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Web Log - November, 2015

Summary

30-Nov-15 World View -- Nepal's fuel deal with China collapses, as India border blockade worsens

Communist Maoists block all India vehicles from entering Nepal

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Nepal's fuel deal with China collapses, as India border blockade worsens


Graffiti in Kathmandu reads 'Let's protest against the Indian blockade' in Nepali (Reuters)
Graffiti in Kathmandu reads 'Let's protest against the Indian blockade' in Nepali (Reuters)

The Hindu religion Madhesis ethnic group, living in Nepal's Tarai region on the border with India, is continuing its blockade of all commercial traffic from India, which started on September 24. The blockade has cut off the only source of imports of petroleum and cooking gas to Nepal, as well as many other goods. ( "8-Nov-15 World View -- Nepal turns to China as border tensions with India increase")

On October 28, China and India signed a memorandum of understanding that China would provide fuel to Nepal to compensate for the blockade, effective ending India's monopoly over fuel supplies to Nepal.

However, the deal may be collapsing because the committee charged with implementing the deal, the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), are apparently so buried in bureaucracy that they can't make any progress. According to an anonymous bureaucrat:

"In the last two months of the crisis, only three meetings of the NOC board, chaired by commerce secretary, were held and they were focused on monitoring and distribution of petroleum products rather than on expediting the business-to-business (B2B) deal with PetroChina."

Details from open news sources are sketchy, but apparently Gopal Bahadur Khadka, managing director of NOC, was holding up the official deal because he was trying to use his privately owned company Birat Petroleum to purchase the fuel from China at the market price, and then to resell it to NOC at twice the market price. (Paragraph corrected. 30-Nov)

With all the corruption going on in Washington and on Wall Street, it shouldn't surprise anyone that there's also corruption in Nepal. Nepal still hasn't recovered from the massive earthquake six months ago, and people without shelter are going to have to try to survive the Himalayan country's cold winter, but none of that mattered to Khadka, apparently, as long as he got his money.

A source close to the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that Khadka is going to be sacked on the charge of "failing to perform duty satisfactorily." Are you kidding me?

In the last decade, American banksters created trillions of dollars in fraudulent subprime mortgage backed synthetic securities, and sold them to investors knowing that they were fraudulent. And yet the Obama administration, which depends on these banksters to make huge donations to his campaigns, and to his pet projects like Obamacare, has never criminally charged a single person. It's enough to make any decent person vomit, but the mainstream media are too in love with Obama to vomit.

So now, in Nepal, a bureaucrat who allegedly committed truly massive fraud, at a time when Nepal itself is in danger, is being fired for "failing to perform duty satisfactorily." That would be the reason to fire someone who was falling asleep in meetings. We can only guess that Prime Minister Oli is probably getting kickbacks from somewhere, because if Khadka isn't a criminal, then I don't know what a "criminal" is. Himalayan Times and Review Nepal

Communist Maoists block all India vehicles from entering Nepal

While ethnic Madhesis in Nepal are blockading commercial traffic from India into Nepal, Communist Maoists have announced a bandh (general strike) that blocks any India vehicles whatsoever to enter Nepal. According to an India police chief:

"We have not allowed Indian vehicles into Nepal via Banbasa bridge today after a bandh call by the Maoists (Viplav faction) in Nepal, but Nepalese vehicles plied normally.

The Nepalese police had advised against allowing Indian vehicle towards their territory fearing violence by the Maoist group which has called for the bandh."

The Maoists are blaming India for the blockade by the Madhesis, who are Hindu. The blockade was triggered by the passage of a new Nepal constitution that marginalizes the Madhesis, and purposely limits the Madhesi representation in the parliament to 10%, even though they constitute 40% of the population. India has been lobbying Nepal to modify the constitution, but insists that it's done nothing to support or encourage the blockade.

On Saturday morning, a car belonging to the Indian embassy in Kathmandu was vandalized and torched. A Maoist spokesman claimed credit:

"We had earlier warned not to ride Indian vehicles in Nepal, otherwise the angry people can do anything. [India's Narendra] Modi government did not take this issue seriously and that is why the people are angry. This anger will convert into a struggle. This will neither benefit India nor Modiji [Modi supporters]."

Interestingly, both police officials and embassy officials are denying the Maoist claim, saying that the vehicle caught fire due to a technical fault. Presumably, the same technical fault broke the windows, even though the car was parked and no one was in it.

According to the Maoist spokesman:

"Our strike is against India's blockade and its interference in Nepal. How long will people of Nepal suffer? India must back down."

Tribune of India and AFP and Review Nepal and Times of India

Many lose jobs in Bihar, India's border, as well as Nepal

The blockade is causing economic devastation on both sides of of the Nepal-Indian border.

After the blockade began, Nepal's border state of Tarai was forced to close industries, shops and schools. This put many Madhesis out of work, and resulted in skyrocketing prices for essential commodities and petroleum products.

For the same reason, thousands of workers from the India's eastern state of Bihar were out of work. Prices also skyrocketed in Bihar itself because of the shortage of essential items. Tribune of India

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 30-Nov-15 World View -- Nepal's fuel deal with China collapses, as India border blockade worsens thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (30-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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29-Nov-15 World View -- Russia's military buildup a game-changer in Syria

Turkey's Erdogan 'saddened' by downing of Russia's warplane

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia's military buildup makes Syria into a Russian no-fly zone


The S-400 missile can reach 400 km, and as high as 27 km.  The radar has a range of 600 km. (RT)
The S-400 missile can reach 400 km, and as high as 27 km. The radar has a range of 600 km. (RT)

Russia's deployment of its advanced S-400 air defense missile systems at Syria's Khmeimim airbase one day after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane has effectively implemented a no-fly zone under Russian over most of Syria, as well as Lebanon, Cyprus, half of Israel, western regions of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and a vast part of Turkey.

According to Russia's Ministry of Defense:

"In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, today an S-400 air defense missile system has been promptly delivered, deployed and already began combat duty to provide cover for the area around the Russian Hmeymim air base in Syria."

This is certainly a "game-changer," as it makes many flights by American, Israeli and Turkish planes almost impossible without permission from Russia. In fact, Russian media are bragging that the U.S. and Turkey immediately stopped airstrikes since the S-400 systems were deployed, and Turkey is avoiding all flights near the Syrian border.

There's also an electronic jamming war going on between Russia and Turkey. The Russians put into place anew electronic warfare multifunctional systems to disrupt Turkish flights and forces. Turkey has countered by installing the KORAL electronic jamming system along its southern border with Syria.

This vast Russian military buildup in Syria has significant consequences for Turkey. Turkey and Syria have centuries of bitter warfare behind them, and now Russia is hemming Turkey in from the south in Syria and from the north in occupied Crimea. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars")

It's also significant for Israel which has, on occasion, conducted airstrikes into Syria to prevent convoys of weapons from being delivered to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such weapons convoys will now be under Russian protection, and Hezbollah will get all the weapons it wants.

It's worthwhile reminding readers at this point that, as I've been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that Russia and Iran will trend towards becoming our allies, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Sunni Muslim countries will trend towards becoming our enemies. (See for example "9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement") Those predictions seemed fantastical ten years ago, but now we see them coming true, step by step, week after week, much to many people's astonishment, including mine. Russia Today and Debka and Russia Today

Russia ends food imports from many countries

In 2006, Russia wanted to retaliate against Georgia's increasingly pro-Western stance and ambitions to join Nato. So in March 2006, Russia banned wine imports from Georgia. In 2005, Georgia had exported wine worth a total of $81.4 million, but by 2007 that figure had fallen 64% to just $29.2 million.

After Russia's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the West imposed financial sanctions on Russia. Russia retaliated in August 2014 by banning most food imports from the EU, as well as from Australia, Canada, Norway and the US in August last year. Three months ago, the ban was extended to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Albania and Montenegro.

Ukraine has announced plans to implement a free trade agreement with the European Union, beginning in January 2016. Russia retaliated by announcing that food imports from Ukraine would be banned, also starting in January 2016.

Now Russia is banning food and agricultural products from Turkey, in retaliation for the downing last week of the Russian warplane.

One might wonder if Russia is running out of countries to import food from. Well, with over 200 countries in the world, that's not likely to happen soon. In fact, Russia's agricultural minister has pointed out that Russia could import fruit and vegetables from Iran, Israel, Morocco, Azerbaijan, China, South Africa and Argentina.

Other Russian sanctions target Turkish businesses in Russia, and Russian tourists who wish to visit Turkey.

Russia's sanctions may benefit the United States. The sanctions will also terminate millions of tons of Russia's wheat exports to Turkey. Russia is the largest wheat exporter to Turkey. U.S. and European agricultural dealers have millions of tons of wheat in storage, and could immediately sell that to Turkey.

However, there is a broader point to be made. I frequently have someone tell me that "those two countries won't go to war because it's bad for business." The assumption is that if two countries trade a lot with each other, then they won't do anything to disturb that trade.

I've frequently heard this argument with regard to China and Taiwan. "China won't invade Taiwan," I'm told, "because it's bad for business." And yet, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, even though it was bad for business. In fact, if war were prevented because it was bad for business, then there would almost never be any wars.

But now we see that just the opposite is true. If two countries have strong trade relations, then trade simply becomes another weapon of war, in the form of sanctions. Whether sanctions ever actually accomplish anything useful is highly questionable, but trade does not prevent war. BBC and Sputnik News (Moscow)

Turkey's Erdogan 'saddened' by downing of Russia's warplane

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not apologize for the downing of Russia's warplane last week, but seemed to come close, when he said that he was "saddened":

"I'm really saddened by the incident. We wish it had never happened, but it happened. I hope something like this doesn't happen again.

We hope that the issue between us and Russia does not escalate any further, become corrosive and have dire consequences in the future. ...

"What we tell Russia is 'Let's resolve this issue between ourselves and within its boundaries. Let's not make others happy by destroying our whole relationship. I think the U.N. Global Climate Change Summit to be held in Paris on Monday could be an opportunity to restore our relations. ...

Russia is important for Turkey as much as Turkey is important for Russia. Both countries cannot afford to give up on each other."

Actually, this statement sounds a bit desperate to my ear.

At any rate, Russia's president Vladimir Putin has demanded a full apology, and says that he will not speak to Erdogan until Erdogan apologizes. So it seems unlikely that they'll meet in Paris on Monday. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Al Manar (Lebanon)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Nov-15 World View -- Russia's military buildup a game-changer in Syria thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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28-Nov-15 World View -- Pope Francis to visit Central African Republic in middle of civil war

Pope Francis blames starvation and poverty on a new form of colonialism

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pope Francis to visit Central African Republic in middle of civil war


Pope Francis welcomed by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni (at right with hat), in Kampala on Friday (AP)
Pope Francis welcomed by Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni (at right with hat), in Kampala on Friday (AP)

The United Nations will provide hundreds of additional peacekeeping troops on Sunday, when Pope Francis visits Bangui, the capital city of Central African Republic (CAR), in the midst of a sectarian civil war that's been going on for three years, and shows no sign of ending. The visit will last 26 hours.

The Pope is completing a six-day tour of Africa, with stops in Kenya, Uganda and CAR.

In Bangui, the Pope's first visit will be to the PK5 mosque in Bangui. PK5 is a Muslim enclave that continues to be extremely dangerous. Renewed violence erupted in PK5 in September, after a Muslim man was killed. The Pope had wanted to visit a hospital in PK5, but it was deemed to be too dangerous.

After visiting the mosque, Francis plans to hold a prayer vigil at the cathedral in Bangui and spend some time at a displacement camp.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in CAR currently has some 9,100 peacekeepers and about 1,500 police. It will be boosted with an additional 750 troops and 140 police for the Pope's visit. The additional troops will stay for eight weeks, until after presidential and parliamentary elections take place on December 27.

Despite the additional peacekeepers, Vatican officials have said that the Pope could cancel the visit at the last minute if it appears to be too dangerous, either to the Pope or to the people that he will be visiting. The last pontiff to visit CAR was Pope John Paul II in 1985.

The CAR sectarian war began in March 2013, when François Bozizé, the Christian former president of CAR, was ousted in a coup in March 2013 by Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, who became president and served until January 2014.

After Djotodia's coup took place in March 2013, Muslim Seleka militias began committing atrocities, particularly targeting the Christian constituencies of the deposed François Bozizé. In December 2013, French Foreign Legion peacekeeping troops arrived to disarm the Seleka militias.

But then the Christian anti-balaka militias "rushed into the vacuum," and began committing atrocities in 2014, for revenge against the Selekas. Since then, both Christians and Muslims have been committing atrocities, and it's become a full-scale generational crisis war. Thousands have been killed, and millions have been displaced.

As I've explained in the past, 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 today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. ( "2-Oct-15 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war")

Many people of faith hope that the visit by the Pope will somehow magically tranquilize the fighting and end the civil war. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this civil war will go on until it reaches the point of exhaustion, and there's an explosive climax, some kind of bloody, genocidal massacre that will be remembered for decades. Deutsche Welle and Time and Reuters

Pope Francis blames starvation and poverty on a new form of colonialism

Pope Francis was apparently very deeply affected by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, after which he declared that the upcoming Christmas festivities would be a "charade," with the whole world at war:

"We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war. It’s all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war."

Pope Francis might be a reader of the daily Generational Dynamics World View articles, because he appears to believe that the world is headed inevitably to a new world war, and he's in great despair over it.

In a speech on Friday at the Kangemi Slum in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, he declared Africa to be a "continent of hope," but went on to continue his message of despair:

"One very serious problem in this regard is the lack of access to infrastructures and basic services. By this I mean toilets, sewers, drains, refuse collection, electricity, roads, as well as schools, hospitals, recreational and sport centers, studios and workshops for artists and craftsmen. I refer in particular to access to drinking water. “Access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (Laudato Si’, 30). To deny a family water, under any bureaucratic pretext whatsoever, is a great injustice, especially when one profits from this need

This situation of indifference and hostility experienced by poor neighborhoods is aggravated when violence spreads and criminal organizations, serving economic or political interests, use children and young people as “cannon fodder” for their ruthless business affairs. I also appreciate the struggles of those women who fight heroically to protect their sons and daughters from these dangers. I ask God that that the authorities may embark, together with you, upon the path of social inclusion, education, sport, community action, and the protection of families, for this is the only guarantee of a peace that is just, authentic and enduring.

These realities which I have just mentioned are not a random combination of unrelated problems. They are a consequence of new forms of colonialism which would make African countries “parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel” (Ecclesia in Africa, 52). Indeed, countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like those aimed at lowering the birth rate, which seek “to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized” (Laudato Si’, 50).

In this regard, I would propose a renewed attention to the idea of a respectful urban integration, as opposed to elimination, paternalism, indifference or mere containment. We need integrated cities which belong to everyone."

There's a great deal of wishful thinking in these remarks. But the source of the problem was revealed in Thomas Roberts Malthus in his 1798 book, "An Essay on the Principle of Population." In that book, he showed that the amount of food that farmers produce increases every year, but that the annual increase in food production is smaller than the annual increase in population. In other words, the population grows faster than the food supply, which I call the "Malthus effect." (To see how this applies to China, see "6-Dec-10 News -- Mongol invasion of China in 1206 has impact today")

Those who deny the validity of the Malthus effect overlook the number of wars of extermination that happen throughout history. Whenever a society or group of people are facing starvation and poverty, they look around for someone to blame, someone "wealthier" or "more privileged." When the starvation gets bad enough, there is a war. If it's a generational crisis war, then it will worsen the starvation and will become a war of extermination. A war of extermination decreases the population, so that there's enough food for the survivors for a while. That's the cycle that humanity has gone through for millennia.

Theologians often discuss a number of great issues, like the conflict between omniscience and free will. ( "27-Sep-15 World View -- After Hajj stampede disaster, Muslims debate the 'Will of Allah'")

But I've never heard of theologians discussing an even more important issue: Why are humans to blame for wars, when God has created a world in which the population grows faster than the food supply, making war a requirement for human survival? Time and AP and National Catholic Register

Baby kissed by Pope Francis recovers from deadly brain tumor

During his recent visit to Philadelphia, Pope Francis kissed the head of a 15-month-old baby Gianna Masciantonio. The baby was dying of a brain tumor.

Six weeks later, MRI scans show that the tumor has shrunk significantly, and the baby would likely survive.

According to Gianna's father, Joey Masciantonio: "The kiss was God's work, that's for sure. But, the miracle was Him giving us the platform to reach those doctors who, ultimately, played a major role in saving Gianna's life." NBC News

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 28-Nov-15 World View -- Pope Francis to visit Central African Republic in middle of civil war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (28-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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27-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey-Russia crisis continues to escalate

European Union to end visa restrictions on Turkey's citizens

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia accuses Turkey of 'industrial scale' oil purchases from ISIS


Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 16 (AP)
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 16 (AP)

On Tuesday, after the Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey, Russia's president Vladimir Putin said:

"ISIS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation [i.e., Turkey]. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe."

Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev alleged on Wednesday that Turkish officials were benefiting from ISIS oil sales, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was no secret that "terrorists" use Turkish territory.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Thursday renewed his accusation that Turkey's officials were "accomplices of terrorists" for supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has furiously denied such accusations of several occasions.

At a news conference on Thursday, Putin said that Russian spy planes had witnessed trucks carrying "industrial scale" amounts of oil from ISIS sources crossing the border from Syria into Turkey. He said it was "theoretically possible" that Ankara was unaware of oil supplies entering its territory from ISIL-controlled areas of Syria but added that this was hard to imagine.

