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


Web Log - November, 2006


The computer is beating world chess champion 2-1 in the "last opportunity" for human being to win

With three games yet to go, the match spotlights the strengths of computers and humans.

It's called The World Chess Challenge -- Man vs. Machine.

In one corner is the human world chess champion, Vladimir Kramnik.

In the other corner is the computer world chess champion, Deep Fritz 10.

Before the match began last Saturday, Kramnik characterized the match as follows: "My match against the Fritz-10 computer program may be decisive, as it may well be the last chance that a human has to defeat the machine."

He explained, "It is very important for me, but I understand that the task in front of me is very hard, as computers are playing very strongly, and they improve each year. It is also a decisive match, as maybe it will be the last chance for a human being to defeat a machine. But even though I am very enthusiastic I know that it will be very difficult, as the computer is capable of calculating an incredible number of moves."

Indeed, Deep Fritz can examine 1.8 million chess positions per second, while a human being can only hope to think about a few dozen per minute.

How can a human being have any hope of winning a game? Because humans have intuition and instinct, capabilities that are hard to program in a computer.

You can review all three games so far by going to the Spiegel Online Man vs Machine site. At the same site, you'll also be able to follow the remaining games live, as they're being played in Bonn, Germany. The remaining games will be played on Friday, Sunday and Tuesday, December 1, 3 and 5, with each game beginning at 3 pm in Germany (9 am, New York time).

Kramnik vs Deep Fritz 10 - scoreboard after 3 games
Kramnik vs Deep Fritz 10 - scoreboard after 3 games

According to experts, Kramnik outplayed the computer for most of the first two games, and played equally well as the computer in the third game.

So why is the computer ahead, two games to one? Because of an incredible blunder, an oversight by Kramnik in game 2.

White has just captured Black's Rook on f8 with his Knight.  Incredibly, Black played Qe3??, completely overlooking White's Qh7 checkmate!
White has just captured Black's Rook on f8 with his Knight. Incredibly, Black played Qe3??, completely overlooking White's Qh7 checkmate!

Kramnik had played very carefully and was in a drawn position, when he was hit by "chess blindness," and overlooked mate in one! This kind of blunder is very rare among chess grandmasters, but it does happen. After all, they're only human!

This illustrates one of the many advantages that computers have over humans: They don't get chess blindness. They get don't tired. They don't get cute. They just compute their best move and play it, with computer-like efficiency.

The Turk - Chess Playing Automaton
The Turk - Chess Playing Automaton

Chess is a game with a long history, centuries old, and the search for a chess playing machine is almost as old. Chess history is replete with stories of attempts to build automata that could play chess, carnival hucksters that fascinated gullible townfolk with large mechanical contraptions that could mysteriously make moves on chessboards, but which really contained a chess playing dwarf inside. The most famous was "The Turk," an enormous contraption that toured Europe and America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, defeating such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon, and apparently fooling everyone. Edgar Allen Poe wrote that something isn't right about the Turk, since it occasionally made mistakes and a true machine would play flawless chess and would always win.

When the field of "artificial intelligence" (AI) was invented in the 1950s, the game of chess was considered a goal within reach. In 1957, AI researchers expected a chess-playing computer to be world champion within ten years or so.

And yet by 1970, the best chess-playing computer was little better than a beginner. The researchers were unable to develop algorithms and heuristics that could mimic the reasoning of a chess master or grandmaster.

Nonetheless, today's chess-playing computers play at world champion level. How did computers get so good in 30 years? It turns out that the chess-playing algorithms used in today's computers are really not much different from the algorithms used in 1970. So why are they doing so much better today? It's because computers are much more powerful. A chess-playing algorithm could only look 3 or 4 moves ahead in 1970, but can look 8 to 12 moves ahead today, because computers are much more powerful.

This example illustrates, in a sense, how much of a failure artificial intelligence research has been. Back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, researchers were expecting to find elegant algorithms and heuristics that would make computers match humans in a variety of areas -- game playing, voice recognition, natural language processing, computer vision, theorem proving, and so forth. But the fact is that AI researchers have failed to do so in every area.

Instead, they've had to fall back onto "brute force" algorithms. The phrase "brute force" was meant to be pejorative, but now it's really become the only game in town. What "brute force" means is to use the power of the computer to try every possibility until one works.

Kramnik believes that his match with Deep Fritz is decisive because it may "be the last chance for a human being to defeat a machine." That's because computers get more powerful each year. They double in computational power every 18 months. Soon they'll be far more powerful than the human brain.

As we discussed in conjunction with the release of the movie I, Robot in 2004, supercomputers will be as intelligent as human beings by 2010 or so, and autonomous super-intelligent desktop or mobile computers will be surging in the 2020s, and will take over a variety of jobs: a computer plumber, a computer nursemaid, a computer soldier.

Even more striking is that the Army is planning to deploy its "Future Combat System" which calls for autonomous robot soldiers by 2014. In fact, the development of super-intelligent computers is proceeding rapidly in countries around the work.

The Singularity
The Singularity

By the 2020s, intelligent robots will also be doing scientific research to develop improved versions of themselves, so that intelligent robots will eventually be far more intelligent than human beings. The point in time where intelligent robots are essentially in control of their own destiny is called "The Singularity," because there will be a bend in the exponential growth technology curve, as shown in the adjoining graphic. There is no way to have any idea what's going to happen to the world after that point.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the human race is about to face its greatest challenge in history. First, we'll see the "clash of civilizations" world war. Then we'll see a period "easy living," as intelligent computerized devices, from computer nurse to computer plumber, will take over all the difficult jobs we hate to do. Then the Singularity will occur, and humans will no longer be the most intelligent entities on earh.

The Future
The Future

My own estimate is that the Singularity will occur between 2025 and 2030, though other analysts' estimates put it as late as 2040 or 2050. (30-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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News as theatre: NBC announces it will call Iraq war a "civil war"

On Monday morning on the "Today Show," Matt Lauer announced, "NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted -- that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas -- can now be characterized as a civil war."

Once again, we're dealing with a situation that's so bizarre that it's laughable. Remember the caliber of people we're dealing with: On Sunday's This Week With George Stephanopoulos, King Abdullah II of Jordan explained FIVE TIMES to Stephanopoulos that the "core problem" in the Mideast was the Israeli/Palestinian problem, and Stephanopoulos and an assortment of reporters, pundits and US Senators simply had no idea what he was talking about. These people are have dived so deep into the sewer of ideology that they have no idea what's going on in the world.

We want to consider two questions: Why did NBC made this announcement at this time, and why does NBC believe that the Administration dir NOT call it a civil war.

Taking the second question first, the MSNBC story says: "Bush administration officials fear that when most Americans hear the term civil war, they associate it with out own war between the states 140 years ago. That was a conflict between the Union North and the Confederate South that produced 650,000 casualties, or one out of every 50 Americans at the time. To this day, the U.S. Civil War remains a force in America's historical identity and psyche."

Well, this is a joke. Most Americans are aware that there was a civil war at some time in the past (they're not sure when), and they know that "Lincoln freed the slaves" (they have no idea how). Other than that, few Americans will make any connection between the current Iraq war and the American civil war.

No, that's not it. Here's the real reason that the NBC people believe that the Bush administration doesn't want to "admit" that the Iraq war is a civil war -- and I've heard this reason given a couple of times by NBC reporters speaking on MSNBC: The reason that the Bush administration doesn't want to "admit" it's a civil war is because, according to MSNBC, admitting it will "erode support" for the war.

Why do they believe that? To answer that, let's go back to the first question above: Why did NBC make this announcement at this time?

And this is truly remarkable.

The first hint came soon after the Today show announcement on the Don Imus show (which, ironically, airs on MSNBC opposite Today): On Monday, Don Imus said: "He and Brian Williams and all those other nitwits and Griffin, they all sit around and they make this command decision.... Do these nitwits at NBC News think this is going to have the impact of when Walter Cronkite came back in Vietnam and said we can't win, and Lyndon Johnson famously said 'well if we've lost Walter Cronkite, we've lost the country?'"

Now, Boomers know what this means, but probably few people younger than Boomers do. This refers to the Vietnam war Tet Offensive, which was a huge military victory for the American forces, but was nonetheless a major political victory for the North Vietnamese because of Walter Cronkite's statement.

In other words, NBC News is making this announcement at this time because they hope to repeat Walter Cronkite's success in giving a huge political victory to our enemy today.

Could that really be true? Are the people at NBC News really that stupid? Yes, Virginia, they really are that stupid.

It was confirmed on Monday's flagship news show, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, when star reporter Andrea Mitchell said: "Today the administration objected strongly to news organizations calling it a civil war. Many experts say that the White House has a huge incentive to avoid that term because it could further erode public support for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq."

It was supported by Tom McPhail, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri/St. Louis, who says NBC's move is "a defining and negative moment" in the war in Iraq, "like when Walter Cronkite said on air that the Vietnam War was lost."

The whole thing was confirmed by MSNBC's chief anti-American moonbat, Keith Olbermann, when he gave a lengthy talk comparing the NBC decision to Cronkite's announcement. Calling this a "Walter Cronkite Moment," he said, "[A]fter years of erring on the side of caution about Vietnam, Walter Cronkite, on February 27, 1968, truly matched his signoff 'And that's the way it is,' and America never saw that war the same way."

So NBC News believes that it can repeat Walter Cronkite's coup, and they believe that their announcement will erode public support of the war, and they believe that that's the reason why the Administration refuses to call it a civil war.

This is wrong on so many levels that it's hard to sort them all out.

First, NBC News is consciously making it a goal to give a victory to America's enemies. This is the standard to which many news organizations have fallen, as illustrated by the New York Times taking every opportunity it can publish information useful to the terrorists. (I'm alluding here to the Times' gloating publication of top secret information about such things as methods for tracking terrorists' financial transactions.)

Second, NBC News is purposely trying to make itself into the news story, rather than reporting on the news.

Third, they're completely wrong in their belief that their huge announcement will "erode support" or have any other effect on the American public.

This is the same as their wishful thinking about an "antiwar movement." For five years now, the mainstream media has been predicting an imminent return to the massive antiwar riots and demonstrations against the war. They're too stupid to learn that it isn't going to happen, and they're completely baffled as to why it isn't happening. (The airheads have apparently settled on the reason that college students aren't rioting against the war because there's no draft. That's one reason you're hearing so much about a draft these days from the likes of Charley Rangel.)

So now the people at NBC News believe that their pathetic announcement will "erode support" in the same way, stimulating an antiwar movement.

