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Web Log - May, 2015

Summary

31-May-15 World View -- EU rescues 4300 migrants in one day as country quotas are enacted

US-China tensions in South China Sea take another step upward

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US-China tensions in South China Sea take another step upward


Sun Jianguo from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy chats with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Singapore on Saturday (AFP)
Sun Jianguo from the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy chats with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in Singapore on Saturday (AFP)

Secretary of State Ashton Carter gave a speech on Saturday morning in Singapore at a regional security conference. Once again, he implied that the US will militarily challenge China's plans in the South China sea:

"So let me make clear the position of the United States:

First, we want a peaceful resolution of all disputes. To that end, there should be an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by all claimants. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features. We all know there is no military solution to the South China Sea disputes. Right now, at this critical juncture, is the time for renewed diplomacy, focused on a finding a lasting solution that protects the rights and the interests of all. As it is central to the regional security architecture, ASEAN must be a part of this effort: the United States encourages ASEAN and China to conclude a Code of Conduct this year. And America will support the right of claimants to pursue international legal arbitration and other peaceful means to resolve these disputes, just as we will oppose coercive tactics.

Second, the United States will continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight – principles that have ensured security and prosperity in this region for decades. There should be no mistake: the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world. America, alongside its allies and partners in the regional architecture, will not be deterred from exercising these rights – the rights of all nations. After all, turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.

Finally, with its actions in the South China Sea, China is out of step with both the international rules and norms that underscore the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture, and the regional consensus that favors diplomacy and opposes coercion. These actions are spurring nations to respond together in new ways."

Here is a summary of the main points that will infuriate the Chinese:

There have been unconfirmed reports that the Chinese have installed mobile artillery weapons on one of China's man-made islands. A Vietnam official said, "If it has actually happened it is a very bad sign for what is already a very complicated situation in the South China Sea."

In response to Carter's speech, People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo said:

"Over the past decades, the region has been peaceful and stable, just because of China's great restraint. So I think China's activities are ... legitimate, reasonable and justified."

I've been puzzling over what this statement means. Zhao appears to be saying that the South China Sea has been China's sovereign territory for the past decades, but China has been kind enough to let other nations use it, and the only reason that there hasn't been a war so far is "because of China's great restraint." Is he saying that this restraint is coming to an end?

In response my article last week, "26-May-15 World View -- China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable", one web site reader commented: "In 2008, well connected people I know in China said Xi Jinping 'would not mind going to war with America.' To-date actions have played out as explained to me." I've read hundreds of articles about China's president Xi Jinping over the last couple of years, and everything I've read is consistent with this comment.

When Xi took office in 2013, he gave a number of speeches about "China's Dream," in which he called for China to shed its past as a secondary player, and become the world's top military and economic power. He visited Chinese military bases and told the troops to be ready for war at any time. He vowed that China will take every step necessary to gain control of the East China Sea and South China Sea regions, including areas that have been owned by other countries for centuries.

China has had a major policy change in the last few months. They used to deny that the land reclamation had any military purpose, but now they're openly acknowledging that the islands are for military purposes.

China is in a massive state of denial, believing that they will win a war quickly, because the US will quickly back down. One possible first step is likely to be to shoot down an unmanned drone, or even a manned surveillance plane, saying that it's an unauthorized entry into China's sovereign territory. They believe that Obama is so weak that he won't retaliate, and they're completely wrong about that.

It's hard for me to see how the status quo is going to continue much longer. In the worst case scenario, which is the one I expect and the one that Generational Dynamics predicts, the war will go on for several years and engulf the entire world. Dept. of Defense and Xinhua and Defense News and Reuters

EU rescues 4300 migrants in one day as country quotas are enacted

European Union vessels rescued 4300 migrants from waters off the coast of Libya on Friday and Saturday, packed into 9 boats and 13 large rubber dinghies. Seventeen dead bodies were found, people who had died from exhaustion, thirst or exposure.

More than 40,000 migrants and asylum seekers have reached Italy so far this year. An estimated 1,800, including women and children, lost their lives during the journey. Last year, Italy rescued some 170,000 migrants at sea.

The huge surge in arrivals follow a pattern. There were several days with no rescues, because stormy weather prevented boats from leaving Libya. But calm seas on Friday brought a flood of smuggler launches.

The EU government in Brussels enacted a controversial quota system this week. EU countries will accept around 60,000 refugees, and each country will be required to take in a number of refugees, based on a calculation that looked at each country's size, GDP and unemployment rate. France has a quota of 7,000. Germany has a quota of 8,700. Sweden has a quota of 1,300. A financial incentive of 6,000 euros for each migrant has been offered to member states.

Britain has a constitutional right to opt out of the quota system, and has already it will do so. Ireland and Denmark are also expected not to take part. Irish Independent and Al Jazeera and The Local (France)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-May-15 World View -- EU rescues 4300 migrants in one day as country quotas are enacted thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-May-2015) Permanent Link
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30-May-15 World View -- ISIS suicide bombers strike Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia and Baghdad

ISIS continues to gain supporters throughout the Mideast

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS suicide bombers strike Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia and Baghdad


Two Shia Saudi boys stand at the graves of 21 people killed in the May 22 attack on a Shia mosque (EPA)
Two Shia Saudi boys stand at the graves of 21 people killed in the May 22 attack on a Shia mosque (EPA)

The Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing during Friday prayers in the Shia Al Anoud mosque in Dammam, in eastern Saudi Arabia. A male was disguised in women's clothing to evade detection by heavy security surrounding the mosque. He was stopped by security just as he entered the mosque and detonated the device. Three people were killed.

This follows by one week the bombing of another Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia. ISIS claimed responsibility, and said it would not rest until all Shias were driven from the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi officials condemned the terrorist bombing, and said it was an attempt to destabilize the security and unity of the Kingdom and local social cohesion:

"Terrorists seek to destabilize the Arab and Islamic nations’ security. Terrorism will never succeed in dividing the Saudi nation or destabilize national security."

However, it appears that ISIS is doing exactly that, throughout the Mideast and Asia.

Also on Friday, ISIS claimed responsibility car bombings outside two heavily guarded hotels in central Baghdad, killing ten people. The bombings are considered reprisals against the Shia Baghdad government for sending Shia militias to attempt to recapture Ramadi from ISIS. ISIS seized Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, two weeks ago when the Iraqi army fled.

And it was just three weeks ago when when terrorists in Karachi attacked a bus full of Shias, killing 45, and left behind leaflets accusing Shias of "barbaric atrocities," and warning of the "Advent of the Islamic State!" Arab News and AFP and Reuters

ISIS continues to gain supporters throughout the Mideast

A recent poll conducted by Al Jazeera Arabic asked the question, "Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?" An overwhelming 81% of those responding voted "Yes".

Al Jazeera Arabic has an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim audience, mostly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the respondents were self-selected. But the size of the positive response shows that there's a sufficiently large population of ISIS supporters in the Mideast to feed its growth.

Furthermore, stories continue of young male jihadists from Asia, Africa, Europe and Russia traveling to Syria to join ISIS, and young females traveling there as well to marry them. They're attracted by the fact that ISIS appears to be winning in Iraq and Syria, and even defeating large enemies, including Iran, Hezbollah and the United States. In addition, reports indicate that ISIS is using its vast oil wealth to pay its fighters well.

For decades, activist rhetoric around the Mideast has been targeted against Israel. But we're increasingly seeing that the conflict with Israel is becoming less important than the conflict with Iran and with Shias in general.

According to Egyptian cleric, Khaled Al-Kholif, the fight against Shias is more important than the war against "the Jews and Crusaders":

"Our problem with the Jews and Christians in this world is ongoing. You get rid of the Christians, and along come the Jews, and so on.

Our war with [the Shias] is a war of religion and of existence. This is not a war over Arab identity, over some regional issue, over petroleum, or over border crossings. It is much more serious than that. It is a war over religion and its basic principles. It is a war between us and them over religious creed. ...

Is it justified to be worried about modern Shiite ideology? The answer is: Yes. It is justified a thousand times over. Anyone who does not know and feel this should remember history. We don't want another [Shiite conqueror] like the Fatimid Al-Muizz li-Din Allah."

Al-Kholif is invoking the name of the Fatimid caliph Al-Muizz li-Din Allah. Al-Muizz is considered to be the founder of Cairo, but to Egyptians he was the Shia conqueror of Cairo in 969, putting Egypt under Shia Fatimid control for a century. The fact that this battle is being mentioned today shows how deeply and bitterly the Egyptian people still remember that event of over a millennium ago. Al-Kholif continued:

If those [Shiites] gain power and become firmly established, the Jews and the Crusaders will become the decision-makers in our own countries. We will become foreigners in our own countries. The nation must confront these [Shiites] by all possible means. ...

Our war with the Jews is a simple one, but our war with these [Shiites] is very serious, and we must commence it."

Why would a victory of Shias mean that Jews and Crusaders would become the decision makers? The explanation is that Al-Muizz got along very well with Jews and Christians, because most of the citizens were Sunni Muslims who hated Shias. As a result, Christian and Jewish intellectuals were often appointed as officials and ministers, and they became the decision makers in the land of the Sunni Muslims in Egypt.

So Al-Kholif's argument is really quite remarkable. Fighting Jews and Christians is just a war over "over petroleum, or over border crossings," and losing is not very consequential. But losing a war to Shias is far more serious, because the Jews and Christians will become the decision-makers, as happened in the time of Al-Muizz, and "We will become foreigners in our own countries." Amazing!

You know, when one is trying to understand other cultures, one is always astounded by little nuggets of information like this, where a battle that took place over a millennium ago is being used to justify a war today. People who are surprised by this should remember how much American policy today is still being influenced by the events of 1776.

It also helps to remember that when we talk about something happening in the Mideast, and blame it on something that Bush did or didn't do, or on something that Obama said or didn't say -- it's far more likely that anything that happened in America is far less important than the events of centuries ago in the Mideast. Breitbart News and Memri and Jewish Virtual Library

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-May-15 World View -- ISIS suicide bombers strike Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia and Baghdad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-May-2015) Permanent Link
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29-May-15 World View -- As Russia's economy worsens, withdrawal from Ukraine may be necessary

US-China military tensions get rapidly inflamed over South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia using mobile crematoriums to continue pretense about Ukraine


A group of Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian authorities in August, 2014 (Reuters)
A group of Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian authorities in August, 2014 (Reuters)

It's an irony. On the one hand, Russia's Vladimir Putin is supporting the anti-government militias in East Ukraine with Russian weapons and thousands of Russian troops in order to stoke nationalism in Russia and burnish his popularity with the Russian people. But on the other hand, he can't admit that there are Russian troops in Ukraine because Russia's economy is so bad.

It's becoming increasingly difficult for Russian leaders to hide the fact that Russian soldiers are dying in eastern Ukraine in large numbers, but a number of sources are indicating that a way has been found.

Russia is using mobile crematoriums -- crematoriums on wheels -- to burn the bodies of Russian soldiers who die in east Ukraine.

According to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry:

"The Russians are trying to hide their casualties by taking mobile crematoriums with them. They are trying to hide not only from the world but from the Russian people their involvement."

The mounting evidence of dead Russian soldiers is causing a domestic backlash for Putin. But burning the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in battle, instead of treating them as dead heroes, is causing a backlash in the army, and making it harder than ever to justify the military action in Ukraine. Bloomberg and Business Insider

Russia's economic crisis may force withdrawal from Ukraine

The Russian government's original 2015 budget was based on the assumption that the price of oil would be $100 per barrel, that Russia's GDP would grow by 2%, and that inflation would not exceed 5%. None of those assumptions has proven true. Oil has fallen to around $50 per barrel, and Russia's GDP has contracted 4% instead of growing. The inflation rate has exceed 15%.

Even worse, Russia's military spending is far higher than expected. It was budgeted at an already very high level of 4.5% of GDP, but during the first three months of this year it exceeded 9% of GDP -- twice more than planned. Most European countries are not spending more than 2% of GDP on defense; the US spends 3.5%, and only nine countries in the entire world are now spending more than 4%.

Russia's high rate of military spending is forcing it to dip into its reserve fund. If that level of funding continues, Russia's reserve fund will be exhausted before the end of the year.

The strategic aims of Russia's war against Ukraine are extremely unclear, and it's increasingly difficult to justify the Russian military intervention. Even the annexation of Crimea has turning into an economic calamity.

Russia is soon going to have to make some difficult decisions, and only bad options are available. Window on Eurasia and Jamestown

US-China military tensions get rapidly inflamed over South China Sea

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said on Wednesday:

"There should be no mistake about this: The United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world. ...

We want a peaceful resolution of all disputes, and an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation by any claimant. We also oppose any further militarization of disputed features."

However, China is openly doing all of those things, and is building a series of military bases in the South China Sea in international waters and in waters that have historically belonged to Vietnam and the Philippines.

As we reported earlier this week, China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable. Since then, China has issued an extremely aggressive Military Strategy document indicating the intention "to seize the strategic initiative in military struggle, proactively plan for military struggle in all directions and domains, and grasp the opportunities to accelerate military building, reform and development."

Chinese media responded to Ashton Carter's remarks with:

"The dangerous provocation of the US, driven by their illusion of the worst-case scenario, is unwise and reckless. It is pressing Beijing to act in compliance with Washington's desire. However, China won't dance to the rhythm of the US."

All of these are signs that nationalism is increasing significantly on both sides, and that a major military confrontation is building. And in this generational Crisis era, such a military confrontation will lead to full-scale war. I've been writing for ten years that China is planning preemptive war on the United States, and it's hard to escape the feeling that the time is getting close. Washington Times and Global Times (Beijing) and Full Text: China's Military Strategy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-May-15 World View -- As Russia's economy worsens, withdrawal from Ukraine may be necessary thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-May-2015) Permanent Link
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28-May-15 World View -- ISIS stokes sectarian Sunni-Shia clashes across the Mideast and Asia

Sunni Arabs are being forced to choose between ISIS and Shias

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS stokes sectarian Sunni-Shia clashes across the Mideast and Asia


A Pakistani security official displays cartridges from the scene of an attack on a bus, killing 45 Ismaili Shias two weeks ago(AP)
A Pakistani security official displays cartridges from the scene of an attack on a bus, killing 45 Ismaili Shias two weeks ago(AP)

I am not among those who worry that the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) is going to take control of the entire Arabian Peninsula, but one thing that's clear is that ISIS is becoming the focal point of the increasingly hostile fault line between Sunnis and Shias.

Pakistan has long been a hotbed of Sunni-Shia clashes, as certain branches of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP - Pakistan Taliban), such as Jundullah and Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ), specifically target Shias. But this is being taken to a new level, as we reported two weeks ago, when terrorists in Karachi attacked a bus full of Ismaili Shias, killing 45, and left behind leaflets accusing Shias of "barbaric atrocities," and warning of the "Advent of the Islamic State!" That's not to say that previous terrorist attacks on Shias were not equally horrific, but the overlay of referring to the advent of ISIS is inflaming sectarian tensions throughout the region.

Similarly, we reported last week of the bombing of a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia. ISIS claimed responsibility, and said it would not rest until all Shias were driven from the Arabian Peninsula. VOA and Reuters

Iraq's government changes name of military operation to recapture Ramadi

After ISIS's stunning seizure of the city of Ramadi a few days ago, with the Iraqi army fleeing from the approaching ISIS militias, the Iraq government has launched a military operation to recapture Ramadi, using Iran-trained Shia militias known as Hashid Shaabi (popular mobilization units). This is raising sectarian fears among the Sunni tribes around Ramadi, who are afraid that the Shia militias will commit similar atrocities on Sunnis that they did after the earlier recapture of the city of Tikrit.

In fact, Iraq's government seemed to be headed in that direction, when they called the attack "Operation Labaik ya Hussein," which roughly translates as "We are at your service, Hussein." The name refers to Hussein ibn Ali (or Husayn ibn Ali) who is considered to be a revered Shia saint. He was killed in 680 at the Battle of Karbala, which was the seminal battle that resulted in the Sunni-Shia split.

The choice of that name was severely criticized by Sunni leaders, and was described as "unhelpful" by the Pentagon. Because of the pressure, the Shia militias have renamed the planned attack "Operation Labaik ya Iraq," meaning, "We are at your service, Iraq."

This kerfuffle over the name of the operation shows how sensitive the Sunni-Shia split is, and how many officials are concerned about a sectarian backlash. Rudaw (Iraq) and Reuters

Sunni Arabs are being forced to choose between ISIS and Shias

With sectarian conflict growing in the Mideast, many Sunni Muslims are in a position where they are going to be forced to choose between ISIS and Shias. This is true to some extent in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as neighborhoods and groups become polarized along sectarian lines. For these Sunnis, the choice may be facing atrocities by ISIS versus atrocities by Shias.

According to an article translation by Memri, an Egyptian cleric Sheik Dr. Ahmad Al-Naqib was asked this question. He uses the word "Rafidites," which is a pejorative term for Shias:

"I was asked: What is your opinion about ISIS and its conduct? Should one pledge allegiance to ISIS? Does refraining from this constitute a sin? This question is part of the catastrophe that has afflicted the lands of Islam. ...

We must not say that this creation [ISIS], with its rulings and its conduct, is in keeping with the rightly-guided Islamic state that we must obey, especially since much consideration is required to determine whether this "Islamic State" qualifies as a state. They experience ups and downs. Again and again, they conquer land, which is then taken from them. In addition, as far as their upbringing is concerned, most of them are non-Arabs. This is a very dangerous issue. ...

There is no doubt, however, that they are much better than the criminal Rafidites [Shias], who kill the Sunnis because of their Sunni identity, and who kill, rape, and burn the Muslims wherever they may be. They are better than the [Shias], and their victories over the Rafidites are good for Islam, but God knows best. ...

Despite their transgressions, injustice, wrongdoing, and aggression, they are better than the Rafidites. They are better than the criminal Rafidites, who kill Sunnis just because they are Sunnis."

There have been numerous sectarian wars between Sunnis and Shias over the centuries, and there have been numerous atrocities committed on both sides. But in recent times, Al-Naqib was undoubtedly referring to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Like many others, Arab Sunnis are appalled that Syria's president Bashar al-Assad has been conducting virtual genocide against his own people. Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad has flattened entire Sunni villages with Russia's heavy weapons, he's killed children by sending missiles into exam rooms and bedrooms, he's killed dozens with sarin gas, and he's killed countless more with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas. In addition, he's used electrocution, eye-gouging, strangulation, starvation, and beating on tens of thousands of prisoners on a massive "industrial strength" scale, and does with complete impunity, and in fact with troops and weapons from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.

So, from the point of view of Americans, Al-Naqib's remarks about ISIS and Shias seem revolting, but from the point of view of Sunni Arabs, ISIS is the lesser of the two evils.

In the political news the last few days, it seems that both the Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul have come to full agreement that ISIS was created by the Republicans. This conclusion is absurd on its face, since ISIS was formed in Syria, not Iraq. The bizarre conclusion is part of the conceit of Americans that everything is caused by Americans, and other people have no histories of their own.