According to Putin:

"Turkish authorities should destroy the oil [coming from ISIS], but we do not see the smoke from the fire in the destruction of oil. I repeat, we are talking about an industrial scale amounts."

Erdogan furiously denied the charges:

"Shame on you. It's clear where Turkey buys its oil and gas ... Those who claim we are buying oil from Daesh like this must prove their claims. Nobody can slander this country. I would call them liars [if they do]. If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it."

Most analysts agree that Turkey is not buying oil directly from ISIS, but it's possible that some distributors are buying oil from ISIS and selling it in Turkey. Russia Today and Reuters and APA (Azerbeijan) and Guardian (London)

Russia escalates retaliation against Turkey for downing warplane

Russian and Turkish leaders on each side refused to apologize, but demanded apologies from the other side.

Russia has not declared war over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane on Tuesday, but is taking a number of hostile steps just stopping short of war.

The forces of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad intensified the shelling and bombing of Turkmen villages in Syria. As we described two days ago, the Turks wish to protect Turkmen rebels in Syria for the same reason that Russia says that it wants to protect ethnic Russians in occupied east Ukraine and Crimea. Russia defended the bombing of Turkmens on Thursday by claiming that they're terrorists, although that description could just as easily be apply to the Russian separatists in Ukraine.

In addition to accusations that Turkey's officials were "accomplices of terrorists" and that Turkey was buying oil from ISIS, Russia says that it will adopt a set of economic sanctions having to do with trade, transport, and tourism:

As we wrote earlier this week, Turkey and Russia have had centuries of bloody, genocidal generational crisis wars with each, and there is certainly a new one on the horizon. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars") However, there is tremendous international diplomatic pressure to keep the current situation from spiraling into war, so it is hoped that there won't be a war at this time. But with Turkey and Russia on opposite sides of the crises in Ukraine, Crimea and Syria, it's clear that no simple band-aid will fix the current problems. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Today's Zaman (Istanbul)

European Union to end visa restrictions on Turkey's citizens

Ever since Russia's warplane was downed, it's been easy to forget that Turkey is involved in at least one more major international crisis: the refugee crisis in Europe. There are still thousands of refugees each day, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, crossing into Turkey, across the Aegean Sea, into Greece.

The refugee crisis has overwhelmed Europe, and the recent terror attacks in Paris have raised terrorism alert levels in several countries.

As we described a month ago, the crisis has forced the EU to reopen and take seriously negotiations for Turkey to join the European Union. ( "20-Oct-15 World View -- As winter approaches, thousands of European refugees may be trapped in the cold")

A European Union draft document is expected to be released on November 29, with some of the following terms:

Hurriyet (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 27-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey-Russia crisis continues to escalate thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (27-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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26-Nov-15 World View -- Russia and Turkey move closer to the brink of war

Turkish analysis of downing of Russian warplane

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia and Turkey move closer to the brink of war


Russian pilots prepare for flight in a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet in Syria (Reuters)
Russian pilots prepare for flight in a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet in Syria (Reuters)

Russia's president Vladimir Putin is said to be inconsolably furious at Turkey for shooting down a Russian warplane on Monday. This incident has struck Putin in a deeply visceral way, and there is little doubt that he will seek retaliation. ( "25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars")

According to a statement issued by Russia's military:

"The General Staff is currently working out additional measures to ensure the security of the Russian air base.

First: all actions of strike aircraft will be carried out only under cover of fighter planes.

Second: measures will be taken to strengthen defense. To this end, the cruiser Moskva, equipped with Fort air defense system, similar to S-300, will assume position in the coastal region of Latakia. We caution that any targets, representing a potential danger for us, will be destroyed.

Third: Contacts with Turkey on military lines will be discontinued."

Russia is deploying its most advanced ground to air missile system in Syria. These missiles could target Turkish warplanes, and also bombers from the U.S.-led coalition, including those from the U.S., France and Britain.

I heard several analysts refer to this as a major escalation that could easily lead to a military conflict between Turkey and Russia. Many people believe that Putin will seek further retaliation against Turkey. Indeed, Putin has already promised "serious consequences" for the incident, which was a "stab in the back." This retaliation could take many forms, and a military conflict could be triggered either intentionally or unintentionally.

Russia has used protection of ethnic Russians in Ukraine as an excuse for its army to invade and occupy portions of Ukraine, and annex its Crimean peninsula. As we described yesterday, the Turks wish to protect Turkmen rebels in Syria and Turkic Tatars in Crimea for the similar reasons, and they're furious that Russians are treating Tatars harshly in Crimea, and that Russian warplanes are bombing Turkmen villages in Syria.

So neither of these two countries is satisfied, and either one make seek further military retaliation against the other. International Business Times and Reuters

Turkish analysis of downing of Russian warplane

According to a Turkish analysis, shooting down the Russian warplane was to be expected because "It was Russia that stabbled Turkey in the back." According to the analysis:

Interestingly enough, it seems likely that there is one important thing that the Russians and Turks agree on: That nothing about the current situation is accidental, and both are taking deliberate steps to provoke the other -- Russia in bombing Turkmen and not ISIS, and Turkey in shooting down the Russian plane in retaliation. Daily Sabah (Istanbul)

Quote without comment

At a joint Washington press conference with France's president François Hollande on Tuesday to discuss the terrorist attacks in France and Mali, President Barack Obama said:

"Next week I will be joining President Hollande and other world leaders in Paris for the Global Climate Conference. What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children."

The Federalist

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 26-Nov-15 World View -- Russia and Turkey move closer to the brink of war thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (26-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars

Turkmen in Syria versus Russians in occupied Crimea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Putin calls Turkey's downing of Russian plane a 'stab in the back'


Florence Nightingale, the world's first nurse, tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854
Florence Nightingale, the world's first nurse, tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War in 1854

On Tuesday, two Turkish F-16s were involved in the shooting down of a Russian warplane in Syria near the border with Turkey. According to Turkey's military, the Russian aircraft was warned 10 times in five minutes that it was violating Turkish airspace.

In addition, one of the Russian pilots was shot dead from the ground by ethnic Turkmens as he was parachuting to earth. A Russian marine was also shot down during the rescue operation.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin called Turkey's downing of the fighter jet "a stab in the back" carried out by the accomplices of terrorists, alluding to previous accusations that Turkey's government were accomplices of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Putin said that the incident would have serious consequences for the two countries' relations.

Turkey's prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey had the right to respond if its airspace is violated despite repeated warnings.

Russia claims that the Russian plan was shot down over Syria, but that even if it had invaded Turkey's air space, then shooting it down was illegal. According to Anatoly Kapustin, President of the Russian Association of International Law: "Even if the Russian plane flew into Turkish airspace and returned to Syria, it needs to be taken into account that the Russian air force is taking part in an armed conflict in Syrian territory, on the side of the central government."

Other analysts have also suggested that shooting down the warplane was an overreaction, since it was not a danger to Turkey even if it invaded Turkey's airspace.

Russia's Defense Ministry said that it was working on a package of measures to respond to the incident. A Russian warship will be deployed to waters off Syria's western Latakia province, and Russian fighters will accompany bombing missions in the future. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov advised Russians not to visit Turkey, saying that the threat of terrorism was as bad in Turkey as in Egypt, where a Russian passenger plane was recently blown out of the sky. Sputnik News (Moscow) and Hurriyet Daily News (Ankara)

Turkmens in Syria versus Russians in occupied Crimea

When Russian troops last year invaded, occupied, and annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, and also invaded and occupied eastern Ukraine, the excuse given by Vladimir Putin was that Russia has the right to protect ethnic Russians wherever they may be.

So now it's possible that this same argument is being used against Russia. As has been widely reported, Russian warplanes have not been bombing ISIS targets. Instead, they've been bombing so-called "moderate" rebels fighting against Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, including some groups being supported by the United States.

Some of those moderate rebels are in ethnic Turkmen villages that the Russians have bombed. Turkey last week summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the bombing of Turkmens in Syria. Turkmens were originally from Turkmenistan in Central Asia.

On Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said:

"Everyone should respect Turkey’s right to defend its own borders. ... We strongly condemn attacks focusing on the places where Bayirbucak Turkmens live. We have relatives and cognates living there."

Erdogan pointed out that the area there were no ISIS militants in the Turkmen region.

In fact, Crimea is the homeland of the ethnic Tatars, who are also (distant) relatives of the Turks, with the same Muslim religion, and Tatars are being brutally treated by the Russians in occupied Crimea. So, from Turkey's point of view, Turkey has as much right to protect the Tatars in occupied Crimea as Russia has to protect the Russians.

It's possible, though unstated, that Erdogan felt that Turkey had the right to shoot down the Russian warplane in defense of the Turkmens in Syria. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and CNN

Russia - Turkey crisis evokes memories of centuries of Crimean wars

There's been a lot of talk in the media about how Turkey and Russia are such potentially great allies, and that if they could only get past a minor issue or two, then together they could take down ISIS. Such fatuous statements miss the point that the Turkish and Russian people deeply hate each other, based on centuries of extremely bloody wars, often centered on the Crimean peninsula which has been so much in the news for the last two years.

If you want to list the most important wars of the last millennium, one might mention the cataclysmic Mongol conquest of the Han Chinese in 1206, the War of the Spanish Succession that climaxed in 1709, the American Revolution that climaxed in 1782, the cataclysmic Zulu conquest of tribes of southern Africa in the 1820s.

However, the top of the list is arguably the cataclysmic conquest of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine empire, by the Muslim Ottoman Turks in 1453, renaming the city to Istanbul.

In 1472, Russia's Grand Prince Ivan III ("Ivan the Great") married Sophia, the orphan niece of the last Greek Emperor of Constantinople. At that time, with the destruction of Rome by the Visigoths, and the destruction of Constantinople by the Ottomans, Ivan the Great decided that Moscow was going to become "the third Rome," the home of the true (or "orthodox") Christian faith, and the defender of Jerusalem from the Ottomans. He gave himself the title "Czar" or "Tsar," derived from the name of the Roman Emperor Caesar (as is the German word "Kaiser").

The Tatars were a tribe of Mongols that, under the leadership of Genghis Kahn, probably the greatest conqueror in the history of the world, had defeated China in 1217, and then turned westward and conquered much of southern Russia by 1227, where they adopted Crimea as their homeland. The Crimean Tatars had intermingled with the central Asian Turks, and spoke a Turkish language. By the 1400s, they adopted Islam as their religion.

So here's a brief summary of what happened since then:

Western politicians and journalists are pretty much oblivious to all of this. But you can be sure that both Erdogan and Putin are fully aware of it. And with all this history between them, and with Russia now having occupied and annexed Crimea, there is no possibility Russia and Turkey are going to become allies in any meaningful sense.

Long-time readers are aware that I've been writing for ten years that Generational Dynamics predicts the world is headed for a Clash of Civilizations world war, where the allies of the U.S. will including India, Russia and Iran, while the enemies, led by China, will include Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries.

The Turkish downing of a Russian warplane to provide protection of Turkmen villages in Syria will certainly be an important milestone in bringing that prediction to actualization. Russia is certain to retaliate in some way, although it's not expected that Russia and Turkey will go to war at this time, since there are diplomatic efforts going on around the world.

Because of this crisis and the Syrian refugee crisis, in a move described by Turkish journalists as "panicked," the European Union has called an EU-Turkey summit meeting in Brussels on Sunday. This will be the first such summit meeting since the EU and Turkey began their tumultuous relationship in 1959.

According to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, the summit will be held between the 28 member countries and Turkey, and the topics to be discussed will certainly include the Turkey-Russia crisis, as well as new discussions of Turkey joining the EU, and how to stem the flow of refugees from Turkey into Greece. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Generational Dynamics: History of Islam versus Orthodox Christianity (2003)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 25-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (25-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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24-Nov-15 World View -- Ukraine suspends all commercial trade with occupied Crimea

Migrants blocked at Macedonian border sew their mouths shut

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Migrants blocked at Macedonian border sew their mouths shut


An Iranian refugee with his mouth sewn shut protests the blockade of Greece's border into Macedonia (AFP)
An Iranian refugee with his mouth sewn shut protests the blockade of Greece's border into Macedonia (AFP)

Seven men have sewed their mouths shut and more than a thousand Iranians, Moroccans and Pakistanis have blocked a train line on the Greek-Macedonian border, in protest against a recent decision by some Balkan countries to block certain nationalities from heading towards northern Europe.

Following on from last week's terrorist attack in Paris, countries along the Balkan migration trail -- Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia -- have begun refusing to admit people of certain nationalities. In particular, they are screening all the migrants, and admitting only refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. People from Africa, Iran, Pakistan and Bangladesh -- who collectively amount to less than 10% of the flow through the Balkans -- are being called "economic migrants," and are being trapped in limbo at the borders of Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia.

An average of 4,750 people a day have arrived on its shores from Turkey this month, down from the October average of 6,800 but above the August daily rate of 3,500.

Macedonia is building a barrier along its southern border with Greece. Macedonia’s prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, said: “The status quo is untenable and short-term recommendations do nothing to solve the problem. Macedonia knows that the only solution is European-wide expanded cooperation, real-time exchange of information and additional support so that we may ensure appropriate security and humanitarian outcomes for all involved.” Guardian (London) and Kathimerini (Athens) and Washington Post and Guardian (19-Nov)

Ukraine suspends all commercial trade with occupied Crimea

As we reported yesterday, transmission towers (pylons) carrying electricity lines from Ukraine to occupied Crimea were sabotaged and blown up over the weekend, most likely by Ukrainian nationalists from the far-right party Right Sector or Crimean Tatars opposed to Russia's invasion, occupation and annexation of Crimea. The result is that most of the 2 million people living in Crimea are now living in darkness.

Ukraine's Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry had promised a restoration within four days, but Tatars and nationalists are preventing construction workers from approaching the pylons to repair them.

On Monday, Ukraine's government in Kiev said that it was suspending all commercial trade with occupied Crimea. This is being described as a major concession to the nationalists, since nationalists have been since September blockading the roads between Ukraine and Crimea, attempting to prevent any commercial trade.

Since September, prices for food have been rising sharply because of the blockade, and are now expected to rise much higher. It is now not known how long it will be before electricity will be restored. BBC and Tass (Moscow)

Ukraine and Russia in tit-for-tat escalating sanctions

Monday's announcement by Ukraine's announcement that it's suspending all cargo traffic to and from occupied Crimea is part of a lengthy sequence of tit-for-tat sanctions.

According to Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk:

"Speaking about the embargo, I would like to make it clear that Russian threats to introduce an embargo on Ukrainian goods will face the same response from the Ukrainian authorities.

"There will be an analogous Ukrainian decision to launch an embargo against Russia to every Russian decision to launch an embargo against Ukraine."

However, Yatsenyuk says that he's ordered that the sabotaged electricity transmission lines be repaired, and that electricity supplies to Crimea be restored. Russia Today and Zik (Ukraine)

Steel and other commodity prices continue to plummet

Commodity prices in general have been plummeting, mainly thanks to a slowdown in China, but steel prices have been particularly hard hit, falling more than a third so far this year.

China 800 million tons of steel a year -- four times more than any other country has ever produced. But the sector is in severe overcapacity of some 400 million tons as construction has been slowing. Steel consumption in China hs fallen 5.7% in the first ten months this year. Iron ore is also trading at an all time low. There is little upside on the horizon.

According to one analyst:

"A lot of [steel production] growth is completely artificially, supported by government policies and subsidies so it's natural to see that sector shrink."

According to another analyst, China is pushing production up to create jobs. They "look more at employment and stability in the social environment," and don't worry about the long term effects. CNBC

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 24-Nov-15 World View -- Ukraine suspends all commercial trade with occupied Crimea thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (24-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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23-Nov-15 World View -- ASEAN leaders harshly criticize China over South China Sea actions

Occupied Crimea declares state of emergency after electricity is cut

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

China blocks Miss World Canada from attending Miss World pageant


Anastasia Lin, 25, Miss World Canada
Anastasia Lin, 25, Miss World Canada

China is apparently blocking Anastasia Lin, 25, the winner of Miss World Canada, from attending the Miss World pageant. Born in China, Lin has been an outspoken critic of China's human rights abuses.

Lin is apparently not going to receive the letter from China inviting her to the pageant, which means that she cannot apply for a visa. The opening ceremony takes place on Monday, but she still hopes to receive the letter in time to attend the competition a few days later.

After she won the competition earlier this year, Lin's father was contacted by Chinese security forces. They threatened that there would be consequences if Lin continued to speak out. As her father still lives in China, Lin is concerned. "Dad's really scared. He doesn't really dare to talk to me as he worries his phone is tapped. He doesn't speak his mind anymore." The Shanghaiist and BBC

ASEAN leaders harshly criticize China over South China Sea actions

While the Western world's eyes have been riveted on the European terror news, tensions over China's actions in the South China Sea have been surging at the annual summit meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), currently being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In fact, week's terrorist attack in a hotel in Bamako, the capital city of Mali, resulted in the deaths of three Chinese businessmen. The ASEAN summit meeting had been expected to discuss global terrorism, but the South China Sea pushed those matters into the background.