At this point, anyone can see that isn't going to happen. The young college generation doesn't even care about the Iraq war in general, and in particularly couldn't care less what the dinosaurs at NBC News announce. Most Generation-Xers are the same.

The Boomer generation is fully invested in this battle, but all minds have already been made up, so NBC News isn't going to change any minds. So no support is going to be "eroded" by NBC's dimwit move.

Fourth, and finally, there is no civil war in Iraq. I've discussed this so many times that I'll just mention a couple of new things.

I'll point out again that Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr himself does not blame the Sunnis for the five car bombs last week that killed some 200 of al-Sadr's supporters; instead he blames al-Qaeda, as indicated by his press conference that I quoted a couple of days ago.

One of the major mistakes made by all these politicians and journalists who insist that the Iraq war is a civil war is that they expect it to "spiral out of control." The words "out of control" occur all the time in these statements. Interestingly, one reporter on MSNBC on Monday said she was surprised this weekend because she had expected al-Sadr to respond to the car bombings with a much more massive attack on the Sunnis. This is what these reporters have in mind when they talk about a civil war.

But it's exactly this "spiral out of control" reaction that Generational Dynamics says CAN'T happen. Iraq is in a "generational awakening era," meaning that most of today's population lived through and survived the horrors of the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, and will do anything to keep it from happening again. They've seen what happens when a population "spirals out of control" into genocidal war, and as long as they're alive, they'll keep it from happening again.

This "spiraling out of control" is precisely the defining characteristic of a generational crisis war, and it can't happen in a generational Awakening era.

Now you can call anything you want a "civil war," but if you're expecting to see Iraq "spiral out of control" into a war between Sunnis and Shiites, it's just not going to happen.

I also want to call the reader's attention to a report that appeared in Sunday's New York Times.

Remember that I wrote several months ago that the Iraqi insurgency was funded by hundreds of millions of dollars per year from al-Qaeda and Iran, supplemented by organized crime activities within Iraq itself. Quoting an online correspondent involved in Army intelligence, kidnappings generate an enormous amount of revenue for MSC. "Some of [the ransom rings] targeted foreigners at first, but they quickly found that targeting Iraqi contractors was lucrative as well. Kidnapping for profit quickly became a daily reality -- just as in the rest of the third world. Almost every segment of the insurgency engages in kidnapping for profit, including Al-Qaeda." Other kinds of organized crime involves automobiles, alcohol, black market gasoline sales, theft and protection rackets. "In fact, the one thing that I was amazed by was the extent to which terrorist organizations (including Al-Qaeda) were involved in these activities. Once again, it's ultimately a matter of volume -- just like the mafia."

The New York Times confirms this analysis, and says that now the hundreds of millions of dollars being derived from organized crime activities is, by itself, enough to sustain the insurgency.

"The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, connivance by corrupt Islamic charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded," according to the Times article.

It says that "groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. It says $25 million to $100 million of that comes from oil smuggling and other criminal activity involving the state-owned oil industry, aided by 'corrupt and complicit' Iraqi officials. As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says. It estimates that unnamed foreign governments — previously identified by American officials as including France and Italy — paid $30 million in ransom last year."

In other words, what's going on in Iraq is not a civil war, but a large organized crime movement. This is similar to organized crime organizations in the United States, such as the Mafia, Hells Angels, Juárez Cartel, Medellín Cartel, Cali Cartel, and so forth.

Wikipedia provides a similar list of Iraqi insurgency organizations:

"Mujahideen Shura Council, Mahdi Army, Badr Organization, Fedayeen Saddam, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Jaish Ansar al-Sunna, Mohammad's Army, Islamic Army in Iraq, Iraqi National Islamic Resistance, Islamic Resistance Movement, Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance, Jaish al-Mujahideen, Jaish al-Rashideen, Asaeb Ahl el-Iraq, Black Banner Organization, The Return, Nasserites, Wakefulness and Holy War, Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq, Liberating Iraq's Army, Abu Theeb's group, Jaish Abi Baker's group, Islamic Salafist Boy Scout Battalions"

and describes U.S. organized crime as follows:

"Criminal organizations keep illicit actions secret, and members communicate by word of mouth, telephone, or Internet. Many organized crime operations have substantial legitimate businesses, such as licensed gambling, building construction, trash hauling, or dock loading enterprises, which operate in parallel with and provide cover for drug trafficking, money laundering, prostitution, extortion, hijacking, fraud, and insider trading, among many other possible criminal activities.

In order for a criminal organization to prosper, some degree of support is required from the society in which it lives. Thus, it is often necessary to corrupt some of its respected members, most commonly achieved through bribery, blackmail, and the establishment of symbiotic relationships with legitimate businesses. Judicial and police officers and legislators are especially targeted for control by organized crime via bribes, threats, or a combination.

Financing is made easier by the development of a customer base inside or outside the local population, as occurs for instance in the case of drug trafficking.

In addition, criminal organizations also benefit if there is social distrust of the government or the police. As a consequence, criminal organizations sometimes arise in closely-knit immigrant groups who do not trust the local police. Conversely, as an immigrant group begins to integrate into the wider society, this generally causes the organized crime group to weaken.

Lacking much of the paperwork that is common to legitimate organizations, criminal organizations can usually evolve and reorganize much more quickly when the need arises. They are quick to capitalize on newly-opened markets, and quick to rebuild themselves under another guise when caught by authorities.

Globalization occurs in crime as much as it does in business. Criminal organizations easily cross boundaries between countries. This is especially true of organized groups that engage in human trafficking."

If you adapt this description to the climate in Iraq, it makes a lot of sense to describe the insurgence as this kind of organized crime situation. And the New York Times article appears to confirm it.

Not surprisingly, I haven't heard a single pundit, journalist or politician comment on the New York Times article since it appeared. These dimwits are buried in ideology, and the Times article doesn't fit their ideology, so they ignore it.

Just like Stephanopolous and crew are ignorant of the importance of the Israeli/Palestine issue, even after Jordan's King Abdullah tried to explain it to them FIVE TIMES.

Even if you, dear reader, believe that I'm wrong and that Iraq is in a "civil war," then you would still have to agree to the following: The mainstream media isn't even debating the organized crime interpretation, and they completely ignore it, including the Times article, just as they ignore the Israeli/Palestine issue. As I said, these guys appear to me to be a bunch of ideological morons, but you can believe whom you want.

At any rate, the NBC News announcement will not have anything like the huge impact that they're fantasizing about and, in fact, will probably be forgotten by next week.

As I said a couple of days ago, I can understand ordinary citizens not understanding the details of what's going on in the world (though it would be nice if they did), but these journalists, analysts, Senators and other politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are all supposed to be experts. It's pathetic and frightening that all our lives are in the hands of these self-aggrandizing idiots. (29-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Jordan's King Abdullah warns of explosions in Palestine and Lebanon

Abdullah repeatedly chided the ABC News interviewer Stephanopolous, who remained completely oblivious to what Abdullah was saying.

Regular readers of this web site know that I'm frequently critical of Washington journalists, analysts and politicians, but this was the most sickening display of the sheer stupidity of a bunch of airheads that I've seen in a while. ABC News should be so ashamed of this show that they should never speak of it again.

The first guest on Sunday's This Week With George Stephanopoulos was King Abdullah II of Jordan. I'm going to quote extensively from what he said, because it's something that Americans need to hear and understand.

No matter what the subject, journalists and politicians today immediately bring it back to Washington politics, as if there were nothing in the world that wasn't controlled by Washington politics. The biggest political issue today continues to be the so-called Iraqi "civil war." In fact, there was a lot of talk today about "civil wars." I'll come back to this subject later.

So Stephanopolous began by asking, "Is there a civil war in Iraq right now?" Abdullah immediately began to try to get Stephanopolous to understand that there were other things going on in the world, but to no avail.

Abdullah: "George, the problem we're tackling here is we're juggling the strong potential of three civil wars -- whether it's the Palestinians, Lebanon or Iraq. I hope that my discussions at least with the President will provide whatever we can do for the iraqi people, but at the same time we want to concentrate ourselves on the core issues, which we believe are the Palestinians and the Palestinian peace process, because that is a must today, as well as the tremendous concern we've had over the past several days over what's happening in Lebanon. We can possibly imagine going into 2007 and having 3 civil wars on our hands. And therefore it's that we take a strong step forward as part of the international community and make sure we avert the Middle East from a tremendous crisis that I fear and I see could possibly happen in 2007."

George Stephanopolous scrunches up his face as King Abdullah doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. <font size=-2>(Source: ABC News)</font>
George Stephanopolous scrunches up his face as King Abdullah doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. (Source: ABC News)

Three civil wars! Stephanopolous was almost dumbfounded. He sure wasn't expecting that. But he simply pulled it back to Washington politics, this time by implying that all three civil wars are the fault of the Bush administration for advocating democracy in the Mideast.

"That is a frightening prospect, the prospect of 3 civil wars," said Stephanopolous. "All 3 of those societies, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority have had elections over the last couple of years, and now we're seeing the prospect of civil war. Did the United States push too fast, too hard for democracy?"

Once again, Abdullah tried to pry Stephanopolous' mind loose from its one ideological track, and once again to no avail.

Abdullah: "The issue is not whether you're pushing one agenda or another. The issue is that we have not been able to deal with the core problem of the Middle East. Now I know that people will say that there are several core problems in the Middle East. Obviously the closest to American minds because of your commitments of soldiers is Iraq. But for the majority of those of us living in this part of the world, it has always been the Israeli/Palestinian and the Israeli/Arab problem, and I fear that if we don't use the next couple of months to really push the process forward, I don't believe that there will be anything to talk about. In other words, there will not be enough of a circumstance to be able to create a two-state solution, in other words, Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in peace and harmony. If we don't solve the Israeli/Palestinian problem, then how can we solve the Israeli/Arab problem. And I don't believe that beyond 2007, if we don't get the process going, there will be anything of a Palestine to talk about, and therefore, do we resign this entire region to another decade or two of violence, which none of us can afford."

King Abdullah knows that he has to be patient when talking to narcissistic Americans who believe that they're the center of the universe, and he tried to be diplomatic by saying that it's understandable that Americans think that Iraq is the only problem in the world, since American soldiers are there.

But he was trying to explain to somewhat dim-witted Stephanopolous that there are much more important problems in the world than Iraq.

Stephanopolous then asked one of the stupidest questions I've heard on TV lately: "But help me out here - doesn't the situation in Iraq have a logic of its own with the Sunnis and the Shiites killing each other in an uncontrolled manner. What does have to do with what's going on in Palestine?"