Once again, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was created by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. As I wrote in 2007 in "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq", al-Zarqawi was unable to find Iraqis who were willing to be suicide bombers, or shed blood in any way, so he had to bring in Jordanian and Saudi terrorists from abroad. Al-Zarqawi was killed by an American drone strike in 2006, and AQI was completely driven out of Iraq in 2007 by Iraqi Sunnis in the "Anbar Awakening," with the help of President George Bush's "surge."

As I've written many times, ISIS came into existence because of al-Assad's actions. By 2012, it was becoming obvious that Sunni jihadists from countries around the world were heading for Syria to fight against al-Assad. These jihadists became the fighters that formed the backbone of the militias that became ISIS, and other salafist militias. There were no jihadists heading for Syria during the Bush administration, and there were no jihadists heading for Syria during Obama's first term, so neither Bush or Obama can be held responsible for creating ISIS. However, it is possible to blame Obama for the growth of ISIS, for not killing al-Assad in 2011-12 when he had the chance, and for not leaving any troops behind in Iraq after the December 2011 withdrawal.

Whatever happened in the past, Al-Naqib's remarks represent widely held opinions in the Arab Sunni world, and they indicate that the Muslim world is headed for a massive Sunni-Shia sectarian war. Memri

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-May-15 World View -- ISIS stokes sectarian Sunni-Shia clashes across the Mideast and Asia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-May-2015) Permanent Link
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27-May-15 World View -- Major terror attack in Kabul underscores dire Afghan travel warning

Hackers obtain IRS tax filings for 104,000 taxpayers

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

State Dept. issues alarming Afghanistan travel warning


Afghan security forces patrol in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on April 30 (Reuters)
Afghan security forces patrol in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on April 30 (Reuters)

The State Dept. on Friday issued a dire travel warning for Afghanistan that indicates that the security situation is unstable across the entire country. This warning goes much farther than any previous administration statements about Afghanistan:

"The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Afghanistan), U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and foreign interests. Attacks may target official government convoys and compounds, including Afghan and U.S. government facilities, foreign embassies and military installations, as well as restaurants, hotels, airports, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, international organizations, religious institutions, educational centers, foreign guest houses, and other commercial entities.

Extremists associated with various Taliban networks and members of other armed opposition groups are active in every province of the country. Despite numerous security operations and checkpoints by Afghan and coalition forces in and around the capital, Kabul is at high risk for militant attacks, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), direct and indirect fire, and suicide bombings. The same risks also exist in other major cities in Afghanistan, including Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar. A strong possibility for hostile acts exists throughout the country at all times, either targeted or random, against both U.S. and other foreign nationals. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Afghanistan."

The dire warning indicates that provinces across the country are unstable, and that even heavily protected areas in the capital city Kabul are unsafe.

This point was underscored late Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, when heavily armed militants stormed an upscale, heavily protected neighborhood in Kabul, resulting in a fierce gun battle and at least 20 explosions. At this writing, the attack is still ongoing.

The new travel advisory represents a major change in position by the administration, essentially admitting that the withdrawal plan from Afghanistan is not working. It comes at the same time that Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter admitted that the Iraq plan is not working, because "the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight." Both announcements were made over the Memorial Day weekend. U.S. State Department and AP

Afghan militia strategy revives hostility and conflicts of 1990s crisis civil war

Afghanistan's increasing instability as American troops withdraw is causing the government in Kabul to change strategies. It's increasingly clear that the Afghan army is not able to prevent attacks by insurgents.

As a result, Kabul is reviving the conflicts of the extremely bloody Afghanistan generational crisis civil war, fought between 1991 and 1996. That war was fought mainly between the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan versus the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan.

Today's Taliban terrorists are radicalized Pashtuns. And so, in northern Afghanistan, the Kabul government is calling on militias from the old Northern Alliance to come forward and fight their old Pashtun foes. The effort is expected to mobilize thousands of Afghans from the Northern Alliance to fight against the Pashtun Taliban.

Some analysts are concerned that this will trigger a new major civil war. But Afghanistan is in a generational Awakening era, so a new crisis civil war is impossible. The 1990s civil war was extremely bloody and genocidal, and there are several generations of survivors of that war who are still alive and will prevent anything like it from happening again.

However, that doesn't mean that reviving the Northern Alliance will bring peace. It will bring the usual post-civil war template of periods of conflict alternating with periods of each. Each period of conflict will be worse than the previous one, and each will end with some peace agreement that will bring peace for a few years. That's what almost always happen in any country after a civil war. The alternating periods of conflict and peace continue for decades, until finally all the survivors of the preceding crisis civil war are gone, and then a new bloody genocidal crisis civil war breaks out again. Hindustan Times and International Business Times

Hackers obtain IRS tax filings for 104,000 taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that hackers obtained the tax returns of approximately 104,000 taxpayers. The hackers apparently used names and social security numbers that had been obtained from previous hacks. They used that information in the IRS "Get Transcript" application to get entire transcripts of previous tax return filings.

Once the hackers obtain a taxpayer's tax filings, they can use it to apply for fraudulent incomes, in addition to using the information from the tax filing to defraud the taxpayer.

The IRS believes that the hacking began some time in February, though they didn't notice it until mid-May.

The IRS has been repeatedly warned by experts that its data security systems are inadequate. Accounting Today and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-May-15 World View -- Major terror attack in Kabul underscores dire Afghan travel warning thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-May-2015) Permanent Link
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26-May-15 World View -- China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable

China's military using jamming against US drones in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam protests China's fishing ban in the Gulf of Tonkin


Anti-Chinese environment activists in Manila protest in front of the Chinese embassy, shooting Chinese flags with water guns (Reuters)
Anti-Chinese environment activists in Manila protest in front of the Chinese embassy, shooting Chinese flags with water guns (Reuters)

Vietnam is protesting China's unilateral ban on fishing in Vietnamese waters that include the Gulf of Tonkin, nominally "to promote the sustainable development of the fishing industry." The ban will last until August 1.

Vietnamese officials are advising their shipping industry to ignore the ban.

China is claiming that the ban is required for ecological reasons, but ecological activists in Manila are demanding that China stop its ecological destruction caused by ongoing activities to build man-made islands in the South China Sea. Thanh Nien News (Hanoi) and Reuters

China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable

According to commentary in China's Global Times newspaper:

"If the United States' bottom line is that China has to halt its activities, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea.

The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as 'friction.'"

There are actually two separate (though related) issues here, and it's unclear whether this threat of war applies to one or both issues.

As we reported last week, the level of military tension between the US and China escalated substantially when China repeatedly demanded that an American P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane leave the area immediately. The plane was surveilling China's man-made islands in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

So the first issue is that China is demanding an end to American surveillance activities over the Spratly Islands.

The second issue is that the US State Dept. is demanding an end to China's island-building. According to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking in Jakarta last week on Wednesday:

"As China seeks to make sovereign land out of sandcastles and redraw maritime boundaries, it is eroding regional trust and undermining investor confidence.

Its behavior threatens to set a new precedent, whereby larger countries are free to intimidate smaller ones, and that provokes tensions, instability and can even lead to conflict."

China's Foreign Ministry responded:

"Comments of this sort are not good for the solving of tensions and are not beneficial for the mutual trust between countries as well as maintaining the peace and the stability of the South China Sea region."

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues a massive military to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China's claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing that they would lose.

In recent months, China has repeated escalated the military aggression by using land reclamation projects to construct man-made islands for military bases and airports in regions surrounding the Spratly Islands that have previously belonged to Vietnam and the Philippines.

The US says that it will continue surveillance missions over international waters. However, the Chinese claim that the entire South China Sea is their sovereign territory, so there are no international waters.

On Thursday of last week, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said that U.S. naval forces and military aircraft would "continue to fully exercise" the right to operate in international waters and airspace:

"Nobody in their right mind is going to try to stop the U.S. Navy from operating - that would not be a good bet.

But it’s not enough that a U.S. military plane can overfly international waters, even if there is challenge or hailing query ... We believe that every country and all civilian actors should have unfettered access to international waters and international airspace."

Well, whether the Chinese military leaders are in their right minds is certainly open to question, but there's little doubt that the Chinese are, at some point, going to take some military action to stop the surveillance flights. Global Times and International Business Times and Al-Jazeera and Reuters

China's military using jamming against US drones in South China Sea

If China is to take the next step in military action against the United States in the South China Sea, one possible direct target would Global Hawk surveillance drones as they conduct surveillance over the Spratly Islands.

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that China has tried to electronically jam US drone flights over the South China Sea, in order to prevent ground stations from communicating with the drones. There may be an additional objective of trying to capture a drone by getting it to crash in shallow waters.

Putting on my software engineering hat, I would hope that isn't possible. When the Global Hawk takes off from Guam, the software should be programmed to respond to jamming by continuing on a pre-programmed path to continue surveillance and return to Guam.

When Iran captured an American drone by taking electronic control while it was traveling over Afghanistan, I could never understand how that was possible, unless the programmers who wrote the software for the drone had been so sloppy that they didn't anticipate that possibility. At any rate, let's hope that there have been "lessons learned," and that that have been applied to the Global Hawk drones flying over the South China Sea.

However, electronic warfare is not the only possibility. China's military could shoot down a drone, or could attempt to snatch one in flight using a manned aircraft.

If/when China wants to take the next step with a military action against the United States in the South China Sea, the drones may present an attractive military target. Washington Free Beacon

China's media describes 'bottom line' for war with US

Because of some confusion surrounding this story, I wanted to get more information about China's analysis of the situation. I went to the original Global Times article in Chinese, and got a machine translation, which is pretty garbled. The following is my attempt to extract key sentences from the machine translation of the original article in Chinese:

"When US reconnaissance aircraft flew over the Spratly (Nansha) Islands last week, she was repeatedly warned by China's navy, raising fears in the strategic community and the public of a possible outbreak of Sino-US military conflict in the South China Sea. How likely is such a military conflict, and how intense will it be?

First of all, provocations from the Philippines and Vietnam, with the support of US troops, make the possibility of Sino-US military conflict larger than in the past.

China cannot make infinitely many concessions [, and so will make no more concessions beyond its bottom line]. Then we will see how the United States sets their own bottom line, and whether the two sides can understand and respect each other's bottom line.

For China, the most important bottom line is to make the construction of the reefs continue until they are completed.

If the United States' bottom line is that China has to shut down its construction of the reefs, then a U.S.-China war is inevitable in the South China Sea. The intensity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually think of as 'friction.'

In addition China has a bottom line, that the United States must respect China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea.

If the US continues to 'harass' China with American forces in the South China Sea, but shows restraint, then China will also show restraint.

But if the US military says that China is arrogant, and continues its provocative acts of public humiliation, then a conflict will be difficult to avoid. The Chinese army will fight for dignity.

China's determination to complete the reefs is very clear and firm. But the strategic goal of the United States is relatively vague. Whether there is peace or war in the South China Sea depends on the United States.

A US military aircraft or warship may use an 'accident' to provoke a war. This is like the year before the outbreak of the Vietnam War, when the US concocted a 'Gulf of Tonkin incident.'

US troops in the South China Sea seem arrogant, but they do not have underlying political and social support. This is clearly up and down the US military, so the Chinese saying, 'paper tiger' in fact refers to this situation."

The Global Times is the most nationalistic of government publications, and it doesn't always reflect official policy, but it does reflect what many in China's government are thinking.

As I've been saying for years, China has been rapidly building its military for years with a variety of weapons and missile systems that have no other purpose than to preemptively strike American aircraft carriers, American military bases, and American cities. Generational Dynamics predicts that China is preparing to launch a pre-emptive full-scale nuclear missile attack on the United States. There may not be a war tomorrow, but every week or two it becomes apparent that the trend toward war is unmistakable. Global Times (Chinese) (Translation)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-May-15 World View -- China says war with US in South China Sea is inevitable thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-May-2015) Permanent Link
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25-May-15 World View -- Scathing Iraq remarks by Ash Carter suggest imminent policy change

Some reports suggest intentional loss of Ramadi by Iraq's government

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US administration's strategy in Iraq continues to fail


Iraqis fleeing Ramadi on Sunday (AP)
Iraqis fleeing Ramadi on Sunday (AP)

Last year, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) stunned the world by seizing Mosul in Iraq. The Iraqi soldiers who were supposed to defend Mosul simply dropped their weapons and fled as the ISIS militias approached.

President Barack Obama had withdrawn all troops from Iraq in December 2011, and had assured the world that Iraq could take care of itself, without needing American troops. However, as ISIS scored major victories in Iraq, Obama was forced to change his position. On June 19, he said:

"We're prepared to send a small number of additional American advisors, up to 300, to assess how we can best train, advise and support Iraqis security force forces going forward I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I've said in the past -- American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again."

Since then, President Obama has been forced to announce several increases in troop deployments, though always special forces and not "ground troops."

There have also been American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, but many analysts say that they're almost completely ineffective. Some reports indicate that the pilots often return to base without having launched any airstrikes because of a lack of suitable targets.

One of the reasons that suitable airstrike targets cannot be identified is that Obama has not permitted US soldiers to be on the ground acting as "forward air controllers," who identify the targets on the ground then communicate their locations to the aircraft.

In the last two weeks, ISIS has scored several additional stunning victories.

On Sunday, ISIS took full control of a border crossing between Iraq and Syria. Earlier, ISIS captured the historic city of Palmyra in Syria, and the city of Ramadi in Iraq. This gives ISIS full control of the two main roads between Syria and Iraq's province of Anbar. The National (UAE) and Economist

Obama administration's rhetoric changes dramatically on Sunday

Initially, President Obama referred to the stunning seizure of Ramadi as a temporary "tactical setback," but on Sunday, the tone of the rhetoric from the Obama administration changed sharply. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, appearing on CNN, gave a scathing criticism of Iraq's army after its defeat in Ramadi:

"What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered but in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight. They withdrew from the site. And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.

Now, we can give them training, we can give them equipment; we obviously can't give them the will to fight. But if we give them training, we give them equipment and give them support and give them some time, I hope they will develop the will to fight, because only if they fight can ISIL remain defeated."

Carter also agreed that airstrikes have not been very effective:

"Air strikes are effective but neither they nor really anything we do can substitute for the Iraqi forces' will to fight.

They're the ones who have that to beat ISIL and keep then keep them beaten. We can participate in the defeat of ISIL but we can't make Iraq run as a decent place for people to live. We can't sustain the victory. Only the Iraqis can do that, and in particular, in this case, the Sunni tribes to the west.

If there comes a time when we need to change the kinds of support we're giving to the Iraqi forces, we'll make that recommendation. But what happened at Ramadi was a failure of the Iraqi forces to fight. And so our efforts now are devoted to providing their ground forces with the equipment, the training, and to try to encourage their will to fight so that our campaign enabling them can be successful both in defeating ISIL and keeping ISIL defeated in a sustained way."

During Sunday's interview, Carter said that there are still no plans to use forward air controllers.

On the Sunday talk shows, both Democrats and Republicans criticized Obama's strategy in Iraq, with several calling the situation "a stalemate." One Democrat urged Obama to supply the Kurdish Peshmerga and Sunni tribesmen in Iraq, who she said are "literally begging, for arms, heavy weapons and ammunition" to defeat ISIS and protect their land and families.

One Republican, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, called for much more aggressive military action:

"You are not losing and you are not winning because we are not really engaged in this fight.

At some point, we're going to have to understand that the goal is the destruction of ISIS. ... We have to understand that every day that goes by where we don't push this cancer back ... the cost of liberating Iraq or the cost of defeating this cancer is only going to increase."

The scathing, undiplomatic criticism of Iraq's army by the Secretary of Defense, combined with criticisms of Obama from all sides, suggests that there is going to be a significant change of policy in the next few days. However, he will certainly try anything rather than ground troops, as that would be the ultimate humiliation after having suffered a long string of foreign policy humiliations, one after the other. CNN and The National (UAE) and Fox News

Some reports suggest intentional loss of Ramadi by Iraq's government

There are some reports that indicate that ISIS's seizure of Ramadi was accomplished with the help of Iraq's government in Baghdad, or at least with its intentional neglect.

According to a top Kurdish commander who fought the ISIS militias in Ramadi, he had received intelligence five days before the attack on Ramadi that 400 armed ISIS vehicles had entered Iraq from Syria, and at least 200 were headed for Ramadi. The commander asked his superiors in Baghdad to arrange for airstrikes to take out the vehicles, which would presumably have been easy targets. But no air strikes occurred.

Instead, ISIS sent 50 suicide bombers into the Iraq army defense lines. The suicide bombers had arrived from Syria. After that, seizing Ramadi was an easy victory for ISIS.

According to one Iraqi analyst, Baghdad's support of the Ramadi defenses was so bad, it must have been intentional. He suggests that any support for the Iraq army and the Sunni tribes in Ramadi would require giving weapons to Sunnis, which Baghdad did not want to do. Instead, Baghdad wanted the entire operation against ISIS to be conducted by Shia militias under the command of Iran's Al Qods Brigades commander Qassam Soleimani.

Arguing against this analysis is the fact that Soleimani was handily defeated by ISIS at the battle of Tikrit, and was forced to flee back to Tehran. Bringing him back to lead the fight in Ramadi would have to be considered a big risk. Rudaw (Iraq) and Middle East Briefing

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-May-15 World View -- Scathing Iraq remarks by Ash Carter suggest imminent policy change thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-May-2015) Permanent Link
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24-May-15 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) approves birth control law targeting Rohingya Muslims

Lessons learned from Ireland's vote on gay marriage

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Burma (Myanmar) approves birth control law targeting Rohingya Muslims


Ethnic Rohingya women and children gather to receive a meal in Indonesia on Saturday (AP)
Ethnic Rohingya women and children gather to receive a meal in Indonesia on Saturday (AP)

President Thein Sein of Myanmar (Burma) has signed into law the Population Control Health Care Bill, to require mothers to have their children at least three years apart. Nominally, the purpose of the bill is to "protect women's health," but opponents say that it's designed to target Rohingya Muslims.

The law doesn't provide punishment for parents who do not comply, but it gives local authorities the power to take whatever steps are necessary to implement the law. Human rights activists say that this gives a blank check local police to take harsh measures with Rohingya families.

Rohingya Muslim migrants have lived peacefully in Myanmar (Burma) for generations, but are now being slaughtered and driven from their homes by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. Some 140,000 have been herded into dirty apartheid-like camps. Thousands of Rohingya have fled Burma. An estimated 2000 Rohingya migrants are have been trapped for over 40 days in crowded boats off the coast in the Bay of Bengal. Thousands more are in boats further south in the Andaman Sea, where they have been trying to reach shore in Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia. However, officials in those three countries have been pushing the boats back out to sea when they approach shore, although an agreement last week may permit up to 7,000 to be sheltered temporarily.

The new Population Control law was enacted in response to the demands of hard-line Buddhists who have repeatedly warned that Muslims, with their high birthrates, could take over the country of 50 million even though they currently represent less than 10 percent of the population.

However, human rights activists warn that this attitude is racist and anti-Muslim, and that the new law will "exacerbate ethnic and religious divisions and undermine the country's efforts to promote tolerance and diversity." AP and AFP

Burma's government vacillates between repression (stability) and reforms (human rights)

Burma's last two generational crisis wars (1886-91 and 1948-58) were extremely bloody and violent civil wars between ethnic groups. (See "Burma: Growing demonstrations by the '88 Generation' raise fears of new slaughter" from 2007, for a generational history of Burma.)