China received criticism from almost everyone. The harshest critic of China was outgoing Philippines President Benigno Aquino, who revealed that China had repeatedly been fishing in Philippine waters, and even worse, targeting endangered marine life covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. According to Aquino:

"We had been asked not to make these incidents public, and we agreed in an effort to de-escalate the situation. However, the incidents did not cease."

In addition to going public about these and other incidents of aggression by China, Aquino said that the region’s stability and prosperity were under threat “by unilateral actions such as the massive reclamation and building of structures on features in the Spratly islands.” He said such alarming developments have urgent and far-reaching implications in the region and the international community, and that ASEAN must not allow any country – “no matter how powerful” – to claim an entire sea as its own and use force and intimidation to send its message across.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe also criticized China's land reclamation and suggested that Japan might send its Navy to the South China Sea:

"With regard to activity by the Self-Defense Forces in the South China Sea, I will consider it while focusing on what effect the situation has on Japan’s security."

However, a Japanese government spokesman said later that there were no plans to change policy at the present time.

According to president Barack Obama, also attending the meeting:

"Many leaders spoke about the need to uphold international principles, including the freedom of navigation, and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

My fellow leaders from Japan, Australia and the Philippines have reaffirmed that our treaty alliances remained the foundation of regional security. The United States is boosting our support for the Philippines maritime capabilities and those of our regional partners. ...

For the sake of regional stability, claimants should halt reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas."

During the meeting, Indonesia's president Joko Widodo and South Korea's president Park Geun-hye and other ASEAN leaders all criticized China's actions in the South China Sea.

China's Premier Li Keqiang evaded answering questions related to the subject, but has previously blamed the United States for "provocations" and "meddling." In a statement reported by China's media, Li said:

"In recent years, the South China Sea disputes, which should have been addressed by directly concerned countries through negotiation and talks, have been played up to become a problem concerning the South China Sea’s peace and stability and the freedom of navigation."

Nikkei and Philippine Star and Bloomberg

Occupied Crimea declares state of emergency after electricity is cut

Occupied Crimea has declared a state of emergency after the entire peninsula was plunged into darkness because the transmission towers (pylons) carrying electricity lines from Ukraine were sabotaged on Friday and Sunday.

It's believed that the pylons were blown up by Ukrainian nationalists and Crimean Tatars opposed to Russia's annexation of Crimea. In 2014, Russian army troops invaded Crimea and annexed the peninsula to Russia. Crimea is the homeland to ethnic Tatars who have been marginalized by the Russian occupation.

Generators are supplying power for vital services like hospitals and communications. Most of the nearly 2 million people living in Crimea remain without electricity. Ukraine's Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry promised a restoration within four days. Euro News and Ukraine Today

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 23-Nov-15 World View -- ASEAN leaders harshly criticize China over South China Sea actions thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (23-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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22-Nov-15 World View -- European Union considers gun control after Paris attack

Brussels Belgium on lockdown in search for Paris bomber

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Brussels Belgium on lockdown in search for Paris bomber


Closed metro entrance in Brussels on Saturday (EU Observer)
Closed metro entrance in Brussels on Saturday (EU Observer)

On Saturday, the city of Brussels, which is both the capital city of Belgium and the capital of the European Union, was essentially shut down completely, after Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel warned that the threat of one or more terror attacks in the city was "serious and imminent." The terror alert system was raised to its highest level over reports of an "imminent threat" of a gun and bomb attack similar to the one seen in Paris. The metro system was shut down, and all restaurants and cafés were closed by 6 pm. Citizens were warned to avoid large gathers, such as concerts, train stations and shopping malls.

Belgium-based jihadists are increasingly at the heart of the investigation of last week's Paris attacks, since it's been learned that three of the attackers have roots in Brussels' Molenbeek district which, as we described earlier this week, has a large ethnic Moroccan population and is a hotbed for radical Islamists.

Brussels police have intensified raids in Molenbeek and other immigrant districts, hoping to prevent a repeat of the Paris attacks. Belgium's interior minister is calling for house-to-house checks for all home in Molenbeek.

In particular, there is a big manhunt under way for Salah Abdeslam, a 26 year old French citizen, who is believed to be one of the attackers, and is hiding out in Brussels. Abdeslam traveled from Paris to Belgium on the morning after the Paris attacked and was stopped by police officers for identity checks, but was permitted to continue to Belgium because he was not suspected at that time.

Police have issued an international arrest warrant for Abdeslam, who is described as armed and dangerous. Friends of Abdeslam told ABC News they had spoken to him on Skype and said he was hiding in Brussels and desperately trying to get to Syria, to link up with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). Expatica Belgium and EU Observer and BBC and ABC News

European Union considers gun control after Paris attack

I've often suggested that the National Rifle Association in the U.S. should give an award to President Barack Obama. Every time Obama proposes gun control legislation, gun sales surge. Obama has brought about the sales of more guns than the NRA ever could.

So now there's talk of gun control in the European Union.

There's a black market for firearms in all major European cities. However, Belgium is a particularly important player because of its geographical location and history. For centuries Belgium has been a major producer and exporter of firearms. Sixty miles east of Brussels, FN Herstal, the largest small-arms factory in Europe, has been making weapons since 1889. Today, three thousand employees manufacture some fifty models of handguns, submachine guns, rifles (both assault and bolt-action), machine guns, shotguns, and aircraft weapons systems.

Handguns are the preferred firearm for criminals, but lately Belgian police have noticed an increase in the possession and use of military-style weapons such as Kalashnikovs. After the Balkan wars of the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of military weapons stayed in the hands of citizens, and found their way to Western Europe, including Belgium. A typical price for a weapon is $1,000 to $2,500.

It's estimated that there are 81 million illicit firearms across the European Union, but that's just a guess because the EU has no system for keeping track of weapons, even illegal weapons that have been seized.

The EU this week proposed new gun-control rules. But experts say implementing them across the 28 member counties would be difficult.

Some of the rules have to do with the restoration of deactivated or neutralized or decommissioned weapons, a problem not raised much in the United States. An otherwise illegal weapon can be kept legally if it can be deactivated and made into a purely decorative item. Key components can be removed or welded together, for example, but in some cases deactivated weapons can be restored.

The new proposed rules will deal with deactivated weapons, and will propose a ban on semi-automatic weapons. However, none of the proposals offer immediate solutions to the problem of improving coordination and information sharing among law enforcement so guns can be more easily tracked.

Nonetheless, the proposed rules face strong resistance from hunters and sportsmen, who fear it will seriously restrict legal owners. "It seems to be that the Commission now wants to show quick activism after these terrible attacks, but they are going too far," said Hans Schollen, a lawyer and president of a German sporting association, the VDS. BBC and Politico EU and New Yorker

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 22-Nov-15 World View -- European Union considers gun control after Paris attack thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (22-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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21-Nov-15 World View -- Mali hotel terror attack highlights al-Qaeda's strength in Africa

Terror groups compete for credit for Mali hotel attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Terror groups compete for credit for Mali hotel attack


Mali security officers show a jihadist flag that belonged to the hotel attackers (Reuters)
Mali security officers show a jihadist flag that belonged to the hotel attackers (Reuters)

A group of terrorist gunmen assaulted the Raddison Blu Hotel, a luxury hotel in Mali's capital city Bamako, on Friday morning, taking hundreds of hostages were taken. The hotel was hosting a Mali "peace process" conference, and so a number of diplomats were including among the hostages, along with numerous other guests and employees.

Malian troops swept through the hotel room by room, floor by floor, freeing hostages and pursuing the gunmen. They found the floors littered with the bodies of Malians and foreign visitors, including a Belgian government official. At least 20 people were killed.

At least two different terror groups have claimed responsibility on social media for the attack, Al Murabitoon and Ansar al-Din. Both of them are splinter groups associated with Al-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The fact that different groups are claiming credit on social media shows that, like many acts of terrorism including those in Paris this year, the terrorism has no strategic purpose other than as publicity and recruiting tools. CNN and Washington Post and Time

Mali hotel terror attack highlights al-Qaeda's strength in Africa

Despite claims by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) to be a worldwide caliphate, Friday's attack in Mali shows that not only is al-Qaeda far from dead, but in fact may be getting energized by the recent successes of ISIS.

According to a US military assessment, ISIS has little or no influence in West Africa, as compared to al-Qaeda. According to Army Gen. David Rodriguez, chief of U.S. Africa Command:

"The Islamic State does not have that kind of impact down in that area. [The Mali attackers are] probably someone associated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb because, again, that is where they have the reach."

According to Rodriguez, ISIS's influence in Africa is largely limited to Libya. However, ISIS is “creeping” into Egypt, primarily in the Sinai Peninsula, according to Rodriguez.

The ISIS-linked terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which has changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai), is believed to be responsible for the downing of Russia's Metrojet Flight 9268 passenger plane over Sinai in Egypt.

Apart from that, al-Qaeda linked terror groups are surging in Africa. In East Africa, the primary terror group is al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab, headquartered in Somalia, but recently reaching out into Kenya and Ethiopia.

But the "most deadly terrorist group in the world," is neither ISIS nor al-Qaeda. According to the Global Terrorism Index from the Institute for Economics and Peace it's Boko Haram, which has exceeded ISIS and all other groups in "murder, torture and rape," and in the number of terror-related deaths.

Boko Haram has waged an insurgency in Nigeria since 2009 in its bid to create a mini-state under Islamic law. It has forced at least 2.6 million people from their homes, killing at least 17,000 people and abducting hundreds, including the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok village in April last year that prompted an international outcry. As of April, a year after their kidnap, 219 of the Chibok schoolgirls remained missing. A group of around 50 managed to escape. Military Times and Sun News Online (Lagos) and Washington Post

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 21-Nov-15 World View -- Mali hotel terror attack highlights al-Qaeda's strength in Africa thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (21-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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20-Nov-15 World View -- Obamacare in death spiral as UnitedHealth announces pullout

New York Times: Obamacare's high deductibles make insurance all but useless

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

UnitedHealth warns of end to its Obamacare business


An Obamacare promotional banner from happier days (Teneshia LaFaye)
An Obamacare promotional banner from happier days (Teneshia LaFaye)

UnitedHealth Group, the country's largest health insurer, announced on Thursday that it was expecting to lose $600 million on Obamacare policies in 2016 from the health insurance exchange websites, and may terminate its Obamacare business by 2017.

This was a sudden turnabout for the company. It was just a month ago that the company had said in an earnings call that they expected to expand their Obamacare coverage in 2017. According to Dave Wichmann, president and CFO, on October 15:

"The annual care ratio is being modestly affected by the performance of our new [Obamacare] public exchange benefit programs which now served nearly 550,000 people. Like others we observe market-wide data this past spring that suggested the risk pool served by public exchanges would require more medical services than original expectations. Rather than wait for our own experience with our new members to fully developed, we increased rates and repositioned certain products market by market for 2016, and we expect improved performance next year. We will expand to 11 new markets in 2016, and we continue to expect exchanges to develop and mature over time into a strong viable growth market for us."

He went on to repeat his view that the increased rates meant increased profits: "[I]n the first half year, this year, we got industry data that suggested that the underlying use of medical services in that population was high and higher than we thought, and the good news is we use that information as the foundation for our 2016 pricing. So we put in strong price increases. Average increases across the country are in the double-digits. ... So as we look at our exchange business for 2016, ... we expect to see very nice improvement year-over-year."

However, despite the double-digit price increases for 2016, it now appears that UnitedHealth is going to lose a great deal of money in 2016, and this only became apparent in the last month. According to CEO Stephen J. Hemsley on Thursday:

"In recent weeks, growth expectations for individual [Obamacare] exchange participation have tempered industrywide, co-operatives have failed, and market data has signaled higher risks and more difficulties while our own claims experience has deteriorated, so we are taking this proactive step. We continue to be pleased with the growth and overall performance of our Company outside of the individual exchange products and look forward to strong, positive and broad based earnings growth across our enterprise in 2016."

Across the board, Obamacare premium prices are increasing 20.3% for 2016, but apparently that's not enough. Hemsley wanted to emphasize that the recent change in market data was across the industry, not just for UnitedHealth, suggesting that other insurance companies may wish to follow suit.

Obamacare appears to have entered an insurance industry "death spiral." Basically, too many sick people are signing up, and too few healthy people are doing so. This causes prices to surge, and that causes fewer healthy people to sign up. The death spiral continues until the insurance program collapse completely. The 20.3% price increase for 2016 is probably the cause of the current round of the Obamacare death spiral.

Obamacare's fate may now depend on whether other insurance companies follow UnitedHealth. According to analysts, insurers lost about $2.5 billion through Obamacare exchanges in 2014. But the other two large insurers, Aetna and Anthem, have made no comment on today's announcements, but in the past they've said they're willing to continue losing money on Obamacare for a few years. Minneapolis Star Tribune and Business Wire and Seeking Alpha (October 15) and Bloomberg

Obamacare versus Nixon's price controls

As long time readers are well aware (because I've repeated it many times), in July, 2009, when Obamacare was first announced, I wrote that Obama's health plan is a proposal of economic insanity. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls, and I predicted that it would just as much an economic disaster as Nixon's price controls.

In fact, since Obamacare was launched in October 2013, it's followed almost exactly the same trajectory as Nixon's price controls, in a similar time frame. Nixon's price controls were launched on August 15, 1971, with the objective of lowering the inflation rate from 4% to 2%.

When they were first launched, Nixon's price controls were extremely popular. The rules were initially simple, in that no prices could rise except for raw agricultural products. As one politician said, "Remember, Virginia, when it’s a cucumber you can raise the price, but when it becomes a pickle, it’s frozen." Otherwise, a business could only raise a price by filling out a form and getting Washington approval.

Two years later, prices of virtually all commodities -- foodstuffs, minerals and petroleum -- exploded, reaching historic highs. The inflation rate was 11% in 1973, two years after the price controls were launched. Nixon doubled down on his bad policy, and on June 13, 1973, he decreed a new price freeze. The administration said that the inflationary bubble of 1973 was expected to be a "temporary aberration" which would dissipate.

They didn't dissipate. The rules kept changing in the hope of bring inflation down, but it kept surging. The shortages of gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans and numerous other products, together with ruinous price increases, finally discredited price controls in the eyes of the American people, and they were allowed to expire on April 30, 1974, just less than three years after they began.

As I predicted in 2009, Obamacare followed almost exactly the same trajectory of the Nixon price controls after it was launched on October 1, 2013. Actually the Obamacare launch was much worse than the Nixon price control launch, because Nixon didn't have any management disaster similar to the Healthcare.gov web site. (See my August article, "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history", which I posted after months of extensive research.)

However, once the Healthcare.gov problems were relieved, it appeared to the general public in 2014 and early 2015 that Obamacare was working. In 1973, two years after launch, Nixon's price controls began to be in serious trouble, with severe shortages of commodities and skyrocketing prices.

Today, two years after its launch, Obamacare is in serious trouble. Most new patients are on Medicaid which is just as bad as being uninsured, and prices are exploding by 20.3% in 2016. Obamacare is in a death spiral, and if it continues to follow the same trajectory as Nixon price controls, then it will be so unpopular in 2016 that it will collapse completely.

At any rate, it's actually pretty amazing how closely the two parallel each other. Maybe there's some undiscovered law of economics that says that all hare-brained economic policies never last more than three years. Nixon's wage-price controls - Forty Years After The Freeze

New York Times: Obamacare's high deductibles make insurance all but useless

The Administration has been claiming the success of Obamacare because millions of previously uninsured people are now insured. As I've pointed out many times, this figure is a fraud, because the deductibles are so high that for most people Obamacare insurance is more expensive than no insurance at all, and so these people are effectively still uninsured.

The New York Times, whose reporters have been fawning lapdogs for President Obama and Obamacare, came out with an article this week saying that the high deductibles make Obamacare all but useless. The median deductible is about $5,000, meaning that the policy pays nothing unless the medical bills exceed $5,000. This means that the insurance is mainly for protection against a serious illness that could cause financial ruin.

The NYT article quotes several people saying things like, "The deductible, $3,000 a year, makes it impossible to actually go to the doctor. We have insurance, but can’t afford to use it." These are the sorts of stories that one could formerly only hear on Fox News.

It appears that Obamacare has lost the NY Times. Can it survive for long after that? Bloomberg and NY Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Nov-15 World View -- Obamacare in death spiral as UnitedHealth announces pullout thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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19-Nov-15 World View -- Rwanda's president Kagame becomes another leader refusing to leave office

Turkey soccer fans boo during moment of silence for Paris attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Turkey soccer fans boo during moment of silence for Paris attack


Greece’s players, left, and Turkey’s players, right, bow and observe a minute of silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks on Wednesday (AP)
Greece’s players, left, and Turkey’s players, right, bow and observe a minute of silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks on Wednesday (AP)

Turkish soccer fans booed and chanted "Allahu Akbar" [God is Great] during a moment of silence called in remembrance of last week's Paris attack. The moment of silence was help prior to a soccer game versus Greece. Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras watched the game together as a sign of reconciliation after centuries of bloody warfare.

It's not clear to me exactly what the Turkish fans were booing. Here are some possibilities:

Turkey and Greece drew with scores of 0-0 in the game. Today's Zaman (Istanbul) and Washington Post

Rwanda's president Kagame becomes another leader refusing to leave office

Rwanda's senate has unanimously approved a draft constitution that will allow the Tutsi president, Paul Kagame, to run for a third term, not permitted under the existing constitution. The new constitution will have to be approved by a referendum.