Is it really possible that Stephanopolous is so clueless that he thinks that the Palestine and Iraq situations have nothing to do with each other? Actually he is -- and I've commented on this before during the election run-up.

I can just imagine what went through King Abdullah's head -- how can Americans be so stupid? He tries once again to tell Stephanopolous what the situation is.

King Abdullah smiles as he explains to the airhead Stephanopolous what's going on in the Mideast. <font size=-2>(Source: ABC News)</font>
King Abdullah smiles as he explains to the airhead Stephanopolous what's going on in the Mideast. (Source: ABC News)

Abdullah: "Well, the thing is that as we look at the 3 potential flash points .... Before, I believe, the Lebanese war this summer, I would have put Iraq in the number 1 position. After the Lebanese war, the Palestinian scenario was in the number one position, followed very closely in the last several weeks, I would say that the Lebanese problem and the Palestinian ones are neck in neck. They're all extremely important, solving all three of them are going to be critical, but the priority today and the critical one is the Israeli/Palestinian one because it resonates beyond the borders of Iraq, beyond the borders of the Arab and the Muslim world. You know, you've been with this issue for many years, it is still the emotional core issue for our part of the world. The problem sometimes when we discuss this with an American public, they say, no, this is just an excuse because there are other problems in the Middle East. But the emotional impact that the Israeli/Palestinian problem has on the ground can be translated to the insecurity and frustrations throughout the Middle East and the Arab world. For me that is the priority. When it comes to things exploding out of control, I would put today, as we stand, Palestine and probably a close tie with Lebanon. Iraq funnily enough, although as concerned as I am of Iraq and the major problems that that might bring to us, is in third position. Obviously this is all relative."

Stephanopolous still has no idea what Abdullah is talking about. He changes the subject: "One of the ideas of dealing with all three of these issues is an international conference that would include Jordan, would include Saudi Arabia, would include Egypt, would include the United States, but also Syria and Iran. Do you think it would be useful to include Syria and Iran in that kind of a conference right now, and what kind of leverage does the US have over them."

Once again, King Abdullah tried to be diplomatic, but bring Stephanopolous back to the subject:

Abdullah: "Well, look, we always believe that dialog is a way of reaching out to each other. As we continue to push each other into corners, then the only alternative is to have more of a violent reaction than common sense leading the way. I do believe that there are feelers going to different countries to see if we can come together on the issue of Iraq.

But I believe that America has to look at it in the total picture. It's not just one issue by itself. I keep saying, Palestine is the core, it is linked to what is going on in Iraq, it is linked to what's going on in Lebanon, it is linked to the issues we find ourselves with the Syrians. So if you want to do comprehensive, then comprehensive means bringing all the parties of the region together."

Stephanopolous never did understand what Abdullah was talking about.

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

I've been saying repeatedly on this web site for years that we're headed for a "clash of civilizations" world war, and that this war will be driven mainly by the regions in the adjoining table. Every year on May 15, the Palestinians commemorate Al Naqba - Catastrophe Day - the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel on May 15, 1948.

I just can't get over how our supposedly knowledgeable journalists and politicians don't have a clue about any of this. In their minds, the entire problem in the Mideast began with the Iraqi ground war 3˝ years ago. They neglect that the fault line between Jews and Palestinians has existed in virulent form since 1948, and in a less virulent form, with only occasional violence, for centuries.

But people like Stephanopolous are so deeply sunk in the sewer of ideology that they can't think of anything else. They think that every event in the world turns on political events in Washington.

Following the interview with Abdullah, Stephanopolous interviewed two Senators, Democrat Dick Durban (Ill) and Republican Sam Brownback (Kan). I've gotten to the point where I find that most politicians are such morons that I can't even stand listening to them, but I forced myself this time to see if they would even mention the Palestinian problem.

They didn't disappoint me. They didn't say a single thing that wasn't supremely stupid. They made totally meaningless statements about Iraq, until the interview thankfully ended.

Probably the highlight of the interview was when Sen. Brownback raised his voice and said in stirring tones, "Clearly things have to be different and things have to move in a different direction!!"

Such is the pathetic nature of the people who are running our country in Washington.

The Israel/Palestine situation came up only once during the rest of the show, at the beginning of the pundit panel.

George Stephanopolous smirks as he summarizes what King Abdullah said. <font size=-2>(Source: ABC News)</font>
George Stephanopolous smirks as he summarizes what King Abdullah said. (Source: ABC News)

And wait till you read this.

Stephanopolous had a smirk on his face, as if to show how much smarter he is than the King, and he said this to pundit George Will: "You heard King Abdullah - he says we're now facing the potential of 3 civil wars in the region, and he says the only way to deal with it -- all 3 wars -- is to deal with all 3 wars at the same time -- a comprehensive solution - I knew you would not like that."

George Will rolled his eyes and responded, "When you have three problems you can't solve, you say let's solve them all at once with a comprehensive solution. There's no commonality here. The King would have us believe that if, somehow, we waved a wand and there were peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, that the Shias and the Sunnis would stop killing one another in Iraq? I don't think so. The Shia and Sunni traditions go back to the death of Mohammed - that's 1374 years ago."

I guess George Will thinks that King Abdullah doesn't know the history of the Shiites and Sunnis. You have to laugh, it's so pathetic.

Of course Abdullah didn't say anything like that. What he did say was that the Palestinian problem was the core problem, and far more important than the Iraq problem. He said it five times. But both Stephanopolous and Will ignored him. It's incredible.

And then -- get this -- Stephanopolous said, "His point was that that might help the American image."

Can you believe this? Abdullah wasn't talking about the American image. He was talking about a brewing catastrophe among the Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese.

I'm sorry, I just can't get over this. I can understand ordinary citizens not understanding the details of the Mideast (though it would be nice if they did), but these people are all supposed to be experts. It's pathetic and frightening that all our lives are in the hands of people like these.

The Three Civil Wars

Abdullah said that there might be three civil wars by 2007 -- in Palestine, in Lebanon, and in Iraq.

A civil war among the Palestinians, between the Fatah and Hamas groups, is a real possibility. The Palestinians and Israelis are in a generational crisis era, and they're headed for a major genocidal war, one way or another.

But the other two civil wars will not happen, because both Lebanon and Iraq are in generational Awakening eras.

Lebanon's government is in a state of chaos, thanks to the assassination of Pierre Gemayel earlier this week, following threats by Hizbollah to take over the government, and this is on top of recovering from the summer war with Israel.

It's possible that Hizbollah will execute some kind of political coup that will give them control of the Lebanese government, but if it happens, it will be political rather than war. The Lebanese are still traumatized by what they did to each other in the 1980s civil war, and will not do anything like it again.

The so-called Iraq "civil war" is receiving plenty of pundit attention these days. Actually, they almost can't talk about anything else.

CNN has really gone over to the dark side. Their reporters speak contemptuously of anyone who doesn't call it a civil war now, and Michael Ware, their Tehran reporter, spends 10-15 minutes on air every day doing everything possible to emphasize the gore. He's no longer reporting facts; he's reporting a point of view. People always talk about Fox News being on the right politically, and that's true, but CNN has gone waaaaay over to the left, and is in danger of losing all credibility.

But the fact is that there's no civil war in Iraq, and there won't be.

The talk picked up this week when five car bombs exploded in Sadr City, killing 150-200 people. Car bombs and terrorist acts are no more signs of civil war than was the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center that killed 3000 people. For Iraq to be in a civil war, you'd need to see large masses of Sunnis and Shiites murdering each other, not a series of well-planned terrorist attacks, no matter how gory.

Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr <font size=-2>(Source: SumariaTV)</font>
Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr (Source: SumariaTV)

Mainstream media news sources constantly play up the violence and gore in order to reach ideological conclusions about civil war. That's why it's instructive to read what Moqtada al-Sadr himself said in a press conference following the car bombings. The following article is from an Iraqi source, and it just reports what al-Sadr said, without festooning it with all the ideological crap that Western media uses:

"Cleric Muqtada Sadr pleaded Muslim Scholars Association Secretary General, Hareth Dari to encircle the crisis and issue a Fatwa banning the affiliation to Al Qaeda organization and killing Shiites. He strongly slammed Sadr City attacks reiterating his call for US forces to withdraw from Iraq so the country would be reunited. Moreover, Cleric Saleh Haydari, Al-Khallani Mosque Imam, accused some groups of providing shelters to armed squads infiltrating from other countries of breaching Mecca paper. He underlined the call of Sistani to restrain anger and pleaded the government to enhance the terrorism fighting law and provide security and stability in the country.

"Meanwhile Sadr Bloc threatened to suspend its membership with the Iraqi parliament if Iraqi President Nuri Al Maliki met with US President Bush in Jordan. After holding US forces responsible for Sadr City incidents, Sadr Bloc called Coalition forces to withdraw from the country and urged politicians to stop violence fomenting statements."

Notice what al-Sadr DIDN'T say: He didn't say that his people should go out and kill all the Sunnis. That's what he would say if there were a real civil war.

Instead, he ascribed the terrorist act not to Sunnis but to al-Qaeda, the same group that was responsible for our 9/11 attacks. And as we said, last week's attacks were no more civil war than the 9/11 attacks were.

Al-Sadr also called for the withdrawal of American troops and threatened political retaliation against Iraqi President Nuri Al Maliki. This is exactly the kind of political and social upheaval that takes place during an Awakening era.

If you haven't read my 2004 article comparing Iraq's current Awakening era to 1960s America, in a while, then take another look at it. It's true that the huge number of murders taking place in Iraq today is horrible, but it's not a civil war.

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, on an increasingly crowded CNN screen <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Henry Kissinger, on an increasingly crowded CNN screen (Source: CNN)

Getting back to the Palestine issue, I only heard one pundit on any of the Sunday talk shows mention it, and that was Henry Kissinger on CNN. Wolf Blitzer asked the same question that Abdullah was asked -- namely whether it was America's push for democracy that caused the trouble in the Mideast. He also asked whether we should now admit our mistake and withdraw. Here are excerpts of his answer:

"I've been arguing that imposing a democracy is beyond our capacity in many parts of the world. On the other hand, standing for democracy is inevitable. The purpose in going in Iraq was related to our perception of the war on terror and on the danger of a Jihadist movement throughout the region.

Undoubtedly mistakes have been made, but the issue we're facing now, is whether if we withdraw under conditions in which the radicals can say they drove the Russians out of Afghanistan, they drove the Americans out of Iraq, and there is no vestige of an American position left. This is bound to have serious consequences, not only throughout the region, but wherever there are significant Islamic minorities that have radical cells implanted in them, including in countries like India, and some of the European countries.