Any country that goes through a crisis civil war faces the problem, in the decades that follow, of preventing old hatreds to lead to a renewal of that civil war. For that reason, it's fairly common for the military to take control of the government after the civil war ends, and to use military and police power to try to control riots and demonstrations, fearing that they will destabilize the country and lead to a new civil war.

So in 2008, as the 20th anniversary of the 1988 massacre approached, there were massive new demonstrations in Rangoon (Yangon), led by monks and nuns, as well as many ordinary citizens. Burma's military junta ordered thousands of troops into the streets of Rangoon. Hundreds of activists and citizens were shot dead or burned alive in government crematoriums. Thousands of Buddhist monks, who led the protests to begin with, were rounded up and detained. Some were found floating face down in rivers. This repression was done in order to promote "stability."

The result was an enormous international backlash, along with economic sanctions. This caused the pendulum to move away from repression (stability) back towards reforms, including free elections and freedom of expression. The purpose of these reforms is to promote "human rights."

However, the end of repression unleashed a lot of hatred that had been bottled up since the 1950s generational crisis civil war. New protests began appearing in the northern provinces of Kachin and Shan, and earlier this year we reported on fighting between Burma's army and ethnic Chinese in Burma's Kokang Special Region.

Now Burma's government is again moving away from reforms (human rights) and back in the direction of repression (stability) with the new Population Control law. The parliament is consider additional bills relating to monogamy, religious conversion and interfaith marriage. These laws are also being demanded by hardline Buddhists with an anti-Muslim agenda.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this vacillation between repression and reforms never succeeds in bringing peace. As the generations of survivors of the last crisis civil war die off, and the country enters a new generational Crisis era, there is a huge, new bloody civil war. Deutsche Welle and Economist

Lessons learned from Ireland's vote on gay marriage

Ireland's referendum on gay marriage has passed overwhelmingly, despite being bitterly opposed by the Catholic Church. It seems that Irish Catholics can overwhelmingly call themselves Catholics, go to Church every Sunday and still completely ignore the teachings of the Pope. This has been true in the case of contraceptives for years.

The lesson to be learned is that you can't depend on churches, synagogues, mosques or politicians to tell you how people think and behave. Millions of Muslims may pray in mosques where they're taught jihadism, but that doesn't mean that they're all jihadists. Other methods must be used to determine what the populations and different generations of people in a country think, and how they will behave when they're forced to make difficult choices. Irish Times and Religion News Service

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-May-15 World View -- Burma (Myanmar) approves birth control law targeting Rohingya Muslims thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-May-2015) Permanent Link
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23-May-15 World View -- After ISIS terrorist attack, Saudis face conflict between stability and reforms

ISIS claims responsibility for attack on Shia mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS claims responsibility for major terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia


Aftermath of bombing of Shia mosque in al-Qadeeh on Friday (AFP)
Aftermath of bombing of Shia mosque in al-Qadeeh on Friday (AFP)

A suicide bomber entered a Shia mosque in the village of al-Qadeeh (Qatif) in eastern Saudi Arabia on Friday when it was packed with worshippers during Friday prayers. He detonated his vest, killing 21 people and wounding dozens, in the worst terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia since 2003.

The Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement that said it would not rest until all Shias were driven from the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia has declared ISIS to be a terrorist organization. When the Saudi branch of ISIS was formed in November, ISIS leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, declared war on the country. He did not refer to it as Saudi Arabia, since this is a name derived from the ruling tribe, the al-Saud, whose authority ISIS does not accept. Instead he called it "the land of Haramayn", the land of the two holy places, meaning Mecca and Medina.

In April, Saudi Arabia arrested 93 people suspected of belonging to ISIS, and foiled several plots, according to the interior ministry. Daily Star (Lebanon) and BBC (14-Nov-2014) and BBC (28-Apr)

As ISIS grows, Saudis face conflict between stability and reforms

The new suicide bombings at the Shia mosque in al-Qadeeh once again sharpens the conflict in Saudi Arabia between the conflicting needs for reforms and stability. Saudi officials attempt to modernize the countries with reforms such as giving women additional freedoms and rights, but these reforms bring riots and violence from Salafist activists in the country.

In 1979, there were two major political earthquakes in the Muslim world, with special effect on Saudi Arabia. One of them was Iran's Great Islamic Revolution, which removed from Iran the Shah, who was an ally of both the US and the Saudis, and replaced him with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a hardline Shia Muslim who was both anti-American and anti-Saudi. The second was Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, which pitted the Orthodox Christians against the Muslims.

Both of these events stirred strong Salafist activism in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi officials resolved their internal problems by encouraging the Salafist jihadists to travel to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda to fight the Russians. Osama bin Laden became leader of al-Qaeda at this time. This worked reasonably well while the war was ongoing, but after the war ended, these jihadists returned to Saudi Arabia and demanded austere implementations of Sharia law.

A primary objective of al-Qaeda has always been to repeat Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution in a Sunni Muslim country. Al-Qaeda has attempted, and continues to attempt, to destabilize governments in countries in the Mideast, Asia and North Africa, attempting to spark an internal civil war somewhere that will result in a hardline Sunni Islamic Revolution in that country.

A major shock to the Saudis occurred with the al-Qaeda attack on America on 11-Sep-2001, for which Saudi Arabia was blamed.

This shock was topped on 12-May-2003 by "Saudi Arabia's 9/11," when over a dozen al-Qaeda linked suicide bombers attacked compounds in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh, killing 35 people, wounding hundreds. This attack brought home to the Saudis that jihadist terrorist was an existential threat to Saudi Arabia itself.

Friday's attack by ISIS in al-Qadeeh is the worst terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia since the 2003 attack. For Saudi Arabia's new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the attack is a threat to his crown and his country, and heightens the concern about the growing power of ISIS. BBC (Nov 2014) and CNN (Nov 2003)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-May-15 World View -- After ISIS terrorist attack, Saudis face conflict between stability and reforms thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-May-2015) Permanent Link
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22-May-15 World View -- Indonesia and Malaysia back down and accept stranded Rohingya migrants

Iran backs down and allows inspection of aid ship to Yemen

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Indonesia and Malaysia back down and accept stranded Rohingya migrants


Aid being brought ashore at a Rohingya camp in Burma (Lowy)
Aid being brought ashore at a Rohingya camp in Burma (Lowy)

International pressures have forced Indonesia and Malaysia to agree to shelter as many as 7,000 migrants on their soil. It's estimated that there are 6,000 to 8,000 migrants in vastly overcrowded boats in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Officials say that these three countries are preventing them from reaching land. When one of the boats is spotted, the authorities supply food, water and fuel to the hundreds of people on board, and then push the boat back out into the Andaman Sea, sending it on its way. Some migrants have been at sea for weeks.

About half of them are economic migrants from Bangladesh, trying to reach Malaysia, where it's thought that there's a need for day laborers.

The other half are Rohingya Muslim migrants who have lived peacefully in Myanmar (Burma) for generations, but are now being slaughtered and driven from their homes by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is building into an extremely bloody and genocidal generational crisis war, where huge numbers of both Buddhists and Muslims will be killed before it ends.

Neither Indonesia and Malaysia have wanted to allow the migrants to land on their soil. They offered "humanitarian aid" to some of the boats approaching land by boarding the ship, providing food, water and fuel, and then towing the boat back out into the midst of the Andaman.

The boats are extremely filthy and crowded, and there have been numerous deaths in months of being trapped out in the sea, facing illness and starvation. Human rights advocates around the world have been sharply criticizing the governments of Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia for allowing the situation to continue.

Under the new agreement, Indonesia and Malaysia will allow up to 7,000 migrants to land, where they will be sheltered for up to a year.

Thailand has refused to join in this agreement, and will treat any migrants as illegal, subject to deportation.

Myanmar (Burma) does not recognize Rohingyas as Thai citizens, even though they've lived there for generations. Myanmar is considered by many to be the core problem that created the migrant crisis. According to the US State Dept:

"What needs to change here is that the Rohingya need to feel welcome in the country of their birth, in the country of their parents’ birth, of their grandparents’ birth. They need to be treated as citizens with dignity and human rights."

However, Burma will not even recognize the name "Rohingya," instead calling them "Bangladeshis." According to a Burmese official:

"If we recognize the name, then they will think they are citizens of Myanmar ... Myanmar cannot take all the blame for these people who are now at sea."

Activists are also demanding that the "wealthy countries," including the United States, take in their share of the migrants stuck at sea. However, Australia is refusing to take any.

The government of the Philippines is saying that it's willing to take in Rohingya migrants. According to one official, "Let us not fall short of providing humanitarian relief and assistance that is asked of us, as we pride ourselves to be a compassionate and hospitable people. Channel News Asia and Time and Al-Jazeera and Lowy Interpreter (Australia)

Iran backs down and allows inspection of aid ship to Yemen

As we reported two days ago, Iran and Saudi Arabia were headed for a military confrontation, as an Iranian cargo ship with 2,500 tons of "humanitarian aid," along with hundreds of passengers, was going to attempt to dock at a port in Yemen. The cargo ship was accompanied by two Iranian warships. Saudi Arabia threatened a military confrontation unless the contents of the cargo ship submitted to inspection.

Iran announced on Thursday that it would dock the ship in Djibouti, where it would be inspected by the international coalition led by Saudi Arabia, defusing the crisis.

In addition, Iran announced that its cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid to Yemen would land in Djibouti for inspection. Press TV (Tehran) and AP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-May-15 World View -- Indonesia and Malaysia back down and accept stranded Rohingya migrants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-May-2015) Permanent Link
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21-May-15 World View -- China's military confronts US surveillance plane in South China Sea

Claims of ISIS activities in Pakistan doubted by officials

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China's military confronts US surveillance plane in South China Sea


P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane (FlightGlobal)
P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane (FlightGlobal)

In a serious new escalation of tensions between China and the United States in the South China Sea, China's navy on Wednesday demanded on eight occasions that an American surveillance plane in the South China Sea leave the area immediately. The surveillance plane was swooping over man-made islands that the Chinese military has created with the apparent intention of building military bases in international waters.

The surveillance mission was top secret, but the confrontation was revealed because a CNN reporter had been granted permission to join in the surveillance flight.

The surveillance plan was the US Navy's new Boeing P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft. According to the Navy, the new aircraft "will transform the way the service performs its anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for broad area, maritime and littoral operations.

Last year, a Chinese jet fighter made several passes as close as 30 feet to a U.S. surveillance plane in international waters. The incident was reminiscent of an April 2001 encounter, when a Chinese F-8 interceptor smashed into a U.S. surveillance aircraft in international waters in the South China Sea. The Chinese aircraft crashed into the sea, and its crew was killed. The U.S. plane made an emergency landing on China's Hainan Island, and its 24 crew members were imprisoned for 10 days.

As we wrote last week, the US has has announced that the US military will use its aircraft and Navy ships to directly confront China in the South China Sea. The US is conducting its surveillance flights over international waters, but China is claiming that it has sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, meaning that regions that have been international waters for centuries are now being claimed as Chinese sovereign waters.

As I wrote last week, what we're seeing is the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that leads to full scale war during a generational Crisis era, when nationalism and xenophobia are at their highest. At some point, as actions escalate, one side or the other will, by miscalculation, by accident or by intention, take a military action that requires a response, and then things can spiral quickly out of control.

The Chinese themselves certainly understand that. In fact, one of the Chinese warnings to the US surveillance craft on Wednesday was:

"This is the Chinese navy ... This is the Chinese navy ... Please go away ... to avoid misunderstanding."

One or two "misunderstandings" could lead to full-scale war. CNN and FlightGlobal

Claims of ISIS activities in Pakistan doubted by officials

On May 13, in a suburb of Karachi, the huge port city in the south of Pakistan, terrorists attacked a bus carrying Shias of the Ismaili ethnic group. According to the police report, “The gunmen stopped the bus and first fired at it from outside. Then they entered inside the bus and opened fire indiscriminately. After that they checked to see if anyone was left uninjured.” 45 Ismailis were killed, and 24 injured.

The terrorists left behind leaflets written in English accusing Shias of "barbaric atrocities," and warning "Advent of the Islamic State!"

Jundullah, a splinter group of Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP - Pakistan Taliban) that has supposedly switch allegiance to ISIS , has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Pakistan officials are raising several doubts about the claim.

Jundullah has claimed responsibility in the past for a number of terrorist activities, and in its statements has vowed to exterminate all Shia Muslims. However, some of these claims of responsibility have turned out to be false. Furthermore, this Jundullah organization claiming responsibility for the Karachi attack is clearly a different organization than the previous Jundullah of Sunni militants of Iranian Baloch descent involved in past attacks in Iran’s Seistan-Balochistan province.

Finally, this Jundullah's relation with ISIS is also called into question. Any individual or organization in the world can announce that it's affiliated with ISIS, and this has led to exaggerated claims that "ISIS is now in 100 countries around the world." But that doesn't mean that Jundullah or any of these organization has any actual connection with ISIS, and Pakistani officials are claiming that investigations have uncovered "no evidence of any money trail of any kind" showing a connect between ISIS and any Pakistan terrorist organization.

However, none of that is any comfort to the family and friends of the people who were killed in Karachi on May 13. In fact, what it seems to mean is that Pakistan security forces have no idea who committed the May 13 terror attack, which is not good news when Pakistan seems increasingly victimized by the very terrorist organizations that its intelligence services have funded in the past. The News (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (India) and Reuters and Pakistan Today

Iran's Supreme Leader rules out any nuclear inspections

As the June 30 deadline approaches for America and the West to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei seems to be confident that he can force the US to make any concession he wants, because the US is so anxious to get this deal.

On Wednesday, Khamenei announced that he will not permit any inspections of Iran's military centers, or to talk with nuclear scientists:

"As said before, no permission will be given for inspections of any military centers and for talks with the nuclear scientists and other sensitive fields of study and intrusion into their privacy. ...

The flagrant and shameless enemy expects us to allow them to talk to our scientists and researchers about a fundamental, indigenous advancement; however, there will absolutely be no such access... I will not allow foreigners to come in and interrogate the dear and distinguished scientists and sons of this nation."

The comments were broadcast live on state TV. If the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors are not given access to Iran's scientists and military centers, Iran will be able to develop nuclear weapons technology without being detected. President Obama has guaranteed that deep, thorough IAEA inspections will be part of any nuclear deal. Reuters and AEI Iran Tracker

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-May-15 World View -- China's military confronts US surveillance plane in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-May-2015) Permanent Link
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20-May-15 World View -- Iranian, American, Saudi military head for confrontation off Yemen

Report: Saudi Arabia seeking nuclear weapons from Pakistan

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iranian, American, Saudi military head for confrontation off Yemen


Iran Shahed (marinetraffic.com)
Iran Shahed (marinetraffic.com)

The Iranian ship Iran Shahed ("Iran Rescue"), which Iran says is bringing humanitarian aid, is set to arrive at Yemen's port of Al-Hudaydah on Thursday. According to Iran, the ship will unload 2,500 tons of "humanitarian aid," accompanied by hundreds of passengers described as "medical relief workers." It's suspected that at least part of the shipment are weapons and ground troops from Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). The cargo ship is accompanied by two Iranian warships, the "Vosper" and "Bandar Abbas."

The United States, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have imposed a sea and air blockade on Yemen, and have demanded that the ship stop off at Djibouti for inspection. The Iranians have refused to do so, and are threatening a military confrontation if an attempt is made to prevent the cargo ship from docking in Yemen.

Readers may recall that this is the same stunt that Russia used in conjunction with its invasion of Ukraine. Russia sent in one convoy after another, each one with hundreds of large trucks. The Russians claim that they contained only humanitarian aid, but many believe that they also carried weapons and soldiers.

American warships have been tracking the Iranian ships. However, it's thought that President Obama would back off on any confrontation with Iran, just as he did when he flip-flopped over the "red line" he had set over Syria's use of chemical weapons.

If the Iranian cargo ship reaches port, then it will set a precedent for future ship convoys delivering "humanitarian aid" to Yemen.

However, the blockade is also being enforced by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, whose governments are presumably less shy than Obama's. So once again, we're seeing a game of chicken being played out in the Mideast. Either Saudi Arabia will back down, or Iran will back down, or there will be a confrontation on Thursday. Memri and Debka and NBC News

In repeat of Mosul disaster, Iraqi army abandoned US weapons in Ramadi

As militias from the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) approached Mosul last year, the soldiers in the Iraq army dropped their weapons and fled for their lives, leaving behind large storehouses of weapons that had been supplied by the United States.

When Iraq army soldiers fled for their lives last week as the ISIS militias approached Ramadi, they once again left behind storehouses of US-supplied weapons, according to Pentagon spokesman Steve Warren.

Fortunately, the haul was smaller this time, according to Warren. He estimated that a half dozen tanks were abandoned, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees. He said some of the vehicles were in working condition; others were not because they had not been moved for months. AP

Report: Saudi Arabia seeking nuclear weapons from Pakistan

Reports citing unnamed senior American officials say that the Saudis have "taken the 'strategic decision' to acquire 'off-the-shelf' atomic weapons from Pakistan."

The Saudis are refusing to comment on the report, but in a March statement on the same subject, Saudi ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir said:

"But the kingdom of Saudi Arabia will take whatever measures are necessary in order to protect its security. There are two things over which we do not negotiate: our faith and our security."

If true, this would certainly not be an unexpected turn of events. As we wrote last week ( "15-May-15 World View -- Obama repudiates the Carter doctrine at bizarre GCC meeting"), the United States has been the guarantor of Saudi security for decades. When ambassador Al-Jubeir made that statement in March about "security," he was specifically alluding to the American guarantee. Last week's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at Camp David, hosted by President Obama, was a complete disaster for Saudi-American relations as Obama, viewed by Mideast leaders as having no clue what's going on, lectured the GCC leaders who came that nothing would stop him from going ahead with nuclear deal with Iran, making any concession he had to make to do so, and the GCC leaders could like it or lump it.

The Saudis perceive that Obama has acquiesced to permitting Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, and the Saudis consider that to be an existential threat to their Kingdom. The logic of the situation actually requires the Saudis to seek nuclear technology from Pakistan, since not doing so would risk Saudi security.

So I believe we can say with certainty that the Saudis are at least exploring the purchase of nuclear technology from Pakistan, but it is unlikely that a final decision has yet been made.

This is a good time to remind readers what I've been saying for ten years, that Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Arab countries will be enemies of the West, including the U.S., India, Russia and Iran. The prediction that Iran would be our ally seemed fantastical when I first wrote about it almost ten years ago, but in the last two years we've seen it coming true, to my astonishment as well as everyone else's. CNN and BBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-May-15 World View -- Iranian, American, Saudi military head for confrontation off Yemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-May-2015) Permanent Link
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19-May-15 World View -- European Union approves military action against migrant smugglers

ISIS seizure of Ramadi Iraq raises concerns of Sunni-Shia war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS seizure of Ramadi Iraq raises concerns of Sunni-Shia war


Shia pilgrims carry a symbolic coffin in a funeral commemoration in Baghdad last week (AP)
Shia pilgrims carry a symbolic coffin in a funeral commemoration in Baghdad last week (AP)

As we reported yesterday, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) defied the predictions of both the American and Iraqi governments and seized the city of Ramadi, after soldiers in the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and fled for their lives. ISIS is now in control of 80% of Anbar Province, the heart of the minority Sunni population in Iraq.