We've written in the past how this kind of situation has led to violence in other countries, in the period following a bloody generational crisis civil war:

This kind of power grab is typical of leaders who take power after the end of a bloody generational crisis civil war fought between ethnic groups. The leader claims that he's the only force preventing the violence of a new civil war which, from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, is utter nonsense. To the contrary, the power-grabbing leader becomes the cause of renewed violence.

Kagame's Hutu political opponents are certain to start protesting his decision to violate the existing agreement that ended the 1994 war between Hutus and Tutsis. The next step will be up to Kagame, who may follow the example of others and begin using violence to eliminate the peaceful protesters. Reuters and AFP

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 19-Nov-15 World View -- Rwanda's president Kagame becomes another leader refusing to leave office thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (19-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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18-Nov-15 World View -- Brussels, Belgium, has become the center for European terror

Hong Kong 'boos' China with paper signs at soccer match

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Hong Kong 'boos' China with paper signs at soccer match


Hong Kong fans hold signs and banners saying 'BOO' and 'Hong Kong is not China' at Tuesday's match (Reuters)
Hong Kong fans hold signs and banners saying 'BOO' and 'Hong Kong is not China' at Tuesday's match (Reuters)

Hong Kong and China, playing in Hong Kong's Mong Kok stadium on Tuesday, played to a 0-0 draw in a qualifying round for the FIFA Football (Soccer) World Cup to be played in Russia in 2018. But that wasn't the big news.

The big news was that Hong Kong fans, having been ordered by the Hong Kong Football Association not to boo the Chinese national anthem when it is played, found a way to defy the order. When China's national anthem was played, they sat silently, but held up signs reading "BOO". Other banners declared "Hong Kong is not China.

Ironically, Hong Kong's national anthem is the same as China's national anthem, ever since Hong Kong was return to China from British rule in 1997. So Hong Kong fans were actually booing their own national anthem. And when FIFS fund the Hong Kong Football Association the last time, they were actually sanctioning Hong Kong for jeering at their own national anthem.

The stadium is in the dense, working-class Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, which during the so-called Umbrella Revolution pro-democracy movement protests last year was the scene of violent clashes between police, demonstrators, and pro-Beijing counter-protesters. Three key city intersections were crippled for more than two months. The protests ended in a clear victory of Beijing over the Hong Kong protesters, and tensions have continued to simmer since the protests ended.

The Chinese Football Association added to the resentment when it was accused of racism for releasing a publicity poster describing Hong Kong's players as "black-skinned, yellow-skinned and white-skinned" – a dig at the team's contingent of naturalized foreign-born players.

The 0-0 draw was a stinging defeat for the China team, which needed a victory to avoid being eliminated from the World Cup. At best, China will now have to struggle to be among the four best runners-up. Sydney Morning Herald and WSJ Blogs

Netherlands – Germany football match cancelled after 'concrete threat'

A friendly football (soccer) match between Netherlands and Germany was canceled on Tuesday, after authorities received a 'concrete threat" of a terrorist attack during the game. There was "concrete danger for all Hannover," and "indications" that there were "serious plans to blow something up," according to the police.

After the stadium was evacuated, it was searched, a no bombs were found. Dutch News

Brussels, Belgium, has become the center for European terror

The neighborhood of Molenbeek in Brussels, which is both the capital city of Belgium and the capital of the European Union, has entered the world spotlight following the jihadist attack in Paris last week.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind behind the Paris attacks, is from the Molenbeek neighborhood, and at least one further perpetrators came from there.

Other recent terrorist events can be traced back to the Belgian capital. Mehdi Nemmouche, who in May 2014 killed four people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, had been staying in the suburb of Molenbeek. Early in 2015 in the Belgian town of Verviers the Belgian police dismantled a terrorist group with links to Molenbeek. Ayoub el-Khazzani, who in August 2015 was planning to attack the Thalys train service from Amsterdam to Paris, got on the train in Brussels after staying in Molenbeek.

The perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last January didn't come from Molenbeek, but they did have links to Belgium. Police arrested 13 jihadists in Belgium and two even died in a shootout at the time.

The greater Brussels area has long been considered to be a hotbed for radical Islamists. There are several reasons why Brussels is vulnerable:

According to Noureddine Imnadine, a Moroccan-born architect:

"Many of us studied hard and did well, became architects, engineers, entrepreneurs, but nobody talks about that.

Now times are different, there's not so much work around for this younger generation, so you have these kids hanging around on the streets, feeling excluded, stigmatized, angry. We need a social framework for these kids, to get them engaged in work or in some activities to get them off the street."

Many Muslims who have become radicalized or received military training in Syria, and may even have been traumatized, are returning home from Syria without anyone checking on them whatsoever. It's a problem that is bigger in Belgium than anywhere else in Europe. Der Spiegel and Guardian (London) and PRI

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 18-Nov-15 World View -- Brussels, Belgium, has become the center for European terror thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (18-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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17-Nov-15 World View -- Anti-Muslim xenophobia surges in Europe and America

Paris attack significantly worsens Europe refugee crisis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

American politics becomes infused with anti-Muslim xenophobia


New York's World Trade Center displaying France's colors - blue, white and red
New York's World Trade Center displaying France's colors - blue, white and red

I'm well aware that there are people reading this who will be angry that the word "xenophobia" is even being used to refer to attitudes towards Muslims following the Paris attack. But I'm not judging anyone. I'm just reporting what's happening, based on Generational Dynamics analyses, and what's happening is a big surge in anti-Muslim xenophobia.

As we go deeper into this generational Crisis era, and the survivors of World War II are increasingly dead and gone, ethnic and religious fault lines are opening rapidly, and xenophobia in general is growing.

"Black lives matter" activists are furious that suddenly their pet cause has become irrelevant almost overnight. Positions taken last week by candidates running for president are becoming irrelevant. Even the holiest issue of all, climate change, may become irrelevant.

President Obama is planning to accept about 10,000 refugees from Syria in the next year. However on Monday, at least 23 state Governors, 22 of them Republican, announced that their states will not accept any Syrian refugees. Wisconsin's Republican governor Scott Walker said, "There may be those who will try to take advantage of the generosity of our country and the ability to move freely within our borders through this federal resettlement program, and we must ensure we are doing all we can to safeguard the security of Americans."

After years of hysteria over the NSA's collecting people's phone call lists, it's now becoming fashionable to talk about not only about collecting data, but every sharing it with other countries. CIA director John Brennan criticized the "hand-wringing" of the NSA data collection, and implied that one reason that the Paris attack was not discovered in advance was because of intelligence cutbacks, such as those resulting from "whistleblower" David Snowden:

"I do think this is a time for particularly Europe, as well as here in the United States, for us to take a look and see whether or not there have been some inadvertent or intentional gaps that have been created in the ability of intelligence and security services to protect the people that they are asked to serve. ...

And in the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that are taken that make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging. And I do hope that this is going to be a wake-up call, particularly in areas of Europe where I think there has been a misrepresentation of what the intelligence security services are doing by some quarters that are designed to undercut those capabilities."

On Monday, President Obama's former ambassador to Iraq and Turkey wrote that American ground forces are necessary:

"After almost 18 months of the Obama administration’s half-measures, it’s obvious that defeat of the Islamic State is not going to happen absent a first-class, mobile ground force being launched to mate with overwhelming air power. That ground force does not have to be large — the main U.S. assault force in the largest battle of the second Iraq war, Fallujah in 2004, counted only seven to eight battalions, with reinforcement and support, for a total of 7,000 to 8,000 troops. Nor does it have to be all American. French and other experienced Western troops could complement U.S. forces, as could effective Iraqi and Syrian formations. But without U.S. ground forces, none of this will take place. The Islamic State will hold together its “state,” and its counterattacks — as well as Iranian-Russian exploitation of the Islamic State for their own aggression — will destabilize much of Eurasia and expose the United States again to mass terrorist attacks."

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

I realize that many people reading this will welcome not only talk of exterminating the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), but also of going farther, exterminating all jihadists, or even all Arabs and Muslims. Many people can't tell the difference between an Arab and a Muslim anyway. If you feel that way, then from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, I can promise you that by the time the next war ends, if you even live to survive the war, then you'll live to regret what you wished for. Breitbart and USA Today and Guardian (London) and US News and Washington Post

Paris attack significantly worsens Europe refugee crisis

Xenophobia is also surging in Europe, especially since it emerged that one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks came from Syria among the thousands of refugees that arrive in Greece every day. Ahmad al Muhammad entered Greece on October 3. From there he moved to Macedonia, then Serbia and Croatia, where he registered in the Opatovac refugee camp. From there, he made his way to Paris, where he blew himself up on Friday.

Before the Paris attacks, there were many people stating strongly held fears that one million Muslim refugees would destroy the Christian way of life for 500 million Europeans. Now however, the fear is that the refugees would present a severe Paris-like security risk to the 500 million Europeans.

The debate is very sharp in Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, along the path that refugees take after entering Greece. Officials in these countries say that they're on heightened alert about possible jihadists in the crowds of refugees, though no one seriously believes that there's any reliable way of detecting them. But some political leaders and rights campaigners also issued warnings that the Paris attacks should not be directly linked to the refugee issue or used to stoke ethnic xenophobic hatred. According to one activist, “We are already facing serious hate speech, even hatred-driven incidents towards those who are helping refugees."

In France, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National (FN) political party, has demanded "the immediate halt of all intake of migrants in France." Le Pen expects to do very well in next month's regional elections in France.

France's Socialist president, François Hollande, began a speech on Monday to a a joint session of parliament in the Palace of Versailles that with the words "France is at war." He promised to exterminate ISIS and he concluded the 50-minute speech with, “We will eradicate terrorism." Lawmakers from all parties gave him a standing ovation and sang “La Marseillaise,” the national anthem.

La Marseillaise is an interesting song, written in 1792 during a generational crisis war, the bloody French Revolution. The song itself is extremely bloody:

"Do you hear in our fields the howling of those fearsome soldiers? They are coming into our arms, to slit the throats of your sons and wives. ... Form your battalions! March! March! And make their impure blood soak into our fields!"

This song fits very well at the conclusion of a speech declaring war on ISIS. CNN and Daily Mail (London) and Balkan Insight and Irish Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 17-Nov-15 World View -- Anti-Muslim xenophobia surges in Europe and America thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (17-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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16-Nov-15 World View -- France launches 'massive attack' on ISIS - 20 bombs

Beirut wonders why their terror bombing is less important than Paris's

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

France launches 'massive attack' on ISIS - 20 bombs


International arrest warrant for French citizen Salah Abdeslam, identified by French and Belgian police as a possible perpetrator of the Paris attacks
International arrest warrant for French citizen Salah Abdeslam, identified by French and Belgian police as a possible perpetrator of the Paris attacks

A day after the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) claimed responsibility for Friday's terror attack on Paris and France's president François Hollande called it an "act of war," France's warplanes have launched what officials are calling a "massive attack" on an ISIS stronghold in Syria.

The "massive attack" consisted of just 20 bombs dropped on a jihadi recruitment center, training camp and arms depot in Raqqa, the ISIS center. According to an analyst, "These are extremely precise airstrikes that are carried out after exhaustive legal processes required under French and international law."

However, despite thousands of airstrikes on ISIS by the US-led coalition in the last year, and claims by the Obama administration that ISIS has been "contained," intelligence analysts say that ISIS is still expanding and growing in strength. They estimate that ISIS gains about 1,000 fighters every month, young jihadists coming from more than 100 countries around the world. It's clear that airstrikes will not "contain" or stop the expansion of ISIS, which is something that analysts have been pointing out since the air campaign began.

ISIS has successfully conducted three major terrorist attacks in the last three weeks -- bombings in Beirut and Paris, and the downing of Russia's Metrojet Flight 9268. Before that, there was a large ISIS terror attack in Ankara, Turkey. As we wrote yesterday, political pressure is growing for from Europe, America and Russia.

There are increasing demands for Western ground forces to enter Iraq and Syria and fight ISIS. We assume that ISIS will be able to carry out further terrorist attacks, and when the next one comes, the political pressure for ground troops will only grow. As I heard one analyst say, "Boots on the ground eventually is going to happen." Independent (Ireland) and Sky News and Asia Times

Beirut wonders why their terror bombing is less important than Paris's

Two coordinated massive suicide bombings on Thursday struck a neighborhood of southern Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, killing dozens. The neighborhood was a Shia Muslim stronghold of Hezbollah, which was apparently the target. The bombs killed dozens and wounded hundreds, and were obviously designed to inflict as much carnage as possible.

But a day later, the Beirut bombings were completely forgotten internationally, as soon as the Paris bombings occurred. a bombing in Beirut was not nearly as newsworthy as a bombing in Paris. The Paris bombing has been covered in excruciating detail. As I'm typing this, I'm watching 60 Minutes where someone is describing how someone fell off a chair to the floor after being shot. There's no similar coverage for people who fell off chairs in Beirut. (World View attempted to provide some sort of parallel coverage: See "14-Nov-15 World View -- Paris and Beirut in shock and anger after massive terrorist attacks")

Even Facebook is ignoring Beirut. Facebook has a new "Safety Check" feature, where all you have to do is push a button to notify friends and family that you're safe after a terror attack. Facebook activated the feature for Paris, but not for Beirut.

I'm reminded of what happened after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January. There was worldwide minute-by-minute coverage of the aftermath of the attack, but almost no coverage of huge, horrific rampage in Nigeria that occurred at exactly the same time. ( "10-Jan-15 World View -- Up to 2000 Nigeria civilians killed in three-day Boko Haram massacre".)

The Beirut bombing could turn out to be extremely significant, because it may cause further destabilization in Lebanon. Lebanon already hosts about one million Syrian refugees, in a country of less than four million people. They laugh at the European Union's apoplexy over receiving a million refugees, but with a population of over 500 million people.

Lebanon security forces have arrested five Syrians and a Palestinian subject in the Beirut bombings. There may be a backlash against Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which could have ripple effects throughout the Mideast.

Even worse, the United Nations World Food Program may have to curtail its food aid to refugees in Lebanon for lack of money. According to Rashid Derbas, Lebanon's Minister of Social Affairs, "Do you know what could result from such a step? This simply means that 1 million people on Lebanese territory will be pushed to the edge of hunger. Do you know what that means?'" CS Monitor and Reuters and Time

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 16-Nov-15 World View -- France launches 'massive attack' on ISIS - 20 bombs thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (16-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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15-Nov-15 World View -- Paris attacks: Forces coalesce for greater Christian military intervention against ISIS

World reacts to Paris attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

World reacts to Paris attack


French people in Seoul, South Korea, light candles to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks (Reuters)
French people in Seoul, South Korea, light candles to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks (Reuters)

The so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has claimed responsibility for Friday's multiple coordinate terror attacks that killed 129 people.

France's president François Hollande has called it "an act of war," and promised a "merciless response to ISIS barbarians."

Britain's prime minister David Cameron has pledged to do "whatever we can to help." He has indicated that he would like to take further military action against ISIS, though Commons may not approve.

President Barack Obama spoke of "an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians" and called a meeting of his National Security Council.

Russia's president Vladimir Putin is under pressure to take further action against ISIS because of the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268 over Sinai in Egypt.

Forces in the Christian world are coalescing to attempt to use military action to destroy ISIS.

Since this is presumably exactly the reaction that ISIS was hoping for, one might reasonably ask why world leaders are doing exactly what ISIS wants.

There are many historical examples that ISIS could be thinking about, but the one that I always point to is the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979, where a massive, bloody war ended up with a repressive, hardline Muslim theocracy in power in Iran. That's a Shia theocracy, and as I've written many times, al-Qaeda has tried in many countries to repeat that process in other countries, with the objective of creating a Sunni Muslim theocracy in some other country. Now we see ISIS doing the same thing.

A lot more people are killed in Chicago on a continuing basis than are killed in terror attacks in France, but that kind of bloodshed in Chicago is simply ignored, And yet it's this and the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in Paris that may well lead to the all-out sectarian war in the Middle east that Generational Dynamics has been predicting, and that I've been writing about for twelve years. France 24 and Telegraph (London) and BBC and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 15-Nov-15 World View -- Paris attacks: Forces coalesce for greater Christian military intervention against ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (15-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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14-Nov-15 World View -- Paris and Beirut in shock and anger after massive terrorist attacks

Europe's Schengen zone is put at risk by Paris attack

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Lebanon's government in paralysis following Beirut terror attack


Site of the twin suicide attack on a suburb of Beirut on Thursday (European Press)
Site of the twin suicide attack on a suburb of Beirut on Thursday (European Press)

Lebanon on Friday was mourning the deaths of people killed by two massive suicide bombs in Beirut on Thursday. ( "13-Nov-15 World View -- ISIS claims credit for suicide attack on Hezbollah in Beirut Lebanon")

Unlike France, Lebanon cannot declare a state of emergency and close all its borders. In many ways, Lebanon is the epicenter of the proxy war in Lebanon, as Hezbollah has supplied thousands of fighters the last two years to support Syria's Shia/Alawite president Bashar al-Assad whose objective is to exterminate as many Sunni Muslims in Syria as possible.

Lebanon's government is almost in a state of paralysis, because the groups that respectively oppose and support Hezbollah can't agree on anything. The government can't even agree on a process for electing a new president, so the country has gone for months with no president.

In Lebanon, the political situation is so fractured that the country has been unable to elect a president for months. Hezbollah militias are fighting in Syria, but that's because Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is forcing them to, and, ironically, that's because Nasrallah's puppetmasters in Iran are forcing him to do so.