So I believe that any change in policy, which on the whole I favor, has to be done in a measured way and related to a strategic concept, and not simply say that we made a mistake a few years ago, which I also don't agree with in such absolute terms, and therefore we're simply going to get out. We have to create a framework for the next phase, in which America remains relevant. ...

I, as you know, have always questioned whether it is possible to develop democracy at the same time scale as it was necessary to deal with the strategic issues in the region, but I don't believe that the commitment to democracy is the cause of the difficulties - the cause of the difficulties say in Lebanon is the creation by Iran of a paramiltary organization - they've called the Hezbollah, which is better armed, better trained than the Lebanese government. Therefore, it's not the aspiration to democracy, but the rejection of democracy by a significant group that wants to establish itself by force."

So, all in all, the Sunday news shows were very discouraging, because only Jordan's King Abdullah and Henry Kissinger said anything that wasn't completely idiotic.

P.S.: Just one more thing. I keep hearing statements that the "Iraq war has now gone on longer than World War II." Once again, our politicians, journalists and pundits can't be faulted for not being stupid enough. The Iraq war has been going on a lot longer than that. It began in 1991, after Iraq invaded Kuwait. This 16-year war has undergone several phases. First, Iraq was ejected from Kuwait. Then there were several years of overflights to protect the Kurds and Sunnis from Saddam. The latest phase began in earnest in December, 1998, when Saddam expelled the U.N. weapons inspectors. The Clinton/Gore administration immediately began furiously bombing Iraq, and that bombing continued on almost a daily basis, into the next administration. The war escalated again in 2003, with the ground war in the Bush/Cheney Administration. (26-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Israel and Palestinians agree to a cease-fire in Gaza Strip

Is it a ploy?

The Gaza Strip cease-fire agreement will go into effect at 6 am Sunday (local time), or 11 pm Saturday evening ET.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah announcing the peace agreement. <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah announcing the peace agreement. (Source: CNN)

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh (or Rudainah) said from Gaza City that a truce reached in Egypt in February 2005 would be revived. "There is a signed agreement between the president and [Hamas] Prime Minister (Ismail) Haniyeh and all the Palestinian factions to resort to the agreement of the factions in Cairo in 2005, including ceasing all the military activity from Gaza, starting from Sunday morning. The Israeli prime minister has agreed, and it is going to start tomorrow morning."

Israeli intelligence sources believe that the peace treaty is a Hamas ploy to give them time to prepare for the next war. Indeed, it appears that new weapons are pouring into Gaza through the porous border with Egypt.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this peace treaty doesn't change the prediction that the Mideast is heading for a major crisis war between Arabs and Jews that will engulf the entire region.

Actually, it's fairly common for two sides to sign a peace treaty in the lead-up to a crisis war. There may be years of low-level violence as long as the leaders on both sides were survivors of the previous crisis war. But when those people go (retire or die), and the new leaders are from the generation born after the previous crisis war, then it becomes clearer to everyone that the low-level violence might now spiral out of control into full scale war. At that point it's not unusual for the sides to sign a peace deal under international pressure.

This is what happened six months before the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The UN-sponsored Arusha accords, agreed by the Hutus and Tutsis, supposedly ended the civil war. But the agreement infuriated the Hutus, leading to the genocide.

The Tamil Tiger rebels signed a peace treaty with the Sri Lanka government in 2002, under outside mediation, but the peace deal fell apart in 2004, and Sri Lanka now appears close to a major civil war.

In fact, there have been several failed peace treaties between the Arabs and Jews, including the failed 1994 Oslo Peace Treaty.

So, maybe the new Gaza peace treaty is a ploy by Hamas, or maybe it's a sincere effort by both sides to stop what is quickly becoming an uncontrolled spiral of violence. Either way, it won't prevent the generational changes that will soon lead a major war between Arabs and Jews that will engulf the entire region. (25-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Americans give thanks as desperation sinks in

The Armed Forces are stretched to the limit and, as Kofi Annan says, we're "trapped in Iraq."

A new generation, a young generation of voters made itself felt in the recent election. This generation is sometimes called the "Millennials" or "Generation Y" (its final name won't be assigned until after the war).

The Millennials voted for "change" and for a "solution to the Iraq problem" in the recent election. But now there's a growing feeling of desperation as Americans realize that there is no solution.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan put it this way in a press conference on Tuesday:

"On the question of the military presence, obviously it is a difficult issue. The US in a way is trapped in Iraq, trapped in the sense that it cannot stay and it cannot leave. There are those who maintain that its presence is a problem, and there are those who say that if they leave precipitously, the situation would get worse, and that they should stay on to help calm and stabilize the situation before they leave. I think the US obviously will have to think through this very, very carefully, but the timing of its departure will have to be optimal in the sense that it should not lead to further deterioration of the situation but try and get it into a level that when it leaves, when it withdraws, the Iraqis themselves will be able to continue to maintain a situation that would ensure a reasonable secure environment."

The Pentagon, in a leaked secret report, is planning for three possible options, dubbed "Go Big," "Go Long" and "Go Home."

The first option, "Go Big," calls for a big increase in American troop presence to crush the insurgency as quickly as possible.

Americans are now beginning to realize that we couldn't do it that way even if we wanted to: The armed forces are already stretched too thin, and the soldiers and marines necessary for that option are simply not available.

The third option, "Go Home," is being recommended by the so-called "anti-war Democrats," but it's being rejected by the mainstream everywhere I can see. There's never been much of an "antiwar" movement over the Iraq war, and I don't expect one to start now.

The leaves the second option: "Go Long." The word "Long" means we'll be there for a long time. There'll be some changes, of course -- focusing more on training Iraqis to be better soldiers -- but basically this policy will be perceived as a continuation of the existing policy.

Sooooo, what to do? We've gotten so desperate that we're consider negotiations with Iran and Syria to get their help. Tony Blair has called for some sort of negotiations, and Henry Kissinger is advocating an extensive negotiation program, but only after we figure out a way to avoid negotiating from weakness.

Of course there's no way to negotiate with Iran and Syria over Iraq except from a position of weakness. We want THEIR help in saving us from being "trapped in Iraq"? We're so desperate that they must be screaming with laughter in their private government conferences. I'm surprised we haven't heard any sarcastic remarks from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yet.

Oh wait ... Iran has already beaten us to the punch. Iraq and Iran have restored diplomatic relations, and Iran is holding a "Iraq summit meeting" this weekend. We'll be hearing some comments from Ahmadinejad soon, I'm sure.

Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese join (anti-Syrian, pro-government) funeral procession in downtown Beirut on Thursday. <font size=-2>(Source: Spiegel)</font>
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese join (anti-Syrian, pro-government) funeral procession in downtown Beirut on Thursday. (Source: Spiegel)

The Mideast is changing very rapidly right now. The rift between pro- and anti-Syrian forces in Lebanon is deepening, following Tuesday's assassination of cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel. Jihadists are furious that today's planned pro-Hizbollah demonstrations had to be postponed, in favor of a huge funeral procession consisting of hundreds of thousands of mostly pro-government mourners.

The war in Gaza is still escalating. Israel continues to bomb Palestinian homes suspected of being weapons caches, in order to prevent Palestinian missiles from being launched into Israeli cities. But now the Palestinians are using "human shields" to protect the homes. More worrisome is that the border between Gaza and Egypt has become considerably more pourous in the last few months, permitting more sophisticated weapons, including more sophisticated missiles, to enter Gaza. And fighting between Palestinian factions (Hamas and Fatah) is continuing.

The Israelis are feeling even more desperate than Americans do. In April, the Israeli voters voted, essentially, to hide behind their security wall and just shut the Palestinians out. Then came thousands of Hizbollah missiles in the summer war, and the continuing stream of missiles from Gaza. And now Iran is becoming a regional leader, and Iran's President has vowed to wipe Israel off the map.

Here in America (as in Israel and Palestine), the new generation of young voters is driving the changes that we're seeing. They voted for "change" and for a "solution to the Iraq problem" in November, and they're not getting it. The cast of politicians may have changed, but we're still "trapped in Iraq." And the war in Afghanistan is becoming considerably more dangerous, with a resurgence of the Taliban in the south.

Americans are feeling desperate, but it hasn't yet reached the point where they realize how bad things are. They still see Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza as separate, distinct issues, with little crossover, and with "trapped in Iraq" being our only real problem. What most Americans, including most politicians in Washington, don't understand the rising tide of violence in each country is part of the same ocean of violence that's headed for the region.

As America heads for a "clash of civilizations" world war, Thanksgiving is a good day to remember: Treasure the time you have left, and use it to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation. (23-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Assassination of Lebanese Minister threatens viability of Lebanon government

Independence Day celebrations were canceled on Wednesday as thousands mourned the murder of cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel, a strong opponent of Syrian influence in Lebanon. The murder occurred as Gemayel was arriving to pay condolences to the family of an old woman who had died. Gemayel's face was destroyed by a dozen bullets.

The murder comes 1˝ years after a powerful car bomb blast in Beirut killed the beloved former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Hariri was a strong supporter of Lebanese nationalism -- that is, a Lebanon not under Syrian control. Most people blamed Syria for the assassination, and international pressure forced Syria to withdraw its army units from Lebanon.

The Lebanese became polarized into pro-Syria and anti-Syria factions, with the militia group Hizbollah leading the pro-Syria group.

Since then, there have been 6 more assassinations of public officials -- all of them opposed to Syrian influence -- culminating in Gemayel's assassination.

As if that weren't enough suffering for this poor little country, it became the theatre of war for 34 days this past summer, when pro-Syrian Hizbollah started shooting missiles into Israel, and Israel brought its air force into Lebanon to flatten Hizbollah -- though in the end it may have flattened every EXCEPT Hizbollah.

Hizbollah chief Sheik Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has been claiming that it won the war against Israel, and has been demanding control of the Lebanese government. Nasrallah precipitated a crisis two weeks ago by withdrawing the six ministers he controls from the Lebanese cabinet, and Thursday was the day he had threatened massive anti-government demonstrations.

That's on hold now -- at least for a while. But the government and the people of Lebanon have been thrown into political chaos.

Many Lebanese are fearing a return to the violence genocidal civil war of the 1980s, but regular readers of this web site already know that's impossible -- you can't have a new crisis war now since only one generation has passed since the end of the last one.