In the aftermath, the Iran-backed Shia government in Baghdad has ordered Iraq's Iran-trained Shia militias, also called Hashid Shaabi or "popular mobilization units," to deploy to Ramadi and recapture it from ISIS.

When Shia militias were deployed last year to recapture Tikrit from ISIS, they did so, but committed atrocities against the Sunni population, looting and destroying their homes. Some 400,000 people fled their homes, as I described, and Tikrit is now a ghost town.

Now the Shia militias are entering Ramadi, and Sunni militias in the region are not going to tolerate the same kinds of atrocities as happened in Tikrit.

I've heard several analysts on Monday predict or raise concerns about a major Sunni-Shia bloodbath as Ramadi is being recaptured.

Nothing like this will happen. There may be some clashes between Sunni and Shia militias, but a Sunni-Shia bloodbath is completely impossible.

Iraq's last generational crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Something like 1.5 million people were killed in that extremely bloody war, but it was not a war between Sunnis and Shias. During that war, the Sunnis and Shias in Iraq were united in fighting against the Persians in Iran. In other words, it was an ethnic war, Arabs versus Persians. (There was also a third ethnic group, the Kurds.)

So now Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past the Iran/Iraq war. There are millions of survivors of the Iran/Iraq war who remember its horrors and have no intention of letting anything like it happen again. In particular, with Sunni and Shia Arabs having fought shoulder-to-shoulder against the Persians, they have no intention now of having a bloodbath war with each other, just because their children are doing some looting and committing some atrocities. (For more information, see my lengthy 2007 analysis of the Iraq war: "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq.")

Even without resorting to generational theory, this argument is proven by the experience in Tikrit. When the Shia militias started committing atrocities in Tikrit, why did 400,000 Sunnis leave their homes and flee for their lives? Why didn't they fight back against the Shia militias to save their homes? Why didn't they start a full-scale Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Tikrit?

The answer is because the survivors of the Iran/Iraq war want nothing to do with those horrors again, so there was no Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Tikrit. And for the same reason, there will be no Sunni-Shia bloodbath in Ramadi. USA Today and Reuters

European Union approves military action against migrant smugglers

The European Union on Monday approved a multi-phase military operation to defeat human smugglers who are trafficking migrants from Libya to Europe. Smugglers have been charging migrants thousands of dollars each to make the trip, and there's no guarantee of reaching Europe or even of surviving.

The initial phase, to begin in June, will be to use spy planes for intelligence-gathering and surveillance, with the particular objective of finding and identifying the smugglers' boats.

Once the boats are identified, naval forces could stop the boats in the Mediterranean and force them to return to Libya. Other options could include removing the migrants, and then destroying the boats.

Also approved was a "boots on the ground" option, where special forces would be sent to Libya to hunt the people-smuggling gangs, and stop the problem at its source. The special forces would also destroy smugglers' boats in port.

However, anything that requires military action on Libyan soil would presumably require either approval by the United Nations Security Council or approval from one or both of the two competing Libyan governments. Furthermore, several EU countries, including Ireland, Sweden and Austria, are opposed to any military involvement in the region.

No one credibly believes that any of these proposals would stop the flow of migrants to Europe, or even seriously reduce its size. The migrants are generally completely desperate, while the smugglers stand to make millions of dollars. And so both the migrants and the smugglers would quickly find a way to circumvent any steps that the EU takes.

So there would still be thousands of migrants arriving in Europe. Last week, the European Commission in Brussels approved a plan to distribute newly-arrived migrants to each country, with a quota set by the size and wealth of the country. Under European treaties, Britain and Ireland are able to opt out of any such proposal. Britain has already said it will do so, and Ireland has three months to decide.

This is only one of the two major migration crises that have been in the news lately. (See "16-May-15 World View -- Thousands of Bangladeshi and Burma Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in southeast Asia".)

In the Asian crisis, thousands of migrants and refugees from Burma and Bangladesh are trying to migrate to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. In those cases, there are already robust military operations in place to prevent the migrants from reaching land. However, those military operations don't seem to be stopping the flow of migrants. If that lesson is applied to the situation in Europe, military operations won't stop the flow of migrants there either. Irish Times and Daily Mail (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-May-15 World View -- European Union approves military action against migrant smugglers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-May-2015) Permanent Link
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18-May-15 World View -- Iraq's Shia militias ordered to fight ISIS after major loss in Ramadi

Memories of atrocities committed by Shia militias in Tikrit

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS in major victory seizes Iraq city of Ramadi


An Iraqi soldier at a base outside Ramadi on May 8th (AFP)
An Iraqi soldier at a base outside Ramadi on May 8th (AFP)

In a major setback for Iraq, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has overrun Iraq's city of Ramadi. Ramadi is the capital of Anbar, Iraq's largest province. This victory will permit ISIS to threaten Baiji, Iraq’s largest oil refinery, as well as the villages in the suburbs around Baghdad, and Baghdad itself. Furthermore, weapons stores and other assets in Ramadi were not destroyed, and are available to ISIS.

People with long memories may recall the phrase "Anbar Awakening." The US Army worked with Sunni villages across Anbar province, and triggered by means of President Bush's troop "surge" in 2007, the Sunni militias ejected Al-Qaeda in Iraq, effectively ending the Iraq war. (See "Iraqi Sunnis are turning against al-Qaeda in Iraq" from 2007.)

When young jihadists from around the world started traveling to Syria to fight Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad, ISIS was formed in Syria. After the 2011 withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, the Iran-backed Shia government in Baghdad treated the Sunnis in Anbar province brutally, allowing ISIS to infiltrate much of Anbar. This included the capture of the city of Mosul, where the Iraqi army dropped their weapons and fled for their lives as ISIS militias approached. Some analysts are blaming President Obama for this outcome, since he did not negotiate keeping some American troops remaining in Iraq, and allowed the victory of the Anbar Awakening to turn to defeat. Other analysts are blaming President Bush for this outcome, because the Iraq army was disbanded after its defeat in 2003.

The BBC and Al-Jazeera have been showing video of Ramadi on Friday, when the Iraq army once again could be seen fleeing for their lives. Al Jazeera and BBC

Ominously, the Iraq government is ordering Shia militias into Ramadi

Iraq's government has ordered the mobilization of Shia militias in Ramadi, in an attempt to recover the city from ISIS. The order is ominous because of atrocities committed by Shia militias in the recapture of the city of Tikrit. Shia militias are known locally as "popular mobilization units."

After ISIS seized the city of Tikrit in June 2014, the Baghdad government ordered the Shia militias to enter the city. They did so, and took control of Tikrit back from ISIS. But some 400,000 people fled their homes in Tikrit because the Shia militias were committing atrocities targeting the Sunni population. Today, two months after the defeat of ISIS, Tikrit is a ghost town. Shia militia commanders are denying that the atrocities ever occurred, and are asking the former Sunni residents of Tikrit to return to their former homes. But many homes are completely looted and destroyed, and only a tiny fraction of former residents are returning.

Now the Baghdad government has ordered Shia militias to go into Anbar province to recapture Ramadi from ISIS. It's feared that the atrocities of Tikrit will be repeated in Ramadi. UPI and AP (4-May) and Daily Mail (5-Mar)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-May-15 World View -- Iraq's Shia militias ordered to fight ISIS after major loss in Ramadi thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-May-2015) Permanent Link
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17-May-15 World View -- Outrage grows over sting video of Lebanon MP planning terrorism

Stock market bubble accelerates explosion as economy falters

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Outrage grows over sting video of Lebanon MP planning terrorism


Screen grab of sting video showing Michel Samaha's admission of terrorist plans
Screen grab of sting video showing Michel Samaha's admission of terrorist plans

Lebanon's people were shocked on Thursday evening when TV channels broadcast a video of a sting operation that trapped a Lebanon former MP (Member of Parliament) importing explosives from Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria with the intention of killing Lebanon's MPs and religious figures who were politically opposed to Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorism and support for Bashar al-Assad's war.

In 2012, undercover police informant Milad Kfoury secretly videotaped conversations with pro-Hezbollah MP Michel Samaha. In those conversations, Samaha said "you can get rid of" lawmakers and other political opponents. In the third videotape, Samaha actually delivers the bomb-making explosives to Kfoury, and he assures Kfoury that the only two people who know about this are Bashar al-Assad and his security chief Ali Mamlouk.

Samaha has been under arrest since August 2012 over allegations that he and Mamlouk planned to assassinate a string of political and religious figures in Lebanon. Samaha confessed after he learned of the video, but the video was not shown to the public until Thursday.

The Samaha conviction is reminding people of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri ten years ago. (See "Massive Beirut explosion killing Rafiq Hariri puts Lebanon into state of shock" from 2005.) The outrage from the Hariri assassination was so great that Syrian troops who had been occupying Lebanon were forced to leave the country. Since then, there have numerous assassinations by bomb and gunfire, allegedly by Hezbollah and Syria, to eliminate Syria's political opponents and to torpedo any investigates that might show al-Assad and Hezbollah complicity in the Hariri assassination.

Lebanon's people are well aware of this, and so shock turned to anger when it was learned that Samaha received a light sentence, 4-1/2 years, and that because of time served, and because a Lebanese judicial year is equal to nine months, he'll be released in December of this year. Anti-Hezbollah politicians have condemned the light sentence, saying that it would effectively "legalize assassination and bombings." However, a pro-Hezbollah MP defended the light sentence, characterizing objections to it as "an unprecedented assault on the judiciary and on justice."

The Hariri assassination shocked and angered Lebanon enough to force major changes. It remains to be seen what long-term effect the conviction of Samaha will have. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Daily Star and Daily Star

Stock market bubble accelerates explosion as economy falters


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at astronomically high 21.47 on May 15 (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at astronomically high 21.47 on May 15 (WSJ)

It's been only three weeks since I reported that the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio (stock valuation index) was at an astronomically high 20.98, indicating a huge stock market bubble. It was at 18 a year ago, and in the last three weeks it's shot up to 21.47, the Wall Street Journal on Friday, May 15.

At the same time, numerous economic indicators -- manufacturing activity, consumer confidence, retail sales, industrial production and GDP -- are all much softer tham mainstream economists were predicting. When those indicators are combined with poor economic performance in Europe, Japan and China, and a worldwide deflationary trend, there is plenty of evidence of a likely global economic slowdown.

People frequently ask me whether Generational Dynamics can predict when the stock market bubble is going to burst, and a panic will occur. That cannot be predicted and, if it could, I would be rich. In fact, economists still don't even know for sure what triggered the panic and stock market crash of 1929, or why it didn't happen earlier or later.

During the 2004-2007 time frame, it was obvious that there was a real estate bubble, and I begged a number of people not to buy homes, generally to no avail. Now I beg people to stay out of the stock market, with equal lack of success. It's heartbreaking to me to see this happen.

The P/E index is well over 21 and is surging, indicating a rapidly growing stock market bubble. The historical average is 14, and as recently as 1982 it was around 6. It is an absolute guarantee that it will fall to around 5-6 again, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to below 3000, far below the current index value of over 18,000.

Anything might trigger a stock market panic. It might be something as simple as a speech, or it might be an exogenous event, such as a major international crisis. With almost the entire Mideast in flames, with Russia invading and annexing pieces of Ukraine, with China invading and annexing pieces of the South China Sea, something major could occur at any time.

So, as I have in the past, I strongly urge readers to keep their assets in cash. In the deflationary environment of today, that's the best bet. Seeking Alpha and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-May-15 World View -- Outrage grows over sting video of Lebanon MP planning terrorism thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-May-2015) Permanent Link
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16-May-15 World View -- Thousands of Bangladeshi and Burma Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in southeast Asia

EU proposes refugee shelters in Niger to house illegal migrants headed for Europe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Thousands of Bangladeshi and Burma Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in southeast Asia


Rohingya migrants arriving in Indonesia on Friday (AP)
Rohingya migrants arriving in Indonesia on Friday (AP)

Nearly 800 migrants from Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh were rescued by local fishermen when their boat sank off the eastern coast of Indonesia. The migrants were brought to shore, given food and water, and placed in a warehouse.

Those were the lucky ones. It's estimated that there are 6,000 to 8,000 migrants in vastly overcrowded boats in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Officials that these three countries are preventing them from reaching land. When one of the boats is spotted, the authorities supply food, water and fuel to the hundreds of people on board, and then push the boat back out into the Andaman Sea, sending it on its way. Some migrants have been at sea for weeks.

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein:

"I am appalled at reports that Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have been pushing boats full of vulnerable migrants back out to sea, which will inevitably lead to many avoidable deaths. The focus should be on saving lives, not further endangering them."

However, a government official in Malaysia said:

"What do you expect us to do? We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border. We have treated them humanely but they cannot be flooding our shores like this."

According to Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha:

"If we take them all in, then anyone who wants to come will come freely. I am asking if Thailand will be able to take care of them all. Where will the budget come from? No one wants them. Everyone wants a transit country like us to take responsibility. Is it fair?"

AP and VOA

Southeast Asian nations face a flood of migrants

This situation has gained international attention ever since Rohingya 'death camps' and 'slave camps' were found in southern Thailand, as I reported last week.

As I described in that article, Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma) who had lived there for generations are being slaughtered and driven from their homes by Buddhists led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. The Rohingyas, described by the United Nations as "the most persecuted ethnic group in the world," are not even recognized as Rohingyas by Burma's government, who refer to them as Bangladeshis. Because of the Buddhist violence, they've been fleeing Burma into the Bay of Bengal in small boats, heading south and hoping to land in Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia.

There are about 1.3 million Rohingya in Burma, and in the last three years more than 120,000 of them have boarded ships to flee to other countries. They are joined by Bangladeshis from Bangladesh who are also fleeing to the south because of poverty, hoping to find work.

The discovery of the death camps and slave camps has caused Thai officials to announce that they will criminally prosecute for illegal entry any refugees who land on Thai soil. According to a spokesman for Thai's military junta:

"We have given the navy a clear policy that those who plan to land on the Thai coast are welcome to do so and we will give them humanitarian assistance. But we will treat them in accordance with our laws about illegal entry into the country."

As a result, thousands of these migrants are scooped up by human traffickers who charge thousands of dollars to take them further south, often demanding that they call their families to secure payment. Stories of rape of women and children, starvation and disease are common, as well as violent fights when water and food run out. But because of the crackdown on human trafficking in the past few weeks, many of the traffickers are just setting the boats adrift. When one of the boats arrives on the shore of one of the southeast Asian nations, the migrants are given food and water, and the boats are towed back out to sea.

According to one lawyer, countries towing boats back to see are probably in breach of international law:

"These boats carrying overcrowded refugees and migrants are typically rickety wooden trawlers and hardly seaworthy. Turning or towing these boats away is as good as signing their death warrant as the occupants are normally starving, dehydrated, sickly and in dire need of immediate assistance."

Attention is turning now to the suspected traffickers who have a "systemic kidnapping scheme" targeting Rohingya in Burma, who would then be held for ransom in Thailand. NPR and Bloomberg

U.S. under pressure to help Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants

Human rights groups and some in Congress are demanding that the U.S. do something to help solve the migrant crisis in southeast Asia.

Democratic Representative Joe Crowley, "These men, women, children and infants are refugees fleeing well-founded fear of persecution and their deaths may well constitute a mass atrocity in the heart of ASEAN." (ASEAN = Association of Southeast Asian Nations.) He called on the US to provide humanitarian assistance to the migrants.

However, State Dept. spokesman Jeff Rathke said, "This is a regional issue. It needs a regional solution in short order." AP

EU proposes refugee shelters in Niger to house illegal migrants headed for Europe

The European Union and Niger are considering a plan to build a string of refugee shelters in Niger to dissuade illegal African migrants from trying to reach Europe, and instead offer local alternatives.

According to Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou, this will "attack the problem at its root":

"These problems of great migrations are much like those of the rural exodus. People are leaving the countryside to the cities driven by poverty, the same way people leave poor countries to go to rich countries, simply because their situation is untenable."

1,800 people have died in shipwrecks in the Mediterranean since the beginning of this year. Earlier this week, lawmakers in Niger adopted a law calling for prison sentences of up to 30 years for smugglers of illegal immigrants in a bid to stem the flow of migrants across Africa into Europe. Arab News/AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-May-15 World View -- Thousands of Bangladeshi and Burma Rohingya migrants stranded at sea in southeast Asia thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-May-2015) Permanent Link
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15-May-15 World View -- Obama repudiates the Carter doctrine at bizarre GCC meeting

Iran fires at Singapore-flagged ship in Persian Gulf

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran attempts to seize Singapore-flagged ship in Persian Gulf


The Alpine Eternity. (Marinetraffic.com)
The Alpine Eternity. (Marinetraffic.com)

In what is apparently going to be a repeating pattern, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) on Thursday launched five patrol boats and fired at a commercial ship in international waters passing through the Persian Gulf, in an apparent attempt to either disable it or to seize it and force it into an Iranian port.

On April 24, four IRGCN patrol boats surrounded the Maersk Kensington, a US-flagged cargo vessel, and harassed it for a while before letting it go.

On April 28, IRGCN patrol boats fired shots at a commercial cargo vessel passing through the Strait of Hormuz, and then forcibly boarded the ship and directed it to an Iranian port. The vessel was the Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship. The Tigris and its crew were forcibly held for several days before they were released.

In the new incident, it appears that Iran was trying to repeat the April 28 incident. The intended forcible seizure was of the Alpine Eternity, a Singapore-flagged ship whose owners Iran claims owe money to Iran.

The first volley of shots, probably from machine guns, were across the bow. At that point, the vessel called the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for help, and turned toward UAE waters. The UAE sent three of its coast guard boats out. The IRGCN boats pursued and fired additional shots, apparently hitting the Alpine Eternity but not disabling it. Once it entered UAE waters, the IRGCN boats broke off. CNN and The National (UAE)

Obama concludes bizarre meeting with GCC at Camp David

As President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry continue to have one embarrassing foreign policy humiliation after another, it's very hard to understand why Obama seems completely immune from learning any lessons and acting more intelligently.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is an organization with six member on the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). GCC members have been expressing increasing alarm that Obama seems to be ready to concede anything and everything to Iran, putting GCC members at risk.

According to Marwan Bishara, Al-Jazeera's senior political analyst, Gulf leaders know that if they're being invited to Camp David, then they're going to be either squeezed or humiliated, "as what happened with the Palestinians in 2000." He said that Gulf leaders have no respect for Obama for a number of reasons:

Bishara didn't mention -- but other analysts have -- that there is a generational issue. Obama is a Gen-Xer who considers himself to be the smartest person in the room, no matter who else is in the room, and who treats anyone who disagrees with him with extreme contempt.

The news all week was asking the question whether Saudi Arabia's new King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud was "snubbing" Obama by not coming. Well, of course he was. Salman and other Gulf leaders are in their 70s, and consider Obama to be a kid who has no clue what's going on in the Mideast -- an appraisal that I would agree with. So of course these older leaders are not going to want to come to Camp David to be ordered around and humiliated by Obama.

