay on the offense. We will fight the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home."

The last sentence in particular, "We will fight the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here at home," is especially effective, according to Sabato.

"It's effective, because there's a basic truth to it," says Sabato. "Pollsters have told me that when they ask open-ended questions about the war on terror and the war in Iraq, people actually volunteer that very phrase. 'I don't like everything going on in the war in Iraq, but it's better to fight them over there than over here.' So when you have that kind of line bubbling up from the grass roots, I think the President is very wise to use it."

This whole discussion is relevant to something I've been saying for four years: There is no anti-war movement in America today, and there won't be.

During the the 1960s and 1970s in America, when we were in a generational awakening period, there was a massive anti-war movement. Hundreds of thousands of students would demonstrate and riot, on college campuses and in Washington, almost every weekend. The entire summer of 1967 was called the "Summer of Love," as millions of college students converged on San Francisco to protest the war.

Obviously, nothing even remotely like that is happening today. It may be summer, and there may be political disputes, but no one would call this a "summer of love." It's more a summer of political hatred and vituperation.

I was thinking of this last week when I saw a television interview with Ned Lamont, the Democrat who beat Senator Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Democratic party voters rejected Lieberman because he was too supportive of George Bush's policy in Iraq.

So that would make Ned Lamont an anti-war candidate, right? Not according to Lamont. In the interview he said he's NOT an antiwar candidate. Does he want to set a timetable for withdrawal? Absolutely not. So what does he want?

You can go to the "issues" section of the Ned Lamont official web site, and all you find is this: "That the war in Iraq has diverted far too many of our dollars, and too much of our attention, from our needs back home." On another page he criticizes Bush's pursuit of the war, and adds, "While we will continue to provide logistical and training support as long as we are asked, our frontline military troops should begin to be redeployed and our troops should start heading home."

That is, to say the least, about as weak an "antiwar" statement as you can get.

According to Professor Sabato, Democrats are presenting no exit strategy for the Iraq war. "They don't have a clear plan because they're divided into separate factions. Some want immediate withdrawal, and others want gradual withdrawal, and 'gradual' could mean end of this year, or five years."

However, this is probably the best strategy for Democrats in November, according to Sabato. "The point is, this is a midterm election, and the out of power party, the Democrats, get a pass from the voters on this for the most part. They're simply allowed to oppose the incumbents, the Republicans. They will have to come up with a specific plan for the Presidential election in 2008." (1-Sep-06) Permanent Link
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