Still, the current chaos could lead to Nasrallah having significantly more power in Lebanon's government, as now seems possible in some scenarios. This it would effectively mean Syrian and Iranian control of Lebanon, and Iran's use of Lebanon as a base of operations in the coming regional Mideast war between Arabs and Jews. (22-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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South Vietnamese warmly welcome George Bush, goading the Communists in Hanoi

In contrast to muted welcome in Hanoi, and angry demonstrations in Jakarta, President Bush received a very warm welcome in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Crowds of onlookers lined the streets, waving and cheering as Bush's motorcade rolled past. The cheers were led by young people born after the Vietnam war with America. These young people correspond to our Baby Boomer generation, born after World War II, who rioted and demonstrated in 1960s and 1970s in FAVOR of the North Vietnamese Communists.

Now the young post-war South Vietnamese youth are turning the tables and sticking it to the North Vietnamese Communist occupiers by cheering for American President George Bush.

The highlight of Bush's visit to the former Saigon was to needle Hanoi further by a trip to Vietnam's stock exchange, a capitalist, free market symbol.

To understand what's happening in South Vietnam today, it's necessary to look back a few centuries.

North and South Vietnam have had different ethnic origins, with North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) originally populated by ethnic Chinese, and South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. Generational crisis wars in 1471 and 1545 finally ended the Champa Kingdom in the south, and also drove out the Chinese Army from the north. However, the country remained partitioned, with the Nguyen family controlling the South, and the Trinh family controlling the North.

The greatest and most celebrated military event in Vietnamese history is the Tay-Son Rebellion, 1771-1790. It was started by three brothers, led by legendary hero Quang Trung. They first defeated the Nguyen regime in the south, then defeated the Trinh in the north, and repelled an invading Siamese force.

The most significant battle of the Tay-Son Rebellion crisis war was its explosive climax in 1789. Quang Trung led his troops in a brilliant battle against a much larger Chinese army and repelled them. Quang Trung is a military hero who had reunited Vietnam, for the first time in 200 years, repelled the Siamese and saved his country from Chinese domination.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a country's crisis wars occur roughly every 70-90 years, and midway between two crisis wars is a "generational awakening era." This is a time of social upheaval, but also a time of spiritual development. Throughout history, great ideas and religions are born during Awakening eras, and are either actualized or extinguished during Crisis eras.

Vietnam's Awakening era that followed the Tay-Son rebellion changed the country enormously. During the 1800s, under Emperor Tu-Duc, cultural development blossomed, making it the high point of literary culture in Vietnamese history. Thanks to the French, Christianity bloomed, with hundreds of thousands of Catholic conversions from Confucianism and Buddhism.

However, things changed rapidly in 1857, when Tu-Duc executed a Spanish Bishop. France responded by capturing Saigon, leading Tu-Duc to start relentlessly suppressing Christianity, sanctioning thousands of executions. This led to the next crisis war, the French conquest of Indochina in 1865-1885.

Under the French, the Catholic Church flourished, opening missions, schools and hospitals all over the country.

Vietnam's next Awakening era featured riots and demonstrations directed at the French colonialists, and the rise of Ho Chi Minh. Ho took part in the founding of the French Communist Party in 1920, and formed the Revolutionary Youth League in Vietnam in 1925. Ho led numerous anti-colonial uprisings in the following decades, and during WW II, Ho formed the Viet Minh political / relief organization, for people starving to death thanks to confiscation of goods by the occupying Japanese.

After WW II, Ho Chi Minh led the effort to drive the French from Vietnam, and succeeded with human wave assaults against a large French encampment at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

With the French gone, Vietnam was once again partitioned into North and South. Ho controlled the North, with support from the Soviet Union and China, and over half a million Catholics migrated from the North to the South. America feared that South Vietnam would also fall under Communist control.

This was the time when America had fought two world wars, and was desperately fearful of a third one on the horizon, this time with the Communists. It was considered essential to stop Communism before it could become too threatening, and so America endeavored to stop Communism from spreading from North to South Vietnam. American began providing advisors in the 1950s, growing to full-scale armed intervention in the 1960s. The North-South crisis civil war finally ended in 1974, with the Hanoi's victory.

After that, Hanoi conducted a reign of terror. There were mass executions, as political, religious, economic and press freedoms were brutally repressed.

But now, 30 years later, Vietnam is well into a yet one more Awakening era. This time it's the Communists of the North who are the occupiers, and the people of the South are becoming restive. weary of the lack of religious, economic and press freedoms.

So when the young people lined the streets of the former Saigon and cheered wildly as George Bush's limousine went by, the cheers were expressing admiration for America, and also hostility towards their Hanoi masters. (21-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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World leaders pose for pictures in Hanoi

President Bush is attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. By tradition, the summit's host country is permitted to select the clothing to be worn for the group picture. In this case, the clothing consists of traditional colored robes.

George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao enjoy a moment of cheer together at APEC, dressed in traditional "ao dai" robes
George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao enjoy a moment of cheer together at APEC, dressed in traditional "ao dai" robes

The entire group of leaders is waiting to be beamed up to a waiting spaceship.
The entire group of leaders is waiting to be beamed up to a waiting spaceship.

(19-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Stocks, credit and risk continue their bubblicious rise

The stock market has reached a fresh record high almost every day in the last couple of weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 12343 on Friday, overpriced by a factor of 242%, according to long-term exponential growth projections.

This level of overpricing (240%+) was reached on 16-Aug-1929, two weeks before the stock market crash, and then again in July, 1997, three years before the Nasdaq crash of 2000.

What I find to be really startling is that price/earnings ratios are starting to rise again, after falling steadily for over 2˝ years.

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio and S&P 500-stock Index as of 17-Nov-2006. <font size=-2>(Source: MarketGauge ® by DataView, LLC)</font>
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio and S&P 500-stock Index as of 17-Nov-2006. (Source: MarketGauge ® by DataView, LLC)

This increase, which began about a month ago, means that investors are suddenly becoming increasingly risk-seeking, and so increasingly giddy in their investment decisions. Is this a sign of investor overconfidence, or a sign of investor desperation? Time will tell which.

The stock market isn't the only place where bubblicious giddiness is evident.

The global derivatives market grew by 25% in the first half of this year, a phenomenal rate of growth. As we described a couple of weeks ago, $300 trillion in derivatives is based on just $65 trillion of underlying stocks and bonds.

Now we learn that the derivatives market rose to $370 trillion by the end of June, 2006. The stock market bubble is gradually becoming larger and larger, but the derivatives bubble is blowing up at a phenomenally rapid rate. It's no exaggeration to say that the global financial market today is almost completely controlled by the derivatives market, not by stocks and bonds.

The fastest growing and largest segment of the derivatives market is credit derivatives, capturing $262 trillion of the total $370 trillion.

Credit derivatives permit investors to spread risk around, presumably making the global financial markets more stable. In simplest terms, credit derivatives allow an investor to bet whether interest rates are going to go up or down.

That's like betting Red or Green on a roulette wheel. How could that possibly make the global financial markets more stable? At least when everyone is investing in stocks and bonds, then it's possible (and likely, over the long term) that EVERYONE will make money. But when you bet on a roulette wheel, you're simply gambling on chance, and one man's gain is another man's loss.

And since these credit derivative instruments are sold and resold, often to the same people, at increasingly high prices, you actually have a worldwide pyramid scheme based on a worldwide gambling enterprise.

The argument that the derivatives market makes the financial system more stable is very widely believed among investors. Alan Greenspan has made that claim several times.

The head of an industry group says, "Derivatives are a power for the good of the financial system as a whole. Not only do they help individual businesses better adapt their risk profiles but they benefit the financial system by disaggregating risk more broadly."

That derivatives make the global financial system more stable is far from clear, at least to me, but one thing's for sure: A lot of people BELIEVE that derivatives make the global financial system more stable.

And since a lot of people believe that the financial system is more stable, investors are willing to take more and more risks, thus making the financial system LESS stable. That's why we see the very risky derivatives market exploding, and that's probably why we're seeing price/earnings ratios rise again.

Household credit market debt has grown exponentially since the end of WW II.  (SAAR=seasonally adjusted annual rate) <font size=-2>(Source:</font>
Household credit market debt has grown exponentially since the end of WW II. (SAAR=seasonally adjusted annual rate) (Source:

Meanwhile, household debt continues to skyrocket. That adjoining graph shows that it's been growing exponentially since the end of World War II.

Mainstream macroeconomics is completely unable to explain or predict any of these phenomena. The explosive growth of derivatives, the rise in price/earnings ratios and the continued exponential growth of credit represent complete failures in mainstream macroeconomics.

As I wrote in "System Dynamics and the Failure of Macroeconomics Theory," these phenomena are rather directly explained when you incorporate System Dynamics and generational patterns into macroeconomics theory.

Mainstream macroeconomics predicts that debt levels should decrease as interest rates increase, and the opposite has happened. This is complete failure of mainstream macroeconomics theory.

The growth of household credit is explained by the fact that, following WW II, the percentage of people in the investor population who had personal memory of the horrors of the Great Depression ketp going down, and the younger generations were much more willing to take investment risks. By the 1990s, all the senior financial executive positions were taken by people from these younger generations, and that's why the stock market bubble began in 1995.

For the same reason, investors are still becoming increasingly risk-seeking. Led on by assurances that the financial system is stable, they've take more and more risks, and have created a worldwide pyramid scheme of highly inter-dependent high-risk investments, which has become as weak as its weakest investment. It would take only one or two major failures to collapse the entire system.

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 with the derivatives market, investor risk and household credit all growing faster and faster, with nothing to stop further growth, the current "stability" cannot last much longer. (19-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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The Democrats tackle the Iraq war

Democrats and Republicans alike are hoping that Jim Baker will bail them out.

New Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says that ending the war is her highest priority. But how?

As regular readers of this web site know, I've frequently argued that George Bush had no choice politically but to pursue a ground invasion of Iraq in 2003, and if Al Gore had been President after 9/11, he would have done the same thing. Either way, we'd be in generally the same situation today.

The current situation provides a kind of test. With the Democrats now in power, and presuming to have a mandate to end the war, we can see if they succeed.

So far, the signs don't indicate that they can even come up with plan. The proposals are as follows:

Army General John Abizaid, speaking at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Saturday. <font size=-2>(Source: Reuters)</font>
Army General John Abizaid, speaking at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Saturday. (Source: Reuters)

Actually, when I talk about "naysayers," I mean one naysayer in particular: Army General John Abizaid, who testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. The list above summarizes some of the major questions and responses.