The GCC meeting was described as a negotiation, but Bishara pointed out that no one believed it was a negotiation. It was clear that Obama was going to tell them that the nuclear deal with Iran was going ahead, and they should just get used to it. No wonder they didn't want to come to Camp David. Saudi Gazette

The Truman Doctrine and the Carter Doctrine

The GCC leaders knew in advance that the Camp David meeting was a "take it or leave it" announcement by Obama, with no negotiating. But if there HAD been negotiating, then what the Gulf leaders wanted was a reaffirmation of Jimmy Carter's Carter Doctrine.

I've written many times about the Harry Truman's Truman Doctrine of 1947, which made America policeman of the world. The doctrine is highly controversial today, but its justification is that it's better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. Every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman.

In his State of the Union address on January 23, 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced what has been called the Carter Doctrine. It was essentially an application of the Truman Doctrine to two specific regions: the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. Here are some excerpts:

"This last few months has not been an easy time for any of us. As we meet tonight, it has never been more clear that the state of our Union depends on the state of the world. And tonight, as throughout our own generation, freedom and peace in the world depend on the state of our Union. ...

At this time in Iran, 50 Americans are still held captive, innocent victims of terrorism and anarchy. Also at this moment, massive Soviet troops are attempting to subjugate the fiercely independent and deeply religious people of Afghanistan. These two acts—one of international terrorism and one of military aggression-present a serious challenge to the United States of America and indeed to all the nations of the world. Together, we will meet these threats to peace. ...

In response to the abhorrent act in Iran, our Nation has never been aroused and unified so greatly in peacetime. Our position is clear. The United States will not yield to blackmail. ...

We continue to pursue these specific goals: first, to protect the present and long-range interests of the United States; secondly, to preserve the lives of the American hostages and to secure, as quickly as possible, their safe release, if possible, to avoid bloodshed which might further endanger the lives of our fellow citizens; to enlist the help of other nations in condemning this act of violence, which is shocking and violates the moral and the legal standards of a civilized world; and also to convince and to persuade the Iranian leaders that the real danger to their nation lies in the north, in the Soviet Union and from the Soviet troops now in Afghanistan, and that the unwarranted Iranian quarrel with the United States hampers their response to this far greater danger to them. ...

This situation demands careful thought, steady nerves, and resolute action, not only for this year but for many years to come. It demands collective efforts to meet this new threat to security in the Persian Gulf and in Southwest Asia. It demands the participation of all those who rely on oil from the Middle East and who are concerned with global peace and stability. And it demands consultation and close cooperation with countries in the area which might be threatened. ...

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

That's what the GCC leaders would have liked Obama to reaffirm. Instead, at the conclusion of Thursday's meeting, he said the following:

"In the event of such aggression or the threat of such aggression, the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determine urgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners."

It's pretty clear that Obama has repudiated the Carter Doctrine, as well as the Truman Doctrine.

It's probably worthwhile mentioning that even if Obama had reaffirmed the Carter Doctrine, he would probably not have been believed, after his repeated irrational behavior in Mideast policy, especially his flip-flop on his chemical weapons "red line" in Syria, allowing the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons with impunity, which it continues to do to this day. Carter's State of the Union address, 1/23/1980 and Maxwell AF Base (1983) and Al Arabiya (Riyadh)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-May-15 World View -- Obama repudiates the Carter doctrine at bizarre GCC meeting thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-May-2015) Permanent Link
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14-May-15 World View -- US escalates tensions with plans for patrols, aircraft in South China Sea

Nusra Front vows to eradicate ISIS in Qalamoun on Syria/Lebanon border

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nusra Front vows to eradicate ISIS in Qalamoun on Syria/Lebanon border


The Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward, in the Qalamoun region. (AP)
The Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward, in the Qalamoun region. (AP)

Qalamoun, a mountainous region of Syria that is on the border with Lebanon, is becoming the site for a fierce fight between two Sunni jihadist militias, the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) versus al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra). In the past, al-Nusra had avoided clashes with ISIS along the Lebanon border because the two groups were "the advocates of the same ideology" and because the two groups had to cooperate to fight against the Iran-backed Lebanon Shia terrorist group Hezbollah. However, according to an al-Nusra statement, ISIS has kidnapped one al-Nusra group, tortured them by beating them with rifles, and threatened to behead them. That triggered the current fighting, and a vow by al-Nusra to eradicate ISIS from Qalamoun.

This is presumably good news for Hezbollah, which is involved in a fierce battle in Qalamoun against both al-Nusra and ISIS, to prevent these militias from crossing the border into Lebanon. Hezbollah is claiming significant victories in this clash, but some reports indicate that Hezbollah has suffered significant losses. Daily Star (Lebanon) and Al Monitor and Daily Star (Lebanon) and Debka (Israel)

US escalates tensions with plans for patrols, aircraft in South China Sea

As China continues to annex other countries' territories in the South China Sea, using military force with impunity, the US military may use aircraft and Navy ships to directly confront China, in a tit for tat escalation of tensions.

China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues a massive military to enforce its seizures. China has claimed the entire South China Sea, including regions historically belonging to Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and the Philippines. China's claims are rejected by almost everyone outside of China, and China refuses to submit them to the United Nations court deciding such matters, apparently knowing that they would lose.

In recent months, China has repeated escalated the military aggression by using land reclamation projects to construct man-made islands for military bases and airports in regions surrounding the Spratly Islands that have previously belonged to Vietnam and the Philippines.

There's no word on how the American naval vessels and aircraft will be used, or whether there are conditions beyond self-defense under which they would take military action. They are going to be used for patrols, according to reports, "to underscore the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea." However, this could be interpreted as allowing for defense of Vietnamese or Philippine vessels being harassed by the Chinese.

The US will stay within international waters, but according to China, there are no international waters within the South China Sea, since China claims everything.

Thus, we have the following statement expressing "grave concern" from China's Foreign Ministry:

"We express grave concern about the relevant U.S. remarks. It’s necessary for the U.S. to provide clarification.

China advocates the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, yet the freedom definitely does not mean that foreign military vessels and aircrafts can enter one country’s territorial waters and airspace at will. China will stay firm in safeguarding territorial sovereignty. ...

We urge parties concerned to be discreet in words and actions, avoid taking any risky and provocative actions and safeguard regional peace and stability."

So if the US is patrolling in "international waters" in the South China Sea, and China claims the entire South China Sea as its "territorial waters," then what steps will China take to "stay firm in safeguarding territorial sovereignty"?

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is exactly the kind of tit-for-tat escalation that leads to full scale war during a generational Crisis era, when nationalism and xenophobia are at their highest. At some point, as actions escalate, one side or the other will, by miscalculation, by accident or by intention, take a military action that requires a response, and then things can spiral quickly out of control. CNN and Xinhua and Bloomberg

Vatican to recognize State of Palestine while canonizing Palestinian nuns

The Vatican will sign a treaty on Saturday officially recognizing the State of Palestine. The Vatican has been unofficially referring to the State of Palestine for over a year, but now the treaty makes it official. On Sunday, two nuns who lived in Ottoman Palestine during the 1800s will be canonized and made saints. Vatican News and AFP and YNet (Israel)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-May-15 World View -- US escalates tensions with plans for patrols, aircraft in South China Sea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-May-2015) Permanent Link
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13-May-15 World View -- Iran forces Afghans to fight in Syrian regime's collapsing army

Greece makes debt payment as even leftists lose sympathy

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Iran forces Afghans to fight in Syrian regime's collapsing army


Iran's Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (left) with Afghan Alireza Tavasoli, commander of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, who was killed fighting in Syria. (RFE/RL)
Iran's Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (left) with Afghan Alireza Tavasoli, commander of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, who was killed fighting in Syria. (RFE/RL)

As we've been reporting recently, the regime army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is showing signs of collapse, because of enormous casualty rates, and significant increases in draft-dodging and desertions. After a series of significant defeats to an increasingly organized opposition, al-Assad is desperate to reconstitute his army. ( "3-May-15 World View -- War in Syria turns more and more against al-Assad")

There are increasing reports that Iran is recruiting Afghans for al-Assad's army. The Afghans being recruited are mostly ethnic Hazaras, who are Shias. I've written about the Hazaras a number of times in the past as being victims of horrific terrorist attacks in Pakistan from Taliban-linked groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jundullah who are committed to exterminating all Shias in Pakistan, starting with bombings of Shia mosques and schools. People in the Hazara ethnic group live in Iran, as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan, mostly in poverty, where they usually suffer a great deal of discrimination and violence at the hands of Sunni ethnic groups, especially the Pashtuns.

Hazaras who are illegal immigrants in Iran can be scooped up and forcibly sent to al-Assad's army in Syria, while others are given money and a chance to stay alive and avoid direct torture.

The irony is that the vestiges of the "Syrian civil war" as a civil war are completely disappearing. It's increasingly a proxy war between foreign fighters -- Shia Hezbollah and Shia Afghans on the al-Assad side, and foreign Sunni jihadists from around the world coming to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) or al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) or one of the "moderate" anti-Assad militias. This is in contrast, for example, to the civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR). If you took all the foreigners (foreign fighters) out of Syria, then the war would collapse. If you took all the foreigners (UN and African Union peacekeepers) out of CAR, then the Muslims and Christians would go full-scale at massacring each other.

When the Syrian civil war first started in 2011, I wrote that Syria was in a generational Awakening era, just one generation past Syria's last REAL civil war, which climaxed in 1982 with the bloody massacre of some 40,000 Sunni civilians in Hama. So it's too soon for a new crisis civil war, since too many people remember the last one, so it had to fizzle before long. In 2011, there was no way to predict exactly what scenario it would follow, but now it appears that the scenario is to dissolve into a fight between Shia recruits from Afghanistan and Sunni jihadists from around the world. Al-Monitor and Der Spiegel and Middle East Eye and Business Insider

Debate over the number of European jihadists in Syria

Almost every day, there are new media reports of European jihadists who have gone to Syria to join ISIS or one of the militias fighting against the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

According to the European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová, the number of Europeans who have gone to Syria is about 6,000, principally from France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. This number was higher than previous EU estimates, but there are reasons to believe that, as Jourová herself said, these figures may be "severe underestimates."

Estimating the number of European jihadists in Syria depends on adding together the official estimates from each of the 28 EU countries. But there are several reasons why a country may severely underestimate the number of its jihadists that have gone to Syria.

The first reason is that there is no motivation for a country to give a truthful figure, since a high estimate of jihadists from that country makes the country look bad.

The second reason is that there's no way to be sure how many have gone. One German official said that a significant discrepancy exists between the official figure and the real one: "Those are people that we can identify by name. Our problem is that there are constantly people turning up in Syria and Iraq that we previously did not know at all. ... So, the unknown number [Dunkelziffer] is very large."

The appearance of German-, French- and Dutch-speakers in jihadist propaganda videos has become a commonplace, and suggests that the official figures are underestimates. On the other hand, a recently-leaked Spanish police report puts the number as high as 100,000. This figure is probably too high, just as the 6,000 estimate is too low. The credible estimates are that tens of thousands of European jihadists have traveled to Syria. GeoPolitical Monitor

Greece makes debt payment as even leftists lose sympathy

The radical left-wing government of prime minister Alexis Tsipras succeeded in making a scheduled 750 million euro debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday, but did so only by emptying out an account holding an emergency fund that has to be replenished within weeks.

Greek officials had hoped to obtain the funds for the payment through a law that was passed on April 25 giving the government the right to confiscate cash reserves and bank accounts of all public institutions, including municipalities, provinces, universities and hospitals. Officials had hoped to obtain 2.5 billion euros from the decree, but hundreds of mayors across the country refused to comply, fearing that the money would be lost for good.

Tsipras is averring that his government has met all the commitments he made since his party was elected in January, but in fact he's continuing to refuse to cross his "red lines" and institute reforms to address various economic issues, including Greece's bloated public sector, curbing tax evasion and corruption, privatizing public businesses, and adjusting generous pension and minimum wage policies.

Leftists across Europe had been ebullient after Tsipras' victory in January. European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker, had hugged Tsipras. Socialist French President François Hollande said Tsipras' victory "underscored that austerity as the only perspective and reality wasn't tolerable anymore."

But now leftists are turning Tsipras, as the perception grows that Tsipras' tenure has been a disaster for Greece, and possibly for the entire EU. Under the austerity program of his predecessor, Antonis Samaras of the New Democracy party, Greece had been achieving a surplus during the last two years.

But in four months under Tsipras, that hard-won surplus has mostly been blown away. Tax receipts are decreasing, and 4 billion euros have been withdrawn from Greek banks since January, in anticipation of a bank run.

Following Tuesday's payment of 750 million euros to the IMF, another 2.1 billion euros are due to the IMF in August, 6.7 billion are due to the European Central Bank (ECB) in July and August. In pensions and wages are included, then Greece must come up with 35 billion euros by the end of August.

There's very little sympathy left in Europe for the Tsipras government. Tsipras is begging for more bailout money, but is refusing to cross any of his "red lines." If the Europeans decide to bail out Greece once more, which would only be "kicking the can down the road" again and postponing the inevitable, it certainly won't be because they like Tsipras. It will be because they decide that another bailout is the lesser of two horrible evils. They've been postponing a decision for weeks, but it's unlikely that they'll be able to postpone it much longer. Reuters and Kathimerini and Reuters and Kathimerini

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-May-15 World View -- Iran forces Afghans to fight in Syrian regime's collapsing army thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-May-2015) Permanent Link
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12-May-15 World View -- EU seeks approval of military action in Libya against migrant traffickers

Saudis and Houthis escalate Yemen war further, prior to 'ceasefire'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Saudis and Houthis escalate Yemen war further, prior to 'ceasefire'


Former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh addresses the nation from the ruins of his home. (Reuters)
Former Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh addresses the nation from the ruins of his home. (Reuters)

The Yemen war is supposed to stop on Tuesday, with both the Saudis and the Iran-backed Houthis observing a 5-day "ceasefire" that will then be renewed indefinitely. So the war escalations that occurred on Monday might be interpreted as (A) each side getting as much done before the ceasefire, or (B) each side having no intention to honor the ceasefire. We should know soon.

The Houthis stepped up their intense artillery and rocket attacks across the border into villages on Saudi Arabia soil. The Saudis consider this to be crossing a "red line."

Two foreign workers from Bangladesh were killed by Houthi artillery in the border city of Najran last week. This is a major humiliation to the Saudis. More than 500 Bangladeshis working in Yemen have returned home in the last month, but those working in Saudi Arabia have remained so far.

The Houthis are also bragging about having shot down a Moroccan warplane which is part of the Saudi coalition.

The Saudis have intensified their airstrikes in Sanaa, the capital city of Yemen, and in particular they targeted the home of Yemen's former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, leaving it in ruins. For months, it's been suspected that Saleh was supporting the Houthis, though he's denied it. But after the bombing, Saleh made it official:

"I was not an ally of Ansar Allah [the Houthis ] but today I am announcing from this place that Yemenis will be supportive of anyone who defends the nation's resources."

Few people believe that there will be a ceasefire on Tuesday, but even if there is, even fewer people believe that the ceasefire will hold for long. Daily Star (Dhaka) and Gulf News (Dubai) and Al Arabiya (Riyadh)

EU seeks approval of military action in Libya against migrant traffickers

The European Union, facing a rising tide of migrants, asked the United Nations on Monday to authorize military action to destroy boats used to smuggle people from Libya to Europe.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, told the UN Security Council on Monday that the problem of migrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Europe was major and growing crisis that threatened Europe as well as the migrants themselves.

"Saving lives on one side and dismantling the criminal organizations that are organizing smuggling and trafficking — the two things have to go hand in hand,

It is not only a humanitarian emergency, but also a security crisis, since smuggling networks are linked to, and in some cases finance, terrorist activities, which contributes to instability in a region that is already unstable enough."

The proposal is to destroy the smugglers' "business model." EU forces would board smugglers' boats in Libyan waters, after they've left the Libyan port, remove the migrants, and remove the boat from service. With fewer boats available for smuggling, the flow of migrants would be reduced.

There are a number of problems with this proposal:

The major objection to the plan is that it wouldn't solve the core problem. Most of the migrants are coming to escape brutal conditions in Syria, Eritrea, or other countries. There are reportedly tens of thousands of migrants already in Libya, queuing up to be on a migrant boat, and there are probably tens of thousands more "in the pipeline," en route from their home countries. Even if all the boats could be taken out of service, the result might be a mob situation in Libya.

Also, traffickers get paid something like $2-5,000 per migrant. A rubber dinghy containing 150 migrants is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the traffickers. So even if the military proposal worked, the most likely outcome would be a hundreds of new boat-building businesses and rubber dinghy-importing businesses in Libya. The traffickers would find a way to keep their lucrative business going. Irish Times and Full text of draft EU migration plan (PDF) and CNN

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-May-15 World View -- EU seeks approval of military action in Libya against migrant traffickers thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-May-2015) Permanent Link
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11-May-15 World View -- 22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants

Former Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi's son offers to make me rich

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants


Macedonian special units take cover near battle zone in Kumanovo (AP)
Macedonian special units take cover near battle zone in Kumanovo (AP)

A militia group of more than 40 armed men, thought to be ethnic Albanians from the disbanded Albanian/Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), fought Macedonian police in Kumanovo, near the border with Kosovo. Eight policemen were killed and 37 injured in the gun battle that lasted all day on Saturday, and which led to the death of 14 members of the attackers.

In a nationally televised address on Sunday, Macedonia's president George Ivanov said that the group had been planning terrorist acts across the whole country:

"Police have prevented co-ordinated terrorist attacks at different locations in the country that would cause serious destabilization, chaos and fear. The members of the group are extremists and criminals with remarkable military training and skills. That’s why we have paid such a high price with the loss of lives."

Pro-separatist Muslim Albanian terrorists have conducted numerous attacks on Orthodox Slav targets since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, making Macedonia an independent state. About a quarter of Macedonia's two million population are ethnic Albanians.

The bloody, genocidal Bosnian War of the mid-1990s was a generational crisis war for the entire region. It was followed by two minor conflicts, an Orthodox Serb invasion of Kosovo in 1999, and an Albanian insurgency in Macedonia in 2001.

A number of subsequent incidents, including Saturday's gunfight, have led to concerns that there could be a major new war engulfing the region, as happened in the mid-1990s. But that's impossible because the region is in a generational Awakening era, just 20 years past the Bosnian war, and so brief outbreaks of violence are possible, but not a full-scale generational crisis war. BBC and Deutsche Welle and AP

Very brief generational history of Albanian - Macedonian conflict

The ethnic Albanians and the Macedonian Slavs were all mostly Orthodox Christian, but still had many wars during the Middle Ages. When the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) conquered the Balkans, the Albanians converted to Islam, mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under the Ottomans, the Orthodox Slavs were in poverty, subordinated to the Turks and the Albanians. However, the situation reversed after World War I, which was a generational crisis war for the Balkans, when the Ottoman Empire was split up Orthodox Slavs had the upper hand for a while, while the Albanians were the second class citizens.

During World War II, the Albanians, Turks, and Italians were all on the side of Nazi Germany. They attempted to create a "Greater Albania," which would include not only Albanians, but also Greece, Yugoslavia, and other Orthodox Slav territories.