In Beirut, the paralyzed government has not been able to collect the garbage for almost four months. Residents are just dumping their garbage in the streets, since they have no other way to dispose of it. In the last couple of weeks, the rainy season has begun. Video showing uncollected garbage swept down a flooded street in Beirut recently went viral. There's a threat of polluted water, cholera and other diseases.

The attack was carried out two days before talks were set to begin in Vienna in a renewed international effort to find a political solution to the Syria conflict.

Thursday's sectarian bombing in Beirut exacerbates the sectarian tensions throughout the Mideast. The bombing killed 43 people and wounded hundreds, but across the Mideast thousands of people are killed every day in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and other areas of conflict. Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for all-out war. CNN and Naharnet (Lebanon) and VOA (6-Nov)

France closes borders in state of emergency after Paris attacks

At least 150 people were killed in a wave of coordinated bomb and gun attacks around Paris late Friday, continuing into Saturday morning. This was the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.

Gunmen and bombers attacked busy restaurants, bars and a concert hall at six locations around Paris on Friday evening, killing scores of people in what a shaken President François Hollande described as an unprecedented terrorist attack.

Unlike the Beirut attack, which was practically ignored in the West, the Paris attack is receiving hours of continuous and exclusive coverage of pretty much every Western news media outlet.

A Reuters witness heard five explosions outside the Bataclan music hall, where up to 118 people were estimated to be dead and reports said armed attackers had shot concertgoers one by one before elite police units stormed the building and killed four attackers.

France's president François Hollande announced a mass mobilization of security forces and a state of emergency for the entire country:

"As I speak, terrorist attacks of unprecedented proportions are underway in the Paris area. There are dozens killed. There are many injured. It is a horror.

We have, on my decision, mobilized all forces possible to neutralize the terrorists and make all concerned areas safe. I have also asked for military reinforcements.

They are currently in the Paris area to ensure that no new attack can take place.

I have also called a cabinet meeting that will be held in a few minutes.

Two decisions will be taken: A state of emergency will be declared, which means some places will be closed, traffic may be banned and there will also be searches which may be decided throughout [the Paris area].

A state of emergency will be proclaimed throughout the territory [of France].

The second decision I have made is to close the borders. We must ensure that no one enters to commit any crimes and that those who have committed the crimes that we have unfortunately seen can also be arrested if they should leave the territory.

This is a terrible ordeal which once again assails us. We know where it comes from, who these criminals are, who these terrorists are. ...

Faced with terror, France must be strong, it must be great and the state authorities must be firm. We will be."

Many people fear that there will be further attacks. After the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January of this year. Those attacks were followed additional attacks on a Jewish supermarket, and a similar situation is feared this time.

Hollande says that the borders are closed so that no one else can enter France to commit further crimes. It's not clear to me how long the border closings can be maintained, since there's supposed to be freedom of travel throughout Europe's Schengen zone, which includes France. There are something like 6,000 migrants entering the EU every day, and they can't be stopped any more than you can stop a tsunami. France 24 and Deutsche Welle and Global News

Europe's Schengen zone is put at risk by Paris attack

Early in the day on Friday, hours before the terror attack occurred in Paris, Austria announced that it will build a 3.7 kilometer fence along its border with Slovenia. This is the first time that a fence will have been erected between two members of Europe's Schengen zone.

France has responded to the attacks by closing all its borders, but it will be impossible to maintain that closure for long. The Paris attack is certain to encourage more countries to abandon Europe's prized open-border Schengen zone. EuroNews

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 14-Nov-15 World View -- Paris and Beirut in shock and anger after massive terrorist attacks thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (14-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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13-Nov-15 World View -- ISIS claims credit for suicide attack on Hezbollah in Beirut Lebanon

Commodities and stocks continue to plunge

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

ISIS claims credit for suicide attack on Hezbollah in Beirut Lebanon


Soldiers and civilians gather at site of Thursday's suicide bombing in Beirut (AP)
Soldiers and civilians gather at site of Thursday's suicide bombing in Beirut (AP)

Two coordinated suicide bombings on Thursday struck a neighborhood of southern Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. The neighborhood was a Shia Muslim stronghold of Hezbollah, which was apparently the target. The bombs killed dozens and wounded hundreds, and were obviously designed to inflict as much carnage as possible.

There was a string of terrorist bombings in Beirut targeting Hezbollah following the announcement on April 30, 2013, by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades and other al-Qaeda-linked terrorists claimed credit for one of those bombings.

However, those were the days before the rise of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Syria. Credit for Thursday's bombings was claimed by ISIS, and is presumed to be revenge for Hezbollah's military intervention into Syria.

However, it's not always clear what it means to say that ISIS claims credit for a terrorist bombing. ISIS also recently claimed credit for the recent downing Metrojet Flight 9268, the Russian passenger plane, over Egypt, saying that it was revenge for Russia's military intervention into Syria.

It still hasn't been officially confirmed that flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb, but if it was brought down by an ISIS bomb, then it was actually brought down by the terror group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM - Ansar Jerusalem - Champions of Jerusalem), which has conducted numerous attacks in Egypt's Sinai, along the border with Israel and Gaza. ABM was originally pledged to al-Qaeda, but last year it repudiated that allegiance and declared allegiance to ISIS. At that time it changed its name to Al Wilayat Sinai (Province of Sinai). BBC and AP and CNN

Commodities and stocks continue to plunge

As I wrote three days ago in "11-Nov-15 World View -- Global trade plunges as China's economy becomes deflationary", earnings and profits for Wall Street stocks have been falling sharply, as have indicators of global trade.

All of these factors continue to have their effects on Wall Street stock prices, which fell 1.4% on Thursday, the largest plunge in weeks. Stocks have fallen six out of the last seven days, though they have not yet fallen to the level that they reached in the huge slump that occurred in August.

It's a good idea to keep an eye on this situation. As I've been pointing out for years, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio is astronomically high, indicating a huge Wall Street stock market bubble that's going to burst at some point, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling to 3000 or lower by the time it's over. It's impossible to predict exactly when the panic will occur that will begin that collapse, and it's not certain that the deteriorating global financial situation will cause it at this time. But one thing that we can say is that when this panic finally occurs, it will almost certainly follow exactly this kind of global situation.

Because of plunging commodity prices, many analysts are predicting that stocks will continue to fall in the next few days. AP and Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 13-Nov-15 World View -- ISIS claims credit for suicide attack on Hezbollah in Beirut Lebanon thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (13-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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12-Nov-15 World View -- EU and African leaders clash amid accusations of 'Fortress Europe'

Arms race grows between Serbia and Croatia

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Arms race grows between Serbia and Croatia


Serb football (soccer) fans. For reasons of security, Serb fans were banned from Croatia home games versus Serbia in the World Cup qualifying competitions in 2013. (Croatia Week)
Serb football (soccer) fans. For reasons of security, Serb fans were banned from Croatia home games versus Serbia in the World Cup qualifying competitions in 2013. (Croatia Week)

Of the seven countries that formerly comprised Yugoslavia, Slovenia joined NATO in 2004 and Croatia in 2009, while Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia are aspiring members of Nato. On the other hand, Serbia has expressed no interest in membership in Nato, and it's a foreign policy objective of Russia to keep it that way.

Russia and Serbia have close ties that date back centuries. They're both Orthodox Christian countries, and they were allies in World War I, which was launched in 1914 when a Serb, Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his pregnant wife Sophie. Gavrilo Princip is still considered by Serbs to be a national Serb hero.

Neighboring Croatia, in cooperation with the US, recently launched a weapons procurement program that includes sixteen Kiowa combat helicopters and sixteen 240-millimeter ballistic missile launchers with a 200-mile range.

Russia is going to provide Serbia with weapons to maintain the balance of power. Russia has agreed to refurbish four Serbian Air Force MiG-29s and ten MiG-21s, and will provide Serbia with several state-of-the-art Mi-17 and Mi-171 helicopters.

According to Serbia's President Aleksander Vucic, "We are following what is happening in the region and will not allow a military imbalance." Jamestown

EU and African leaders clash amid accusations of 'Fortress Europe'

European and African leaders clashed on Wednesday at a summit meeting in Malta called to discuss the continuing flow of migrants from Africa to Europe. The summit was planned in April, just after 800 migrants traveling from Libya to Europe drowned after the boat provided by human traffickers sank. The two-day summit is proceeding anyway, even though the problem of migrants arriving by boat from Libya is being dwarfed by the arrival of some 650,000 people, mostly Syrians, via Turkey and Greece.

The position of the African leaders is that the main problem is that the European Union does not provide enough ways for migrants to come to Europe and remain legally.

According to African Union chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma:

"We have to industrialize and modernize our continent otherwise young people will continue to go elsewhere. ... The problem we are facing today is in part because some countries in Europe have taken a fortress approach."

In other words, when the day comes that Africa is as economically prosperous as Europe, then there won't be a problem. But until that day arrives, if ever, then the problem is that "Fortress Europe" is preventing African migrants from staying in Europe.

One EU administrator agreed that most migrants are coming to Europe for economic reasons:

"There is no secret that the Africans are looking for opportunity for legal migration, work permits and these kinds of things, while the Europeans are focusing more on returns and readmission."

However, EU negotiators have different objective: so-called "return and readmission agreements" that provide a way for the EU to deport people back to their home countries. According to Belgium's prime minister Charles Michel:

"We believe we must both combat illegal immigration, combat traffickers, we believe we must also progress in the field of return and readmission policies. In exchange, the European countries must be mobilized for more economic development support, humanitarian support, and also more support to allow for, as an example, exchanges of students to enable the exchange of researchers, which is also important for the future."

As a carrot, the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, is setting up a €1.8-billion "trust fund" for Africa. However, no agreement was reached on the conflicting objectives.

France's president François Hollande singled out Eritrea for particular criticism, as the country providing the most migrants fleeing to Europe:

"Nobody is talking about it. It is a country that is becoming empty of its own population with unscrupulous leaders who let their people go."

Hollande called for Eritrea "maximum pressure" to be applied to the country's leaders to mend the situation.

Malta is an appropriate place to be holding the two-day summit, as it's a tiny island in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the North African coast. AFP and EU Observer (4-Nov) and VOA

Sweden, Slovenia and Denmark take steps to block the migrant flow

Sweden, which had formerly been welcoming to migrants fleeing from the war in Syria announced on Wednesday that it would close its borders and impose border controls. In the past, most migrants seeking asylum have headed to Germany or Sweden, the two countries regarded as the most welcoming.

According to Sweden's Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, the purpose of closing the borders is to motivate other EU countries:

"Our signal to the EU is crystal clear: Sweden is the country that has taken the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis. The other countries have to take their responsibility."

Slovenia began erecting a razor-wire fence along its border with Croatia Wednesday as dozens of refugees staged a hunger strike in a Czech Republic detention center. Army trucks laden with wire fencing began constructing the fence along Slovenia's Croatian border. Reuters reported about 1.2 miles of fencing had been erected by 6:30 a.m. EST.

In the past, migrants would travel from Turkey to Greece, and then through Macedonia and Serbia, before crossing over into Hungary, with Germany the objective. When Hungary closed its borders a few weeks ago, Serbia diverted the flow of migrants into Slovenia, through which they could also travel to Germany. But now Slovenia is taking the same steps that Hungary took, and is closing its own border with Serbia.

The flow of migrants has not slowed with the approach of winter, with thousands of new migrants arriving every day. The nightmare humanitarian disaster that many people fear is that tens of thousands of migrants will be trapped at a border crossing with no food or shelter as winter temperatures fall.

Denmark on Wednesday announced plans to make it easier to deport migrants who have no legal grounds for staying. According to Denmark's Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen:

"The pressure is usually lighter in the winter, but the opposite is happening now. Countries around us are tightening conditions. ... For that reason as well we need to take another step in Denmark if we want to protect Denmark."

An opposition party leader lauded the move: "The government has finally come to the conclusion that the current situation is not sustainable for Denmark." Malta Independent and International Business Times

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Nov-15 World View -- EU and African leaders clash amid accusations of 'Fortress Europe' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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11-Nov-15 World View -- Global trade plunges as China's economy becomes deflationary

Price/earnings index surges as earnings and profits contract

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Price/earnings index surges as earnings and profits contract


S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio surges to 23.41 in last two weeks from 10/23 to 11/6, indicating a rapidly enlarging stock market bubble. (WSJ)
S&P 500 Price/Earnings ratio surges to 23.41 in last two weeks from 10/23 to 11/6, indicating a rapidly enlarging stock market bubble. (WSJ)

Companies listed in the S&P 500 index are looking at the third straight quarter of steep profit contraction. Third quarter profits fell about 15% from a year ago.

It is the third consecutive quarter in which earnings per share have fallen. In the second quarter, earnings contracted by 16%. In the first quarter, they fell 12.8%.

Sales numbers have also been consistently down, contracting down about 4%, falling in every quarter this year.

The result is that the S&P 500 price/earnings index has been surging. According to Friday's Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 Price/Earnings index (stock valuations index) on Friday morning (November 6) was at 23.41. The last time I posted it was just a couple of weeks ago, when it was 22.07 on October 23. In just two weeks, it went from an astronomically high 22.07 to a super-astronomically high 23.41, thanks to the plunging profits and earnings.

This is far above the historical average of 14, indicating that the stock market is in a huge bubble that could burst at any time. Generational Dynamics predicts 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. WSJ blogs

China's import and export trade volumes plummet as deflation takes hold


People's Bank of China
People's Bank of China

Overseas shipments from China dropped 6.9% in October, a much bigger decline than expected. Even bigger was the 18.8% plunge in imports from other countries into China. The sharp decline in imports to and exports from the world's second-biggest economy and "the economic engine of the world" is a sign of collapsing global trade, something that last happened in 2008 along with the financial crisis of that time.

At the same time, deflation is taking hold in China. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.3% in October, below the 1.5% that economists expected. But the biggest deflationary signal was the producer price index (PPI), representing prices paid by factories for commodities or components -- that plunged 5.9%, its 44th straight monthly decline.

Many economists say that these figures will motivate China's central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), to "print" a lot more money by means of massive quantitative easing (QE). Pouring money into the economy will supposedly end deflation, cause inflation, and stimulate growth. However, that hasn't worked when it was tried in the past. The main effect of China's QE was to feed into China's three huge bubbles: a credit bubble, a real estate bubble, and a stock market bubble. Some of these bubbles have already started bursting in recent months, and the PBOC will try to blow these bubbles up again.

Changes in China's economy affect economies around the world, including the American economy. U.S. import prices fell 0.5% in October, after falling 0.6% in September, much farther than economists expected. China is said to be "exporting deflation" to the United States.

There are several reasons why U.S. import prices are falling. The deflationary trend in China, especially in the PPI, is one reason. Second, global oil prices and other energy prices have been falling sharply, and that affects almost everything.

The third reason is that with China and other nations devaluing their currencies through QE, the US dollar has been getting stronger and stronger, allowing an American using dollars to purchase more foreign goods than before, at lower prices as measured in dollars. Deflation trends are occurring in many countries, including America, and deflation tends to strengthen a currency domestically. But with other countries using QE, the dollar is also getting stronger internationally, compared to other currencies. Bloomberg and LiveMint (India) and Business Insider (9-Jul)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 11-Nov-15 World View -- Global trade plunges as China's economy becomes deflationary thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (11-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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10-Nov-15 World View -- Catalonia parliament votes to secede from Spain

Israel's Netanyahu promises Obama to implement two-state solution

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Catalonia parliament votes to secede from Spain


Marta Rovira votes for secession from Spain in Catalonia's parliament on Monday (Getty)
Marta Rovira votes for secession from Spain in Catalonia's parliament on Monday (Getty)

Spain faces a new governing crisis after the parliament of Catalonia voted on Thursday to "open a process" to secede from spain within 18 months.

Spain's prime minister Mariano Rajoy said that an appeal will be made Constitutional Court to invalidate the vote, adding "I understand that many Spaniards have had a bellyful of this continued attempt to delegitimize our institutions." However, the Catalan politicians say that they will disobey Constitutional Court rulings. Irish Times and Reuters

Israel's Netanyahu promises Obama to implement two-state solution

For years, every event related to the Mideast "peace process" has been bizarre in some way, and Monday's was no exception.

Visiting Washington, Israel's president Benjamin Netanyahu said the following to president Barack Obama:

"I want to make clear that we have not given up our hope for peace. We will never give up our hope for peace.

I remain committed to a vision of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state. I don’t think that anyone should doubt Israel’s determination to protect itself and defend itself against terror and destruction. But neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors who want to make peace with it."

It's bizarre because the fact that it was even necessary to say that there is a "hope for peace." This was necessary because of the intense personal hatred between Obama and Netanyahu, as reflected by unofficial remarks that occasionally leak out from either administration. A member of Netanyahu's cabinet was recently reported to have said that Obama is anti-Semitic, which he and other Netanyahu administration members undoubtedly believe. And the Obama administration has frequently leaked accusations that Netanyahu personally is fully to blame for not reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians, which is why Netanyahu chose to make the statement about "hope for peace."

When you zoom out to look at the entire "peace process," the desire for the two-state solution -- "a vision of two states for two peoples," as Netanyahu put it -- is even more bizarre.