One thing was pretty clear: No one has any idea what to do next except to try to fight the war to victory. Although there are a few "anti-war" Democrats who are demanding early withdrawal of troops, there's little support even from Democrats for such a move.

This is what I mean: There may be a new set of politicians in town, but there's no choice but to follow the same policy.

Speaking at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on Saturday, General Abizaid compared al-Qaeda to the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Europe.

"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology today, we'll go through World War Three tomorrow," he said. If not stopped, the extremists would be allowed to "gain an advantage, to gain a safe haven, to develop weapons of mass destruction, to develop a national place from which to operate. And I think that the dangers associated with that are just too great to comprehend".

Abizaid said the world faces three major hurdles in stabilizing the Middle East region, and all three of them come together in Iraq: Easing Arab-Israeli tensions, stemming the spread of militant extremism, and dealing with Iran.

There's a new political twist to threats of an Iraqi "civil war."

As I've said zillions of time on this web site, you can call anything you want a civil war, but a real civil war in Iraq is impossible at this time, because only one generation has passed since the genocidal Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a war where you have massive numbers of Sunnis and Shiites killing each other is not possible for several more decades.

In fact, CIA director Gen. Michael V. Hayden told the Armed Services Committee that "No single narrative is sufficient to explain all the violence in Iraq today."

"No single narrative is sufficient to explain all the violence we see in Iraq today," Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the CIA director, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

Attempting to describe the enemy, Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, the DIA director, listed "Iraqi nationalists, ex-Baathists, former military, angry Sunni, Jihadists, foreign fighters and al-Qaeda," who create an "overlapping, complex and multi-polar Sunni insurgent and terrorist environment." He added that "Shia militias and Shia militants, some Kurdish pesh merga, and extensive criminal activity further contribute to violence, instability and insecurity."

A more detailed description was given by Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples:

"The conflict is unquestionably complex and difficult. The fight to define post-Saddam Iraq has been primarily an intra-Arab struggle to determine how power and authority will be distributed. Iraqi nationalists, Baathists, former military, angry Sunni, Jihadists, foreign fighters, and al Qaida provide an overlapping, complex and multi-polar Sunni insurgent and terrorist environment. Shia militias and Shia militants, and extensive criminal activity further contribute to violence, instability, and insecurity.

The U.S. presence obscured the true nature of this fight between and among competing groups for power as observers focused on insurgent attacks and rhetoric directed at the United States. Today, DIA assesses the conditions for the further deterioration of security and instability exists within this ongoing, violent struggle for power. Although a significant breakdown of central authority has not occurred, Iraq has moved closer to this possibility primarily because of weak governance, increasing security challenges, and no agreement on a national compact."

As you can see from Gen. Maples testimony, the situation is extremely complex, and he believes, as many do now in Washington, that there is the potential for full-scale civil war now in Iraq. He doesn't say that it's happened yet, or that it's happening now, but that it's "moving closer."

The thing is that it never does get there. Iraq is in a "generational awakening" period, and there's a powerful generational pull back from full-scale civil war. You can call this kind of violence a civil war if you want, but if you're expecting the kind of all-out civil war that's occurring in Darfur today, or Rwanda or the Balkans in the early 1990s, then it's not going to happen, because it's impossible during a generational awakening era.

But now we can see what the new political twist is.

During the last couple of years, it's the Democrats who have been promoting the view that Iraq is moving toward civil war, arguing that the Administration policy has been a failure, and now we should just pull out and let them fight the civil war themselves. This is what we did in Vietnam, isn't it, and that worked out OK, didn't it? (Ignoring the massive genocide that occurred in Cambodia following the American withdrawal.)

But now the "civil war argument" comes from the other side. It's the Administration side that's saying that if we pull out now, then there'll be massive civil war in Iraq, and this will result in the World War III that I quoted Abizaid above as referring to.

This whole "civil war" argument is really beginning to bemuse me, but of course the situation is very serious.

I first wrote about this "civil war" fear on August 19, 2003, just after the United Nations building in Baghdad had been bombed. Here's what I said:

"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."

This is what's happening now. Iraq is, more and more, becoming a "theatre of war" for outside Muslim terrorist groups.

Tony Blair said something similar in an interview on Saturday:

"[You] see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq? It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we're headed for a "clash of civilizations" world war, it's increasingly clear that Iraq will be an important theatre of war for that world war.

In the meantime, the government is becoming increasingly paralyzed. That's because the government is currently run by the Boomer generation, the generation born after WW II, the generation that has no skills except the ability to make vitriolic statements about people who DO try to get something done.

The only person who was actually doing something was Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was born in 1932, and is from the Silent generation, a generation of people who actually have skills besides arguing. Rumsfeld has been restructuring the armed forces to prepare the country for the coming Crisis. His replacement by a bureaucratic Boomer is an enormous loss to the nation and will cost us.

No one in Washington knows what to do about Iraq, but what's really funny is that, between making vitriolic statements, everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, is hoping and praying that Jim Baker will bail them out. Jim Baker is heading up a bi-partisan committee to make recommendations on Iraq, and he'll be making his recommendations in December. Why is this funny? Because Baker is another Silent, born in 1930, and is one of the few people left in Washington who can still get things done. But Baker's report will be non-binding, so it's unlikely that anything difficult in it will be implemented.

There's another important principle of Generational Dynamics (applying concepts of Chaos Theory): No political decision can have a predictable effect on the coming "clash of civilizations" world war.

So it's possible that withdrawing our troops will speed up the start of the world war, and it's possible that NOT withdrawing our troops will speed up the start of the world war. It's impossible to predict.

So my expectation is that last week's Democratic victory won't lead to any major change in policy in Iraq, but the effect of any such policy change is unpredictable anyway, so it doesn't really matter, does it.

As I've said many times, Generational Dynamics tells you the final destination, but doesn't tell how you get there. So we don't know how we'll get to the "clash of civilizations" world war, by my expectation continues to be that we won't withdraw our troops until some larger war elsewhere (Palestine/Israel, Taiwan, etc.) forces us to do so. (18-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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MI5 chief: U.K. is flooded with Islamic terrorists and sympathizers

Over 100,000 young British Muslims call the 7/7 London subway bombings "justifiable," according to a speech last week by Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the Director-General of MI5, Britain's equivalent of the CIA.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the MI5 Director-General
Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the MI5 Director-General

Introducing herself "not as a politician, nor as a pundit, but as someone who has been an intelligence professional for 32 years," Dame Eliza said that hundreds of young British Muslims are being radicalised, groomed and set on a path to mass murder.

The following are extracts from the speech she gave last week:

With regard to Dame Eliza's points on the motivations of the terrorists, Generational Dynamics explains a lot of the motivations of suicide bombers.

Generational Dynamics cannot predict the attitudes and behaviors of any individual, since each individual is free to do what he or she wants. But Generational Dynamics can and does predict much about the attitudes and behaviors of generations of people.

We're seeing that suicide bombers only come from societies that have entered generational crisis periods, and not before. This indicates that the generational crisis period changes society so that it makes the creation of suicide bombers possible. (It's remarkable that with so many suicide bombings going on in Iraq, almost none of the actual suicide bombers are Iraqis.)

Further findings, obtained by combining Generational Dynamics research with Robert Pape's study of suicide bombers, published in the book Dying to Win, we find that suicide bombers justify their terrorist acts as "altruistic suicide." Pape found that suicide bombers most likely come from countries occupied by another country, and his research shows that they come overwhelming from countries that have passed through a generational crisis era without having a crisis war. In these countries, the parents have accepted the occupation, albeit bitterly and reluctantly. But their impatient children take it upon themselves to free their parents' generation from this occupation by this unique form of altruistic suicide.

These studies have led to a "Hero / Parent / Prophet" generational model that explains the motivation and development of terrorist acts and crisis wars that are led by a young generation of "Heroes":

There's a group of "Prophets" that teenagers listen to; these are usually (but not always) elders, and they might be government officials, religious clerics, or even media personalities (like Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's Daily Show). Each of these prophets presents a different political philosophy to teenagers. Groups of teens select from among these alternative Prophet political philosophies in the same way that they might select a rock star or fashion item. Rebellious groups select political philosophies that provide for action against society, and the most extreme of these rebellious groups select political philosophies that call for terrorist acts and suicide bombings. These rebellious teen groups become "Heroes" by altruistic suicide (killing themselves for the good of the greater community).

Do their parents have any influence? Yes, but in an unexpected manner: In a formula described by Hannah Arendt, they become Heroes by adopting "the attitudes and convictions of the bourgeoisie, cleansed of hypocrisy." In Arendt's formulation, the parents are the bourgeoisie with the message: "We hate the occupiers, but we have to get along with them and do business with them." Their "Hero" children cleanse this message of hypocrisy, changing it to: "We hate the occupiers, and we must take action to correct the situation." Depending on the circumstances, the action can be in the form of riots and demonstrations, terrorist acts and suicide bombings, or full-scale war.

Based on Dame Eliza's speech, and on other information that's been published since the July 7, 2005, London subway bombings, the "Prophets" that the young generation of British Muslims have selected are the radical clerics running the madrassas in Pakistan. Furthermore, the "success" of the 7/7 subway bombings has served to popularize the clerics even more.

It's important to understand that the selection of radical Pakistani prophets is an emotional decision, a form of mass hysteria not unlike young girls screaming their love for the Beatles or another pop star. There is now a very strong emotional link between young British Muslims and these Pakistani radicals. The young Muslims don't listen to anyone else, just as many Americans and Britons don't listen to George Bush or Tony Blair. It's only the message of the Pakistani radicals that they hear or want to hear.

That's why radical Islamic attitudes are spreading so quickly through the UK population. Dame Eliza says that the number of terrorist plots is constantly growing, and that over 100,000 British citizens now consider the 7/7 subway bombings to be "justified."

As I frequently say on this site, I'm always looking for massive changes in behavior and attitude in any country, because that almost always signals a major generational change. That's the case in Britain, where the new generation of young "Hero" Muslims is massively adopting a radical Islamist view.

Question: What can be done to stop this trend? Answer: It can't be stopped. I'll use the same rhetoric that I use to explain why Darfur's genocidal crisis war cannot be stopped: A generational crisis war cannot be stopped any more than a tsunami can be stopped.

Similarly, this shift in attitudes and behaviors of young British Muslims favoring terrorist acts and suicide bombings in Britain and other places is a massive generational change that cannot be stopped any more than a tsunami can be stopped. All we can do is see that the tsunami is coming, and prepare for it.