After World War II, the attempts at "Greater Albania" served to create strong nationalist feelings among both Albanians and Macedonians. They had repeated minor conflicts, culminating in the Bosnian War that engulfed Balkans in the mid-1990s. There have been additional minor conflicts since then, including the gunfight on Saturday.

Today, there is a small population of Albanians in Macedonia, and the dreams of a "Greater Albania" are still alive, so it's likely that spurts of violence between Albanians and Macedonians will continue well into the future.

As Yugoslavia disintegrated, Macedonia declared its independence in September, 1991, and immediately became embroiled in a bizarre disagreement with Greece. Greece believes that the name "Macedonia" can refer only to the Greek region of Macedonia, and nothing more. They fear that a new Macedonia nation on the Greek border would attempt to annex Greece's Macedonia region. The dispute was resolved with an uneasy compromise in 1993, when the country was admitted to the United Nations as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" or "FYR Macedonia."

FYR Macedonia is not a member of the European Union, but has applied to be a member. The "Macedonia" name continues to be a problem, and is one of the issues holding up EU membership. There have been calls to change the country's name to the simpler "Republic of Macedonia" as a compromise. EU Observer and New Balkan Politics (2002) and Global Security (2013) and BBC (Sep-2014)

Former Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi's son offers to make me rich

Like everyone, I receive plenty of spam e-mail messages. One that I received on Sunday is so special that I wanted to share it with my readers:

"I am Mohammad Gaddafi, son of the killed Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi. My family has been in Algeria until we were recently granted political asylum in Oman.

For your personal consumption and information, my family has a huge sum of money somewhere for investment for the benefit of my family. I am open to investment in any part of the world provided the investments are lucrative and not directly linked to my family and high returns guaranteed on investment. You will be given freedom to invest in any aspect of your countries economy.

Once I receive your email response and confirm that you are capable of investing/managing the funds for us, I will then give you information on how to access the funds and how much it is. You will be entitled to 30% for all your services.

Keep this proposal confidential, please reply me via my private email for further discussion. Regards, Mohammad"

Hey, Mohammad! I loved your brother Saif's vow to "fight until the last bullet." How are you and the family doing? How about just investing directly in Generational Dynamics? That would be your best investment of all! -- Regards, John

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-May-15 World View -- 22 die in Macedonian police gun battles with Albanian militants thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-May-2015) Permanent Link
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10-May-15 World View -- Yemen war sharply intensifies, as 'truce' is offered.

Rohingya 'death camps' and 'slave camps' found in southern Thailand

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Rohingya 'death camps' and 'slave camps' found in southern Thailand


Suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants, who were rescued by Thai officials from a jungle (Asia News Network)
Suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants, who were rescued by Thai officials from a jungle (Asia News Network)

In 2012 and 2013, we reported several times on massive slaughter by Buddhists of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (Burma), led by Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu. The violence left hundreds dead, and 140,000 homeless. ( "5-Apr-13 World View -- Meiktila, Burma, violence has echoes of Kristallnacht")

At that time, it was clear that thousands of Rohingya families were fleeing for their lives from the Buddhists, though it wasn't entirely clear where they were going.

It's now become more clear what happened to them, with the discovery of "death camps" and "slave camps" in southern Thailand.

Thousands attempted to flee to various countries, including Bangladesh, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. Those with money could be transported to safer locations.

Many of them reached Thailand by cargo ships, and then attempted to travel south to Malaysia, where they could obtain work. But many of them didn't make it. According to one expert, "In remote jungle camps in Thailand, transnational criminal networks are beating and torturing their captives in an attempt to extract ransom payments from their families and friends." Those failing to pay ransom are sold to the fishing industry as slave labor or forced to work in the jungle camps.

Many of them starved to death or were simply killed, and dumped into mass graves. Within the last few weeks, some of these mass graves have been discovered, along with the slave labor camps where the others worked. There are reports of similar camps in Malaysia. Bangkok Post and Straits Times (Singapore) and Nation (Myanmar)

Yemen war sharply intensifies, as 'truce' is offered.

Saudi Arabia announced on Thursday a significant escalation of its attacks on the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen. The escalation was triggered by Houthi cross-border artillery attacks on villages on the Saudi side of the border, forcing the Saudis to close schools and hospitals, and evacuate some villages. This was described as a "red line" by the Saudis.

The Saudis announced on Friday that the entire province of Sadaa would be considered a "military target," and subject to air strikes. Sadaa is in north Yemen, right on the border with Saudi Arabia, and is the stronghold of the ethnic Houthis.

Before blanketing Sadaa with airstrikes, the Saudis dropped leaflets warning civilians to leave the area by Friday evening. They were given only 2-3 hours' notice. Because of the war, there are shortages of gasoline/petrol for cars and buses, so many Houthi civilians are trying to escape the airstrikes by walking. However, thousands of civilians have no place to go anyway.

The Saudis say that on Friday and Saturday, there were 130 airstrikes at 100 sites, targeting tanks, command centers, military vehicles, and weapons stores. Some of the airstrikes targeted hospitals and schools, because they were being used as ammunition depots, according to the Saudis.

The Saudis proposed a five-day ceasefire, to begin on Tuesday, "provided that the Houthis agree that there will be no bombing, no shooting, no movement of their troops or maneuvering to reposition for military advantage, no movement of heavy weapons." Under those conditions, the ceasefire could be renewed after five days.

However, previous ceasefire proposals demanded that the Houthis must first withdraw from the cities they're occupying. Thus, the new Saudi proposal represents a significant change of position, and the Houthis view this as a significant sign of weakness.

According to analysts, the Houthis believe that time is on their side, and that international pressure will force the Saudis to back down, giving the Houthis (and Iran) a victory.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the expectation that the Saudis will back down is unrealistic. Many older Americans can recall how the Americans backed down under similar circumstances during the Vietnam war, but America was in a generational Awakening era at that time, with a "generation gap" that brought enormous political pressure from younger generations on older generations. But Saudi is in a generational Crisis era, when such a generation gap does not exist.

In fact, as we wrote last month in "22-Apr-15 World View -- Patriotism and nationalism surge in Saudi Arabia, but not in Iran", the Saudi people are in no mood to back down to the Houthis, and give an enormous victory to Iran.

For those reasons, the most likely scenario is that airstrikes by the Saudi coalition will increase, and that the next step will be a ground war between the Houthis and Saudi coalition ground forces. AFP and AP and Saudi Press Agency #1 and #2 and #3 and #4

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-May-15 World View -- Yemen war sharply intensifies, as 'truce' is offered. thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-May-2015) Permanent Link
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9-May-15 World View -- Britain's surprise election and Chaos Theory

Trends in American politics

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Britain's polling organizations fail disastrously


Paddy Ashdown promises to eat his own hat, even though he isn't wearing a hat.  He still hasn't kept his promise.
Paddy Ashdown promises to eat his own hat, even though he isn't wearing a hat. He still hasn't kept his promise.

I watched a lot of the live coverage of the British election on the BBC on Thursday. My favorite moment, and the favorite moment of a lot of other people, occurred just after the election ended, and the exit polls were announced, indicating that David Cameron's Conservative Party (Tories) had unexpectedly won an overwhelming victory. At this point, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party said that the announced exit poll results were completely impossible, and that they contradicted not only the Liberal Democrats' private polling, but also every other poll, and he added:

"If this poll is correct I will publicly eat my hat on your program."

Ashdown wasn't wearing a hat when he said that, but it caused great hilarity, and all the commentators offered him their hats.

This dramatizes what a total failure the pre-election polls had been. I can't recall any polling disaster ever being this bad. (On the evening of the 2004 presidential election, I originally wrote that "exit polls this evening show that John Kerry will be the next president," and I later had to add an update that the exit polls now show Bush is leading.)

For weeks, pollsters had been predicting that Cameron and his principal opponent, Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, were so close in the polls that neither party would be able to form a government without weeks of negotiating with smaller parties. Even as late as Thursday morning, commentators were saying that the election would be historic because there would be no clear victory, and it would take weeks to form a government.

So it's not surprising that Ashdown simply didn't believe the exit polls. A lot of other people didn't either, until the actual election results started coming in from the various constituencies, confirming that the exit polls had been right.

By the way, despite a "#paddyashdownhat" twitter campaign, Ashdown so far has refused to eat any hats, and his opponents are joking that he's just another politician breaking a promise. Independent (London) and Daily Express (London)

Pre-election polls and Chaos Theory

Many people believe that weather forecasting will get better and better, as the science of meteorology and computer models improve. And yet, weather forecasting has gotten only slightly more accurate than it was in the 1960s. It was in the 1960s that Chaos Theory was first developed, and showed that weather forecasting will never improve much, because it was mathematically impossible to improve it more than slightly. That's why there will always be surprise rain and snowstorms.

The same is true of election forecasting, whether by pre-election polls, or by any other method. Chaos theory also applies to election forecasting, so there will always be surprise upsets in elections.

Long-time readers are aware that I've written thousands of articles containing hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions since I started in 2003, and all of those predictions have turned out to be right. But there has never been a prediction about an election. That's because the Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology forbids attempting to predict any "chaotic event," an event that Chaos Theory says cannot be predicted.

Examples of "chaotic events" are election results, whether it will rain next week, whether stock prices will rise or fall in the next hour, when a panic will occur, when the stock market bubble will burst. The Generational Dynamics forecasting methodology very carefully avoids trying to forecast any chaotic events.

Generational Dynamics forecasts "trend events." The methodology is to look at long term behaviors and attitudes of entire populations or entire generations, and compare them to historical behaviors and attitudes at similar generational eras in the past. Examples of forecasted trend events that I've repeated frequently are: a war between Jews and Arabs re-fighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel; a pre-emptive missile attack by China on the United States; a world war in which the US, Iran and Russia will be allies. The exact details of how these predictions would come about, such as the Arab Awakening and the rise of ISIS, could not be predicted, but the overall trend could be predicted.

For those interested in more information, see the following: Generational Dynamics Forecasting Methodology (PDF)

British and Israeli elections reflected nationalistic surges

One of the trends that I've been describing for years is that when a country goes deeper into a generational Crisis era, as most are today, then they show increased nationalism and xenophobia.

The British election is being widely described as a victory for British nationalism. David Cameron emphasized highly nationalistic themes during his campaign: keeping illegal immigrants out of Britain; holding a referendum in 2017 on Britain leaving the European Union; a stronger and more united United Kingdom. These nationalistic themes clearly appealed to British voters so much that even the highly nationalistic UK Independence Party (UKIP) did poorly.

Some people may challenge the above analysis by pointing out that David Cameron's victory was a right-wing victory propelled by English voters, in contrast to overwhelming left-wing election victories in Scotland. (The United Kingdom is made up of four formerly independent nations: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.)

However, nationalism is not exclusively right-wing. Extreme nationalism can be Fascist or it can be Communist. In the case of Scotland, the victory was of the far-left Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) which, as the name implies, is highly nationalist. But in Scotland, the nationalism is for Scotland, while in England, the nationalism is for all of Britain.

The victory of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party in Israel's March elections has a number of similarities to the British election. Netanyahu emphasized nationalistic themes in his campaign, saying such things as "If we don’t close the gap, there is a real danger that a left-wing government will rise to power," with the implication that the left-wing government would surrender to the Palestinians. In both cases, the pre-election polls were quite wrong, missing the nationalistic turn of the electorate, so that the final election returns were a surprise to everyone.

In the case of Britain, many pundits are saying that the election results show that England and Scotland are very different places. I wrote about this last year in the context of Scotland's independence referendum.

Many people from Scotland speak with pride about the great victory of the Scottish forces over superior English forces in the Battle of Bannockburn, on June 24, 1314, the climax of the First War of Scottish Independence. Scotland and England fought many wars after that, including the War of the Roses (1459-87), and the Armada war with Spain (1588). The most explosive war that followed Scottish independence was the English Civil War (1640-49), that climaxed with the beheading of the English King in 1649. Scotland was only brought to heel in 1707, when England and Scotland signed the "Acts of Union" between the two countries. Now, 308 years later, the people of Scotland are still talking about independence, and last week's election has reinforced those attitudes. Independent (London) and Guardian (London) and Washington Post (18-March)

Trends in American politics

Jerusalem Post political editor Gil Hoffman was interviewed last week on al-Jazeera, and was asked whether Benjamin Netanyahu's political coalition would be able to improve relations with the United States. Here's his response (my transcription):

"Relations with the United States people are wonderful. The polls have recently found that the American people see Israel as one of their closest allies. Both Democratic and Republican parties and all of their candidates for president have good relations with Israel.

There's a problem with the current president of the United States, who will only be in office for another 19 months. He has a problem with Israel, he has a problem with Arab and Muslim countries, he's turned off people throughout this region, and soon he will be gone, and things will be better."

It is quite remarkable. When Barack Obama became president, we had good relations with most Mideast countries, except Iran. Obama has been pissing off officials in one country after another, and his "red line" flip-flop after Syria's president Bashar al-Assad used Sarin gas on his own people has been particularly damaging. As far as Iran is concerned, Iranian leaders have no respect for Obama, and continually mock and insult him and America in their speeches.

However, Hoffman is wrong when he says, "things will be better." As I've said many dozens of times, it's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history.

When Barack Obama first took office, I said that it made no difference what he said or did, the outcome of his presidency would be no different than if George Bush had a third term.

Time has proven that to be true. Obama promised to close Guantanamo, and it's still open. He promised to cure global warming, and all his attempts have been farces. He promised to withdraw from Iraq, and he did that, but now he's back again. He promised to beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, and he's failed at that. He promised to bring a two-state peace solution to Palestinians and Israelis, and every attempt has been a disaster. He promised to dismantle President Bush's "war against terror," but now the rise of ISIS means that the war on terror is far from over. In terms of outcomes, Obama and Bush are pretty much identical.

As Hoffman said, Obama will be gone in 19 months, and there will be a new president, a Republican or a Democrat. But nothing will change. The Mideast will still be headed for war between Jews and Arabs (or the war may already have begun), and China will still be rapidly militarizing in preparation for a massive missile attack on the United States (or the missile attack may already have occurred).

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-May-15 World View -- Britain's surprise election and Chaos Theory thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-May-2015) Permanent Link
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8-May-15 World View -- Fears grow in Central Asia of an ISIS-Taliban alliance in Afghanistan

Misplaced concerns that Burundi is on brink of civil war

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Anti-government riots and violence increase in Burundi


A Hutu youth who escaped a Tutsi mob by hiding in the sewer on Thursday begs for mercy from Burundi soldiers (CNN)
A Hutu youth who escaped a Tutsi mob by hiding in the sewer on Thursday begs for mercy from Burundi soldiers (CNN)

Hundreds of college students in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city, are demonstrating against president Pierre Nkurunziza, because he plans to run for a third term as president, apparently violating the constitution. Nkurunziza became president in 2005 when a new constitution was adopted, and he was re-elected as president in 2010. The constitution restricts anyone from more than two terms, but Nkurunziza now says he'll run for a third term, claiming that the first term doesn't count because he was appointed, not elected. His announcement has triggered large anti-government protests, violence and a couple of deaths, ahead of the election in June.

Burundi is right next door to Rwanda, and was part of the massive genocidal civil war between Hutus and Tutsis in 1994 that killed almost a million people in just three months. (See my "Generational history of Hutu and Tutsi tribes" in my April 30 report on the Burundi violence.)

The renewed violence is frightening a lot of people, who fear that it will spiral into a renewal of the 1994 war between Hutus and Tutsis. Some 400,000 people have already fled from Burundi into refugee camps in neighboring countries, mostly Rwanda.

The fact that Nkurunziza is running for a third term is already a very bad sign. Burundi's Constitutional Court issued a ruling that the third term was legal, but one of the judges had to flee the country, claiming that the Nkurunziza administration had threatened the court unless they supported him.

And Nkurunziza is promising that if he wins a third term, then he won't run for a fourth term. This is completely laughable, as he's currently breaking earlier promises not to run for a third term. And anyone who's ever believed in a politician in the past is quickly aware that such promises are completely worthless. CNN and AP

Concerns over an all-out crisis civil war in Burundi are misplaced

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we're witnessing here is a common pattern that occurs frequently after a country that goes through a crisis civil war. A new generation has grown up since 1994, putting Burundi into a generational Awakening era. And what frequently happens at these times is that people panic at any sign of violence for fear that the crisis civil war will be repeated.

Once of the most interesting examples of this occurred in ancient Rome in 49 BC, when Julius Caesar "crossed the Rubicon River" with his army, triggering a brief civil war. There's historical evidence that the people of Rome panicked, because they feared a repeat of the extremely bloody "Social War" of the Italian allied states that occurred from 91-87 BC. All of Italy was devastated, and over 100,000 people were killed.

The irony is that the panic is completely misguided, because a new crisis civil war during a generational Awakening era is impossible. The reason is the same reason why people panic -- there are plenty of traumatized survivors of the previous crisis civil war, and they have been devoting their lives to making sure that nothing like that happens again -- and nothing like that does happen again as long as those survivors are alive and in power. It's only decades later, when they retire or die, that a new crisis civil war can begin.

Contrast what's happening in Burundi to the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), where a true crisis civil war is in progress. CAR's last generational crisis war was the 1928-1931 Kongo-Wara Rebellion ("War of the Hoe Handle"), which was a very long time ago, putting CAR deep into a generational Crisis era, making a new crisis war inevitable. Here's how Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF - Doctors without Borders) described the current situation:

"We have seen some areas where all there is are burnt houses. People are hiding in the forest afraid of the presence of armed groups. There are no security forces or actors providing healthcare. People are living in very dire conditions that could get worse at any moment if the insecurity persists. On top of that, the rainy season is about to start and people living in forests are completely exposed to harsh weather. Villagers even risk their houses being destroyed if they cannot come home soon to prepare them for the heavy rains to come. What we are seeing here is an example of the situation that hundreds of thousands of people suffer in CAR every day: a terrible mix of violence, displacement and a lack of access to even basic healthcare."

CAR is a huge country, and this kind of violence has been going on across the entire country for over two years, with no end in sight. The violence in Burundi isn't nearly as bad and is highly localized, and has only been going on for a few weeks.

The violence going on in Burundi now is very similar to America's last Awakening era, the 1960s. You had "long hot summers" and massive riots in Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities, and you had the Weather Underground setting off bombs. There were people, especially older people who had seen what happened in other countries in World War II, who were predicting that America could spiral into violence, possibly into a civil war. Of course that didn't happen, and can't happen during a generational Awakening era.

So the fears of another massive civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis at this time are misplaced. That doesn't mean that that the people of Burundi have nothing to fear. A civil war may not last years, but it might last a few weeks or months. Also, the president Nkurunziza may follow the wonderful example of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, who has been consistently reelected for 40 years by sending his army out to kill, torture, rape, dismember or massacre anyone who opposes him. ( "17-Apr-15 World View -- South African xenophobic violence echoes 1820s Mfecane Zulu massacre")

Nkurunziza is a Hutu, and he may follow Mugabe's example and send the army out to torture and kill the Tutsis. The foundations for this outcome have already been laid. Daily Maverick (S. Africa) and CS Monitor

Fears grow in Central Asia of an ISIS-Taliban alliance in Afghanistan

Fears continue to grow throughout Central Asia of an alliance between the Taliban and Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Afghanistan, as I described early last month. An alliance between the two militant groups faces many obstacles. Although both groups are simply thugs, the doctrines they claim to follow are significantly different, with ISIS following a strict form of Salafi-Takfiri Islam from Saudi Arabia, while the Afghan Taliban are mostly followers of Deobandi Islam based in South Asia. Furthermore, they have different geopolitical objectives, with ISIS claiming to lead a worldwide caliphate, and the Taliban's interested focused on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

However, in the Afghan province of Kunduz, it appears that the Taliban and ISIS have buried their differences enough to work together. The evidence is from an examination of dead bodies of militants fighting security forces in Kunduz. Many of the fighters are foreigners, including some women from Chechnya, and some villages under rebel control are flying both the white flag of the Taliban and the black flag of ISIS.