In May 2003, president George Bush published his "Mideast Roadmap to Peace" calling for the two-state solution -- a Palestinian state by 2005, side by side with Israel. The plan was sponsored by the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. It provided a series of steps for both sides to follow, mostly having to do with eliminating violence against both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. The solution was to be implemented by 2005.

The 2003 plan was a adaptation of a Clinton administration plan. Since 2003, President Bush's plan has been tweaked in various ways by both the Bush and Obama administrations, and presented each time as a new plan that would bring peace to the Mideast and joy to the world. And it's failed each time.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realize it's never going to work, and that trends in the Mideast are going towards war, not a peace process. In recent years, wars have begun in Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq; the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has risen in Syria, and has spread to other countries in the Mideast Northern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Russia's Caucasus provinces. The new "Oslo Generation" of young Palestinians is using knives for random attacks on Israelis, and they declare that they have no use for their own leadership. Anyone can see that trend is away from a "peace process" towards war.

In 2003, there might have been some real hope that a peace deal could be achieved, but today, no one who follows the news could seriously believe that there's any chance the peace process would succeed. In fact, a White House spokesman said last week that the administration now believes that no peace deal will be reached before Obama leaves office:

"This is really the first time since the first term of the Clinton administration where we have an administration that faces a reality where the prospect of a negotiated two-state solution is not in the cards for the time that’s remaining. That was not the case until now."

Well, this is unusual - the Obama administration "facing reality," and saying so. And that makes Netanyahu's statement on Monday even more bizarre, since "a vision of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state" reflects no reality whatsoever. USA Today and McClatchy

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 10-Nov-15 World View -- Catalonia parliament votes to secede from Spain thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (10-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement

The coming regime change in Iran

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement


Women hold anti-U.S.  banners commemorating Iran's 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran (Reuters)
Women hold anti-U.S. banners commemorating Iran's 1979 attack on the U.S. embassy in Tehran (Reuters)

The signing of the nuclear deal with the West has apparently been the trigger launching Iran into a growing political crisis between the "hardliners," generally represented by survivors of the 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, and the "moderates," generally the generations growing up since the Revolution.

Almost all Iranians favor the nuclear deal (the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" or JCPOA), but mainly because it means that the Western sanctions will be lifted and the economy will improve. This leads to today's core political conflict in Iran:

Iran's president Hassan Rouhani, who is considered a moderate, responded last week to Khamenei's additional requirements by making a kind of weasel-worded statement that the “fulfillment of the opposing party’s commitments” will be monitored with “complete vigilance" and that the Supreme National Security Council will “adopt the appropriate decision for the proper course of action” while monitoring the implementation. Rouhani added that the U.S. and the EU have provided “written and formal” guarantees of the complete lifting of all economic and financial sanctions.

As we wrote last week, Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran's Expediency Council and the political rival of Iranian Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, was supporting Rouhani's position and was laying the groundwork for a rebellion against Khamenei over the nuclear agreement.

Hossein Shariatmadari, managing editor of conservative news outlet Kayhan, struck back by saying that Rouhani's administration is not “serious” about implementing the nuclear deal according to Khamenei’s expressed recommendations.

There's really no middle path through these core differences. Iran's hardliners have reacted strongly and critically to reports, apparently untrue, that the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has already started dismantling centrifuges under the deal, but this is just one example of vitriolic arguments that are arising. As new deadlines approach, the differences will become more explicit. AEI Iran Tracker (22-Oct) and AEI Iran Tracker (28-Oct) and AEI Iran Tracker (3-Nov)

Iran arrests journalists for allowing U.S. 'infiltration network'

Last week, Iranians rallied to celebrate the anniversary of the 1979 attack on the American embassy in Tehran, and taking hostages. At that celebration, the crowds changed "Death to America!", and Iran's hardliners coined the phrase "infiltration network" to describe the treason of allowing American ideas and products to infiltrate Iran's society.

Once again, this appears to be driven by the nuclear deal, which many conservative Iranian hardliners bitterly oppose. Allowing the infiltration of American ideas is interpreted as supporting the nuclear agreement without imposing Khamenei's new conditions requiring the immediate permanent cancellation of all sanctions. Demanding the immediate cancellation of all sanctions is a tool being used by the hardliners to get the deal completely scuttled.

The hardliners have arrested several journalists, as well as dissident writers and artists, on charges of supporting the "infiltration network." However, president Hassan Rouhani has infuriated the hardliners by saying:

"Let us not go and arrest one person here, another there, based on an excuse and without any reason, and then make up a case and aggrandize it, and finally say this is an infiltration movement."

According to Mehdi Khalaji, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the hardliners are now going to crack down hard on Rouhani:

“This is the beginning of Rouhani’s end. What we’ll now see, inside and outside the country, is an Iran that will pursue a more adversarial policy while the nice, smiling face of Iran is going to fade."

Khalaji's prediction is possible, but extremely unlikely in a generational Awakening era. Whether Rouhani survives or not, what's far more likely is that the political conflict will increase, as it did in America's last generational Awakening era in the 1960s.

A generational Awakening era is always political battle between the older generation of traumatized survivors of the last generational crisis war versus the younger generations that grow up after the war ends. As the older generations retire and die off, the younger generations take charge and win the political battles. It seems to me that the hardliners cannot win this current battle, since that would mean scuttling the nuclear deal completely. Business Insider (4-Nov) and Reuters (4-Nov) and AEI Iran Tracker (5-Nov) and Reuters

The coming regime change in Iran

Ten years ago I predicted, based on a Generational Dynamics analysis, that Iran would become America's ally. At the time, that prediction seemed insane, so it's been astonishing to see Iran move step by step in that direction during the last five years.

For this article, I wanted to go more deeply in the reasoning behind that prediction ten years ago. In order to do that, I went back through my archive of news articles that I've cut, pasted and saved (currently totally about 80,000 articles since the 1990s) to find some news articles about Iran that influenced me.

Here are some excerpts from a Washington Times article that appeared on July 11, 2002, about ten months after 9/11:

"Iranians Stage Pro-American Protest Against Ayatollahs

"Death to the Islamic Republic, the Taliban of Tehran." This is the challenge tens of thousands of Iranians chanted to their government yesterday, marking the third anniversary of peaceful demonstrations that left students lying dead outside of their dormitories. The United States should listen to what the people within Iran are demanding since it may affect the outcome of our war against terrorism.

The U.S. war against terrorism is about rolling back Islamic fundamentalism. The enemies of America are not ordinary Muslims living in Tehran, Istanbul, Baghdad or Dearborn. Those who wish to see us dead are the self-proclaimed radical Islamists who have been inspired, supported and funded by the Islamic Republic of Iran, among others, for more than 23 years. If the United States is interested in winning the war against terrorism, then it must pay attention to what happened in Iran yesterday because, for the first time in 23 years, the people of Iran are taking the lead in exposing the bankruptcy of Islam as a form of governance."

The article is referring to July 9, 2009, when tens of thousands of Iranian college students held anti-government protests for six days. Iran's security forces brutally massacred the students, killing many of them, and the protests spread to cities across the country. The above article is about new protests being held on the 3rd anniversary of those protests.

The next year, the government took some steps to contain the fourth anniversary of the 1999 massacre. This article is from the Iran Press Service, dated June 23, 2003:

"Iran Bans Off Campus Protests

TEHRAN — The Iranian government said on Tuesday that it would not allow any protests meeting to be held in the future outside universities.

Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, the official spokesman for the government said, in answer to questions concerning the anniversary of the student's anti-regime revolt of July 9, 1999, "no further demonstrations would be allowed outside universities' campuses."

"The Interior Ministry is opposed to any gathering outside university campuses and no permit has been issued by the government for holding special commemoration meetings, Ramezanzadeh stated, adding that however, the government "will not interfere in any gathering held inside universities." ...

Ramezanzadeh said the government and many students were still "dissatisfied" since the masterminds of the July 9, 1999 disaster have not been properly dealt with."

"We expect that those behind recent events and the culprits involved in the 9 July 1999 crimes, irrespective of their factional affiliation, are confronted," he added, quoted by the official news agency IRNA."

Here's another article from my archives, from the LA Times on July 2, 2003:

"Iran Shuts Out Porn, Dissent Web Sites

TEHRAN — Iran is blocking access to Web sites containing pornographic material and dissent against the country's Islamic establishment, an official said Tuesday.

More than 140 Web sites promoting dissent, dancing and sex have been blocked since the crackdown began last month, said Farhad Sepahram, a Telecommunications Ministry official.

Religious hard-liners are increasingly worried about Iranians' access to information from the outside world, apparently concerned that communications are playing a role in stirring reform sentiment such as the recent anti-government protests by young people.

Sepahram said most of the blocked Web sites belong to opposition groups. They include one run by Reza Pahlavi, son of the late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was toppled by the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and one by Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, Iran's first elected president after 1979 who now opposes the cleric-dominated establishment.

Also blocked are the Voice of America's Persian-language service and radiofarda.com, a U.S.-financed Persian-language audio program."

So how did I know ten years ago that Iran was going to become America's ally? It was because reading all these articles, and others like them, made it clear that what was going on in Iran was the same as what went on in America in the 1960s.

In America's Awakening era in the 1960s, we had girls burning their bras, marches on Washington, violence in the streets of Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit, and student anti-war protests. These are the kinds of things that are typical of any society 20-30 years after the end of a generational crisis war. Student protests are particular common during these eras because the represent the rise of the first post-war generation.

It was just like that in Iran ten years ago. So I could see that many college students were protesting against the hardliners, and were pro-American and pro-Western. (They didn't like America's 2003 ground invasion of Iraq, and they didn't like President Bush's characterization of "Axis of Evil," but they were still pro-American because they really hated their own government more than anything else.)

And now, of course, those college students are 30-40 years old, and have moved into positions of power, as I knew ten years ago that they would. Today, they're the reporters who write the news stories and are being accused of supporting an "infiltration network" (a phrase that they undoubtedly think is hilarious), and they're the scientists working in the nuclear plants.

America's Awakening era finally climaxed in 1974 with the resignation of Richard Nixon, resulting in a victory of the younger generation over the older generation. Iran is headed in the same direction. The Watergate issue triggered the political coup that ousted Richard Nixon, and it's possible that the nuclear deal may be the trigger for the eventual coup that ousts Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei and the other older generation hardliners.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 9-Nov-15 World View -- Political crisis in Iran grows over nuclear agreement thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (9-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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8-Nov-15 World View -- Nepal turns to China as border tensions with India increase

Six months later, Nepal earthquake survivors face winter without shelter

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Six months later, Nepal earthquake survivors face winter without shelter


Nepalese students wait for school bus in front of a collapsed house (AP)
Nepalese students wait for school bus in front of a collapsed house (AP)

Six months have now passed since the two massive earthquakes that struck Nepal on April 25 and May 12. More than 8,800 people were killed, and 600,000 homes were flattened. Millions of people were left with inadequate food, clean water and shelter.

The earthquake generated an international rush to provide aid to the victims. More than $4 billion was donated in the aftermath.

Now the international community has forgotten the earthquake. Each affected household had been promised $2,000 in aid, but has received only about $150, barely enough for food. There's no aid for clothing and shelter to get through the winter.

The earthquake came at a time when the government is in a state of almost total paralysis, because of a constitutional transition from a Hindu monarchy to a secular republic, which itself triggered massive demonstrations and economic blockades by the Madhesis, a mostly Hindu ethnic group in Nepal's Tarai region on the border with India.

In other words, it's been one disaster after another. Already one of the poorest countries in the world, almost every sector of Nepal's economy has been cratering. Because of the unavailability of many goods, inflation has been rampant, as the unemployment rate has reached 40%. Kathmandu Post and Australia News

Nepal turns to China as border tensions with India increase

On September 17, Nepal's Constituent Assembly adopted a new constitution that replaced the Hindu monarchy with a secular republic, and which marginalized the Madhesis, a mostly Hindu ethnic group living in Nepal's Tarai region on the border with India.

This triggered massive demonstrations by the Madhesis, who blockaded the truck traffic passing between India and Nepal starting on September 24. In particular, this cut off the only source of imports of petroleum and cooking gas to Nepal, as well as many other goods. There are presently over 6,900 trucks and containers stuck at border points that the two countries share. Without petroleum, major sectors of the economy have been shutting down, including manufacturing, transportation and farming.

Attempts by the Nepali security forces to reopen the borders have been met with violence, with Nepal police sometimes firing into the crowd. Dozens of people have been killed.

In a significant development, China has agreed to provide 1.3 million liters of fuel to Nepal, with 144,000 liters having already arrived. These are the first-ever supplies of oil from China, and the move effectively ends India's monopoly over fuel supplies to Nepal. India Times and VOA

Nepal blames India for economic border blockade

The blockade on the border between Nepal and India began as a protest by the Madhesi ethnic group, but as the blockade worsened, Nepal's government began accusing the government of India's president Narendra Modi of supporting and even participating in the blockade, something that Modi vehemently denies.

There's no doubt that Modi strongly opposes Nepal's new constitution, and may even feel betrayed. Shortly after coming to power, Modi visited Nepal in August 2014, and was warmly received by the entire population. India was the first country to help Nepal when the earthquake struck in May. But the relationship soured quickly when the new constitution was passed.

The mostly-Hindu Madhesis constitute about 40% of Nepal's population. The new constitution contains clauses specifically designed to limit the Madhesis' representation in the new parliament to around 10%. Furthermore, the new constitution contains clauses that are ethnically offensive, such as denying citizenship to many Madhesis and their children.

As the date approached to vote on the new constitution, Modi lobbied the Nepal government make several changes, such as to restore the wording of the old constitution that calls for "proportional inclusion" in the government, and to permit citizenship by birth of naturalization. When the new constitution was passed with none of these changes, the border blockades began.

According to one Nepalese journalist:

"India is playing with fire. Instead of encouraging the Madhesis it should calm tempers and ensure that this problem is resolved amicably. It is not something that cannot be worked on and solved to the satisfaction of all. New Delhi will be blamed if the situation takes an uglier turn."

As things stand, the border blockades have been getting worse, with no end in sight. Kathmandu Post and First Post and Catch News (India) and Indian Express

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 8-Nov-15 World View -- Nepal turns to China as border tensions with India increase thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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7-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey prepares for winter war with both PKK and ISIS

Burundi follows the genocidal path of Mugabe's Zimbabwe

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Burundi follows the genocidal path of Mugabe's Zimbabwe


Burning barricades in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city (UN)
Burning barricades in Bujumbura, Burundi's capital city (UN)

Bodies are piling up in Bujumbura, the capital city of Burundi, and now Welly Nzitonda, the son of a prominent human rights defender Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa was found dead in the streets on Friday. It's believed that these people were killed by government security forces under orders of the Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza.

Burundi and Rwanda fought an extremely bloody civil war between ethnic Tutsis and Hutus in the 1990s, climaxing in 1994 when close to one million Tutsis were killed by Hutus in a three-month period. Nkurunziza took office in 2005, and has served for two terms, which is the maximum allowed under the country's constitution, written during the post-war Recovery era with the intention of preventing another civil war.

The current round of violence began in April when Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, in apparent violation of the constitution. Young people, mostly Tutsis, began protesting, and were met by police shooting bullets, tear gas and water cannon. Within weeks, tens of thousands of people had fled their homes and sought refuge in neighboring Rwanda or Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Many people fear a return to full-scale violence between Hutus and Tutsis, as in the 1990s. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, that's impossible, since there are too many survivors of that horrific genocide still alive to ever allow it to happen again.

Prior to the 1990s, Hutus and Tutsis had lived together, intermarried, and had their children play with each other. When the 1994 genocide occurred, a Hutu might pick up a machete, go to the Tutsi home next door, or down the street, murder and dismember the man and children, rape the wife and then murder and dismember her. Almost a million Tutsis were killed.

What's going on in Burundi today is quite different. The violence today is coming from the politicians, not from the people. Nobody is picking up a machete and killing the family next door. What is happening is that, apparently, government security forces are going around killing anyone who opposes the government.

Several days ago, I wrote a long analysis of the different types of civil wars. What's happening in Burundi today is that the crisis civil war between Hutus and Tutsis ended, and now the Hutu leaders are using violence to stay in power, allegedly because they fear a return to civil war.

Nkurunziza has not yet resorted to full scale genocidal violence against his political opponents, but he's on that path, and may be using Zimbabwe and the savage monster Robert Mugabe as models. Mugabe's 1984 pacification campaign was known as "Operation Gukurahundi" (The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rain). During that campaign, accomplished with the help of Mugabe's 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, tens of thousands of people, mostly from the Ndebele tribe, were tortured and slaughtered. Later, Mugabe single-handedly destroyed the country's economy by driving all the white farmers off the farms, resulting in one of the biggest hyperinflation episodes in world history.

Nkurunziza hasn't gone that far, but he's on that path. Unless he's willing to give up his third term is president, it's pretty clear that the demonstrations will increase and the violence will increase. AFP and AP (1-Oct) and United Nations

Turkey's PKK militants end ceasefire after Erdogan vows to 'liquidate' them

The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group in Turkey issued a statement on Thursday ending a unilateral ceasefire that they called in early October.

The PKK statement said that they had hoped that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan would soften his position towards the PKK once his party had won last week's parliamentary relation. Instead, Erdogan followed the election by saying that the war against the PKK would continue until they all surrender.

On Thursday of this week, Erdogan gave a strident speech renewing the threats of violence until every last militant was "liquidated."