More and more today, I tell people: Treasure the time you have left, and use it to prepare yourself, your family, your community and your nation. Dame Eliza's speech indicates that there may not be much time left. (13-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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In Flanders Fields


In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. (11-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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UN: 11 countries are pouring weapons into Somalia, as it prepares for war

Iran has provided 250 anti-aircraft missiles, while Syria, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Eritrea, Djibouti and Saudi Arabia also give military support to the radical Islamists, according to an arms embargo violations report to the U.N. Security Council, due out next week.

Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa

As we described last month, Somalia and Ethiopia are close to full-scale war, after a takeover of Somalia by the radical Islamic Courts Union (ICU). From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the highly strategic Horn of Africa will play an important role in the coming "clash of civilizations" world war.

The military support includes anti-aircraft guns, assault rifles, heavy weapons, uniforms, food, fuel and other necessary items for war.

Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen are giving military support to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the internationally recognized confederation of warlords formed in 2000. Other factions in Yemen are also supplying the Islamists.

The two sides are forming coalitions along Muslim-Christian lines.

According to the UN report, Somalia's powerful Islamist movement has in its ranks about 1,000 battle-hardened foreign jihadists and volunteer trainers expert in assassination, suicide bombing and sniping from militant groups including Lebanon's Hezbollah. (10-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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As stock market bubble skyrockets, risk premiums are collapsing

Desperate investors appear willing to take any risk these days to get returns.

And the way we know that is because of the collapse, this past week, in the price of "credit default swap" (CDS) derivative instruments.

We'll take a moment to explain what this means.

"Derivatives" are investments that allow you to make "bets" that something will or won't happen. For example, if you want to bet that winter will be especially cold, you can purchase a weather derivative based on energy stocks. If winter is cold, then the energy stocks will go up, and the weather derivative will go up. So buying the weather derivative lets you bet that the weather will be cold.

Hedge funds often make multiple investments, so that a loss in one investment will be hedged by a gain in another investment. For example, if you invest in retail stocks in the Christmas season, and you're afraid you'll lose money because the weather will be too cold and people won't go shopping, then you can also buy the above weather derivative as a hedge. If you structure it very, very cleverly, then you'll make money if the weather is cold or not.

Another investment you can make is that you can buy corporate debt or corporate bonds, essentially making a loan to a corporation. But what if the corporation defaults or goes bankrupt? Then you would lose your entire investment.

So you take out some insurance. You make a second investment, in "credit default swap" (CDS) derivatives. If lose money in the first investment, then the second investment will pay off. Once again, you have to be very, very, very clever to make sure that you'll make money no matter what happens.

Well, what's happened in the last two weeks is that investors have stopped buying CDSs, and so the price of CDSs has collapsed, falling more than 16%. And for hedge fund firms that own these CDSs, there's "panic selling" going on, as the CDSs fall in value.

Why would investors stop buying CDSs? Apparently it's because they don't believe there's anything to be afraid of. They're certain that corporations will be able to repay their debts. What's the point of buying fire insurance if you're sure that your house won't burn down?

Another possibility is that investors are desperate. If you think you're going to lose your house anyway, you might not bother with fire insurance. If you think you might go bankrupt anyway, you might gamble on a risky investment without buying any insurance.

Either way, investors are suddenly becoming more risk-seeking, and less risk-averse.

There's an easier way to see that investors are suddenly becoming more risk-seeking.

S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio and S&P 500-stock Index as of 3-Nov-2006. <font size=-2>(Source: MarketGauge ® by DataView, LLC)</font>
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio and S&P 500-stock Index as of 3-Nov-2006. (Source: MarketGauge ® by DataView, LLC)

The above graphic is the November 3 version of the graphic that appears on the bottom of the home page for this web site. It shows the price/earnings ratio index for the S&P 500.

As the graphic shows, investors have been getting increasingly risk-averse for the last few years, but in the last couple of weeks the index suddenly began to increase.

Thus, investors are willing to pay more for stocks with the same corporate earnings.

Both the increasing price/earnings ratios and the collapse of CDS prices indicate the same thing: That investors are again becoming risk-seeking, and are pushing the stock market bubble up even higher.

With the derivatives market soaring and almost completely unregulated, global finance is getting crazier and crazier almost every day. Consider these figures:

How do you suppose it's possible for $300 trillion of derivatives to be based on just $65 trillion of underlying stocks and bonds? Well, that's how a bubble works. The derivatives instruments are sold and resold, sometimes to the same people. Each selling raises the price of the instrument. If anyone else were doing this, it would be called an illegal pyramid scheme.

Derivatives and hedge funds have grown explosively in the last five years, and credit derivatives (like CDSs) have been the fastest growing type of derivative. Financial firms have created so many different kinds of derivatives, allowing investors to "bet" on so many different things, that regulators don't even understand all the kinds, let alone keep track of all the firms offering them. And incidentally of the 10,000 or more hedge funds available today, 8,000 are registered in the Cayman Islands. Many officials are increasingly calling them "weapons of mass financial destruction."

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 explosion of derivatives and the decrease in risk-averseness of investors is making the global financial structure increasingly unstable. (10-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Donald Rumsfeld's resignation brings significant generational change to Pentagon leadership

Robert Gates will be more confrontational but less focused.

President Bush announced that Donald Rumsfeld will leave as Secretary of Defense, and that former CIA director Robert M. Gates will replace him.

I've said several times on this web site that Donald Rumsfeld is just about the only person in Washington that I trust to know what's going on in the word and is preparing the nation for it.

Donald Rumsfeld <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Donald Rumsfeld (Source: CNN)

He's in the Silent generation, born in 1932. He grew up at a time when the West was oblivious to the threats posed by Germany and Japan, and so he understands the danger posed by the rapid militarization of China and Iran today.

In particular, Rumsfeld was 9 years old on the day of the biggest military disaster in American history, when the Japanese destroyed almost the entire Pacific fleet in a single day on November 7, 1941.

Rumsfeld remembers well how unprepared we were for that attack, and he remembers the anxiety and fear that all Americans felt on that day when they realized that America's major Pacific defenses had all been stripped away in one day, and that the country was now open and vulnerable to Japanese and even German attacks.

Now Rumsfeld's life has come first circle, and as Secretary of Defense it's been his responsibility to make sure that we aren't unprepared again. To that end he's spent his six-year term reorganizing the armed forces into a high-tech force, and he's refocused the armed forces to be fully prepared for a war in the Pacific.

This reorganization has gotten a lot of noses out of joint in the Pentagon bureaucracy, and you can bet that a lot of the Washington opposition to Rumsfeld was from people losing their pet projects in the reorganization, and you can also bet that many parts of the armed forces are just as oblivious today to the danger from China as they were in 1941 to the dangers from Japan.

But Rumsfeld's personal memories of the 1941 horror have kept him focused on this difficult job of making sure that the nation is prepared for the dangers we face.

The mainstream media is totally ignoring this point, but President Bush spoke of it at length at today's announcement:

"America is safer and the world is more secure because of the service and the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld. As he led the Pentagon in an unprecedented war, Don never took his eye off another vital responsibility, preparing America for the threats that await us as this new century unfolds. He developed a new defense strategy. He established a new Northern Command to protect the homeland, a new Joint Forces Command to focus on transformation, a new Strategic Command to defend against long-range attack, and transformed the U.S. Special Operations Command for the war on terror.

He led our efforts to create a new NATO Response Force that allows NATO to deploy rapidly anywhere in the world. He undertook the most sweeping transformation of America's global force posture since the end of World War II. He revitalized America's efforts to develop and deploy ballistic missile defenses, and led a comprehensive review of America's nuclear forces that has allowed us to undertake dramatic reductions in offensive nuclear weapons.

Don's work in these areas did not often make the headlines. But the reforms that he has set in motion are historic, and they will enhance the security of the American people for decades to come."

Rumsfeld prosecuted his job with brutal energy. I still remember Rumsfeld at press conferences during the Afghan and Iraq wars, responding to a reporter's question with something like the following: "We aren't trying to be nice to these people; what we want is to kill them." No one could ever doubt Rumsfeld's steely determination to get the job done.

Robert M. Gates is a member of the Boomer generation, born in September, 1943. (The mainstream definition of "Baby Boomer" starts in the year 1945, but for the purposes of Generational Dynamics, the Boomer generation begins in 1942, the first birth year of people with no personal memory of World War II.)

Robert M. Gates <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Robert M. Gates (Source: CNN)

Bob Gates has served 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and so is very well aware of the growing and approaching danger from China. Gates' top goals will certainly be the same as Rumsfeld's -- make sure that the nation is prepared for the inevitable world war with China and Iran.

But Gates is much more of a politician. He'll be confrontational, like any Boomer, but in the end he'll be driven more by the need for consensus -- within the armed forces and with Congress. Gates will not have Rumsfeld's single-minded, relentless focus on preparing and protecting the nation, and will occasionally compromise in places where Rumsfeld wouldn't have.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the replacement of Don Rumsfeld with a Boomer is possibly the most significant political decision of 2006, even more significant than yesterday's election. Whether the nation suffers for it is something that historians will have to decide in the decades to come.

, , , , , (8-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Liberal Boomers feel victory in their grasp in tomorrow's Congressional elections.

But there's a generational disconnect that leaves the future in doubt.

Liberal Boomers are exultant, feeling victory in their grasp. One says, "Finally, the country's problems will get solved after Tuesday!"

Conservative Boomers (people in the "Baby Boomer" generation, born after World War II) are depressed, and warning of coming disaster if the Democrats win as expected.

Expected election results as of Monday, November 6, 2006
Expected election results as of Monday, November 6, 2006

Polls continue to show substantial leads for Democrats. It's now considered almost certain that the Democrats will control the House of Representatives, and at least possible that Democrats will control the Senate.

I report on dozens of different countries on this web site and, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I'm always looking for massive changes in public opinion, since they almost always mean significant generational changes.

Now it's America's turn. There seems to be a massive move toward the Democratic party in this election.

But there's a big disconnect in what's going on: The issues are dominated 99.9% by Boomer issues, but a generational change means that it's people in the younger generations that will be dominating the voting.

So there's a big question: What's going to happen after the election, if the polls hold and there's a big Democratic win?

Will things be as wonderful as the liberal Boomers think, or as disastrous as the conservative Boomers warn about?

The thing that's really amazing me is the extent to which Boomers are reliving the 60s. Its about as Freudian as you can get.

This is increasingly bizarre to me, but I guess it's part of the real "state of denial" that most Boomers are in. They're trying to relive the excitement of when they were children, just as old soldiers in the 60s were trying to relive WW II.