The Afghan Taliban would welcome ISIS if they worked with the Taliban in the way as other militant groups, including al-Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP - Pakistan Taliban), and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). These groups are free to pursue their own agendas as long as they do not interfere with Taliban affairs and sometimes assist as requested. But instead of cooperating with the Taliban, ISIS may compete with the Taliban in Afghanistan, leading to possible violence between the two groups. Public Radio International and The Diplomat and Guardian (London)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-May-15 World View -- Fears grow in Central Asia of an ISIS-Taliban alliance in Afghanistan thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-May-2015) Permanent Link
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7-May-15 World View -- Greece tries to avoid bankruptcy, as Europe stands firm, for now

Jean-Claude Jüncker warns of Anglo-Saxon threat to eurozone

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Greece makes one debt payment, wonders if it can make the next


Greece's Port of Piraeus
Greece's Port of Piraeus

Greece's government apparently succeeded in making a 200 million euro interest payment due on Wednesday. It did so by scraping up money wherever it could. In particular, it passed a law on April 25 giving it the right to confiscate cash reserves and bank accounts of all public institutions, including municipalities, provinces, universities and hospitals.

Greece is scheduled to make two additional payments this month, totaling close to one billion euros.

Having confiscated money from public institutions, it's getting pretty clear that the next step will be private businesses and individual residents. In fact, the first step may occur within days, after the government revealed plans to introduce a surcharge on cash withdrawals from bank accounts. The European Central Bank (ECB) will have to approve the measure, but the surcharge is expected to be one euro for every thousand euro transaction.

A senior finance ministry official said, "The surcharge is just one of a grab-bag of measures we are considering if things get tough."

The next "grab-bag" measure is expected to be what are called "capital controls" -- limiting the amount of money that can be transferred to banks outside the country. Many panicking Greek citizens have already completely cleared out their bank accounts, pulling more than 28 billion euros out of banks. Daily Mail (London)

Europeans reject more bailout money for Greece, for now

Positions continue to be very hard on both sides of the negotiations to provide additional bailout money to Greece. Greek officials continue to stall on providing a list of committed reforms that was promised in February. The list would need to address various economic issues, including Greece's bloated public sector, curbing tax evasion and corruption, privatizing public businesses, and adjusting generous pension and minimum wage policies. Instead, Greek officials continue to make vague promises about collecting more taxes and ending corruption. As a result, more bailout money is out of the question, for now.

On Tuesday, Greek officials accused the lending institutions -- the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission (EC), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), formerly known as "the Troika" -- of being at fault: "Serious disagreements between the IMF and the EU are creating obstacles and big risks in the negotiations."

This infuriated Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who said, "Neither the troika, nor Europe, nor Germany can be blamed for Greece's problems. Greece lived beyond its means for many years."

However, there apparently is a big disagreement within the Troika. The IMF wants the Troika to simply write off a large percentage of Greek debt, while the EC is opposed such debt relief. Kathimerini and ZeroHedge and Bloomberg

Jean-Claude Jüncker warns of Anglo-Saxon threat to eurozone


Jean-Claude Jüncker in 2005, shaking his fist at British prime minister Tony Blair (BBC)
Jean-Claude Jüncker in 2005, shaking his fist at British prime minister Tony Blair (BBC)

European Commission President Jean-Claude Jüncker said that "Grexit" -- meaning Greece exiting the eurozone -- is not an option, because it would be part of an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy. According to Jüncker:

"The world wants to know which way we are going. We should make sure that everyone understands that the economic and monetary union is irreversible, that the euro is a currency that is here to stay, which is not going to be abolished or suspended. ...

Grexit is not an option. If Greece would accept it, if the others would accept it, that the country would exit the zone of security and prosperity constituted by the eurozone, we would be exposed to huge danger, because the Anglo-Saxon world would do everything to try to decompose, at a regular rhythm, by (the) sale, apartment by apartment, of the eurozone."

Long-time readers know that when Jüncker was chairman of the Eurogroup of eurozone financial ministers I used to mock him and make fun of him all the time because of all the ridiculous things he said during the various Greek financial crises. The topper occurred in 2011 when journalists caught him in a complete lie, and he said, When it becomes serious, you have to lie, to explain why he lied. From that point on, we could always assume that everything he said was a lie, since everything was always serious.

I haven't quoted Jüncker for a while, ever since he stopped being Eurogroup chairman, so it's fun to have him back again saying moronic things about an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy to break up the eurozone. EurActiv

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-May-15 World View -- Greece tries to avoid bankruptcy, as Europe stands firm, for now thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-May-2015) Permanent Link
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6-May-15 World View -- In a surprise, Senegal joins a beleaguered Saudi coalition in Yemen

'Saudi troops' landing in Aden were really Yemeni troops

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

In a surprise, Senegal joins a beleaguered Saudi coalition in Yemen


Aftermath of Saudi airstrike on Sanaa airport on Monday (Reuters)
Aftermath of Saudi airstrike on Sanaa airport on Monday (Reuters)

In a surprise announcement, Senegal's foreign minister on Monday said that the country will be send 2,100 troops to Saudi Arabia as part of an international coalition fighting against the Houthis in Yemen.

Since Saudi Arabia has not yet committed ground troops to Yemen, it's not clear what the Senegalese troops will be doing.

According to the foreign minister, "The international coalition is aiming to protect and secure the holy sites of Islam, Medina and Mecca." These two cities in Saudi Arabia are heavily guarded by Saudi troops, and so the implication is that the Senegalese troops will guard the two cities, freeing up the Saudi troops. This would mean that Senegal is stationary guards, rather than the combat troops that the Saudis really need.

The reason that Senegal's announcement was a surprise is that Senegal is on the west coast of Africa, which is many, many worlds away from Yemen, which is east of the east coast of Africa. Furthermore, many young people in Senegal are against sending Senegalese to far-away foreign wars, particularly since the cities of Mecca and Medina do not appear to be threatened by the Houthis in Yemen. However, Senegal depends on aid from Saudi Arabia, and so this is a way to suck up. BBC and Washington Post

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia appear to reconcile over Yemen

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia now has a number of countries in its coalition: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Senegal.

These countries are contributing warplanes to the effort, but none of these countries has agreed to send combat troops to Yemen, and two of the major Sunni Muslim countries, Pakistan and Turkey, are missing from the list.

Saudi Arabia received a particularly harsh blow a month ago, when Pakistan's parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to remain neutral between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the Yemen conflict.

As we reported at the time, the repercussions began immediately, beginning with a blistering condemnation by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are two million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, and they contribute $4.73 billion per year to Pakistan through remittances, so there have been widespread fears of retaliation directed at Pakistanis working in the Kingdom.

However, Pakistan's top civil and military leadership met with Saudi authorities last week, and the two countries appeared to reconcile. According to the statement, "Saudi Arabia’s next move in the region, including any possible offensive, will materialize only after mutual consultation." What this means is that if the Saudis want Pakistan's help, then they should consult with Pakistan and get mutual agreement before taking any action.

Based on that commitment, Pakistan has reversed its earlier stance of neutrality, and will provide military assistance. According to the statement:

"All the matters between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia over the Yemen war have been settled amicably. ... Without ground operations, no one can establish the government’s writ in the conflict zone. ...

Pakistan cannot remain a bystander if efforts are made to destabilize Saudi Arabia."

However, it's not clear whether Pakistan will provide combat troops, as Pakistan is promising only to provide military assistance, including equipment for fighting in the tribal areas of Yemen.

The only public mention of Pakistani troops was related to the reinstatement of Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who was president at the time of the Houthis' coup. "They also talked about the Pakistani armed forces’ role in Yemen after Hadi is [properly] reinstated," according to the statement. Not mentioned is the fact that reinstatement of Hadi may not occur at all, or not before additional months of fighting. Gulf Times and Foreign Policy

'Saudi troops' landing in Aden were really Yemeni troops

Reports over the weekend said that Saudi troops had landed in the southern port of Aden.

The Saudis now say that those are Yemeni troops who were returning to Yemen from Gulf Arab countries where they had been retrained for combat. According to the Yemen government in exile in Riyadh: "It's a group of the Yemeni forces. We retrained them, and we send them to organize things. We are now training more, and we are sending more." Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-May-15 World View -- In a surprise, Senegal joins a beleaguered Saudi coalition in Yemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-May-2015) Permanent Link
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5-May-15 World View -- China builds Navy designed to overwhelm the US Navy

Philippine fishermen harassed by China's 'cabbage strategy'

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China builds Navy designed to overwhelm the US Navy


Members of the Chinese Navy honor guard (Getty)
Members of the Chinese Navy honor guard (Getty)

A new report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence reveals a massive naval building program underway in China, with the objective of overwhelming the US Navy.

The heart of China's current buildup in the PLA(N) (People's Liberation Army (Navy)) is the YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, with a maximum range of 111 miles at a speed of Mach 0.8 and a higher speed range of 24 miles.

In the past, we've described China's DF-21D long-range anti-ship ballistic missile, with the specific capability of attacking and disabling American aircraft carriers. ( "2-Aug-11 World View -- China could defeat U.S. in war over Taiwan") The DF-21D is designed to travel for long distances at high altitudes to the region of the aircraft carrier, and then use heat sensors to detect its current position. China has deployed about a dozen of these missiles, and some (though not all) military analysts believe that an aircraft carrier group could effectively defend against a simultaneous attack of several DF-21Ds.

The YJ-18 presents an aircraft carrier with an entirely different set of problems. The YJ-18 has a much smaller range than the DF-21D, but it's also a lot cheaper to manufacture. As a result, China can produce hundreds of these missiles and then use them for a mass attack on an aircraft carrier. According to one military official: "I’d be more worried about the many dozens of cruise missiles you could have launched at you from nearby submarines and ships than I would about the dozen anti-ship ballistic missiles that might get launched at you."

While America's naval fleet has been declining in size, depending on fewer large vessels, China has been producing larger numbers of smaller, more agile naval weapons and missile systems. According to one expert, "Once again we confront the dilemmas of asymmetric warfare. Missiles of all kinds are far cheaper and easier to build than large surface warships. There is probably no air defense system that can reliably fight off a saturation attack launched at a target as large as a CVN [nuclear-powered aircraft carrier]."

Concerns are growing that it won't be long before China's navy is larger than the American navy, which will be unable to defend itself. Another expert puts it succinctly: "The heart of our navy today is the aircraft carrier, an effective weapon. Almost all of our other surface ships exists to serve it. That works well against third rate navies, but in a fight against a modern naval power, our carrier fleets could not leave port."

As I've been saying for ten years, Generational Dynamics predicts that China is preparing for a massive pre-emptive missile attack on America's cities, military bases, and aircraft carriers. This might occur next week, next week, next year, or later, This will result in a world war that will pit the West plus Japan plus India plus Russia plus Iran versus China plus Pakistan plus the Sunni Muslim states, with other countries joining in on either side, in a world war that may well last close to a decade. China is preparing for the pre-emptive attack in the belief that they will win the war quickly, which makes Xi Jinping and the Chinese people as stupid as Hitler and the Nazis. History's greatest disasters are brought about by the stupidest people, and this time the stupidest people are Xi Jinping and Chinese, and those who survive will deeply regret their almost unbelievable stupidity, as they go down in history as worse than the Nazis. Office of Naval Intelligence and Free Beacon and Office of Naval Intelligence

Philippine fishermen harassed by China's 'cabbage strategy'

While the Naval Intelligence report on China's Navy describes China's plans for massive attacks on American aircraft carriers with hundreds of low-cost supersonic cruise missiles, Philippine fishermen in the South China Sea are already being targeted by the Chinese using a similar kind of strategy.

Philippine fishermen are being harassed more and more by Chinese vessels in fishing grounds that the Filipinos have been using for centuries.

China has been using what the Chinese general Zhang Zhaozhong several years ago called a “cabbage” strategy: assert a territorial claim and then create new facts on the ground by gradually surrounding the area with multiple layers of security, thus denying access to a rival.

In the case of South China Sea fishing grounds, China is sending massive numbers of fishing vessels and patrol boats into other countries' fishing grounds. Any other country's fishing vessel is harassed by a variety of techniques -- bullhorn warnings, blockades, water cannons, and even violently boarding the ship and dumping its fish cargo overboard. In this way, China expects to take over the entire South China Sea without firing a shot.

China's Foreign Ministry recently responded to accusations that it had illegally used water cannon on Philippine fishing boats. Filipino fishermen said that China’s coast guard boarded their fishing boats and threw away fish catch and fishing gear.

According to the spokesman:

"Official Chinese vessels in waters near the Huangyan island [the Philippines' Scarborough Shoal] carried out their duties and managed the relevant waters according to law.

Recently, many Philippine fishing boats disobeyed China’s administration and gathered illegally in Huangyan Island waters, violating China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests.

We demand that the Philippine side increase its education and control of its fishermen, and cease all behavior that violates China’s sovereignty and rights and interests."

What Philippines fishermen are learning is that China will use military force to take anything it wants, and that it will not stop any more than Hitler and the Nazis were stopped from annexing Czechoslovakia and Poland.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, I remember asking my mother why the World War had happened. She answered, "Because some people are selfish and want to take things that don't belong to them." What the Nazis did ended very badly for everyone, and so will what the Chinese are doing. Reuters and Project Syndicate (Nov-2013) and Philippine Star

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-May-15 World View -- China builds Navy designed to overwhelm the US Navy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-May-2015) Permanent Link
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4-May-15 World View -- Saudi Arabia denies reports of Saudi ground troops in Yemen

Jimmy Carter blames Netanyahu for failure of Mideast peace negotiations

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Jimmy Carter blames Netanyahu for failure of Mideast peace negotiations


Jimmy Carter shakes hands with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the West Bank, on Saturday (Reuters)
Jimmy Carter shakes hands with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the West Bank, on Saturday (Reuters)

Former US president Jimmy Carter said that Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want a two-state solution and never did:

"I don’t believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu desires to have the same goal achieved that all American presidents and secretaries of state have advocated, and that is a two-state solution. I think he made that quite clear during the campaign, that as long as he’s in charge, there will be no two-state solution, and therefore no Palestinian state. ...

President Obama follows the policy that every president has followed since I’ve been in politics, that a two-state solution is best. And my conviction is, and I would imagine that many people in America would agree, that Netanyahu does not now, and has not really ever, sincerely believed in a two- state solution with a Palestinian state alongside Israel, both living in peace. ...

The end of occupation and settlement expansion that a two-state outcome implies is, in our view, the best guarantee of Israel’s future security and acceptance by its neighbors,” he said. “To help achieve this goal, we feel it is high time that the countries of Europe take a more proactive role, underpinned by a serious financial commitment to assist in Gaza’s reconstruction."

In 2006, Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was published. In it, he said, "Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East." In 2002, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Jimmy Carter "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

President George Bush proposed the "Roadmap to Mideast Peace" that advocated a two-state solution, a State of Palestine existing side-by-side with a State of Israel in peace and harmony. However, As I wrote in May 2003 in "Mideast Roadmap - Will it bring peace?", no peace plan can work because Generational Dynamics predicts that Arabs and Jews would be refighting the 1948 war that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have tried several times to implement the 2003 peace plan, but have failed every time, less because of opposition by Netanyahu, and more by the fact that the people of the West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority, and the people of Gaza, governed by Hamas, hate each other and cannot get along. Jerusalem Post and Nobel Prize

European Union in disarray over big surge in migrants this weekend

Over the weekend, European Union rescue boats rescued almost 6,000 migrants coming from Libya to Italy. At one point, 17 separate rescue missions were taking place simultaneously.

The surge in the weekend's migrants was due to the warm weather and calm seas. It's thought that the flood of migrants will continue to increase over the summer, only leveling off in the fall with the colder weather.

In March, EU border control executive director Fabrice Leggeri said that, "We are told there are between 500,000 and one million migrants ready to leave from Libya. We have to be aware of the risks." This figure has not been independently confirmed, but it's believed that there are at least tens of thousands of migrants in Libya queued up to make a trip to Europe, and that hundreds of thousands of migrants will make their way to Europe by the end of the year.

According to reports, migrant smugglers have adopted an effective new method for transiting migrants from Libya to Europe. The smuggler obtains a simple rubber dinghy, fills it up with migrants so that it's dangerously loaded, and sends the dinghy out into the Mediterranean Sea. The migrants are instructed to wait until they see a boat, and then to slash the rubber on the dinghy so that it sinks. Government and commercial vessels are required by international law to rescue passengers on a sinking boat.

EU is funding an enlarged search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean called Operation Triton. However, there is substantial disagreement in the EU about how arriving migrants are to be distributed among the 28 EU countries. Human rights organizations are demanding that each EU country take a suitable percentage of the migrants, but some countries are refusing to take any at all. UK officials, in particular, are refusing to agree to accept any migrants, for fear of increasing the popularity of the anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP), which is advocating complete withdrawal of the UK from the EU. There are similar concerns in France because of the rise of Marine Le Pen's Front National. Guardian and Gulf News and International Business Times (6-Mar)

Saudi Arabia denies reports of Saudi ground troops in Yemen

According to reports from Yemen, there were helicopter gunships hovering overhead, as at least 20 troops from a Saudi-led Arab coalition came ashore Sunday in Yemen's southern port city of Aden. Some officials called it a "reconnaissance" mission directed at the Iran-backed Houthi militias that have taken control of most of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia began conducting a fierce campaign of airstrikes against Houthi targets on March 23, ended it on April 21, and then started it up again on April 22. The Saudis have always said that they planned to follow up the air campaign with a ground invasion. It's thought that Sunday's troop landing is in anticipation of the ground invasion.

The Saudi military spokesman denied that there was any troop landing on Sunday, but he was too clever by half:

"I can assure you that no [coalition] forces disembarked on the ground in Aden today."

Analysts are pointing to his use of "today" as a weasel-word to avoid answering the question. AP and The National (UAE) and Arab News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-May-15 World View -- Saudi Arabia denies reports of Saudi ground troops in Yemen thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-May-2015) Permanent Link
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3-May-15 World View -- War in Syria turns more and more against al-Assad

Economy falters, surprising economists, while stock market bubble explodes

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

War in Syria turns more and more against al-Assad


Smoke rises from buildings due to heavy clashes between Free Syrian army fighters and Syrian government forces.
Smoke rises from buildings due to heavy clashes between Free Syrian army fighters and Syrian government forces.

As I wrote a month ago in "8-Apr-15 World View -- Bashar al-Assad's Syria army showing signs of collapse", major defeats of al-Assad's army in Idlib and Yarmouk led to reports that the army of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad's is badly fracturing.