The PKK statement referred to Erdogan's governing AKP party:

"Prior to the election, we took a decision for a cessation of action. Despite all the attacks, we maintained this resolve, with one-sided patience. No doubt the fate of this decision of ours was going to be dependent on the stance of the Turkish state. The behavior of the AKP government, and the attacks that have been carried out, have made it plainly clear that the unilateral cessation of action cannot be maintained. Consequently, with the AKP's war policy and the attacks that have taken place, the unilateral cessation of action has ended."

On Friday, Turkey's army says that it killed at least 31 PKK terrorists in southeastern Turkey Anadolu Agency (Turkey) and Reuters

Turkey plans major winter operations against both ISIS and PKK

In addition to continued war against the PKK, Turkey plans major winter operations against the the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

According to Turkey's Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu, the war against PKK will be fought with the help of the civilian Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is separate from the PKK, and which has helped to protect many Christian and other refugees in Iraq:

"The occupation of one third of Iraq, and also vast areas of Syria, by Daesh [ISIS] has undoubtedly created one of the most serious challenges.

It has threatened our security and, although the Daesh advance has been checked with the support of the international effort which we are a part of, the threat is far from over.

As before, Turkey stands together with Iraq and the KRG in the fight against [ISIS]. We are determined to continue our military and humanitarian assistance that has started from the very beginning of the crisis. As a country that has suffered immensely from terrorism for so many years and one that hosts more than 2 million refugees, no other country understands the undue burden that 1.7 million IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees, as well as the war effort against [ISIS], creates on the KRG.

Rest assured that Turkey is steadfast in its support for Iraq and the KRG in the fight against terrorism. We will continue our assistance to ease the suffering of so many IDPs and refugees, who have become victims of a vicious terrorist organization."

ISIS is believed to have been behind recent large suicide bombings in Ankara and Suruç, targeting Kurds. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Istanbul)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 7-Nov-15 World View -- Turkey prepares for winter war with both PKK and ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (7-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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6-Nov-15 World View -- Obamacare prices skyrocketing in 2016, as I predicted in 2009

Kentucky's new governor Matt Bevin promises to end Obamacare abuses

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Doctors prepare to strike UK's National Health Service


Sign announcing the closure of Kentucky's Nicholas County Hospital because of Obamacare-related bankruptcy (USA Today)
Sign announcing the closure of Kentucky's Nicholas County Hospital because of Obamacare-related bankruptcy (USA Today)

Members of the UK's far left British Medical Association (BMA) labor union will vote on whether to go on strike on November 18 against the National Health Service (NHS). The vote was called after the union rejected a last-ditch pay offer by the UK government that increased pay by 11% and reducing the maximum work hours per week to 72 from 91.

As I wrote in "5-Aug-15 World View -- Britain's National Health Service (NHS) faces existential financial crisis", UK's government-run single-payer health system is facing a financial disaster, with a deficit of over $3 billion in 2015-16, and growing rapidly. Furthermore, with so much money involved, the NHS is filled with criminality and fraud. As a result, the NHS faces cutbacks on staffs, increases in waiting times for appointments that are already measured in months, and cutbacks in services.

Because the NHS bureaucracy is so old and bloated, and because the services are "free," costs can only be controlled by rationing, queuing, reduced quality and artificial cost suppression. UK's doctors earn far less than doctors in other countries, and UK specialists earn about half of what they do in America. As a result, UK's homegrown doctors have left to work in other countries, and NHS has had to import 28% of its doctors from abroad, usually from poorer countries where low UK salaries look attractive. Oxford Mail and Telegraph (London)

Veterans' medical services continue to worsen since 2014 scandal

The American version of Britain's NHA is the Veterans Administration (VA), a government-run single-payer system providing "free" medical services to veterans. Last year, a major scandal found major fraud and criminality in the VA healthcare system, with VA offices systematically lying about waiting times and treatment outcomes.

Since then, billions of dollars have been poured into the Veterans Administration, but as in the case of the NHS, the extra tsunami of money is disappearing, and services are continuing to get worse. At the Phoenix VA medical center, which was the epicenter of the 2014 scandal, appointment times and fraudulent activities continue to worsen, with the center using complicated wait-time calculations to obscure ongoing appointment delays.

According to one whistleblower, "The reality is veterans are waiting months -- three, six months at a time, sometimes more -- for care at the Phoenix VA" -- and this includes critical health procedures, such as colonoscopies.

In August, more than 8,000 requests for care had wait times longer than 90 days at the Phoenix VA, and even those figures are low because deceptive methods for measuring wait times.

Even worse, whistleblowers continue to receive vicious retaliatory treatment for complaining. The Veterans Administration is no longer in the news every day, but the fraud and criminality is just as bad, and probably worse. CNN and Military Times and CNN (13-Apr-2015)

Obamacare prices skyrocketing in 2016, as I predicted in 2009


Inflation rate following the imposition of wage-price controls on August 15, 1971 (Source: econreview.com)
Inflation rate following the imposition of wage-price controls on August 15, 1971 (Source: econreview.com)

In July, 2009, when Obamacare was first announced, I wrote that Obama's health plan is a proposal of economic insanity. I compared it to President Richard Nixon's wage-price controls, and I predicted that it would just as much an economic disaster as Nixon's price controls.

Nixon's price controls were imposed in 1971 because the inflation rate was around 4%. The purpose of the price controls was to lower the inflation rate to 2%. It took three years for the inflation rate to surge to 12%.

In 2009 I said that Obamacare was no different, at its core, than Nixon's price controls, and that the same kind of disaster would recur. I repeated that comparison many times. ( "1-Dec-13 World View -- Obamacare: 500M lines of code, $500M, only 60% completed") Obamacare was imposed in 2013, and now it's in its third year, Obamacare prices are surging.

For the first two years, Obamacare premium price hikes were very modest, just as the inflation rate was very modest in the first two years of Nixon's price controls.

But now, for 2016, Obamacare premiums are skyrocketing, again like Nixon's third year. 231 insurers requested double-digit percentage premium price hikes for 2016, as opposed to just 121 in 2015. Furthermore, the magnitude of the hikes will be much greater in the upcoming year. A whopping 126 plans aimed for a minimum 20% premium hike, 61 plans attempted to justify a 30% premium boost, 26 policies are targeting a 40% price jump, and a dozen plans actually requested a 50%-plus premium jump for 2016.

Taking all plans into account, premium prices are rising 20.3%, much worse than the 12% disaster following Nixon's price controls.

Administration officials are bragging that Obamacare premium costs for the cheapest plan, the Silver Plan, increased only 7.3%. (I recall similar deceptions argued by Nixon's supporters in the 1970s. That's like saying that the inflation rate may be 12%, but the price of tomatoes only rose 7%.) When you look at the entire Obamacare marketplace, premium prices are rising 20.3%. Forbes and Daily Caller

Kentucky's new governor Matt Bevin promises to end Obamacare abuses

In what is being called a bellwether election, a Tea Party Republican, Matt Bevin, this week unexpectedly won the election for governor on a platform that included repeal of Obamacare.

The mainstream media are appalled. Here's what left-wing writer Jordan Weissmann wrote in Slate:

"Kentucky voters elected Republican businessman Matt Bevin as their new governor on Tuesday, which sadly means a whole lot of people are probably about to lose their health insurance. The Tea Party favorite has promised to roll back pieces of the Affordable Care Act that have helped slash Kentucky's uninsured rate by more than half according to Gallup, the biggest drop of any state in the country since the law's major planks were implemented.

Oh well. 'Twas a happy story while it lasted."

I can only think that Weissmann is a recent college graduate, that he majored in something like sociology or women's studies, and that he can't even spell the word "economics."

Obamacare has been an unmitigated financial disaster for Kentucky, as I described in my August article, "Healthcare.gov -- The greatest software development disaster in history", which I posted after months of extensive research.

I wrote extensively about what happened to Kentucky. Here's a short list of the devastation:

Matt Bevin won because he wants to bring this disaster under control. Obamacare acolytes like Weissmann are appalled because they're too stupid to understand simple economics. Louisville (Ky) Courier-Journal and USA Today (8-May-2015) and Slate

Four more Obamacare co-ops collapse in the last week

As I wrote two weeks ago when the Colorado Obamacare health insurance co-op collapsed, these co-ops are almost unbelievably hare-brained entities designed to be non-profit and provide competition to the evil corporate insurance companies. (Read my August article for further details on Obamacare co-ops.)

Co-ops have been paying out $1.10 to $1.60 in benefits for each dollar they received in insurance premiums. They got away with this because they were supported by federal Obamacare slush funds - which are now running out.

During the last week, co-ops collapsed in four states: South Carolina, Utah, New York, and Michigan. There are 23 Obamacare co-ops in all, and that makes 12 of them that have collapsed. California Health Line

Obamacare 'risk corridors' are also collapsing financially

Another hare-brained Obamacare scheme is the "risk corridor" program, which is supposed to collect excess profits from profit-making insurers, and give the money to insurers losing money. As jaded and cynical as I am, this thing is so incredibly stupid, even by Obamacare standards, that I can barely believe it. Once again, read my August article for further details.

Just in time for this article, Standard and Poors said on Thursday that the risk corridor program is facing a massive cash shortage, with only $1 to cover every $10 in claims.

Once again, it's time to recall the words of that great Obamacare architect, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, who said: "Call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass." He wasn't talking about me. He was talking about Obamacare supporters. And he was absolutely correct. The Hill

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 6-Nov-15 World View -- Obamacare prices skyrocketing in 2016, as I predicted in 2009 thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (6-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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5-Nov-15 World View -- Bombing of plane in Egypt threatens Russia's Syria strategy

US, Britain suggest ISIS bomb brought down Russian plane in Egypt

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

US, Britain suggest ISIS bomb brought down Russian plane in Egypt


Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort
Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh Red Sea resort

American and British government officials are saying off the record that suspicions are growing that the Russian passenger plane that was blown out of the sky in Egypt on Saturday was brought down by a bomb planted by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

The plane, a Metrojet Airbus A321 Russian airliner, took off on Saturday from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport on a flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. It crashed shortly after takeoff, leaving widely scattered debris across a large region of the Sinai desert. Sharm el-Sheikh is Red Sea resort very popular with British and Russian vacationers, with palm trees lining beautiful beaches.

Initial claims on Saturday by an ISIS-linked terror group that it had "shot down" the plane were rejected by both Egypt and Russia, and are still rejected, since there's no evidence that any missile strike was involved. It's now believed that the plane was brought down by a bomb planted on the plane before it left the airport. The bomb's explosion may have been triggered by an isometric pressure switch that reacts when air pressure indicates that the plane is at a specific altitude.

If it turns out to be true that an ISIS affiliate bomb brought down the Russian airliner, it would be a huge coup for ISIS, which will have succeeded at a task that al-Qaeda has failed to do, despite repeated attempts since 9/11. Al Ahram (Cairo) and VOA

Plane bombing threatens Russia's Syria strategy

The likely possibility that an ISIS-linked bomb brought down Russia's Metrojet Flight 9268 is going to throw Russia's Syria strategy into chaos, because of the justified perception Sunni jihadists targeted a Russian plane in revenge for Russia's military intervention in Syria.

I've written numerous times about the insanity of Russia's military intervention in Syria. I wrote in "13-Sep-15 World View -- Russia opens a dangerous new chapter in Syria and the Mideast," that Russia's military deployment would trigger nationalistic and belligerent responses from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, from terrorists in al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) and ISIS, and from the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government of Turkey.

In particular, it would be viewed by Sunni jihadists of a repeat of the 1980s Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, which they saw as a Christian invasion of a Muslim country. Westerners have almost no memory of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but it was a monumental event in the Muslim world. Since it came at the same time as the Iran/Iraq war and the civil wars in Lebanon and Syria, it was as significant to the Muslim world as World War II was to the West.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan brought up the rise of modern Sunni jihadist movements, including the leadership of Osama bin Laden and the formation of al-Qaeda. So the invasion runs very deep in the psyches of Sunni Salafists and jihadists. The new Russian intervention in Syria is as significant to them as it would be to the West if Hitler rose from the dead and invaded France again.

So it's quite plausible that either ISIS or al-Qaeda specifically targeted a Russian airliner in revenge for the intervention into Syria.

More and more Russians are questioning the wisdom of the Syria intervention. Many reports indicate that Russian soldiers do not wish to fight there. The Russian population will tolerate the Syria intervention as long as they can be convinced that it consists of nothing but airstrikes.

That conviction was going to change anyway as more and more coffins with dead Russian soldiers return from Syria. But the destruction of a Russian airliner and its possible link to the Soviet intervention into Syria, is going to turn Russian public opinion against the intervention, and force a change of strategy. CNN and Russia Today and Al Ahram (Cairo)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Nov-15 World View -- Bombing of plane in Egypt threatens Russia's Syria strategy thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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4-Nov-15 World View -- Presidents of China and Taiwan to meet in Singapore on Saturday

China asserts a 'bottom line' to US in South China Sea

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Presidents of China and Taiwan to meet in Singapore on Saturday


Xi Jinping (left) and Ma Ying-jeou
Xi Jinping (left) and Ma Ying-jeou

According to a surprise announcement on Tuesday, China’s President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou will meet and talk in Singapore on Saturday.

This will be the first time that leaders of China and Taiwan have met since Mao Zedong's Communist Revolution, China's massive civil war that climaxed in 1949, when Mao's forced the Nationalist (KMT) forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, to flee to Formosa (Taiwan), passing through Hong Kong, in 1949.

China has always considered Taiwan to be a province of China, but feelings on Taiwan hardened against China considerably in 1989, when Taiwan's population watched in horror as China's security forces brutally massacred and killed thousands of innocently protesting students in the Beijing's Tiananmen Square massacre. This triggered a Taiwan student movement called "the Wild Lily rebellion," and led to the creation of a new political party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which explicitly favored independence.

DPP has been in power in Taiwan for about half of the last 15 years, and whenever they're in power, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing totally freaks out, issuing one threat after another, saying that if Taiwan makes even one tiny step in the direction of independence, then China will declare war.

However, the KMT have been in power in Taiwan since 2008, and relations between Taiwan and China have been relatively calm. The 2008 election was followed in China by the horrible Sichuan earthquake, which began a period of international good will directed at China, including a thaw in relations with Taiwan. Taiwan's new president, Ma Ying-jeou, called for seizing "this historic opportunity to achieve peace and co-prosperity, under the principle of "no unification, no independence and no use of force." The two countries have followed an ambiguous 1992 agreement that said that there's only "one china," but does not explain what that means. (See "Taiwan / China relations thaw in wake of election and earthquake" from 2008.)

The first signal that this calm in relations was about to end was KMT's disastrous losses in local elections across Taiwan in November of last year. The election occurred just weeks after the start of the massive Hong Kong demonstrations, after China reneged on its promise, at the time Hong Kong reverted to China in 1997, that Hong Kong would have full, free elections. Many Taiwanese suddenly realized that their freedoms were similarly threatened, and that Beijing could never be trusted not to renege on any promise it made.

A presidential election is scheduled for January 16, and polls indicate that the DPP is going to return to power, and with it, a more pro-independence stance by the government. It's believed that Tuesday's "thaw" in relations, announcing the meeting between Xi and Ma, is related to the January 16 election. But what's the purpose?

One possible purpose is to bolster KMT's election fortunes. But that could just as easily backfire, as KMT's opponents point to China's interference in Taiwan's election.

Another possibility is that the two will announce some major new China-Taiwan pro-unity initiative, and get it committed before DPP takes power in January. Or, perhaps the purpose of the meeting is for Xi to make some kind of military threat. When Xi took office in 2013, he said that the situation with Taiwan could not go on much longer, with the implication that China was preparing to use military force to take control of Taiwan. So anything is possible. Focus Taiwan and AFP

China asserts a 'bottom line' to US in South China Sea

At a meeting of Southeast Asia defense ministers in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), both the US and China asserted their positions with regard to the South China Sea.

More than half the world’s merchant tonnage through the South China Sea, and China would be able to harass or target any country's commercial shipping. China has been annexing regions in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to other countries, and continues and uses belligerent military operations 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.

China has used land reclamation projects to build a chain of man-made islands in international waters around the Spratley Islands, and apparently plans to use them as military naval bases. Recently, the US challenged China by sending a surveillance ship to within 12 miles of China's man-made islands, triggering a furious response from China's Ministry of Defense.

At the ASEAN on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is quoted as reiterating previous statements that "The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world."

China's defense minister Chang Wanquan was quoted as saying:

"But that said, we need to do things that help us defend our sovereign territory and I need to be very clear to you that there is a bottom line to this."

It's not "very clear" what the "bottom line" is, but China has repeatedly threatened to take military retaliation for future US surveillance activities. Reuters

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 4-Nov-15 World View -- Presidents of China and Taiwan to meet in Singapore on Saturday thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (4-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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3-Nov-15 World View -- Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) continues plan to exterminate Shias

History of sectarian violence in Pakistan since Partition

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) continues plan to exterminate Shias


The death of LeJ's leader Malik Ishaq in July (Pakistan Today)
The death of LeJ's leader Malik Ishaq in July (Pakistan Today)

On October 22, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shia mosque in Balochistan in southwest Pakistan as worshippers were gathering, killing 10 Shia Muslims. On October 23, 27 Shias were killed and dozens wounded in a suicide attack on a Shia procession in a city north of Karachi.