Just as a general rule of life, there is absolutely no chance that things today are going to go the same way that they did in the 60s and 70s. It just never happens that way. In particular, I've said many times that my personal expectation is that we'll still be in Iraq until we're forced to withdraw by the "clash of civilizations" world war.

And this is the point of the disconnect. All anyone ever talks about is Boomer issues -- the "quagmire" in Iraq, the gay sex scandals, abortion, cost of the war, feminism, health insurance.

Some people would argue that these issues are important to people in younger generations as well.

But if you make an analogous argument for the 1960s, then you could list important issues -- preventing World War III, stopping Communism, fiscal discipline -- that were important to the old soldiers at the time, and arguably should have been important to the people in the younger generations of the 1960s (i.e., the Boomers). Only, as it turned out, those issues weren't important to them after all.

The only way to understand the 1960s-70s protests is through the "generation gap." Boomers didn't hate the Vietnam war so much as they hated their overbearing parents, who feared another Great Depression and another World War. For a 1960s Boomer, hating your father meant hating the Vietnam war. Hating your father meant hating soldiers in Vietnam who were collaborating with your father. Hating your mother meant burning your bra. Today, those same people are 40 years older, and they have a new "anti-war" movement. Today, hating your father means hating George Bush.

However, younger generations today have none of these motivations. Generation-Xers tend to be more motivated by fury at Boomers than anything else.

And the kids in today's college-age generation don't hate their parents at all; it's more likely that they worry about whether their parents will be OK. They aren't motivated by any of the emotions that drive Boomers and Xers, but are sick and tired of all the arguing. Few college-age kids are against the war at all, and most are willing to serve, if necessary.

So there's plenty wrong with this picture. The liberal Boomers feel victory in their grasp, thanks to shifts in opinion by younger generations of people who don't share the liberal Boomers' motivations. And if they don't have the same motivations, can they really agree on the issues?

I don't think so, and that's another reason why we should expect the government to continue to be paralyzed, and the vitriolic arguing to get only worse. (6-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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John Kerry and Seymour Hersh trash the armed forces.

These morons are a disgrace to the nation.

This isn't a political assessment. Hillary Clinton would NEVER savage the armed forces the way Kerry does. Neither would Al Gore. Neither would Ted Kennedy, the other Senator from Massachusetts.

In 1971, Kerry said that American soldiers were committing war crimes "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." These atrocities included rape, torture, and cutting off ears, heads and limbs. He compared the actions of our armed forces to those of Genghis Khan.

When I wrote about this during the 2004 Presidential campaign, I said that I didn't care what Kerry said decades ago, but I wanted to know what he believes today. I pointed out that John Kerry couldn't be President, leading the nation in the war against terror, if he believes that the American armed forces are worse than the terrorists.

Well, I finally have my answer. On Wednesday, Kerry called in to the Don Imus radio show, and made the following remarks:

"But I'm not going to stand back from the reality here, which is they're trying to change the subject. It's their campaign of smear and fear. They're going at---and, incidentally, when you say I've done something in the past. I've told the truth in the past. I've never done anything except tell the truth. And I'm not going to take anybody's comment to suggest that somehow my telling the truth was a mistake.

The American people rely on the truth. And when I came back from Southeast Asia, I told the truth. And I'm proud that I stood up and told the truth then, and I've told the truth about Iraq every single step of the way."

So now we know. Kerry STILL believes that the American armed forces are nothing but rapists and terrorists who go around killing and mutilating people.

In 1972, when he ran for the House, Kerry filled out a questionnaire saying that he opposed the draft but considered a volunteer army "a greater anathema," and added the following explanation:

"I am convinced a volunteer army would be an army of the poor and the black and the brown. We must not repeat the travesty of the inequities present during Vietnam. I also fear having a professional army that views the perpetuation of war crimes as simply 'doing its job.'"

So, with that background, it shouldn't be a surprise that John Kerry believes that the people in our armed forces are stupid. Here's what he said, earlier this week:

"You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

This comment is completely consistent with his 1972 remarks on the volunteer army, so I have no reason to believe that he didn't mean it.

He's released a statement on his web site saying that it was "a verbal slip," and on the Don Imus show he called it a "botched joke," saying that he meant to call George Bush stupid, not the troops.

However, this doesn't make sense either, since both John Kerry and George Bush went to Yale, and Bush got higher grades.

John Kerry may have been taking a cue from New Yorker magazine journalist Seymour Hersh, who said the following last week: "In Vietnam, our soldiers came back and they were reviled as baby killers, in shame and humiliation. It isn't happening now, but I will tell you -- there has never been an [American] army as violent and murderous as our army has been in Iraq."

Two years ago, Seymour Hersh compared the American armed forces to Nazi Storm Troopers in Hitler's Third Reich.

Beyond the sheer stupidity of these two jackasses, John Kerry and Seymour Hersh, Kerry is a disgrace to Massachusetts, Hersh is a disgrace to journalism, and they're both a disgrace to the nation.

Fortunately for the nation, there are no other major journalists or politicians, Democrat or Republican, that I know of, spouting this kind of hate speech.

Fortunately, the men and women in our armed forces have a much better sense of humor than I have:

Members of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division with a sign mocking John Kerry.  It says, "HALP US JON CARRY - WE R STUCK HEAR N IRAK" <font size=-2>(Source: Drudge Report)</font>
Members of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Infantry Division with a sign mocking John Kerry. It says, "HALP US JON CARRY - WE R STUCK HEAR N IRAK" (Source: Drudge Report)

This picture has been widely circulated on the Internet. (3-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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Hard-right politician Avigdor Lieberman joins Israeli cabinet

Like the Palestinians, the Israelis are daily becoming increasingly ungovernable.

When I wrote about the Israeli election in April, I remarked that a huge shock was the 11-seat third place win of the Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is considered a racist because of a specific proposal he has: Give up some portions of Israel occupied mostly by Arabs back to the Palestinians, in exchange for other Palestinian lands occupied mostly by Jews.

Lieberman's objective is to keep Israel as purely Jewish as possible, with as few Arabs as possible. The Beiteinu party is considered to be far right and racist because of this proposal, and so its capture of 11 Knesset seats after never winning even one seat before indicates a sharp turn of the Israeli electorate to the right.

The April election reflected a sharp change in direction anyway. I call it a "bunker mentality" election, because it the voters seemed to make it clear that they wanted to have close themselves behind their security fence and have as little to do with the Palestinians as possible. The centerpiece was a plan by the new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called "convergence" or "consolidation." Under this plan, all West Bank Jewish settlements would be relocated close to Jerusalem, behind the security fence, and the Palestinians could do what they want in the West Bank, as they could in Gaza.

Then came the summer and the Lebanon War. Thousands of Hizbollah missiles poured into Israel from Lebanon, joining a few Hamas missiles flying over the security fence from Gaza. It became clear that the security fence offered little or no protection. The "convergence" plan has been abandoned, and Israelis are living in increasing anxiety and fear. The appointment of Lieberman to head Israel's Ministry of Strategic Threats reflects that increased anxiety, and signals an increased readiness to go to war, if necessary.

Much commentary on Lieberman's appointment has been scathing. Arab commentator Nicola Nasser says that the Lieberman appointment "threatens to destabilize the already explosive regional situation and preempts any credible prospects for initiating a new peace process if not reviving the old road map-based process."

An editorial in the left-leaning Israeli paper Haaretz, calls it "a cynical move with few parallels in Israeli politics." It echoed the Arab commentary by saying, "Lieberman's lack of restraint and his unbridled tongue, comparable only to those of Iran's president, are liable to bring disaster down upon the entire region threatens to destabilize the already explosive regional situation and preempts any credible prospects for initiating a new peace process if not reviving the old road map-based process threatens to destabilize the already explosive regional situation and preempts any credible prospects for initiating a new peace process if not reviving the old road map-based process."

The comparison to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is quite common, and shows that the Palestinians may feel as threatened by Lieberman as the Israelis do by Ahmadinejad.

The world has gone through a long period of relative stability, but there's a big irony about stability: Too much stability is destabilizing. If there's too much stability for too long, then people, especially younger people, decide that it's safe to take greater and greater risks. And every time a government takes an additional risk, the world becomes less stable again.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is especially true at this time, 61 years after the end of WW II, and 57 years after the end of the genocidal war between Arabs and Jews. At this time, the generations of people who lived through those wars are almost all gone. The people in charge now (like America's Baby Boomer generation) were born after the war, and have few skills other than arguing other people. That's why America's politics are in gridlock, and why Israel's politics is approaching gridlock.

The Palestinians are in the worst shape, if that's possible. According to a commentary by an Arab writer,

"Civil war in Palestine looks in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Infighting between Fatah and Hamas is no longer confined to mutual recriminations and staged demonstrations but has escalated into street fighting with no-holds-barred. And as attempts to peacefully resolve outstanding problems between the two diametrically opposed Palestinian factions fail extremists on both sides have come to the fore.

Unlike previous fights between Hamas and Fatah, which erupted spontaneously and were rapidly contained, this time round premeditation and deliberate incitement characterise the escalating conflict."

The same process that I've written about several times is now occurring in both Israel and Palestine. I've explained this in terms of chaotic "attractors" (from Chaos Theory). Day to day political events are chaotic events that fall like snowflakes in random ways. But just as millions of snowflakes get "attracted" to large snow drifts, millions of individual political events get attracted to the impending Mideast war, since war is a "chaotic attractor" at this time, 57 years after the end of the 1940s genocidal war between Arabs and Jews.

The theoretical concept of "attractor" comes true on a day to day basis. It's been happening every day since Yasser Arafat died, and has evidently accelerated ever since Ariel Sharon became incapacitated.

Looking at the day to day political events as they've occurred in the last year and a half, you can pick almost any day and look at the headlines for that day, and you'll see that it most likely moves the Mideast in the direction of war. There are a few exceptions of course, like the period when Mahmoud Abbas was elected and took office, and hopes were raised at that time.

But those brief intervals are like a heat wave in New York City in November -- just because the weather gets warm for a few days doesn't mean that winter isn't coming. Once the heat wave is over, the weather starts getting much colder again. Similarly, there are brief periods when things seem to get better, but they pass quickly, and then political events move back towards war.

That what "attractor" means in Chaos Theory. It doesn't mean that every political event brings the Mideast closer to war; it means that political events float around in all directions, at random, but most of them, not necessarily all of them, are attracted to Mideast war.

That's really the only way to interpret the addition of Avigdor Lieberman. Even if he's not the troublemaker that people claim, he's still a symbol that infuriates the Palestinians. (1-Nov-06) Permanent Link
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