In the intervening month, there have been increasing reports that al-Assad's army is in serious trouble and, at the same time, his opposition is becoming more powerful.

The Syrian army has suffered enormous casualty rates. Reports indicate that draft-dodging and desertions are up significantly, that the collapse of the Syrian economy has bankrupted the government, and that members of Assad's inner circle are fighting with one another, to the point where Assad's political security chief was beaten to death.

At the same time, there's been a major realignment of the forces opposing al-Assad. In the past, they have been a disorganized collection of militias, but now they're becoming a lot more organized. The situation was summarized in an al-Jazeera interview of Fawaz Gerges from the London School of Economics (my transcription):

"[The big difference now is] unified command. Fighting under basically one particular leadership. Al-Nusra Front and other radical Islamists like Kata’ib Ahrar al-Sham, are the driver. The Free Syrian Army really plays a minor role.

And the most important element is the pivotal support that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are providing. The first time the three regional powers are providing fundamental support. Not just in terms of arms, not only in terms of money, command and control, leadership, and management of the battlefield plans. This is very serious. While the Syrian army - what - is exhausted, overextended, and basically does not have enough manpower to face up to this new coalition. ...

The advent of coming to power of King Salman in Saudi Arabia has brought about a major rapprochement between Saudi Arabia on the one hand and Qatar and Turkey. So, the three states have joined together to deliver a blow to the Assad regime, and they have basically done so. Not only in Idlib and Jisr al-Shegour, a strategic town, bordering on the major government power base."

Gerges refers to Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) as a leading Islamist militia, the official arm of al-Qaeda in Syria, but not the only one. The flood of jihadists that have poured into Syria from countries around the world have benefitted not only the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), but also al-Nusra Front and other Islamist militias.

The other major factor is that the three major Sunni Muslim countries -- Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar -- are now lining up against al-Assad. (Gerges doesn't mention Egypt.)

Gerges makes it clear that even though al-Assad's army is in trouble, it is far from defeated. He says that this group of Islamist militias may defeat al-Assad and then take control of Syria's government, but this kind of outcome might take months or years of additional fighting. Business Insider and New York Times and Jerusalem Post

Economy falters, surprising economists, while stock market bubble explodes


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at astronomically high 20.98 on May 1 (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio at astronomically high 20.98 on May 1 (WSJ)

Analysts were shocked on when data released on Wednesday showed that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first quarter grew sharply less than they had expected -- 0.2%, rather than the predicted 1%, after rising 2.2% in the last quarter of last year.

As usual, the mainstream economists called it just a blip, nothing to be concerned about, but if they really believed that then they wouldn't have been shocked. The problem is that this has been going on for years, since the 2007 credit crunch. Every time the GDP goes up a bit, as it did in Q4, mainstream economists pull out their macroeconomic models from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and announce that the economy is finally on an upsurge, and that the "Great Recession" is finally ending. So the shock is not that they got it wrong this time, but that they got it wrong time after time after time since 2007.

Long-time readers will recall that I used to repeatedly mock and make fun of mainstream economists. Each quarter I would post the consensus forecasts for growth in that quarter, and then the actual growth figures when they came out. It was a major farce.

I always like to point out that mainstream economists didn't foresee and still can't explain the tech bubble at the end of the 1990s, or why it occurred at that time and not during the PC explosion of the 1980s. They didn't foresee and can't explain the Nasdaq crash in 2000, didn't foresee and can't explain the real estate and credit bubbles of the mid-2000s, didn't foresee and can't explain the credit crunch that began in 2007, didn't foresee and can't explain the global financial crisis, and have gotten wrong almost every forecast since then.

The reason that the tech bubble occurred in the late 1990s is because that's exactly the time when the risk-averse survivors of the 1929 crash and Great Depression all disappeared (retired or died), leaving behind the younger generations with no personal knowledge of the dangers of debt. Generational theory can explain almost everything that's occurred in the last 15 years, but mainstream economists never think of this because they have a brain malfunction that keeps them from understanding even the simplest and most obvious generational explanation of anything. At any rate, if they want to get their forecasts right, then they have to dig out the macroeconomic models from the 1930s, and throw away the models from the 70s-90s, which are irrelevant today.

According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (May 1) was astronomically high, just below 21. This is far above the historical average of 14. Furthermore, it was 18 just a year ago, indicating that the stock market bubble is getting so large it's close to exploding. Generational Dynamics predicts that a panic will occur, and that the P/E ratio will fall to the 5-6 range or lower, which is where it was as recently as 1982, resulting in a Dow Jones Industrial Average of 3000 or lower.

So we have a continuation of their bizarre situation where the economy is getting weaker (or, at least, not getting stronger), which causes the Fed to pursue policies that pour billions of dollars into the banking system, which finds its way into the stock market bubble and into the pockets of the "top 1%." If you want to know why there are no jobs in Baltimore and elsewhere, this is where you should be looking. Bloomberg

Financial firm analyst told to shut up about over-valued assets

ZeroHedge on Saturday posted an analysis of an economic indicator, the rejection of credit applications. This is a crucial indicator of how the economy is doing, since if businesses are suddenly unable to get credit, then it could lead to a severe recession, just like the credit crunch of 2007.

What I found most interesting about the article was a portion of the comments section. The writer submitted a report to a top manager at a large financial firm, and in response he was essentially told to lie:

"=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:01 | 6053912 Haus-Targaryen

On an aside -- I had to do a report on a couple asset classes in the States over the past few months. I submitted it to my boss in the States on Wednesday of last week. I laid out essentially and irrefutably why the asset classes are horribly over-valued, most of the barometers used to measure their value are horribly bastardized, and why we should avoid them like the plague.

My boss sent me an email Thursday in the US around noon EST -- where he said he did not appreciate me injecting my opinions into the report and I should try again without a biased approach. As an example, he said I should take out the labor force participation rate as it is a biased barometer and should use Federal Unemployment numbers exclusively. He said I should quit comparing the CPI to various food, energy, education and medical care price indexes, as it presents an unfair picture of the USD's purchasing power of these assets and should focus on the CPI instead. He said the Baltic dry index is irrelevant and our clients care more about equity performances, and I should take out the BDI.

Essentially he wants to lie through my teeth to these people. I don't know what to do, except know for a fact that, given this guy is one of the top 5 at a firm literally everyone on here knows -- and he is considered to be a genius in his field -- we are all beyond f--ked.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:11 | 6053919 SWCroaker

Haus, my suggestion: get over it, learn to lie. Just don't ever start believing your own lies.

Surviving in a f'ed up situation sometimes puts the positive aspect of retaining your head above those accrued from a moral fight against the system. Look in history to the example of Sophie Scholl, who (in my armchair quarterback opinion) gave her life in protest, and thereby removed herself from the scene for what could have been 70 years of highly successful subversion and rebellion.

Spitting into the wind isn't all that noble in the end.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:23 | 6053941 Haus-Targaryen

This is essentially what I am doing.

"Yeup, MBS are a great and safe buy. Seriously. It's different this time."

I am documenting this via emails to myself. Noting what egregious bulls--t it is, and how I am being forced to do this and by who. No one will hang this around my neck when this whole thing burns to the ground again.

But I guess I gotta keep doing this kinda crap until I can start making some decisions around here -- assuming we survive the next "correction" -- which I am not sure of.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:28 | 6053950 Skateboarder

Hang in there Haus, and give 'em what they want - you don't need to feel bad. It's all lies in the end anyway. Stay true in your heart, and live for the remaining righteous things in life. In the days of manufactured existence, righteousness is you producing 'unmanufactured' output. Always important to remember that job =/= work. Your work is what defines your contribution and connection to the universe, and it can be entirely within your head.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:13 | 6053925 DontGive

Is this a joke? If not, my 2cents:

Keep the original report. Record/note anything he says about it.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:26 | 6053944 Haus-Targaryen

Not a joke. 100% serious. You and I were sharing a brain wave length on that one. See my response above.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:34 | 6053956 GRDguy

Haus-Targaryen: Yu'all in good company.

"The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the greatest liars; the men [and women] they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth." H.L. Mencken (1880 – 1956)

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:34 | 6053962 corporatewhore

whistleblowers and corporate truth sayers aren't held in high regard in the corporate world. Save your ammo just to protect yourself.

=== Sat, 05/02/2015 - 14:28 | 6053949 Haus-Targaryen

Yeah I know. With good enough documentation, I'll be okay."

This kind of stuff was practically unthinkable prior to the rise of Generation-X in the 2000s, as I wrote in my 2008 article, "The nihilism and self-destructiveness of Generation X."

As readers know, I've frequently quoted "experts" on CNBC claiming that stocks are undervalued, even though stock valuations (the P/E ratio) is astronomically high. It's gotten so common that those guys really have no idea any more whether they're lying or telling the truth.

In the above comments, Haus-Targaryen writes, "Yeah I know. With good enough documentation, I'll be okay." This is very naïve. The comments make it very clear that Gen-Xers do not value the truth, and I know from painful experience and the experience of many others that if you can document the truth, then the Gen-Xers will really screw you. This guy had better keep his mouth shut and do what he's told, or he's going to be spending his days writing a blog. ZeroHedge

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-May-15 World View -- War in Syria turns more and more against al-Assad thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-May-2015) Permanent Link
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2-May-15 World View -- Russia and Vietnam agree to mutual defense cooperation pact to counter China

US requests access to Philippines military bases

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Vietnam buys cruise missiles from Russia to threaten China


Russian media cartoon depicting friendly Russia-Vietnam relations during 1965-75, when Vietnam beat the US in the Vietnam war (RBTH)
Russian media cartoon depicting friendly Russia-Vietnam relations during 1965-75, when Vietnam beat the US in the Vietnam war (RBTH)

Vietnam has purchased 50 (3M-14E Klub) supersonic cruise missiles from Russia, to be used in its fleet of (SSK Kilo-class diesel-electric) submarines.

There are two things about this deal. First, popular wisdom says that China and Russia are allies, but Russia is supplying China's enemy with advanced weapons. And second, the missiles can be used by Vietnam against Chinese ships and Chinese land targets. Vietnam is the first Southeast Asian nation to arm its submarine fleet with a land attack missile.

According to one analyst, the land-attack cruise missiles mark a "massive shift" advancing Vietnam's Navy's capabilities. "They’ve given themselves a much more powerful deterrent that complicates China’s strategic calculations."

As we've been reporting, China has been speeding up its military takeover of the South China Sea, using land reclamation projects to build military bases within territories that have historically belonged to other countries, particularly Vietnam and the Philippines. Vietnam and the Philippines have agreed to establish a strategic military partnership to counter China's belligerence. Vietnam last year announced that it will be purchasing several warships from India, and now Vietnam is taking another step, purchasing advanced cruise missiles from Russia.

The land-attack weapons are capable of precision strikes at a range of 300 km (190 miles). Beyond China's coastal cities, potential targets are the naval base at Sanya on China's Hainan Island, as well as any of the military bases that China is building on reclaimed land in the South China Sea. Reuters and Diplomat

China accuses Vietnam of 'double-dealing' with Russia, US

According to Chinese state media:

"China doesn't want territorial and maritime antagonism with Vietnam standing in the way of implementing [China's regional initiatives]. Vietnam should be roped into this grand vision.

From the angle of Hanoi, the ruling communist party is unwilling and unable to go to extremes and launch head-on challenge against China over territorial claims. Exercising restraints and giving a timely handshake will ease down the tensions in the South China Sea so that it won't risk a spillover effect affecting economic and political interests. Vietnam desires reconciliation more than China does.

Although led by communist parties, China and Vietnam lack political mutual trust. Both nations have historical animosities, but the major crux of the current distrust rests on the quandary caused by sovereignty-related issues. ...

[With regard to Vietnam's relations with Russia and the US], Hanoi is playing "double-dealer" without anyone who has its back, which might eventually put itself in danger."

China's concept that Vietnam might accept China's wonderful "grand vision" and ignore China's annexation of territories historically belonging to Vietnam is a fantasy of the highest order. People who write to me and give me logical reasons why China's vast military buildup doesn't mean that China is preparing a preemptive missile attack on the US should understand that China's massive state of denial is as bad as that of Washington and Brussels, and leads them to believe that they can easily win a war against anyone, including the US. This is not a rational belief, but an emotional fantasy belief, which is supported by many Chinese media reports that I've quoted over the years.

China clearly dislikes Russia's improved relationships with Vietnam, and accuses Russia of wanting to establish a base in Vietnam, which is probably true. In 2012, China called the relationship "unrighteous," and rebuked Russia for preferring to cooperate with “ill-doers” over nurturing a partnership with China. However, nothing in the Vietnam-Russia relationship is likely to deter China's accelerating military buildup in the South China Sea. Global Times (Beijing) and Jamestown

Russia and Vietnam agree to mutual defense cooperation pact to counter China

During the visit in early April of Russia's prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to Hanoi, the two countries approved a draft military cooperation pact formalizing bilateral defense cooperation. Although China wasn't mentioned directly in the pact, it's clear that China is the target.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a logical turn of events. Russia and Vietnam have had a close relationship for decades, and it was Russian weapons that helped Vietnam win its war with the United States. On the other hand, Russia and China have centuries of hatreds and crisis wars between them, as do Vietnam and China. In fact, Russia and China were almost at war in the 1960s, while Vietnam and China actually were at war in the late 1970s.

The common wisdom is that Russia and China are natural allies, but nothing could be farther from the truth. It's true that Russia and China are the two countries today that are annexing other country's territories, as Hitler did in the late 1930s, and Russia and China support each other in the United Nations Security Council. But that relationship can be described as: "There's honor among thieves."

Russia recently signed a big energy deal with China to help bolster its economy, which is wracked by low oil prices and Western sanctions. However, many analysts have pointed out that this energy deal was a move of desperation by Russia, which was forced to agree to sell oil and gas to China at the lowest possible prices. So instead of being natural allies, Russia is desperately dependent on China.

Russia points outs that it is not a direct party to the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, but favors having the disputes adjudicated by the appropriate United Nations maritime courts, something that China rejects because it knows it would lose in court.

Russia's mutual defense agreement with Vietnam appears to be an attempt to counter-balance China's influence in the region, as well as Russia's own extreme economic dependence on China. Jamestown and Vietnam Net and Russia Beyond the Headlines

US requests access to Philippines military bases

The United States has asked for access to eight military bases in the Philippines to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships, to counter China's rapid military buildup in the South China Sea. These include bases in Subic and Clark, from which the Philippines ejected the US in 1992. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-May-15 World View -- Russia and Vietnam agree to mutual defense cooperation pact to counter China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-May-2015) Permanent Link
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1-May-15 World View -- US Navy will escort US-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz

Iran's ship seizure may be a message to Saudi Arabia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan jails ten militants for Malala Yousafzai attack, but not prime suspect


Malala Yousafzai in Oslo in December 2014 (Reuters)
Malala Yousafzai in Oslo in December 2014 (Reuters)

A Pakistan court has jailed 10 Taliban militants for life for involvement in the attack on Malala Yousafzai. In 2012, Yousafzai was shot in attack by Pakistan's Taliban that raised international outrage. It's thought that the motive for the attack was Yousafzai's activism for girls' education in opposition to the views of the Taliban.

After the attack, Yousafzai was flown to the UK for treatment, where she fully recovered. She then won the Nobel Peace Prize and became an international spokesman for girls' education.

Pakistan was under international pressure to identify Yousafzai's attackers and bring them to justice. Thursday's announcement was apparently intended to satisfy those concerns.

However, instead of satisfying concerns, the announcement raised a number of new questions. The announcement did not say when and where the trial was held, when and where the ten men had been arrested, or how they were linked to the attack on Yousafzai. None of the ten men sentenced to jail participated in the actual shooting, but were allegedly linked in some way to plotting the shooting. The ten men did not include the principal suspects for the crime, nor the prime suspect Ataullah Khan, a 23-year-old militant, who is now suspected of hiding out in Afghanistan.

Many Pakistanis have mixed emotions about Yousafzai, just as they have mixed emotions about the Taliban. According to one analyst, "It may sound completely shocking, but many people are convinced that Malala is some kind of Western agent who was planted to disgrace Pakistan." The result is that many people see Thursday's convictions as a token verdict, a way for the government to say to its international audience that it's taking the terrorism problem seriously, but without taking an action strong enough to upset the Pakistani people. CBS News and BBC and Public Radio International

US Navy will escort US-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz

In a significant change in the US military posture in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. Navy warships will now accompany US-flagged commercial vessels that pass through the Strait of Hormuz. The follows two incidents in the last week, one on Friday where four Iranian patrol ships harassed a US-flagged cargo vessel, and one on Tuesday where Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN) boarded the Maersk Tigris, a Marshall Islands-flagged ship and forced it into an Iranian port.

Iran's media have made unsubstantiated claims that the Maersk Tigris is a US-owned ship. In fact, it's actually owned and managed by Hamburg-based Rickmers Ship Management. However, since the ship sails under a Marshall Islands flag, it may be necessary for the US to defend the ship from Iran, under a 1983 defense treaty with the Marshall Islands. Iran is now claiming that the Maersk Tigris will be released when Iran receives restitution for some cargo that was lost in 2005.

According to US officials, the fear is that allowing Iran to continue to harass and board ships could lead to a major confrontation, and the hope is that by accompanying commercial ships, Iran will back down rather than confront.

At any rate, it seems that the new policy would not have made any difference to the Maersk Tigris, since it's not a US-flagged ship. CNN and Reuters

Iran's ship seizure may be a message to Saudi Arabia

The alleged commercial dispute that gave rise to Iran's seizure of the Maersk Tigris was ten years old, giving rise to the question of why Iran chose this particular time for the seizure. In fact, according to an analysis, it may be that this time was chosen as a signal to Saudi Arabia to the West to expect further maritime confrontations in the future.

One of the justifications that the US administration has been giving for making concession after concession after concession to Iran in the nuclear talks is the hope that Iran will completely change personality once the agreement is signed and the sanctions are lifted. In this fantasy, Iran starts cooperating with the West in Syria and helps bring the Houthis to heel in Yemen.

According to the analysis, the seizure of the Tigris is one of a series of signals that the opposite will happen: That once the agreement is signed, and the sanctions are lifted, Iran will be emboldened to adopt a more aggressive regional posture in the coming years — perhaps even rolling back to the pre-1996 era, when Iran and its proxies operated more actively against US interests in the Middle East, culminating in the Khobar Towers bombing against American troops in Saudi Arabia.

The US and Saudi Arabia have been sending their own messages to Iran, by setting up an air and sea blockade around Yemen to prevent Iran from delivering arms and supplies to the Houthis in Yemen. Just last week, a convoy of cargo ships from Iran had attempted to run the blockade, but was forced back by US naval ships. There was also an Iranian attempt to land a supply plane in the airport in Yemen's capital city Sanaa, and that attempt was also repelled. On that very same day, Iran boarded and seized the Maersk Tigris in the Strait of Hormuz.

With Iran provoking naval and aerial confrontations in the Persian Gulf and over and around Yemen, the possibility of an incident that spirals into a larger military confrontation grows every day. Farzin Nadimi, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-May-15 World View -- US Navy will escort US-flagged ships through Strait of Hormuz thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-May-2015) Permanent Link
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