The Sunni terror group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for both attacks. I've written about LeJ many times. The group is dedicated to the extermination of all Shias in Pakistan, especially Shias in the Hazara ethnic group. In June 2011, LeJ wrote an open letter to the Shia Hazaras, declaring:

"Our mission [in Pakistan] is the abolition of this impure sect and people, the Shias and the Shia Hazaras, from every city, every village, every nook and corner of Pakistan. Like in the past, [our] successful Jihad against the Hazaras in Pakistan and, in particular, in Quetta is ongoing and will continue. We will make Pakistan their graveyard — their houses will be destroyed by bombs and suicide bombers... Jihad against the Shia Hazaras has now become our duty... We will rest only after hoisting the flag of true Islam on the land of the pure – Pakistan.

LeJ has conducted 49 sectarian (Sunni versus Shia) terrorist attacks so far in 2015, down from 92 incidents in 2014. However, the number of fatalities has increased from 210 in 2015 to 251 in 2015, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). Daily Times (Pakistan) and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP)

Pakistan's LeJ anti-Shia terror group may have links to ISIS

Officials in Pakistan are increasingly concerned that the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) has established or is establishing a foothold in Pakistan. Questions have also arisen about whether Pakistani terrorists groups might have participated in anti-Shia terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Recent evidence has emerged that Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ) has had a working relationship with ISIS, and almost became a full-fledged branch of ISIS in Pakistan.

In May, we reported on a horrific attack on Ismaili Shias in Karachi. 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!"

At the time of the attack, Pakistani officials ruled out ISIS involvement. But since then, Evidence has emerged that the attack was conducted by LeJ working with ISIS.

The link to ISIS was LeJ's leader, Malik Ishaq. According to new evidence, Ishaq was all set to join ISIS in August. But as we reported on July 29, LeJ's leader Malik Ishaq was killed in gunfight, along with 13 others including his two sons, while he was in police custody. It's believed that the gunfight was a setup by the police to allow them to kill Ishaq, rather than return him to jail.

It's not known whether LeJ has continued to develop links with ISIS, but Pakistani officials now say that Ishaq's death has ended the possibility of LeJ becoming a branch of ISIS, for the time being. Express Tribune (Karachi) and OpEd News

History of sectarian violence in Pakistan since Partition

One of the worst wars of the 20th century was the bloody genocidal war between Hindus and Muslims that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. The scale of civilian displacement from their homes was so massive that it was called by some an "exodus of biblical proportions," since it forced millions of Hindus in Pakistan to flee to India, and millions of Muslims in India to flee to Pakistan.

At the time of the Partition war, Muslims in the new state of Pakistan were generally united against the Hindus, and sectarianism among the Muslims wasn't a major issue at that time.

However, Hindus and Shia Muslims have been allied in wars against Sunni Muslims since the seminal Battle of Karbala in 680. So the fact that there was an alliance of convenience between Sunni and Shia Muslims in 1947 does not mean that such an alliance was going to last.

There were incidents of sectarian strife during the generational Awakening era in Pakistan, and they began to become serious in 1979, and have escalated continuously since then. At that time, Pakistan's government introduced "Islamicisation" of Pakistan. Shia Muslims resisted this process, calling it the "Sunnification" of Pakistan, since based on Sunni law. As Shias protested, the more they were targeted.

The first suicide attack against Shias was carried out in July 2003 when three armed terrorists, including a suicide bomber, attacked a Shia mosque in Quetta, the capital of the Balochistan, during Friday prayers, leaving 53 dead and 57 others critically injured.

The same is the story of all non-Sunni Muslim minorities in Pakistan, including Christians. These minorities are targeted not only by LeJ, but also other terrorist groups associated with Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP - Pakistan Taliban).

The question always arises -- why doesn't Pakistan's government put a stop to these attacks? The reason, according to many Indian analysts but denied by Pakistani politicians, is that the country is not being run by the civilian government, but by the army and by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and that the ISI is actually funding and supporting LeJ and other TTP-linked terrorist groups to perform these terrorist attacks. Hudson Institute and South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) and Daily Times (Pakistan)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 3-Nov-15 World View -- Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) continues plan to exterminate Shias thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (3-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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2-Nov-15 World View -- Erdogan's party in Turkey wins landslide victory

How Turkey changed in five months

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Erdogan's party in Turkey wins landslide victory


A Turkish woman casts her vote on Sunday in Ankara (AP)
A Turkish woman casts her vote on Sunday in Ankara (AP)

In parliamentary elections on Sunday, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), the party of Turkey's strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made an unexpectedly good showing. AKP captured 316 seats in the 550-seat parliament, meaning that AKP can govern by itself without having to form a coalition with another party.

Although it was a landslide victory for Erdogan, it was not the super-landslide that he had once been hoping for, which would have given AKP the ability to change the constitution to increase Erdogan's powers.

Sunday's election reversed the losses that AKP suffered in the June 7 election, where AKP unexpectedly lost its parliamentary majority. In that election, AKP got 41% of the vote, and lost a lot of votes to the Kurdish anti-government far-left Peoples’ Democratic Party's (HDP), which got 12% of the vote. ( "8-Jun-15 World View -- In major election setback, Turkey's Erdogan loses support as Kurds gain seats")

After the June 7 election, Erdogan called for a new election, gambling that a new election would let him regain his parliamentary majority. The gamble paid off.

The new election reversed that situation after June 7. AKP got 49% of the vote, while HDP's results fell to 10.7% of the vote. However, HDP leaders are breathing a sigh of relief, because if their vote share had fallen below 10%, then according to the constitution they would lose all their seats in parliament. As things stand, they still have 59 seats. Zaman (Istanbul) and BBC and CNN

How Turkey changed in five months

The months between the June 7 election and the November 1 election have been some of the bloodiest in Turkey's recent history.

One reason that the Kurdish party HDP did so well on June 7 was that they promised the voters that they would disarm the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, Europe and the United States. However, once the election ended, they reversed that promise.

Turkey went into a spiral of violence. A July 20 terrorist attack in the city of attack on Suruç killed 33 people, mostly young pro-Kurdish activists. After that, a two-year-old ceasefire agreement between the PKK and the government broke down, and Erdogan declared war on the PKK. ( "9-Sep-15 World View -- Turkey slips into chaos as violence spreads across the country")

But that wasn't the worst of it. On October 12, Turkey went into a state of shock after a massive terrorist attack at a "peace rally" in the capital city Ankara that killed 97 people and injured hundreds more. It's being referred to as the worst terrorist massacre in Turkey's history, or as "Turkey's 9/11." ( "13-Oct-15 World View -- Turkey is seen as increasingly unstable after Ankara massacre")

In that atmosphere of increasing chaos in Turkey, millions of Turkish voters decided that they really want a strongman in charge, and they voted for Erdogan's AKP party.

Erdogan is looking strong for another reason. As the refugee crisis in Europe continues and grows, European officials are increasingly seeing Turkey as their only hope of bringing the situation under control, which means that Erdogan will be negotiating with Brussels from a position of strength.

There are some real questions now about what will happen next. Erdogan has gotten his landslide, and a mandate to stop the violence. This could take the form of increased warfare with the PKK, or increased warfare with the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) in Syria.

Syria is getting very crowded. The Russians have been moving in, and in the last week it was announced that Iran is sending in soldiers, and the US is sending in 50 special forces. Erdogan does not want to see any of Bashar al-Assad, the Kurds, or ISIS to be successful in Syria, and he may decide that his new mandate gives him the right to join the party. Hurriyet (Istanbul) and Sabah (Istanbul) and Zaman (Ankara)

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 2-Nov-15 World View -- Erdogan's party in Turkey wins landslide victory thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (2-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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1-Nov-15 World View -- Russia warns that Syria war could become a 'proxy war'

Generational Dynamics and war between Palestinians and Israelis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Russia warns that Syria war could become a 'proxy war'


L-R: Sergei Lavrov, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and John Kerry in Vienna on Friday (state.gov)
L-R: Sergei Lavrov, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, and John Kerry in Vienna on Friday (state.gov)

Russia has poured millions of dollars of heavy weapons into Syria, and is now sending in Russian troops to establish bases in Syria. Recently, Russia launched 27 cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea to targets in Syria. Iran is pouring new troops into Syria. Iran has also given Lebanon's Hezbollah terrorist group a great deal of money, and Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops into Syria to support Syria's president Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Assad's genocidal attacks on innocent Syrian Sunnis, killing hundreds of thousands and forcing millions from their homes, has cause Sunni jihadists from all of the world to fight against al-Assad, Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran in Syria. Along the way, these jihadists formed the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

And now, on Friday's Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a pronouncement that Barack Obama was going to trigger a "proxy war" in Syria by sending in 50 special operations forces, as we reported yesterday.

You can't make this stuff up.

Thanks to Iran, Russia, al-Assad and Hezbollah, there are now tens of thousands of foreign troops fighting each other in Syria, with al-Assad in particular supported by massive amounts of foreign weapons.

But somehow, those tens of thousands of foreign fighters don't make it a "proxy war," but America's 50 special forces troops do.

You can't trust any garbage that comes out of Lavrov's mouth, or out of al-Assad's mouth, or out of Vladimir Putin's mouth, but I listen to BBC, al-Jazeera, FOX, CNN, and other media sources all the time, and I see these news anchors report this crap with a straight face all the time. I don't know whether it's more sickening to watch those fatuous news anchors, or to watch the fawning Secretary of State John Kerry suck up to Lavrov and Putin, which has happened in issues involving Ukraine, Iran's nuclear development, and Syria.

All this verbiage is coming out of a meeting in Vienna whose purpose is to find a "political solution" to the Syria problem. With hundreds of thousands of Syrian migrants pouring into Europe, and with hundreds of ISIS militants returning to Russia to fight Putin, there's a lot of pressure to find a "political solution." But this week's announcement that Iran will fully enter the war in Syria on the side of the Syrian regime makes any "political solution" farther away than ever. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries will never agree to anything like the emerging situation. Actions by Russia and Iran, intervening militarily in Syria, is an emerging disaster, likely triggering a sectarian Sunni versus Shia war throughout the region. BBC and International Business Times and Reuters

Syria's civil war and Generational Dynamics

In the 12 years that I've been doing this, I've posted about 4,000 articles with hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions.

In 2011, when the Syrian civil war began, I said that the war should fizzle within a year or two. Of all the hundreds of Generational Dynamics predictions, this is the one where I've clearly been (depending on how you look at it) either wrong or poorly described.

Syria's last generational crisis war was civil war that climaxed in 1982 with the massacre at Hama. There was a massive uprising of the 400,000 mostly Sunni citizens of Hama against Syria's president Hafez Assad, the current president's father. In February, 1982, Assad turned the town to rubble, 40,000 deaths and 100,000 expelled. Hama stands as a defining moment in the Middle East. It is regarded as perhaps the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East, a shadow that haunts the Assad regime to this day.

(As a related matter, the civil war in Lebanon also climaxed that year, with the bloody massacre at Sabra and Shatila occurring in September 1982. And it occurred as the Iran/Iraq war was ongoing, three years after Iran's bloody Great Islamic Revolution in 1979. At that time, much of the Mideast was re-fighting World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, 60 years earlier.)

So, in 2011, I said that the civil war in Syria would fizzle, and could not turn into a crisis civil war. And that's both wrong and true. There are too many survivors who remember the 1982 slaughter, and do not want to see it repeated. And so there's been no massive anti-government uprising, as there was in 1982, and Bashar al-Assad's Shia/Alawite troops have been fighting half-heartedly, with many soldiers defecting or deserting.

But the war did not fizzle.

It should have fizzled in 2011 or 2012, but Hezbollah and Iran starting pouring troops in to support al-Assad. And foreign fighters from around the world arrived to fight al-Assad and to form ISIS. That's not something that Generational Dynamics could have predicted.

Earlier this year, it looked like al-Assad's army was near collapse. In July, a desperate al-Assad gave a national speech in which he admitted he was losing. The war should have fizzled this year. But now, Russia and Iran are pouring tens of thousands more troops into Iran to bolster al-Assad. And that also is not something that Generational Dynamics could have predicted.

So the problem for me is: How should I have characterized the situation in 2011? The prediction that it wouldn't turn into a crisis civil war was correct, but the war did not fizzle, because it turned into a proxy war.

Well, I don't think there'll be a next time, but if there is, I'll try to characterize the situation differently, without simply using the word "fizzle." NPR (1-Feb-2012)

Generational Dynamics and crisis civil wars

I write about a number of civil wars going on in the world today, so this is a good time to discuss civil wars from the point of view of Generational Dynamics.

Among generational crisis wars, an external war is fundamentally different than a civil war between two ethnic groups. If two ethnic groups have lived together in peace for decades, have intermarried and worked together, and then there's a civil war where one of these ethnic groups tortures, massacres and slaughters their next-door neighbors in the other ethnic group, then the outcome will be fundamentally different than if the same torture and slaughter is rendered by an external group. In either case, the country will spend the Recovery Era setting up rules and institutions designed to prevent any such war from occurring again. But in one case, the country will enter the Awakening era unified, except for generational political differences, and in the other case, the country will be increasingly torn along the same ethnic fault line.

The period following the climax of a crisis war is called the "Recovery Era." One path that the Recovery Era can take is that the leader of one ethnic group decides that the only way to prevent a new civil war is for him to stay in power, and to respond to peaceful anti-government demonstrations by conducting massive bloody genocide, torture and slaughter of the other ethnic group, in order to maintain the peace. (Dear Reader, I assume you've grasped the irony of the last sentence.)

For example, in a July article about Burundi, I described how Burundi's Hutu president Pierre Nkurunziza was using such violence to quell Tutsi protests, supposedly to avoid a repeat of the 1994 Rwandi-Burundi genocidal war between Hutus and Tutsis.

As another example, in a June article about Zimbabwe, I described how Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe was even worse. His 1984 pacification campaign was known as "Operation Gukurahundi" (The rain that washes away the chaff before the spring rain). During that campaign, accomplished with the help of Mugabe's 5th Brigade, trained by North Korea, tens of thousands of people, mostly from the Ndebele tribe, were tortured and slaughtered. Later, Mugabe single-handedly destroyed the country's economy by driving all the white farmers off the farms, resulting in one of the biggest hyperinflation episodes in world history.

That's what Bashar al-Assad is doing in Syria. Fearing a Sunni uprising, like the one in 1982, al-Assad is conducting a massive "peace campaign" by slaughtering and displacing millions of innocent Sunnis. As I wrote above, this should have fizzled in 2011 or 2012, but it's turned into a proxy war, and it's a disaster for the Mideast and the world.

But none of the above three examples is a crisis civil war. A crisis war has to come from the people, not from the politicians. So, for example, there's a massive crisis civil war going on today in Central African Republic (CAR), between the Muslim ex-Seleka militias fighting Christian anti-Balaka militias.

Unlike the previous examples, CAR is in a generational Crisis era. 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 today deep into a generational Crisis era, where a new crisis war is increasingly likely. That's why the CAR is a genuine crisis civil war, and won't fizzle out. In fact, it won't end until it's reached some kind of explosive conclusion -- of the kind we described in Hama or Sabra and Shatila. ( "2-Oct-15 World View -- Violence resurges in Central African Republic crisis war")

Generational Dynamics and war between Palestinians and Israelis

I'll discuss one more example -- not a civil war, but very similar to a civil war, with the same kinds of issues.

In the last few years, there have been three non-crisis wars between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. In each case, the Israelis destroyed Hamas's infrastructure, ending the war. The war began again each time when Hamas's infrastructure was rebuilt.

But the point I want to make is that these three non-crisis wars were all directed by politicians. Palestinians attacked when the leadership told them to, and stopped attacking when the leadership told them to stop.

What I've been describing in numerous articles recently is that there is emerging a major, fundamental, historic change.

In the emerging situation, young people today are no longer willing to listen to these leaders. According to the CIA World Fact Book, 20% of Gaza's population are in the 15-24 age range, and so are 21% of the West Bank -- about 200,000 males in each territory, or 400,000 young males total.

On the Israeli side, there are over 600,000 young males in the same age range. There have been unconfirmed reports of young Israelis also disgusted with the leadership. It's possible that, like the young Palestinians, they're willing to take matters into their own hands.

So in this environment, what could happen next? The last three Gaza wars were non-crisis wars, but the next one could be a crisis war between Israelis and Palestinians.

How can a crisis war begin? How about if those 200,000 young male Gazans blow holes in the walls, pour across into Israel and start killing Israeli citizens en masse in their homes and villages? And how about if they're joined by those 200,000 young male Palestinians on the West Bank, who start with the Jewish settlers and continue with the Jews in Jerusalem. And how about if the young Israeli males strike back and start killing Palestinians in their homes and villages?

Israel's tanks and bombers would not be of much use. You can't bomb Jerusalem, and you can't bomb Israeli villages and settlements to kill Palestinians.

That's the difference. That's what a generational crisis war is like. It's not two tanks shooting at each other. It's hand to hand combat in homes, neighborhoods and streets by people armed with sticks and knives. It's what happened in Central African Republic last year, it's what happened in Rwanda in 1994, in Bosnia in 1994, and in Palestine in 1947.

And by the way, that assumes that the bloody mess stays confined to Israel and the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians are likely to be joined by tens or hundreds of thousands from Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.

The recent widely reported changes in the attitudes and behaviors of young Palestinians is a sign that this kind generational crisis war is coming.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 1-Nov-15 World View -- Russia warns that Syria war could become a 'proxy war' thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (1-Nov-2015) Permanent Link
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